As I (Kristin) sat down to write this post, it seemed appropriate to have Frank Sinatra crooning in the background “It Was a Very Good Year.” 2015 was a very good year indeed for our family. It will probably go down in the annals of our family’s history as one of the epic years we ever spent camping and touring together. From making wishes come true with a stop at Walt Disney World in early spring to our Wild West adventure this summer, we collected memories and moments that we’ll treasure for years to come.
We’re excited about all the camping and touring adventures 2016 will hold, but before we bid a final adieu to 2015, we thought it would be fun to highlight 15 various moments from the year, from favorite stops and eats, to our scariest and wettest experiences.
#1 – Favorite National Park: Yellowstone National Park
From bison and black bears to meadows and mountains, the scenery was breathtaking and diverse. And we accidentally timed things so well we got to see Old Faithful plus the very impressive Beehive geyser.
#2 – Favorite National Monument: Devils Tower National Monument
With our campground literally at the foot of this natural wonder, you couldn’t beat the view. It was here that our kids earned their first Jr. Ranger badge, and where we put their little legs to the test with our first hike of the season.
#3 – Favorite State Park: Custer State Park, S.D.
Our visit to the Black Hills was probably the highlight of the entire West trip, and I snapped some of my favorite photos within the borders of Custer State Park. We hope one day to return and spend much more time exploring this park.
#4 – Our scariest moment: Driving Wyoming Route 14 over the Big Horn Mountains
So I should probably preface this and say this was really my vote for scariest moment. I’ll never forget the moment we were coasting along and I realized we were going to have to “climb” the mountain in front of us. The picture below was taken about halfway up the mountain when Jarrett thought it would be fun to gather the family along the guardrail for a picture documenting our ascent. Jarrett loved the adventure of it all, but I could have done with less switchbacks and wider berms.
#5 – The best meal: Black Hills Burger & Bun Company, Custer S.D.
It was here we discovered some of the best sweet potato fries. Ever. It was also the perfect spot for trying new things: Jarrett’s first bison burger and my first black bean burger. (Both excellent, by the way.)
#6 – The best sweet treats: Millers Bakery, Millerburg, Ohio
dangerous convenient that this little shop was just five minutes from our campsite, because one visit just wouldn’t do. The cheese tarts have me plotting a return …
#7 – The most useful camper modification: Under the bed shoe rack
No more tripping over shoes in the camper’s entryway: This hack is worth its weight in pvc.
#8 – The most magical moment: Walt Disney World and Fort Wilderness Campground
A whirlwind experience for sure in one of the most impressive campgrounds ever.
#9 – Favorite literary moment: Visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder museums in Walnut Grove, Minn. & De Smet, S.D.
Walking in the footsteps of history always gets me excited, and seeing the pages of the Little House books come to life was a highlight for Sweet Pea and me.
#10 – Favorite scenic vista: Bear Tooth Pass
With no camper in tow for this scenic drive, I was much more relaxed for this drive. Our kids still talk about how they got to throw snowballs in July … and the “attack” chipmunks that poured out of the wall (pictured below) in search of handouts from passersby.
#11 – Favorite roadside attraction: Chapel in the Hills, Rapid City, S.D.
Unlike anything we had ever seen, a sanctuary of solitude and reflection.
#12 – Favorite wide open spaces: 7th Ranch RV Camp, Garryowen, Mont.
We now know why people fall in love with the wide open spaces of Montana. Jarrett still jokes we’re moving here one day (and I’m not sure he’s really joking).
#13 – Best Americana moment: Cody Stampede Rodeo
Nothing like spending the 4th of July at the rodeo surrounded by some of the most patriotic souls you could meet. The spirit of pride, community, and faith was thick and strong.
#14 – Favorite wildlife: Prairie dogs at Devils Tower National Monument
We pulled over just to take a few pictures but ended up staying for nearly an hour watching the little rodents scurry and yip as far as the eye could see.
#15 – Worst camping weather: Our weekend at East Harbor State Park, Ohio
Thank goodness for awnings, and family members with a larger camper where we could all hunker down.
So those were our 15 moments from 2015. What were some of your favorite or most memorable moments? Be sure to share with us over on Facebook!
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