Thursday, February 27, 2014

Southwest Culture Roadtrip

"So what are you doing out here? Are you trying to learn something or do you have a plan?"  That was the question a camping neighbor asked me while I stopped to have a chat.  I had been on the road for a little over a week and met this fellow in Rocky Mountain National Park.  He had been on the road for 12 weeks and was touring great places to mountain bike so he could strengthen his knee, while recovering from knee reconstruction surgery.  I pondered his question and just told him I was out doing a loop through the west seeing some sights that I had always wanted to see.

But this was a question that lingered with me.  This fellow had a plan and very focused purpose to his travel.  I was just out for a 6 week roadtrip visiting some places on the map and seeing sites that I always wanted to experience.  Other than site seeing and focusing on taking good pictures, I had no other purpose to my travel.

As I planned my upcoming winter/spring roadtrip, I came back and pondered the same question.  What was the purpose of this trip?  What am I trying to learn or accomplish?  Site seeing and traveling are great reasons, but I thought I could enrich the trip experience if I had a more meaningful purpose?

As I looked at the areas I was planning to visit, I realized I was going thru some areas that had rich cultural backgrounds; The Cajun country of southwest Louisiana, Spanish influenced areas of southwest Texas and southeastern Arizona, the Native American cultures of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.  I decided that instead of just sightseeing, I would plan the trip around experiencing and seeing the different cultures of the southwest.  I didn't want to just see great sites, but also experience the sites, sounds, people, histories, and tastes of different cultures. Once I settled on this, it really helped me me plan and focus the route and itinerary of this trip.

View South West RV Trip 2014 - Part 1 in a larger map

I'll be starting this journey from Florida, where I'm spending part of the winter.  Starting in early March, I'll pack up the RV and travel to Louisiana to spend a few days in the Cajun country experiencing the food and music of the French and Creoles who settled on the west bank of the Mississippi.  Then to southwest Texas to follow a little bit of the Camino Real de los Tejas, the historical trail the Spanish used in the 1600's.  Continuing with the Spanish culture, I'll visit the missions of San Antonio, the missions of El Paso, Las Cruces, and missions in Tuscon.  Once in Arizona I'll visit the Native America areas of the Apache, Navajo, and Hopi.  Heading back east into New Mexico will be a visit to the Zuni pueblo and other historic Native American sites. Crossing into the Texas panhandle I'll see the Llano Estacado, land the Comanches ruled for hundreds of years.  We'll visit Ft. Sill on Oklahoma to see the Native America Cemeteries and then make our way home.

Here's a partial list of some the places I plan to visit;

 - Prairie Acadian Cultural Center and Liberty Theater - Eunice, LA
 - San Antonio Missions
 - LBJ National Historic Park and LBJ Library - Austin, TX
 - Big Bend National Park
 - El Paso Mission Trail
 - Mesilla - Las Cruces, NM
 - White Sands National Monument
 - Chiricahua National Monument and Fort Bowie
 - Mission San Xavier del Bac - Tuscon, AZ
 - Saguaro National Park
 - Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
 - Casa Grande National Monument
 - Grand Canyon National Park
 - Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
 - Canyon Del Chelly National Park
 - Navajo Nation Museum - Window Rock, AZ
 - Zuni Pueblo
 - Chaco Culture National Historic Park
 - Indian Pueblo Cultural Center - Albuquerque, NM
 - Palo Duro Canyon
 - Ft. Sill, Lawson, OK

Its about 6,500 miles of traveling and should take about seven weeks to do this trip.  I'll post updates in the blog as we progress.  I'm looking forward to seeing the southwest again.


  1. Watch for spring breakers at Big Bend. We loved Saguaro NP, Arizona Sonora museum, Grand Canyon, Canyon Del Chelly NP. Monument Valley has undergone a transformation the last 25 years or so. It's called people and over development. Moab is no longer the small quaint southwest town. It's turned into a crowded tourist trap. White Sands NM is pretty neat too. have fun and enjoy that new 24V

    1. Thanks for your comments. The camp gound is full at Rio Grande Village in Big Bend NP, so I'm sure we'll have lot of neighbors. Not a problem as we like being around happy people. We were in Moab about 15 yrs ago and I've heard its grown some. That's on the itinerary for the Juneless Jim trip (my name for that month). Thanks again.

  2. Looking at your route, I would skip Quartzsite as I think most of the events are over, head North from Phoenix and stop at Montezumas Castle, Tuzigoot & enjoy the scenic route from Sedona to Flagstaff. I think you could do it in your rig, I did it in a crappy rental 23' C :-) Do the south rim, then head west to Vegas. From there take Northshore Rd along Lake Mead (some nice boondocking spots along there), stop in Valley of Fire, then up into Utah for stops at Zion & maybe Bryce. Then down to Page & the slot canyons. You can do the North Rim along that drive also. Then from Page down to Monument Valley. Just some ideas for you.

    1. Thanks for your input. I'm using the weather to somewhat guide our route. Flagstaff might be a little too cold in March and the North Rim doesn't open until mid-May. I'm coming back in early June to hit the North Rim, Bryce, and southwest Colorado. Thanks again.