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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Summer Fun in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Just three hours from Chicago is the 2nd largest city in Indiana: Fort Wayne. Not really on my travel radar before, but the theme of my summer is the “Best of the Midwest” and I wanted to see it all! When the folks at Visit Fort Wayne invited me to visit and shared a list of options, I was overwhelmed by the choices! My first impression of Fort Wayne is that it’s a lot larger than I imagined. At 250,000 people, this is no po-dunk farm town. From my two-night visit, here are a few fun things to do in Fort Wayne.

Fort Wayne Baseball

My first stop in Fort Wayne was Parkview Field for a Friday night Tin Caps game. Parkview Field is rated the #1 Minor League ballpark experience in the country, and I’m not surprised! The park, built in 2009, has a ton of options for watching the game. I thought the lawn section in the outfield looked pretty fun. There are plenty of food and drink stalls, along with games and activities for the kids. Parking in a nearby lot was $5, but I’m sure you could also find street parking if you arrived early enough. When I visited, it was 70’s Night, and there was plenty of disco entertainment, and good 70’s jams between plays.

Tin Caps Game at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne Outfitters

Fort Wayne Outfitters is your one-stop shop for outdoor fun in Fort Wayne. Their location in the Cass St. Depot offers a gear shop, boat rental and bike rental. I was able to take a kayak out on the St Mary’s river, and given a tour by local river enthusiast, Aaron, who regularly paddles the area, picking up trash along the way. Like many Midwest towns, the rivers in Fort Wayne weren’t always valued for recreational opportunities, but are now seeing a resurgence in funding and conservation. We paddled along Headwaters Park, where the Three Rivers Festival was taking place, with boat tours and helicopter rides. The river was abuzz with activity!

Kayaking St Mary's River, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Arts United Center

If you are a theater buff, go see a performance at the Arts United Center. If you prefer architecture, get yourself on a tour of this unique building! The Arts United Center was designed by world-famous architect Louis Kahn as part of a larger Arts Campus in the 1960’s. The 655-seat theater features performances by Fort Wayne Ballet, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, and more! The building is an architectural marvel, with folded concrete walls and brick arches throughout. Next door at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, you will find two special exhibits highlighting Louis Kahn and his work in the community.

Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne Festivals

The Fort Wayne calendar is chock full of festivals. When I visited, the Three Rivers Festival was in full swing. This 9-day festival draws nearly half a million visitors each summer! There are over 80 events including Food Alley, Art in the Park, the Three Rivers Festival Parade, the Raft Race, Children’s Fest, and the Chalk Walk at the Arts Campus! Evening concerts highlighting artists like The Purple Xperience (Prince tribute band) and Rock of the 80’s Tour had crowds dancing until dark! Three Rivers Festival is more like a ton of festivals within a festival as there seemed to be events all over town.

Image Courtesy of Visit Fort Wayne

Image Courtesy of Visit Fort Wayne

Bicentennial Woods

Bicentennial Woods is one of many properties in the ACRES Land Trust, and is a wonderful respite from urban activity. Located on the north end of town, Bicentennial Woods features 2.6 miles of hilly hiking trails along a shallow creek that is perfect for splashing around on a hot summer day. We found many intersecting, unmarked trails, so a good sense of direction (or a GPS unit) is a good idea, although you’re never too far from civilization to get lost. When in doubt, follow the creek!

Dog-Friendly Hike at Bicentennial Woods, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fox Island County Park

Fox Island is a great little park on the edge of town with a swimming beach, seven miles of hiking trails, wildlife observation towers and a doggy beach! A $2 entrance fee provides access to the park for the entire day, even if you leave and come back. We visited on a warm summer Sunday and there were lots of families enjoying the beach and nearby picnic shelters. Fox Island is a great place to take your pup when it’s hot out.

Fort Wayne Hotel

During my visit, I stayed at the Ramada Plaza Fort Wayne Hotel and Conference Center. Pet friendly is the #1 hotel requirement for me when traveling, and the Ramada allows dogs up to 80 pounds for a $50 pet fee. The outside of the hotel is not much to look at, as it’s one of those large convention hotels on the northern edge of town. However, the interior has been updated more recently, and there’s a pretty cool indoor/outdoor pool with a nice sundeck. The hotel is about 15 minutes from the downtown area.

Ramada Fort Wayne

More Fort Wayne…

For all that I saw in Fort Wayne, I feel that I missed even more! There’s the Children’s Zoo, Science Central, the Genealogy Center, the Botanical Conservatory, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, DeBrand Chocolate Factory tours, 12 free splash pads and over a dozen farmers markets!

Fort Wayne also appears to have a serious foodie fling going on. There are plenty of brewpubs, food trucks, cafes and ethnic dining available for all kinds of tastebuds!

Image Courtesy of Visit Fort Wayne

Since there are so many fun things to do in Fort Wayne, I recommend starting at Visit Fort Wayne to plan out an itinerary of your interests. Feel free to contact them via Facebook or Twitter as they are a great resource for information, and can help you narrow down the many, many options in the area!

So many fun things to do in Fort Wayne, Indiana! @visitfortwayne #myfortwayne Click To Tweet

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Summer Fun in Fort Wayne

I was a guest of Visit Fort Wayne. These are solely my personal opinions and I was not financially compensated for this post.

I’m participating in The Weekly Postcard blog roundup. Click the photo below to check out other posts this week!

 

Two Traveling Texans
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