2022 Travel Year in Review: a Topsy-Turvy Route to Find Balance

Traveling 93 days through twenty states is an unusual way to find balance, but when you're a travel writer, it works.

I’ve never done a year in review before, despite publishing The Local Tourist for nearly twenty-one years. It feels a bit self-indulgent. “Look at me! Look at me!” But 2022 was transformative. 

It was a year of healing. A year of growth. A year of discovery. A year of balance, or at least, figuring out what balance means to me.

I’d never picked a word of the year before, but in November 2021 I stood in my kitchen crying. Mr. TLT asked me what was wrong.

“Balance!” I sobbed. “I have no balance!” 

2021 was rough. In addition to global issues, I’d finished cancer treatment in June. While I celebrated the completion of chemo and radiation, I was plagued with a rash that would not go away and hot flashes from H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

I didn’t let that stop me, though, and in August 2021 I jumped back into travel. I also jumped back into my workaholic lifestyle, even though I told myself I wouldn’t. 

During the isolation of lockdowns and treatments I couldn’t work my normal twelve to fourteen hour days. When things began returning to “normal,” I promised myself I’d take time to relax. I wouldn’t work so hard. Life was too short.

It didn’t stick. By Thanksgiving I was exhausted and burning all the ends of all the candles. When 2022 rolled around, I decided finding balance would be my priority.

Did I succeed? Well, let’s see. I traveled ninety-three days through twenty states and thousands of miles. I published three books. Taught two intense multi-day writing workshops. Began offering my courses online. Gave a couple library presentations and spoke and exhibited at two Travel and Adventure Shows.

Balance? What balance?

As I look back on 2022, however, I’m not exhausted. (Maybe a little.) I had some of the most incredible experiences of my life. I frequently traveled solo, yet I was never scared or lonely. 

2022 was a year filled with wonder, with awe, and with joy.

It was also hard. Figuring out the new “me” post-cancer. Saying no to so many things that didn’t fit, that don’t fit, who I now know myself to be.

I’m a writer, and last year I saw some incredible, unique, and stunningly gorgeous places. While I plan to tell all their stories, it’ll take some time. Until then, here’s a round-up of one of the biggest, busiest, and most balanced years of my life.

Poolside at lakeside Lake Lawn Resort

2022 Travel Year in Review

January

The year began slowly. We were in the throes of Omicron. Jim and I even returned to having groceries delivered, but I did have an in-person (mask-wearing) book signing at my local Barnes & Noble.

Theresa L. Goodrich wearing a mask with her books Living Landmarks of Chicago at Barnes and Noble

I also received my copy of the new Naturally McHenry County INSIDER Guide, to which I’d contributed a couple articles. In December, it received the award for Best Printed Collateral at the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism.

February

Jim and Theresa Goodrich exhibiting at the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show in 2022

February was also slow, relatively speaking. We attended the Chicago Auto Show and I exhibited and spoke at the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show. Both are two of my favorite annual events, and it was so good to have them back.

March

March 1st was a big deal. That’s when I typed “The End” in my first novel

At the end of the month, I resumed traveling. Mr. TLT and I spent a weekend in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Although I’d grown up in the state, I’d never been to that city. 

Burrata at Birdie's in Fort Wayne Indiana
Burrata at Birdie’s

We discovered history and great food, but the most impactful part was our visit to The Genealogy Center. Their researchers traced my lineage back to the 1700s. With Carter as my maiden name, I didn’t think I’d ever know my ancestors. 

Now I do, and in April I found some of them.

April

April was another milestone. I published COMPLETE Road Trip Guide (for grown-ups), my fourth nonfiction book.

Then we hit the road for Denver. I’d been invited to exhibit and speak at the Denver Travel and Adventure Show, so we took our time getting out there. 

After an afternoon in Hannibal, Missouri, and lunch the next day in Kansas City (barbecue, of course), we headed to Emporia, Kansas, and the Lyon County History Center. 

There, William found mentions of my great-great-great-grandfather, who built the first house in nearby Plymouth. Before leaving for Colorado, we found his grave and several other relatives. 

We continued west, ending in Colorado Springs. We climbed The Broadmoor Seven Falls and America’s Mountain, explored Manitou Springs, and saw the same type of plane Jim’s uncle had flown–and been shot down in–in World War II. 

We did it! At the top of Seven Falls
At the peak of Pikes Peak

Then, Denver for the show. I spoke, and they liked me well enough I’m going back this year, too.

The Local Tourist booth at the Denver Travel & Adventure Show

May

Our trip home from Denver was much faster: three days instead of nine. On the way, we had dinner with Tim and Lisa Trudell in Omaha. Then we encountered Jim’s ancestors in Fort Dodge, Iowa. 

Read all about this Chicago to Denver Road Trip

We got back Wednesday night, and the next morning I left for Door County, Wisconsin, for an intense press trip.

Fishing with Baileys Harbor Fishing at sunrise with three seaguls in frame and two fishermen in the boat
Up before dawn to go fishing in Lake Michigan

I got home Sunday morning and picked up Jim for the Cubs game. Advocate Aurora Health invited me to join a select few other breast cancer survivors to “Pink Out.” I even got to stand on third base!

Theresa Goodrich on third base at Wrigley Field

Bonus: it was my birthday.

A couple weeks later I did one of the boldest things I’d done to that point: I flew to San Diego and drove up the coast. 

Solo.

I camped in the back of an SUV. I stayed in crappy motels. I met friends in San Diego and San Francisco. I spent the last night of May in Olympic National Park.

Pacific Ocean
Lake Crescent
Lake Crescent

It was glorious.

Follow along my Pacific Coast road trip.

June

Sunrise somewhere in North Dakota
Somewhere in North Dakota
Theresa Goodrich in the Amtrak sightseeing car about 40 hours into the ride
After a couple days sleeping coach on Amtrak Empire Builder

After a day in Seattle I boarded Amtrak Empire Builder. Fifty-three hours later, I was home, and there I stayed for the rest of the month.

July

On July 5, I pulled out of my driveway and wouldn’t return for five weeks. For three of those, I’d be on my own.

This was a logistical decision. Mid-month I’d be teaching a writing workshop in Billings, Montana. At the end of the month, our nephew was getting married north of Spokane, Washington. It didn’t make sense to go to Billings and come back just to go west again.

So, I drove.

This is the point in the story where I choose whether to tell you every place I went, or stick to the basics. 

Detailing my July itinerary would be enough to fill a book. That’s what I plan to do (Two Lane Gems, Volume 3!), so I’ll give you an overview instead.

After driving through a derecho in southern Minnesota, I made it safely to Mitchell, South Dakota, where I stayed with a friend of our niece’s, who just happened to be the Executive Director of Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, an active archaeological site.

Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village
Archaeology Exchange Students at Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village

I drove west, through Badlands National Park to the Black Hills, and there I stayed for five days.

I pitched a tent by myself for the first time. People commented. “You’re by yourself? How brave.”

It wasn’t brave; it just was.

As I drove towards Billings, I retraced some of the route Jim and I had taken in 2018. I revisited Belle Fourche and the Center of the Nation, then detoured to the actual geographical Center of the Nation.

Center of the Nation outside Belle Fourche, South Dakota
Center of the Nation outside Belle Fourche, South Dakota

I stopped at Devils Tower National Monument and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

And then, I spent five days and four nights in Billings, Montana, exploring and teaching people how to be better travel writers.

I left Billings and drove west. And drove. And drove. I had no idea where I’d be that night, but I knew what I wanted: a shaded campsite in the mountains by a creek.

Found it.

Tent with Rock Creek in background in Dalles Campground east of Missoula Montana

Each day I drove 45 minutes to Pour Henry’s Saloon to let Jim know I was alive. Then I’d drive back to my idyllic spot in the woods. I’d write. I’d cook over a fire. Swing in a hammock. I used a rope to climb down to the creek and watch the water flow over the rocks.

Five days later I walked into my sister-in-law’s cabin on a lake and took the best shower of my life.

Jim flew into Spokane, the family gathered, and on the last day of the month, we celebrated our handsome nephew and his beautiful wife at their lakeside, beachfront wedding.

August

A few days into the month we started for home. On the way, we visited the Center of the Universe, Jim’s hometown, and the old mining operation of Berkeley Pit. We climbed Pompeys Pillar and saw William Clark’s signature. 

Pompeys Pillar in Montana, a National Park Service site

In North Dakota, we marveled at cannonballs, bison, and wild horses. We spent a night in Minot and another in Minneapolis. We strolled the Walker Sculpture Garden and Mall of America. 

Cannonball at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Unit
Cannonball at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Unit

Finally, home. The cat barely spoke to me, but that was nothing new.

A couple days later, a box containing copies of my first novel arrived.

A few days after that, I had my first post-shaved head, post-chemo haircut.

Then, another press trip. This time I drove to Elkhart Lake. I had planned to stay home until October, but when they told me I’d be getting a massage, well, off I went.

Dock extending into Elkhart Lake at sunset

After that excursion, Jim met me in Delavan Lake for a romantic getaway at Lake Lawn Resort.

September

Home. Comfortable, wonderful, stationary home.

October

October began with my second Midwest Travel Network Writers Workshop of the year. This time we were in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, one of my favorite places. 

Attendees of the Writing Workshop around the computer

While there, I learned one of my friends from Chicago would be getting married on the North Shore. I extended my stay and Jim joined me so we could crash their wedding and have a romantic weekend in Sheboygan. After all that time apart, we deserved it.

Sunrise over Lake Michigan with Adirondack chairs on the sand

This month I published my third book. This one was the second edition of Midwest Road Trip Adventures. I swore I’d never publish anyone’s words but my own, but the ten other authors and I wanted to release an updated version after all the changes.

Since by that time I’d published five of my own books, in multiple formats, I said, “Why not?”

It was a #1 New Release on Amazon.

November

Ah, November. I’d planned to stay home after October. Honest. But then I was invited to attend a press trip in Green Bay that focused on beer.

How could I say no?

And since I’d be there, Shelly from Sheboygan had previously suggested I’d like Marinette. It’s about 45 minutes from Green Bay. So, I went. On the way back, I stayed one more night in Green Bay, visiting the three breweries we’d missed.

TLG at Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers
TLG at Lambeau Field

Finally, on November 9 around 5:30pm, I pulled into my driveway.

I was in bed by 6:30.

The next week I checked out a new hotel in Chicago, but other than that? I stayed home.

December

I stayed home. I wrote. I put my writing course online so it’s now available for anyone. I cooked. We decorated for the holidays, although less than we normally do.

I tried to reflect on my year of travel, but there was too much to absorb. And I wasn’t done yet.

On December 28, we left our driveway for the last trip of the year. We hadn’t seen my parents since Christmas the year before, so we drove east to spend the last week of 2022 with them. 

They live in Fairview, near Asheville, North Carolina. There are a ton of things to do around there, and even though we’ve visited many times, we haven’t come close to seeing all of them.

This visit wasn’t one for checking boxes, however. It was a trip for spending time with friends and family (and watching Avatar 2 with a giant bucket of popcorn).


My hope for 2022 was to find balance. It probably doesn’t seem like I even came close. But as I reflect on the year in its entirety, I feel a sense of awe and serenity. I accomplished more than I ever have, yet I also took time for me. I took time to sit and listen to a creek flow, and to watch a duck float, and to drive on a beach to see the sun set.

It was a magical year. A transformative year. 

And it’s not done with me–nor I with it–yet. There’s still much to learn.

Will I pick a word for 2023?

Yes, and it’s an easy one:

Joy.

TLG in front of a sign that says Outrageously Happy
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