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8 Favorite Destinations, Year 2

We’ve now been on the road for two solid years. During that time we’ve visited 145 different locations in both North and Central America. Last year we highlighted Eight Favorite Destinations from our first year of travel. With another full year under our belts, it’s once again time to select the best from the last 365 days. Each of the following headlines links back to our original blog post about the destination.

Pictured Rocks, MI

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI

If 200-foot, multi-colored sandstone cliffs along a lake of emerald-colored water isn’t how you imagine Michigan, it’s time for a pilgrimage to Pictured Rock National Lakeshore in the state’s Upper Peninsula. It absolutely blew us away with its striking similarities to one of our favorite excursions ever: rafting through the Grand Canyon.

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What We Learned Backpacking for 2 Months

Caye Caulker Belize

40 liter packs are (almost) all you need

Imagine living out of a suitcase no bigger than a 1.5 square foot box. That’s basically what Shannon and I did for two months backpacking around Central America. We’re proud to report that not only did we have the smallest bags of anyone we met but that our 40 liter packs were perfectly adequate for this specific trip.

While “perfectly adequate” is a true enough description of what we experienced, “barely adequate” fits too. We’d have been in trouble if we needed to plan for colder weather or multiple seasons. Traveling through Central America we had the luxury of packing lightweight clothing, although the highlands of Guatemala got surprisingly chilly. I was happy to have a heavy fleece I didn’t originally intend to pack but brought along because Houston was so damn cold when we left.

Even in colder climates, we probably could have made the 40 liter backpacks work if not for all of the electronics we hauled: two laptops, a digital camera, a video camera, an iPhone, a surge protector, a universal power adapter, battery charger, and the cables needed to power all this junk. Leaving the electronics at home would have freed up almost an entire bag – but we’d never do that.

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Are We Having Fun Yet?

A small boat bounced us over the Gulf of Honduras as we made our way from Livingston, Guatemala to Punta Gorda, Belize. Its speed adding force to the otherwise gentle rain that sprayed in our faces. Fortunately, the craft came equipped with all of the amenities you expect in this part of the world. The First Mate unfurled a plastic tarp for us to hold over our heads to try and keep dry.

Soon, the clouds parted, the tarp was discarded and dramatic skies welcomed us back to Belize.

Despite the rain, or perhaps because of it, I found the trip exhilarating. It’s not everyday we get to sail across the Gulf of Honduras. Sometimes, simply appreciating the uniqueness of the moment is enough to put a smile on my face.

Video of the Day: Boat Trip Down Guatemala’s Rio Dulce

An abbreviated look at our journey winding through the jungle on the Rio Dulce from Guatemala’s Lake Izbal to Livingston.

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Tortugal Rio Dulce Guatemala

After spending a bit too much time in the cities of Antigua and Panajachel, we were excited to get a couple of days on the tranquil Rio Dulce. We stayed in the wonderful Tortugal Hotel and Marina, where even the resident cats had bungalows.

Tortugal Rio Dulce Guatemala 2

We spent most of our time here lounging about and relaxing. We skipped visiting the nearby hot springs and local waterfall, feeling too lazy to put much effort into getting out and about. We did rouse ourselves enough to kayak down to Castillo San Felipe, a defensive fort built by the Spanish in the 1500s to combat local pirate activity.

Castillo San Felipe, Guatemala

Seeing the boats in Tortugal’s marina got us thinking again about the next leg of our journey. We’re drawn to the idea of sailing the seven seas, even if we currently know less about boating than we did about RVing when we set out. The thought of getting ourselves prepared for that kind of trip was more taxing than our mood allowed. Instead we just to watched the boats drift by, dreamed a little, and saved the details for another day.

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