The Year in Review: My 2011 Travels

As I sit in my cold office, looking out over the gray skies of Pennsylvania in December and watching the giant tree across the street shake in the freezing wind, I desperately want to get the hell out of PA and visit somewhere warm and beautiful.  But I realize that’s not the easiest thing to do this time of year–after all, everywhere with sandal-weather is really far away and really expensive.  In fact, historically, I’ve never traveled during this time of year–likely for that very reason.  And so, I will spend this cold, blustery day thinking back on trips past, rather than longing for trips-yet-to-come (or, more accurately, trips-unlikely-to-occur.)

Getting ready to do some 'research' on Toy Story Midway Mania in DHS.

When I look back over the year, I see that my first trip of 2011 didn’t even occur until early March.  Oddly, I don’t have the ability to link to that trip here, because there were no blog posts written about it.  Why?  Because at the time it was a super-secret preliminary research trip.  The purpose was to determine if I’d be able to easily research and write the book I’m now working on.  For five days in early March, I visited Walt Disney World all by myself, trying to do as much as humanly possible and desperately taking notes on my iPhone (and randomly charging said iPhone in various public restrooms, as note-taking really eats up one’s battery!)  The outcome of that trip was very good; I determined that yes, in fact, my book idea could work.  And so I holed up in my home office for most of spring and worked on the proposal for The World is Your Classroom.

At the Met...in the same shirt! Ha!

The next trip of 2011 was a very short trip–a weekend stay in New York City for a writing conference.  In late April I attended the ASJA Annual Convention, and I learned quite a bit.  In fact, this blog looks very different–and I’m confident that the content is much better–all because of the things I learned at ASJA.  Of course, all work and no play…well, there’s a saying about that.  So even though I was in conference sessions for most of the weekend, I still managed to fit some play time into my little trip to the city.  I finally visited the Met, had two lovely dinners, and met up with one of my husband’s friends for a happy hour…er, hours.  It was possibly the first time that I truly enjoyed a trip to New York, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why we’ve not been back for a fun trip since then.  I was officially forced to offer up an apology to the city I’d formerly hated.

At Universal's Portofino Bay Resort

2011, it seems, was to be the year of the travel-repeat–and the year of short flights between Allentown and Orlando.  Even though I’d been to Disney World in March for research, I still had a mother-daughter trip planned for May.  And somehow that trip morphed into a split trip; I spent half of the week with my mother in Walt Disney World and the other half of the trip with my husband at Universal Orlando.  Mom and I stayed in Animal Kingdom Lodge–which had it’s positives and negatives–and my husband and I stayed at Portofino Bay–which was absolutely lovely.  It was the first real vacation I’d taken since Vegas in June of 2010, and it was a much needed break from the types of trips I’d previously planned (Europe, I’m still looking at you!)  My husband and I hoped that we’d find the same kind of mindless fun at Universal as we did in Vegas, and as it turns out, we did! I relaxed, I had fun–hell, I even left my iPhone in the room for an entire day.  Imagine that!  Highlights of that trip included the Wanyama Safari in Disney World–which included a fantastic meal at Jiko–and a tour of resort restaurants in Universal.  I highly recommend both–as long as you have a rather large limit on your credit card.


Sailing in Ogunquit

Upon returning from my second trip to Orlando, it was time to get serious about planning our great summer adventure.  It is extremely unlike me to plan a trip on even semi-short notice–or, rather, it was extremely unlike me, as most of the trips in the latter part of 2011 were rather last-minute.  While we kicked around many, many different options for our summer trip, we finally settled on a Maine Coast and Atlantic Canada road trip.  It took me every waking hour of an entire week to plan and book the trip, but once it was created, it was perfect.  Hands down, that road trip was the best trip we’ve ever taken.  We visited Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, Boothbay Harbor, Monhegan Island, Bar HarborAcadia National Park, and Portland in Maine, St. Martin’s and Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, HalifaxPeggy’s Cove, and Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, and Cavendish and Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island.  We were gone for four weeks, and it was the best four weeks I’ve ever had.  Ever.  I can’t believe I love road trips–and Canada–so very much.

I was only home from the epic road trip for two weeks before leaving again on yet another epic trip–my weeks-long stay in Orlando.  This trip was not a vacation in any way–I was doing  the bulk of the research for my book–yet I still managed to have a really good time, first with my mother, then with my friend and new travel companion Melissa Sue, and then finally on my own.  I even snuck a trip into the trip–a really long day trip to St. Augustine, which was lovely.  I got a lot accomplished, enjoyed myself, and learned how damn hot it is in central Florida in September (it’s really freaking hot!)  I also got the opportunity to finally take some quality Walt Disney World photos with my new ‘real’ camera.  Of course, I’ve since lost half of them due to a fairly serious external hard drive snafu, but oh well–I’m going back in a few months anyway!

I love Bermuda!

You’d think that by this point in the year I’d be tired of traveling, but you’d only think that if you didn’t know me at all.  Three weeks after returning from Orlando, I decided I was restless again–and at the same time, found an amazing fare on a cruise to Bermuda.  So, nine days before sailing, I booked it, and suddenly found myself on a cruise ship sailing out of New York bound for a tiny island off the coast of the Carolinas.  All by myself.  It was awesome.  I loved Bermuda, I loved cruising–and, oddly, I loved cruising solo.  It is now one of my favorite ways to travel, and I hope to be doing it again very, very soon. (Do you hear that, universe?  I’d like to be on a cruise again very, very soon.  So give a girl a break and find me a cheap fare!)

My last trip of the year was a somewhat last-minute trip to Colonial Williamsburg.  I’d always wanted to visit Williamsburg, but it always seemed like it was a little too far away for a short trip but a little too dorky for a longer trip.  I now disagree with myself on both counts.  The six-and-a-half hour drive was perfectly acceptable–even for a short, three-night stay–and really, I could have spent a week there.  After two days spent exploring the historic district we spent an evening at Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town.  It was a lovely way to spend an unseasonably warm November evening.

And now it is December.  Sadly, no travels this month or, possibly, next month.  The next trip I have booked does not begin until February 23rd, and after that there’s nothing in the works either.  But worry not, I have a long list of ideas, plans, and dreams for early 2012.  Which brings me to my next post….





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