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.
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!
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!)
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!)
As you can probably tell, 2015 was a landmark year for our little family! We saw some awesome things, made a radical life shift, and created more hope for the future than we’ve had in quite some time. Here’s an abbreviated diary of trips we took, people we saw, and changes we’ve made.
We kicked off 2015 at home in Virginia after a whirlwind of traveling in December. For several years we’d had the tradition of spending New Year’s Eve with a couple of college friends. We’d eat party food, drink copious amounts of champagne, watch a terrible movie, and at least one of the four of us was always sick. This year was my turn, but a good time was still had by all.
Just a week later we were back on a plane, headed to Louisiana for a week with Ryan’s family. The picture above is of Ryan and his two brothers at the New Orleans Comic Con with Kevin Conroy, THE VOICE OF BATMAN. It was kind of a big deal.
The first weekend in February we headed back to New Hampshire for a skiing weekend with my family. We spent an awesome day on the slopes and even managed to get snowed in, extending our trip and earning us some free flight vouchers from Southwest Airlines! Win!
February was otherwise uneventful; it was a long dark winter and most days it felt like we were living our lives based on what was on TV each night. Ugh.
Would you believe I couldn’t find a single picture from March 2015? Winter was dragging on, Ryan’s job situation was up in the air, and we were both feeling stressed and anxious. I combated it by doing lots of yoga and running a lot. (Anyone who knows me knows I never, ever run outside in the winter — I’m a huge baby about the cold — so this was kind of a big deal for me.)
If March was a dreary, uneventful month, we definitely made up for it in April!
First, Ryan’s job in fundraising came to an end. Just a few days later, he’d picked up a new one that would pretty much change his life: working as a whitewater raft guide on the Shenandoah River. He started training and fell in love immediately.
The first weekend in April we headed to Philadelphia so I could run my first race of the year: the Hot Chocolate 15K. Philadelphia is my favorite running city, and my winter training was evident in my pace, so I was over the moon!
After less than 24 hours in Philadelphia we drove to Reagan Airport in DC, where we got on a plane for a return trip to Louisiana. Ryan had a little lag time between the end of his old job and the start of his new one, so we figured family time would be a great way to spend it. We enjoyed the pleasant April Baton Rouge weather and did a little sightseeing too — that’s us at the old state capitol building above.
From Baton Rouge I flew to San Antonio to spend a long weekend visiting my brother and his wife. My mom flew down from New Hampshire to join us, and we enjoyed plenty of quality time — especially exploring the Alamo and the San Antonio Riverwalk. I also ran a 10K, checking Texas off my goal of running a race in all 50 states.
When we returned home to Virginia, Ryan started raft guide training and we began having some down-to-earth conversations about the future. Sometime in April we started talking about buying a camper …
… and then in May, we did! May 1 we went to look at an absolutely gorgeous Airstream (that we very sadly ended up deciding we didn’t have the time or funds to renovate properly). We spent May searching Craigslist, and on May 28 we purchased the 1991 Holiday Rambler Alumalite that would become our new home!
I also made a trip on my own in May, heading to New Hampshire for my sister Bridget’s college graduation. The trip was perfectly timed to also put me at home for Mother’s Day and my sister Michaela’s birthday too.
I also checked one more state off my race list, running the Backshore 5 Miler in Massachusetts with my sisters Michaela and Katharine.
We also celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary! Our apartment in Virginia was one block over from the historic home where we got married, so we headed over there to take a few pictures.
We spent the first half of July finishing up the camper renovations and staying with some generous friends who let us stay in their basement after we realized the camper wasn’t going to be livable in time. Ryan worked tirelessly in the heat to finish up the final repairs: building shelves, laying flooring, and building a storage bed.
But it wasn’t all work and no play! Fourth of July weekend my sister Michaela visited us, and we did a little running, lots of eating, and some river rafting. July also saw visits from my sister Katharine (that’s us touring Harpers Ferry in the photo above!) and Ryan’s mom and brother.
July 17th we officially moved into the camper full time, starting our camper life at the Harpers Ferry KOA in West Virginia — just a few minutes from where Ryan was working. It’s a great campground and was the perfect way to kick off our adventure!
At the end of July, I took a road trip down to Louisiana with Ryan’s mom, who had spent a few weeks in New Jersey and needed a driving companion for the return trip. We had a great trip (including stopping at pretty much every Panera Bread and Chipotle on the way) and even squeezed in a quick day trip to New Orleans.
In August, things finally slowed down a little. The summer was in full swing, and Ryan was working a lot. I spent plenty of time enjoying the camper, cooking over the fire, and working at Beans in the Belfry, a wonderful nearby coffee shop. Ryan spent as much time on the river as he could, and I got in some great (and sweaty) runs on the C&O Canal Trail.
In August we moved from the KOA to the adventure center where Ryan was working. After the crowded KOA, we really enjoyed the serenity of our new campsite on the mountain.
We did squeeze in one trip in August: a quick weekend in New Jersey. We spent time catching up with friends and had an awesome day at Hurricane Harbor enjoying the water park on a very hot day.
September was back to craziness. My sister Katharine came back and spent a few weeks with us in the camper, enjoying the last rafting and zipline trips, campfires, and sunsets of summer.
I made a weekend trip to New England, spending a few days with my family, then driving to Rhode Island to check another state off my race list! Michaela and I ran the Surftown Half Marathon and also spent a fun day exploring nearby Mystic, Connecticut.
Meanwhile, Ryan was enjoying an epic Man Weekend back at the campground. These trips have been an annual tradition for 6 or 7 years now, bringing together both of our brothers, friends from college, and friends Ryan grew up with. I don’t know everything that went on — but I do know there was lots of good food, some tubing on the Shenandoah, and plenty of hijinks.
And finally, the moment we’d been waiting for: September 17 (two months to the day after we’d moved into the camper!) we hit the road for our epic road trip! By September 30, we’d made it as far as Wyoming. The Badlands, Yellowstone, and Buffalo were highlights of this portion of the trip.
Ryan turned 30 on October 4 and we spent a great day with his aunt and uncle in Port Townsend, Washington. Above is a picture of us at a wine tasting at Fairwinds Winery, where his uncle works. The wines were delicious, especially the Lemberger.
We arrived back in Virginia on October 28 — exactly six weeks after we’d left. But October wasn’t over yet! My sister Michaela came down for a quick Halloween weekend visit, and we visited our favorite vineyard.
After a couple of weeks catching our breath in Virginia, it was back on the road. November 9 we headed south, with stays in Chapel Hill, Charleston, Savannah, and St. Augustine and Panama City Beach. We enjoyed some glorious southern cities and cheered on Ryan’s brother at his senior year football tournament.
From Florida we headed towards our destination for the next couple of months: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where we’d be parking at Ryan’s parents house to get in lots of family time! That makes three visits to LA in one year for Ryan, and four for me — definitely a record!
I also checked off two more race states: South Carolina and Louisiana, bringing me to 12 out of 50 states.
We spent December in Baton Rouge enjoying lots of holiday festivities and a little sightseeing too. We did lots of work and took some sick days too (the weather here is crazy, and that always makes systems go haywire!).
We also got in an awesome overnight trip to New Orleans … after being in one spot for a whole four weeks, we were definitely feeling the travel itch!
Christmas Day 2015 was full of family and food, spending the day traveling from Ryan’s parents’ home to holiday celebrations with both his mom’s and his dad’s extended family.
And now it’s December 31, 2015, and I’m full of excitement and plans for 2016 — business plans, travel plans, life plans. This year has been crazy and unexpected but absolutely wonderful, and we’re so excited for what lies ahead!
Happy New Year, friends!
That’s our year in review! It’s so fun to look back at everything we’ve done and how much things have changed. What were the highlights of your year?