By the time a new year starts, I usually have my travel plans and destinations in mind. But I also have a running list of long-term travel goals. What can I say, I am a planner by nature.
My number one goal for the next five years is to finish the 50 States Project, which is to say that both Mike and I will have visited all 50 states. The current state of our map is below:
I figured out that although we didn’t set out for this to happen, we have ended up going to most states together. I think the only one we have both visited, but at separate times, is Florida. Every other state we have been to together at least once. I am still counting Florida for the purposes of the project, but I do want to go back with Mike, at the very least for Harry Potter World.
My plan to finish up the states involves four separate trips:
- an Oregon roadtrip. I envision this as a loop down the coast from Portland and then back up through Crater Lake.
- a Great Lakes roadtrip. This will include Mackinac Island, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Isle Royale National Park, and the Northern shore of Wisconsin, the last remaining Midwest state.
- a Dakotas roadtrip, which will hit the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park, with a short detour into Wyoming for Devil’s Tower.
- Alaska, which I’d like to do as half cruise, half land, but Mike is not enthusiastic about the idea of a cruise. We might end up just flying there and making that a roadtrip, too.
My 10 highest priorities after that, at this moment, are:
- Glacier National Park
- Europe River Cruise
- Scotland, especially the Highlands and Outer Hebrides
- Mediterranean Cruise
- Canadian Rockies
- Galapagos Islands
- New Zealand
Runners-up: Yosemite, Vienna, Ireland.
I say “at this moment” because things can move on and off this list depending on my mood. It will interesting to see if this list is the same in 2017.
When we got back from Australia two weeks ago, for the first time in years, I did not have the next trip planned. In the beginning of April, we moved from the Philadelphia area to Central Pennsylvania, where I’d gotten a new job. Although just about everything having to do with this move, including the new location and my new job, have been terrific, I had to give up my stored-up vacation days and start over. So for a few months, we are going to be homebound. This is not as bad as it sounds; we have several weekend trips planned, and several weekends hosting houseguests. But my next chance for a long trip is over the holiday break.
In keeping with my new theme of wanting to go somewhere warm, we decided to knock out a state that Mike hasn’t been to yet and visit New Orleans. This is also fulfilling another goal of mine to take an overnight train trip, since we will arrive via Amtrak. We will drive up to visit Mike’s sister in Arkansas for Christmas, then return to NOLA for a few days before flying home. I have been to New Orleans, but it was more than 10 years ago, and not for very long. I’m going to have to come up with something interesting for us to do, since my favorite things (beignets and French Quarter houses) are not going to interest Mike very much.
We decided almost spur of the moment to make our May/June trip next year to see some more Utah National Parks. The real impetus was when I checked the National Park hotels at Zion and Bryce Canyon and found out they had (very few) rooms available. I’d already had the basic plan for the trip mapped out, so I snapped up the reservations, and also added an overnight stop at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, which I didn’t get to see last fall. My obsession with National Parks and National Park hotels continues. I thought about making our next goal (after achieving the 50 States) visiting all of the National Parks, but I’m not sure because there are a few I am just not interested in. But we might get almost there without making it an explicit goal.
In late summer, we have two possibilities: Nova Scotia or back to Bar Harbor. We’ve never been to Nova Scotia, and usually a new place would win out over a repeat, but I loved Bar Harbor so much that I view these as almost even.
For next year’s holiday break, I am thinking of going back to the Southwest: specifically Big Bend National Park, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe. I will not pretend that the regional cuisine is not a major reason for this plan.
Something new on the radar for 2015: possibly an Alaska cruise. I’m looking at a Princess cruise with a land tour portion, something like this. Neither of us have been to Alaska, so we’d get to mark off a state for the Fifty States Project.
We’d probably stay for a few extra days after the land tour part ends, because of the timing. I’m trying to decide if we should stay in the Fairbanks area, or go back to Anchorage. Another possibility is to fly back to Vancouver and spend a few days there, since we probably won’t be able to do that before the cruise sails.
There is nothing like a good, old-fashioned roadtrip to cross a bunch of states off the map.
Just Alaska, Oregon, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota to go!
Here’s an update on how the 50 States project is going. I added Maine, New Hampshire, and Washington State so far this year.
50 States Project, Nov. 2012