Ten Favorite Photos From 2020

With 2021 only a few days away, this is the time of year I typically reflect on the year that was- the ups, downs (of which there were many) and revisit the photos I’ve taken over these past months of quarantine, social distancing, and uncertainty. In previous, similar compilations- my “Top 10 Photos” usually consisted of shots I’d snapped at shows, while traveling to new destinations, and with friends/family- and while I did manage to do a little travel this year- it was mostly done solo in order to keep both others and myself safe from possible COVID-19 exposure.

My photos from 2020, which I gradually narrowed down to the ones included and outlined in this post- were primarily taken while I was out exploring isolated/abandoned oddities in and around New England (and occasionally across the country) while taking breaks from isolating myself and from lockdowns.

I feel like each photo tells a unique and compelling story about my 2020- which I’ve also briefly outlined and, when possible, linked to the posts they were featured in for more information.

But without any further delay- here’s my “Top 10 Photos” of this year!

10. Before the Storm (January 2020) – It seems fitting I’d start this list/ranking with a photo I snapped on New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day of 2020. While en route to dinner and a few drinks, Troy and I stumbled upon an unexpected but pleasantly surprising view of some of Boston’s celebratory fireworks as we prepared to welcome the new year and a new decade. At the time, we obviously had no idea what the year ahead had in store for us- but this photo and the memory always makes me smile because I was optimistic and joyful- and other people had stopped on the street to watch with us, too.

I never thought I’d miss enjoying moments like this with large groups of strangers as much as I do right now. I’d give anything to be able to be in a crowd again.


9. Finding the Hoosac Tunnel (May 2020) – In the Spring of 2020, I began a research/exploration series here on “Coffee & Chiffon” where I shared unusual, creepy, potentially-haunted locations around New England in an attempt to get out of my apartment for a few hours every week and avoid going completely crazy while simultaneously socially distancing from others.

Out of all the places I found and wrote about this year, none sent a shiver up my spine the way approaching the entranceway to the Hoosac Tunnel in North Adams did when I stopped by back in May. I still get a little freaked out when I look at the pictures I took that day.

It won’t stop be from going back next Fall, though!


8. Derry, Maine Has Nothing On Derry, New Hampshire (September 2020) – So Derry, Maine isn’t actually a real place- but if you’re looking for a Stephen King-esque experience- Derry, New Hampshire has plenty of unsettling, abandoned locations you can check out.

Don’t get me wrong. Derry has it’s charming parts, too- and a few great places to shop/eat peppered around town- but earlier this Fall I found myself pulled over by an abandoned garage and gas station where I was answering a couple of texts before snapping some photos of these old fashioned gas pumps with a lovely bit of foliage in the background.

It was definitely worth the drive.


7. The Neon Boneyard (October 2020) – Back in October, when I had flown out to Las Vegas for my second trip to Nevada this year (the latter being for Kelsey’s memorial service)- I had a couple of hours in-between when my flight landed and when I was able to check into my hotel room- and I opted to use that window of time to visit a place I’d always wanted to see.

I spent some time at The Neon Boneyard where I snapped photos of some of Las Vegas’ most impressive relics of the past- but my favorite of the bunch was by far the huge, still glittering sign for The Stardust Resort & Casino. Being one of the only people on the tour at the time made the moment even more special- since I actually gasped when I saw it for the first time.


6. A Stunning Memorial (June 2020) – In the early Summer days of 2020, I was still researching/documenting unusual attractions during my weekly outings- and the Bowman Mausoleum in Vermont was and is by far the most touching/tragic roadside monument I think I’ve ever come across.

In a year that was punctuated by profound losses- and not just for myself- seeing the lengths that John Porter Bowman had gone to in order to memorialize his family (all of whom died before him) felt especially poignant to see up close. So much love went into the mausoleum- which is usually covered up in the colder months to protect the stone and marble from the elements.

I was moved to tears by his statue- and by his story.


5. The Best Sunset Ever (August 2020) – During a week split between Las Vegas and San Diego in the final days of Summer, I had driven through the desert to Southern California to meet back up with Kelsey’s family for a few days spent by the beach in Carlsbad. During the first night, while enjoying a glass of wine and catching up with her in-laws- I got to see this spectacular sunset over the ocean across the street from the house.

For the first time since the pandemic had started, I felt completely at peace and relaxed. It was such a beautiful evening spent with some of the most important people in my life. I’ll cherish it forever.


4. Fairytales In the Woods (May 2020) – On a rainy May day, after crossing the state line into New Hampshire for an afternoon hike in the woods- I was able to find the famed Madame Sherri’s Castle and do some exploring. The ruins of the former mansion- still standing in some sections and completely overgrown in others- was like something out of a storybook.

I had the entire afternoon and the castle to myself, and was able to capture some phenomenal photos of the area before the rain eventually turned into a torrential downpour and I had to sprint back to my car- but I’d love to head back after the next snowstorm to do some more sightseeing. I’m sure it’s just as beautiful covered in snow as it was covered in rain.


3. Winter Wonderland (April 2020) – One of my favorite photos of 2020 was taken after I’d gotten completely lost while driving through Vermont one weekend back in April. When I finally pulled over to reconfigure my GPS to get me home- I happened to look up and across the roadway to see this lovely little cabin on the water- surrounded by snow-covered trees.

I immediately got out of the car to take some photos, the one above being my favorite of the bunch. A little research once I’d found my way back to my apartment showed I had been in Woodford, Vermont.

I haven’t had the opportunity to head back that way since then- but I think about that little cabin and those trees all the time when I’m out driving.


2. Moments of Joy (July 2020) – During a rare outing with my mom earlier this Summer, where I had convinced her to join me on a day trip to Mystic, Connecticut (and where we adhered to all mask and social distancing guidelines)– we stopped for some outdoor snacks. Seeing so many people out and about with masks, unable to be really close to one another- had me feeling a little down- until I looked across the table and saw my dog, Oliver, staring back at me.

Maybe it was just him eyeing the mozzarella sticks we had ordered- but he just looked so happy– even in the middle of a global pandemic. I immediately took out my phone to snap a picture- and I always look at it when I feel sad. It never fails to cheer me up and remind me there have been moments of joy in the midst of all that has happened this year.


1. Home Sweet Home (April 2020) – And finally, another reminder to find the joy and try to stay optimistic- this one courtesy of the marquee on the movie theater around the corner from my apartment in Greenfield. In the early days of the pandemic, when every business in my town had to close their doors and wait for further instruction- The Garden Theater, located downtown- changed their marquee to instill some hope for the locals.

It stayed that way for a couple of months before the theater began showing limited capacity screenings of classic films for the holidays- but I’m so glad I managed to snap a photo of it during one of my early-evening walks before they had changed it.



And there they are! My ten favorite photos of 2020. It took a lot of review and deliberation- but I think these photos best encapsulate the year I’ve had. There was a lot of time spent in nature, finding unique places- and seeking out the beauty in every day moments- something I intend to do in 2021 and beyond, as well.

A little later on this week, I’ll have my full recap of 2020 and my plans for NYE and the coming year ahead. It’s a lengthy read- but it’s one I’m quite proud of!


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Hi! I'm Ashley. I'm a blogger and a radio personality with a makeup and shoe addiction based out of Boston and the Pioneer Valley. These are my (mis)adventures.

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