United States

The United States is our home country. Over the years we have lived in many places, from Dallas to Orange County, CA, to Austin. Before that, Mark lived in West Orange, NJ, San Diego, Los Angeles and Houston. Monica lived in Waco, TX, Houston, and Jacksonville, FL.

We’ve traveled around the U.S. over the years. It just so happened that we bought a camper in the fall of 2021, so we were able to get around to some of the state and national parks during Covid.

Here are some of our favorite places in the United States:

Alaska

The largest state in the U.S., Alaska is known for its breathtaking scenery, enormous glaciers and a great variety of wild animals, including bald eagles, moose, caribou, otters, whales and bottlenose dolphins. There is no shortage of outdoor activities you can do to enjoy the Alaskan wilderness.

Arizona

The Grand Canyon is a stunning part of the US that should not be missed. From there you can explore the red rocks of Sedona. Antelope Canyon is on our list.

Mark and I at the Grand Canyon
Mark and I at the Grand Canyon back in 1995 (our first trip together!)

Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands make you feel like you’re visiting some exotic tropical country, but you pay in dollars and everyone speaks English! You have to remind yourself that you haven’t actually left the US. We’ve been to Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii. In addition to lounging on the beautiful beaches, we’ve hiked to waterfalls, biked down a volcano, rode horses, surfed with sea turtles, dined at a luau at sunset, and snorkeled in bays that feel like a backlit aquarium. It’s not the cheapest place but it’s always worth it.

Montana

Glacier National Park has more than 130 lakes and jagged glacier-carved mountains. You can see a large variety of wildlife here, from mountain goats to moose to grizzly bears, plus hundreds of species of birds.

Nevada

Las Vegas is larger than life, with so much to do. More than just gambling, there are shows and music, excursions, and great dining. It’s constantly changing. We always have a great time when we go.

New York

New York City has an amazing energy. We traditionally went around Christmas, when the city is dressed up for the holidays, but lately we’ve been going in the summer or fall.

Oregon

Portland is a city close to our hearts. “Keep Portland weird” is their slogan, very similar to Austin in a lot of ways. Our daughter went to Portland State so we visited Portland quite a few times, and love the vibe, the food, and the greenness, and Mt Hood through the window.

We’ve explored Oregon over a few years, and loved Seaside and Cannon Beach, Bend, Hood River, Multnomah Falls, and the Willamette Valley wine country.

Crater Lake is the only national park in Oregon, and it is so worth a visit. It’s a deep blue volcanic crater lake and the deepest lake in the U.S.

Utah

The Big 5 national parks in southern Utah offer some of the most beautiful terrain and geological features anywhere. I went to Zion back in 2004, then we explored four of the Mighty Five in 2020: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands.

Here I am at Zion in December 2004.

Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park. It is home to one of the world’s largest calderas with over 10,000 thermal features and more than 300 geysers. It has one of the world’s largest petrified forests and more than 290 waterfalls. Also not to be missed: Grand Teton National Park.

Texas

Austin y’all! It’s the capital of Texas and the Live Music Capital of the World. We have world class events like South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits, plus the ACL Music Festival. The town is situated in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, so it’s very green with a lake right downtown for hiking, kayaking, SUP and just walking around. The food is amazing, particularly tacos, Tex-Mex and barbecued brisket. Sure, it gets hot, but we have several natural swimming holes like Barton Springs and Hamilton Pool. If you get bored, you can watch 1.5 million bats fly out of the downtown Congress Avenue Bridge every night in search of insects.

Hamilton Pool Austin
Hamilton Pool

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