2016 flew by and was absolutely packed with adventure. In the past year we’ve seen ourselves grow more comfortable in the full-time travel life, spent a lot of time with family, and traveled to many new cities and states. Despite a few stressful moments, 2016 was a pretty great year! Here’s the 12-month recap of trips we took, people we saw, and adventures we had!
- January found us still in Louisiana with Ryan’s family after enjoying a wonderful holiday season with them. We helped his parents move into their beautiful new home, saw his youngest brother Kennan become the third Rogge boy to become an Eagle Scout, and said goodbye to his brother Landon as he headed off to Officer Candidate School for the Marine Corps.
- While lots of work happened in January, we did make time for some fun adventures. Ryan and his brothers went to WizardCon New Orleans; we saw Breaking Benjamin at House of Blues New Orleans; we visited Rosedown Plantation; and Ryan installed a new refrigerator in the camper!
- February 10 we were finally on the road after 11 weeks in Louisiana. We left the camper in Baton Rouge with Ryan’s aunt and uncle and were flying free and easy down the road in our brand spankin’ new camping rig!
- Overall, I’d describe February 2016 as “epic.” We tried beach camping for the first time, went shooting and drank margaritas in San Antonio, saw cave paintings in central Texas, explored Carlsbad Caverns, did some desert sand sledding, and visited our first cave dwellings. And I can’t forget …
- In February we were introduced to what I’d describe as “possibly our favorite national park ever.” Guys, run, don’t walk, to Big Bend National Park. We can’t wait to go back this winter.
- If February was epic, March was … well, what’s a bigger word than epic? Basically, March was just a continuation of our favorite road trip to date.
- We kicked off the month at what is surely the most gorgeous state park in all of Arizona; were spoiled rotten in Cave Creek; fell in love with Prescott; found our new favorite wine in Jerome; were awed by the Petrified Forest; visited dear friends in northern New Mexico; and were sobered by the Oklahoma City Memorial.
- Oh yeah — we also saw the Grand Canyon. NBD.
- And somehow, by Easter weekend we were back in Virginia to see Ryan’s brother Landon be commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps. It was such a proud moment for our family, and a blessing to be able to spend Easter with them (as well as my sister Katharine, who joined us from Illinois).
- We kicked off April with a long weekend of business (a wedding) and pleasure (a sweet hotel) in the Charleston area.
- Finally settled back in Virginia, we settled into what we didn’t realize would be one of the rainiest springs on record in the DC area. (And I quote: “From April 27 to May 11, D.C. logged measurable rainfall on 15 straight days, the longest streak on record by five days.”) All I know is, 15 straight days in the camper, surrounded by muddy footprints, watching the rain pour in buckets from the sky, had us both screaming, “What fresh hell is this?!”
- But all that rain did have one positive effect: When the rain is falling, the river is rising, and Ryan got to experience some pretty sweet whitewater on the Shenandoah River, which is usually more of a pleasant paddle than the epic torrent it became.
- At the end of April I headed to the Atlanta area to see my baby brother graduate from Army basic training. My brother Adam joined us from Texas, and we had a great time traveling with my parents.
- As the rain continued in May, I was so ready to escape. Ryan was hard at work ziplining and rafting, but I jetted off to Colorado Springs with my mom! Ostensibly we were traveling to bring my brother’s car to him at Fort Carson, but we had a great time road tripping together, visiting my sister along the way in Illinois, and even (barely) outrunning a tornado in Kansas! And in Colorado Springs we got to visit the Air Force Academy, see my brother’s Army digs, and spend some time in the Garden of the Gods.
- June 6 was our eight year anniversary and we headed to Niagara Falls for a fun and relaxing getaway (after spending a few days visiting my family in New Hampshire). We had a great time exploring Niagara’s parks and drinking lots of Niagara wine!
- Another highlight of my year also happened in June: visiting Chicago with my sister Michaela. We had such a fun time running all over the city — I absolutely fell in love and can’t wait to go back soon with Ryan!
- We didn’t go anywhere in July … instead, the fun came to us! My parents and three youngest sisters stayed at the campground with us for a week of ziplining, whitewater rafting, hiking, and campfire relaxing. They rented a cabin near our camper and we all had a great time. (The picture above is from when my dad and I hiked Maryland Heights — the best view of Harpers Ferry!)
- Ryan and I parted ways once again at the beginning of August. I headed to New Hampshire to spend a week with my family; Ryan traveled to southern West Virginia to do some disaster relief work for the flooding that happened there earlier in the summer.
- And then we headed to Maine for two glorious weeks! We hiked. We ate blueberry pie. We tent camped. We loved every minute of it. And on the way home, we visited with my family again and stopped off in New Jersey for a few days, too. It was a great way to cap off the summer.
- Come September we breathed a giant sigh of relief to get back on the road! (Editor’s note: Despite all evidence above to the contrary, it totally felt like we spent a housebound summer after being parked on the mountain for four months. Apparently that was less true than I thought!)
- The first leg of our journey had us running alllll over West Virginia. (We absolutely loved Morgantown, the Gauley River, Charleston, and Pipestem State Park.) And we rounded off the month with two trip highlights: visiting the Biltmore in Asheville, and finally making it to Great Smoky Mountains National Park — one of our new favorite national parks!)
- Ryan’s birthday is October 4, and we celebrated it with rock climbing in Chattanooga. By this point we were on the return leg of our journey, and chasing fall into Kentucky: we spent a night in Nashville, explored caves in southern Kentucky, drank lots of bourbon, and rounded out our Appalachian adventure with Bridge Day back at the Gauley River.
- After a quick stop at home base to get some maintenance done on the car and to say our goodbyes in Harpers Ferry, we were officially New England bound. Our stop-off in New Jersey was perfectly timed for some of the best foliage we’ve seen in years … and we also got in some history by visiting a few national park sites! (Read our guide for visiting all four of New Jersey’s national parks in a day here!)
- After a busy early fall, November was time to hunker down and get some work done. We parked the camper at my parents’ and settled in to enjoy the remnants of fall and take care of business.
- That said, November wasn’t all work and no play: we enjoyed a great Thanksgiving with family (even our military brothers joined us — mine from Fort Carson and Ryan’s from MCB Quantico!) … went into Boston for our traditional Sam Adams brewery tour … and visited Louisa May Alcott’s childhood home and Minute Man National Historical Park.
- In December, the coziness continued. We decorated the camper for Christmas … and even got a little snow! The month was busy with Christmas shopping, Christmas cookies, and general good cheer. Family started coming in from around the country and we celebrated a fun holiday weekend with plenty of presents and lots of good food.
- And here we are wrapping up 2016 grateful for a wonderful year bookended by January in Louisiana and December in New Hampshire, with lots of glorious adventures in between. (And you’d better believe a not insignificant part of our month was spent making travel plans for 2017. That post is coming tomorrow, but I just have to say — it’s going to be awesome!)
- And just for fun, here’s our 2015 Year in Review!
Happy New Year, friends! Tell us in the comments: What were your highlights of 2016? (Feel free to share your blog recaps … we’d love to read them!)