UTAH TO THE GULF COAST
Michigan is now a fading memory as this trip comes to an end. We find ourselves back home in Gulf Shores after 62 days and 7900 miles on the road. It has been a great experience, exceeding expectation many times. Yes, we did everything on the spread sheet plus. Utah to Alabama was the last leg of this trip. It took us two weeks covering 9 states. The Alabama coast welcomed us back with plenty of sun and nice temps in the 80s.
NEVADA, LAKE MEAD, HOOVER DAM
After leaving Utah the next stop was two nights on Lake Mead. Reservations were at National campgrounds Echo Bay and then Boulder. It was extremely hot… peaking at 105 during the day. We heard it had cooled down from 115.
Lake Mead is beautiful however the tourist industry is suffering due to extreme and ongoing low water levels.
Hoover Dam is impressive and we did lots of the tourist things. This stop has been on my list since grade school. Glad that we finally made it.
ARIZONA AND THE GRAND CANYON – SOUTH RIM
For some reason in all our travels we never made the Grand Canyon. We stayed for three days and could have used one more. After seeing it in person sure we will go back, probably the North Rim.
Jan and I did the entire 13 mile South Rim trail. Enjoyed the time on trail and saw some fabulous scenery.
The last hike was down the Bright Angel Trail which goes to the base of the canyon. We only did the first third as the round trip takes two days.
Staying in the RV Park at Mather’s worked really nicely for us.
Heading east out of the park we took the Desert View Drive. It was a nice way to say good bye, there were many places to stop and enjoy the view. Last stop the Desert View Tower, really interesting.
A park employee told us about Cameron and a fun place to eat. Their specialty is fried bread. The menu included many native listings. Nice stop for good food in an eclectic Native American setting.
PETRIFIED NATIONAL PARK
This park was on the way to Colorado. One day at the park was enough to see everything.
The drive through the park is 28 miles. It takes some time to see everything. The landscape was very interesting and we learned a lot about Petrified wood.
A side benefit was learning more about Route 66 history. The highway use to go through the park before I40. Holbrook where we stayed was on old Route 66. It clearly played a large role during the heyday of the cross country highway. The City is working hard to keep the history of the classic highway alive.
MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
Had read about this National Park but still was not sure what to expect. The park closes in October so our timing was off as many sites and tours had already closed.
The park service has done a great job telling the story. A must do is the museum where we learned all about who lived there and why. We got to go into two open sites/houses and view many from a distance. There are over 4,300 sites with over 600 dwellings. Over 30,000 people lived here at one time. It is difficult to imagine life there in such a dry and harsh land.
Again staying in the National Park always seems to work well for us. The new RV was a good fit and added value to our travel experience.
NEW MEXICO AND SANTA FE
We had heard a lot of about Santa Fe so planned a two day stop over.
We loved touring the city. It was really interesting and lots of fun. Enjoy the pictures as they tell the story.
HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK
Our travels over the years had taken us near Hot Springs many times. Finally this time we took time to stop. Our travel schedule had been fairly intensive so we took three days to relax and kick back. The national park campground was outstanding. We had a great site right on the river and near the extensive park trail system.
Hot Springs is an interesting city. It was easy to spend a day just wandering through the city. Bath House row was clearly a walk back in time. The National Park Service has done a great job preserving the Bath Houses. The tour of the Park’s facility is worthwhile and very well done. One morning I went back to try the Quapaw Bath and Spa. Great experience and was good for my ailing shoulder. After Hot Springs experience wished I was staying another day or two.
MISSISSIPPI AND VICKBURG
Here we are back on the east side of the Mississippi.
Vicksburg has been on the to do list for awhile.
We toured the downtown which was interesting but clearly struggling. Walked along the river and did the two main museums which were good quality and recommend them if you get the chance. The Riverfront murals were well done and a fun experience.
The main event was Vicksburg National Military Park. The park has a 16 mile loop road and took us about half a day. Vicksburg was an important military objective both for the Confederate and the Union. Very informative, we learned a lot about that time period and what followed. Over 20,000 people died in this siege a very sobering take away.
The best thing we saw was the Union’s Cairo battle ship. A ship recovered from the Yazoo River after being under water for over 100 years. It is an iron clad ship which was new technology for the time period. The ship was sunk during the war and recovered in the sixties. There is a nice museum with a good video telling the Cairo story.
LOUISIANA AND THE ACADIANS
Moving south the next stop was Breaux Bridge, Louisiana targeted as home base for this stay. Nearby Lafayette has a large Acadian influence. During our time in the Canadian Maritimes, a few years back, we learned about the Acadians and how the Canadians deported them. Many of them ended up in Louisiana at New Orleans and Lafayette. In Lafayette we toured a culture center and re-creation village. This experience filled in some of the gaps we had between the US and the Canadian versions of the Acadians.
Beaux Bridge has a great very southern flavored downtown. There are several antique stores with very interesting proprietors. It is always fun for us Yankees to have the “real” South experience.
The re-creation village, Vermilionville, was fun. It took us a half day to tour the village and do lunch at their local menu based restaurant. The Acadian’s are the Cajuns and everything that goes with it. They are proud of their past and work had to keep their French culture alive.
Heading east we took the coastal route through Mississippi. The City of Bay St. Louis was a great find. We will be going back when we have more time. The St. Louis Bay and beaches are even nicer than Alabama. Had lunch on the beach and got to walk in the sand again with bare feet.
It is good to be back. The Townhouse looks great. The routine fell into place very quickly. The RV is tucked away until Spring unless we get the urge to go south this winter.
Love the sun rise walks along the beach.
The next trip is already in the planning process. Looks like it might be a spring trip starting in St. Augustine catching Savannah, Charleston, and Camp Hatteras, Williamsburg, (maybe Gettysburg), Downingtown, NYC, Kingston, Catskills and then back to Michigan.
Larry and Jan