As possible future trips are discovered and researched, their notes and links are recorded here for your perusal
June: Utah National Parks
A trip to Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks with our niece and nephew in Utah! Flying to Las Vegas, we could drive to Lyman to explore Capitol Reef. Then off to Moab to see Arches and Canyonlands. We could even try rafting with Adrift Adventures!
Continuing our adventure, we could take highway 163 to Flagstaff, Arizona, which would allow us to witness Monument Valley. I think we can swing Bearizona Wildlife Park and a trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon as well. We could also explore Red Rock Scenic Byway near Sedona, and even try a hot air balloon ride, before driving down to Phoenix to fly home.
China was next on our list of places we'd like to visit, with the Great Wall at Mutianyu and Forbidden City in Beijing (transportation by Metro Card). I'd also like to see the Red Theatre Kung Fu Show, Huguang Guild Hall opera performance, Summer Palace, Confucius Temple, and Lama Temple. Lodging in Beijing will be at the Beijing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel.
We would like to see pandas at Chengdu Research Base in Chengdu (lodging at InterContinental Global Center and Airbnb in Emeishan). The Li River near Guilin is an absolute must do (with lodging at Gui Lin Yi Royal Palace or Aroma Tea House, and Airbnb)! The Impression of Liu Sanjie show looks intriguing as well.
Hopefully we'll attend the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, in Hong Kong (with lodging at The Royal Pacific, transportation via MTR). And sail on a traditional Chinese junk! I feel we'd also enjoy the Tian Tan Buddha (utilizing the Ngong Ping gondolas), Kowloon Park, Victoria Peak, Victoria Park, Wong Tai Sin Temple, and Chi Lin Nunnery as well.
April/May: Indonesia & Singapore
One option would be exploring Indonesia! Raja Ampat, with a stay at Papua Paradise Eco Resort, is a place I've wanted to visit for a long time now. I've read that water visibility is good in April, during the shoulder season. I'd also like to visit Sumatra, from Bukit Lawang, to see orangutans.
On Bali, places like the Ubud Monkey Forest, Ulun Danu Beratan temple, Bali Botanic Garden, Puri Saren Agung (a.k.a. Ubud Palace), Bali Bird Park, Pura Taman Saraswati, and Bali Butterfly Park are all options (lodging at Alam Indah). We can purchase tickets online at Fabulous Ubud.
Komodo National Park (lodging in Labuan Bajo), with a day trip provided by Flores XP Adventure to Rinca Island, is a must do as well. And we've decided we'd like to end our trip in Singapore (lodging at The Breezy East) where we hope to enjoy sights such as Gardens by the Bay and use a Singapore Tourist Pass to get around.
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 taking the Hiram Bingham train as a special treat! Hopefully we can catch the Fiesta de la Virgen de Natividad (Festival of the Virgin of the Nativity, Sept. 8th, Chinchero) and 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.
February: India & Sri Lanka
Still far away, but one possible trip for the future could be visiting 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, 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 Kaziranga National Park, Ranthambore National Park, and the Jaisalmer Desert Festival (lodging at Hotel Fifu). We'll try to take the trains between cities, utilizing Cleartrip or Erail.
Snorkeling at Polhena Beach in Sri Lanka looks beautiful, and we can spot sperm whales in Mirissa. Visiting a tea plantation would be a new experience. And we must see Yala National Park (lodging at Cinnamon Wild Yala)! I believe we can also catch Navam Perahera on Feb. 22nd in Colombo as well. 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.
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!
May: Morocco & Spain
Staggering our trips six months apart, and determining which destinations are favorable at this time of year, this appears to be a good time to visit Morocco and Spain!
Marrakesh (Ben Youssef Medersa, Jemaa El Fna, Koutoubia Mosque, La Bahia Palace, Majorelle Gardens, Aït Ben Haddou), Fez (Terrasse des Tanneurs, Bab Boujeloud, Kairaouine Mosque) and Tangier (Grand Socco, Cap Spartel Lighthouse, Chefchaouen) are places we'd like to explore in Morocco. Train transportation provided by ONCF.
In Spain, Malaga (Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle, the cathedral, Laguna de Fuente Piedra), Granada (La Alhambra), Toledo (the Cathedral, Iglesia de San Ildefonso, Iglesia se Santo Tome, Monasterio San Clemente), Madrid (Palacio Real) and Barcelona (La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo, Palau Nacional) are thus far on our list. We'd probably take a ferry from Tangier to Algeciras to get to Spain.
October - November: Greece, Lebanon & Egypt
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, Mykonos and Santorini.
Egypt is next 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.
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.
January - March: Mexico
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.
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.
February - April: Canada
The main draw here is the Aurora Borealis, which can been seen in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. We may also try some dog sledding and other activities while we're there 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.
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: 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.
May - June: the British Isles
The Scottish Highland Games are the main event, occurring from mid-May through the beginning of September. The Lake District of England, Giant's Causeway of Northern Ireland, and the Shetland Islands of Scotland (utilizing NorthLink Ferries) are all places we'd hope to visit. Hopefully we'll see puffins in Scotland, and basking sharks in Ireland. We'd utilize BritRail Pass and IrishRail as well.
May - June: Russia
Also a good time to visit the vast country of Russia, with rivers thawing and flowers blooming.
The national parks of Rwanda would provide for us our second trip to the biodiverse African continent. There we could see gorilla, chimpanzee, and many species of monkey. Lodging could include Nyungwe Forest Lodge among others.
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: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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! And there appear to be plenty of homes and cabins available in Gatlinburg, TN, on AirBnB.
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!
October: New Mexico
October - November: Madagascar
The end of the dry season, with mild temperatures and lemurs giving birth to babies, this appears to be a good season for spotting wildlife. It appears that Andringitra and Ranomafana National Park have the largest variety of lemurs, and are close to Antananarivo International Airport (TNR). We could also fly in to Morondava to witness the Avenue of the Baobabs and Kirindy Mitea National Park.
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.