Everyone seems to put out a Top 10 of 2014 list right now; apparently it’s a requirement if you want to be a relevant contributor to the daily media deluge! Since we’d like to think our 2014 was at least as noteworthy as those other lists (but really because we had some time to kill while driving out to the Everglades the other day) we gave it a shot.
Best of 2014
You’ll notice we’re not calling it Top 10, since the discipline to name just ten things eluded us:
- Driving into Yellowstone park, and being greeted by a herd of 50 or 60 buffalo walking up the road right next to us.
- Walking Gettysburg’s third day battlefield at dusk with Ranger Troy Harmon, feeling the rolling terrain under our feet, and letting his passionate storytelling get under our skin.
- Witnessing the first rays of the sun to hit landfall in the United States on September 13, from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.
- The ranger talk at Little Bighorn, where Ranger Steve did a one-man reenactment of the battle’s decisive action, with the panoramic landscape where that action took place as a backdrop—on the 138th anniversary of the battle, no less.
- The vaporous, bizarre, otherworldly beauty of Yellowstone’s hot springs and Grand Geyser… which outdid Old Faithful in every way imaginable.
- The public art and sculpture, the winding green river, and the sunshine on downtown Chicago.
- Hiking through the Cathedral Spires of Custer State Park, in South dakota.
- Climbing over dunes on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and finding the wild horses of Corolla, descended from Spanish mustangs left there in the 1600’s.
- The pure blue light of August afternoons, illuminating the lighthouses of Lubec, Maine.
- Canoeing the Loxahatchee River in Florida, with big, mud-colored manatees swimming around and under us.
- Chowing down the lobster rolls at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, Maine—after waiting in line for 45 minutes (worth every minute).
- Biking a meandering route along both sides of the Mississippi River to discover friendly, artsy, sunny Minneapolis.
- The surprising, rocky beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota.
- The unexpectedly (to us) broad and deep collections at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
- Having to lather up with sunscreen and deodorant for a Florida winter.
- Selling our house to the highest bidder three days after it was listed.
- Doing all this stuff together.
Worst of 2014
You’ll conclude, as we did, that 2014 was pretty a pretty great year, since we can only come up with eight “worsts”:
- Saying goodbye and driving away from our beautiful home of 28 years, where we grew our family, loved our kids, and lived our imperfect lives.
- Missing our grandkids and kids by being so far from home for the holidays, in St. Augustine, Florida.
- Waiting for the tow truck to come haul the trailer out of the Ohio ditch we backed into. (Silver lining: meeting Emily and Pete, the lovely, gracious farmers whose road we veered off of.)
- The disgusting Merritt Trading Post campground—the only place where we could get a space in Valentine, Nebraska, because the high school’s 20th reunion was that night.
- Leaving the shower door unlocked, driving 100+ bumpy miles, then finding the shower door on the bed; and the subsequent multiple attempts to repair the door; and the resulting days without a shower in the trailer. (Which is how we know about number 6.)
- The leeches in the showers at Greenbrier State Park in Maryland. (Other than that it’s a beautiful park!)
- The pork tenderloin sandwich that tasted like sawdust at Smitty’s in Des Moines, Iowa, highly recommended by Jane and Michael Stern in their Road Food book. (We haven’t used their book since.)
- The unfortunate Cross County bike trail out of Lorton, Virginia, ostensibly to Great Falls National Park (though we didn’t make it that far). It devolved from crazy traffic to a rutted, narrow track between a cyclone fence and an overgrown tangle of sticker bushes before we turned back.
All photos: © 2015 Sue Cummings and Bruce Howard. All rights reserved.