We’ve been out of the Cramper and in our little condo in Fraser, Colorado for several months now, so I better wrap up our Western Road Trip! Instead of my usual long-winded blog posts on our adventures, I’m going to do this the way we did this final part of the trip-quickly. We moved so fast through the rest of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas that most mornings I wasn’t totally sure what state we were in, and I definitely didn’t know what time zone we were in! So here we go!
Arizona- We camped for free at the Crystal Forest Gift Shop outside the entrance to the Petrified Forest National Park. We hiked through fields of Petrified Wood, saw some really cool hieroglyphics from ancient civilizations, and continued on to the Painted Desert National Park. The parks are pretty much connected so you can’t see one without the other. We hiked through huge dunes of multiple colors and enjoyed the serenity of this not very visited park.
New Mexico- An exploration of the stars above and the caverns below. We camped for five dollars at beautiful Datil Well Campground just outside of Pie Town. Yes we did see several places there to get pie but we were on a mission to see the Very Large Array Astronomical Radio Observatory. Made up of 27 gigantic radio antennas spread out over 22 miles the VLA captures radio waves from space that are then transformed into images. Very cool! Next stop was camping at Bottomless Lakes State Park just outside Roswell, because you can’t go to Mexico without stopping in Roswell to learn about the aliens! Skeptical? Check out the museum, it just might make you a believer! From Roswell we cruised south to camp for free in a field of cows about 15 minutes from Carlsbad Cavern National Park. Probably one of the coolest places we went! We hiked into the mouth of the cave and 2 miles down into the cavern to see some of nature’s best art work. Lighted by soft white lights and smelling like a damp basement, the caverns are a must see if your in the area. If we would have been there a few weeks before we could have seen thousands of bats fly out of the caverns at sunset. Unfortunately they had already migrated for the year. Maybe next time!
Texas- We were crunched for time so we made one stop in Texas and spent two nights at Lake Arrowhead State Park. It was really nice campground and had lots of prairie dogs running around barking and looking cute. The best part was it smelled like fresh-cut grass, and the Midwest, and home! We saw our first rattlesnake while we were cruising around on bikes, probably why they kept the grass so short. We enjoyed good hot showers and gorgeous sunsets over the lake.
Oklahoma- We drove through on an expensive road called an interstate (we generally avoided these on our trip) and paid their tolls on the way from Texas to Arkansas. It looked lovely though.
Arkansas- We spent two nights in Arkansas at Lake Dardanelle State Park. It was a popular spot with the locals and I could see why. It was right on the water with a nice park next to it and really close to restaurants. We arrived at dark after a long drive day. We spent our day getting a new tube for a bike tire and enjoying some local BBQ. While we ate pulled pork, peach cobbler, and twice baked potato salad (amazing!) people were dropping off turkeys to have them smoked for Thanksgiving. After lunch we fixed the bike and took a ride around the park. A short but sweet stay.
Carbondale, IL- Last stop before home to see our friends and family! As graduates of Southern Illinois University we were super stoked to stop at a place so familiar. We camped in Giant City State Park, went hiking, and cheered on our Salukis at a basketball game. And of course we went to Quattro’s’ for their famous deep pan pizza! No trip to Carbondale is complete without it. I could go on forever about the fun stuff to do and what I love about Southern Illinois, but I said this would be a short post, and you will probably hear more on this place from us in the future.
Home- After 4 months and 12,000 miles we pulled back into Pekin, Illinois for the holidays. No matter where our travels take us, Pekin will always be home to us. Home is where your Mom’s are.