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2019:  The Wordy Explorers' Travel Year In Review

2019: The Wordy Explorers' Travel Year In Review


avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 01/01/2020
Posted On 01/01/2020 14:58:21

Destinations | Cruises | Camping | Travel Blogger Year in Review | Ultimate Caribbean Cruise | RV Vacations | Costa Rica | Portland | Greenland Crossing | Canada and New England Cruise | Maui | Runaway Bay | Jamaica



2019, our fourth year of retirement, also marked the one year anniversary of the Wordy Explorers Travel Blog. We are continually striving to find the right balance of time that we spend blogging with the time that we spend exploring.

For our annual travel blogger year in review, we always like to count the number of nights that we spent away from our Austin, Texas home. During 2019, our total was 180 nights, almost a 20% reduction as compared to 2018. We actually slept in our own bed for over half of the year (barely)!

Having had "RV There Yet?" for just over two years, our nights away are still greater than in our first two years after retirement (106 and 163 nights respectively). After increasing the number of days that we spent away during each of our first three years of retirement, we knew that we didn't want to keep up the pace that we had been setting. While our love of cruises, camping and our desire to explore the world as we travel to new destinations remains, our hope is to do so at a slightly less frantic pace.

We have continued to plan well and have stayed within (actually below) the travel budget that we set for ourselves. (Our goal is to stretch our travel dollars as far as possible. Since we retired rather early, striving to ensure that we don't outlive our savings is always top of mind.)

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To see a summary of what two early retirees accomplished in one year on their quest to see the world, we welcome you to take a look below. Along with photos, we've included a month by month review and brief summary of each trip that we took during the year.

By travel type, you'll see our three 2019 cruises (Ultimate Caribbean Cruise, Greenland Crossing and Canada & New England Cruise). Our three 2019 RV vacations took us to southeast Texas and the south central and southwest United States. In addition to road trips to Louisiana and Kansas City, our remaining domestic trips were to Maui and Portland. Finally, on the international front, in addition to cruise ports, we spent time in Costa Rica, Jamaica and Romania.


Map of Wordy Explorers' 2019 Travels

Map of Wordy Explorers' 2019 Travels

February & March 2019: Ultimate Caribbean Cruise (14 nights)

After sleeping in our own bed for the entire month of January and over half of February, we finally began our first trip of the year. (It had been nearly two years since we were home for an entire month!) The 10 day Ultimate Caribbean Cruise aboard Celebrity Reflection took us from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Grand Cayman, Cartagena, Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. The cruise, plus the day before and two days after spent in Florida, made for a perfect start to our travels for the year.


Celebrity Reflection

Celebrity Reflection

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Aruba's Natural Bridge

Aruba's Natural Bridge

Salt Flats at Curacao's Sint Willibrordus

Salt Flats at Curacao's Sint Willibrordus

March 2019: Bastrop, TX RV Trip and Louisiana Road Trip (7 nights)

Before taking "RV There Yet?" on a long road trip beginning in April, we decided to make the short trek to the nearby Bastrop State Park to make sure everything was working properly. Our mid-month two night stay gave us time to explore the park, celebrate our anniversary and enjoy a dinner with friends.


Camping at Bastrop State Park

Camping at Bastrop State Park

Less than a week later, we took off on a road trip to Louisiana. After exploring the Lafayette area on our own for the better part of a day, we met up with Scott's brother and sister-in-law in New Orleans. In addition to the city's great eats, the four of us enjoyed some sightseeing including an airboat swamp tour and plantation home tours.


Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette, LA

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette, LA

Louisiana Airboat Adventure and Swamp Tour

Louisiana Airboat Adventure and Swamp Tour

Lunch at Perino's Boiling Pot

Lunch at Perino's Boiling Pot

Houma's House

Houma's House

We also devoted one of our three days together to the short drive to Baton Rouge for a mini-reunion which included aunts, uncles and cousins of the brothers!

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April & May 2019: South Central USA RV Trip (52 nights)

Although I spent the better part of the first week of April in jury duty, we were still able to pack up and leave as planned for our longest to date RV trip. At just over seven weeks in length, our journey through parts of the south central United States was timed around a stop in Kansas City to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of Scott's parents.

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In addition to camping (or "glamping") in Missouri, we made stops in Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas. Although the list could go on and on, some highlights included Natchez Spring Pilgrimage, Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, touring a number of distilleries, hiking at Great Smokey Mountains National Park and attending the Kentucky Derby.


The Longwood Antebellum Mansion in Natchez, MI

The Longwood Antebellum Mansion in Natchez, MI

Posing with Jack at Jack Daniel Distillery

Posing with Jack at Jack Daniel Distillery

Touring the Grand Ole Opry

Touring the Grand Ole Opry

Great Smokey Mountain National Park

Great Smokey Mountain National Park

Sipping Mint Juleps at the Kentucky Derby

Sipping Mint Juleps at the Kentucky Derby

June 2019: Portland, Oregon and Southeast Texas RV Trip (13 nights)

For the second year in a row, Scott and I flew to Phoenix where we met my Mom at the airport. The three of us then flew together to Portland, Oregon to spend a week with my Mom's sister (my Aunt Jan). In addition to family time, the four of us (plus Charlie the dog) took a weekend road trip to Crater Lake National Park. Scott did a great job planning our route so that we could make multiple sightseeing stops in both directions.


Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Lowell Covered Bridge

Lowell Covered Bridge

We timed our attendance at two June Broadway Across America productions so that we could spend six nights camping in Texas State Parks. Near San Antonio, we spent three nights at Palmetto State Park. Our last three nights were at Stephen F. Austin State Park outside of Houston. In addition to our cultural enrichment at the theaters, we also had the opportunity to tour a Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant and the Battleship Texas.


Battleship Texas

Battleship Texas

July 2018: San Jose & Tarcoles, Costa Rica (8 nights)

After being invited by our friends, Rick, Sheryl and their daughter Emily, we made a completely unexpected trip to Costa Rica. Rick had bid upon and won a silent auction prize of six nights in a 3 bedroom villa in Tarcoles. Scott and I arrived one day earlier than everyone else so that we could explore the big city of San Jose.


San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

The five of us then spent our six nights and five days on the country's Pacific Coast. In addition to relaxing at our wonderful accommodations, we did some hiking at both Carara and Manuel Antonio National Parks. We all enjoyed sampling the local cuisine, exploring some of the nearby beaches and towns including Monteverde and Jaco and joining some tours.


Crocodile in the Tarcoles River

Crocodile in the Tarcoles River

Don Juan Coffee, Chocolate and Sugar Cane Tour

Don Juan Coffee, Chocolate and Sugar Cane Tour

Hanging out in Manuel Antonio National Park

Hanging out in Manuel Antonio National Park

It was great to spend more concentrated time in a country where we've only stopped for a day on cruise ships.

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August - September 2019: Romania, Greenland Crossing and Canada & New England Cruises (43 nights)

Our longest international trip of 2019 started with a flight to Bucharest, Romania where we again met Todd and Julia, Scott's brother and his wife. The home base for the first nine nights of our trip was at the home of Julia's parents in Mihaesti. Todd, Scott and I took a three night road trip to explore parts of Romania's Transylvania Region.


Rasnov Fortress

Rasnov Fortress

The time for us to say our goodbyes and attempt to express our extreme gratitude to Julia's sister, parents, grandmother and extended family for their generous hospitality came too quickly. After two days of exploring some of the most popular sites in Bucharest, we jetted off to Copenhagen, Denmark.


Bucharest's Palace of the Parliament

Bucharest's Palace of the Parliament

Fortunately we had spent time seeing some of the best of Copenhagen a few years earlier. All that we had time for during this visit was dinner, sleep and a short walk around the city's Norreport area. The sole purpose of this quick stop was to board Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas cruise ship for a 16 day Greenland Crossing.

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After departing from the Port of Copenhagen, we made stops in the port cities of Skagen, Denmark, Kristiansand, Norway and Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland. Then, after a day at sea, we made it to Iceland where we spent one day in Akureyi and the better part of two days in Reykjavik.


Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas docked in Kristiansand, Norway

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas docked in Kristiansand, Norway

Iceland's Godafoss Waterfall

Iceland's Godafoss Waterfall

Iceland's Blue Lagoon

Iceland's Blue Lagoon

Geyser Hot Spring

Geyser Hot Spring

It took two more sea days for the captain and crew to get us to Greenland. During our first day in the Arctic waters surrounding the island, we joined the vast majority of the passengers out on deck. Although the temperatures were very cold, seeing the natural beauty as we sailed through Prince Christian Sound was worth every minute. Before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to get to North America, we spent one day exploring Qaqortoq, Greenland.


Prince Christian Sound, Greenland

Prince Christian Sound, Greenland

Qaqortoq, Greenland

Qaqortoq, Greenland

Our original itinerary called for one port day each in Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Due to Hurricane Dorian, however, our course was altered and we spent two days docked in Sept-Iles, Quebec, Canada. Our cruise ended one day later than planned in Boston, Massachusetts - our first experience for a delayed disembarkation day.

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After saying our goodbyes to Julia and Todd, Scott drove and I rode in a rental car between Boston and Quebec City. Fortunately, we had little trouble changing our plans which originally called for two nights in Montreal. Although we completely missed out on Montreal sightseeing, the good news with our delayed arrival into Canada was that we had nearly four full days to explore Quebec City.


View of Quebec City from Citadelle of Quebec

View of Quebec City from Citadelle of Quebec

Montmorency Falls

Montmorency Falls

After three nights split between two different hotels, we boarded the Caribbean Princess for a ten night Classic Canada and New England Cruise. Our first four ports of call were all in Canada - Saguenay, Quebec, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia. We were grateful that we had the opportunity to spend at least two days in Nova Scotia after missing out on our last planned visit due to the hurricane.


Saguenay Fjord National Park

Saguenay Fjord National Park

Prince Edward Island's Covehead Lighthouse

Prince Edward Island's Covehead Lighthouse

Louisbourg Lighthouse

Louisbourg Lighthouse

After leaving our last Canadian port, we headed south to the United States. Although we didn't have enough time to do it justice, we did add Acadia National Park to our list! From Bar Harbor, Maine, we set sail for our last port of call. We enjoyed having a chance to see some attractions that we didn't see during our previous visit to Boston, Massachusetts.


Jordan Pond at Acadia National Park

Jordan Pond at Acadia National Park

USS Constitution at Boston's Charlestown Navy Yard

USS Constitution at Boston's Charlestown Navy Yard

We had thought that we might want to do some more sightseeing in New York City, our port of disembarkation. After over seven weeks away from home, we ended up happy that we had flights reserved that would get us home on the same day that we got off the ship.

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October 2019: Southwest USA RV Road Trip (20 nights)

Less than two weeks after returning home from our long international trip, we packed up for a three week journey in "RV There Yet?". We were beginning to think that we would not have time for a fall RV trip. As it turned out, the block of time that we had available between trips was a perfect opportunity for us to visit my family in Gilbert, Arizona.

We spent two nights at Davis Mountains State Park in west Texas plus one night in Willcox, Arizona on our outbound trek. Nothing beats time with family and the week that we spent in Gilbert was definitely a highlight of our time away.


Davis Mountains State Park

Davis Mountains State Park

Since we had the time, we were able to make a few stops on our return to the Austin area. After two partial days at Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona, we headed to Benson where we crossed paths with Big Boy, the historic Union Pacific steam locomotive. We wrapped up our trip by taking the long road home. We traveled through New Mexico enroute to Caprock Canyons State Park before unloading and winterizing our RV.


Saguaro Cactus at Sagauro National Park

Saguaro Cactus at Sagauro National Park

Union Pacific's Big Boy Steam Locomotive

Union Pacific's Big Boy Steam Locomotive

Caprock Canyons State Park

Caprock Canyons State Park

November 2019: Maui, Hawaii (8 nights)

What started as seven nights away from home turned into eight nights at 11:00 PM the evening before our flight to Maui, Hawaii. Freezing rain and sleet was expected, and we were worried that it may be difficult to get to the airport for an early morning flight. To ensure a safe drive, we moved to a hotel near the airport where we got about three hours of sleep!

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Once we got to Maui, we spent seven delightful nights in an AirBnb in Kihei. In addition to nightly visits to the hot tub at the condo complex that we called home, we did lots of snorkeling, eating and relaxing. Since we had a rental car, we spent one day driving up to Haleakala National Park and a second driving the Road to Hana. We also found the time to add the Grand Luau at Honua'ula to our growing list of luaus.


Grand Luau at Honua'ula

Grand Luau at Honua'ula

Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park

Keopuka Rock Overlook on the Road to Hana

Keopuka Rock Overlook on the Road to Hana

November - December 2019: Runaway Bay, Jamaica (6 nights)

Taking one final opportunity to get use out of our last ever (probably) Southwest Companion Pass, we flew to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Upon landing, we hopped on a shuttle for the ride to Luxury Bahia Principe Resort in Runaway Bay where we met our friends Elsie and Jim. We had a blast at the all inclusive resort - eating, drinking, snorkeling, kayaking, relaxing and more. During our five day, six night stay, we only left the resort once for a day trip with Cool Runnings Catamarans for more snorkeling and the climb up Dunn's River Falls.


Luxury Bahia Principe Resort

Luxury Bahia Principe Resort

Dunn's River Falls

Dunn's River Falls

December 2019: Pearland, TX and Kansas City, MO (9 nights)

Our last two trips away from home gave us an opportunity to spend some time with some of Scott's family. Just a few days after our return from Jamaica, we made the three hour drive to Pearland, Texas. We had a busy but very productive two days helping one of Scott's cousins move into a new apartment.

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With Scott's son visiting for the holidays, the three of us made the drive to Parkville / Kansas City, Missouri. We spent the latter part of the year visiting Scott's parents, siblings and and one of his nephews. With the freezing temperatures, it did feel more like winter than the warmth that Texas experienced at year end!

How to Learn More about Destinations that We've Visited

If you are interested in seeing or reading more about one or more of the destinations that we visited in 2019, our Search Engine can help. Just type in the name of the city, state, country or specific site in which you have an interest. Your search results should give you a list of articles matching your search criteria. If your search doesn't yield any results, please let us know. We are working hard to post helpful information on all of the destinations that we have visited since our retirement (and even before). We are always willing to attempt to rearrange our posting schedule in order to help out one of our readers and fellow travelers!

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What's on the Horizon for The Wordy Explorers in 2020?

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 2020:
  • southeast US RV trip;
  • Bahamas and Key West cruise;
  • Zanzibar, Tanzania; and
  • National Park Safari from Arusha to Nairobi followed by Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park.

We invite you to create a User Account and opt in for an e-mail subscription now 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.

The Year Ahead

What travel plans have you made for 2020 and, of your planned destinations, which are you most excited about and why?





2019:  The Wordy Explorers' Travel Year In Review





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