Reflecting on My 2019 Travels

Wednesday January 1st 2020

Happy New Year

It was very cloudy this morning when I woke up early enough to watch the Rose Parade on TV. The inside temperature just before 8AM was in the forties. I watched most of the parade from the warmth of my bed while the heater warmed my RV home. The parade was bright and colorful as usual, but I didn’t see any standout animated floats. Toward the middle of the day the sun won the battle for the sky. It was a bright afternoon with a beautiful sunset, but the temperature only managed to nudge the fifties.

Sunset on the first day of the new decade.

While I was preparing yesterday’s blog post reviewing my 2019 travels, I had a chance to reflect. Rather than complicate an already long post, I chose to use this blog post to share my thoughts. I’ll start with the positive items and end with the things I might change going forward.

I really enjoyed exploring and getting to know the state of Oregon. My travels took me around many areas of the state. The biggest surprise was the different climate and terrain areas of the state. Reading about it is not the same as experiencing it. The eastern part of the state is primarily high desert. How the many emigrants in the mid 1800s made it across that area is remarkable. The high Cascade mountains form another zone that I didn’t explore as much as I would have liked. The area between the Cascades and the coastal range was a bigger agricultural area than I expected. This is the fertile land the emigrants found after their long haul from the eastern states. Finally, the coastal area is simply beautiful, although I could do without some of the tourist trap attractions in some of the towns.

Oregon coast view.

My stop in Utah to visit Bryce Canyon National Park and some of the surrounding area was fun. It built on my hit and run single day visit in 2017. The red colored rocks and hoodoos in the area are magnificent. I’m going to repeat this travel approach this year with re-visits to the Glenn Canyon National Recreation area and Zion National Park.

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area was a wonderful surprise. All of the waterfalls and views of the Columbia River were gorgeous. I liked it so much in July that I returned in September. Seeing the salmon returning to the hatchery was more than sufficient cause for a return visit.

I stayed in southern Oregon for two weeks. It was close enough to Crater Lake National Park that I could easily spend a whole day in the park. The deep blue water surrounded by steep rock walls with higher peaks in the distance truly deserves national park status. I really enjoyed the trolley ride with multiple stops around the crater.

A one day visit to the northern California unit of the Redwoods National Park was well worth the interesting driving required in the motorhome on my way to the coast. Winding and twisting around big tall trees within inches of the road is not easy in a big RV. The tall old Coastal Redwood trees may not be as big around as the Sequoia, but they are still very impressive. I’ll get to see Sequoia National Park another year.

I also tried to visit Mt Rainier National Park while staying in south central Washington State. The more than one hundred mile distance one way proved to great. I got to the park to late in the day to have access to the crowded parking lots and there wasn’t enough time to do any significant hiking. My overall decision not to explore Washington State during the 2019 summer was correct. It gave me more time to see Oregon. I will get to visit Mt Rainier National Park when I return to see the bulk of the state.

Not making reservations early enough resulted in some strange travel paths and longer stays in certain areas than I needed. I spent a little more than three weeks in the Tri Cities area of south central Washington State. The area really didn’t support more than a two week stay, but it was available during the Independence Day Holiday. I also spent four weeks at two different campgrounds in the Coos Bay Oregon area for similar late planning reasons. This prevented me from seeing some of the Oregon coast between Newport and Seaside. Once again it’s territory to visit another time.

My biggest travel issue in 2019 was the quick trip across the country. I hung around in Florida until late May and had to cross the country to Albuquerque New Mexico in a little over a week. I should have allocated at least two weeks. The weather during the trip was also an issue. I had to change my route, slow down and speed up to avoid major tornado outbreaks.

I enjoyed my travels during 2019. I’m trying to make more reservations early for 2020 as well as have more realistic travel plans. I’m booking more week long stays. Sometimes I’m moving a shorter distance for another week. I plan to have fewer two week or longer stays in a single area until I get to Florida in the late fall. My travel approach will continue to evolve as the year unfolds. The biggest obstacle to planning 2020 right now is trying to make reservations at places that aren’t ready to accept them yet.

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