Prioritizing Our “Pillars” for 2017

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Early on we were asked to write down our “pillars “. Places we might want to visit, explore, and experience. Something like a bucket list.  Turns out, with the exception of the Inca Trail, Hali and I had two entirely different pillar lists. Hali had far more exotic places in mind while Woody had places we could find in our own backyard. Places like The Outer Banks of North Carolina, Gettysburg, Route 66, the Alamo.

Well, now that there is no need to pack a leash or water dish, it’s time to think about packing our  passports & journals and taking on the more exotic places Hali had in mind.

This past week, while putting a Cinderella jigsaw puzzle together, we joined heads to make a rough draft plan for 2017.


Complete a stair project in Carli’s home. We’ve put in all laminate flooring in upstairs and were holding off on the carpeted stairs on Carlos’ behalf. Now it’s time to connect the downstairs wood floors to the upstairs. After weeks of contemplating laminate, wood, or carpet flooring we decided to stay “within code” and carpet with a low pile, textured style which will tie the two floors together. This way we keep our “Hollywood step” to the landing AND we can hire out the labor.

A trip to Tampa.  Next week we are planning a Pope Family extended weekend getaway to the Gulf Coast of Florida. Clearwater Beach is a perennial top ten beach in America and Tampa Bay offers some of the best paddleboarding around.


In St. Petersburg, a visit to the Dali Museum is a must. This eccentric Spanish artist fascinates with the most recognizable Surrealist-style of the 20th Century. And as an added bonus, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is currently being displayed in an exhibit alongside Dali’s work. Frida is known for her self-portraits, pain and passion, and bold, vibrant palette.


5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen, 1991

It’s been too long since we’ve visited Playa del Carmen. We were there 25 years ago when this sleepy Mexican village was a half mile of cobbled street with only a few taco stands. We actually slept on the beach at Rent-a-Tent. Five bucks a night for a beachfront tent.


We spent Happy Hours with our toes in the sand on the palapa patio bar where Hali shuffled the cards while Woody played bartender. There were a few shabby card tables, a playful puppy, Pancho, and a cooler full of beer where our bar tab was paid based on the honor system. Also, Playa, as it’s called by locals, is the beach where the namesake of our daughter was conceived, Carmen (Carli).

We’ll take the ferry over to Cozumel for a week, settle into a hammock for some reading and writing and take a communal cooking class with Chef Josephina. I can’t think of a better way to brush up on our Spanish, en la cocina.

Tulum Temple 1991

Then it’s back to the Yucatan Peninsula to explore a Mayan temple in the jungle near Akumal. Cobá is the home of a 500 BC astro- observatory ruin. If our stars are aligned we might catch the descent of the feathered serpent along the stone wall of the Castillo in Tulum or take a dip here. . . where we fell in love with the warm waters of the Caribbean.


Continue our road trip west. Most of these milemarkers come from Woody’s “pillar” list. So, as he is the map reader and logistics specialist, Hali will and provide the music playlist and photos as we roll down the highway in the van. We’ll both contribute to the website and share the details as we go:

Cape San Blas, Florida. Spent just one night here on the way down. Need to get back.

Hannibal, Missouri. Home of America’s greatest storyteller, Mark Twain.

Fort Collins, Colorado. Bike tour with New Belgium Brewing.

Flaming Gorge Recreational Area, Utah. Sounds like our kinda of place.

Boise, Idaho. One of those towns I’ve heard too many good things to just pass through.

Central Oregon. Watch the moon’s shadow race along the landscape at the Great American Eclipse, August 21st. Smith Rock might offer an excellent photo op.


Shoulder season is our favorite time to travel. But this is where this draft gets rough. This is where Hali’s “pillars” will play a bigger role. This is where our heads need to come together in considering traveling out of a backpack for an longer adventure.

Even though Fall seems so far away, planning for few months with just a pack and a pair of good sturdy boots starts now. This is where we are at this very moment. These pillars are not yet set in stone. Our final draft plan is due April 1st. That’s right, April Fool’s Day. The 4th Anniversary of Stay tuned AND Thanks for joining us on our ride. . .

About Woody

We are a couple who took the first step toward a life of traveling in May, 2015. Staying within the continental US, we amp'd the adventure-factor by traveling in a VW Vanagon, circa 1985. Our mission is to share irresistible and compelling stories conceived from this lifestyle of travel.

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