National Travel and Tourism Week is an annual tradition for the U.S. travel community. It’s a time when travel and tourism professionals across the country unite to celebrate the value travel holds for our economy, businesses and personal wellbeing.
This year, the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency is having an unprecedented impact on the travel industry and the entire economy. Now more than ever, the travel and tourism community must come together, support each other and remind our country that even through the most difficult times, the Spirit of Travel cannot be broken.
In honor of National Travel and Tourism week I want to share a road trip that my wife and I took back in 2017. We had planned an awesome multi-stop vacation that started in Lake Tahoe via a direct flight from Detroit to Reno. From Reno we rented a car and drove to our lakeside accommodations in beautiful Lake Tahoe. We had planned to spend several days there relaxing and exploring the area then eventually move along to see both the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. From there we planned to drive to San Francisco and fly home via a direct flight to Detroit. It was an ambitious schedule!
We got to Lake Tahoe and immediately knew we made the right decision. Our first adventure included skydiving over Lake Tahoe. It was our first (and hopefully not last) skydive. Once the adrenaline wore off we spent the next couple of days driving miles and miles of winding mountain roads, hiking remote trails, and trying to soak up much needed downtime. We took an entire day to paddle our rented kayaks into some gorgeous areas. We really lucked out on this entire trip. I don’t recall it raining a single day. We of course had to rehydrate after our hiking and kayaking adventures.
Once we felt adequately replenished we traveled away from Lake Tahoe onto the next phase of our trip. We made the trip towards the national parks area and stayed in an extremely cool AirBnB along the way. We headed for Yosemite National Park and learned our first lesson. Don’t drive into National Parks. Take the shuttles that are advertised heavily. The traffic was maddening and we really did have much time left to explore the park. We got the heck out of Yosemite and headed for the “big trees”. If you haven’t seen them, it’s one of things I highly recommend you try to do at least once. We finally wrapped up our journey in San Francisco. We spent the night there enjoying some amazing food and a must-stop at the Golden Gate Bridge.
I can’t wait to start planning our next adventure. If you have any suggestion please let me know! Happy National Tourism Week to everyone! Don’t let these crazy times prevent you from planning your next adventure. We will all travel again.
I first met one of my best friends around 4 or 5 when we played soccer on the same team, wearing big those blue and red reversible YMCA soccer pennies. When he and his fiancée asked me to DJ their wedding about two decades later, I immediately accepted. It was in Bowling Green, KY, and I was carpooling with my parents from Ann Arbor, MI. With gigs both two days before and after the big day, and a rehearsal dinner to get to on a weekday, it was sort of a tight schedule for a road trip.
Honestly, the way there was a blur. We stopped once, twice. The wedding, though, was a blast and I’m so glad I was able to be a part of it. I hadn’t ever been to that part of Kentucky and what surprised me the most were the accents. It was a total toss-up about which you’d hear when you talked to someone: midwestern or southern. Usually it was the opposite of what you anticipated.
On the way back, we were pressed for time again, but my mom managed to persuade us to stop at Mammoth Caves National Park. I had never heard of it before, but I quickly learned it was the largest cave system known in the world. For me, the massive Rotunda Room was the highlight. About a ¼ mile in, you encounter something like a spectacular concert hall complete with a dome-like cave ceiling that plays with acoustics and casts huge, beautiful shadows.
Plenty of the system is still uncharted, but it spans at least 400 miles and five levels. Your imagination can’t help but be sparked when you listen to stories such as the “Kentucky Cave Wars”, lost explorers, and ancient artifacts unearthed. Road trips are full of the unexpected. Sometimes you don’t even know what you’re missing out on.
In the summer of 2015 my two friends, Chris and Pinar, and I set out on a road trip across the country, driving over 6,000 miles in just under three weeks. Our goal was to make it from the Canadian border in Detroit to the Mexican border in San Diego (and back), stopping all along the way to camp in National and State Parks. Chris and I had been close friends since our freshman year of college, but Pinar and I had just met earlier that year while she was studying abroad from Istanbul, Turkey. It was important to Pinar to see America before returning to Turkey, and I was more than eager to show her.
After months of careful planning and preparation, it didn’t take long for the things to start falling apart. Our first few days were spent struggling to start fire, running away from tornadoes, and ultimately skipping several planned stops. By the time we hit the southwest however, we began to find our stride. We stayed in Palo Duro Canyon State Park Texas before moving on to Great Sand Dunes then Mesa Verde National Parks in Colorado, and finally staying Zion National Park in Utah. It’s hard to begin to describe the majesty of these places, and the week we spent traveling them made the entire trip worth it.
It wasn’t easy getting home – we ran into a road block (literally) on California State Highway 1 that kept us from staying in Big Sur, and snow in the Yosemite Valley forced us on to Reno. Finally, more bad weather in Colorado and Nebraska pushed us home to Michigan. Despite all of the problems, I would do it again tomorrow if I could.
In the Spring of 2018, and most of my closest friends living out of state – I decided to kill two birds with one stone and visit both Denver, CO and Camarilla, CA. Although it isn’t your typical ‘road trip’ it was one for the books!
The first stop was a direct flight from Detroit to Denver, CO. We stayed right outside of Denver in a city called Centennial, where the view of the Rocky’s was absolutely spectacular. We woke up at the crack of dawn the day after I got there and just started driving into the mountains. No agenda, no plan, no maps – which was probably not the brightest idea.
The second we entered the Rocky Mountain National Park, it started to snow and it was heavenly. After a few hours of driving we ended up in a valley between mountains in a complete winter wonderland.
After Denver, I flew to LAX to meet my childhood friend for a week of family fun. We went hiking Wildwood Regional Park. I had never been one for hiking but we decided to go 10 miles in and found some hidden gems. From valleys to waterfalls, this park did not disappoint. The best part of both trips – I shared them with my two best friends.
One of the best road trips that I have taken has been in the state of Michigan to explore the east and central portion of the Upper Peninsula.
The trip started with a visit to Sault Ste. Marie and included stops in Whitefish Point, Newberry, Munising, Marquette and Manistique. Within a seven-day period, we were able to experience some of Northern Michigan’s most picturesque locations including spending quality time on the beautiful and captivating shores of Lake Superior.
Some of the highlights included the Soo Locks, an engineering marvel that helps Great Lakes freighters navigate the passage between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, swimming in the rough waters of Lake Superior and seeing the colorful sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in a sea kayak. One of the most memorable highlights was having a “Hamburger in Paradise (Michigan)” after hiking the trails along Tahquamenon Falls.
The 500-mile road trip not only provided multiple breathtaking views, it also made me realize that our state has so much beauty and diversity! And, I am always excited to share my Michigan travel experiences with others throughout the country and look forward to welcoming all visitors to my home state of Michigan!
To learn more about the Spirit of Travel to not only our organization, but to businesses all over the country, be sure to follow #SpiritOfTravel on Twitter and Instagram and join the conversation.
National Travel and Tourism Week is organized by the U.S. Travel Association and runs from May 3 - 9, 2020.
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