The Year in Review – 2019

Beautiful cherry blossoms in our Nation’s Capital. A week of exploring America’s Playground. Standing atop the Rocky Mountains. Venturing far below the ground into the depths of a mine. Discovering a car museum in a Honda dealership. Walking through a castle… in New Jersey.  Ambling between the sunflowers. Hitting the beach. Sitting beside the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe. And much, much more.

Before we turn the page on last year and look toward 2020, I thought it would be fun to revisit the adventures of 2019. I wrote thirty posts last year, chronicling adventures that stretched across ten states. As I did last year, I’m going to begin this post with a list of the ten most popular posts of 2019, as determined by the most reader views. Then, I will give updates on both my Honda Accord and my wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee, before closing with some fun updates about this blog.

 The 2019 Top 10

10b. Art for Art’s Sake (Tie)

Statue of three men playing cards around card table, with a fourth chair empty.
A trip to Grounds for Sculpture, a park filled with artwork in New Jersey.

10a. The Mines of New Jersey (Tie)

Fluorescent rocks, filled with greens, blues, and reds.
Venturing deep below the earth to learn about mining in New Jersey.

9. Rocky Mountain High

View of Mountains through opening in trees.
An unforgettable morning spent in the mountains of Colorado.

8. D.C. in Bloom

View of Washington Monument through opening between cherry blossoms. Potomac River is in the foreground.
A long weekend in Washington, DC, filled with cherry blossoms, history, and a Founding Father’s home.

7. Sunflower Sunday

Butterfly perched on sunflower, with several sunflowers in background.
Ever wander through a sunflower maze? We did.

6. The Great Camps

2012 Honda Accord parked in front of buildings in Great Camp Sagamore.
How did the super-wealthy of the late 19th century spend their summers? In magnificent log cabins in the Adirondacks.

5. Automotive Potpourri

2012 Honda Accord parked in dealer's maintenance driveway - driveway is made to look like street in Europe.
Take your car for an oil change, explore a car museum while you wait!

4. Viva Las Vegas

View of colored ceiling along Fremont Street in Las Vegas.
In a week, we strolled down The Strip, saw cool museums, and had our breath taken away by the Grand Canyon.

3. A Man’s Home is his Castle

2012 Honda Accord parked in front of Lambert Castle.
A castle… in New Jersey?

2. Exit Zero

Row boat that says CAPE MAY on beach, in front of life guard stand.
A visit to beautiful Cape May, filled with historic airplanes, classic cars, gorgeous sunsets, and lots of tasty things to eat!

And the most popular post of 2019 was…

1. Hey Providence

View of Providence Athenaeum interior.
Twenty-four hours in the capital of Rhode Island, exploring a classic library, strolling through a park, taking in artwork in a museum, cheering at a hockey game, and stuffing ourselves with amazing food.

Automotive Updates

2012 Honda Accord, parked in front of Blue Mountain Lake.
Another year, and the miles just keep accumulating.

My 2012 Honda Accord continues to be the road trip vehicle of choice, taking my wife and I to countless adventures. It ended the year with almost 146,000 miles on the odometer. Through it all, the car has been a reliable vehicle, taking me to my destinations with no drama… just a quiet, safe, comfortable drive (unless I decide to dance with the car on a twisty road… then the Accord perks up like a Yorkshire terrier whose owner has just returned home). In terms of vehicle maintenance and repairs, 2019 was pricy, although a large chunk of that was spent trying to diagnose a mysterious check engine light that turned out to be the stuff of nightmares… more on that below. 

Spreadsheet with vehicle maintenance information (discussed in following paragraph).

As you can see, the first half of 2019 involved quite a bit of money at the repair shop. I had two check engine lights – the first from two ignition coil packs that were beginning to fail, and a second from what turned out to be a spider nest (full of spiders!) in my evaporative system. Over a third of the vehicle’s maintenance costs were taken up by those two repairs alone. Along the way, the car needed new brakes for both front and rear, although the original front brakes survived for 120,000 miles and the rear brakes were last replaced at 60,000 miles, so I can’t complain about this expense! The car took a set of new tires in late summer, also ballooning the expense report. The second half of 2019 was significantly cheaper, much more in line with what I expect from this car. Despite the price, the higher-then-expected costs are still cheaper than new car payments!

White Jeep Grand Cherokee, parked on snow-covered road.
Of course, this update wouldn’t be complete without some information about my wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee as well!

Screenshot of spreadsheet with maintenance history (discussed in following paragraph)

My wife’s 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee (Grace) ended the year with approximately 45,000 miles, including almost 1,200 miles on our holiday road trip to the Midwest. Its maintenance expenses were approximately half as much as my Accord (although it does have less 100,000 miles). Grace proved herself a reliable, comfortable ride with ferocious all-weather handling. However, her repair bills would have been significantly higher owing to a major oil leak that required a new oil filter housing on the engine block. Fortunately, my wife had opted for the extended warranty when she purchased her Grand Cherokee, which turned a $1,000+ repair into a $100 deductible. Hopefully, this is the last repair that the Jeep will need for a while.

Blog Updates

Screen shot of blog stats that says ALL TIME VIEWS 10.0K VISITORS 3,000 POSTS 137 BEST VIEWS EVER 119

Finally, a fun update about the blog. When I began writing in March of 2016, I started with no expectation of how long the blog would last, or what kind of audience I would reach. A few days before the end of this year, however, I had broken two important barriers: the blog achieved 3,000 unique visitors and 10,000 total views. For everyone who has taken time out of your schedule to read this blog, to comment, to email or text me ideas or feedback… thank you! I am deeply grateful that you would find this hobby of mine worth your time.

Thanks for coming along on this special year-end journey back in time.

‘Til next time.

2 thoughts on “The Year in Review – 2019

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