The Year in Review – 2021

Happy New Year! As I do at the beginning of each January, I want to take a timeout from new posts and look back at where this blog has gone over the past twelve months. This “year end review” has become one of my favorite posts to write, as I enjoy diving into the blog statistics to be able to recap which posts were the most popular with my readers. I will, as always, also share a status check on my 2012 Honda Accord and my wife’s 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Last, but not least, we’ll wrap up with some fun updates about this blog.

Let’s begin with the ten most popular blog posts from this past year, as determined by you, dear readers! These rankings are determined by the most individual visitors to each post.

The Top Ten

10. Delaware Lighthouses… Maybe

Lighthouse off coast of Delaware, in Delaware Bay.
This past fall, we thought we’d challenge ourselves by visiting all the lighthouses in Delaware… we ended up with a trip that was certainly memorable!

9. The Real Jersey Shore (Part I)

Bay of Sea Isle City at sunset.
A family vacation to Sea Isle City that included spotting some amazing wildlife, beautiful sunsets, delicious food, good times with family, and an ill-fated whale watching cruise. Actually… better not mention that cruise.

8. Country Roads

View of Route 519, with grain silos and barn on right side of road.
A fun-filled journey down Route 519, beginning at the highest point in New Jersey, traveling through miles and miles of farmland, twisting forest roads, and beautiful small towns. Country roads, take me home.

7. Around NJ

2012 Honda Accord coupe parked in front of building with mosaic mural of Whitney Houston.
My wife and I participated in the NJ Monthly Selfie Challenge, and we spent the better part of a weekend crisscrossing the state to take our photo in front of numerous cool sites. My personal favorite? The Whitney Houston mural in Newark.

6. The Photo Contest

Butterfly on sunflower, with numerous sunflowers in background.
I asked my readers for advice on which photos to submit to the “Shot on Canon” photo contest. This photo, along with a shot of Rondaxe Tower atop Bald Mountain in the Adirondacks, and a picture of a cardinal perched on a snowy branch, were my three submissions.

5. Women’s Heritage

Exterior of the Clara Barton one-room schoolhouse.
Inspired by a PBS documentary, we explored important sites of women’s history in New Jersey, such as this one-room schoolhouse in Bordentown, established by American Red Cross founder Clara Barton.

4. Reminders of the Revolution

Cannon looking over river, with George Washington Bridge in background.
The pandemic did force us to alter our planning for road trips, and we spent a lot of time trying to come up with adventures that would be safe, socially distanced, and when possible, outdoors. One Saturday, we explored important sites in New Jersey from the Revolutionary War.

3. Coastal Explorations

Osprey in flight
This post introduced what would become one of our new favorite spots at the Jersey shore: the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor.

2. Going to the Chapel

St. Hubert's Chapel, on island in lake.
A 134-year old church, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, located in a lake within a private community… this was one of my favorite trips from the summer.
  1. Eagle Cliff
View from the top of Eagle Cliff in the Adirondacks, with Fourth Lake in distance.
The most-visited post was a journey up Eagle Cliff in the Adirondacks in the midst of mud season. There is some irony that what is considered by some as the least favorable time of year to visit Adirondack State Park would turn out to be my most popular post from the past year.

Garage Updates

2012 Honda Accord coupe parked in front of Quiver Pond.
Now with over 188,000 miles on the odometer, my 2012 Honda Accord coupe is approaching the home stretch to the 200,000 mile mark.

During 2021, I added another 23,000 miles to my Accord’s odometer. Every so often, I’ll get the new car itch. Despite being very happy with my car, the desire for the something new and shiny hits me once in a while. The cure for wanting a new car? I’ll simply get in my Accord and drive. Despite approaching 10 years of age, the V6 engine in my car still offers plenty of power, and is so smooth and quiet at idle that I sometimes need to check the tachometer to make sure it is still running. The suspension remains poised and settled, perfect for attacking twisting back roads. With some TLC and elbow grease, the exterior still looks good. And fortunately, the maintenance costs remain reasonable.

Excel spreadsheet listing vehicle maintenance costs and service history for 2021.

While 2020 saw abnormally high maintenance costs for my Accord, 2021 brought a return to far more reasonable prices. The biggest repair was a frozen brake caliper, which necessitated a new caliper, along with associated hardware. Everything else was simply routine maintenance. According to AAA, maintenance and repair costs for vehicles averages 8.94 cents per mile. I ran a calculation recently, and my Accord has cost 7.7 cents per mile. With annual interest rates on car loans climbing, and with the average annual cost of owning a new car now climbing over $9,000 per year, I think I’ll keep my Accord on the road for a while longer yet. 

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, parked in front of Blue Mountain Lake.
Meanwhile, Grace, my wife’s 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, finished 2021 with over 78,000 miles on its odometer.

The Jeep continues to impress me with its cargo capacity, comfort on long distance cruises, and ferocious all-wheel drive system. From smooth, flat highways, to cracked and crumbling city streets, to rutted and muddy trails, to snowy and icy roads, the Jeep takes it all in stride. 

Jeep Grand Cherokee Maintenance 2021

The Jeep continues to impress in the maintenance and upkeep department as well. The most expensive outlay for was a new set of Nokian WR G4 SUV tires. Twenty-inch rims are not cheap to equip with fresh rubber! That said, the tires proved their worth over and over again during last week’s winter road trip (stay tuned for more information in a coming post!). Overall, things are looking good for the Jeep joining the Accord in the high mileage club!


Blog Updates

Statistics of blog including 210 posts, 994 comments, 20,419 views, 7

When I look back to when this blog began, I thought it would be a fun way to share some road trip adventures with my family and friends. I had no idea that six years later, I would still be writing posts and enjoying it now more than ever. 2021 saw significant growth in usage, including a 37% growth in views from 2020, a 3% increase in visitors, and significantly more engagement from my readers in terms of comments and likes. Since 2016, over 7,000 people have visited The Open Road Ahead, and the site has been viewed over 20,000 times. Dear readers, please accept my sincerest gratitude that you continue to find my interests worth your time to read! I will keep the posts coming – there are many miles yet to explore, countless sites still to visit, and plenty of adventures to share. Keep the comments and likes coming – I appreciate hearing your feedback!

And thanks for coming along on yet another end of the year journey on the open road ahead.

‘Til next time.


10 thoughts on “The Year in Review – 2021

  1. Love the wrap up and countdown to the most viewed posts! When I saw this title, I immediately thought back to the photo challenge and wondered if it would make the top 10. Did you ever hear anything back from your entries?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the year-in-review! As for the photo contest, no, I never heard back. I also submitted the same photos to another contest in NJ, and also heard nothing. Sigh. Oh well – I had a lot of fun creating the poll for that contest and seeing my reader’s votes! Thanks for reading!


  2. I always enjoy reading about your adventures. Here’s to hoping our cars get together and having that as an update this year!

    Seeing growth in the stats is gratifying for sure. Even though we don’t write or do YT for likes, it’s nice to feel others enjoy our efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, totally agree about the stats. I started this blog as a way to share my adventures with close family and friends. It’s grown quite a bit since 2016, and it’s cool that people find my little road trip adventures entertaining.

      And yes, let’s definitely get the two Accords together this year!

      Liked by 1 person

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