I have traveled an amazing amount this year but I have only been on 4 international trips this year. Of those four trips, only 1 was to a country I hadn’t been too before. I did do an impressive amount of around the USA this year. In total, I took 118 flights, flew 122,453 miles, and spent 284 night on the road. This year has exceeded expectations in so many ways. Up until this year, I considered my goal of visiting all 59 US national parks a pipe dream and after this year it hit me that I might actually finish by the time I am 30. Without further ado here is my 2017 travel review.
Niagara Falls, Canada/New York
I rang in the New Years on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. I took a long weekend and drove up to explore North America’s largest waterfall. I took the elevator to the bottom of the falls as well explore the various barrels people went over the falls in. For New Years, there is a concert in the park and fireworks over the waterfall. I explored the geological history of the falls and would love to see them when they are running at full capacity and not being used for hydroelectric power. I had fun exploring the slightly less impressive view from the American side of the falls.
I had planned to spend the weekend at Redwoods National Park but the park experienced extreme flooding. It was so extreme that one of the famous tree tunnels fell over. So I adjusted plans and drove down to Big Sur (before the bridge collapsed) and stopped by Monterrey Bay Aquarium. I toured one of the world’s foremost aquariums and had a relaxing weekend.
New York City, New York
This was my second trip to New York City. This time was an emotional visit. I spend my Saturday at the 9-11 Memorial and Museum. I was 10 years old when September 11, 2001, happened. I can remember that day with total clarity. The museum took me back to that day and allowed me to pay my respects to those who lost their lives. On Sunday, I explore several of NYC’s National Park service units such as Ulysses Grant’s tomb.
Weekend in Iceland
I took a 3-day weekend trip to Iceland with my now ex-boyfriend (don’t feel bad, traveling together make me realize that it wasn’t working). Despite the boy, I had a fun road trip along the south coast of Iceland. I got to see Vik and go back out to the Ice Caves and just see how much tourism has changed Iceland in 3 years.
King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Park
I got to visit my 37th and 38th national parks during a weekend visit to California. I had only planned on visiting King’s Canyon but it was April and the canyon park of King’s Canyon was still closed so after hiking all the short trails in King’s, I headed over to Sequoia and explored that park as well. I hike out several of the amazing sequoia trees in both parks.
Acadia National Park
I drove 8 hours to spend a weekend in Maine or more specifically, Acadia National Park. I drove up to spend the week in one of the most eastern points in the United States. I enjoyed a rainy weekend exploring Acadia and doing a little hiking and eating lobster. Overall, I felt underwhelmed by Acadia. Still can’t explain why but it wasn’t just the rain that caused that. I did get a pretty epic sunrise off Cadillac Mountain.
I got the chance to visit Pearl Harbor twice. The first visit was a quick stop on my way to the airport on Memorial Day. The second stop was a full day exploring the World War II Pacific Memorial and the museums. I was thankful I got a same-day ticket to visit the Arizona Memorial and paid my respects to the men and women who lost their lives on that day that will live in infamy.
The National Park of American Samoa
I traveled halfway around the world to spend four days in one of the United States most remote national parks. The National Park of American Samoa is located in the US territory of American Samoa. The park spans across 3 of the territories 5 islands. I spend my days hiking in the jungle and swimming on remote beaches. For the most part, I had the entire national park to myself.
Monkeys in Florida
I spent the weekend exploring Silver Springs State Park in Florida. The park’s main claim to fame is that it has a wild colony of rhesus macaques. The macaques are a type monkeys native to Asia. My father had always told me that the monkeys had escaped while filming a Tarzan movie in the area in the 1930’s. Actually, the monkeys were released by a tour boat operator to increase business. I got to see the monkeys during my afternoon kayak down to Silver Springs.
I got sent down to Puerto Rico for work. It was my first time on the island but I did enjoy getting to see the sunset and learn to drink rum. I took a tour of the Bacardi Factory and spent the day drinking the best rums from the Bacardi Factory.
Virgin Islands National Park
I took a last minute flight over to the US Virgin Islands where I visited St. John and the Virgin Islands National Park. I tried my hand at glamping with Concordia Eco-Resort. I hiked over 12 miles on this island and got to go SCUBA diving and snorkeling as well.
King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Park
I went back to King’s Canyon National Park to do some hiking now that the road to King’s Canyon is open. I drove to the end of the Canyon and hike to Mist Falls. I read the trail map wrong and what I thought was a 4.5-mile hike was actually a 9-mile hike. But the views and the falls were worth the trip even if my feet hated me at the end of the day. On my way back to the airport, I made a quick stop in Sequoia to check out a few trees I didn’t get to see on my last visit.
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park was a long drive for a weekend but I am so glad I made the trip. If I hadn’t made the drive up there. I wouldn’t have to meet Casey aka the girl in the banana suit. While hiking in along the rim, I saw Casey wearing the banana suit and had to stop and ask her about it. One thing led to another and this is how I found a car for the Denali Road Lottery. I tried to do a boat tour of Crater Lake but my boat broke halfway thru and I got to spend a couple hours on Wizard Island waiting for a rescue.
New Hampshire was my 47th state. Once I realized that I was going to Alaska and had been to 46 states my goal was to make Alaska my 50th state. Todo that I need to get a visit to New Hampshire. I met a friend in New Hampshire and we hike up Mount Monadnock. The next day I headed over to drive up Mount Washington and just explore more of the state.
Deleware Beer, Wine, and Spirits Trail
Deleware was another state I hadn’t officially visited so a friend and I went up and did 8 distilleries, wineries, and breweries of the Deleware Beer, Wine, and Spirits Trail. We had a fun weekend exploring the state, visiting the ocean and having some great drinks.
I specifically planned my work travel to be on the line of totality of the 2017 solar eclipse. I had a private viewing in a field in rural Tennessee with my parents. I got lucky and my parents lived on the line of totality and we got just over two minutes of total darkness during the eclipse.
Charleston, South Carolina
I should call this my scary weekend in Charleston. I took 3 different ghost tours of the weekend. My favorite was the adult only On Death and Depravity tour. I learned a little bit of the history of Charleston. I spend a couple hours on Fort Sumter which is where the first shots of the Civil War took place. I did a walking tour of the city and learned about its history as a slave port and how they most popular wedding spot in the city was planted to hang pirates.
Denali National Park
Alas, I didn’t get to make Alaska my 50th state but the 49th state was my 49th state. Denali National Park is my 42nd national park. I promised my self that my first visit to Denali would be when I got a Denali Road lottery permit. 2017 was my year and I got my permit to drive the Denali road. This allowed me to spend the day in the park driving the road at my own pace (with the girl in the banana suit), We took our time and spent like an hour watching a bear forage for food. We saw some epicly large moose with huge racks. We spotted some Dall sheep on the hill sides.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park is my 44th national park. I took a boat trip out to see the glaciers. The weather was so amazing that the boat captain decided to take us out to the northwestern glacier. This trip is longer than the other and is only done once a day by the small boat not the large boat I was on. We checked out the glacier while watching some seals hang out on the ice. We then saw some sea lions on our way back to Seward. I hiked out to Exit Glacier as well.
Lake Clark National Park
Lake Clark National Park was my 45th national park and is one of the most remote parks in the national park system. I flew in a small plane out to Port Alsworth where I stayed at the Farm Lodge (run by the Alsworth family). I took a float plane tour of the park and stopped at the Richard L. Proenneke’s cabin and did a little hiking. The next day I hiked out of Port Alsworth and into the wilderness to just explore the park a little further.
I spend a couple days in Stockholm. I watched the changing of the guard as well as explored the royal museums of Stockholm. I saw the bank that gave us the term Stockholm syndrome and had fun taking the water taxis around the city. I toured the Nobel Museum and checked out the history of the winners.
I spend a week north of the Arctic Circle exploring the small town of Kiruna. I took two snowmobile tours, a dog sledding tour, and explore the local Sami culutre. I finally got to try moose and ate plenty of reindeer. On my last night, I saw the northern lights and got to spend the night on a bed of ice at the ICEHOTEL.
I spent New Years in the world’s coldest capital. The tempatures with wind chill were -35C. There were frost bite warnings but that didn’t stop me from taking a walking tour of the city and exploring the Parliment of Canada. I walked thru history at the War Museum and learned about Canada at war.
How was your 2017 travel? What are you looking forward to doing in 2018?