Friday, October 31, 2014
This morning as we were preparing to depart Blackwater River State Park it began to lightly rain. For the most part we were ready to roll. Once the rain stopped we finished what we needed to do to get on the road.
Then not long after we got on the interstate it began to rain again. This time a bit harder. Just enough to get some of the dirt, grime and bugs off both the truck and Airstream that we had recently acquired.
There was so much hard work on our part both in planning, preparing and during this trip. Others helped as well and we know that we could not have taken this adventure without their help. My mom and step-dad, Phyllis and John. Who got our mountain of mail, checked the interior of our home and ensured us that Fishy got fed and lived. Also Jim and Jan, Brent and Bailey, our neighbors and their grandchildren. They also kept an eye on our house and mowed our lawn. The Oakland Police Department who did daily checks on our house. Without their help in taking care of our home front in our absence we could not and would not have been able to comfortably leave our home for this period of time.
Finally after a very long journey we safely returned home. I have to say it was an amazing adventure. Even with me, as the Travel Coordinator, and I kind of knew what we were getting into, this trip blew my mind. Looking back it's hard to believe we did what we did.
Of course we saw and experienced so many things but there was so much more that we had to pass up because there just wasn't enough time in the day. Places like Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Antelope Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Plus there were so many other places to see and hikes to take just in the places that we did visit that we could have stayed gone another month and still not have accomplished it all.
Tim and I hope that we have inspired others to get out and explore. Your adventure doesn't need to be through dozens of states. If not in your own state at least visit a place you have been meaning to go to in your own community. You might just be surprised by what's in your own back yard. Take the time to spend with your family it will be memories that will last forever. I know Tim and I have many more memories from this trip that will last us a lifetime.
The Airstream is nicely parked in it's space next to the house now. It was nice to find a couple of orchids in bloom on our arrival home. Fishy was glad to see us. And now the hard work of unloading, unpacking and cleaning begins. If you want to play hard you have to work hard.
ELEVATION IN OAKLAND, FL: 95'
TEMPERATURE IN OAKLAND, FL: 84*
Total Truck Miles Driven: 6,889
Total Airstream Miles Towed: 5,879
Gallons of Diesel Consumed: 573.326
Cost of Diesel Fuel: $2,103.93
Propane Used: 60 lbs.
States Visited: 12
Times on Rt. 66: 5
Days Gone: 48
Number of Places Stayed: 21
National Parks Visited: 8
State Parks Visited: 5
Tim's Shoe Status: Blew out one pair of flip flops in Zion, Utah
Alice's Shoe Status: I wore all the shoes taken. Returned with same number I left with (10) but may need to throw out two of those due to wear.
Boars Head Lunch Meat Consumed: 5 lbs.
Peanut Butter Consumed: 3 Jars
Jelly: 1 Jar
Fruit Rollups: An undisclosed number consumed
Cookie Butter: 1 Jar
Trailer Mix Consumed: 3 Batches
(Note: I created my own recipe for trail mix - peanuts, golden raisins and dark chocolate Mand Ms - to save on buying trail mix. Since we would be hiking so much we needed a massive quantity of it. However we realized we never ate it on the trail, only in the Airstream. So Tim named it TRAILER MIX!)
Tim's Beard: Longest period of time grown (50 Days)
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
What began as a lazy day, ended as a lazy day. Tim and I decided to stay another night at Blackwater River. This would give us one day of rest after four long days of driving and one last day prior to arriving back home.
Without having our kayaks we chose to take a few hikes today. This park come to find out is very small. However it has so much to offer. Blackwater River is the only pristine sand river left in the US and is considered the purest white sand bottom river in the world. On our first hike we left walking from our campsite. The trail took us along a narrow boardwalk through a swamp area and then ending on a snow white beach on the river. So glad I wore my flip flops! Now we know that we have to come back with the kayaks for a few days of paddling.
In the afternoon today we decided to hop in the truck to explore the other side of the park and possibly take another hike. During our check in yesterday they had no park maps to give us so we weren't sure where the trails were. Once we headed out of our campground loop we took a hard right toward the back of the park. Just as soon as we turned the road ended in the day use parking lot. Uhhh ... OK ... Guess we could have walked here.
Just over eight miles of the Florida Trail runs through the surrounding forest here. Since we are FTA members we were curious to check out this section of the trail. But without a map, spotty cell service and once we were distracted by the day use area we never found it. The large pines, magnolias and river cedars is something everyone should see. There is also one of the largest and oldest white cedar trees here in the park.
Anyway the day use area was a nice surprise. It consists of a massive boardwalk maze in the swamp leading to the river. Scattered throughout the boardwalk are large pavilions and bathrooms all on raised walkways leading in different directions. One walkway lead to yet another beautiful beach on the Blackwater River.
After our quick drive back to base camp we spent the rest of our lazy day just hanging out having great conversation and enjoying our transition day before we arrive back home. The weather held out and we were able to enjoy one last campfire as well.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Our sunrise was beautiful here this morning on the river as well. Today was the day of many states. It didn't take us long to finish getting through Arkansas. Then came Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and finally landing in the Florida Panhandle for the evening. Back to the heat, humidity and land of bugs!
Along our journey today and once we crossed the Mississippi River the scenery definitely changed. No more fields of cotton, beans, corn and squash. Now there is green grass, big trees, lakes, beaches and finally we got to see the ocean.
Base camp for this evening is Blackwater River State Park. Without a reservation we were lucky to find availability here. The area is totally a true backwoods Florida! Our campsite is nice, good size and has full hook-ups. Hopefully we will have a little time to explore Blackwater tomorrow.
MILES DRIVEN: 516
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Sunrise this morning was spectacular from our campsite in El Dorado. If I had brought my Ruby Slippers maybe we could have gotten out of Kansas a little sooner. Somehow we bypassed Oklahoma and skirted over to Joplin, MO. It's been over three years since they had been hit by a massive tornado. I'm sure there is still some recovery in the works. Most of the damage occurred south of town. On the route we took through town it's looking good.
Today's scenery was beautiful. Western Arkansas is mountainous and gorgeous and the leaves are still changing. We drove back roads taking the scenic route over the Boston Mountain Range and through the Ozark National Forest. The drive very scenic!
Tonight's base camp brings us to Tar Camp Park. It's located on the Arkansas River and is a US Army Corps of Engineers facility in the Little Rock District. It was a nice little surprise to find such a fantastic park just over five miles off the interstate. Each campsite (w/water and electric) has it's own covered pavilion with a picnic table and fire ring. Being right on the river we have a great view of all the activities here in the park. Yet another hidden gem we have found!
(AC is on!)
MILES DRIVEN: 523
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Honey . . . we are STILL in Kansas. Now really someone should fix this. Seriously.
The drive from Limon, Colorado to El Dorado, Kansas was ... ummm . . . interesting. It was so long and took forever. The land was flat and dusty. We saw lots of farm land, oil rigs, wind turbines and grain silos. And more farm land, oil rigs, wind turbines and grain silos.
Our only fun point of the day was eating at McDonalds. This was our first fast food stop of this trip and the first time visiting McDonalds in years.
Our next little detour took us through Marion, KS. The airstreamguy.com resides here. Since we were so close we had to do a drive by.
Finally we landed at El Dorado State Park in Kansas. You would think that with over 1,000 campsites and maybe only being at a 10% capacity it would be easy to find a campsite. Nope.
The signage is inadequate. Roads that are on their maps don't exist. And there is much difficulty figuring out which sites have what amenities and which campground section is where in the park. Then when you find a site you have to drive miles back out to the pay station to secure your chosen site.
Once settled in our gorgeous lake front site we were exhausted but happy. The sunset was beautiful and we actually had time to enjoy a campfire.
(91* coming through Kansas)
MILES DRIVEN: 463
Friday, October 24, 2014
Tim and I woke with heavy hearts today knowing it was our day to begin heading east and eventually south toward home. We are almost 2,200 miles from home. However once we do get back home we have many exciting things to look forward to so that helps. Plus we are both looking forward to long, hot showers with out a worry of water consumption or how full the holding tank is.
The day was long, boring for the most part. Driving almost five hundred miles can wear you thin while towing - tunnels, steep grades, construction and detours.
The western half of Colorado is spectacular. Our path east on I-70 took us into Colorado through Grand Junction, Vail, Breckenridge, Silverthorne and on past Denver. Ski country for sure. We crossed many spectacular elevations today with steep grades - Vail Pass at 10,666' and Baker Loveland Pass at 11,990'. While making these passes we could view a few higher peak elevations like Mt. Elbert (highest point in Colorado) at 14,433' and Mt. Evans at 14,264' in the distance.
Once we found space to pull over for lunch we realized that this was the best spot ever! The view was breathtaking!!! And the SNOW was a bit unexpected.
There was a little trail there called Wilder Gulch #75. Off in the distance, not to far, snow! Since we live on the wild side . . . we went for it! We're from Florida and don't get to see snow often. Off we went on a hike, crossing a little creek to go play in the snow. Kids!
Eastern Colorado is very flat. The evening landed us in Limon, Colorado. Lots of farmland. Not much here. Image not available.
(But was 81* in Denver ... Uggh)
MILES DRIVEN: 443
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Guess what we saw today? More rocks AND more arches! Yes, it was another great day on our Epic Airstream Adventure. These arches are constantly changing, new ones are being formed while old ones are being destroyed. Erosion and weathering work slowly but constantly on the landscape.
Tim and I decided to start at the farthest point in the park first then work our way back out. The first stop on our itinerary was at The Devils Garden Trailhead. This is the longest maintained trail in the park at 7.2 miles round trip. It leads to eight awe-inspiring arches.
With a time crunch today we only had the time to view four here . . . Landscape Arch, Partition Arch, Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch. This kept us at about a 2.5 mile roundtrip hike at this location. Landscape Arch might be the world's longest at 306 feet base to base.
Since we were near the campground at Arches we had to take a spin in there to check it out. Tim and I decided to have our lunch while there and we were able to see Skyline Arch and Sand Dune Arch.
Now that it was time to turn it around and head back out we made one more stop to check out Wolf Ranch, Rock Art Panel and the Delicate Arch.
Wolf Ranch was settled by the first non-Indian explorers here. One of their cabins still stands today.
The Rock Panel is evidence of the Ute peoples existence here. This rock art depicts a hunting scene and is very close to Wolf Ranch.
Next we visited one of the viewpoints for Delicate Arch. The main hiking trail to get there is three miles and takes three hours. By the time we got there we only had time to go to the viewpoint. This arch is a must see because it is the world's most famous arch.
Our final 'named' arch count was seven today. However we could see many others in the distance as we traveled through the park. Since we were not sure of the names we won't count them. Guess that means we will have about 1,989 arches to view on our next visit here!