I am writing this post nearly three years after any of this travel occurred, but I have grand plans of someday writing about all of these trips. In going back through my photos from this summer I am always reminded of how amazingly beautiful America is and what a wonderful travel destination it can be. If you are an American (or really anyone) wanting to travel but you feel you have neither the time nor the money, do some research about options in your own backyard. There are adventures to be had right outside your door.
Before we set off on our epic international honeymoon and post-college graduation trip we did a lot of domestic travel, particularly of the summer road trip variety, and no year was more jam-packed than 2013. Road tripping is a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck and is, in my opinion, really the only way to properly see the United States.
Countries Visited: 1
US States Visited: 22
My first trip of the year was a BFF Spring Break road tip to the super popular spring breaker destination… Seattle!
Yeah, not exactly your typical collegiate, alcohol-fueled beach vacation. But we had a blast. We ate (a lot) and walked (a lot) and drove (A LOT). The highlight for me was a day trip to Vancouver where we visited the aquarium. Let me tell you, I LOVE aquariums, and the one in the Vancouver was the best one I have ever visited.
Our drive took us from Colorado through Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and while LONG (22 hours) it was SO beautiful. I would love to head back to Washington to camp in the dense forests right outside of Seattle.
The South (May)
Even before our international wanderlust was ignited we had already found our passion for travel and we tried to squeeze in one large-ish trip each summer, usually taking place in the weeks between school ending and summer jobs beginning, aka May. One year we drove down Highway 1 from Portland to Los Angeles, another year we went to New Orleans, but our favorite pre-long term travel trip was the two-ish weeks we spent exploring the Southern United States.
We started in Nashville (after a long drive from Colorado) and visited Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, wound through Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, drove a large section of the Blue Ridge Parkway through Virginia and North Carolina, explored the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and then drove home through Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama, stopping for a day in Memphis where we visited its amazing zoo.
I honestly had low expectations for the scenery in the south. I knew the Great Smoky Mountains would be beautiful and the Blue Ridge Parkway is known for being one of the most scenic drives in America, but I was shocked at how green and lush most of the region was.
Las Vegas (May)
I am not entirely sure how we ended up in Vegas for my bachelorette party, as neither I nor my bridesmaids are really Vegas types of girls, but one month before my wedding three of us headed into the desert and kind of epic failed at “doing Vegas”. Don’t get me wrong, we had a REALLY good time, but a combination of being cheap (which is a no-no in this super expensive city) and needing sleep (which is an even bigger no-no in a city that parties all night, every night) equaled a lot of pool time, which probably could have been achieved somewhere else.
The Dakotas (June)
In any quest to travel to all 50 US States North Dakota is one that seems to elude many travelers. In fact, I saw a news story once about the North Dakota tourist board printing a tee-shirt joking about how often it is people’s 50th state.
We made it to this very northern state as an addition to a trip to South Dakota, which actually has a lot to offer travel-wise. We checked out Mount Rushmore, a few caves, and some really cool “badlands”.
And North Dakota was actually a pleasant surprise.
Holy Yellowstone. If you are an American who has not been to Yellowstone you should really get there. Pronto.
I really have nothing else to say except WOW.
And watch out for the bison.
New Mexico (August)
We went to New Mexico with one purpose- Carlsbad Caverns. In what ended up being summer filled with cave tours we added this trip last minute to our summer docket.
Unfortunately poor planning meant that we found ourselves camping in the desert in August, which was basically miserable.
At least the caves were cool.
The Rest of the Year
All these trips were taken before September, when I started student teaching and Logan started his final semester of college and our lives basically became consumed with wrapping up the Colorado chapter of our lives. In the midst of basically driving around the whole country we managed to find time to do other life changing things, like getting married in June and graduating from college in December. You know. The little stuff we do besides travel.
2013 may go down as one of the most important in our lives (with the whole getting hitched and getting college degrees thing), but 2014 is going to be tough to top travel-wise.