One of my fondest travel memories to date is going to visit the mountain gorillas. I was fortunate enough to see them in both Uganda and Rwanda. While I understand the controversies surrounding animal tourism, and the risks of habituating these animals (for example, disease), I strongly believe that there are important benefits. In particular, the ability to monitor their health, their populations, their family dynamics, and other characteristics makes habituation incredibly important. 
I want to be a silverback one day!

My United loyalty started when I lived in Wyoming, with a teensy airport that had commuter flights that partnered with United. Back in the day, it was much more difficult to book flights on unconnected airlines, so we ended up flying United.

I stuck with United, more or less, across the years as they consistently had service where I needed to go. Including Wyoming. But as I traveled to Wyoming less and less, I realized my loyalty was habit rather than function. Plus, I'm still feeling the nostalgia for the amazing McDonald's happy meals, complete with awesome airline-themed toys, they used to serve. Those were the days.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the US Air and American merger. Living in DC, and flying frequently out of DCA, we almost always were on US Air, so it's switch from Star Alliance to OneWorld made me really reconsider our Star Alliance loyalty. 

I'm getting in my travel wrap-up post before the deluge of such things around the first of the year...and the theme of this year's wrap up? No major travel trouble! 

DH seems to be a good luck charm, as I've had my share of horrible travel experiences. My favorites include the following: taking 3 days to fly across the United States, being bumped from a flight that was "overweight" while a very, very, very large man who started screaming and threatening the gate agent was put on in front of me, having crap stolen with an intact TSA lock....I could go on but you get the idea.

Soooooooooo I'm a big proponent of flying whenever possible. DCA makes it so easy to get in and get out and not spend hours at the airport. But we drove to upstate New York for Thanksgiving.

Two words: the dog.

Happy Thanksgiving! In the spirit of delicious food....

If someone was asked to describe me, I can most definitely bet they would not say I was "cheery" and "optimistic". Nope, I'm pleasant, but definitely more realistic and a bit grumpy.  Why should you care? Well, I feel like being a storm cloud of rain today, so here is my week in travel blahs.

After traveling quite a bit the past month, and getting sick quite a bit in the past month, I'm ready for Christmas carols and cookies and lights. Those things make me happy. 

If we thought Paro was a bit warm, Punakha was crazy hot and humid, but the valley was gorgeous. We arrived in Punakha after a fun drive from Thimpu, in which I was thanking my motion-sickness patch every hairpin turn along the way.

The COMO Punakha property is stunning, it's new, quaint, and with an absolutely beautiful view. They have a deck that is just incredible, overlooking the valley and perfect for an early breakfast or sundowner.

We spent 2 nights in Punakha. Our first stop was at Chimi Lhakhang, otherwise known as the Temple of the Divine Madman. Catchy, right?

Wow. WOW. So this a totally new concept to me, and I'd be interested to hear from other travelers if they were aware this existed.

Perhaps I'm sort of shell-shocked because this concept most definitely wouldn't be so palatable in the United States. Cough (major understatement). I really haven't made up my mind about how I feel about social tourism. It's honestly sort of a bizarre concept. If nothing else, this really highlights some of the fundamental differences that exist between the United States and Europe in terms of social welfare.

One of the most enjoyable things we did in Bhutan was play archery and darts with our guide (and we got our driver to join in on day 2!). We had such a fantastic time enjoying these 'quintessential' Bhutanese sports.

-Me hitting my arm with the string on the bow and the resulting 6 inch bruise. 
-Actually being better than DH at archery. 
-Husband actually being awesome at darts.
-Husband laughing at my 6 inch bruise and immediately doing the same thing the next day.

One of the things I've grown a bit accustomed to over the years is airport lounge access. This all started with my mom, who as a Star Alliance Gold member has access to a lounge in most international airports.  When you get off a 14 hour flight, I really find it relaxing to go sit in a lounge, with wifi and a free beer (though for good ol' motion sick me, it's often ginger ale instead). So when DH and I were heading to Bhutan and Thailand, I made sure we would have lounge access along the way.   I'm really not a lounge snob (I know you are out there) and appreciate whatever is available, particularly internationally. More than anything, I like that lounge bathrooms are typically cleaner than those in the general areas. And the chairs are comfier. And I don't have to pay $8 for some water (I'm looking at you Charles de Gaulle).