As possible future trips are discovered and researched, their notes and links are recorded here for your perusal
October: New Mexico & Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival is something I've wanted to attend for a while now! We could also visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park while we're there. Base camp will likely be at Bottger Mansion, and Fiddler's Inn near the national park. We'll have to make a stop by quirky Roswell as well.
We've witnessed the beautiful Fall colors of Acadia National Park in Maine. My partner fell in love with them, in fact. In our continuing quest to visit most of our national park system, I thought Great Smoky Mountains would be another good place to witness the vivid colors of Autumn. We may even hop on another hot air balloon! Lodging will likely be in Gatlinburg, TN, at Buckhorn Inn.
February: India & Sri Lanka
A possible trip could be India and Sri Lanka! Places on the "absolute must see" list in India thus far include in Arga: Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort (lodging at Hotel Taj Resorts), in Jaisalmer: Gadisar Lake and the fort, and in Delhi: Red Fort, Gandhi National Museum, Lodi Gardens, Mughal Gardens, Humayan's Tomb and Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. We'll also want to explore Ranthambore National Park (lodging at Fateh's Retreat) and the Jaisalmer Desert Festival (lodging at Hotel Fifu). We'll try to take the trains between cities, utilizing IRCTC, Cleartrip or Erail.
Snorkeling at Polhena Beach in Sri Lanka looks beautiful, and we can spot sperm whales in Mirissa. We must see Yala National Park (lodging at Cinnamon Wild Yala) and Bundala National Park (lodging at The Seascape in Matara)! And we'll try to use Sri Lanka Railways as much as possible.
July: Crater Lake & Mount Rainier
While I usually make it a rule not to travel in the Northern Hemisphere between Memorial Day and Labor Day due to large crowds and high prices, this particular month straddles our international trips. The roads should be open at both Crater Lake and Mount Rainier National Parks, making it an ideal time to explore! In between parks, we could visit the Portland, Oregon, area as well. Lodging could be the Oakridge Lodge & Guest House and Packwood Lodge.
December: Bavaria, Austria & Prague
For our second trip to Europe, I've always thought of visiting the Bavaria region of Southern Germany, Austria, and Prague during the Christmas season. Munich (Neuschwanstein Castle, Tollwood Winter Festival, Viktualienmarkt, Nymphenburg Palace, Christmas market), Salzburg (Getreidegasse, Hohensalzburg, Villa Trapp, Leopoldskron Palace), Hallstatt, Vienna (Reisenrad, St. Stephen's Cathedral, Spanish Riding School, a strudel show, Rathausplatz Christkindlmarkt, Botanischer Garten, National Library, Naschmarkt, Schonbrunn Palace, Hofburg Palace, Belvedere Palace, Wagenburg museum, Neue Burg museums, Vienna Boys Choir, Mozarthaus), and Prague (Prague Castle, Loreta, Karlstejn Castle, Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Havelska Market, Klementinum Library, St. Vitus Cathedral, Petrin Hill, St. Nicholas Church, Lucerna Palace, Wenceslas Square, National Museum, Jindrisska Tower, Jubilee Synagogue, Vila Amerika) are all possible activities and destinations.
Preliminary lodging searches revealed Hotel Laimer Hof, Gasthaus Hinterbrühl, the Bräugasthof, Hotel Fabrik and Lokal Inn. We hope to enjoy the Christmas markets, holiday choirs, a Krampus parade, and hopefully even a little snow!
The main draw here is the Aurora Borealis, which can been seen in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Yellowknife is perfectly situated underneath the aurora oval (the area with the most Northern Lights activity). This position makes the Yellowknife a perfect destination for viewing the Northern Lights in Canada. There's even an aurora forecast! We'll need to rent Winter clothing. We'll also be able to attend the Snowking Winter Festival, and may also try some dog sledding and other activities while we're there as well!
May - June: Great Britain
The Scottish Highland Games are the main event, occurring from mid-May through the beginning of September. We could see, in London: the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, St. Paul's Cathedral, the London Eye at sunset, an evening cruise down the Thames, Harrod's, the Harry Potter studio, the Prime Meridian (GMT), catch a play in Shakespeare's Globe Theater, and a musical at West End.
In South West England (Somerset County), we can take a historic steam engine to Dunster Castle, and go on a red deer safari in Exmoor National Park. We'd stop by Windsor Castle and Stonehenge on the way. Stratford-upon-Avon looks like the perfect place to enjoy traditional thatched roof cottages like Anne Hathaway's Cottage. We could also visit Shakespeare's birthplace, Warwick Castle, the Baddesley Clinton Manor, Mary Arden's Farm and walk Henley Street in the old shopping district.
In the Lake District of England, we could stay in Keswick and enjoy a few good hikes like Loughrigg Fell, Aira Force waterfall and Castlerigg Stone Circle at sunset. We could also take a Derwentwater boat ride around the lake. On the Shetland Islands of Scotland (utilizing NorthLink Ferries from Aberdeen to Lerwick) we could see puffins at Sumburgh Head and purchase a hand knit item while we're there. And we could attend the Strathmore Highland Games in Glamis, were we could also take in the beauty of Glamis Castle.
Lodging may include the Lime Tree Hotel in London, Exmoor Owl & Hawk Centre in Allerford, The Hill Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, Brierholme B&B in Keswick, Fort Charlotte Guest House in Lerwick, Ferryhill House Hotel in Aberdeen and, if I can afford it, The Witchery in Edinburgh to end our adventure.
Peru is also a place I've wanted to visit for a long time. The Amazon is the main draw. We could also visit Plaza de Armas, Museo Larco, the gardens of Barranco, and go parasailing in Lima as well (lodging with Airbnb).
Machu Picchu is also a definite must see, with lodging at Saya Wasi in Cusco and Terrazas del Inca in Aguas Calientes, and perhaps taking the Hiram Bingham train as a special treat! Hopefully we can catch a nightly dance performance at Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo. We could also visit the traditional textile center, Santuario Animal de Cochahuasi and the Mercado Central de San Pedro farmers market while in Cusco as well.
The primary destination would be Laguna San Ignacio or Laguna Guerrero Negro to see the gray whale calves up close. Other points of interest could include Chichen Itza to see the Mayan temple, Riviera Maya for snorkeling at Cozumel and the cenotes, Celestun (go during low tide, and take a boat just over the bridge before town) or Rio Lagartos to see flamingos, and the capitol city of Mexico City.
May: St. John, U. S. Virgin Islands
This could be a trip to explore U. S. Virgin Islands National Park on the island of St. John. The best time to visit is May, between the busy Winter season and hurricane season. We'd probably spend a little time on adjacent St. Thomas Island as well.
October: Spain & Morocco
Destinations favorable at this time of year appear to include Spain and Morocco!
Barcelona (La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo, Palau Nacional), Madrid (Palacio Real), Toledo (the Cathedral, Iglesia de San Ildefonso, Iglesia se Santo Tome, Monasterio San Clemente), Granada (La Alhambra), and Malaga (Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle, the cathedral, Laguna de Fuente Piedra). We'd probably take a ferry from Algeciras to Tangier to get to Morocco.
In Morocco, Tangier (Grand Socco, Cap Spartel Lighthouse, Chefchaouen), Fez (Terrasse des Tanneurs, Bab Boujeloud, Kairaouine Mosque) and Marrakesh (Ben Youssef Medersa, Jemaa El Fna, Koutoubia Mosque, La Bahia Palace, Majorelle Gardens, Aït Ben Haddou). Train transportation provided by ONCF.
January - February: Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand)
This appears to be the driest, coolest time to visit Southeast Asia. The monsoon season, from May through October, is definitely not when we want to be there. Hopefully we can swing a stay at Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand.
February: Falkland Islands & Patagonia
It appears this is also a good month for visiting the Falkland Islands so my partner can see King Penguins! Since this is probably the closest we'll ever get to Patagonia, I think we could swing a side trip from Santiago to Punta Arenas by plane and explore Torres del Paine National Park as well.
March - April: Japan
While Japan, from North to South, is about as varied in temperature and climate as the United States, the early Spring appears to be the best overall time to catch everything from monkeys bathing in hot springs to the cherry blossoms.
April: France, Belgium, the Netherlands
One bonus to visiting the Netherlands at this time of year? The tulips will be in bloom.
April (or October): Greece & Lebanon
We've talked many years about traveling to Greece and Lebanon. I could show my partner Greece, where I lived for two years. Possible destinations include Athens (the Acropolis, Plaka, the National Archaeological Museum, Syntagma Square, the National Garden, Sounion), Meteora (Kalambaka), Loutraki, and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini.
May: Sweden, Finland & Norway
Not surprisingly, May is also a good off-season time to visit Scandinavia, with temperatures rising and rainfall at yearly lows.
May - June: Russia
Also a good time to visit the vast country of Russia, with rivers thawing and flowers blooming.
June - September: American Samoa National Park
Yep! We have a national park near Samoa! American Samoa National Park is in the Southern hemisphere, and offers great snorkeling, beach combing, and hiking activities. They also offer a homestay program, where you have the opportunity to join a local family. We'd hopefully be able to visit nearby Samoa and Fiji as well.
August: Denali National Park, Alaska
Another trip I've been planning for awhile. We could fly in to Fairbanks mid to late August and take a scenic train ride down to Denali. Once at Denali, we'd probably spend a few days exploring the trails around the park entrance, take the Kantishna Experience Tour, and also spend a couple of nights at Wonder Lake. Then onward by train to Anchorage, and a day or two at Kenai Fjords National Park, staying at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, before returning home.
September: Badlands, Mount Rushmore & Devils Tower
To be honest, Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore combined still didn't have quite enough to get me to commit. But being a huge sci-fi fan, add Devils Tower, Wyoming, from the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and I'm there! Since the presidents face East, it appears that sunrise, with breakfast at Carvers Cafe, is a good time to view them. Rapid City, South Dakota, would be our base.
September - October: Lassen Volcanic & Redwood National Parks, CA
This time of year has the least rainfall or fog for the Northern California coast, making an ideal time to explore the giant redwoods again. Lassen Volcanic National Park would also have fewer Summer visitors, making it more peaceful.
September - October: Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, WY
Also a good time of year with the dispersion of Summer crowds, but before services begin closing for the Winter in mid-October.
October: Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria
We watched a couple of travel shows on these countries and kept remarking about how beautiful they were. The Autumn colors would only accentuate their natural beauty. Bran Castle and Peles Castle are already two places we absolutely must visit!
Egypt is a must visit with a stop in Cairo (Egyptian Museum, Pyramids of Giza, El Tanboura Hall, Festival of Arab Music), Luxor (Medinat Habu, Tombs of the Nobles, Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings) and a day sail via felucca to the Dendarah/Hathor Temple, and hopefully some snorkeling in the Red Sea at Marsa Alam.
There are, of course, many other places we want to see as well. I know we'll get there eventually. It's only a matter of time.