Category Archives: travel

Free Passes for School Kids

If you’ve got a 4th grader this year you can get an Every Kid Outdoors national parks pass that provides free admission for 4th Graders and their families to every national park (and monument and historic site and seashore, etc) in the US through Aug 31, 2023. Details are here:

And if you have a Colorado school kid between grades K – 5 you can get an Epic Pass for 4 free days at 5 Colorado Ski Resorts (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Crested Butte). Details are here:

And there is yet another free pass for Colorado 4th Graders to history museums. The History Buff Pass: This pass includes the History Colorado museum and the Georgetown Loop Railroad.

Since we have a 4th grader this year we’re of course going to take advantage 🙂

Travel Credit Cards

Yesterday at dinner I paid with my Chase Sapphire. I jokingly, but honestly, said “We’re buying our vacation with this dinner”. The waitress laughed and said she had the same card and she “Uses it for everything”. She even found a way to use it to pay their mortgage. We then spent the next several minutes talking about great it was and where we are going and how we are using the points.

When we went to Costa Rica recently we didn’t have to pay for either our flights or our hotels. The prior year we paid for only one set of our flights to Orlando, FL instead of two. When we went on a spring break trip to Las Vegas and California, we paid for only one of three hotels. All of this from using the points from the Chase Sapphire and Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer cards.

We use the Sapphire and the United Explorer card for literally every monthly utility bill we have and every grocery store trip, coffee shop stop, gas station fill-up, etc. I do a lot of home improvement work which adds up to thousands of dollars of expense, which goes straight to the cards. When we do travel, we get double and triple the points so one journey pays for the next. As long as you login everyday to keep your balance at zero, it’s no different than using your debit card, only you earn all those points.

I have recommended these cards many times to friends and family and I’m going to recommend them here. I have had some dud cards like a Disney card that was worth only $200 after 6 years years of spending that I would never recommend. These cards on the other hand deliver big savings as you earn points.

If I were to recommend which one to get first if you have neither, it would be the Chase Sapphire. The points can be transferred to frequent flier programs like United, Southwest, etc. You can exchange the points for money (often a better deal for some places you can book separately), and the points multiple fast for things like dining, internet TV subscriptions, etc.

The United Explorer card gets you two free passes per year to the United lounges (something I wouldn’t normally pay for), 2 free checked bags, priority boarding, and special flight discounts only available to card holders.

I’m posting refer a friend links here to get the cards. If you sign-up please use these links so that I get my 15,000 free bonus points (since I did refer you). You’ll then qualify after $3000 in 3 months for 60,000 points, You can then refer your significant other, get another 15,000 points for yourself, and they’ll get another 60,000 points after 3 months.

Traveling is expensive and with inflation it’s even more so. So get the right cards and take a big chunk of the cost out by spending on the things you would buy anyway.

Now you can earn 60,000 bonus points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card. If you apply and get approved, we can both earn rewards:

Choose any United MileagePlus credit card that is right for you. I can be rewarded too if you apply here and are approved for the card. Learn more.

Dinosaur NM and Steamboat Lake SP

We took a weekend camping trip to northwestern Colorado and a little bit of Utah. We made our first trip to Dinosaur National Monument and saw the Dinosaur Quarry and hiked the Fossil Discovery Trail in 97 degree heat. We also visited the Natural History Museum in Vernal, UT.

The following day we went to Steamboat Lake (a favorite place of ours in CO) to do some canoeing.
We camped at the KOA in Steamboat Springs which was ok, but more crowded and not as scenic as the Steamboat Lake campground. We camped there last year and loved it.

We saw a bald eagle, golden eagle and a beaver but couldn’t get photos because we were on the road and couldn’t pull over in time. The golden eagle was especially cool. I had never seen one and it was huge.

The Central Coast via Highway 1

The Central Coast via Highway 1

I lived three years on the Central Coast of California in the early 2000s and, along with subsequent visits as a family, we’ve gotten to know the area pretty well. The Central Coast is a laid-back sanctuary about halfway between the LA and Bay Area metro areas and a world apart from the traffic gridlock of those metropolises. Read on…

Wildlife of Alaska

Wildlife of Alaska

No state can compare with Alaska for wildlife. In this huge state where wilderness still reigns supreme, the challenge is more about traversing the wild interior than it is about finding nature. The other challenge is that while a plethora of wildlife might be visible, it is often at a GREAT distance. The more powerful the zoom lens, the better. View the gallery…