This was a year of lots of business and personal travel. As I get to posts about some of the individual trips (the personal ones), I will link them from this post.
The biggest travel news of the year is that I visited Hawaii and completed my 50 state quest. My original plan was to complete this trip by my 50th birthday, or even for my 50th birthday, but I only missed it by a year and a half. And in a lifetime of travel, that’s not too bad.
I went to the following new countries this year: Italy, Slovenia and Iceland. I also went on a business trip to England.
My US travel was mostly business travel, but there was some personal trips mixed in:
San Francisco (4X)
New York (3X)
Salt Lake City
And during the 100th Anniversary Year of the US National Park Service, I visited 7 National Parks, bringing my total to 21 out of 59:
Thanks to Emily for 47, 48 and 50.
If you had told me a year ago that I would climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa I would not have believed you. It’s not that the 19,341 foot peak requires mountain climbing skills that I do not have, but it just was not on my list of things to do. I guess I can thank Emily for that.
We met a year ago, while both visiting a National Park in Alaska. We have since been camping and hiking in four other National Parks. While visiting Tanzania last fall on safari, Emily was inspired by the snow-topped mountain on the equator. Her safari driver had been a Kilimanjaro porter and he convinced her that she could do it. Upon her return, she asked me if I wanted to join her. I said yes, but not really thinking through the magnitude of the journey. At least I had eight months to prepare.
If you have seen me in person in the last six months, or talked to me for any length of time, then you probably know about my big trip this summer. If you have only seen my updates online, then this is a surprise to you.
I am climbing a mountain. A big mountain.
Next week I leave on a trip to Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is 19,340 feet high. It is the world’s largest free-standing mountain and the highest point you can get to on Earth by hiking. That means there is no technical mountain climbing involved. No fancy equipment like harnesses or ropes or caribiners. Just hiking boots, trekking poles and lots of layers.
Over my fall break I took a road trip to Oklahoma. This was my 49th state. The road trip took me through Missouri and Kansas, so I was able to see the St. Louis Arch and the state capitol buildings in Jefferson City and Topeka. And I spent my time in Oklahoma in the capital, Oklahoma City, so I managed to see (and photograph) three state capitol buildings on this trip.
I finished my summer travel by making it to my 48th state. To get to Montana I had to fly into Spokane, Washington, and pass through Idaho. My destination was Glacier National Park, and I was traveling with my friend Emily, who I met in Alaska a mere 6 weeks before.
It turns out it was a record year for Glacier National Park, as they had welcomed 2,238,761 people in 2014 through September 30. And we were two of them.
I knew my trip to Alaska this summer would get me closer to my 50 states, but I didn’t know that it would help me get two more states. While in Alaska I met fellow traveler, and now my friend, Emily. When I told her about my need to go to Idaho and Montana, she offered to join me. She lives in Portland, Oregon and it would only be a short, five-hour drive to pick me up at the Spokane, Washington airport, before heading across Idaho and into Montana.
We started planning the trip for early August, before I started classes, shortly after we returned from Alaska in June. Since my plane would be getting in late to Spokane, we decided it made the most sense to drive only 45 minutes to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and spend the night, rather than driving all the way to Glacier National Park. Even though an overnight stay would let me count Idaho, I really wanted to do something while we were there. We decided to go for a bike ride on the Route of the Hiawatha, an old railroad line converted to a trail, before heading to Montana.
As I close in on my 50 states, which I should reach by next summer, I am already thinking about what comes next. That, however, is a post for another time. Many of my recent states have involved short visits, many just a meal or an overnight, but I took a week’s vacation in Alaska. This made my visit to my 46th state very different. And it makes this blog post different because it needs to cover lots of territory, just like our nation’s largest state.
It all started when I planned to join my sister for a no-kid weekend with my mom for Mother’s Day. My sister was already going to Florida to visit our mom for the weekend, and I decided to join her. We did not tell my mom. I wanted it to be a surprise, but not a “just show up at the door” surprise. I would tell her about two weeks before my arrival. This way she could make dinner reservations for the right number of people. Things like that are important to her.
I bought my plane tickets for the weekend and kept it to myself. After I told my mom I was coming for the weekend, she was very excited. She told me I made her day. She told her friends that she was spending Mother’s Day with her two children. This was going to be a special occasion. Now all we had to do was get there.
While driving through the rural Indiana countryside at night, I spotted several “Amish Crossing” signs. My first instinct was to keep my eyes peeled on the side of the road for a buggy to come darting out across the road.
Photo Credit: Flickr