So, 2014 has officially been upon us for coming up two weeks now, which means that its time for my list of travel/weekend fun resolutions for this upcoming year. Every year I wish I could publish this on New Year’s Day but it always takes me until almost mid-January to get it out. I wish I had some cool rationale, but unfortunately it’s usually because I spend my Christmas break binge eating and binge drinking and not sleeping enough which is not conducive to productivity. Also, coming up with a list of 20 is pretty time consuming and I legitimately make this list not just for publication but for myself, so I put in some real brain power.
That being said, I’m excited for 2014. I liked 2013 well enough and had a good year, but I feel like big things are going to be happening in 2014. I started the year with the Philadelphia Mummer’s Day Parade, which was basically the best surprise of my life AND one of the best days I’ve ever had, I went cross country skiing four times already (I think I went four times in general all of last year…five if you count the week before Christmas) and yesterday I finally manned up and checked my PNC Virtual Wallet. There was ALOT more money in there than I was expecting. I mean, I somehow managed to withdraw a significant portion of money from the savings account I’ve vowed not to touch (at Tavern on Broad on New Years Day…damn you Mummers), but there was still more money overall than I anticipated. That didn’t happen once in 2013. I might also be the only human I know embracing this so called “polar vortex.” For real, I love winter weather.
It’s come to my attention that in the past two years of doing these “weekend fun” resolutions, I might’ve been aiming too high. I have a success rate of 8 of 20 in 2012 and 9 out of 20 in 2013. I want 2014 to be at least 60% (I really aim big, no?) completable and while I’m completely behind the whole, aim-high-dream-big-keep-on-dreaming-even-if-it-breaks-your-heart mentality, I’m also pretty pragmatic. I consider it one of my better traits. That being said I’m going to be more cognizant of my salary and vacation days this year when creating this list.
I’m also including more goals that adhere specifically to writing and promoting this blog, as that’s at this point, just as important as the content I’m giving you and a journey I’d like to share with whatever readers are giving this some attention. One big blog caveat I’ve learned this year is that the average blog reader stops after 700 words and that 1500 is about the max you want to go. Personally, unless it’s a writer or topic I’m completely obsessed with, I find that this is exceedingly accurate. Therefore, I’ve been trying to be more succinct with my own writing. I’ve been trying to break up my bigger posts or make several smaller posts relating to a trip or locale, rather than try to fit everything into one behemoth piece. Because of this I’ll be breaking up these resolutions into 2 parts, hopefully helping one of the resolutions come true, namely making this blog more readable.
So without further ado, here are my first 10 Resolutions of 2014:
1) Go Abroad Again-
Going abroad again is my number one goal of 2014 and unlike last year where I was sort of wishy-washy at this point, I’ve got a solid grasp of where I’d like to go. Well, I’ve got it down to two separate itineraries at least. It’s going to basically come down to finances and who I can convince to go where. I’d appreciate any thoughts or suggestions.
I absolutely fell in love with Iceland when I visited in June and would go back in a heartbeat. There was so much more I could’ve done and would’ve liked to see. I also found that I really liked the Nordic climate and culture and so even on the plane ride home was scheming as to where I could go this coming summer. Icelandair runs a program where you could stop in Iceland for free if going to any of their direct flight destinations. I could, I rationed, go to Scandinavia by way of maybe a weekend in Reykjavik? When push came to shove, since I can’t possibly do Norway, Sweden and Finland, I picked Norway because it’s staggeringly beautiful and has amazing hiking opportunities (and it has a far more aggressive tourist campaign which worked on me). Oslo’s also supposed to be a cool city with a pretty new microbrewery scene and much like Iceland, in the summer there’s 24 hours of daylight.
Croatia’s always been on my list of international destinations. staggeringly beautiful, albeit in a completely different way than Norway. Five years ago, when I first entertained the idea of going abroad I ordered a Contiki catalog and one of the tours was a catamaran tour of the Croatian coastline. It’s been on my list of countries to visit ever since. I no longer want to do that tour (because I feel I could see the country cheaper on my own), but do want to visit Dubrovnic, an impressive walled city on the coast that has an interesting history and is the real life location for Game of Thrones’ King’s Landing. I’d want to take a boat ride out to some of the outlying islands, explore the walled harbor via kayak or jetski and find this bar, where you can cliff jump while drinking (safe, right?).
Slovenia was never on my radar, until I stumbled across this old post on a travel blog I follow just a couple of weeks ago. It’s the coolest picture you’ve ever seen as well right? This is actually how my Iceland idea started. I simply read an article and was obsessed from that point forward. I immediately started doing some personal research and found that the Julien Alps, where Lake Bled (the picture from that post), is located is quickly becoming the premeier location for adventure sports in Europe. There’s options for hiking, canyoneering, rafting, tubing, ziplining and camping and the scenery is just insane. As a bonus, Slovenia is reasonably priced not completely overrun with tourists yet, and located just north of Croatia, which would help to facilitate a roadtrip, with possible side excursions to Austria or Bosnia (which are both on my international travel wish list).
At this moment, I’m leaning much more towards Slovenia/Croatia, but that changes by the week/day.
2) Make it up to Lake Placid During One Season-
After visiting two successive winters, Lake Placid has quickly cemented itself as one of my favorite getaways.
Unfortunately, because I’m going to Pittsburgh this weekend, spent funds I wasn’t planning on spending traveling right back to NEPA this past weekend (after just returning from NEPA form Christmas break) in order to take advantage of the snow and cross country ski and am going to Nashville for five days smack in the middle of February, I don’t know that I’ll make it up to Lake Placid this winter. I’ll have to wait and see how the funds (and my allotted personal days) shake out before making an executive decision.
That being said, my trip to Lake Placid last year was amazing and only cemented the idea that one day I’ll get the nerve to quit whatever job I’m working for during the winter and move up there to become a cross country skiing/snowshoe bum. I hope to be able to return for a three day weekend, even if it’s in early March. If I don’t make it up there this winter, I’d like to go for a weekend in the summer so I could hike, paddleboard and maybe even do some camping.
Montreal has been on my radar as a destination for a while now. I believe it was on my 2012 New Years Resolutions list and has a spot on my international wishlist as well. Part of the appeal is that it has a European flair without the cost of a plane ride; it’s the second largest French speaking city in the world after Paris. It’s only 2.5 hours from Lake Placid which would make a for a nice, dual-location winter trip weekend. The St. Lawrence is frozen solid for 4-5 months out of the year, which would be a cool ice skating opportunity and a large majority of the city’s parks offer groomed XC ski trails. If I made it up there in the summer, they have other unique tourist opportunities such as this Amazing Race tour or river surfing.
4) Asheville NC-
Asheville has been on my radar for two years now and I just haven’t found the time to get down there (I know, poor excuses). It’s a cool hippiesque outdoor-adventure haven located in the heart of South Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Hopefully, going to Nashville will inspire me to venture down south again.
5) Trashy Limo Bar Crawl-
This is another one of those my-friends-and-I-have-discussed-this-multiple-times-ideas that never quite makes it off the ground because nobody plans it. It’s also the perfect excuse to get everybody together for something relatively low-key and fun. I’d like to rent a limo (simply because I think they’re fun) and go to only dive/country bars. Optimally I’d like to do this in NEPA and depending on this price do either the Northern Tier Tour or what I dub an all-star bar crawl: hitting as many bars as possible in a set period of time (my record is 22, something I’m not sure I should be extremely proud or extremely ashamed of).
6) PA Weekend Day Trips-
My website is called PA Weekend Fun and yet there’s a plethora of places that would be very easy for me to visit, that I simply haven’t for one reason or another. All of the locales I’m going to list here would be easy and relatively inexpensive for me to visit on any random Saturday or Sunday and it’s a real shame/embarrassment that I write about PA and haven’t been to some of these yet. I’m putting this as one item, as it should be relatively easy for me to knock them all off my list. I have 5 definites.
- Visit the Troegs Tasting Room– it’s less than a half hour away from me and Troegs has become such a definitive PA microbrew. This one is embarrassing. I could also combine this with a day trip to The Brewery at Hershey.
- Visit the Yuengling Brewery- Speaking of definitive PA beer, how have I not done a tour of the Yuengling brewery? Yuengling is not my favorite beer, but I certainly don’t hate it and appreciate that it put PA brews on the map.
- Visit all Lancaster’s Breweries- Are you sensing a theme here? Lancaster has the most microbreweries of any county in PA and I live here. While I frequent and purchase beer from ABC and Springhouse quite (some might say too) frequently, there’s a number that are still foreign to me that I’d like to take a gander at.
- PA Grand Canyon– I’d like to get here in the winter for XC skiing or else for some hiking in the summertime.
- Jim Thorpe– I’ve written extensively about Jim Thorpe as an outdoor adventure area and cool small town but never taken the time to stop and explore, which is sad because anytime I head back to NEPA (which is pretty frequently, especially as of late) I could see it from the highway.
7) West Virginia Cabin Getaway-
Renting a West Virginia cabin was one of my weekend trip ideas in late November and something I want to pursue in the spring with some friends. I especially want to try riverboarding.
8) Get Over 1000 Twitter Followers and Increase Facebook Presense –
I’ve finally got a hang of using twitter as marketing/interactive agent for my blog and at the moment have 395 followers which is not super-super impressive. My goal is at least 2000 followers by next year. I’d like 1000 by February and hopefully will built from there. I’m also hoping to really get a hold of my Facebook Page (which at the moment is pitiful) by the end of January. Any tips here would be very much obliged.
9) Write Travel Stories for 5 Other Publications-
I accomplished my goal of writing for other publications in the non-travel/lifestyle vein this year by becoming a weekly contributor to The Good Men Project and getting one piece published via Thought Catalog. This year I’d like to get some of my travel writing out there in some other capacity, whether it be guest posts, newspapers, articles etc. I feel like 5 is doable and if I could manage to get paid for one, then even better.
10) Go to Irish Weekend-
I need to make it to Irish Weekend in Wildwood. I’ve been promising my friend, who’s constantly raving about it, that I’d go for what seems like the past three years. We were out together this weekend and he made me write it into my calendar.
Part two is coming soon!