325 days, 13 countries, 65,000+ miles

My first retirement is over.

325 days ago I left a great job to spend time exploring the world. What I thought would be between 3 and 6 months turned into almost a full year – and an experience of a lifetime. Now, I have found a new career with Energy Circle – creating digital marketing plans for companies & organizations that work to build and outfit efficient and healthy buildings. It’s a bittersweet ending to an incredible year – as I would love to keep traveling (and will continue to some extent), but like all things, traveling costs money so I need to pay the bills…until my next retirement 🙂

So now, a full wrap-up, reflections and thoughts about this past year:

  • 325 days (June 17, 2016 – May 7, 2017)
  • 4 continents (North America, Europe, Oceania (Australia), Africa)
  • 13 countries (US, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Italy, France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, UK)
  • 28 states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland.)
  • 14,000+ miles of road trips (doesn’t include every day driving while home)
  • 65,000+ miles of total travel (estimate including air travel)
  • 9,500+ photos (some better than others)
IMG_5178
My Instagram feed of photos since I began traveling back in June 2016

Favorites:

  • Country: New Zealand. When someone asks what my favorite place has been there is no question, and no hesitation when I answer, New Zealand. From the people to the geological features, New Zealand was absolutely incredible. Africa would also go on my favorites list, but it still doesn’t come close to how much I loved New Zealand.
  • State: Utah – I would have loved to spend more time in Utah – specifically the Moab area!
  • Activity: Bungee Jumping. Such a rush (and surprise! I did it in New Zealand) as well as hiking all over!
  • Airport: Heathrow, London. This may be just because there were clean showers that were welcome between 10+ hour flights!
  • Border Crossing/Immigration: Dobe border crossing from Botswana into Namibia. We had to track down officials for both countries to get our passports stamped! The border was so remote that they only get one car every 2-3 days!

Least Favorites:

  • Country:  None. There was something amazing about every country I visited – and I would revisit every single one!
  • State: Again, I don’t know if I have a least favorite state!
  • Activity: Going to drug stores in Australia. Unfortunately I was sick through my entire travels in Australia so frequented the drug store to get medicine! They don’t sell over-the-counter cold medicine so I had to speak to a pharmacist every single time. Plus, they only provide around 4 days worth at a time, so I was going every 4 days!
  • Airport: LA. I didn’t have to go far within the airport, but it was crowded and my terminal didn’t have many options for grabbing a bite to eat!
  • Border Crossing/Immigration: Boston/Logan airport. I don’t think I spent less than an hour in this line in any of my travels this past year – and at one point the line was so long people couldn’t even get off the plane!

I learned so much during this time,  and if I were to share anything with you it would be that if you need a break, take it. Time away from the office, a desk, or your home can be extremely refreshing and give you greater perspective and a better idea of who you are. I hope that in another 5-6 years, I may be able to retire again for another year. My advice to everyone is to take risks, get outside your comfort zone and never stop traveling. Whether it’s across the globe or across your town – there is something new and exciting around every corner!

That’s a wrap folks (for Australia & New Zealand)!

Rotorua was extremely picturesque. Small lake overtaken by black swans. Black swans are the norm here, they don’t have white swans!
rotorua
Airbnb view of Lake Rotorua
I made my way from Rotorua to Taupo the next day stopping at Hell’s Gate geothermal park. It was crazy how hot the mud/water was. The signs were a little interesting too…
mudvolcano
Steaming mud volcano
signs
100 degrees celsius.. will make those that throw things in fetch said items.. hah.
My airbnb in Taupo was right next to Huka Falls – which had some good hiking that I was able to do before checking into my airbnb. The actual falls were incredibly blue/teal. The photo doesn’t do the color of the water justice!
huka
Huka Falls
The next day I went out to Waitomo to do a caving excursion with the Black Water Rafting Company. This was super cool – abseiling down 35 meters, zip lining in the dark, rafting under the glow worms and rock climbing up waterfalls. Glow worms aren’t actually worms.. They’re maggots and the glow is them digesting. So technically we were watching maggots poop. On our way out, between climbing waterfalls, we encountered an eel that was probably close to 5′ long. The guide was able to coerce it out of our way so we could continue.
abseil
About to abseil down!
caving
In the cave
eel
Our eel friend
Emma, who lived at the Airbnb, joined me for a morning hike before I drove up to the Coromandel Peninsula. We wanted to go up Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mt. Doom for Lord of the Rings fans). It is also New Zealand’s most active volcano. We made it about 2 kilometers in before it started raining and continued on for another 3 before we were completely drenched and decided it best to turn around. The visibility was crap and it just wasn’t worth it. I was bummed but we would have been miserable if we had continued on. It would have been impossible to go all the way up anyways because of the ice. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of the mountain.
My final day was spent in Thames on the edge of the Coromandel Peninsula. It was just a quick overnight before heading to the airport. The flights back to Maine were long – ended up being around 28 hours of travel after a delay from Philadelphia to Portland, but I made it back on Sunday. Over the next few weeks I’m going to figure out what my next plans are…stay tuned!
sunset
Watching the sunset.

Glacier fly-overs and Bunjy!!

A week in New Zealand and we’re just getting started! Our Airbnb is perfect – we have a small place close to Queenstown but outside of the hustle and bustle of tourists. It’s spring here, so still a little chilly but we’ve still managed to pack a lot in! The easiest way to share is to just break it down by day, so here it goes. 

Arrival evening: Sunset at the base of Coronet Peak Ski Area
Day 1: We drove out to Glenorchy down the Glenorchy Road, and around every corner was another stunning viewpoint of Lake Wakatipu. The town of Glenorchy itself was small, and we took the rental car down some dirt roads searching for Lord of the Rings filming areas, but unfortunately our tiny car wasn’t able to pass a flooded road.
Glenorchy Road
Glenorchy Road
Glenorchy Road

We went to catch the sunset at one of the viewpoints looking over Queenstown. I was excited to see a little piece of home with a Sugarloaf sticker!

Sugarloaf in New Zealand!

Day 2: We did a short hike up to Lake Alta at The Remarkables Ski Area. Stunning views, but you couldn’t see the lake because everything was still snow covered! 

View from the Remarkables
The Remarkables Ski Area

Day 3: We headed out to Lake Wanaka where the famous Wanaka tree is. We did a short hike and made it back to the lake for sunset (even though it was too cloudy to see the sun).

Hiking in Wanaka
The famous Wanaka Tree
 

Chris and me at a viewpoint stop near Wanaka

Day 4: We decided to drive to Milford Sound – which is a whole day trip. Part of what we heard was so amazing about Milford Sound was the drive – so we did 4 hours there and 4 hours back. It was stunning.  

Waterfall on the road to Milford
Milford Sound

Day 5: The Skyline in Queenstown is a gondola that takes you up part of a mountain in town for some amazing views. I did a small part of the Ben Lomond hike while Chris killed the whole thing (I’m not in shape to do that sort of hike, on top of the cold that I’ve had for the last month).

View from the Skyline
Had to take a selfie

Day 6: The morning was spent back at Milford Sound – but this time we flew with Glenorchy Air over the Southern Alps. The views of the Alps and the Sound by air were breathtaking. As part of the trip we also took a cruise around Milford Sound to get up close to the sights and waterfalls. 

Southern Alps
More Alps
Sterling Waterfall

I decided to have my “when in Rome” moment and bungy jump off the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge. This is the worlds first commercial bungy jumping site. When My feet were getting tied up, the guys told me I probably wouldn’t be able to touch the water unless I put on a few pounds (they confirmed my weight 3 times before I jumped). I said bummer, and they looked at each other and said “ok, we can try some things.” They made a few adjustments and told me what to do with my hands and head to ensure I touched water. I would most likely get my hands wet, but there was also a chance of my head going under, depending on how well I followed directions. Not only did my head go in, my entire upper body went in. It was amazing. I definitely recommend it! Everyone else who went around the time I did screamed. Apparently I was completely silent. It was almost relaxing, but a total adrenaline rush at the same time. 

New Zealand is turning out to be amazing. I don’t want to leave!

Bungy!!