He/She: “I saw your photos on Facebook. Traveling a lot!”
He/She: “How do you even manage so many vacation days?”
Most of my acquaintances bring up this question at some point during the conversation. The first few times such exchanges took place, I explained that I meticulously planned my vacations to make most of the 15 vacation days. Few believed me. After a while, I got tired of explaining and now, I just answer with a smile.
However, let me take a shot at writing an answer to the question by jotting down the highlights of 2015: ~114000 miles on flights, tens of thousands of miles in a car to roam around 11 countries with just 15 vacation days.
Jan-Mar: Argentina (Brazil) (0 vacation days)
The year started with the trip from El Chalten, Argentina to Iguazu Falls Argentina (Brazil).
Mt. Fitz Roy, El Chalten
February was spicy, with a road-trip up the Northern California coast and a weekend trip driving around Maui, Hawaii.
We had a trip planned to see northern lights in Alaska in March; but it had to be cancelled at the last moment for unfortunate reasons and I traveled to India instead.
Apr-July: Central Europe, New York, Kilimanjaro preparation (5 vacation days)
April is the start of the wildflower season in Pacific Northwest(PNW). Through July, I completed a number of hikes and backpacks around Oregon and the Olympic coast in Washington. The sudden surge in hiking was partly to rendezvous with the wildflowers; but mainly to prepare for my upcoming Kilimanjaro summit trek.
Colors of Broken Top mountain (Oregon) at sunrise
It was not all hikes though; in late April, I sneaked in a weekend trip from Portland to New York. Yeah, 6000+miles of flying for 36 hours in New York with little sleep.
Central Park, New York
One Friday in early June, while leaving office at around 8PM, I realized that it was a full moon night and the roads to Mt. Rainer were snow-free. I quickly packed up my camping equipment to drive around Mt. Rainier until sunrise. Unfortunately, I forgot my tripod in the hurry; but Mt. Rainier on a cloudless full moon night is the second most beautiful thing I have seen.
Aug-Sep: Mt. Adams, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda (10 vacation days)
August began on a sad note, almost jeopardizing my Kilimanjaro trip. I hiked to the summit of Mt. Adams(12,280′); but severely injured my knee while glissading down the mountain and ended up in crutches right until I left for Kilimanjaro. Nevertheless, I somehow hobbled to the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Kilimajaro from our 4000m camp
The first week with September was crazy. I flew from Kilimanjaro to Rwanda to see mountain gorillas and the genocide memorial. Two days later, I flew a red-eye to Nairobi via Burundi for a three-day Masai Mara safari. This was followed by a 20 hour visit to Uganda to raft some of the best grade 5 white water on earth in Jinja, Uganda. As an icing on the cake, I saw northern lights on my flight back to Portland.
Back in US, I took a roadtrip down to one of the best parts of the Oregon coast, Cape Perpetua.
Famous rough wave-breaks near Thor’s well,Cape Perpetua
Oct-Dec: US Roadtrips galore, New Mexico (0 vacation days)
My parents,who were visiting, and I embarked on a road-trip every other week, driving 800-1000 miles over a weekend for the last three months of 2015. We visited Crater lake, Newberry National volcanic monument, the remote and quiet Malheur National refuge which is now controlled by armed occupants, Steens mountain and Alvord desert, Seattle and Mt St Helens. Over the Thanksgiving vacation, we took flew to New Mexico for another 1000 mile road-trip. The year ended with road-trips to Northern California coast, San Diego and Lake Tahoe.
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