And Many Miles Before I Sleep

I enjoy travel, a lot. In 2011, I made three major trips:

  • The Pacific Northwest, Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and Portland
  • Puebla and Oaxaca Mexico, and
  • New Orleans, LA

Now it’s 2012, and I have to figure out where the winds might carry me.

St Charles Streetcar heading back from Uptown towards the French Quarter

My trip to Mexico last year was special to me because–other than numerous trips to Canada (most recently Victoria, British Columbia and Montreal)–Mexico was my first trip to a “foreign” country since before Sept. 11 2001. It wasn’t my intention to stop traveling internationally after 9/11, it just sort of happened.

Part of me felt there was so much to explore in the United States and there were so many amazing National Parks to see, I wanted to spend my vacations focused on those places. The years got away from me, and I wound up spending 10 years of gorgeous days and nights in the National Parks (Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion, Grand Tetons, Yosemite, Shenandoah, Great Smokies, Acadia, and more) but I haven’t spent much time in foreign lands.

Mexico was a wonderful experience and I realized even with my bad Spanglish I could get along quite well. (Por Favor and Gracias go a long way when you add a smile!) The people I met were so helpful, and although it took me a day or two to get over my own apprehension about being in Mexico (gasp!) I realized I was 100% safe and then I relaxed and had a phenomenal time.

Now it’s time for me to begin gearing up for what’s on the travel agenda this year. There are a few places on my wish list. Those include:

Newfoundland, Canada including St. John’s of course, but I’d prefer to traverse the island by car and go to the western shore and Gros Morne (Canadian) National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site. One of the reasons I haven’t gone on this trip is I’m concerned about going alone. I travel all over the place by myself, but Newfie is very wild, there are moose, black bears, and on the western shore they have lynx. I don’t want to “get-et” by the local fauna. I love watching Man Vs. Wild, Dual Survival, and other survival shows; I’m just not ready to put all that to the test by myself. I saw 127 hours too ya know. This trip will only be possible during the summer, so I’m sure I’ll need mosquito/black fly protection, but on the up side, I’ll get to sample the 17+ varieties of berries that grow on Newfie.

…….can you tell I’ve done a bit of research on this……?

The other reason I haven’t gone on this trip is airfare to Newfoundland is really expensive – like $1200 dollars round trip from New York. Considering the flight is about 2.5 hours, that’s fairly outrageous. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I need a more economical way to get there.

Dublin, Ireland. Maybe this is self-explanatory because Dublin is supposed to be such a great city, but as a writer going to the country that birthed WB Yeats and James Joyce (among so many others) feels like trying to touch back to my roots as a writer.

Somewhere in Central America – not too specific I realize, but this requires research and decision making to begin narrowing my locations. On the hit parade in my mind right now are: Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and who knows what else I haven’t found yet.

So, what’s a prospective traveler to do? One good thing to do is find a few travel blogs you like and follow them for information.

I have two excellent travel blogs I read regularly: Trans-americas.com and EverywhereOnce.com.

The Trans-Americas blog recommended La Purificadora, an amazing hotel in Puebla, Mexico. I’m SO happy I stayed there. It was 1000x better than the crappy and overpriced hotel my travel agent found for me in Oaxaca, Mexico. In fact, if I hadn’t told my travel agent about La Purificadora, she wouldn’t have known it existed. This is because, unlike the United States, many hotels in Mexico are one-offs. There’s no convenient way to find them online. You can find Mexican hotels online, but you’ll never know if they are any good, speak English, are over-priced for what you get, etc.

As I continue to figure out what in Central America is possible, Trans-Americas is going to be an important and trusted part of my research. This couple sold everything they had when they lived in New York City, and they’ve got more than 200,000 miles under their traveling belts roaming all over Canada, the U.S., Central and South America. They know a thing or two about a thing or two, including the good and the bad with a balanced viewpoint.

The second blog, Everywhere Once is a married couple, Brian and Shannon, who also sold their worldly possessions, bought an RV and began a multi-year roadtrip. For many months now they’ve been roaming primarily in the United States and seeing some fantastic and under-visited National Parks. I like the Everywhere Once blog because travel as a lifestyle is the core tenet. They aren’t on vacation, as Brian likes to say, they’re living their lives and fitting all they can into the time they have on the road. That takes moxie, and they’ve got it. Most recently, Brian posted they’d be heading off to Central America so I look forward to their updates from new lands.

Where does all this leave me? I’m not sure, honestly. 2012 is going to be a time of change for me, I’ve got stuff going on in my personal life and I’ll have to see how the proverbial dust settles. In the meantime, I will dream of palm trees and plantains; or pubs and bookstores; or a bowl of cloudberries, gooseberries and chokecherries.

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9 Responses

  1. Love the photo of the streetcar. Just makes you want to shout, “STELLLLA!”

    • Haha, yes! The ghosts of Williams and Faulkner are never too far in NoLa. They are particularly present in the French Quarter.

      If you’d like to read more about my NoLa trip, I’ve posted more than a dozen blog entries. Click on my “New Orleans” tag in my Tag-a-licious Cloud in the left hand column of my blog and it will bring up a bunch of posts.

      Enjoy and happy travels!

  2. Go to Ireland first! I think you would LOVE it, including the landscape. But remember “American Werewolf in London” and don’t hike out in the wilds alone … 🙂

    • I think I’d love the Irish countryside too, there’s no doubt about it. All those beautiful green hills and craggy cliffs and sea coast…it’s pretty incredible stuff, the stuff of legend.

      I’d guess the airfare to Dublin won’t be astronomically expensive, but I wonder about the pesky U.S. dollar to Euro exchange rate. You know, $5 dollar Diet Cokes, that sort of thing. It makes expenses add up pretty quickly.

  3. Too bad we hadn’t “met” before your Portland trip – I’m only about an hour and a half to two hours away!
    Since both Newfoundland and Dublin would be on my wish list – that’s a tough call. Maybe since you’ve done Canada (although on the opposite side of things), but not Europe yet, Dublin would be the choice. Everyone I know who’s been there has been blown away. And the Yeats/Joyce reference would be a great reason too! 😉

    • I realized after reading your comment I didn’t mention my travels from my earlier days.’

      I have been to Europe: London, Leeds, Paris, Versailles, the southern coast of Portugal… but I haven’t been to Europe in well over a decade.

      But I’ve never been to Ireland, ever.

      Tempting…… very tempting. 🙂

      • I just checked the U.S. Dollar to Euro exchange rate….

        $1.00 U.S. dollar will get me .79 cents worth of goods in Europe. This is like saying be prepared to spend 20% of your vacation funds on the exchange rate.

        Because I’d rather go on 3 trips at a moderate cost and not one trip at a very high cost, I’m going to have to carefully factor exchange rate into my decision making equation.

        There are some ways of getting around exchange rates for big ticket items. One way I’ve read about is booking airfare and hotels in advance, in your own currency. This way you don’t lose later on the exchange rate.

  4. go to Greece. And then settle in Berlin.

    • Hahaha, you’re only saying what YOU want to do – either that or you’re suggesting this to me because you want me to tag along with you!

      Heck, I’d go with you to Greece as long as you tell your mom I’m ready for a big plate of her spanikopita!

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