This should be a fun travel year…

6 minute read

January 15, 2024, 1:06 PM

The sense that I’m getting for this year is that it ought to be a fun one for travel.  I’ve got my three-day weekends all picked out through the end of June (our vacation year at work runs from July 1 through June 30), and so now is as good of a time as ever to plan.

Right off the bat, I’m getting together with Aaron Stone later this week, and we’re going to do a weekend trip to New York, similar to what Elyse and I did in April.  Elyse is unavailable for that trip, as she will be at MAGFest.  That’s going to be the case where we drive up, unload the car at our hotel, stash the HR-V until the last day, and then enjoy a lot of what New York has to offer.  Elyse has a pretty decent amount of experience with New York, and so she typically takes the lead when we go, since she knows where she’s going.  I don’t know New York as well, so when I’m taking the lead, it’s a bit more of a measured approach.  Recall when I went last January, my first visit completely by myself, I didn’t stray that far off of the 1 line the entire time, as all of my destinations were somewhere off of that line, seeing Tom’s Restaurant (i.e. Monk’s Cafe from Seinfeld) at my northernmost extent, and the World Trade Center shopping mall at my southernmost extent.  Not bad.  This time, we’re staying in Brooklyn again, so that will have me taking multiple subway lines out of necessity, but Aaron knows less about New York than I do, so it should be fun as we explore the city that never sleeps together.

Then in late March, Elyse and I are doing the usual quarterly Staunton trip.  Doing it in late March should be a benefit, because that means that we will be in daylight saving time again, i.e. the daylight hours line up with our typical active hours.  Let’s admit: I work late nights, typically getting off around 12:30 AM, and bedtime is usually around 4:00 AM.  As such, I usually get up around 10:00 AM, though it’s usually a little earlier when I’m traveling.  But all the same, when it gets dark around 5:00 PM, that does tend to put a pinch on my photography plans, not to mention that it gets really cold at night during that time of year.  I’m not sure what we’re doing in that trip other than seeing my parents just yet, but with my completing a bunch of activities that Elyse would have no patience for on the last trip, I got a whole bunch of things out of my system and into the processing queue, which will make room for other things.  Should be fun.

Meanwhile, you don’t know how beneficial the trip to Toronto was last July as far as breaking me out of my travel shell.  Recall that prior to that trip, I had not flown in an airplane since 1999, on my first trip to Toronto.  While I have no travel plans for February, Elyse and I are planning some far-flung trip that will involve an airplane for April.  It will most likely be somewhere in the eastern US, but where in particular is still up for discussion.  We’ve discussed returning to Charleston, since I really liked Charleston on that whirlwind trip where we dealt with the bus, and then we’ve also discussed going to Atlanta.  Neither of us has ever been to Atlanta, and there is MARTA out there, which is a system that’s from the same period as Metro, and they also have Breda cars.  Cleveland is also a possibility, as we both really liked Cleveland when we went through this past November, and a dedicated weekend just to Cleveland, rather than its just being a stopover, seems like it could be fun.  And then whatever we don’t do in April, we can do on other weekends throughout the year, even if those have not yet been scheduled.

The real question, though, is how far one can go and still be able to make good use out of a destination as a weekend trip, i.e. two nights in a hotel.  Elyse has suggested going much further out, like out to the west coast, but I’m a little leery about that, since a weekend trip is only but so much time, and part of what made Toronto work out well was that the flight was only an hour, so we still had a lot of usable time on both the arrival day and the departure day, as well as the entire middle day.  My concern is that there comes a point where travel takes up too much of those travel days, and you end up with a situation where you’re spending more time on travel than you do with usable time at the destination, making a trip seem rushed, and I don’t want to end up with a situation where I end up spending a lot of money to go out, more or less just touch the city for a little bit, and then go back home.  I don’t necessarily know where that limit lies, and I don’t want to find out in an expensive way.

Then as far as a weeklong trip goes, there is a strong likelihood that we are going to Toronto again in the HR-V.  I imagine another Toronto road trip as being something of a cleanup trip from the 2019 trip, where we get to do all of the things that we didn’t get to do on that trip because we only had so much time.  We never went out to the Toronto Islands, for one, and we also both agreed last time that Hamilton deserves further exploration.  In 2019, we more or less just dipped into Hamilton to see the one thing, and then dipped back out.  Much more ground time in Hamilton seems warranted.  We also have friends up in the Greater Toronto Area, and we need to see them.

I’m also looking forward to one more development as far as travel time goes: I hit ten years at work towards the end of the year, and ten years scores me an extra vacation week each year.  That means that I will have four weeks off instead of three, and if I break it up the way I usually do, into ten three-day weekends plus a vacation week, that means that with the extra week in there, I will be able to schedule some sort of vacation time every single month, and not miss one.  Generally speaking, the month that I skip is usually July, but this year, it was August.  Now, I won’t have to skip a month, which I appreciate.  That’s extra time to relax and/or go somewhere.  And an extra week means more time to do something substantive.

As far as more substantive adventures go, I have only really been out west once, and that was in 1991 with the family, and that was not a particularly fun trip, because it was basically rush rush rush from one touristy thing to the next.  We all checked Disneyland, Universal Studios, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo off of our bucket lists, but we really didn’t get to see those cities in earnest.  I’ve never been to San Francisco before, I’ve never been to Portland, and I’ve never been to Seattle (or anywhere else in Garbanzo for that matter).  I need to go.  For that matter, I also want to go back to Sheboygan, Wisconsin with my drone in tow in order to reshoot the images that I lost when my Air 2S went to the bottom of the lake.

I’m also planning a trip out to Rogers, Arkansas for next year, but I’m not entirely sure how I want to structure such an adventure.  My original thought was to make it a two-week road trip in the HR-V, with three travel days out and back and eight days on site, but based on my experience with pacing on the recent trip to Chicago where we did two days’ driving out and two days’ driving back, I’m starting to question whether or not I want to do that.  I noticed that Elyse tends to want to spend more time in these intermediate cities than I plan, and that tends to push a big chunk of the driving late into the night and stretches my energy a little too thin.  Due to our spending time in the Cleveland area on the last day, the entire six-hour drive from Cleveland to Montgomery Village was done in darkness, and then I worry about fatigue, and the need to stay engaged while driving, and that led to both of us being ready to kill each other by the end of it.  And no one wants us ready to kill each other, nor do we want me to nod off at the wheel because I’m driving a long, straight road in the dark with nothing to keep me engaged.  The idea of doing it as a road trip is attractive because there are things that we want to see on the way both ways, plus we would finish I-64 in its entirety.  But then at the same time, I worry that if we do St. Louis and the like as stopovers, it will run into pacing problems like we had on the Chicago trip, where we’re driving late at night again.  Lots of planning discussions to have about this trip, but there is still plenty of time.

All in all, I’d say that I have a good plan for the year.  Now it’s just a matter of figuring out what to do when, and how it lines up with my vacation schedule.  Either way, let’s go somewhere fun.

Categories: Travel