MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Time To Start Planning

I bought my first plane ticket of the year this week. It is not to Hawaii (the place I must get to this year) and it is not somewhere in the Caribbean (the place I am trying to convince my boyfriend to join me for a weekend getaway), instead, I booked a trip to Phoenix, Arizona.

Yeah, I know, I have been there several times. But, there are over 21 main national park units in that state. I have only been to 6 of them, and in reality, I need to spend more time at the Grand Canyon. My trips to Arizona have been scattered- I have visited the south eastern section the most, with multiple visits to Tucson and Saguaro National Park. I have stopped off to see Case Grande ruins while driving between Phoenix and Tucson, and driven out to the Chiricahua's to escape the heat during a heat wave of over 120 (where I went for a hike in 90+degree temps). I have been up to Flagstaff and saw a crater. I have detoured for the Petrified Forest, on a road trip based primiliarly in New Mexico. And I have visited the Pipe Organ Cactus but missed the visitor center. And yes, there is more to do in Arizona then parks - I have spa'ed it, spent some time in Scottsdale's old town, seen historic towns (Tombstone), visited art towns (Bisbee, Sedona and Tubec) and shopped all around. Still, I feel Arizona is incomplete... and a United sale was a good reason to head back.

Knowing I will have a few big trips this year, this could not be a long trip, so as much as I still yearn to make it up to Canyon de Chelly, I can't this time around. I will have to stay in and around Phoenix and Tucson again - That is not a problem since there seems to be some great cliff dwellings at Montezuma Castle only a few hours north on the city. To date, the only Native American cliff dwellings I have visited on my travels have been at Mesa Verde (CO) and Bandelier (NM). Both were beautiful. I would love to see more. These sites leave you with distinct impressions of what life was like for these communities - its an amazing experience. And a few hours south of the city, I hope to visit Coronado and get in a good first hike to start the year taking in the expansive views of Sonora, Mexico and the San Pedro River and San Rafael Valleys.

Of course, this is just hopeful planning right now - I have to map it all out to make sure it is doable in my time there. As much as people think I rush through these trips - I don't. The Griswolds, I am not. My camera and I need this time away from the computer to just soak nature in. I need to stretch my legs from the constant sitting at work. And its hard to deny the lure of the SW in the middle of an east coast winter (even if it only hit this week).

Of course, I love connecting with friends I have all over... and here, I have 2 friends in the Phoenix area. It would be great to see them too! So, Paige and Megan - head's up! If I plan this right, maybe we can head to the spa.

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