It was about this time last year that those nice folks at Gallivance (Terri and James Vance) published Best of the Blog: The Top 10 Faves, and ever since then, we’ve wondered what you, our readers, would find fascinating among our ramblings for 2018. After all, we’ve been near (our home town of Knoxville) and far (Maine and Morocco), but never really thought of what you enjoyed reading about the most . . . until now.
Come to think of it, looking back is a good thing. We just may want to do less of one place and more of another based upon what you like. (Now there’s a concept — pleasing our readers!)
So, with thanks to the Vances for inspiration (good writing, humor, great photos, too), here are our top five Most Viewed posts of 2018. Ta-da!!!
Most Viewed Number 5: “Food, glorious food: West End Market, Cleveland, Ohio”
Now, this one was no surprise to us: everyone we know who travels seems to love eating food of the area. And after a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the house in A Christmas Story, we decided that a big market like West Side was just what we needed to see (and sample). With a plethora of fresh veggies piled high for the taking and some regional specialties we just don’t get that often in Tennessee (think perogies, apple provolone stuffed tenderloin, and pizza bagels), it was definitely love at first sight — and first bite — at West Side Market.
Most Viewed Number 4: “Sunrise at Acadia Dock”
Shoulda known this one would be in the Top Five. Sunrise photos rank right up there with puppies in a basket and cuddly babies in knitted caps as favorites. But these sunrises were special to us. We woke early almost every morning during the month we spent in Castine, Maine, just to walk to the dock and stand with the locals in silent reverence for God’s paintings on the water.
We loved it all — from boats tied up and waiting, to watching lobstermen hard at work before dawn, to the launch each day of the Maine Maritime Academy’s training boat, the Bowdoin.
In fact, those early morning strolls down the street, cup of coffee in hand and jacket zipped up, remain some of our fondest memories. But coming in at a close second after clapping for the sunrise was hiking up the main drag to enter MarKel’s Bakehouse for a whiff of those moist right-out-of-the-oven blueberry scones. Would go back in a heartbeat!
Most Viewed Number 3: Out of this world: Monhegan Island, Maine
Speaking of going back — one night in Monhegan is definitely not enough. From the boat trip on choppy waters to the laid-back, no-improvements-needed landscape of this little island Down East, it was, hands-down, one of our sites and sights to remember from all of our U. S. travels.
Just like our early morning adventures in Castine, Maine, we wanted to see Monhegan at dawn. So getting up early and trekking to the top of the hill where the original lighthouse and Monhegan museum stand was a no-brainer. We had to do it, and we did. And the reward? A panorama of houses and unmanicured yards and dirt paths leading up the road apiece. It’s life as it was fifty years ago, and that’s why people come to see it. And it’s what keeps the locals there even through brutal winters.
If you’re ever in Maine wondering whether to spend a couple of days in Monhegan or not, we say, “Go for it.” It’s artistry, community, and raw beauty all in one — something you can’t find packaged together much anymore. If this post isn’t enough of Monhegan (and one post really isn’t), try taking a look at this one as well: “Five places to see: Monhegan Island, Maine.”
Most Viewed Number 2: “Variations on a Theme: Island Cottages, St. George Island”
Near Apalachicola, Florida, lies an expanse of beach that, although lined with residences, doesn’t seem crowded at all. It’s because the founding fathers or the current municipal fathers (or both) have seen fit to leave St. George Island almost untouched. You rarely see a restaurant. And there are few rental places, few beach shops selling air-brush t-shirts, and almost no dune buggies whizzing past. Just beach. And that’s the beauty of it.
But there are viewing spots — now, more than ever. Island cottages are nestled in and among the older beach houses so that we who want to visit St. George can get a glimpse, no matter how high up, of that beautiful blue water and untouched sand beach.
So, here’s to the skinny houses, the ones that seem precariously perched on stilts so that residents can sit on skinny porches, raise their binoculars and search for dolphins swimming by.
This was one of those posts we put together for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, and we must admit that we miss those weekly suggestions for posting sent to us by the WordPress folks. It only takes a few words from the blog people to make the photo bugs within us search our memories (and our hard drives) for just the right thing. But since that’s no longer done for us, we probably need to do that on our own a little more often.
Most Viewed Number 1: “Weekly Photo Challenge: Silence in a Garden”
And here it is: Number One! Again it was a WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge response that catapulted this little three-photo post to the Most Viewed status among our blogs in 2018! Perhaps readers share our desire to “sit a spell” in a relaxing place, like a garden, and let the cares of the world pass us by, even if just for a short while.
Or perhaps it’s the power of WordPress to help us network and share posts with so many people who blog on a regular basis. Whatever the reason, we are delighted that a garden spot in Knoxville, Tennessee, was the Most Viewed Post of 2018.
And maybe we need to rethink big trips — like the one we took to Morocco — for popular posts. Not one of our Morocco posts landed in the Top Five; instead, viewers liked sunrises, beaches, and gardens more. (And we love those as well.)
Thanks to you, our viewers, we look forward to another year of blogging. We’ll finish up our series Marvelous Morocco just in time to head to Southeast Asia for a January 2019 itinerary that includes meandering the streets of Hanoi, sleeping two nights on a junk in Halong Bay, snapping endless photos of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, and reveling in the colorful city of Bangkok.
We wish for all of you a very happy 2019 — whether you travel far or near. It’s all good when you love where you are in the world.
Thanks for following Oh, the Places We See.
Rusha and Bert Sams