2017: A Year in Review

by | Jan 7, 2018 | Downtime

Last year, I shared a month-by-month summary of 2016 and wanted to do a year in review for 2017. A lot changed from 2016 to 2017, including that my mother had two strokes, and I injured my ankle and had to have a major reconstructive surgery. Basically, I’m so glad 2017 is over. Due to my mother’s strokes, I made many trips home to Wisconsin. During these trips, I not only got to see and care for her but also got to visit with family and attend a lot of my youngest sister’s high school activities. My ankle surgery ended up being way more invasive than we thought going into it and it completely sidelined my life. It also forced me to slow down and appreciate the many things in life I had taken for granted, like walking, exploring nature, and my health. So, without further ado, here is a photographic journey through my 2017:

January 2017

I made my first of many trips home to visit my mother after her strokes on New Year’s Eve.

Mather Gorge in Great Falls Park

Back in Virginia, I completed my first hike in the 52 hike challenge in Great Falls Park.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

Hubs joined me for my second hike of the challenge on Theodore Roosevelt Island.

February 2017  

Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park

We explored Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park near Leesburg, Virginia.


Our 52 Hike Challenge was going strong when we hiked and explored the old buildings along the trail at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship.

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike

We hiked at Balls Bluff Regional Park in Leesburg, Virginia.

Made another trip home (WI) to stay with my mom and helped my dad make maple syrup.

March 2017

I took another trip back home to visit my Mother. On this trip, I rode along with my dad and a former exchange sister who was visiting as he drove the state gymnastics qualifies on the firetruck to their send-off pep rally.

Finally ate at Driftless Cafe in Viroqua, Wisconsin! I’d been wanting to go on one of our trips home since… forever. Everyone loves it. After the chef was nominated for a James Beard Award it was even harder to get in, but we got there nice and early and had a wonderful lunch.

Luckily, I got to see my youngest sisters high school play – A Tale of Two Cities. She played The Vengeance. (WI)

great falls national park

We hiked between two different parks on the Potomac Heritage Trail.

Hosted my youngest sister and then-current exchange sister for “Spring Break”. We had many adventures… all of them were dramatic, like this gem from Gettysburg National Military Park.

I took the girls to Great Falls Park along the Potomac River one chilly day after work.

We took the girls to Arlington National Cemetery and watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.

It was a cold month and lots of puppy snuggles were had.

Seneca Connector Trails in Seneca Tract

We hike at Seneca Tract Regional Park, which is right down the road from our house in Northern Virginia.

April 2017

National Museum of African American History and Culture

We made our first visit to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC.

Hubs and I took another trip back to Wisconsin to visit with and care for my mother. We ate at Culvers. A lot.

Saw another one of my former exchange sisters and took her to visit G-Ma.

My youngest sister was on prom court and it was so special for us to share that day with her.


We visited Shenandoah National Park and hike to Hawksbill Summit.

Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike

Hiked a loop trail in Hemlock Overlook Regional Park. It’s one of my favorite local hikes!

Greenbrier State Park Maryland

We hiked at Greenbrier State Park in the middle of a storm.

May 2017

Orthopedic walking boot

I got booted. It ended my 52 Hike Challenge. It ended my fun, lol. At this point in time, I had no clue that I would still be in a walking boot as I write this post 8 MONTHS LATER.

We took a rainy afternoon drive towards the mountains without a destination in mind. Afternoon drives like this became my lifesaver when I couldn’t get out on the hiking trail.

I traveled to Chicago for a work meeting and took extra time off to drive up to Wisconsin to visit my family. It always feels good to be back in the Driftless Area. It also gave me a chance to check-in on my Mother and spend Mother’s Day with her.

We celebrated Mom’s first post-stroke Mother’s Day the way we always do, enjoying the pancake breakfast put on by the local Ocooch Mountain Rescue.

While I couldn’t hike, I did enjoy a drive through Shenandoah National Park.

June 2017

I took another drive to Shenandoah National Park. Being in the boot was killing me at this point. This was my second snake sighting in as many trips.

Our Vegas-born dog learned how to dig under our fence and took advantage of this 5 times. What can I say, he likes to adventure as much as we do!

Hubs, the boot, and I went to a Jon Pardi and Dierks Bently concert. We got apple cider donuts from an on-site food truck and someone wrote something suggestive about male anatomy in the dirt on our rear window in the parking lot. Overall, I’d still call the evening a win, lol.

July 2017

Buck Hallow Overlook Sunrise in Shenandoah National Park

We watched the sunrise in Shenandoah National Park for the first time.

Bear Viewing in Shenandoah National Park

On that same trip to Shenandoah, we got to see two cubs (one is pictured here) play in the trees while their mama watched nearby.

We rented a cabin in West Virginia for the weekend and I spent most of the trip in a hammock on the deck.

During the weekend away we also snuck in a quick visit to the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

… and the Nathaniel Mountain National Wildlife Mangement Area.

McKee-Beshers sunflower fields maryland

My boot and I explored the edges of the sunflower fields in the McKee-Beshers National Wildlife Area.

August 2017

We turned our unused den into a first-floor recovery room for me post-surgery. It was very dorm-like and I rediscovered how convenient it is to have all of your life in one room.

I had ankle surgery.

Post-surgery, I was on non-weight-bearing bedrest all month. I was in a lot of pain. My toenails turned weird colors. I ate a lot of ice cream and don’t really remember anything that happened the first week. Eventually, I watched more TV than I have in the last 1.5 years. Hubs had a work trip and my Mom came to hang out. Together we basically made one functioning person, lol. It was her first post-stroke trip and she did an amazing job!

2017 Solar Eclipse Northern Virginia

I got to see the solar eclipse from my scooter in my driveway. It wasn’t in the path of totality, but I felt like a million bucks after getting out of the den for the first time.

September 2017

Rackers and I basically spent my second month of NWB bedrest in this exact position. I got all 50 of my staples out and picked up this fancy new walking boot.

October 2017

We drove Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Again. What can I say? It’s a close-by nature activity that can be accomplished in a walking boot with no stamina. :)

I finally got to put weight on my bad ankle! (Who knew it would take this long?!) I also returned to work. (Who knew this would take so long?!)

I took my first steps in two months without crutches!

I made my first solo trip to Shenandoah National Park post-surgery.

November 2017

We made another trip to Wisconsin and got to see my youngest sister in her last school musical – a steampunk version of the Wizard of Oz. She was the Wicked Witch of the West. :)

During out trip to WI, we took family pictures with my parents, sisters, and exchange brother.

We saw Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center. This was our second time seeing the show at the Kennedy Center (we went in 2013 as well).

December 2017

Over the past year, I have been focusing on more fulfilling musical experiences. One way of doing this has been trying to focus on smaller, more intimate venues. This focus led us a rare opportunity to take in the limited-run Tall Tales and The Truth Tour featuring Kip Moore, Randy Rogers, and Wade Bowen. We both loved this songwriter-like show and it confirmed our desire to see these smaller shows.

Hubs surprised me with a trip to Joshua Tree National Park for my birthday! I had no idea he had it planned until the plane touched down in Vegas. He’s honestly the best at surprises. :)

Our drive to Joshua Tree NP took us right through the heart of the Mojave National Preserve. I love stopping at historic buildings like the Kelso Depot Visitors Center shown above. We need to make a return visit to see the rest of the preserve!

Christmas Las Vegas

We spent Christmas in Las Vegas with Hubs’ family. It’s always wonderful to see them and Christmas is extra special when we get to share it with these two cuties.


Farewell 2017

Looking back on this year in review, I’m surprised at how much we did in 2017 with all my ankle issues and travel back to Wisconsin. However, even with the struggles, it ended up being a great year of reflection, priority setting, and rest. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings! 

By Sara Beth

Sara Beth is a wanderlust soul who is focused on simplistic and mindful living. She is passionate about National Parks, road trips, and board games. Her early years were spent in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. After graduating from university, she moved to Las Vegas, fell in love, and adopted a dog. Today, she lives with her husband and their dog in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

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  1. Mike

    Culvers is the best… I’m so thankful we have it in Texas, though it took me a while to discover. Here’s to 2018, recovery, and all the positive things!

    • Sara Beth

      I am so jealous of your proximity to Culvers, lol. The closest one to DC is now just over the North Carolina border. It used to be nearly 8 hours away in Ohio… PROGRESS! Best wishes in 2018!

  2. terra @ terragoes.com

    This reminds me I really need to get out to Shenandoah more often. It’s not that far from Richmond and it’s so pretty out there and I haven’t hiked nearly enough of the park. Also, Joshua Tree! Such a magical place!


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