2016 Photo Highlights: 4 Continents, 9 Countries, Lots of Transition

In February, when both our girls said goodbye we wondered what our empty nest would be like. After 18 years of living, learning and travelling together as a homeschool family of four, would hubby and I have anything to talk about once the girls left?

The answer is yes. We rose to the occasion, to the challenge of new adventures, to transitioning from family to couple travellers. The girls are not gone forever. In fact, our 18-year old just completed her first year at university and is already back home for summer. Our 16-year old is still in Argentina on a year-long student exchange,.

Here are our 2016 photo highlights in no particular order:

Mandala Suci Wenara Wana Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

After years of resisting Indonesia, we visited and fell in love with Bali. This is hubby on a bridge at the Monkey Forest in Ubud.

Views as we drove the Oregon Coast in the USA

We drove the Oregon coast from Astoria to San Francisco (California). This is one of the many spectacular sites we stopped to see.

Tuscan and Iguana in Cartagena Colombia

We saw this toucan and iguana in Cartagena Colombia.

Multnomah falls, near Portland Oregon

Multnomah Falls is a treasure of Oregon USA.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver Canada

I overcame my fear of heights to walk across the 137m (450 feet) long Capilano Suspension Bridge that stands 70 metres (230 feet) in the air in Vancouver Canada.

New Zealand 2016 hightlights

Home in New Zealand: (clockwise) the Botanic Gardens in Wellington, Shakespear Park, and a winery on Waiheke Island.

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco California

San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts is my favourite place in the city, although seeing my friends (and hubby’s brother) were the real highlights.

We sailed from Sydney to Perth over the top of Australia on Royal Caribbean. Photos: Sydney Opera House, Perth Botanic Gardens, and our ship in Darwin.

We sailed from Sydney to Perth over the top of Australia on Royal Caribbean. Photos: Sydney Opera House, Perth Botanic Gardens, and our ship in Darwin.

Street Art on Rutledge Lane off of Hosier Lane in Melbourne Australia

As a huge fan of street art, standing at this corner in Melbourne Australia was a highlight.

Warner Bros Studio tour 2016 photo highlights - Los Angeles California USA

At Warner Bros. in Los Angeles, we walked on the set of Cheers, were sorted by the Hogwart’s sorting hat (I am a Slytherin), and hubby turned on and off the bat light.

Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park, Australia

Our second major drive of the year was along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. This is the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park.

The Persian Ceiling at Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle Washington

The real highlight of Seattle Washington was spending the weekend with my niece, although the Persian Ceiling that she and hubby are under at Chihuly Garden and Glass was pretty amazing.

Monkey, sea lion, koala and crab from different corners of the world.

Cute animals earned a spot amongst our 2016 photo highlights. These are (clockwise): Monkey in Bali Indonesia; Sea lion in Cabo San Lucas Mexico; Koala in Victoria Australia; and, a crab trying to open a sugar packet on Aruba in the Caribbean.

Haruru Falls in the Bay of Islands New Zealand, one of our many 2016 photo highlights

In addition to travel, we hosted an exchange student from Italy and later also one from France. We visited a few fabulous New Zealand sites together. This is Haruru Falls in the Bay of Islands.

Coffee in Costa Rica an Colombia and marijuana in Oregon USA

If you know us at all, you know we drank coffee everywhere. Our favourites were a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, an outdoor cafe in Colombia, and . . . That ‘s not coffee, but it is legal in Oregon USA

On top of the world with my sister, hubby and my nephew (not in the photo). We are sitting in the Ledge, a glass box over hanging on the 103 floor of the Skydeck.Photo Credit: One of the professional shots taken by the team at Skydeck Chicago.

On top of the world with my sister, hubby and my nephew (not in the photo). We are sitting in the Ledge, a glass box over hanging from the 103 floor of the Skydeck in Chicago USA.
Photo Credit: One of the professional shots taken by the team at Skydeck Chicago.

Sailing through the Panama Canal on the Island Princess

Entering the first lock as we began our day of sailing through the Panama Canal.

Confused by the randomness of these 2016 photo highlights? Here is a chronological summary of our 2016 travels:

January-March: New Zealand as I finished up my first book: Choose A Way Auckland by Rhonda Albom. It published in early April.

April-June: Three tier adventure: USA to visit family and friends (Phoenix, Chicago, Delray Beach); Princess Cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Aruba, Colombia, Panama Canal crossing, Costa Rica, Mexico, Los Angeles (USA), ending in Vancouver Canada; and, slow coastal travel from Vancouver to Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

July-September: Hosted exchange students in New Zealand.

October-December: Two tier adventure: Driving a loop from Melbourne (Australia) along the Great Ocean Road and through the Grampians; and, a Royal Caribbean cruise around Australia – Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Bali (Indonesia), Port Hedlands, Geraldton, and Perth.

Our current plans for 2017: South America.

Do you have a favourite? Did you share your 2016 photo highlights? Where are you headed in 2017?

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Endangered Dotterels and Chicks on a New Zealand Beach


  1. says

    What a year of travels and transition for you! Love all the beautiful photos from around the world. This would be how I wish my empty nest life will look like in a few years. I’m still working on my highlights. We are excited for a cruise visiting Greece and Croatia this summer.

  2. says

    Hi Rhonda – you’ve certain banished the children’s cobwebs and got on with your love of travelling – looks amazing … all the places. Lovely to have your elder daughter home, and your Argentian one will follow soon … great news … enjoy the Christmas time down under .. cheers Hilary

  3. says

    Gosh you might have conquered your feat of heights in Vancouver, but sitting in the 103rd floor glass box in Chicago was unbelievable. Good on you! I enjoyed all of your travels and the photos were great. How good was it that you avoided Indonesia and then loved Bali.

  4. says

    You do travel a lot. You both enjoy it so very much.

    We have several members of our yacht club that’s been all over the world. They love it too.

    I go about three days and I’m ready to come home. We just aren’t travelers.

    Have a terrific day. 🙂

  5. says

    Wow, score, so many great shots! I love that even the garbage cans are turned into art. That skydeck shot is a little scary! That OR jar you’re holding looks pretty expensive, lol.

  6. says

    What a 2016! Fantastic photos and you had so many great adventures through the year. Enjoyed reading all your blog posts this year and looking forward to all your posts next year.

  7. says

    What a fabulous photo journey of your travels in 2016. You certainly did and saw a lot during the year. Wishing you a safe and happy Christmas and many more travels in 2017.

  8. says

    Are you going to visit your daughter in Argentina or is that frowned upon by student exchange protocol? With my youngest only being 11 years old, I’m still a few years away from the empty nest. Yet, I wonder what it will be like, especially if hubby retires, too. Will we be bored with each other, or will we finally get to travel without having to consult work and school schedules? I love so many of your photos that I cannot pick a favorite. You truly had an incredible year.

    • says

      It’s frowned upon, although allowed. There are far too many rules. Plus it is difficult for the exchange kids as they get really homesick again once mum leaves. Watch out, the time goes by so fast. Seems my girls were 11 just yesterday.

  9. says

    It’s so lucky that you’re a great photographer so that all these places are recorded ad make beautiful memories. We’re lucky too since we get to see the places you’ve visited almost as if we’re there.

  10. says

    What an incredible year you’ve had, Rhonda! I’m so glad that you’ve been feeling better and have been able to
    go on so many exciting adventures! I’m also impressed you made it across the bridge in Vancouver. I wimped out and had to turn back. As always, thanks for sharing your spectacular photos with us! Happy Holidays!

    • says

      Thanks Julie. Me too. I still worry a bit about the long flights. That’s why we cruised back from Florida and did the second cruise. Good thing I love cruising too. As for the bridge, I just decided to do it, and away I went.

  11. says

    Good for you for going out and traveling once your kids left the house! I admire this so much and wish my parents would/could do the same! Sadly, having a farm means they can’t leave whenever they want but it would be nice if they could do at least one trip like this for themselves! You guys captured some great memories this year!

  12. says

    Sounds like a big year – congrats on some awesome highlights Rhonda! I’m glad to hear that your transition from a family to a couple was a smooth one albeit I’m sure you miss having the girls with you on your trips! Hosting exchange students sounds fun though and would be an amazing way to explore your home town – we’re settled in the one place now so I might consider that for 2017! Happy New Year 🙂

    • says

      Thanks Megan. I am really proud of my girls. I raised them to be independent, so I am actually glad that they are. While we did miss them, we also knew they were off on their own adventures, one at university, the other in Argentina.

  13. says

    What a fabulous 2016! I’m drooling over your Bali picture. Congratulations on publishing your book in April! I can’t wait to see your travels around South America in 2017.

  14. Chrysoula says

    You did a lot of travel in 2016 and I wish you that 2017 will bring more adventures. It must be different but nice to travel as a couple after so many years traveling with children. Love your photos especially the one with the twelve Apostles looks breathtaking!

    • says

      It was very nice to travel as a couple, and it will be nice to travel with Sarah next year. As for the Great Ocean Road, there were several really special moment. The Twelve Apostles was only one of them.

  15. says

    What beautiful places to visit. I think my favourite snapshot was your collage of those super cute animals! I know it’s more than one place, but I’m a sucker for animal shots. Happy travels for 2017!

  16. says

    You & your husband are amazing people. I wish I could travel with you both. An amazing amount of different places and wonderful things that you have seen and thanks to you both, we have enjoyed all of your travels. Thank you Rhonda and I hope that I might be with you both in your future endevours. Thank you my friend.
    I hope that you enjoyed your Christmas and have a very Happy New Years. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

  17. says

    What a fabulous year and definitely a year of transitions. It is a little overwhelming when you consider how much you have a accomplished in such a small time. Looking forward to falling your 2017 adventures

  18. says

    A delightful series of memories captured & shared here Rhonda. The world sure offers an enormous variety of travelling experiences. 2016 was a pretty special year for me too – based in South Australia, I did a 3-wk horse & property “sit” in the Adelaide Hills, a month’s cat & house-sit in Warragul (Victoria, Australia) and then a 6-wk cat & housesit on Vancouver Island, BC in Canada. My love affair with Vancouver Island began with a 3-wk house exchange in 2014 and was cemented by the experiences enjoyed in Sept-Oct this year – so much so that I am heading back there for house & pet-sits over Feb & March 2017 (and I’ll celebrate my 70th birthday while there!). Wishing you fun, safe travels in 2017.

    • says

      What lovely spots, although I am allergic to cats, so the sits sound like a nightmare to me. Vancouver is such a special city and so is everywhere we have been so far in South Australia.

  19. says

    Your pictures totally reflect the amazing year you had! I am not a mother, but I do have one (of course! 🙂 ), and next year I am going to take her with me, my brother and my husband to London as a present for her 60th birthday : I really hope that at the end of the next year she can enjoy the same joy for travel you shared with us.

  20. says

    The ancient bridge in the first shot is amazing. We don’t travel much these days except to follow my husband’s college sports teams. We love living in our floating cabin on Powell Lake in BC so much it is hard to leave. Being there is like a vacation every day. – Margy

  21. says

    Great photos to inspire travel. You are blessed to have hubby by your side so empty nesting is at least together! I worry what it will be like when my son goes and it is just me.

    • says

      Somehow I think it is easier for us homeschoolers. I used to think the opposite when they were younger. But we are so involved with them as they grow up that we know first hand that our children really are ready to be out in the world and to make their own decisions, good or bad. Plus you are really resourceful, you will surprise yourself, you will be fine. Plus, you don’t have to worry about it now.

    • says

      Cruising made it easier to hit so many spots, but we do love to travel. Funny that you are waiting for your boys to get older and I wish I had done the Great Ocean Road when my girls were younger so I could have taken them with us.

  22. says

    What an exciting year! I love that photo in Chicago – along with all the others, of course! We are doing the Oregon coast in June – looking forward to it!

  23. says

    what an amazing time you have had! The bridge and the Skydeck were really scary looking tome- I do not
    think I could have done either one! Have a lovely time with your daughters! and Happy New Year!

    • says

      I am not sure when I stopped being afraid, but life is too short. The Chicago Skydeck was so high there was no fear for me. The bridge was a bit different, especially as we share it with others who don’t walk gently. In other words, it sways a bit.

  24. says

    What a fun year, Rhonda! You visited so many places. I also have fear of heights, but Capilano Bridge seemed quite all right. It seems you had a very smooth transition from a family of four to a couple. Have a wonderful New Year in 2017!

  25. says

    So many great photos and adventures! I especially love the pictures from Bali and New Zealand (sheep!!). I’d love to visit Costa Rica one day too. I really want to see a sloth in real life! Maybe 2017 will be the year for me to do that! Have a great rest of the 2016 year, and happy 2017!

  26. says

    Just fantastic photography guys! You had so much fun in 2016. It must be unforgettable for you. Especially I loved Skydeck in Chicago USA. I wish to do it. I hope I will get a chance. Wish you a safe & happy travel ahead.

  27. says

    I’m pretty sure I have a photo of myself in that same bridge in Bali — one of my favorite places in the whole world. I would do any of these trips, though you would not get me on the skywalk in Chicago for any amount of money. And the Capilano bridge, would take a hefty sum, too! happy new year!

    • says

      I loved just about every inch of that monkey sanctuary. The bridge was top of my list. I do hope to get back to Bali. As for Chicago and Vancouver – I often look at other blogs and “wish I was that brave”. Funny to have you think of me as brave.

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