2017: A Year of Travel

Hey, Lauren here. I think plenty of you agree that this year has felt like a real grind, right? To stay balanced, I've been trying to make time for a few things that bring me happiness: exploring nature, being by the water, and seeing new places.

To aid in my travels, I picked up few things this year: a bike rack for my car, a fold-up kayak, and a credit card with points you can exchange for the occasional plane ticket. Okay, so I didn't manage to leave the country (maybe next year?), but putting together this travel log reminded me of all the beautiful things I got to see right here at home.

I hope it gives you a few new ideas. Enjoy!


Belmont Plateau & East Park Reservoir

This year I took a tour of a reservoir that's been closed to the public for 65 years.

Apr 1

Wissahickon Valley Park

You never run out of corners to explore in the Wissahickon, do you? I only found the fingerspan bridge this past year.

Jan 16

Tobyhanna State Park

In 2017, the fam wrapped up renovations on a vacation house in the Poconos, so this is our new birthday celebration spot. (And it can be yours, too! The house sleeps twelve.)

Feb 5, Jun 11, Aug 20

Appalachian Trail—The Knob & Bears Rocks

Respect the rocks.

Apr 29, Nov 11

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

If you go here, make sure you pick a day where there's actual wind! Apparently hawks need that before they come out to hunt? #themoreyouknow

Nov 24

Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve & Washington Crossing

Got my yak on. I was hoping the current up here would be a little less intense than it is closer to Philly. It's not.

Oct 7

Norristown Farm Park

Found this little gem on the way home from visiting a friend; a happy accident. ❤︎

Apr 23

Valley Forge National Historical Park

I hadn't been here in years and I was long overdue for a visit.

Aug 13

Ridley Creek State Park

What you really want in a state park is a friendly gatekeeper cat. The one at Ridley is kind of famous.

Jan 27

Natural Lands' Wawa Preserve

This place doesn't disappoint.

Jan 15, Apr 9

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

I never know what I'll find when I'm exploring John Heinz. A huge antler? A creepy doll's head? A massive snapping turtle?

And this year I got to do it all by boat!

Feb 11, Apr 15, Sep 17, Oct 28


Brandywine Creek State Park

Before there was a kayak in my life, there was tubing. Let's be real, there's probably tubing in my future, too. Tubing's great. You get all slimy and you hit your butt on various rocks!

Jul 15

Lums Pond State Park

Lums was my first "camping" experience since high school. Easing back in with a yurt was smart. And this one even charges your cell phone.

Aug 24, Oct 22

Augustine Wildlife Area

I was only here to try to find a place to launch my kayak. I failed.

Oct 22

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

I'm going to try to get to Bombay Hook at least once a year. There's so much to explore here, I brought a bike to cover more ground. I also listened to most of an audiobook while searching for turtles.

Feb 18


Great Falls Park

The shitty thing about my best friend moving to DC this year is...well, everything, except for getting to see this place when I visited her.

Nov 18


Susquehanna State Park

Totally scratched the occasional itch I have to walk a shoreline.

Nov 19

New Jersey

Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

It was freezing when I did this hike. The abandoned barn was thoroughly creepy. But it's all in a day's work when you're exploring a place you randomly picked from a satellite map!

Mar 4

Petty's Island

Tagging along on a guided tour of this private island in the Delaware river was a highlight of my summer, and one of the experiences that prompted me to buy a boat. I just had to get back to the island. [Insert Lost jokes here.]

Sep 9

Palmyra Cove Nature Park

This park is so strange, but as my bestie said, the sound of the waves as you walk is very soothing. And every time I go, wildlife abounds.

Aug 5

Wickecheoke Creek Preserve

My buddy Eric helped me explore this site, which is barely on a map at all. It was spitting rain at us for most of the day, so we did what any sane people would do: warmed up at a diner and ate pie.

Jan 2

Wharton State Forest

I squeezed in one solid 8-mile hike here, and one very challenging paddle. Rammed my boat into a stump, but we survived to explore another day.

May 27, Nov 4

Belleplain State Forest

Hit this on the way home from a bachelorette weekend. Definitely had a "you're going to die alone" kind of vibe.

Mar 26

The Shore

As is traditional in Philly, my neighbor recently asked where I go down the shore, and the answer is uhhhhhh sometimes Brigantine, sometimes Sea Isle, sometimes I totally forget which town I'm in? Because I show up wherever my friends tell me to? Ocean City also made the list this year, for the first time in while.

Mar 25, Jul 10, Aug 26

New York

A Tiny Cabin Near Ashokan Reservoir

In 2017, at the age of 32, I took my first solo vacation. I picked the Catskills. I took a lot of selfies. I got my first speeding ticket in 17 years of driving.

I regret nothing.

May 12

Overlook Mountain Wild Forest

The fire tower here is so high, it took me three attempts to screw up the courage to climb it. I'm glad I did.

May 14

Indian Head Wilderness — Devil's Path

It was a wet, uncomfortably cold day when I set out on this hike. I had a few warning signs that I was in for a challenge: A) only one other person had signed the trail book in the last day, and B) the reviews noted that I should be careful not to fall off the mountain. Oh also, the trail is called Devil's Path.

I did it anyway. (The hike, not falling off the mountain.)

May 15

Roosevelt Farm Lane Trail

I mostly picked this place because the weather was dreary, the trail was flat, and there was beer closeby.

May 13



To celebrate the 4th of July, I traded my credit card points for a ticket to visit my bestie at her family's lake house. Caught my first fish, which we ate in fish taco form (thanks, Anna's dad!). Swam in an abandoned mine pit. Kayaked past a beaver dam. Made friends with a muskrat. Minnesota is gorgeous.

June 30 - Jul 4

Forest History Center

If you're ever anywhere near here, it's worth a detour. There are trails, a lovely fire tower, and a replica of a 19th century logging camp. Near the end of the tour, the actors crush a dummy logger with a bunch of tree trunks and pronounce him dead.

Bring your kids!

Jul 1


Brattleboro & Hill Farmstead

I didn't really hike in Vermont. Instead, I drank in Vermont!

Oct 15, Oct 20


Rangeley Lake (& its State Park)

What can I even say about Maine? It's the most beautiful state. I'll never forget watching the sunrise from a tiny boat in the middle of this lake. For half an hour, the whole world was golden.

Oct 15 - 20

Appalachian Trail—Piazza Rock

My vacation buddies and I picked this hike based on a tip in a brochure, but I think they undersold Piazza Rock itself. It's huge, and it dangles in space in a way that defies belief, and if you're brave you can climb it.

Oct 18

Bald Mountain

My third and final fire tower of the year, and it was a good one.

Oct 19

Back Home

The Middle of the Delaware River

One of my favorite places to explore this year was right under my nose. With a little help from my friends, I got to see the river by sailboat, by party boat, by houseboat, from the piers, from an island, and of course from my own little kayak.

The end

Travel Log designed by Lauren Hallden.

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