Time to pull out the suitcases and tune up the Subaru, because these two erstwhile travelers are getting ready to hit the road once again. We’re card-carrying members of the fully vaccinated club and more than eager for adventures that lie beyond a 2-hour drive from home. Heck, we’re even planning to bust out of the Mountain Time Zone! But not right away – we’ll remain cautious with fingers crossed that nothing awful happens between now and mid-May to derail our trips. Did I mention that we’re champing at the bit?
Everyone has a story to tell about these past 14 months, but for this post, I’m focusing on what lies ahead (“the windshield view”) instead of the events of the past year (“the rearview mirror”). With one important exception that I’ll share in a few minutes.
First, let’s look at where we’re headed.
Up First – New Adventures in New Mexico
We have a 16-day driving trip scheduled for May that includes a week in the Santa Fe-Taos area, followed by another week in the Carlsbad region. Other than a couple of previous work trips to Taos for me (with no time for sight-seeing) and an overnight here and there in Santa Fe for both of us, this will be new territory.
For the days in Santa Fe, we booked a sweet little casita on a vineyard located 20 miles north of town. Our base is perfectly situated for day trips in all directions.
Hiking and sight-seeing opportunities abound – more than we can possibly complete in a week, although some remain closed due to COVID restrictions. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance they won’t reopen in time for our visit, which means we’ll be back at some point.
Job 1 will be to enjoy the beautiful surroundings with some early season hikes. (Photo sources in italics)
In between hikes (while tired legs recover), we’ll be checking out these and other attractions:
The second leg of the road trip takes us to Carlsbad for a week of exploring the famous caverns of the same name and checking out a few more hiking trails.
After returning home from New Mexico in early June, we’ll have less than a week to prepare for a more ambitious adventure that takes us through July.
A Taste of Montana Plus A Feast in Alaska
Not everyone plans a trip to Alaska that includes a stopover in Missoula both going and coming. But then again, not everyone has an adorable grandson who lives there (along with his parents)! This is Owen in August 2020 – the last time we saw him in person. We can’t not go.
Our first vacation in Alaska was 15 years ago, and it was super fun. We spent a couple of weeks with travel buddies Steve and Marlene sight-seeing in the Juneau and Skagway areas. We all enjoyed it so much, in fact, that we returned to Alaska two years later for another two week adventure – spending most of our time on the Kenai Peninsula, along with a few days in Kodiak, a bear-viewing trip to Katmai National Park, and one day in the unique little town of Whittier.
At the time, we intended to travel one more time to Alaska to check out the Fairbanks and Denali areas, but it just didn’t happen. Until now, that is. Our trek this summer includes those destinations, as well as a few others that weren’t previously on our radar screen. Being retired, we now have unlimited time (but not unlimited money), so we’re planning a five week stay in our 49th state.
The itinerary includes six national parks, all new to us.
And we’ll have time for sight-seeing in five cities and towns that, with the exception of Juneau, are also new to us.
Looking Back for Just a Moment
It would be difficult to overstate how much we’re looking forward to our upcoming trips. In 2020, we left New Zealand six weeks early and arrived back in Colorado on March 28th. See blog post Grounded and Self-Quarantining. Turns out we needed to be here this past year for family reasons. Carol’s parents (who lived nearby) had been in declining health for some time, but their challenges accelerated during the last half of 2020, as did their need for assistance. Howard (age 99) and Ruth (97) quietly passed away just one week apart in December, 2020.
Mom and Dad were avid travelers well into their 90s. They purchased their first motor home in the early 1980s and began to venture out on extended trips. Over the next 30+ years, they logged 250,000 miles in three different motor homes, traveling through 49 U.S. states and Canada, including two treks to Alaska. And those trips to Alaska were special, holding many cherished memories that they loved to share with friends and family. (They also vacationed in Hawaii and several foreign countries, but without the motor home, of course).
My parents embraced a life of travel and savored every moment, and somewhere along the way, I caught the bug. So this brief look back is to honor their memory and celebrate their role in our decision to adopt their wandering ways (except no motor home for us).
Mom and Dad – thank you, and I love you!