Woohoo! I traveled quite a bit in 2011, despite AND because of being unemployed part of the year. Or rather – not traditionally employed I will be sharing stories and pictures in trip reports, but below is a recap of my 2011 travel adventures. I’ve included a small photo gallery at the bottom of the post. I wrote the post, then looked through my photos and realized these are only the highlights! I had so many cool experiences (cave concert, many beach trips and hikes) that didn’t make this overview. I cannot express enough appreciation for my life ~ I am truly blessed!
- January~ I welcomed 2011 in Cuba and Mexico! I returned to the US in early January and promptly relocated from Austin to Rockport, Texas for the winter. Rockport is an all-grown-up fishing village along the Texas Gulf Coast, where my parents live. Spending time living amongst all the migratory birds that winter there was a huge treat.
- February ~ My mother invited me to join her and a group of her wild-n-crazy line dancing friends on a week-long western Caribbean cruise. I’d never cruised and jumped at the chance – I really enjoyed myself! We visited Montego Bay (where I left my camera in a cab, boo), Grand Cayman (where I cavorted with rays in Stingray City), and the always lovely Cozumel. Note: I’d flown into Cozumel less than 2 months earlier for 3 weeks of independent travel. The cruise ship port experience was, ummm, different and not really my style.
- March ~ I drove across Texas to northern New Mexico, where I visited 2 of my bff’s in Santa Fe. Along the way, I visited Carlsbad Caverns (super cool and highly recommended for kiddos) and Roswell (also cool, although I enjoyed the art far more than the aliens). Of course, I got a couple of hot spring soaks in, visiting Truth or Consequences and Ojo Caliente. Ahhhhhhh…hot water is my medicine.
- April ~ my dear friend Morgan and I road-tripped out to Marfa, Texas where we camped at El Cosmico for the Railroad Revival Tour. Old Crowe Medicine Show, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Mumford & Sons arrived on vintage rail cars. It was an amazing experience. You can check out my pictures on Flickr.
- May and June ~ I temporarily returned to Austin and didn’t travel far. I did, however, enjoy the usual smorgasbord of live music, including one of my favorite festivals - Old Settlers Music Festival. Spring is a great time of year in central Texas! I actually saw some smokin’ music in May and June, including the Railroad Revival Tour’s Austin stop, Raphael Saadiq and Widespread Panic at the new Austin City Limits studio and the delicious Xavier Rudd.
- July and August ~ I packed up my wagon and took to the road on my America the Beautiful tour. I started in North Carolina, where I promptly fell in love with Asheville and visited my old stomping grounds in Boone. I boogied my butt off at FloydFest in Floyd, VA (my flickr gallery), did a personal retreat at my favorite cabin off the Blue Ridge Parkway, met up with college friends in St Louis, checked out Fayetteville, Arkansas (and gaped at the wreckage in Joplin along the way) and dropped in on my brother in Oklahoma City (where there is a lot more to enjoy as a tourist than you would think). I returned to Texas towards the end of a record string of 100+ degree days. By this time, I had driven over 4000 miles in 5 weeks. I was tired of being in the car and decided to quickly re-engineer the remainder of my America the Beautiful trip.
- September ~ I flew out to California where I spent 3 fabulous weeks exploring Santa Barbara, hiking in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, backpacking in Yosemite National Park, partying like a rock star in San Francisco and Sausalito, eating and drinking with friends in Berkeley and Napa Valley, falling in love with Point Reyes National Seashore and surviving a drive in the rain into LAX Say what you will about California – I had a blast everywhere I went.
- October ~ I moved to Asheville, navigating up I-10 with a car-load of my most precious stuff. I overnighted in Biloxi, where I lost $20 at the casino and said goodbye to mama ocean for a while…although I couldn’t stay away long. I spent Halloween in Boone.
- November ~ I took advantage of theThanksgiving break to visit Charleston, Bull Island and Folly Beach, South Carolina – loved them all! I also visited my favorite local soaking spot, Hot Springs, NC for a hike on the Appalachian Trail and an attitude adjustment.
- December ~ the final month of an epic year finds me composing this post in the back seat of my aunt & uncle’s car, having just visited Roanoke, Lynchburg and Richmond, Virginia for Christmas break.
I plan to spend more time at home the next year, in part because I haven’t had the chance to accrue much PTO yet and in part because there is so much to explore in my new backyard. In addition to playing around Asheville, I will visit Savannah and return to Texas at least once to retrieve my cat and/or my furniture. I will likely be sent to DC for a week as part of my j-o-b. I’m also attending a conference of travel bloggers and writers in Keystone, CO and the fantastically named World Domination Summit in Portland. And all that is just through July. I quite literally have nothing planned for the second half of the year and just may keep it that way.
Reviewing these plans, I’m reminded that I AM planning traveling quite a bit in 2012 ~ it just happens to be short trips and domestic travel. After my return from Europe in 2007, I made a commitment to travel in The Americas during the recession, basically as a way of “shopping local”. I’ve experienced some amazing places and have not regretted that choice at all. If an opportunity to travel to far away lands presents itself to me, will I go? Absolutely. But for now, I will continue to travel closer to home.
Where did you go in 2011? Where are you going in 2012? Where would you go if time and money were not an issue?