2013 New Year’s Resolutions

1) Get Out West-

One thing that was made clear on my trip to Ireland was how much of the United States I have yet to see.  It seemed like the routine would be, we’d meet someone, tell them we’re from the US (if they weren’t from the US, explain to them that not everyone from the US is from NY or LA), and then spend our time feeling humiliated as these Europeans would basically best us with all the continental stops they’ve made.  So much as last year I made it my number one goal to get out of the country, this year I’m going to make it my number one goal to switch coasts.

I’m pretty happy with the amount of traveling I’ve done, but rarely venture off the US seaboard.  I’d like to change that and make it somewhere out west.  My three top destinations would be Austin, Boulder, or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest (I know everyone’s obsessed with going to California, but for some reason that’s never appealed to me…I hope that doesn’t make me a hipster).

I’ve always heard good things about Austin, and included it for my wish list last year.  Austin has a thriving live music scene, plenty of outdoor activities in and around the city, and was at the center of the food truck craze that’s currently the trendy thing in eating (and one of the only trendy eating things this guy could get behind).   It’s unofficial slogan is “keep Austin weird.”  How could you not love that?

I’ve heard really cool things about Boulder from those who’ve lived/visited there.  It’s also big on outdoor activities (I believe it’s one of the healthiest cities in the US, which is why I’d love to visit but never live there) and brew-pubs .

I’ve never been entirely sold on the Pacific Northwest, but was reading Men’s Health a few weeks ago and saw a blurb for this rafting and beer tour; a three day white water rafting expedition down Oregon’s Rogue river.  During the day you raft, and at night you spend your time at various lodges tasting beer.  Close by is the town of Bend, a community of 80,000 with over a dozen breweries located within a square mile.  You can walk the Bend-Ale trail or hire one of their tour companies to ferry you around.

The good thing about all three of these locales is that they’re far away.  You could find reasonable flights, but why not drive out and see even more of the country.

2) Go Abroad Again-

As I was saying before, I’m itching to go back abroad and I think it’s entirely feasable without banking the bank (which Ireland almost did break).  I went to Ireland for a little over two weeks for about two weeks for roughly (looking back, I should have kept accurate records for future endeavors, but it was too depressing) $2500-$3000.  This included my flight, our tour, lodging, car rental, food and spending money.  Now, while I think I did a good job spending my money wisely over there, I definitely could have been more frugal.  We saw almost all of Ireland, I’m pretty sure I went to the bar every night (when in Ireland), and there were very few things we skimped on in order to save cash.  What I’m getting at is that I believe it’d be entirely possible to return abroad albeit for a shorter time just a year after my first Irish trip.

I’ve decided I’d either like to return to Ireland, see Scotland (possibly a combination trip?), or visit Iceland.  If I went back to Ireland, I’d probably focus on the west coast (my favorite part) and stay more centralized then I did before (see my return Ireland wishlist for more specifics).  A number of people we met in Ireland had either come from or were going to Scotland which is why it ranks so high up on my interests and I’ve been enamored with the thought of visiting Iceland for a couple of years now because it’s a little bit off the beaten path (did I just pull a hipster move again..I’ll stop, I swear), the weather and landscape cover every extreme, and it’s consistently voted as one of the best party destination with some of the world’s most attractive populace.

*Note: While it’s taken me up until February to get this guy published, I did have good intentions and start work in early January.  Since then, I’ve made the executive descision to make Iceland my abroad destination for summer 2013.  I’ll be posting about that shortly.

3) Asheville NC-

Asheville makes the list again.  It’s a smallish city in the mountains of North Carolina fast becoming known for it’s adventure sports and unique culture.  Ashville’s a 9 hour drive from Lancaster, so it’s a long ride, but very doable for a long weekend.  See me last year’s resolutions for a more indepth look into Ashville, but here’s a short list of the reasons I want to visit this city:

  • They have several BYOB bus tours, from a comedy tour about the city’s Prohibition history, to a ghost tour.
  • Weekly drum circles.
  • White water rafting everywhere

Maybe I’ll try to visit this year during the Brewgrass Festival, which combines Bluegrass music with breweries from around the country.

4) Nashville-

I’ve had a Nashville obsession for sometime now.  It’s a combination of my love for country music and my obsession for partaking in a Pedal Bar.

A friend of mine was in Nashville recently and only had good things to say about it.  The live music is supposedly phenomenal, and I could make a rhyming road trip hitting Nashville and Asheville in one go.

5) Go Real Whitewatever Rafting-

I’ve wrote before how my friends and I go “rafting” every summer.  It’s fun, but doesn’t serve up enough exercise or adrenaline rush.  I always end up hungover and sunburnt the next day.  It’s the same feeling I get whenever I go to the beach.  I enjoy rafting and would like an actual whitewater experience.

Three years ago I did try “real” white water rafting with some friends in Jim Thorpe, PA.  We did hit some good rapids, and it was a helluva workout, but nothing compared to the whitewater you see on TV.  I want something where I’m working the entire time, a guide is required in my raft, and helmets and wetsuits are a must.

I’ve looked into this and it seems like my best bets would be Millinocket Maine for a jumping and rafting extravaganza, Asheville NC (already on my list for 2013), Ohiopyle outside of Pittsburgh (probably the most logical), WV or the Hudson Valley.

6) Drive Cayuga Scenic Byway-

By the time I wrote about the Cayuga Scenic Byway drive last year, my summer was literally all but mapped out for me.  This year’s goal: hit this up in the spring or early June before my schedule suffers the same fate.  It’s close (to my parent’s house), it’s relatively cheap, and I’ve been wanted to get back up that way since driving through on a very hungover drive back from Rochester after my college housemate’s wedding a couple of years ago.

7) Triple Crown-

This is self explanatory.  Preakness is a yearly pilgrimage for us at this point (although this year we’re switching it up and staying in Baltimore all weekend).  I’ve never been to Belmont, but have plenty of friends from that area who talk it up and if I’m doing two, why not see the Kentucky Derby as well?

8) Island Culture-

I’d like to stay on an island for a long weekend, and not a barrier island like Sea Isle or Atlantic City that could easily be reached via Causeway.  I want to stay on an Island that requires ferry service where you get to experience at actual Irish Culture.  The easiest and most popular getaways would easily by Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket (located off the coast of Cape Cod, for those of you living under a rock).  I went to Martha’s Vineyard when I was young and it was absolutely gorgeous; the beaches there are exactly like you picture when you think New England but lack the crowds that plague Cape Cod and what I’m more used to, The Jersey Coast.  I’ve never been to Nantucket so can’t comment.

Tangier Island, a small hamlet in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay has fascinated me for a number of years when I discovered it while making a lesson plans for one of my classes on local dialect.  People on Tangier Island speak in a strange dialect similar to pre-Revolutionary British accent because of their remote location.  It’s a three-hour ride to Salisbury MD, where you can catch a ferry to Tangier Island for the day.  The island is so tiny you can’t even have cars there.

9) Las Vegas (settle for AC)-

I feel like I’ve been talking to a large number of people going or planning on going to Vegas in the near future (I think two, but still) and it’s got me jonesing to go.  I’m not a big gambler by any means, but Vegas is affordable and the ultimate grown up Disney World/escape from reality.

10) Rent an RV-

I’ve been obsessed with the idea of an RV trip with friends for a while.  We were considering getting one for the Preakness this year but the logistics unfortunately don’t seem to work out.

Every year when we go down we start the day in the bus lot, and there’s always a row of RV’s filled with people who’ve either driven there that morning or parked the night before.  I’m not sure which as I’ve never asked.  Anyhow, we figured that if we did rent an RV we’d only hava an hour or two to use it that morning before Preakness began.  Once your enter the infield, you’re not allowed back out, and Pimlico is not situated in the best part of town; it doesn’t seem like a good idea to party there in the RV after the races finished.

That being said, I’d like to take an RV for a weekend roadtrip, maybe to one of the spots on this list.

And, while it’s probably not feasible for this upcoming year, I’ve decided one of my life bucketlist items is to do a roadtrip in an Airstream trailer.

11) Rent a Limo-

This is another of those “I keep saying we should do that” items.  I’ve only been in a limo one time, for a friend’s 21st birthday and I had a great time.  Something about drinking mid-transport (bus, boat, train) really appeals to me.  It’s also a great way to drink and drive safely, a cheaper alternative to a hotel (Example: renting a lime to AC) and automatically makes you feel important.  What’s more, if you get a decent group, this won’t break the bank at all.

My ideal trip involves a limo and dive bars that rarely (if ever) see limos.

12) Do at least 5 “water cooler” activities:

I begrudgingly admit that I like both attention and taking part out activities that are little beyond the “norm.”  I begrudgingly admit this because these are traits I don’t love in others.

Anyhow, I’d like to accomplish several of the following, what I’ve termed, “watercooler” activities; the kind of stuff you could humble brag to colleagues and friends about.  My top four would be skydiving, dogsledding (already have plans for this in two weeks up Lake Placid), spelunking, and riverboarding.

13) Learn how to Rock Climb-

I have a terrible fear of heights but must be a masochist of some sort because I’m constantly inventing new ways to scare myself.  It makes me feel strangely validated as a human to conquer these fears.

Last spring I went bouldering at the Philadelphia Rock Gym.  I really enjoyed myself and liked both the physicality and strategy it involved.  I’ve decided I’d like to take a rock climbing course, not at a rock gym but outside, climbing actual rocks.  Even if I just made one climb and descent, conquering this fear would make me feel strangely validated as a human.

I looked into actually taking a guided ice climbing trip in Lake Placid this February, but found other activities we liked instead.  I’d like to do a few indoor runs before braving the outdoors.

14) Windsurfing:

This is a repeat offender from last year.  I’d like to learn how to windsurf, and take a class so that I could do it properly.

15) Plan a Weekend Roulette:

Let me explain weekend roulette.  I read about it in the book Die Happy: 499 Things Every Guy’s Gotta Do While He Still Can (which I suggest everyone, guys and girls, take a look at).  What you need to do is get a group of friends together. Make sure it’s a group that likes to travel, likes doing new things, and is capable of planning things (I should do a post on this on it’s own).  You assign each member of the group a day, weekend, etc and a budget and they are in charge of planning something fun to do.

I like this idea for several reasons.

A) I like planning things, I really do.  I’m usually not even good with not planning things. However, once in a while it’s nice to let someone else do the heavy work.

B) I like that I might not be doing something I’d pick to do.

C) My aforementioned planning fetish; I like planning and think planning is very essential but this often leaves very little room for spontaneity, I haven’t taken a spontaneous trip in a long time (this is sort of a lie: NYE was spontaneous, as was going to Octoberfest at Mohegan Sun with my familiy this fall and one of my trips to the beach this summer).

D) This is a great way to ensure that friends you don’t see as often as you may like get together.

16) Camp somewhere cool (like Island..beach.etc):

Last year my buddy Eric and I undertook a three-day-two-night-36-mile kayaking trip down the Delaware River.  Our first day we did six or seven miles on the water before pulling up to a campsite for the night.  There were showers, a general store, and electricity.  Our second night we ended up using a state campsite.  It was pretty Spartan: a clearing, and a semi fire pit.

On the map we had gotten from the park service, there were two other campsites very close to where we had decided to take up.  Both were on an island.

This is where I messed up.

I had to use the bathroom terribly when we decided to make camp, the sort that you can’t (or I guess in my case, won’t) do in the Forest.  My rationale was that there was a trail near the campsite that lead to a small park which had a bathroom with toilet paper.  As soon as we set  up camp I left to do my business and immediately regretted my decision; the campsites on the island were already being taken.  How cool would have that been, to camp on the island? Pretty badass.

This year I’d like to camp somewhere of note, whether it be an island, a beach, or even venture into some winter camping.  The point of camping is to be out in the beauty of nature, and while I have fun every time I go, the location is never something worth noting.

17) Pittsburgh In Summer-

This is another do-over from last year.  Pittsburgh is one of my new favorite cities to visit.  It’s clean (I’m surprised by how clean it is everytime I go…I grew up thinking of Pittsburgh as grey and industrial), it’s young (Pitt, Duquesne), has a great bar scene, and a lot of outdoor activity.  Unfortunately I’ve only ever been to Pittsburgh in the fall or winter and have unable to partake in drinking or kayaking on it’s many rivers or white water rafting in nearby Ohiopyle Park.

18) Get blog published-

Part of the reason I started this blog was to hopefully get my foot in the door travel writing.  I’ve been going for about a year now and unfortunately don’t think all that many people have seen it.  This whole blogging bit has been a bit of a learning experience for me and while I think I’ve conquered teh writing and creating bit, I still don’t know how to embed words to appear on search engines or much about increasing the readability of the blog, which is something I’d like to work on.

19) Get paid for a trip

Piggybacking off of number 18), I’d like to be paid to write about some of my “weekend fun” or better yet, have a trip financed so that I could write about it.

20) Write More About Lancaster

I touched upon this a little bit more in my last whats-coming-up-for-me-in-2013 post.  I’ve been living in Lancaster for alittle over three years now.  When I first moved down here, I abhorred it, almost too much  looking back.  I didn’t like my job, I didn’t know anybody, and at that point in my life I wasn’t super confident enough to explore on my own, and I took it out on the area.  I was also constantly comparing myself to friends who were living in New York and Philly and dragging myself back up to Scranton an unhealthy amount.  While Lancaster certainly does have its strange attributes, I’ve grown to like it.  Not only that, but there’s a lot to do here.

One common misconception is that Lancaster is full of Amish people.  Truth be told, unless I drive south or east of the city, I rarely see them.  I live in Lancaster City, the county seat, which is a decent sized small city.  Lancaster City has a decent bar scene and nightlife and although it’s not exactly my cup of tea, a thriving arts community.  I’ve also grown to really like being able to travel a lot on foot.  There’s a number of wineries and breweries in this area, which I’ve already covered and its close proximity to the Susquehanna lends much hiking and watersports to the area.

I always talked up Scranton’s location as one of its high points, but in that aspect Lancaster might have it beat.  Harrisburg is a half hour away.  That was fun the first year I lived here when Harrisburg was fun to visit.  Now it has a higher murder rate than Camden.  Truth.  Gettysburg is a short ride away which I learned this spring and is an awesome day trip.  Pittsburgh, a heinous drive from NEPA, is still a hike at four hours away, but it’s an easy drive.  Once you get on the Turnpike, you literally turn twice.  Philadelphia is an hour east and the area between Lancaster and Philly has a lot going on.  I can get home in an easy two hours.  New York is a two hour drive.  Baltimore is a little over an hour, and Washington DC is two hours as well and it takes about that long to get to the Jersey shore (although I always pit stop in Philly to convene with friends which breaks up the ride).  My major complaint: Boston.  Boston’s one of my favorite cities.  I sort of have a weird love for it and wish I had a Boston accent in the wort way.  It’s a seven hour ride that almost always stretches to nine because you hit Philly, NY and Providence (yes, it’s a major city..apparently) traffic.  That, 95 in Connecticut is a perpetual traffic jam.  That’s my only real complaint, though.

We’ll see how I do this time around.

One response to “2013 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Pingback: Top Ten USA Wishlist | PA Weekend Fun·

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