Logan's Run Transformed in 2018, & These Were the 5 Most Popular Posts
I could not have imagined, even a week ago, that I would be sitting here, in a Starbucks across the street from Chicago Union Station, finishing up the final post of the year as I wait to board a train headed for St. Louis this evening. There, in Missouri’s second largest city (and my girlfriend’s hometown), is where I will be celebrating the final hours of 2018 thanks to a set of unforeseen circumstances.
But that’s how life goes, things can change in an instant. They can also change gradually, though — over the course of a year, say. Gradual change, a sort of slow motion transformation, is exactly what Logan’s Run experienced over the course of the past 12 months.
From the brand new logo instituted in March to the brand new contributor brought on board in September, from redesigned and better organized webpages to loads of new content featuring new destinations, change was the name of the game for this blog in 2018, and I’d say all those changes have Logan’s Run moving in a positive direction.
The numbers would agree with me. Since 2016, when the blog was in its infancy, unique visitors, overall visits, and page views have continued their steady climb. Two years ago, Logan’s Run saw 698 unique visitors, 1,139 overall visits, and 2,259 page views. In 2017, those numbers jumped up significantly, with 1,256 unique visitors, 1,681 overall visits, and 3,388 page views. In 2018, things only continued in an upward trend. As of today, Dec. 30, the year’s stats are as follows: 1,948 unique visitors, 2,313 overall visits, and 5,799 (!!) page views.
This year’s most popular posts (which are listed below) had a lot to do with that, but so did bringing on an additional contributor during the final third of the year.
Back in March, around the time I scrapped the original “LTH” logo in favor of the one you see at the top of this page, I met up with Melissa Smith, a former elementary classmate of mine, to discuss how she might get involved with the blog. She had been posting photos from all around the country on her Instagram during the course of a two-month, cross-country road trip she took in the early part of the year, and her travels, inspired by the loss of her mother, had me inspired in turn.
Due to all of the traveling she did this year — including that two-month road trip, a seven-week backpacking excursion in your Europe, and the few months she spent in Spain in the fall — Melissa didn’t get around to writing her first post for Logan’s Run until late September. She was off and running from there, however, and finishes the year with five posts total (a month’s worth, in other words), including her latest on Greece.
Speaking of Europe, there was not a single post on the entire continent on this site when 2018 began. That changed in June after I interviewed my friend Alex, who is currently in the middle of a four-year stint living and studying in Italy. More European content would follow in October and November after my four-day trip to Iceland, and we even managed to squeeze in a post on Africa — another first — in mid-September. Of course, since January or February (I cannot remember exactly when) all of the blog’s content is also organized by region under The Rundown.
With 60 posts written in 52 weeks, it’s safe to say Logan’s Run kept me busy this year. I intend to keep up the pace in the year to come, but before then, here is a look back at the five posts that struck the most chords with readers according to numbers tabulated by Google Analytics (click the images to open each original post):
5. That Time We Froze to Death in the Hills of West Virginia
— published March 1
Posted four years to the day that we set out for an alternative spring break trip to Pipestem, West Virginia, “That Time We Froze to Death…” was one of the few posts I planned ahead for in 2018. Typically, I come up with an idea for a post only one or two days before it gets published, but this one was saved as a draft right at the very beginning of the year.
Recounting tales from the week I spent in rural West Virginia in 2014, this post is actually one of my personal favorites from the year. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I like the way it came together and I thought the inclusion of snippets from the journal I was keeping at the time of the trip made it a fun read.
An excerpt: “Boy, just how chilly it would be while we spent the next six nights there, let me tell you we had no idea. After the first two nights, we gave up on sleeping in the various bedroom areas and decided huddling together as one giant nine-person mass in the living room next to the fireplace thingamabob was the only way to carry on.”
4. Return to da U.P.: Rum Slushies, Rocket League, & a Trip to the Gay Bar
— published Feb. 15
This is probably one of those times where, more than anything else, the title of the post rather than its subject or contents was what attracted people to read it. I’m not complaining though — whatever gets your foot in the door, you know?
As unpleasant at times as our little trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was back in early February, this post recounting our second day in and around Houghton was still fun to write. But make no mistake: I will never again in my life make the ludicrous decision to spend two nights in a crowded frat house.
An excerpt: “After going ham all night long, as the kids might say, the residents of the Sig Pi house prepared for their 8 AM broomball match by consuming copious amounts of finely crushed ice doused with rum. Rum slushie invitations were also extended to me, my brother and the friend who had made the trek to the U.P. with us, but at 6 AM we were much more interested in our (useless) attempts to get more shuteye.”
3. Into the ‘Wild’: I Lost Someone Special, Then I Decided to Hit the Road for Two Months
— published Oct. 10
One of the first posts published by Melissa after she jumped on board in late September, “Into the ‘Wild’” gives some insight into our new contributor’s journey both in life and out on the road during this past year. After losing her mother at the age of 23, Melissa decided to set out on a cross-country road trip, covering 22 states over the course of two months.
In the post, she covers trip planning, constructive ways to spend your time in the car, and draws comparisons between her experience and that of Cheryl Strayed, the author of the novel Wild, which details Strayed’s own grief journey.
An excerpt: “Like Cheryl, I lost my mother at a young age, too, when I was just 23. And like Cheryl, I decided venturing out on my own was exactly the thing I needed to do in order to do some healing of my own. Rather than hike a thousand miles, though, I decided to go ‘wild’ in a different way: by packing up my car and heading out on a road trip across the U.S.”
2. An American in Rome: One Man’s Experience Living in Europe for Two Years
— published June 24
It was in early June that one of my best friends from high school came home to Michigan for the first time after spending two full years across the pond studying to become a priest in Italy. Being the opportunistic blogger that I am, I thought, “Why not take advantage of this situation and get some fresh content out of him?”
So, about two weeks or so after he got back, we had a good, hour-long chat about his life in Europe. He told me about his experiences eating Italian food, the dangers of riding a bicycle through the streets of Rome, what Italians tend to think about Americans and the U.S., and about all of his travels across the European continent, and it’s all recorded right here in this marathon Q&A-style post.
An excerpt: “‘So getting there, it wasn’t like, “Wow, this is vacation!” It was like, “Oh, wow, we’re going to be here for two years and then go home and then be here for two or three more — this is, like, home for a while.” Moving there, it took a little while to appreciate all the good that Italy is. I didn’t know any Italian. I went into Italy knowing nothing about Italy, other than people there liked pasta. That was it.’”
1. Looking for Volunteer Opportunities Abroad? This Online Community is the Place to Be
— published March 7
And finally, numero uno. This post did relatively well in terms of views when it was initially published in early March, but for some unfathomable reason or another it really skyrocketed in April, nabbing hundreds of views over the course of a couple days.
Squarespace Analytics (which I sometimes check in addition to Google Analytics) told me the traffic was coming from Facebook, but I could never figure out where it had been shared or what exactly happened. Maybe it was the Russians?
Anyway, this fairly short post is all about Workaway, an online community that helps wander-full people find volunteering opportunities in all different parts of the world. I learned about the site thanks to a friend of mine who became a Workawayer in 2017. With the help of the site, he set up a trip that saw him to Sweden, Poland, and Germany while working in various different capacities.
An excerpt: “The good people over at Workaway call themselves ‘a global team of culture seekers and innovators, passionate about travel and finding the path to change.’ They believe in travel with a meaning. Sometimes, that meaning is getting your hands dirty in a permaculture garden on an island off Honduras; other times, it's tending to horses on a farm in Belgium or conducting project-based learning in Vietnam.”
If you’ve made it this far, congrats! You’re reading the final words that will be published on Logan’s Run in 2018. Give yourself a pat on the back for that spectacular accomplishment and get psyched for next year, because I know more new and exciting changes will be on the way.
Seriously, though, thanks for following along, and here’s to another successful year (for all of us) in 2019!
*Feeling nostalgic for 2017? Have a look back at the previous year’s five most popular posts right here