Make a wish! Fall is in the air here in the Black Hills. It's begun to cool from the unusually hot summer, and golden is the color of the prairies and hills. It seems to dominate whether it be grass, flower and now the beginning of the trees. Quaking Aspens are just beginning to change color in certain parts of the area, reminding me that seasons, just like life, change.
This morning I'm heading out to the Southern portion of the Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park. Just about every day I've been here this summer, I've had the privilege to learn and share about geography, natural history, botany, Native American history, the people and places of the Black Hills. It's been quite a year, but putting one foot in front of the other seems to be the most important thing, even when distractions come along the way.
Like in the picture, it's often the small things that are missed. When you stop for a moment and just look carefully, there's beauty all around. It certainly is here. October 15 marks the end of a great season, and the beginnings of another. I've wished a few things to happen, and it looks like they have and are coming to be. Next year as well as 2023 are simmering on the stove and great things are about to happen. I hope that for you too. Make some plans to come out and see a part of the country that you've been missing all along, the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota.
The Mighty Ponderosa Pine. It's the dominant tree of the Black Hills National Forest. It's what makes the Black Hills, well, black. Other species thrive here, like the Quaking Aspen, named after the way their leaves shimmer in the breeze, but nothing dominates like the Ponderosa. The Black Hills are filled with this pine, but at one time this wasn't the case. Tinkering with nature, even with good intentions has it's consequence.
Looking at photos from 1878 compared to 1978 shows a dramatic increase in the Ponderosa population. It's due to forestry management and fire prevention. Traveling through the forest on Iron Mountain Road you might notice slash piles, dead timber piled in neat little cone shaped mounds. These slash piles are burned each winter when snow is present to rid the forest of the "fuel" it accumulates over the years. As a result, less fire = more pine. Ironically, this creates a situation where a forest fire can spread from one tree to the other fairly easy.
Another result of this management is the 1300 streams that descend from the mountains are severely impacted. The Ponderosa canvas catches a good portion of the rain, and the trees are taking more out of the water table than ever before. Since discovering this, the Forest Service has now begun a process of thinning the trees. While it seems like a good idea, this may also have other unintended consequences.
The Lakota's lived in harmony with nature, and as time goes by we're finding out this happens to be the best way. Lakota, and earlier indigenous people of the area used the pines for a variety of purposes. The inner bark provided sweetness and carbohydrates, essential to survive in a mostly meat eating culture.
Other uses are medicinal, such as remedies for bruises, eye sores and deodorant. You can still find older pines (some up to 700 years old) that bear bark harvesting scars. These are usually rectangular in shape, approximately 3 feet high by about 10 inches wide. This method of harvesting prevented the tree from dying, and provided a sustainable source of food. Visit Norbeck Overlook on Iron Mountain Road and you'll see one of the Ponderosas with a large scar. Smell the exposed wood and you'll notice essences of malt, vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch and even strawberry. Just don't get a splinter.
Ponderosa wasn't always the dominant species in the Black Hills. Lodgepole and Limber Pine were plentiful in this area, and small relict forests still exist. Limber Pine, named for it's flexibility can be found near the Cathedral Spires. The trailhead talks about their significance. Lodgepole can be found in the Northern Hills and near Rochford, a fun place to be while riding the Mickelson Trail on bikes.
Funny how a single tree can be so important to the area, and help shape it into what it is today. Come visit Rapid City and the Black Hills to learn about this sacred area and what makes it so special. Special enough to call my home.
Daniel Milks is a resident of the Black Hills and owner of My XO Adventures, providing tours of the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota.
If you were headed to California, chances are your plans have changed recently. Don't let it ruin your vacation though, the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota welcome you with open arms. There's a lot to see here in Southwest South Dakota. A week of activities for a couple seeking to get away or a family of a much needed vacation. We have wonderful places to visit, fantastic tours and a wealth of natural beauty.
Most people come to the Black Hills because of Mt. Rushmore, and that's exactly what it was intended to do. Historian Done Robinson was actively seeking a way to bring tourists to the area, and through the construction of the monument that's exactly what happened.
Not too many people knew about the Black Hills or Paha Sapa as the Lakota refer to them. When families drove down old Custer Battlefield Highway (now I90) they crept right past the Badlands and Black Hills without even a thought of what they might be missing. Due to the conservation efforts and determination of people like Peter Norbeck, this all was about to change.
It began with Rushmore, then the Iron Mountain Road. Soon people were beginning to take notice. Upon completion of the Needles Highway, offering stunning views from the Heart of the Black Hills and access to a beautiful lodge on Sylvan Lake, the Black Hills of South Dakota was earning it's rightful place as a vacation destination.
When most people arrive in the Black Hills they immediately set out for the Southern portion of the mountain range. This has Mt. Rushmore, Iron Mountain Road, Custer State Park, the Wildlife Loop, Needles Highway and Crazy Horse Memorial. It's not surprising why this is the first on the list, but don't be fooled. There's way more to the area than the Southern Black Hills.
Badlands National Park in the early morning or late afternoon is generally about an hour away from most hotels in Rapid City, and worth the visit. A private tour with myXOadventures.com is the way to go in order to make the most of your time. If you decide to go it alone, visit the Badlands Park Website to check out the calendar and see if there is anything special going on.
The morning and late afternoon or evenings are the best time to see wildlife in the park, and the photography is optimum. The spires, points, haystacks, buttes and tables are amazing. The colors and shadows they cast are like architectural wonders.
The Northern Black Hills aren't as visited as the South, and I'm sure the residents there like it that way. Well sorry for them, the Northern Black Hills are absolutely outstanding. Ponderosa pine, Black Hills Spruce and Lodgepole make up most of the evergreen forest. Streams meander along the roadside in between limestone cliffs in Spearfish Canyon. Waterfalls such as Roughlock, Spearfish and Bridal Veil are just a few. Look up and you can see the caves in the cliffs, and natural springs. Remnants of mining operations hide in the lush greenery.
You'll find the town of Spearfish charming and quaint. Quite the opposite of nearby Deadwood, the Wild West shoot-em-up town to the East. Keep exploring the Northern Black Hills and you'll find great hiking, photography and places to explore like Pathways Spiritual Sanctuary. The Northern Black Hills will restore you're soul, and give you some well deserved respite. Enjoy the video!
Only second in the world to the cheetah, the Pronghorn can hit speeds of 55 miles per hour. This makes it the fastest land animal in North America! These animals are beautiful and occupy areas all over Custer State Park, but their range is from Canada to Mexico. The Pronghorns closest living relative is the giraffe, and if you look closely at the face there is a family resemblance. On the Wildlife Loop in Custer you may have to look hard some days, but it's almost guaranteed to spot on of these amazing creatures. We're so lucky here in the Black Hills to have a variety of wildlife that can be seen on any given day!
Since November of 2016 when I first set foot in Cuba, I was hooked. Finally, a place in the Caribbean I found full of culture, excitingly different, vibrant with culture, abundant in architecture and natural beauty. A break from the typical Caribbean Island visit. A place like no other on Earth. A people resilient and kind. It also happened to be the "forbidden fruit" that as a professional traveler makes it extremely enticing.
President Obama relaxed rules on travel early in his tenure. He also demonstrated a willingness to engage and forge relationships, along with private investment and the promotion of human freedoms. U.S. and Cuban relations hadn't been better in 50+ years since the Revolution. Tourism flourished, and living standards rose. People learned about the history of Cuba, what it was and is today. Cruise Lines were permitted, and there was an audible hum of optimism in the air. Those were the good old days that were not so old. In a matter of a few years, we were headed in the opposite direction.
Why is Cuba what it is today? What happened to create fertile ground for a revolution and what lays ahead in the coming years and decades? These are all important questions, and like most things of late, it depends on what political party you ask. Cuba is the third closest neighbor to the United States, and we’ve been feuding for decades. Here’s a little background to sum it all up.
Starting in 1940 and running through to 1952, Cuba had a democratic government. It enjoyed a healthy middle class in the cities, 75% of the population were literate, the number of doctors per capita rivaled the most developed of nations, and its Capitol, Havana was a shiny and bustling city. Often referred to as “The Paris of the Caribbean”, Cuba had reason to be proud. Development was occurring at a rapid pace, and American tourists came in the droves.
There were also downsides. The U.S. government had unleashed the mafia in Cuba, making it their new playground. Casinos, Hotels and Resorts sprang up everywhere. Money was being made hand over fist. While mafia gangs, big corporations and government officials made enriched themselves, rural Cuba was a different story altogether. Racism was prevalent, movement restricted, poverty abundant and education poor. You’d be lucky to have made it through the second grade before being put to work in the fields. On the one end you had the living standard of a modern European country in the cities and the other, no better than plantation life. Herein plays the drumbeat of a revolution.
Sound familiar? The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. You don’t have to look very hard to find some of the mightiest of nations have fallen due to this disparity. History sorts out who’s to blame, and I’ll do my best to make it clear in this particular circumstance. Let me make it plain as to who is responsible for the rise of a socialist/communistic society in Cuba. It is U.S. Government and the corrupt politicians that took their orders from Washington.
In 1952 President Batista took over in a coup, destroying the democracy he worked for so many years to create. Cast aside were the ideals of freedom for the people. Treasured Institutions were no longer regarded, and consolidation of power was the order of the day. This was the beginning of the end, and right under the nose and with the participation of the U.S. That’s right, Batista was propped up and mafia rule was endorsed by JFK and Washington. A daring young lawyer was about to take the island, and although the odds were stacked against him, the countryside was not. His name is Fidel Castro.
The U.S. had missed an opportunity to encourage stability and economic development for all Cubans. Since the revolution the American Government has tried to topple Castro with an invasion as well as multiple failed assassination attempts by the CIA. The wealthy and middle class had just been overturned with their businesses and property now nationalized. A new era begins in Cuba.
Tens of thousands of Cubans fled the island for the United States, and an embargo was imposed. Decades go by, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Cuban economy cause a great deal of suffering. One thing that remains is the embargo, crippling the people of Cuba to no end. They make it through however and continue to defy the United States to this day, which brings us to the more present time.
With tourism thriving in Cuba from the changes of the Obama administration, the middle class again begins to grow, and opportunity is everywhere. I took full advantage of the situation by visiting the island and spending money in privately owned restaurants, homes and businesses. The race was on to see Cuba the way it is, not the way it might become. Years later, and once again, the relationships take a turn for the worse when then President Trump was elected.
While visits to North Korean President Kim Jong Un are being promoted and supported, regulations tighten on Cuba. While genocide takes place in China, and we continue enormous trade with this communist nation, relationships with Cuba sour. Travel to Cuba becomes more difficult, and eventually cruise ships are banned from doing business with the island.
Why? Power and special interests. If anyone thinks that the embargo is designed to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba, they are sadly mistaken. The tens of thousands of Cubans that fled Cuba are now throughout the United States, but primarily in South Florida. The minds of those Cubans are to be fought over by each president since JFK. Those initial immigrants have now had children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Stories of Cuba are passed on down the line from those that had their homes and businesses taken. Their votes belong to the candidate willing to keep a hard line against Cuba. Trump was no different, and most Cubans identify as Republicans due to the rhetoric and propaganda promoted by the party. This rhetoric has influenced local and national elections. It’s elected Presidents. Meanwhile, the Cuban people continue to suffer at the cost of power from both the U.S. and the Communist Party in Cuba.
The stance against Cuba has nothing to do with individual freedom or democracy. Its roots are in revenge, anger, power and the grand prize of Florida’s 29 electoral college votes. The sweet smell of Presidential victory is thick in Florida and becoming even thicker. Trump exits stage right and on comes the Biden Administration. Offering hope of change again, Biden promises to reset relations with Cuba. I just put promises and a politician in the same sentence, so what do you think is going to happen?
There’s a pandemic raging, and economy tanking and a new sheriff in town. Biden has a lot on his hands and the promises to reset relationships gets pushed to the background. The left wants the reset, the right doesn’t, and the independents are mixed. The midterm elections, which usually go bad the first time around for a newly elected President are already under way.
Meanwhile, the situation in Cuba gets worse. Food shortages from failed crops and the inability to import what it needs causes anger in the population. Tourism is reopened in Varadero and the COVID cases begin to rise. Three vaccines are created by laboratories in Cuba, with “Abdala” having a reported 92.2% efficacy. Protests understandably begin and become deadly. Cuba looks to be having its own insurrection, which leaves President Biden forced to make a decision.
Does he help or hinder the relationship with Cuba? After 40 years in politics, Biden is no stranger to tactical moves designed to keep power, and this is the path he takes. Rather than helping our neighbor with critically needed medical supplies, food and humanitarian aid, he looks toward the outcome of the midterm elections. Doing what is right no longer matters, but how is that any different than what we’ve seen for so long? People are shocked of the demonstrations and the Cuban governments response. Shouts of freedom can be heard from coast to coast. Individuals are repeating what has been said over the last 60 years, which is to topple the regime, keep the embargo and force the government to provide more freedoms to its people. Ironically the U.S. Government is punishing Cubans for a situation it created.
Cubans do deserve more freedom and opportunity. There are many problems with the government of Cuba, but we only need to look in the mirror and find the same. Biden has made a huge error in not tackling the issue of Cuba earlier. He actually used the pandemic and economic hardship of the people in Cuba to once again stoke the flames of anger. Looking at this from an objective point of view I find it deplorable.
Biden turned his back on an opportunity to greatly improve relations through building bridges and rather decided to burn them. I’d love to see change in Cuba, but the answer is not by punishment. The government of Cuba suffers little. It’s the people that get caught in between this battle, and therein is the problem. The United States has been the only 1 of 3 countries in the United Nations to support the embargo. Everyone else knows what this is about, while the American public is lied to from both sides.
All the while other actions are at work. When the U.S. steps out from diplomacy, somebody is always willing to take its place. Those countries are China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and more. If your neighbor makes it clear they’re dead set on making life difficult, then one seeks out other friendships. This is what we’ve done. We’ve caused untold suffering of the Cuban people and opened the door to our adversaries. Congratulations to the Biden Administration for an epic failure, and hypocritical move when a gigantic opportunity was available.
Open relationships with the Cuban government would lead to more personal freedoms, economic development in both Cuba and the United States. It would create more jobs, support stability and prosperity in the region and raise the standard of living for the average Cuban citizen.
I don’t write this article in support of the Cuban Government. I write it because we’ve got it so wrong, and someone needs to speak out. Very likely, many Cuban Americans reading this article won’t respond so kindly, and I understand that. The point is not everything is as it seems, and it’s time for a real change. Where are those adults in the room?
Please take a moment to write President Biden and remind him about his promises. Promote Cuban Freedom by supporting its people. www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
The Black Hills (Paha Sapa)
Roaring out of the Earth in Great Plains of South Dakota are the magnificent Black Hills. Over 60 million years ago, through a great uplift the Black Hills rose high above the land, but their creation began deep within mother earth. Their origin began in the Precambrian Period, some 2 billion years ago. At one point it is estimated the Black Hills attained a height of 15,000 feet above sea level. Now, after millions of years of erosion, the highest point, Black Elk Peak reaches 7,244 feet. Although half the original size, the Black Hills are still the highest point from east of the Rockies to the Swiss Alps. Most of the Black Hills are composed of granite, along with quartz, feldspar and mica. Wondering through the area, you'll notice the ground glitters as if being surrounded by jewels in every direction.
The Native Americans of this region called this mountain range Paha Sapa, meaning The Heart of All Things. This was and is considered a sacred area by many, including the Lakota Tribe. The Lakota are made up of seven bands or tribes. These are the Sichangu, Brule, Oglala, Itazipcho, Miniconjou and Sihasapa. The Black Hills is considered a part of their origin story, with the rights of ownership in dispute to this day.
Significant points of interest for visitors to this area are the Cathedral Spires, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Iron Mountain Road, Needles Highway, Sylvan Lake, Crazy Horse Memorial, and further to the East, Badlands National Park. This area is popular with nature enthusiasts, rock climbers, sightseeing, hiking, horseback riding and much more. The mountain range is 110 miles long and 60 miles wide generally being divided between two areas, the Northern and Southern Black Hills. In the Northern Black Hills, you'll find majestic Spearfish Canyon, filled with hiking trails, waterfalls, the nearby Wild West City of Deadwood and one of my personal favorites, Pathways Spiritual Sanctuary. In my experience, the Northern Black Hills plays second fiddle to the Southern Black Hills to tourism, but this shouldn't be the case. The Northern Black Hills are a place of beauty, healing, history and recreation.
The Southern Black Hills are very special for a number of reasons. Generally, when people think of the Black Hills of South Dakota, they conjure up images of Mount Rushmore, with the faces of four great Presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. This is certainly quite an accomplishment and beautiful work of art. There is a great visitors center with a short film, and exhibition hall documenting the idea, construction and impact the monument had on the area. Doane Robinson and Gutzon Borglum set out to create a monument that would inspire the nation, and more importantly bring much needed tourism dollars to the region. They succeeded, and now over 2 million people visit Mount Rushmore each year.
While Mount Rushmore stirs up pride and patriotism in many, the Native Americans of this area feel differently when gazing upon the monument. For them and others, it is viewed as a desecration to a sacred mountain. Mount Rushmore was named after an east coast attorney sent here to survey mining claims. Those he asked had no idea of the name of the mountain, so it was named after him - Charles E. Rushmore. Before this the mountain was known to the Lakota as Tunkasila Sakpe Paha, or Six Grandfathers Mountain. The Six Grandfathers are North, South, East, West, Above and Below. This was a place the Lakota came to pray, carry out ceremonies and considered the center of the universe. Protests, petitions altering the mountain and disputes over the land continue on into the unforeseeable future. It's my belief that we understand as much as possible, and from both sides the history of this special place.
If you make a visit to Mount Rushmore, you can't miss the drive on Iron Mountain Road. Construction of this road was meant to compliment the mountain, cause as little disruption to nature, offer spectacular views and provide a playground for automobiles. Iron Mountain Road winds through forests and tunnels which, when looked through align perfectly with Mount Rushmore, offering great photo opportunities. The road covers 17 miles, has 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 pigtails, 3 tunnels, and two spits. It runs from Mount Rushmore, and terminates near Custer State Park.
Cuba is an exotic destination that's beginning to reopen, and we're going to be there when it does.
Ask my friends, Cuba is one of my favorite places in the world. Inevitably I'm asked why. It's simple to explain reasons but not feelings.
Cuba is one of the most controversial places to choose for a travel destination, which is initially what brought me to the island. It was 2015, and while travel was opened, you could only visit by boarding a ship in another country. In my case it was Jamaica. We sailed around the island to Santiago, Havana, Cienfuegos and Maria Del Gorda. Since flights have opened, I've been there a number of times, with the last being Havana Heartbeat March 12-17 2020. Yep, our group was there when the U.S. declared a National Emergency, and it was fantastic.
What you learn here are the things that matter in your life, and from the example Cubans provide, thats in relationships with one another. A simple game of chess, a bottle of rum and a conversation is highly valued. Architecture abounds, some restored and some crumbling. Both equally beautiful and a photographers dream. The people of Cuba are outstanding and resilient. Unfortunately, the embargo has really done nothing to improve the situation there and its the people that bear the brunt, not the government.
Cuba is about the size of Florida, which means there's lots to see. Artists, textile makers, farms, newly opened businesses, beaches and more. It truly is a step back in time that exists nowhere else, and may not even exist for much longer.
As I write this letter, Cuba is already administering its own vaccines developed on the island. The expectation is to have most of the population vaccinated by the end of summer, which is heartwarming news. Slowly, business is beginning to reopen, and tourism will return shortly. The Cubans are waiting for us with open arms, and as their closest neighbor we should pay them a visit.
It's legal to travel to Cuba under the "Support of the Cuban People" OFAC category, and relatively simple. myXOadventures.com takes care of the details for you, answers questions, guides you through the island and introduces you to a place you should have been able to visit long ago. If you had a chance to visit Havana on an overnight cruise ship, you've not experienced Cuba. You've been given a tourism taste, and not a truly authentic experience. We can help.
Speaking of experience, we've made our inroads and relationships to provide you with a high quality, affordable option, and personalized small group experience. I invite you to come along with us in November for our upcoming Havana Heartbeat trip. It'll be beautiful, and its the best place to visit in the Caribbean, hands down.
Right now we've decided to offer a $100 per person discount for new bookings made from now until the end of June. Simply make your reservation online and use the code HAVHRTBT and click HERE.
Daniel Milks is the owner of myXOadventures.com and has been traveling the world with a passion since 2011. Always doing his best to open the mind and spirit through cultural exchanges, each destination has its own personal touch and feel. Never creating a "cookie cutter" experience, he hopes to show how travel can change each persons life by better understanding the world in which we live.
Tens of thousands of people are looking towards the National Parks to satisfy the adventurer within, and it's a great idea. The National Parks System is something we should all be proud of, in so many ways. In total, there are 63 National Parks, but 423 "National Park Sites" in the United States. On my travels, I've come across adventurers chipping away at the goal of visiting them all.
What a life eh? I can tell you from experience that there's so much to learn from each and every park. So many programs, guides, maps, locations, trails, routes, rules, permits and so on. I've been able to see the mistakes that most people make, and wanted to take some time to share them so you can avoid these pitfalls.
Your journey should begin with visiting the National Park Website, www.nps.gov. Here you'll find an almost overwhelming amount of information on each park. Be sure to check the calendars and events section, along with admission fees and restrictions. The next thing to do is download the App recreation.gov on your smart phone. Here you'll be able to make reservations for shuttle tickets, accommodations and much more.
After taking some time to explore these areas the best thing to do is get on a guided tour of some kind. These fill up way in advance, so the sooner you plan the better. Apps are great, but nothing compares to the experience of a professional guide. You'll be able to absorb so much more than trying to figure it out yourself. Yes, you're clever and savvy, but trust me, this is the best way to go. Get a private tour if a group setting isn't your thing. These are popular now and commonplace to offer.
Not a morning person? You really need to adjust. There's plenty of reasons the morning time is best in the National Parks. First and foremost, there are way less people meandering about. This alone should be motivation. There are other advantages though such as the animals. They mostly frolic at dusk and dawn. You'll have a much better chance seeing these great creatures at sunrise and sunset before they go into hiding. Speaking of sunrise and sunset, photography plays a significant role here. If you want good photos, these are the best times. Midday, you'll be fighting with glare, and potentially a washed out look with the sun coming from above. Colors abound in the morning and evening.
Local operators know these things, and they'll take you to the best places. Locals know the park, both inside and OUT. If you think all the magic happens in the park, you'd be mistaken. Thousands of miles of canyons, trails and overlooks exist outside the park system and can be made accessible, if you have the means, knowledge and permits!
I hope this provides a little insight into visiting the parks, and should you want the best adventures there are to offer, just CLICK HERE to fill out the form for a private organized tour for you, your friends, family or whomever you enjoy traveling with!
I was sitting across the table from a friend just the other day when I realized how much I missed personal conversations. I find it so therapeutic to talk about matters of substance. We were just finishing setting up for the backdrop of a new travel video for Project Pride and she made me some coffee. We sat down and just talked. We asked how each other were, what we've experienced since the last time we saw one another, and enjoyed our time together. Part of what we talked about (or I did) is how interesting it's been to observe so many people across this country, from one end to the other. How diverse we are from 1 mile to the next. I mentioned how different it was to be outside the country looking in.
A ton of perspective has been gained this year. I can't express how huge that is for me. It had been a month since we talked, and I really appreciated both her company and the delicious cup of coffee she prepared. Somewhere in between that coffee and my friend existed something of great value. It's called connection. When it's removed we become different people. We behave differently and we adapt to isolation. That may be good to prevent transmission of a virus but it's insidious to our mental health. What would the year have looked like if we could talk, touch, love, hug, kiss and play together. I guess we'll never know. I just know how much I love and miss it.
That's also why I love my job. It does all those things. I can remember standing outside a ship of thousands of people with a "Free Hugs" sign and gave everyone a hug who wanted it. CAN YOU IMAGINE? Would you give me a hug? Maybe soon, and I'll take one from ya!
Listen my friend, I love what I do because I love travel. I'm really not sure when or if I'll ever settle down. One day I might be writing from South America and the next from Glacier National Park. That doesn't sound so bad to me! Travel has an enormous power to heal and grow. It's way more than a "sector" of the economy, it's something we've done since we could walk. It's inherent to our nature. This as well as curiosity, connections, the desire to learn, explore and so much more. I can't wait until it's the right time for YOU to travel.
For those of you wanting to get out and explore, I have something for you. A new departure. It's the MIGHTY FIVE on April 12, 2021. Five of the most magical parks I've ever explored. Check it out and give it some consideration.
It's been a long time coming. We aren't out of the woods yet, but I've managed to navigate the pandemic pretty well. Last year was devastating for the travel industry, but for those of us able to maneuver, grow, and survive we've come out better than ever. For me personally, my life has changed completely and for the better. I've been able to establish solid connections and learn about so many places I've never been before. Some of the highlights are Ecuador, Costa Rica, and the American West. During this time I've offered some extraordinary rates to destinations and have been fortunate to have loyal guests join me. On February 11, we head to Costa Rica with a great crew!
What I've been witnessing in the meantime is a trend in the right direction. 1 out of 10 travelers have made their reservations already for 2021, and the rest are on the fence figuring out when the best time will be to book. I have to say, the better question is not when to book, but when to travel. So many out there are looking to the summer and fall. I've been busy updating the website for more departures to Havana, new departures for Xpedition: Ecuador in September, and preparing for ROMANIA in August. There's a lot of interest, and I hope you're one of them. I do currently have one trip in the oven, and thats Iceland. This will likely be in October so we can enjoy the Northern Lights. I'm looking into making two trips out of it. One for the adventurer which may be on motorcycle, and the other will explore the outer edge in comfort.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, I'm giving you a heads up that the prices offered in the past are returning to normal. Low pricing was fun, and it helped a lot of people travel at a great rate. It's time now to return to a point of financial predictability and profit. Through this weekend, I'll be honoring existing rates. After Sunday, January 31st, tours will rise between 20-40%. This won't just help my bottom line, but also the vendors who have worked so hard to stay in business over the last year. If you'd like to make a reservation and maintain current pricing, all you have to do is add the promo code of GOODTIMES at the end of the booking online, and you're all set.
Happy Travels and see you on the trail!