Places of 2015

For the third year in a row, I thought it would be good to summarize the highlights of my travels over the past year. I find it really helpful to have these summaries to help me remember all of the places I went in a single year (see 2013 and 2014 posts).

Work Travel

Most of my travel is for work, which allows me to see so many cool places. This was the second year that my work focused largely in New England, which you’ll definitely see reflected in the list of places I went.

Minnesota (Feb. & Jun.) — Two quick trips to the Cloquet Forestry Center to give presentations to various forestry audiences. Trips to Cloquet are pretty uneventful, but the location is always a bit special since that’s where Sexy and I first took a liking to each other.

It's hard to believe that Sexy impressed me with his dance moves in this place nearly 15 years ago.
It’s hard to believe that Sexy impressed me with his dance moves in this place nearly 15 years ago.

Rhode Island/Connecticut/Massachussets/New Hampshire/Vermont (Mar.) — This was an epic, two-week work trip that took me all across New England, where I led a training and a shorter workshop and gave several talks. Week 1 took me across Connecticut and Rhode Island. Then, I stopped in to check out Walden Pond before heading north to New Hampshire and Vermont. It was a lot of fun, but exhausting. I don’t know that I’ll make any big trips like that again!

Wisconsin (Apr. & May) — In April, I had a short trip to Madison that was pretty low key, although I always enjoy spending time in Madison. In May, I was able to go down to the Menominee Forest to help plant trees on a project that I’d been working on for several years. Finally getting to plant trees for work was a huge treat. Plus, my one of my coworkers made a video about the project.

New Hampshire (May) — Another trip to New Hampshire. Even though I’ve been to the state a half a dozen times now, my experience of it is mostly limited to the bigger towns of Durham and Manchester, as well as the area near Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest where most of my meetings seem to take place. Someday I’ll explore more of the state than the little bit I’ve seen so far.

Massachussetts (June) — Another work trip out east, this one to the impressive Harvard Forest. The highlight was definitely the field tour, which included climbing a tower well above the forest canopy. Also of note was learning that researchers use Pecan Sandies to bait ants because some ant species are attracted to sugar while others prefer fat. (And this is probably why the ant was drawn to the Oatmeal Cream Pie in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.)

Washington D.C. (Oct.) — I had a long reprieve from work travel in the summer; it was a nice break, but also caused a bit of a travel pile-up in the fall. The first trip of the fall was a quick one to D.C. for a few different meetings. As is my habit whenever I go to D.C., I walked miles and miles around the city whenever I had the chance.

A quiet little garden between museums in D.C.
A quiet little garden between museums in D.C.

Baton Rouge (Nov.) — I went to Baton Rouge for the Society of American Foresters National Convention. It’s always an exciting meeting because there are more than 1,500 foresters in one place, and this year was particularly exciting (and terrifying) because I was part of a plenary panel discussion on the main stage in front of hundreds of people.

Stupid selfie from the nation's tallest capitol building in Baton Rouge.
Stupid selfie from the nation’s tallest capitol building in Baton Rouge.

New Hampshire/Rhode Island (Nov.) — This was a big trip of back-to-back trainings. It was a lot of fun, but it was also pretty grueling. I was stuck inside hosting trainings for three days in a row, but the fourth day was a field tour on a private property in Rhode Island. The weather was amazing, and it was so nice to learn more about the forests there. I’m developing a soft spot for the forests of Rhode Island because they remind me of the forests where I grew up in Wisconsin.

Hanging out with foresters in Rhode Island.
Hanging out with foresters in Rhode Island.

Chicago (Nov.) — On my way home from New England, I got held up at O’hare Airport due to some weather.  This meant a long layover and some time in the city.

Vermont (Dec.) — My last work travel of the year was for a meeting in Burlington, VT. It was raining and foggy for two days, and so it wasn’t until the third day that my co-worker, who’d never been there before, was able to see that the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain are both easily visible from town. We took advantage of the clearer weather to go for a long walk.

The big estate at Shelburne Farms.
This barn at Shelburne Farms looks like a castle.

Vacations

Since I travel so much for work, my interest in traveling for fun outside of work is pretty low.  I suspect that if I were to travel less for work, I’d have to make up the difference by traveling more on my own. But for now, I’m happy to focus my personal travel on visiting family and a few weekend adventures.

Wisconsin (Apr. & Aug. & Dec.) — We went home to visit  my family in the spring, which was a pretty mellow weekend. The highlight of that trip was laying on the ground at dusk, watching a woodcock dance for a partner in the field across from my parent’s house. At the end of summer, we went to southeast Wisconsin for a family reunion on a farm that’s been in my family for well over a hundred years. We stayed at a campsite at the Kettle Moraine State Park with friends, and I learned more about Wisconsin geology in a single weekend than I did in all of K-12 school. I also got experience mountain biking on that geology, and realized how spoiled I am with all of our amazing trails in the Keweenaw.

DSCN1408
Camping essentials, provided by a 7-year-old.

Lower Michigan (Apr.) — We took a quick trip downstate in April for a cousin’s wedding on the Leelanau Peninsula. The wedding was a blast, of course.  I also really appreciated the day where I went for a morning run and then did yoga with about 20 friends and family members in a casual class led by one of Sexy’s cousins, in a room with giant windows overlooking the lake.

Copper Harbor, Michigan (May)  — This anniversary vacation was probably my favorite thing we did all year. It was great to have a relaxing weekend full of hiking and biking, without even having to go that far from home.

I get to be married to this!
I get to be married to this!

Minnesota (June) — Sara and I did the canoe triathlon again this year, which I always look forward to. We’re already planning to do it again next June.

Western Upper Michigan (Sept.) — The summer was pretty laid back without a lot of trips, which made September seem extra busy with back-to-back mini-adventures in the Western U.P. One was the goat-packing overnight adventure with Sara on Labor Day weekend. The following week, we met up with friends at a cabin on the shore of Lake Superior.

Lower Michigan (Sept.) — We took a quick trip downstate to see Sexy’s family before the winter. Even with all of the things we had to do with family, I still found time to do some relaxing: one morning I sat on the riverbank and watched a snapping turtle try to hide in the clear river below.

A bench for watching the river flow by.
A bench for watching the river flow by.

Home & Nearby

While I didn’t blog about as many of my big travels this year as I think I have in past years, I feel like I captured more of what happened closer to home. I had a big stretch of time at home at the beginning of the year, which I really loved. I didn’t go skiing at the trails much, but did more skiing and snowshoeing in the woods than in past years. We even went dog sledding.

Snowshoeing with friends.
Snowshoeing with friends.

As has become our annual custom, we welcomed the return of warmer weather (and mud) by making maple syrup with our neighbors. Another spring highlight was taking a long walk to explore some of the woods around our house. This spring, I also started building wooded raised beds in the garden, which made the whole thing a lot easier to plant and weed. Spring quickly rolled into summer, and I seemed to spend most of the warmer months in my garden or training for the two triathlons that I did. We spent the Fourth of July at the beach, but it was a Lake Superior beach and we had to build a fire to stay warm. In August, I took Fridays off just to get more time at home during that wonderful time of the year. I read an entire book on one of those days, mostly while sitting on the porch and watching it rain.

Rubber boots for long, muddy walks.
Rubber boots for long, muddy walks.

Fall also came quickly in September, but then we had an amazing, extended fall of glorious weather and colors. I’d hoped to spend more time outside as the seasons changed, but I couldn’t quite meet the challenge of dramatically shorter days. When I can, I have been taking more long walks to see new places, or even just to see the same places but in greater detail. My intention is to keep this up as the holidays draw to a close and we settle in for another long winter.

Where did you go this year? What were your travel highlights?

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