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2017:  The Wordy Explorers' Travel Year In Review

2017: The Wordy Explorers' Travel Year In Review


By avatar  Stacy
Posted On 12/30/2018 17:06:56
Trip Date 01/01/2018  

Destinations | Cruises | Camping | Travel Blogger Year in Review | Australia | Sydney | South Pacific Cruise | New Zealand Cruise | Queensland Cruise | Fort Walton Beach | Maui | Kauai | San Francisco | Big Bend | Western Caribbean Cruise | Italy | Transatlantic Cruise



During our second year of retirement we spent 163 nights away from our Austin, Texas home, a more than 50% increase as compared to our first year as retirees. We continued to watch our travel budget carefully so that our goal of not outliving our savings can hopefully become a reality. Taking advantage of low cost flights, airline and hotel miles and points as well as the Southwest Companion Pass definitely helped us reduce the dollars that we spent on travel.


The Wordy Explorers 2017 Travel Destination Map

The Wordy Explorers 2017 Travel Destination Map

To see a summary of what two people were able to experience in the second year of their quest to see the world during their retirement, continue reading below. In addition to reading a month by month review and brief summary of each trip, you'll also find 39 of our favorite photos from our year of traveling.



January 2017: Key West and Nassau Cruise (6 nights)

In late 2016, I found round trip airfare from Houston to Miami for less than $90.00 per person. After choosing from the available dates, we then had to decide where to stay. We researched options as far away as the Florida Keys just before Scott did a cruise query. We reserved a four night Empress of the Seas sailing which aligned perfectly with our flights and was our first ever Royal Caribbean cruise. Upon our return to Miami, we spent our final night in an art deco hotel on Miami Beach.


Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida

Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

March and April 2017: Sydney, Australia with South Pacific & Fiji, New Zealand and Queensland Cruises (41 nights)

Our longest ever flight to get us from Texas to Sydney, Australia warranted our longest vacation (at least until this point). We spent a total of eight nights exploring Sydney before, between and after three cruises that we had reserved in late 2015 just before we retired. In addition to seven relaxing days at sea, the first cruise on Voyager of the Seas took us to the South Pacific & Fiji.


Biausevu Village Waterfall in Fiji

Biausevu Village Waterfall in Fiji

Snorkeling at Hideaway Island, Vanuatu

Snorkeling at Hideaway Island, Vanuatu

Among other sightseeing, our return to Sydney gave us the chance to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and tour the Sydney Opera House.


We Made it to the Top - Sydney Bridge Climb

We Made it to the Top - Sydney Bridge Climb

View from Taronga Zoo

View from Taronga Zoo

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Following a couple of land based days, we boarded the Radiance of the Seas for two back-to-back cruises. Our first 13 night cruise took us around New Zealand including stops at Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Akaroa. Although our port day in Dunedin was cancelled due to high winds, we also sailed in Fiordland, New Zealand's largest national park.


Auckland Skyline from Mount Victoria

Auckland Skyline from Mount Victoria

Whakarewarewa Thermal Region in Rotorua Geothermal Field

Whakarewarewa Thermal Region in Rotorua Geothermal Field

With stops in Newcastle, Airlie Beach and Brisbane, our final eight night Queensland cruise allowed us to see some of Australia's west coast.


Brisbane's Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Brisbane's Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Before returning home on a long (but business class) flight, we made our way to both the Blue Mountains and Bondi Beach.


The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains

The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains

Hiking the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

Hiking the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

May 2017: Ft. Walton Beach, Florida (6 nights)

Although we would be home for less than three weeks, I felt the need to plan a getaway for Scott's birthday. He had been wanting to go to Florida's Gulf Coast, so I began a search for lodging. Using hotel points, I reserved five nights for the price of four in Ft. Walton Beach, home of the most awesome sand. The drive out was long since we did it all in one day, however we spread our return drive over two days making stops along the coast - plus a dinner stop at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. (Yes, that's right - beignets and frozen coffee for dinner!)


Fort Walton Beach at Sunset

Fort Walton Beach at Sunset

May 2017: Pearland (Houston), Texas (2 nights)

With less than two hours notice (and only two days at home since our last trip), we hit the road and were headed to Pearland to see two of Scott's uncles and their families. In addition to the time spent with family, we enjoyed a tour of Space Center Houston (NASA).



June and July 2017: Northwest US National Parks (17 nights)

In late 2016, Todd and Julia invited us on a road trip through three National Parks in the northwest US - Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. As they already had accommodations as well as flights into Spokane, Washington and out of Salt Lake City, Utah, the dates were set for the 9 night trip. After matching their hotel reservations, we decided to spend a few days before meeting at the airport to see more of Spokane and the surrounding area.


Palouse Falls State Park

Palouse Falls State Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

After an awesome nine days together, we went our separate ways from Salt Lake City. Todd and Julia flew home and we headed to Vegas for one night before driving to St. George, Utah to visit a former colleague Bob and his fiance' Sharon. During our three night stay in their casita we checked off two more National Parks - Bryce Canyon and Zion. After saying goodbye, we returned to Las Vegas for a couple more nights to see some of the area attractions including Hoover Dam.


Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

July 2017: Nacogdoches, Texas (1 night)

Almost immediately after returning home, Scott began his search for an available RV that met all of our qualifications. We had previously narrowed down the list to a handful of models, and a brand new 2018 Highland Ridge immediately peaked our interest. After a phone conversation with a salesperson, we drove to Nacogdoches to check it out. We signed a purchase contract and made plans for our return to take ownership. To break up our round trip drive, we caught a cheap movie at Galaxy Drive-in and stayed overnight in Hillsboro.



July 2017: Nacogdoches and Coldspring (Lake Livingston), Texas (4 nights)

Exactly one week later, we headed back to Tony Weir's Genuine RV Store to pick up our brand new home away from home. We spent our first night parked at the dealership - just in case we needed assistance. Once we knew the ropes, we headed off to Lake Livingston for the weekend. Our planned two nights turned into three due to a minor water leak which Tony Weir promised to look at if we returned on Monday morning.


"RV There Yet?" at Wolf Creek Park in Coldspring, Texas

"RV There Yet?" at Wolf Creek Park in Coldspring, Texas

July and August 2017: South Central US RV Trip (11 nights)

After six nights at home, we hooked up the RV to our tow vehicle to once again see Scott's family in Missouri - this time making some stops in Oklahoma along both directions of the journey. After six nights in the comfort of Todd and Julia's home, we also camped in the nearby town of Weston, Missouri.


View from Mt. Scott on Wichita Mountains Scenic Drive

View from Mt. Scott on Wichita Mountains Scenic Drive

August 2017: Maui & Kauai, Hawaii and San Francisco, California (17 nights)

Just nine nights after our return from our westbound RV trip, we were again on the road. Using a free week in a hotel earned through a points and miles redemption, we chose Hawaii as our destination. Our first four nights were spent in an AirBnb in Maui followed by our free week in Kauai.


Secret Cove in Maui, Hawaii

Secret Cove in Maui, Hawaii

Stone Dam Lookout on Wai Koa Plantation, Kauai

Stone Dam Lookout on Wai Koa Plantation, Kauai

Kauai's NaPali Coast

Kauai's NaPali Coast

Following our stay on the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, we made a stop in San Francisco where we enjoyed spending time with Scott's son, Matt.


Redwood Canopy in Muir Woods

Redwood Canopy in Muir Woods

September 2017: Big Bend and West Texas RV Trip (12 nights)

Less than two weeks later, we embarked on our longest to date adventure in "RV There Yet?". We spent twelve nights on our round trip journey which brought us to Big Bend National Park among other sights in western Texas (and even Mexico).


Big Bend National Park's Window View Trail

Big Bend National Park's Window View Trail

Santa Elena Canyon from Big Bend National Park

Santa Elena Canyon from Big Bend National Park

October and November 2017: Western Caribbean Cruise, Italy and Transatlantic Cruise (32 nights)

The Eastern Caribbean cruise planned as a gift for my Mom turned into a Western Caribbean sailing due to hurricane devastation. We met in Ft. Lauderdale and sailed aboard the Norwegian Escape from Miami to Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel. We spent a half day in Miami before getting my Mom back to the Fort Lauderdale airport for her return flight to Phoenix.


Harvest Caye, Belize

Harvest Caye, Belize

After Mom had boarded her plane, Scott and I rushed to the Miami airport where we caught an overnight overseas flight. We spent a total of six nights in Florence and Pisa seeing the many historical sights. Unexpectedly, we timed a last minute day trip which coincided with Lucca Comic and Games, an annual convention.


Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Giotto Campanile in Florence, Italy

Giotto Campanile in Florence, Italy

Florence's Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)

Florence's Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)

Lucca Comic and Games in Lucca, Italy

Lucca Comic and Games in Lucca, Italy

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa

We traveled by train to the port city of Civitavecchia where we spent our final evening in Italy. We boarded the Norwegian Star for our 15 night transatlantic journey back to the United States. Our itinerary, also changed due to hurricane impact, brought us to the ports of Marseille (France), Barcelona (Spain) and the island of Madeira before again docking in Miami.


Cassis, France

Cassis, France

View from Montserrat

View from Montserrat

Belvedere at Eira do Serrado overlooking "Curral das Freiras", Madeira

Belvedere at Eira do Serrado overlooking "Curral das Freiras", Madeira

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

November 2017: Houston, Texas (1 night)

The sole purpose of our overnight trip to Houston was to get the visas required for our planned 2018 visit to Brazil. Although signs announcing a fire drill at our appointment time gave us a little concern, we left in less than an hour with visas in hand. We made the most of our drive by adding visits to both Space Center Houston and Blue Bell Creameries.



December 2017: Western Caribbean Cruise (7 nights)

We joined our friends Terry and Dwayne on their annual December Caribbean cruise which was plagued with significant departure delays and the cancellation of a planned day in the Cayman Islands. Even so, we enjoyed time with friends, visits to Cozumel, Mexico and Falmouth, Jamaica as well as relaxing on the Liberty of the Seas. (Our first and last cruises of 2017 were aboard ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet. We started the year at zero, but our five cruises during the year racked up a total of 43 sailing days with the cruise line.)


Galveston, Texas

Galveston, Texas

December 2017: Parkville (Kansas City), Missouri (6 nights)

We wrapped up our year by driving to the Kansas City area where we celebrated the arrival of the new year as well as both Matt's and Todd's birthdays.



How to Learn More about Destinations that We've Visited

If you are interested in reading or seeing more of any of the destinations that we visited in 2017, our Search Engine should be able to help. After entering the name of the city, state, country or specific sight in which you have an interest, you'll find a list of articles matching your search criteria. If your search doesn't yield any rsults, please let us know. Our goal is to post helpful information on all of the destinations that we have visited since our retirement, and we are willing to rearrange our posting schedule to help out one of our readers and fellow travelers!

What's on the Horizon for The Wordy Explorers in 2018?

In addition to some as yet unplanned traveling in the USA in "RV There Yet?", our travel trailer, we have our eyes on the following destinations in 2018:
  • South America
  • Canary Islands and Transatlantic Cruise
We'd be honored for you to create a User Account and opt in for an e-mail subscription so that you don't miss out on our upcoming adventures. Our commitment is that we will send no more than one e-mail per week.

Travel Planning

When planning upcoming trips, how much in advance of your trip date do you begin choosing your destination, deciding what you want to see and making reservations for transportation and lodging?





2017:  The Wordy Explorers' Travel Year In Review






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Created On 12/27/2018 13:41:02  
Updated On 12/29/2018 15:13:34
Scheduled On 12/27/2018 16:06:56
Posted On 12/30/2018 17:06:56
Last Editor Scott
Location  
LinkId  2017TravelYearInReview
StoryId  1545936062463





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