Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Location: Alamosa, Colorado
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: Tallest dunes in North America, scenic views
Strenuosity: 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free in winter
Additional considerations: High elevation, strenuous climbing
Description: We saved our favorite National Park for last in 2016. Tiff came here as a child from nearby Pueblo, Colorado and we first climbed 750-foot tall Star Dune together in 2007.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
Location: Mariposa, California
Length of visit: half day to multiple days
Major draws: Iconic granite, scenic views, wildlife
Strenuosity: 0 to 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $30 per vehicle or free with America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: High elevation, steep trails
Description: Giant sequoia trees, massive waterfalls, and miles of hiking trails make this one of the most heavily-visited National Parks in the world, but it was fairly quiet the week before Thanksgiving.

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Fort Bowie National Historic Site
Location: east of Wilcox, Arizona
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Ruins of a fort, scenic views
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: 3-mile roundtrip hike to visitor center
Description: There aren’t any other NPS sites we can think of that require a 1.5-mile one-way hike to access the visitor center, but as a bonus when you arrive you’ve earned an I Hike for Health pin. This fort dates from the Civil War and late-1800s Apache Wars.

Tonto National Monument

Tonto National Monument
Location: Roosevelt Lake, Arizona
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Ruins, scenic views
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $5 per adult or free with America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Steep but short hike to ruins
Description: Not far east of Phoenix is this beautiful cliff dwelling ruin, which makes for a great half day trip and scenic drive past Roosevelt, Apache, and Canyon Lakes.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  We made it safely to the end of Pretirement!

We are back home for the holidays and busy processing through our 10 months of travel.  We still have some posts to add to the blog and we are working on a couple new videos.

We wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their support this year (we especially loved reading your comments on the blog).  It was a very special time for us and we enjoyed sharing our joyful experiences with everyone.  Have a very merry Christmas!

Love, Scott and Tiff

 

 

Hawaii Trip in Review

Hawaii Trip in Review
20 days
18 nights tent camping
97 miles on foot
3  miles in an inflatable tube
1,062 miles in rental cars

$3,718 total budget
$1,213 flights
$608 rental cars
$71 gasoline
$66 restaurants
$279 groceries
$280 campgrounds
$196 Luau Kalamaku
$498 Kalaupapa NHP day trip
$234 tubing
$226 submarine
$47 miscellaneous
$0 NPS entry fees (free to enter both parks)

2 of 8 NPS sites in Hawaii
WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Dole Pineapple Plantation

Dole Pineapple Plantation
Location: central Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Pineapple Express train, world’s largest maze, Dole whip dessert
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $7 per adult for maze
Additional considerations: Crowded when tour buses stop
Description: Even on a rainy day we had fun finding the 8 hidden stations in the world’s largest maze. To celebrate we split a Dole whip (pineapple soft serve).

North Shore

North Shore
Location: Hale’iwa, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: full day
Major draws: Surfing, scenic views, shave ice, shrimp trucks
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free parking
Additional considerations: Wave height varies considerably even in winter
Description: The famous pipeline waves of Hawaii are found on Oahu’s North Shore in winter, but during the week we visited they were not very large. Luckily, it was warm enough in December for a stop at Matsumoto’s General Store for shave ice.

Atlantis Submarine

Atlantis Submarine
Location: Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Submarine ride, shipwrecks, fish, sea turtles
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: About $100 per person
Additional considerations: Ferry boat to access offshore submarine
Description: Tiff was nervous about diving 100 feet in a submarine, but she enjoyed the spacious interior and large portholes. We saw a white reef shark, green sea turtles, numerous bluefin trevally, and many other interesting fish that were not their usual colorful selves due to color absorption in deep water.