Week 42 – San Antonio to Big Bend

Day 288 – San Antonio

On Sunday, we had a beautiful day to go exploring, so we headed to downtown San Antonio with Terri and her kids. First, we walked around a bit, stopping to explore the historic Menger Hotel on the way to Alamo. Next, we headed to the Riverwalk to eat at Casa Rio, where we met up with Michael’s sister-in-law Pam, and his nieces, Allison and Amanda. After taking a nice walk along the river, we stopped for an ice cream break. Tracey and Kaycee had to try a flavor named Blue Monster, which left their tongues (and Kaycee’s face & hands) blue.

After enjoying the downtown area, we headed back to the hotel to rest up a bit. Then we met up for one last dinner with everyone together to close out an excellent weekend of fun and family.

Day 289 – San Antonio to Sonora

We started Monday morning with a different routine, taking time off of work to do a scenic morning drive to Fredericksburg, with a quick stop along the way at Luckenbach. We walked around Fredericksburg and had lunch, before reluctantly saying goodbye to Michael’s sister and Mom, who followed us to Fredericksburg before turning north back to Lubbock.

We continued our way west and arrived at next campground in Sonora.

Day 290 – Sonora to Fort Stockton

Our original plan was to stay another night in Sonora and go to the caverns, but there was no wi-fi or cell coverage. So instead, we had to get back on the road and continue on to Fort Stockton a day earlier than planned. We got up early and made it to Fort Stockton in time to connect and get some work done from a park. Then we had lunch, picked up some more groceries and headed to the Fort Stockton RV Park.

Days 291 & 292 – Fort Stockton

Since we had an extra day in Fort Stockton and not a lot to see, we stayed in the RV park so Michael could catch up on some work. Tracey did laundry and crocheted, and we both got some exercise. We also had lots of cuddle/lap time with the RV campground cat, Sampson, possibly the friendliest cat either of us had ever seen.

Day 293 – Fort Stockton to Big Bend

Friday morning started with more work from van, then we were excited to head to get on the road south to Big Bend National Park. We got in in the late afternoon and settled into our campsite in the Chisos Basin just before some rain came through.

Day 294 – Big Bend

Saturday we got up with the sun to make coffee and prepare for our first big hike in a long time. The trailhead was only a half mile away, so we hiked there from the van and then began the five-mile climb up to the summit of Emory Peak, the highest peak in Big Bend National Park and the most prominent peak in Texas. We were surprised to find that we were able to do the climb fairly easily (although we ended up being pretty sore for the next few days). We made it to the top at the perfect time to enjoy the pulled pork lunch we brought with us while we sat and took in the magnificent views. Finally, we had to get up and start the long hike back to the van. It was a great hike and we were super happy to be back to climbing mountains again!




Week 41 – Mount Pleasant to San Antonio

Day 281 – Mount Pleasant to Hillsboro

Sunday was basically a travel day, but being a weekend day, we had time to stop outside of Dallas to get lunch and a haircut (where we ran into a guy who grew up in Portland). Soon after getting back on the road, we ran into some of the strongest thunderstorms and rain we’ve seen on the trip. We made it around the outskirts of the Metroplex and south to the next stop, Hillsboro.

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Week 40 – New Orleans to Mount Pleasant

Day 274 – New Orleans to Natchez

On Sunday we enjoyed a lazy morning, then it was time to get on the road and make our way north, which took us back into Mississippi. Our destination was Natchez, but first we quickly crossed the river into Louisiana to eat a BBQ lunch at the Butt Hutt (which Tracey chose solely for the name). Then we drove back over the river into Natchez to visit Grand Village of the Natchez Indians mounds, and then the Melrose house. Finally, we checked into the Natchez Grand Hotel, right in the center of town on the bluffs above the Mississippi River. It was too cold to walk far for dinner, so we ate right across the street at Bowie’s Tavern. We also got to see a great sunset over the Mississippi River.

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Week 39 – Mobile to New Orleans

Day 267 – Mobile

Sunday morning we relaxed in the hotel, then headed out to walk around downtown Mobile. We walked along Dauphin St., then through Mardi Gras Park and the Fort of Colonial Mobile. We had also hoped to visit the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center but unfortunately it was closed. We wandered through the Church Street Historic District and then returned to the van and headed back to our hotel for dinner and a movie.

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Week 38 – Atlanta to Mobile

Day 259 – Atlanta to Athens

Sunday morning we slept in, then packed up the van to head east (essentially for the last time on the trip). We stopped along the way for lunch in the van, then continued on to our destination, Athens. Michael had always wanted to visit because his favorite band, R.E.M., got there start there. First, we walked by the 40 Watt Club, the center of the music scene in Athens. Then we walked through downtown and down the hill to the last remaining section of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (the steeple), where R.E.M. played their very first show. Finally, we visited Wuxtry Records, an excellent independent record store.

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Week 37 – Lakeland to Atlanta

Day 253 – Lakeland to Gainesville

Sunday was the beginning of a long week of driving to get out of Florida and all the way to Atlanta. It was also Christmas Eve! We had a lazy morning at hotel, then we drove to the campground, making a quick stop at Jo Anns to pick up more yarn for the Trail Blazer blanket Tracey is working on. We got a propane fill-up, Tracey did the laundry, then we settled in to watch Christmas movies in the van.

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Week 36 – Kennedy Space Center to Lakeland

Day 246 – Kennedy Space Center to Florida City

Sunday we had a long drive planned with an important stop along the way, so we packed up the van and headed south towards Miami. This was probably the most difficult drive of the entire trip, lots of traffic and city driving with terrible, awful drivers. It was exhausting for both of us, but we made our way around Miami to Biscayne Bay National Park. We didn’t really get to enjoy the park as it was meant to be enjoyed, since it really is best suited for snorkeling and boating. But we enjoyed the nice weather and got a really nice view of the Miami skyline far in the distance.

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Week 35 – Indian Rocks Beach to Kennedy Space Center

Day 239 – Indian Rocks Beach

The weather finally cleared and started warming up on Sunday, just in time for our trip into Tampa to go to the see the Buccaneers take on the Detroit Lions at Raymond James Stadium. We really enjoyed the game and some nice sunny weather, but once the sun started going down the chilly weather returned. After a seafood dinner on the way home, we returned to the condo for another relaxing evening.

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Week 34 – Jekyll Island to Indian Rocks Beach

Day 232 – Jekyll Island to St. Augustine

Sunday morning we packed up the van and kept moving south into Florida, our 41st state on the trip. Our destination for the day was St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in the U.S. The town is an interesting mix of Spanish colonial buildings and late 19th-century architecture built when the town was blossoming as a tourist resort. We spent a few hours walking around the town center, then we headed a few miles east to our campground in Anastasia State Park on the ocean.

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Week 33 – Columbia to Jekyll Island

Day 225 – Pointsett State Park

We began our Sunday with a relaxing morning in the campground, mainly to let the weather warm up a bit. Then after lunch, we found a nice, easy four-mile trail through the forest to stretch our legs and get a better sense of the countryside. While it wasn’t the most magnificent hike we’ve ever done, it was still a nice, quiet walk.

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