5 Month Travel Plan

Last week I announced that I left my job of 11.5 years in pursuit of some long-term travel. Right now, I see this as a six month journey. However, that could easily change to shorter or longer depending on a million things, because…life.

I am a meticulous planner; I love travel planning and I think it’s half the fun of travel. For this trip, though, I’m trying to leave as much open as possible. I want the option of lingering in a town I like, working with tourism boards or jumping on a press trip, changing my route to avoid weather or rerouting to see something new. There are a few spots on my itinerary that require advance planning but for the most part, what follows is a very loose agenda of where I’ll be spending the next five months!

August

I worked until the 3rd of August, moved my belongings into a storage unit and I’m now on a bucket list hiking trip in Switzerland.

Switzerland Haute Route

After two weeks of wandering the Alps, I fly back to Chicago, with a 24-hour layover in Reykjavik! Upon landing back in the States, I’ll spend a few days with family and friends, tidying up any loose ends in Illinois and then hit the road. My first stop will be Olathe, Kansas. I will then head west to Colorado, where I’ll end the month of August.

9.19.09 - the historical village of Twin Lakes

September

In September, I’ll spend a bit more time in Colorado, and then boogie on over to Utah. The Salt Lake City area is high on my list for a home base if and when I’m ready to stop moving. I’ve been there twice for quick job interview visits, so I want to spend some quality time here and get a feel for what it might be like to live here. From SLC, I will head up to Oregon for a bit. Despite living in Washington for 3 years, I’ve spent very little time in Oregon. I want to visit Bend and Crater Lake, then I am booked on a 4-day whitewater rafting trip on the Rogue River with OARS. After this, I will head to Lake Tahoe, another first for me, and then swing through Southern Utah, one of my favorite regions in the U.S.

9/12 - Bryce

October

I will kick off October at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, followed by a trip to Page, AZ for as long as is needed to see all the amazing sandstone features I can. Then it will be time to make my way to New Mexico, where I’ll be meeting up with my favorite ladies for a girl’s weekend in Santa Fe. We’ll start at the Albuquerque Balloon Festival and then travel to Santa Fe for a few days of girl-time. Once the girls have gone home, I will spend the rest of the month bouncing back and forth between New Mexico and Arizona. Places like Taos, Sedona, Flagstaff, Silver City and Ojo Caliente are all on my wish-list.

9/9 - cow pie formation in Sedona

November

As winter approaches the high country, I will make my way back to a spot that captured my heart many years ago – the Big Bend region of West Texas. I won’t be able to do a ton inside the National park with Bailey, but will explore by car as well as the areas outside the park. I missed out on a lot my first trip because I was sick, so I’ll revisit places like Marfa and Ft Davis. For the rest of the month, I plan to explore Tucson. Tucson is another place that I’ve considered for relocation as I love the desert and there is high elevation nearby to escape the heat. A couple of weeks should give me a sense of whether I might want to come back and settle in.

3.1.09 - Sonoran Desert Museum

December

Detouring from the road trip, I will begin December in Maui. I got a timeshare pitch/offer that I couldn’t refuse, so I will likely head to San Diego from Arizona and jump a flight to Maui from there. Once I return from Maui, I will make my way down the west coast as far as I can. I would love to spend the whole month in Baja Sur, but will need to iron out the details of driving through Mexico and what my comfort level is with that. I’m told it’s mostly safe, and the danger is in the road hazards more than anything else. I’ve also found online forums of snowbird gringos who drive down and organize caravans. If I decide I’m not comfortable doing that, I’ll kick back in Ensenada for the month, as it’s just a short drive from San Diego.

2018

This is where my plans fizzle out…I have no idea what I’ll do when the new year arrives. If I’m having fun, and not yet broke, I’ll keep going. I would love to spend the whole winter in Baja, eating $1 tacos and drinking Corona to my heart’s content. (My ultimate dream? Winters in Baja, summers in Alaska, with a long, leisurely drive in between) I would love to squeeze in an international trip as well, possibly South America or Central America. Or, I may be heading back to civilization and looking for stable employment again.

So…that’s my plan! Some parts of it feel super rushed. Winter comes early in the mountains and I’ll be racing the clock in September and October. I’m surprised that in a 4-month road trip covering only seven states, I’m still not going to see everything I want. With a plan to camp most nights, I don’t want to move every night, and I’ll supplement with hotels as needed. In anticipation of this trip, I traded in my American Airlines credit card for a International Hotels Group card – this way, every penny I spend will earn points towards stays at Holiday Inn Express, which I have found to be the most convenient dog-friendly option when traveling.

As much as I want to leave up to chance, I would love to hear what your favorite spots are along this route! Especially hikes, campsites, diners, bakeries, taco stands, swimming holes and pet-friendly hotels. Let me have it!

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trips out west

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US National Parks Photos

The National Park Service celebrated its 100-year anniversary last year and has garnered a lot of attention recently as the Alt National Park Service sprang up in response to the recent Presidential administration. All politics aside, these parks are a legacy that we must cherish and preserve at all costs.

Me at Denali (with Tee's skinny legs)

The National Park system includes 417 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House.

9/12 - Amy, Lisa, Olivia, Jenny and I

Some of my earliest travel memories include trips to National Parks such as Badlands, Yellowstone and Grand Teton.  Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to visit over half of the 58 National Parks, which I keep track of here.  I plan to add another half-dozen to my list this year!  These are some of my favorite National Parks photos.

Double Arch

Arches National Park

Big Bend National Park

1997 - Me, Dono, Donna at black Canyon

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

9/12 - Jenny, me and Lisa at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park

Confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers - This is the point on the river where we had to stop and put PFD's on

Canyonlands National Park

Everglades National Park

Glacier National Park

Sunday 9/6

Grand Canyon National Park

Leigh Lake!

Grand Teton National Park

Glaciers on the Resurrection Bay cruise

Kenai Fjords National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

3.2.09 - Trail brushing in Saguaro National Park - Thunderbird Trail

Saguaro National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park - North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

West Thumb Geyser Basin (YNP)

Yellowstone National Park

Zion National Park

I have favorite National Park photos, but I could never choose a favorite National Park. Zion, Grand Canyon and Big Bend are pretty high up there, though! There are still so many more to explore!

Wondering how you can help our National Parks?

  • Visit!
    • Plan your trip at NPS.gov.  Buy an annual pass for $80.  A great deal if you visit more than 3 parks in a year.
    • Have a 4th grader?  You can get a free pass through the Every Kid in a Park program.
    • Senior Citizens can get a reduced-fee lifetime pass
  • Volunteer!
  • Donate!
  • Vote and be heard!  Let your representatives know what is important to you.
  • Share this post!  🙂

Have you spent time in the US National Parks?  What was your favorite?

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Two Traveling Texans
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