Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Return to Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon
It's one of the prettiest places to camp that I've experienced.  The red rock scenery is mesmerizing.  Not as good as Sedona, but pretty damn good.  Its remote, quiet, and uncluttered.  There's no stores, no restaurants, no traffic, no wifi, no TV service, and cell service is almost no existent.  But, there's plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails.  Its a great place to unwind, disconnect, and just enjoy nature.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Caverns to Canyons

Our base while visiting Carlsbad Caverns was the Carlsbad KOA. Like many KOA’s, this is a very nice place to stay.  The sites are large, level and spread out.  This KOA even does BBQ dinners and pizza 7 days a week.  You place your order at the office or can call it in and they will deliver it to your site.  It’s a little pricey but super convenient.  This is probably the nicest place to stay near Carlsbad, but "near" is a misnomer.  The campground is 15 miles north of Carlsbad.  The National Park is 19 miles south of Carlsbad, so from the KOA to the National Park is almost a 70 mile round trip.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Carlsbad Caverns - My Journey Down a Big Deep Dark Hole

Carlsbad Caverns
I'm not much of a cave man.  Going underground into a dark hole where I might be not able to get out doesn't really appeal to me.  I'm more of a mountain or beach type of guy.  My wife on the other hand, loves to explore caves and unusual places.  So while we were leaving west Texas heading into New Mexico, we visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  And yours truly, J. Dawg, did go subterranean. Did it for you, Sweet Pea!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park
Chisos Mountains Big Bend National Park
This is our second visit to Big Bend.  We visited last year for a few days, but only scratched the surface of this huge National Park.  It begged for a return visit.  So, this time I planned a five day stay during our southwest road trip.

Big Bend is one of the most remote and most diverse places in the US.  From Marathon, which is in the middle of nowhere, its about 70 miles of driving through the desert to get to the park headquarters.  And once you're in the park its at least a another 20 mile drive to get to anywhere.  It's got deserts, river valleys, canyons, and high mountains.  Its loaded with wild life and wild flowers.  Its all these things that makes it a beautiful place and one of my favorite National Parks to visit.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Return to Boquillas Del Carmen Mexico

Boquillas Del Carmen
Boquillas Crossing
We're camped (more like parked) about 500 ft from the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park.  Mexico dominates the view from my windshield.  Today we drove about a mile down the road, parked, and crossed the river to the little village of Boquillas Del Carmen.  We did this last year when were here and really enjoyed the visit.  You can read my blog post about that trip here - Boquillas Del Carmen.  Its a fun day trip to take while in Big Bend.

Friday, March 13, 2015

An RV Stop West of the Pecos - Marathon Texas

Marathon Texas
Just a little ole place in the middle nowhere.  That about sums up Marathon, population 430.  It was established in 1885 as a stop on the San Antonio to El Paso railroad.  The train still goes thru about 4-5 times per day, but it doesn't stop in Marathon anymore.  Now its a stop over point for tourists on their way to Big Bend National Park.  It sits about 60 miles south of Fort Stockton and about 60 miles north of the park entrance.  All that's here is a motel, small RV park, hotel, bar, grocery, and two gas stations.  A place of splendid isolation!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Return to The Texas Hill Country

Texas Hill Country
J. Dawg on a hill in the Texas Hill Country
Last year, we did a brief one day stop over while passing through the Texas Hill Country.  This is a pretty area about 70 miles west of Austin.  In my opinion, it one of Texas's nicest areas.  Its a rural area of rolling hills, sparse trees, small towns, cattle ranches, and wineries.  You can read my blog post about last years visit here - Texas Hill Country.  Last year, we agreed that one day was not enough and planned for a return visit.  This year we did a three day stop over so we could explore and see all the things we missed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Breaux Bridge - A Small Dose of Cajun Culture

Breaux Bridge
Street signs in Breaux Bridge
On our way to Texas, we spent an overnight in Breaux Bridge, just off I-10 east of Lafayette.  I’ve been to Breaux Bridge a few times.  It’s a nice small town near the highway with and some good places for sampling Cajun food and music.  I really like the Cajun culture and would not pass up an opportunity to eat some tasty food and do some two stepping.  And, you don't have to go to the big tourist cities to find it.  Its right in the small towns like Breaux Bridge.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Passing Through the Emerald Coast

Emerald Green waters of Gulf Islands National Seashore
After enjoying four relaxing days of beautiful ocean side setting on St. Joseph Peninsula, it was time to move on and continue our westward trek.  We left the sparsely developed Forgotten Coast in our mirrors and continued on Route 98 into the heavily developed condo land that seems to typify the Emerald Coast.  I’ve driven through this area a couple of times.  There's not much here that I find interesting other than Gulf Islands National Seashore on Santa Rosa Island and some attractions near Pensacola.  This time it was just to pass through on our way to Louisiana.  But, I wasn’t in a rush and there were couple of new places that I wanted to check out along the way.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

Its a very remote place - at the far western end of Florida's Forgotten Coast.  Its a narrow spit of land that sticks out into the Gulf like a skinny fore arm.  The nearest grocery store and restaurants are 20 miles away.  Cell service is spotty and unreliable.  Most of the peninsula is protected land, hence the lack of people and services.  But St. Joseph Peninsula is home to a lovely state park and the best beaches you can find anywhere.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Florida's Forgotten Coast

Carrabelle Beach
Florida seems to be loaded with "coasts".  There's the First Coast near Jacksonville, the Space Coast near Titusville,  the Treasure Coast near Stuart, The Sun Coast near Fort Myers, the Gold Coast near Miami, and the Emerald Coast (aka the "Redneck Riviera") near Panama City and Pensacola.  The one I like the most is The Forgotten Coast, which is on the Gulf Coast and goes from St. Marks to Port St. Joe.  Its a very different part of Florida.