I’m struggling to find words to describe 2016. It was a year of big losses (my grandfather and deciding to end our neverending infertility battle) and exciting highs (lots of visitors, a trip to Tahoe, and the National Park Service Centennial). The presidential election nearly sent me into a panic attack and I am saddened by the blatant disregard for human life here in the states and across the globe. It was also a rough year health-wise for myself and several of my loved ones. In the end, however, I’m making efforts to remember all the good that happened instead of fixating on the dumpster fire portions, lol. I put together a photo summary of 2016 below:

January

Grandpa Heisz

I lost my paternal grandfather. He is the only grandfather I have ever known. My other grandfather and great-grandfathers all passed before I was born.

February

Harpers Ferry

We visited Harpers Ferry National Historical Park with friends when they were in town visiting.

Antietam

We took visitors to Antietam National Battlefield.

Gettysburg

We took visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park.

Workbench

Hubs and I built a rolling workbench and shelves for the garage at our new place.

Duck Donuts

Duck Donuts. It’s delicious. So many combinations of flavors and toppings (think the Chipotle of the donut world).

March

Shenandoah Overlook

My cousin spent a week and a half with us and we did a lot of exploring, including a trip to Shenandoah National Park.

Gettysburg

We also took my cousin to Gettysburg (our second visit in two months).

Montpelier

When my family came to visit, we drove down to Montpelier (one of the few things around here none of us had done).

Yardwork

My dad volunteered as tribute and stayed home with me to pull the super overgrown shrubs at our new house.

Nertz

We spent many hours during my family’s visit playing Nertz. :)

April

Bull Run Winery

We made our first visit to a Virginia winery (Bull Run Winery) for a tasting.

Austin Texas

I made my first, of what I hope is many, trips to Austin for a work conference.

May

Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia

We visited Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia and completed a few short hikes.

Masters Graduation

While I had earned my masters degree at the end of last summer, I finally walked in my commencement ceremony.

June

Shenandoah National Park Visitor Center

I got to cross a mobile visitor center off my #ParkNerd list in Shenandoah National Park.

Maryland Heights

Hubs and I finally hiked Maryland Heights in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Cactus Garden

I made (don’t forget to wear gloves!) and surprised Hubs with a cactus/succulent garden when he was missing the desert.

July

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

We saw the Old Army Guard perform during an independence event at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.

Rackers really enjoys sunny walks on the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.

August

Lake Tahoe

We spent an enjoyable week in Lake Tahoe with Hubs’ college buddies.

NPS Centennial

We spent the day of the National Park Service Centennial in Shenandoah National Park.

September

Farm Aid Concert

I checked off several bucket list items attending the 2016 Farm Aid Concert in Bristow, VA.

October

Wedding in Vegas

Hubs was in the wedding of two of our dear friends back in his hometown (Las Vegas).

November

Mount Vernon

We visited Mount Vernon with a couple of friends who happened to be in town for work.

Voting

I rocked a pantsuit at the polls. The election didn’t turn out how I had hoped, but I was proud to cast my historic vote.

Valley Forge

My in-laws stayed with us for several weeks and we visited Valley Forge and Independence National Historical Park.

December

Christmas in Wisconsin

There is no better way to end the year than spending Christmas in Wisconsin with my family.