2018 Travel

I have a three-day weekend coming up November 9 through 11. It seems a shame to waste it hanging around in San Antonio* but I have an 17.5-year-old cat who I just boarded for the weekend of October 19 through 21 and so it’s too soon to board him overnight again.

So I really should stay pretty close to home. Like less than a three-hour drive. A map with a circle with a radius of 180 miles lets me go up Interstate to West (and thus includes Austin, Waco, and San Marcos), out east on Interstate 10 to the outskirts of Houston, includes quite a bit of the coast, including Corpus Christi, out west on Interstate 10 to Ozona, and south on Interstate 35 almost to Ozona. I can also go into Mexico as far as Anahuac (?).

I wonder what’s worth seeing in Zaragoza, Mexico. Um . . . There’s a waterfall.

I could stretch it a bit, I guess, and go to Houston Or maybe San Angelo? There’s got to be more to do in San Angelo than there is in Zaragoza.

While typing this, I’ve been playing a YouTube playlist I’m building based on the Latino radio station that I listen to and it’s on shuffle. It keeps replaying the same songs, so it’s probably bedtime pretty soon. But I need to at least send out my Pokémon Go gifts before I can go to bed.

There’s a state park in San Angelo (with the creative name of “San Angelo State Park,” believe it or not). That might be worth a trip. I may have to bring Alex in on this one. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know where, if anywhere, we decide to go.

*Speaking of hanging around in San Antonio, I need to get back to writing up the parks but I’ve forgotten where I left off. I’m considering buying a big map and posting it on the wall and highlighting all of the parks I’ve written about. But where would I post it, I ask myself. I guess I’ll let you know what I decide about that, too.

Wow. It’s been an exciting few months and as anyone who has read more than, like, two of my posts will know, I’m a terrible procrastinator and the longer you procrastinate the worse it gets. So I’m pulling up a post I started in late July and finishing it up. I may have a sequel tonight (or whenever I get back to posting here).

Remember how sad I was when Tom Petty died? I may have told this story already, but the year I was in eighth grade, we had to write up the lyrics to our favorite songs for the poetry unit in EnglishLanguage Arts. My two favorite songs that year were Tom Petty’s Refugee (from his (Amazon link ahead) Damn the Torpedoes album) and Rock Lobster by the B-52s (from their (another Amazon link) self-titled debut album (I don’t know why it says “import,” but it is (as I write this) only $9 and it’s the only CD of that album I can find on Amazon)). Good luck figuring out the lyrics to those songs on your own (I’m still a little shaky on the bridge of Refugee, to be completely honest). So instead I picked a song that I liked well enough but, more importantly, that I could understand.

But that began my love of The B-52s. I’d never had a chance to see them live, though. When I realized that they were going on tour this summer, I looked it up and the only Texas show I could find at that point was them co-headlining with Culture Club in Grand Prairie. I’ve always liked Culture Club well enough, but not had a burning desire to see them live. But I figured that I’d get three bands (The B-52s, Culture Club, and Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins as opener) for the price of one this way.

TL;DR version of the review: The shows were awesome. All of the bands gave great shows. The acoustics in the theater, however, sucked.

I (a) don’t have multiple hundreds of dollars to spend on concert tickets at this juncture (though maybe this part of my travel writing will someday be lucrative enough that I will) and (b) didn’t know about the concert until relatively late. As a result, the only tickets I could get were fairly high up in the theater. I don’t know if we were as high in the theater as we were for Weird Al Yankovic (we were almost up against the wall at the back for that one), but we heard Al just fine. If it weren’t for the way I could feel the bass in my chest, I might as well have been watching this concert on television.

After I bought the tickets for the show in Grand Prairie I discovered that the B-52s do have a stop at the Tobin Center in San Antonio. That show is October 24, 2018 :looks at date on post: and I was so upset by the acoustics in Grand Prairie that it pretty much guaranteed that I’d want to see them at the Tobin Center. That’s the sequel I was talking about. Alex has no interest in seeing the B-52s again, so I’m going all by myself to see them in, well, about 14.5 hours from right now.

Grand Prairie is in between Dallas and Fort Worth and so the day after the concert, Alex and I drove into Dallas to visit Dealey Plaza (where JFK was assassinated). I’d been to Dealey Plaza once before, in, I want to say 2005, but Thomas has those pictures, so I took pictures and we got the conspiracy theory version of events from a street vendor. I’ll hopefully be able to put together a post on that visit soon.

I started my next post on our trip to California and was suddenly all, “Crap. Should I do this chronologically or leave the latest update on our quest to reach the Griffith Observatory for the end of the post?” And I stopped there.

So instead of doing that, I’ll do this.*

My 16-year-old dog and 17-year-old cat are perking along, more or less. It’s expensive to keep animals this age going and that’s really eaten into my travel budget because my travel budget comes out of my allowance. I pay myself an allowance, and any money I have left in that budget at the end of the month used to go towards travel. Now half goes to vet bills and half goes to travel, which is nearly $1,000 that I’m short for my 2018 trip.

We’re going to end up doing the trip I outlined back in August driving into New Mexico for a couple of days, except even more scaled-back. We go to at least one branch of the National Park Service every year, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park is only about seven hours away by car. So that’s our first day in New Mexico. Our second day, we’ll visit White Sands National Monument and spend the night in Las Cruces. Then we’ll drive north up towards Taos. One of my friends has a hotel that she recommends up by Santa Fe, so we’ll probably stop there for the night. The Wild Earth Llama Adventures people recommend staying in Taos for a couple of days to get acclimated to the elevation before the camping trip. We don’t have the money for that, plus the camping trip would be $800+ for the two of us. I’m going to call the Wild Earth people and ask about their llama day trips. If they’re less strenuous and we could do it in a one-day Taos stop, I’ll shell out the $250 for us to do that. If not, we’ll just knock around Santa Fe and Taos for a day. Then our final day in New Mexico, I would like to drive into Colorado just to do it, because at this point, Colorado will be a lone unvisited island in the center of Utah, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. In other words, I’ll’ve been to all of the states that surround Colorado, but never actually to Colorado itself. If not, well, we’ll do a Colorado trip some other time.  Our final stop will be Capulin Volcano National Monument (which will take care of our every-even-numbered-year volcano), and then we’ll head for home, stopping for the night in, probably, Lubbock.

I’ve passed the $500 mark on paying myself for my language studies, and with the final $200-ish, I’ve purchased my first share of stock. I was ready just as the bottom dropped out of the market this last couple of weeks, but it looked like that stock was about to rebound, so I bought. And then the price dropped farther. It doesn’t matter, though. I’m an investor, not a speculator, so just so long as I hold my current position, I should come out plenty of money ahead in the long run.

I want to go back to tutoring foreign languages this year (I was my junior college’s Spanish and German tutor back in the day) and get more experience so that I can get closer to my goal, which is to be able to work translating children’s books out of any of my assorted target languages into English. The money from that will be put in with the money I’m paying myself to study and all of that will go towards what I guess I’d call my “stretch goal,” which is to get a graduate degree in a modern language. By my calculations I only have $15,500 to go.

*I will get back to California eventually. Hopefully in the next day or two. Probably.

I have an elderly dog and an elderly cat and now they’re cutting hours at work (my boss is doing a great job giving me as many hours as he can, but my paycheck has still gone down by multiple tens of dollars per pay period), so I’m not sure how much traveling I can do in 2018. I still have a fair amount of my backlogged travel savings, but I don’t think it’ll pay for us to fly to Seattle, rent a car, and pay for a hotel room.

This might end up being the year we finally do the Wild Earth Llama Adventures overnight llama trip. Alex and I heard about it a couple of years ago and have wanted to go ever since. It’s in New Mexico, so we could drive there, and we could make Capulin Volcano National Monument our biennial volcano. The original plan was for our biennial volcano to be Mt. Hood or Mt. Rainier. But all three places will probably still be there in 2019 or 2020.

Also, apparently Capulin Volcano is pretty close to Taos, as well, so that’s good.

Since we’ve been taking shorter trips in August, we could continue that tradition and go to Louisiana for a long weekend. We could drive to Baton Rouge, stay overnight there for one night, then go on to New Orleans for another night or two, then drive back in one shot. We probably should go to New Orleans in one shot, then drive to Baton Rouge and back to San Antonio, but I think we should do the more exciting destination last.

Back in the 1990s, Thomas* and I drove to Louisiana just to get out of Texas for a while. We drove to near Lake Charles and then drove south from there. We then took a ferry across a bayou and drove back up. I made several failed attempts to photograph an alligator (if I recall correctly, we saw about eight of them that day), but I cannot find the pictures at all from that trip or from our stop in New Orleans when we went there on the way back from my mom’s funeral ten years ago. So this would give me a chance to take new pictures.

I’m going to start acting as though this is the plan, and then hope that I can get more work hours (or a new job (or that I can find a way to monetize this to earn some travel money)). Then, of course, once I can go back to the plan to go to Seattle, I’ll be disappointed that I cannot take the New Mexico trip. Maybe in that case, I’ll bump New Mexico up to long weekend trip.

*Notice my now-ex’s new pseudonym. I set up a spreadsheet to choose a random number between 1 and 100 and then chose the name from his birth year that had that rank. So Thomas it is.