Now that I’m officially retired, my goal is to spend at least a third of the year away from Corvallis. I would like a lot of that travel to happen between May and September, not only because the weather is generally better at my destinations but because those are the prime hay fever months in Corvallis. Corvallis is in the middle of one of the largest areas of grass seed production in the US. As a result pollen is plentiful in the spring and summer. I think I came close to my 4-month goal in 2018. Here are the trips I made:
January: A one-week solo Amtrak trip to Denver. It was very cold in the mountains, but there was little snow. On my first full day in downtown Denver, the temperature was in the upper 70s!
February through Mid-April: I unretired for three months of half-time work with the Ocean Mixing Group at OSU.
May: A three-week trip with Lisa on AMTRAK from Corvallis to LA to New Orleans, then to Washington DC. A few observations:
- It takes about two days to cross Texas on the train.
- The AMTRAK menus are the same on all the trains–and after 5 days you’ve pretty well exhausted your choices on the dinner menu.
- Our cooking class in New Orleans was fun, resulted in a good meal, and included all the wine I could drink.
- Bourbon Street is wild in the evenings on any non-rainy night of the year.
- The Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art may be the best free museums in the world. There are museums of the same quality in London and Paris, but they are free only a few days of the year.
- If you are willing to spend 20 minutes each way on the DC Metro, you can save $100 per day on hotel costs. We stayed at a nice hotel in Bethesda. It was two blocks from the Metro station and there were lots of restaurants nearby.
June: A three-week solo road trip to Lone Pine California, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon NP, Taos, Leadville, CO, Rocky Mountain NP, and Grand Tetons NP. Total distance over 2800 miles. About half the nights were in campgrounds, the rest in the cheapest motels I could find—except in Las Vegas where I treated myself to three nights at the Tuscany Inn and Suites.
July and August: Stayed in Corvallis while I built a tear-drop trailer for solo trips. I got tired of pitching the tent and worrying about rain on my long road trip.
September: I took a one-week test trip to Camano Island State Park in Washington. Towing the teardrop trailer resulted in about 21MPG. The 18′ Lance travel trailer in the background above reduces the Jeep mileage to about 13MPG.
October: I took a solo three-week cruise from Vancouver BC to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal. I returned just in time to rake leaves and get ready for next trip.
I spent three days in Key West Florida after the cruise. It was Fantasy Fest time–which involves costumes, body paint, and LOTS of drinking.
I had to improvise my own costume for caped hero night from items in my hotel room.
November: A two week trip to South America with Lisa. We visited Maccu Pichu, the Amazon rain forest and the Galapagos Islands.
We saw lots of animals in the Galapagos. I limited my self to one or two pictures per animal type. Lisa and some other guests on our cruise boat outshot me about 30 to 1.