On Travel Goals

From August 4, 2013 through the start of this MLB season, it felt good knowing that I had seen all 30 teams play in their current home ballpark. I've watched the home team play in a total of 43 ballparks, in fact.

The Braves opening their new stadium this year of course knocked me out of that all-30 club. Surprisingly to me, though, I didn't feel an overwhelming urge to visit the new ballpark as soon as the season got underway. I was perfectly content to wait until the NFL schedule release later in April to see if I might in one weekend couple a visit to SunTrust park with one to Mercedez-Benz stadium to catch the Falcons in their new digs. A few weeks later, the scheduling gods did set up the alignment I sought, but I balked when realizing the football half of the setup was a Sunday night game in their new stadium's debut. While that'd be nice to see, chances are it's going to be more expensive than I'd like. So, I still haven't made plans to see the Braves.

Then there is that football gridiron quest. Yes, I'll have to circle back to Atlanta at some point for the Falcons, but I still need to see three teams play at home, and have a growing list of other new stadiums too. I realized seeing the Cowboys, Texans and Lions may actually outweigh re-completing the MLB ballpark circuit. There's indeed something of a been-there, done-that vibe to the ballpark chase. That's not to say I won't make a quick run down to Atlanta this season to get to a Braves game, but I don't feel as pressured as I expected I would. Sure, if I don't go, I'll probably regret it all winter, but there are so many travel goals I'm contemplating that making some progress toward all of them is really my main travel wish as I roll through each season. And for now chipping away at my NFL goals has inched ahead of my MLB one.

These goals extend from ballparks at the Major and Minor League levels, NFL stadiums, National Parks and ski resorts to really any other similarly labeled travel destination grouping that can be imagined, whether it's sticking a hand or foot in the five Great Lakes (5 for 5) or the five oceans (3 of 5), or getting to all 50 states a second time.

Two years ago, I wrote about my travel goals at that point. I've certainly rethought a few, have indeed made progress toward others and have added some more. I make no promises toward completing all of them, but collectively they help me imagine travel itineraries as I see what I can accomplish fiscally and with available vacation time.

When I wrote that post, I really didn't see myself getting to all 59 National Parks as I wasn't halfway there at the time. I'm checking off two more this summer that will bring me to under 25 needed, and won't rule out seeing a third in the fall. Still, that's a long way to the finish line. A more practical goal would be trying to see the land-based ones in the Lower 48. That would take me down to a much more doable baker's dozen after this year, and with many of the ones I haven't checked off paired in proximity, it's an even more reasonable endeavor.

As for the 417 National Park sites, my only goal at the moment is keeping it at under 300 to go. šŸ˜ Seriously, seeing all of the Civil War sites within the National Park system is I think one goal, as I've made good progress there. Maybe I'll shoot for 200 or half of the total park sites, but that will take some time.

Presidential birthplaces/residences and libraries, some within the National Park system and some not, have caught my attention recently, mostly attributable to my NPS-focused travel due to its Centennial. Combining birthplaces and residences with libraries, I've suddenly been to at least one or the other for 11 presidents, with a few others I'm fairly eager to see, and with some of the others rather nearby to subsequent trips I hope to take. Separating out the fourteen Presidential Libraries from presidential sites seems a more achievable goal. I'm at four right now, so it seems doable.

UNESCO World Heritage sites within the US form another travel list that may be doable. At 12 of 23 seen, and with many of those I haven't seen doubling as National Park sites, visiting all of them may be quite plausible.

But let's go back to those ballparks. Yeah, I'll be going to Atlanta at some point, and my participation in the 27 Outs Baseball network has led me to a bunch these last two season. With roughly 125 MiLB stadiums left for me to see, however, I can't say I have intentions of seeing all of them. What I can say is that I will check maps every time I plan a trip in the spring and summer. When eyeing those National Parks I need to see in California, I'll check team schedules and see what Minor League venues can be visited and set an itinerary that way. Ditto when looking at the two National Parks I need in both Colorado and Florida.

For the objective of setting travel goals, I note that I'm at 34 MiLB ballparks at the moment, and have managed to get to 12 each for the AAA and AA levels. The next step would be getting to half of them and then see if I can practically plan travel to the other 30. Or, I can look at setting goals league by league. Finishing off the International League (AAA), the Eastern League (AA) and the NY-Penn Leauge (Short Season A) are all more tangible objectives at this point. Further, there are goals like seeing every New York State MiLB ballpark, every Yankee affiliate and at least one ballpark in every league. As I complete these more minor goals, I end up able to  more confidently consider goals of seeing all of the AAA or AA teams, getting to half or even 100 of the Minor League teams, and then can fancy pushing the goal toward seeing them all.

For skiing, the first goal I set was skiing each state in the Northeast, and then skiing each resort here with a 2000-foot vertical. Then I went down to 1750 feet and now I'm finishing off the 1500 footers. I detailed where I had skied in my previous post, which misses my updates of six new mountains this past season, most notably Jackson Hole, Alta and Snowbird. I suppose I have more wishlists than goals when it comes to skiing, with mountains I really want to ski more than anything else. Alyeska in Alaska is highest on my list at the moment (in addition to wanting to ski it, the trip would help me finish my second loop of all 50 states). It's followed on my skiing wishlist by resorts in Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico and, yeah, Ohio.

In my next post I hope to put up of my lists—skiing, National Park sites, football and baseball—and have them in one place to update periodically. With it being mid June though, it is high time for me to think of what travel goals I will be chipping away at this summer and fall.

Anyway, I think I'll take another peak at airfares to Atlanta before logging off..


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