Select Page

2022 Trips in Review 

I visited 26 states and Yukon being the only Canadian province in 2022. I could add Maryland if you consider my transfer at BWI airport. I would say 2022 was an average travel year. My favorite trip in 2022 was back to Alaska where I saw the northern lights for the first time in my life. I also drove the Dalton Highway to Coldfoot, Alaska. Driving past the Arctic Circle is such a fun adventure. I highly recommend it.

I finished getting photos of all 50 state capitals with a photo of Alaska’s state capital. I also completed all the state capital passport stamps. ( I had been there in Juneau before but never took any photos of the capital.
I also drove to the Yukon / Alaska border to get photos of the Alaska Welcome State Sign to complete all 50 state capital Welcome signs.

After filling up my Passport To Your National Parks® Classic Edition multiple times, I purchased both the Explorer Edition and the Collector’s Edition because they can hold many more Passport cancellation stamps. Granted, I either look like a tool or a total baller when I walk in with all three passport books to get stamps, but I think I’m going to use the Passport To Your National Parks® Collector’s Edition as my main one going forward in 2023. ( I got it in early December 2022, which means two years of Stamps are in the classic edition and that is ok with me. Gives me another reason to go back and get more photos at all the 400+ national park sites. I am pretentious about my travels when no one else would care.

Due to work demands, I made many smaller weekend warrior 3-day trips throughout the year. The longest trips of 2022 were 11 days to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska in August and 9 days of Storm chasing and travel adventures in June.

Southwest Rapid Rewards was 259,049 at the start of 2022 and ended with 283,841 with 48,219 points coming from my Southwest Priority Chase Credit Card. I used points to fly to California in January and Seattle in August.

Alaskan Airlines Reward miles were 193,394 miles at the start of 2022 and ended with 156,590, with many points used for free flights in August throughout Alaska

My goal in 2023 is to get more Northern lights photos, maybe Iceland or Alaska again. Hopefully, visit all 400+ National parks over the next three years for the cancellation stamps. It is a toss up if I might go back to New England for fall photos in 2023 but have wanted to do fall photos in Colorado and Wyoming as well so TBD on that.

National Parks Visited in 2022
Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave, Rocky Mountain, Mammoth Caves, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Fort Donelson, Gulf shores National Seashore, Everglades, Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne, Chickamauga, Kennesaw Mountain, Chattahoochee River NRA, Martin Luther King, Jr, Andersonville, Jimmy Carter National Historical Park, Tuskegee Airmen, Ocmulgee Mounds, Horseshoe Bend National Battlefield, James Garfield NHS, Cuyahoga Valley, Perry’s Victory and Peace Monument, William Howard Taft NHS, Tallgrass prairie National Preserve, Brown v Board of Education NHS, Herbert Hoover NHS, Harry S Truman NHS, Mount Rainer, Fort Vancouver NHS, Kenai Fjords National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias, Denali, Glacier Bay, Carl Sandburg NHS.

Presidential Libraries in 2022
I visited Truman, Hoover, Eisenhower, Carter, Bush Jr and Sr and Johnson Presidential Libraries

Previous year comparison
2021 was 37 states plus D.C. and 2 Canadian provinces
2020 was 24 states due to covid restrictions and work demands.
2019 was 42 states and 4 Canadian provinces and the year I finished all 50 states.
2018 was 28 states and 7 Canadian provinces.
2017 was 21 states and 2 Canadian provinces.
2016 was 22 states and 6 Canadian provinces

January 2022
I flew out to the National Storm Chasing Summit in Oklahoma City. It is good to be with other like minded crazy people who chase storms for a hobby.

February 2022
I flew out to Sacramento and drove to Yosemite to witness the famous “firefalls”, then visited Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park and got to visit the General Sherman Tree which is the largest known living tree on earth. The geographic nerd in me also went to Big Sur and found the exact latitude with my house in Nashville and flew the drone out to the Pacific ocean and filmed the sunset. I did two different tours at the Winchester Mystery House and visited a ton of famous graves.

April 2022
I went to the New Mexico to the grave of Billy the Kid. I got to eat at the famous Franklin Barbecue in Austin.

June 2022
I flew to Denver for the annual storm chasing trip. I got to chase some hail storms with the Girls Who Chase folks. I drove all the way to Wisconsin to storm chase and got on the right storm that produced a tornado but due to the trees I didn’t see anything. I got to visit Badlands, Rushmore, Wind Cave, Rocky Mountain National Park. I also got to go to the top of Pikes Peak and visit the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

July 2022
I visited Houston and went to Johnson Space Center, I went to San Antonio, Texas to tour the Alamo and a few other spots. I also went to the Uvalde shooting memorial.

August 2022
I went up to Ohio to visit a wedding reception for a friend, the Allen county fair like old times and Put-in-Bay. I left Lima for Cedar shores next to cedar point park and it was closed despite I checked the website and their facebook to make sure it’s open. There was lightning that morning so they closed for the day.

The biggest trip of the year was going to the Alaska / Washington / Oregon Trip Summary from August 25th to Sept 5th.

14 airports in 11 days
3,485 total miles between 4 rental vehicles in 3 states and briefly in Yukon, Canada. An average of about 317 miles a day which is a comfortable average for my level of traveling.
384 miles on last 18 hours Seattle rental
83 miles in Juneau rental for two and half days
2,250 miles in four days for anchorage rental
768 miles Seattle first time in two days rental
6 National Parks = Mount Rainer, Denali, Kenai Fjords, Glacier Bay, Wrangell-St. Elias, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve
1 National Monument = Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
1 National Historic Site at Fort Vancouver
1 National Scenic Area – Columbia River Gorge for Multnomah Falls which is the second tallest waterfall in America.
About 5 National Wildlife Refuges
About 5 National forests

I got to Mount Saint Helens just as clouds overtook it and couldn’t see the volcano but did see spirit lake. A week later I went back to Mount Saint Helens and left the motel at 3:30am after 4 hours of sleep to get to Mount St. Helens for sunrise. It was cold and beautiful. Left with clouds and were clear skies when I got there, usually the opposite on this trip.

I got night photos around Seattle, drone photos of Amazon HQ since I buy nearly everything from them. Walked around the market place and the original Starbucks.

I got some famous graves around Seattle. Phil Harris from the Deadliest catch show. Paul allen’s unmarked grave, he is the cofounder of Microsoft. Gary Arlen Kildall Founder of Digital Research, Inc. and creator of CP/M computer operating system (predecessor of Microsoft DOS), he was one of the pioneers in the Personal Computer market. Carmack who started the Alaska gold rush. Dorothy Stimson Bullitt was the first woman to own and operate a television station in the United States.

I went to Multnomah Falls near Portland which is the second largest waterfall in the country.
I had breakfast at Voodoo doughnuts in Portland and got drone skyline shots of Portland as well. I visited Fort Vancouver National Historic Site which has a rich history of being a Hudson bay company, British fort, helped Americans and home of one of the oldest airfields in the country and more.

It’s been 6 years since I’ve been in beautiful Anchorage, Alaska. This place has one of the best pizzas I‘ve ever had at Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria. It’s insane how many pizzas you can choose from. It’s Saturday night and it’s packed, no wonder with food like this. It is a perfect pizza in my opinion.

I left Anchorage early this am for Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park then went to the town of Seward and went to the start of the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Then I visited North America’s Most Westerly Highway Point because I’m a geographic geek.
Then I ate some amazing fresh seafood and clam chowder at Captain Patties in Homer, Alaska.

I drove over 430 miles one way to get the Alaska state sign today. That completes all 50 welcome state signs for me. I also checked off Yukon from my Canadian province list too. The alcan hwy between Tok and the border is pretty rough in spots. I was worried about getting a flat tire.

It’s such a beautiful drive today, drove past glaciers and lots of yellow fall color and mountains.
I also visited Wrangell-St. Elias National Park which is the largest national park in America. It’s larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite and Switzerland combined. I believe they said 9 out of the 16 tallest mountains in America are in this park. There are very few road options though.

Bucket List Item. I saw the Northern lights (aurora borealis) with my own eyes for the first time. Despite clouds and rain, I found some open spots between Delta Junction and Tok, Alaska. I could see the lights faintly with my own eyes however the camera picks it up the best. Granted these aren’t natgeo level photos but considered me hooked on northern lights now.
I actually danced under the lights, partly because it was so cool to finally see them and also to stay warm.

Unfortunately, clouds have been a thorn on this Alaska trip and come to find out August is the wettest month of the year so that made a lot of sense. Lots of pop up showers, lost count of how many rainbows I’ve seen though. There are spots here the sun comes through temporarily. It’s a trade-off, come during the sunny months and no northern lights. Now that northern lights are visible, it’s back to clouds and rain. Almost have to visit Alaska twice.

I drove up to Coldfoot, Alaska. Located 60 miles north of the Arctic circle, at the halfway point Mile 175 of the famous Dalton Highway, aka “Ice road truckers” road. I’ve been driving on mostly wet dirt roads with no cell signal most of the day. My phone lit up once I got a cell signal. The drive is so pretty, lots of fall color and the tundra is pretty in deep red.

I started the day at the end of the Alaska Canada (alcan) highway, stopped by the North Pole and visited Santa Clause’s house and then hit up Fairbanks before getting on the rugged “ice road trucker” road, the famous dalton highway. They say only 1% of people who visit Alaska go north of Fairbanks so I’m in the very small percent to do it twice. Very few people out here. Mostly just truckers maybe once every 20 minutes one passes by.

I crossed the only bridge that exist over the Yukon river and ate a salmon burger and salmon soup at the camp there. I flew the drone there too.

I visited the world-famous arctic circle again because how can you not stop. It was just me there for awhile.

I slept in my rental car again that in hopes of seeing northern lights but it was cloudy all night. The only lodging in town was $250 a night for something about as comfortable as my rental car anyways. I also got much needed gas at $7.49 a gallon in coldfoot.

Due to fog in Barrow my flight was cancelled so I got rerouted to Juneau. Hiked out to Nuggets falls, flew my drone over to Mendenhall Glacier early that morning. The Tongass is the nation’s largest national forest and covers most of Southeast Alaska. The Tongass is Earth’s largest remaining temperate rainforest and it’s been raining off and on all day.

I visited the Alaska state capital building. That was #50 for me. I visited it in 2016 but never took a photo of it since it was small, lame and under construction. So I have been to all the capitals but only had photographic proof of 49. Now I have all 50. It’s still small, lame and under construction. Only North Dakota ties it for being the nation’s lamest capital building in my view.
There was no security at all. They let you walk in and around as you please.

I also visited the Alaska state museum, very informative about the Alaskan natives.
I visited Red Dog Saloon again for dinner. A man singing country songs on a guitar in a rustic building. You just don’t find that in Nashville. Got salmon chowder again and reindeer sausage.
I visited some famous graves too. Got to have famous graves from all 50 states or I wouldn’t be doing my job.
I visited Glacier Bay National Park for the first time. I got to see two tidal glaciers, many mountain glaciers and lots of wild
life. Many humpback whales, three coastal brown bears, sea otters, seals, sea loins and some puffins and some said they saw dolphins but I didn’t see them.
It was raining hard when I got to the boat cruise and then in a miracle it cleared up very well. The ranger said they average maybe 4 days a month with the sun and this was a very rare day having this much sun with the forecast showing rain all day long. It started raining again when we got back to the dock. I hope the clouds clear and maybe get the northern lights tonight.
Got up at 4am and drove 20 minutes to the airport, took a 25 minute flight in a tiny seaplane from Juneu to Gustavus then a taxi for 25 minutes to the dock and took a 8 hour boat cruise then reversed it all back. So much of alaska is not accessible via roads so it makes for a fun adventure seeing things.
I tried to do this trip in 2016 but weather didn’t pan out but today panned out well.

September 2022
I went to the Florida panhandle and visited places in Alabama on the way, I drove in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. I dug up some Selenite Crystals in Salt Plains. Ate the best BBQ I think in the country at Hickory Hut in Selina, Kansas. I also visited Chickasaw National Recreation Area and got to hang out some storm chasers.

October 2022
I went to the Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest in Illinois for some fall color.

November 2022
I went to Indianapolis to go to the Indiana Storm Chaser Convention and visited places all around Indianapolis, including my first visit to the Battle of Tippecanoe site.

I flew to Dallas and went to a George Strait Concert and visited the Waco Mammoth National Monument among other places.
Later in the month I flew to Miami and saw my first Space X rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral and got to visit lots of famous graves all over Southern Florida. I happened to drive by Mar-a-largo on the day Trump’s daughter was getting married. I visited Everglades, Biscayne, Dry Tortugas National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. The drive to Key west is a fun drive. Despite being in Key west a few times I have found there is still so much to see and do. I look forward to going back again.
I visited areas hit hard by Hurricane Ian, it blows your mind just how powerful hurricanes are.

December 2022
I drove to Atlanta to see the Stranger Things the Experience. That was a fun time. I also visited Chickamauga Battlefield, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, Andersonville National Historic Site, Jimmy Carter National Historical Park, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site and Horseshoe Bend National Military Park

There were lots of travel stories that I didn’t share such as flights being delayed countless times so that I was supposed to leave a place at 6pm but didn’t actually leave until after 1am.

Just from my Alaska trip alone, some are funny looking back but it was stressful travels at times.

1. hotel key issue and room took issue multiple times on trip (walking into the room with someone sleeping in it)
2. hotel noise and parties going on
3. hotels with stairs only / locked out of hotel due to faulty cards
4. TSA randomly selected me 3 times for advance screening despite I’m TSA Pre-check
5. phone tested positive for explosives for some crazy reason so they had to do multiple screenings on me and my stuff.
6. The Barrow, Alaska flight was aborted due to fog so basically a wasted travel day and I had one flight canceled to Miami and another delayed coming home to Nashville from Dallas in 2022.
7. lady taking an early dump on a flight and gave the entire plane a new scent for a while. This was funny; she was apologizing to people on the plane. I question if she was able to make it to the restroom in time.