2021 Romantic GetawaysI’m sitting here scanning my 2021 kitten calendar for upcoming events. January is wide open, but we have a week planned in February for a romantic getaway to New Orleans (and Hattiesburg and Tupelo). The impetus for this trip is the Southern Traveler Conference in Tupelo / Hattiesburg. We figured since I had President’s Day off, we’d add on the Big Easy. Two years ago, partiers circled this weekend because Mardi Gras fell on Valentine’s Day, or at least Valentines Day / President’s Day Weekend. New Orleans canceled the festivities due to social distancing, so at least we should be able to get a hotel room. For March, we’re going to Beaumont, Texas, to paddle estuaries and eat way too much food. The next ‘romantic travel’ is a tentative week in May for the North American Travel Journalist Association conference in Puerto Rico. However, it wouldn’t surprise us at all if the island isn’t ready to host a big event mid pandemic. That’s all the romantic getaways we have scheduled, but we’re tentatively working on a date to come back to Franklin for a full-on romantic weekend. Maybe we should do that in January for a Valentine’s Day publication. We’re also hoping for an all-inclusive stay in the Bahamas and a trip to Mazatlan, but there are lots of moving parts with those trips, so we shall see.
2021 Dive TripsSo far, we have two big dive trips in the works for 2021. We’re looking to schedule a live-aboard in the Bahamas that we’ll pair with the all-inclusive resort trip. We also have a massive Florida dive trip in April that will generate an unbelievable amount of interlocking content. We have cities and dates picked out that correspond to the tides and lunar cycles, but we haven’t sent out any pitch letters. We’re also pretty certain that we’ll get Gulf Shores to actually happen this year, but we’ll just have to work the details. As far as tentative dive trips, we’re hoping to dive the Bonne Terre mines in Missouri and make it out to North Carolina over the summer. There’s also a standing desire to take the Zombie Apocalypse Survival specialty class that’s usually offered around Halloween. I am just a couple of specialty courses away from becoming a Master Scuba Diver. I think it would be awesome to earn that certification with the Zombie Survival specialty and/or mine diving.
2021 Bike Plans
There are two bike pieces that we’re working on right now – a review of my new Trek Top Fuel 8 mountain bike and a corresponding Huntsville mountain biking guide. We also have a plan to generate a lot of biking content around our Mississippi trip in February. Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain. Weatherspark says, “Rain falls throughout the year in Hattiesburg. The most rain falls during the 31 days centered around February 15, with an average total accumulation of 5.5 inches.” But on the bright side, this is still during the ‘dry season’ with only a 30% chance of rain. When it rains it pours, I guess. We’ve also already paid for a photo trip for Jenn in Tennessee to photograph baby bears, so I’ll be shredding in Cherokee that day.
Our tentative bike plans include biking Gulf Shores and the Eastern Shore Trail in Fairhope, AL. I am also hoping to compete in the Cheaha Challenge, the toughest race in the south, with over 9000′ of climbing on the century route. We’re always up to check out a new bike trail, so I could imagine a couple more weekend bike getaways sneaking in here, like a bike getaway to Thomasville, Georgia.
Exploring Alabama in 2021
Our primary goal for Alabama travel in 2021 would be to complete our tour of Alabama’s 20 natural wonders. We have the White Cliffs of Epes on the books as a photo-op on the way to New Orleans in February, and we’ve talked about making it to the Gulf Coast a couple of times in the piece already. The rest we’ll piece in on open weekends. We have a plan to write the North Alabama Cave Tour, which will hit a couple of natural wonders and be a fun, local road trip.
The cities we really want to visit in 2021 are Birmingham, Muscle Shoals, and Phoenix City. There will be biking and eating in all of these places, but there will also be white water rafting in Phoenix City. We’re also hoping for a dedicated photo shoot for the Dismalite glow worms during their spring peak and to book a cabin or two in state parks.