A Loose Plan for the Summer

After the mildest Spring in recent memory here in Central Texas, Summer has arrived in oppressive yet familiar fashion over the past couple of weeks. I can attest to that first hand as I’ve spent most afternoons and weekends for the past month on the softball field coaching my daughter’s All Star Team. With the temps rising, thoughts of cool vacations also increase.

Due to the uncertainty of not knowing exactly when softball season will end, coupled with my son’s first summer job as a lifeguard for the City of Austin, we have not scheduled any travel or vacations as of yet. That’s not to say that we aren’t going anywhere, it’s just going to be a little more impulsive than our normal meticulously planned sojourns.

This may not seem to be much of a topic for an investing blog, except to illustrate that a “plan” doesn’t have to be inflexible or so detailed that the journey is no fun. In our case, we have written down a few ideas of things we may like to do, but none are on the calendar or part of a larger agenda. If we can grab a day or two or six along the way, we plan to take advantage of any deals or incentives that come along to scratch some of these off of our Texas Bucket List.

Stating an objective is perhaps the most important part of any plan, whether it’s summer travel or some financial outcome.  Just as we seldom get in the car just to drive (at least in the Austin gridlock also known as the failed strategy of “Don’t build it and they won’t come”), having an objective can have many benefits. By being flexible and having several goals, you may even save a few bucks waiting for last minute deals as they come available.

This approach can also help you handle unexpected windfalls. If you get an unexpected raise at work, a big tax refund, or a nice birthday check from Grandma, it can be tempting to blow it on booze and cigarettes, but just giving some forethought to what you’d like to accomplish in life can make it easier to take full advantage when the unexpected arises.

There is also the benefit of reducing the chance of missing an opportunity that you will regret later in life, such as the time I passed on driving to Houston with some college buddies to see The Highwaymen at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. No tickets, no money, and only about a half tank of gas persuaded me to stay home, but those that went wound up getting in for free and seeing Willie, Waylon, and the boys (Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson).

So here is my list of travel objectives for the summer, maybe it will inspire you to make one too. Travel, personal, financial, whatever…

Blue Hole, Wimberley, TX. – Blue Hole is a natural swimming hole located on Cypress Creek that is surrounded by large cypress trees. The water is clear and cold and there are chain swings to keep the more adventurous ones busy. Word is you have to get there early to beat the crowds on weekends, so this will probably be a midweek day trip.

Photo by  robert thigpen

Marfa’s Mystery Lights, Marfa, TX – The lights appear in the southwestern night sky between Marfa and Paisano Pass when the weather is clear. The first reports of the lights reportedly were in 1883 and they have been drawing crowds ever since. If lights aren't your thing, there is also quite an art scene and a disproportional number of good restaurants for a town this size.  

Photo by  steve baxter

Photo by steve baxter

Colorado Bend State Park, Bend, TX – Colorado Bend State Park is on the Colorado River above Lake Buchanan and west of Lampasas. It boasts over 5000 acres of hiking, camping, mountain biking, as well as fishing, swimming, and kayaking. Caves and waterfalls are the highlights with Gorman Falls being the star of show.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon, TX – The “Grand Canyon of Texas” is the second largest canyon in the US. Highlights include hiking, biking, and horse trails as well as camping and the outdoor musical drama, TEXAS.

Photo by  Steve Rainwater

Rockport, TXRockport Beach is known as the only “Blue Wave Beach” in Texas. Beach activities, golf, and bird watching are also huge draws to this charming coastal community. But it’s the world class fishing for trout and redfish that has me excited about heading to the bays.

Photo by  Vincent Lock

Photo by Vincent Lock

Since all of the destinations on my list are within a few hours drive of Austin, we will probably forgo the interstates and take the scenic routes, stopping along the way at whatever looks interesting.

Now that’s a plan.