On the way home we stopped at Blackwater River State Park in Florida for photos.
A favorite destination for canoeists and kayakers, Blackwater River State Park offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor activities. The river is one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the nation, making this park a popular place for swimming, fishing, camping, and paddling. Shaded campsites are just a short walk from the river and a picnic pavilion overlooks the river.
Nature enthusiasts will enjoy strolling along trails through the more than 600 acres of undisturbed natural communities. In 1980 the park was certified as a Registered State Natural Feature for its exceptional illustration of Florida's natural history. One of the largest and oldest Atlantic white cedars stands among the many that line the river and, in 1982, it was recognized as a Florida Champion tree.
Here are some more photos. You can see the sandy river bottom.
After passing through Alabama and Mississippi, we spent the night at Tickfaw State Park in Louisiana.
Strolling through four ecosystems on over a mile of boardwalks through Tickfaw State Park, visitors can experience the sights and sounds of a cypress/tupelo swamp, a bottomland hardwood forest, a mixed pine/hardwood forest and the Tickfaw River.
At Tickfaw State park, you can go night hiking or listen to the swamp nightlife from the porch of your vacation cabin. Check at the Nature Center for scheduled programs. While there, view the 800-gallon aquarium stocked with fish found in the Tickfaw River. There are also displays featuring the animals, history and culture of the area and of Louisiana. Be sure to watch the 8-minute introductory video about the history of the park area.
Bicycle, stroll, or skate the interconnecting park roadways. Rent a canoe and take a fun-filled trip on this unique section of the Tickfaw River. Visitors can bring their own canoes or rent ones at the entrance station. The Water Playground offers refreshing fun for those not quite adventurous enough to explore the swamps and sloughs.
Continuing west, we entered Texas.
And spotted a rare "Bandidos".
We spent the night at Palmetto State Park.
Named for the dwarf palmetto found in its swamps, this 289-acre riparian refuge resembles the tropics more than the surrounding brush country. This botanical wonderland attracts more than 200 bird species. A historic pump forces artesian water into a 1930s-era cistern and water tower for release into a swampy woodlands along a nature trail. The San Marcos River flows through the park, making it a perfect take-out point for canoe trips that start in Luling 14 miles upriver.
Palmetto State Park is located about 6 miles south of interstate 10 at mile marker 632. That is where Buc-ees is found.
The reason I bring this up is because of the price they charge for diesel.
This is 60 cents less per gallon than the Pilot station across the street. Glen asked the manager why the price was so low and was told that the owner is kind of a maverick and sets the price. It is cheaper than their super-unleaded. So if you have a diesel vehicle, like Glen's Jetta, be sure to stop here.
Cooper's engages in two practices that some consider antithetical to the state's trademark style: direct-heat cooking that's dangerously close to grilling, and saucing. But this cowboy-style barbecue spot breaks the rules proudly, cooking meat about two feet from mesquite coals and then finishing it over low heat until you step up to the outdoor pits and point to what you want: extra-thick pork chops, sirloin, or beef ribs with Flintstones-esque bones protruding from meat riddled with melted fat. It's all charred, pepper-flecked, and insanely good.
We planned on spending the next night here:
But found it very underwhelming. I didn't even take photos. Not a recommended campground. We stayed instead at a KOA in Van Horn, Texas.
Continuing west on interstate 10, we saw a nice sunrise followed by rain as we entered El Paso.
After a brief respite from the rain, it started up again as we entered New Mexico.
We had planned on camping at City of Rocks State Park near Deming, NM, but with the weather being an issue we continued on to Kartchner Caverns State Park in Arizona. I had no choice in the matter as Glen just kept driving.
Experience a stunning limestone cave in Southeastern Arizona that boasts world-class features. This "live" cave, discovered in 1974, is host to a wide variety of unique minerals and formations. Water percolates from the surface and calcite formations continue to grow, including stalactites dripping down like icicles and giant stalagmites reaching up from the ground. Tour guides will unveil this fascinating underground landscape during a memorable 1½ hour tour.
The Discovery Center features museums exhibits, a large gift shop, regional displays, theater, and educational information about the caverns and the surrounding landscape. There are also campgrounds, hiking trails, lockers, shaded picnic areas, a deli, an amphitheater, and a hummingbird garden.
Sometimes you just have to stop and admire the view.
Yeah, that is snow. It was cold, around 30 degrees on Monday night and I had to add extra blankets to keep warm. Did I mention that I need an RV?
We spent Tuesday night at Casa Tucson and wound up back in Laguna Beach on Wednesday.
So that's it. 62 days, 9000 miles. And a heck of a lot of fun. Next year should be even better. Can you imagine a 3 year odyssey around the US visiting the best campgrounds our country has to offer? That is in the works. But we need your help. I need an RV. Have I mentioned that before? Something like this:
So if you have an extra one laying around, let us know.
Regards, Park Ranger