Wrap Up: December 2017

Wrap Up: December 2017 | Santa Cruz, California | USA Travel

December is always an interesting month. The end of the year usually means I have plenty to think about in terms reflecting on the past year, what I loved about it and what I could do better in the next 12 months.

I was originally planning on being in Scotland for NYE this year, and even though I’m sure that would’ve been an epic time, I’m glad I chose to stay stateside instead. I ended up having one of my favorite NYEs in awhile, and I celebrated it with one of my closest friends and 60+ other wonderful people on an estate in the middle of nowhere.

My last month of 2017 was mostly spent taking little trips around northern California, preparing my business and mindset for the new year, and appreciating where I was at and who I was with.

I have to say, even though I say this every year (eternal optimist here), I’m really excited about 2018. There are a lot of things I want to focus on this year, most importantly, finding an even better balance between work, travel, and my personal life. I can’t wait to dive in.

I’m also excited about the fact that 2018 will be all about spending time with as many of my closest friends as possible. Literally, I’m choosing my trips this year to meet-up with some of my favorite people & places around the world.

I’m looking forward to nurturing those many relationships that I haven’t been able to give as much time to in the last couple of years because I’m always on the move.


Mendocino | I started out the month enjoying a girls weekend getaway in Mendocino with one of my closest friends, Carrie. We stayed at the luxe and cozy Brewery Gulch Inn, explored the small cities of Mendocino & Fort Bragg, went hiking in Russian Gulch State Park, rode the Christmas-themed Skunk Train, and tasted delicious wine at Lula Cellars.

Wrap Up: December 2017 | Mendocino, California | USA Travel

It was a fun and relaxing way to start out the month and to get away from my usual hangouts in the Bay Area for a bit.

I’ll be writing more about Mendocino in due time, but let’s just say it only inspired me to travel around other off-the-beaten-path spots in California. I sometimes forget how big and beautiful of a state I’m from, but there really are endless places to see here.

Santa Cruz | I spent a decent chunk of my December in Santa Cruz, celebrating Christmas with the family, showing one of my best friends around my hometown, volunteering at the Santa Cruz SPCA, and, as always, getting a lot of work done.

Wrap Up: December 2017 | Santa Cruz, California | USA Travel
Santa Cruz sunset at West Cliff.

San Francisco | I thought I was going to spend a lot more time in San Francisco than I actually did in December, but I guess you never know where the month will take you.

Wrap Up: December 2017 | San Francisco, California | USA Travel
SantaCon in SF.

I only went up to the city a couple of times this month, most notably, to celebrate SantaCon and spend time with my sister.

San Jose | I also spent a little bit of time in San Jose this month, which is a city that I haven’t spent enough time in, being that it’s only 45 minutes away from Santa Cruz.

I grabbed sushi at Yuki Sushi one night (highly recommended!) with my brother and his fiancee.

San Jose - Northern California

Another night, I went on an epic 7 hour date that included a romantic stroll through Christmas in the Park, delicious Mexican food, bowling, and bonding over a mutual love of Motown music. I have to say, I had some good moments around San Jose in December/early January.

Monterey | At the very end of the month, I went on a mini road trip to Monterey with my friend Carrie, before we went up to Siberia for NYE. Monterey is another city that I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in, besides the regular field trips to the Monterey Bay Aquarium when I was in elementary school.

Wrap Up: December 2017 | Monterey, California | USA Travel

We spent a brief hour or two in downtown Monterey, and used the rest of the day to experience the 17-Mile Drive, a gorgeous road trip along the Monterey-Carmel coast with plenty of lookouts. It was the perfect way to appreciate our last moments of 2017.

Siberia (aka Stockton area) | Lastly, Carrie and I went up to ‘Siberia’ for a couple of nights of NYE parties. And when I say Siberia, I’m not taking about Russia (lolz), but a friend’s huge family estate just east of Stockton, which is located pretty much in the middle of nowhere – hence the name.

Wrap Up: December 2017 | Siberia, California | USA Travel
NYE at Siberia!

The theme this year was Casino Royale and everyone dressed to impress to celebrate the New Year. The champagne flowed, the music was spot on, there was giant Jenga, a hot tub, and plenty of hilarious shenanigans throughout the two days we were there.

Without a doubt, it was one of my favorite New Years, and it was made even better by the fact that I rung it in with one of my best friends.


December was a much busier month than I originally thought it would be, so I only got through one full book.

Wrap Up: December 2017 | Reads | The Atlas Heart

I read the thriller Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn in a few sittings. It was one of those books that is very hard to put down once you get into the characters and the story.

I called the twist at the end before I got halfway through the book, but I still enjoyed reading how it played out and the writing. If you’re into interesting and disturbing psychological thrillers, this book would be perfect for you.


Since I’ve been home and I have more time to have a life outside of work and travel, I’ve started watching TV again!

Although it’s still not a huge part of my week, I have gotten into one show in particular that everyone has been raving about – Stranger Things. I love the suspenseful plot line, well written script, and the talented acting, especially the kid actors.

Yes, you could definitely say I’m hooked. I binge watched Stranger Things more than a couple of nights in December/early January, and I’m now only a few episodes from being completely caught up.

Any other Stranger Things fans here?


I really need to be better about getting these wrap ups out within the first week of the month, but January has already been in full swing.

I went on a weekend trip to Tahoe with new friends, just finished visiting one of my best friends in Montreal, and I’m now in Chicago visiting another best friend for the next week.

Wrap Up: December 2017 | Montreal, Quebec | Canada Travel
Montreal, Canada in the winter.

Within 48 hours of being reunited with my friend Pascale in Montreal, we also decided to take an impromptu girls trip to India in the next couple of weeks, so that is coming up as well. I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet, but I’m ecstatic that I’m finally making India happen, even if it was on a whim.

It has been interesting getting back into travel mode after spending a couple of relaxing months at home, but I have a lot of energy for this year and I’m happy that I have the means and the time to spend some quality moments with some of my favorite people this year.

Until next month! x

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Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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