Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown’s 2012 Year in Review – What a Trip

"Nancy D. Brown Rancho de los Caballeros"
Nancy riding Gonzo on her birthday at Rancho de los Caballeros, Wickenburg, AZ

It’s always a good idea to take the planning of your birthday celebration into your own hands. Last year, I took a foodie tour of San Francisco and this year I booked myself a solo getaway with sunshine and horseback riding at Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Arizona.

This travel writer played tourist in San Francisco with an overnight stay at the Sir Francis Drake during the annual Fancy Food Show.


To Alisal Guest Ranch for horseback riding and a visit to California’s storybook town of Solvang.

February is Mardi Gras time in the South. This was not only my first time to celebrate Mardi Gras –  be a part of a krewe, throw beads and ride on a float – it was also my first time visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast.


Road trip to Carmel, California and the Hofsas House in early March. Then onto Healdsburg for an overnight at Hotel Les Mars and horseback riding through the Sonoma county vineyards of Chalk Hill Estate.

I flew an airplane, and not just any plane, I piloted a Cirrus SR-22 for the first time with the Learn to Fly program. What a trip!

Vegas bound to dine with Chef Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas in Nevada.


My first time to San Antonio, Texas to celebrate Fiesta San Antonio, cruise along the famous river walk  and see the Mission Walk trail, connecting bikers, joggers and walkers on this landscaped, historic trail. While I didn’t have time for horseback riding in Texas, I watched my first Charreada in San Antonio.

"Everett Ridge"
Travel California’s Wine Road of Northern Sonoma County to Everett Ridge.


I traveled California’s Wine Road of Northern Sonoma County on a blogger retreat in early May and then ventured over to Napa for the expansion of Meritage Resort & Spa. They have an underground spa that is out of this world.

I journeyed to Debeque, Colorado, near Grand Junction, for a week of hanging with cowboys and horseback riding at the High Lonesome Ranch. I also experienced my first cattle drive while on the back of a horse. Giddy up!

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Once again, I purchased my ticket to TBEX, the Travel Blog Exchange annual conference. And once again, the dates conflicted with another writing assignment. No way was I going to pass up a trip to Toulouse, France and the Midi-Pyrenees region. I drank and dined my way through Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle thanks to the French Tourism Board.


I drove California’s Sonoma Coast in my Mini Cooper, hugging scenic Highway One until I reached Timber Cove Inn,  located in Jenner, California. Timber Cove is undergoing a room-by-room, large scale renovation. I’ll be anxious to see the end result of the remodel.


Some people walk the historic el Camino de Santiago, our family takes a yearly pilgrimage to Sunriver Resort in central Oregon. While others may not consider a family vacation as spiritual, or a time for inner reflection; I beg to differ. Our yearly vacation is a rare moment in time when everyone clears their busy schedules and makes time for down time. Time to float the Deschutes River rapids with friends; time to go horseback riding, and, time for my Oregon-born husband to re-connect with his outdoor-oriented roots.


I flew non-stop from San Francisco International Airport to Palm Springs, California. This was my first time to discover the Hollywood desert playground of the rich and famous. Next stop, a road trip to Temecula Valley Winegrowers to experience Southern California’s CRUSH.

"Spa Natur'Eau"
Spa Natur’Eau, Quebec, Canada


I flew into Montreal and enjoyed a visual experience at the Botanical Gardens, along with a city tour. Then onto Quebec, Canada in the fall for a spa trip to experience Nordic Baths and overnights at fabulous country inns.


After many years of dealing with a failing hip, I made the decision to undergo total hip replacement surgery. You’ll see from this post that it took me quite awhile to come to terms with this decision. While my surgeon said no to horseback riding in Mexico, I was fortunate to be invited to Secrets Vallarta Bay in Puerto Vallarta for one last hotel review prior to surgery.

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My travel wings were clipped the month of December due to my left hip replacement surgery. However,  I had a chance to speak with some cowboys and cowgirls who had experience recovering from joint replacement surgery and broken bones and were now back in the saddle.

What are you grateful for this year? Have you traveled somewhere special or made plans for travel in 2013.  I’d love to hear what travel plans are in store for you.

Related Post:

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown’s 2011 Year in Review

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown’s 2010 Year in Review

4 thoughts on “Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown’s 2012 Year in Review – What a Trip”

  1. Wow What a year. Except I somehow missed that you had to have hip replacement surgery this year. So sorry to hear. But hope you are feeling better now. Glad you got one last ride in before your surgery and glad that you are back in the saddle. All the best for 2013!

  2. @Deb
    Thanks for stopping by. I’m not back in the saddle yet, but working hard at physical therapy to get back to horseback riding. Sounds like you have a lot of travel planned for 2013. What a trip!

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