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About My Trips Within the United States

This page is unique as I spend most of my time in the United States. During my childhood, I traveled to many places throughout the US. These places are not featured on this page.

The only places I feature on my United States homepage are places I’ve visited since 2016, which was when I began traveling internationally.

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Specific Pages by Photo Link

Alabama

I visited a gator rescue facility called Alligator Alley in Summerdale, Alabama. It’s a sanctuary for over 450 rescued alligators! I walked on a boardwalk to see the gators up close. The sanctuary also has other rescued animals including pigs, turtles, snakes, and lizards. Admission fee was $15 for adults and $13 for children.

I decided to visit Dauphin Island to watch the sunset after a trip to Alligator Alley. I arrived 90 minutes before sunset and parked near the Pirate’s Bar and Grill. The beach access point I found was unimpressive at first because it was blocked from the main part of the Gulf of Mexico by a cape. I decided to walk out to the cape for a better view.

 After a short walk, I found a perfect spot on the beach. The weather was hazy, but I thought it made the sunset even more beautiful. Here are some tips for watching the sunset at Dauphin Island: bring a tripod, walk out onto the cape, arrive early, and bring a flashlight for the walk back in the dark.

Alaska

Anchorage

In October 2021, I visited Denali National Park in Alaska. The day I was supposed to head back to Anchorage, I woke up to a winter wonderland – 5 to 8 inches of fresh snow had fallen! The drive back to Anchorage turned into a wild ride through all four seasons in just a couple of hours. I mounted my GoPro down and captured the whole time warp on video. The sped-up footage (120 times the real speed!) squished those 5 hours into a crazy 2-minute video showcasing how quickly the weather conditions can change in Denali.

In late October, I braved a snowy and rainy drive from Anchorage to Whittier. With my GoPro set to capture the whole journey in a time warp, I zoomed through the scenic landscape at 30 times the normal speed. The highlight of the trip was definitely blasting through the Whittier Tunnel in fast forward – an experience I won’t forget!

Denali

I visited Denali in October to capture photos of the peak. It wasn’t always easy to see Denali due to cloud cover, but I persevered! I drove from Seward, Alaska to Healy, Alaska stopping at various viewpoints. 

Two viewpoints I liked were the Talkeetna Spur Road Viewpoint and the Talkeetna Riverfront Park Viewpoint. The Talkeetna Spur Road Viewpoint provided a decent view of Denali, although there were some pine trees in the way. By zooming in with a tripod, I was able to get a better look. The Talkeetna Riverfront Park Viewpoint offered an even better view because there were fewer obstructions. In October, the leaves are gone from the trees and the temperatures are still above freezing, making it a good time to photograph Denali. 

After visiting Talkeetna, I drove to the Denali South Viewpoint where I was lucky to see some of the peak before it became cloudy. The next day, there was a snowstorm and I could not see Denali from the Denali North Viewpoint. However, I did see a moose on the drive back to Anchorage. Overall, October is a great time to visit Denali, but be prepared for the possibility of not seeing the peak due to weather conditions.

Seward and the Kenai Peninsula

I visited Beluga Point in October to try to see beluga whales. It was late in the season, and I wasn’t expecting to see any whales, but I figured it would be worth a stop anyway.

I arrived at Beluga Point around 11:00 am. There weren’t any whales, but the view of the Turnagain Arm was beautiful. There was a large rock formation that blocked part of the view, though.

On my way back to Anchorage, I stopped at Beluga Point again because the parking lot was full. I was hoping that maybe a whale had been spotted, but it turned out that people were just there to watch the sunset.

There is a better viewing point about five miles down the road from Beluga Point that doesn’t have a big rock blocking the view. It was also much less crowded.

I stayed at The Breeze Inn in Seward, Alaska. It’s a great location for sightseeing – right near the harbor and Exit Glacier. My room was spacious and had everything I needed, but the bed wasn’t very comfortable. They have a restaurant on-site, and while it was a bit on the expensive side, the food was delicious.

In October, I visited the Portage Glacier. I drove there and hiked the Portage Pass Trail to see the glacier up close. The hike was challenging, especially with the snow and ice on the trail in the fall, but the views were definitely worth it! Since it was October, the Begich Boggs Visitor Center was closed and there weren’t any boat tours available, but hiking was a great way to experience the glacier.

In October of 2021, I tackled the Portage Pass Trail near Whittier, Alaska as a solo hike. It’s a roughly 5-mile round trip with a summit reaching 800 feet. The weather wasn’t on my side – a mix of rain, snow, and even some minor flooding made the going tough. But I persevered, and the reward at Portage Lake was definitely worth the effort. The views of the Portage Glacier were simply spectacular! If you’re up for a moderate challenge, I highly recommend this hike.

In October, I visited Seward, Alaska and explored the Kenai Peninsula. I drove to the Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. The road to the glacier can be closed due to snow by late October, but I was lucky and was able to drive all the way there. There’s no entrance fee to get into the park. The hike to the glacier is easy and offers beautiful views. I even walked out onto the outwash plain to get a closer look at the glacier. Just a heads-up, wear waterproof boots if you plan on doing that too. 

Seward Harbor is a nice place to walk around. I saw some red jellyfish in the harbor there. Although, be prepared that there aren’t many restaurants open in Seward in late October.

Utqiagvik (Summaries Coming Soon)

California

I took a trip to the LA Beach Cities with my nieces and nephews. We spent a day at Disneyland, which was of course amazing for the kids. We also visited the beach cities of Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica.

Manhattan Beach was perfect for our young children. It wasn’t too crowded, and the kids loved playing in the waves and collecting seashells. We also walked to the pier. Santa Monica Pier was a lot of fun too. We rode the rides, played games, and grabbed some food.

Overall, it was a great trip and the kids had a blast!

Hawaii

I just got back from an incredible 3-day trip to Kauai! I flew into Lihue Airport from Auckland, New Zealand, and rented a car to explore the island at my own pace.

For my stay, I based myself at the Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay which seemed like a good location. My first stop was Hanalei Bay, a beautiful beach known for its surfing and laid-back vibe. Kauai truly lives up to its nickname of “The Garden Isle” – the lush greenery everywhere was amazing!

Another day, I drove to Makahoa Point Lookout for some stunning panoramic views of the Napali Coast. Lumaha’i Beach was another must-see – I recognized it from the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”! For a unique adventure, I also explored the Maniniholo Dry Cave – it was fascinating to see a lava tube like that.

Overall, Kauai was an amazing place to visit. With its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and dramatic coastlines, there was something for everyone. I can’t wait to go back someday and explore more!

My friend Rachel guest-wrote a post for my blog about her recent trip to the Big Island of Hawaii!

Rachel flew into Kona International Airport and rented a car to get around the island. She stayed in a vacation rental in Kailua-Kona which offered easy access to beaches and exploring. One of the highlights of her trip was visiting Volcanoes National Park where she saw flowing lava from the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. She also hiked through the Thurston Lava Tube, a fascinating natural wonder.

Another day, Rachel took a boat tour to Kealakekua Bay where she snorkeled with colorful fish and even swam with manta rays! She also spent time relaxing on some of the Big Island’s beautiful beaches, like Hapuna Beach State Park with its white sand and clear waters.

Overall, it sounds like Rachel had an amazing trip exploring the Big Island’s diverse landscapes, from active volcanoes to stunning beaches. Thanks for sharing your adventures, Rachel!

Lousiana

I took a fantastic swamp tour on Honey Island in Louisiana! It was a great way to experience the unique ecosystem of the area. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and shared interesting facts about the plants and animals that live in the swamp.

We cruised through the swamp in a flat-bottomed boat, spotting all sorts of wildlife along the way. Alligators were the stars of the show, of course – we saw several of them basking in the sun or swimming in the murky water. We also spotted turtles, snakes, birds, and even a nutria!

The swamp itself was beautiful. The moss-draped cypress trees created an eerie yet fascinating atmosphere. It was definitely an adventure I won’t forget!

Michigan

Even though I’ve visited Mackinac Island over 30 times, it never gets old! This car-free paradise always offers something new to discover. This trip, I took the ferry again from either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace on the Lower Peninsula – the convenient ferry schedule always makes getting there a breeze.

Renting a bike is my usual mode of transportation, and it’s a great way to explore the sights at your own pace. This time, I revisited Arch Rock, the climb to the top for the view is definitely a workout, but totally worth it. For a relaxing change of pace, I also took a horse-drawn carriage tour. It’s a great way to learn about the island’s history while enjoying the scenery.

Of course, no Mackinac Island trip is complete without some fudge! I visited a couple of fudge shops to indulge in their famous flavors – gotta keep up tradition! The fudge festival in August sounds like a dream, maybe I can finally make it there next time. Speaking of festivals, if you’re ever on the island during the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival in June, you’re in for a treat. It’s a ten-day extravaganza filled with events, tours, races, and even a parade!

Mackinac Island continues to be a charming escape with its beautiful scenery, unique car-free atmosphere, and of course, the incredible fudge. I can’t wait for my next visit!

I spent an awesome day climbing the sand dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan! Let me tell you, it’s a workout! The dunes are massive – some as high as 450 feet! I started my adventure by hiking through some beautiful, wooded trails. The contrast between the lush forest and the towering dunes was incredible.

Once I reached the base of the dunes, it was time for the real challenge – climbing! The loose sand makes it tough going, but it’s definitely doable if you take your time and rest when you need to. The view from the top was totally worth the effort. Looking out over Lake Michigan and the endless dunescape was breathtaking.

I spent a good amount of time just relaxing on the summit, enjoying the scenery and the cool breeze. On the way down, I decided to embrace the fun and went for a run down the dunes! It was a hilarious way to cool off and get back to the bottom quickly.

Climbing the Sleeping Bear Dunes was a fantastic experience that combined exercise, stunning views, and a little bit of silliness. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend giving it a try!

Visiting the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan was interesting! I found it easy to get to by following the exit signs before the International Bridge that connects Interstate 75 to Canada. There was even free parking on Portage Avenue near some restaurants. The Soo Locks were open for visitors when I went, from 9 am to 10 pm. It was definitely worth checking out!

Minnesota

I live in the Twin Cities metro area and had never seen the northern lights because of light pollution. But a powerful solar storm in May 2024 created perfect viewing conditions, and I was surprised to see them clearly from my apartment in Eden Prairie. The key factors for seeing the northern lights in the metro area are low cloud cover and a high KP index (above 5). On that night, the KP index was 8 and I had a 95% chance of seeing them, the highest ever for me. I also found good viewing locations further west at Lake Minnewashta and even better ones at Lake Waconia.

Mississippi

I took a trip to Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi to learn more about the American Civil War. The park itself is huge, so I started by picking up a map and brochure at the visitor center. The park rangers were super helpful in pointing me towards the areas that interested me most.

One of the highlights of my visit was definitely exploring the Vicksburg Battlefield. Walking the ground where such a pivotal battle took place was a humbling experience. The park has done a great job of preserving the trenches and fortifications, giving you a real sense of what the soldiers must have gone through.

I also visited the Vicksburg National Cemetery, the final resting place for over 17,000 soldiers. It was a very moving experience to walk through the rows of gravestones and learn about the sacrifices made during the war.

Another interesting stop was the USS Cairo Gunboat Museum. The Cairo was a Union gunboat that sank in the Yazoo River during the Vicksburg Campaign. The museum houses the wreckage of the Cairo, which was raised from the river in the 1960s. It’s amazing to see this piece of history up close and learn about the role it played in the Civil War.

Overall, visiting Vicksburg National Military Park was a great way to learn more about the American Civil War. It’s a place that will stay with me for a long time.

Montana

In mid-August of 2022, I had a great fishing trip on the Big Horn River with my cousin and his fiancee. We were near Fort Smith, Montana, which apparently has some of the best fishing in the whole country! Over two and a half days, we reeled in over 20 fish. We mostly used a nymphing technique while drifting on my cousin’s boat, but he also managed to snag a few with dry flies.

Wyoming

This trip was one of the few times I didn’t travel solo. I met my brother’s family at Grand Tetons National Park and we spent two days hiking the paths and taking in the sights. My niece and nephew even became junior rangers.

A visit to Yellow Stone National Park during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic helped with my lack of travel. This page is no longer being updated as it has outdated information.