Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Texas

State 39:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

Texas

Texas became the 28th state on December 29, 1845. The Capital is Austin.

Texas is the second largest state by area and unless you’ve driven through Texas it is hard to comprehend the size. Our Texas adventures have taken us through the Texas Panhandle, mesquite and cactus covered plains, the green rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country, and the beautiful Texas Gulf Coast. Along the way we camped by beautiful lakes, near the Gulf Coast, in the second largest canyon in the United States, and a quite a few places in between. As we drove around the back roads we saw canyons and creeks, dance halls and wineries, historic sites and ranches, quaint small towns and old homesteads, toured museums, made a few hikes, attended a fiddle fest and chuck wagon races, met wonderful Texans, and saw more wildflowers than I ever imagined.

The lighthouse trail at Palo Duro Canyon, Enchanted Rock, and the Devil’s Waterhole Trail at Inks Lake were some of our favorite hikes.

The official Texas Longhorn herd is divided between a few state parks. At Copper Breaks State Park and Palo Duro Canyon State Park we saw them up close.

We planned a spring trip to Texas so we could see the bluebonnets in bloom. Texas is the only place on earth where some of the bluebonnet varieties bloom naturally. There were also many other wildflowers along the way.

We found some wonderful places to camp. We especially enjoyed camping at many Texas State Parks.

Rain and fog couldn’t keep us from enjoying the three state parks and Padre Island National Seashore along the Texas Gulf Coast.

There are many varieties of birds along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Texas Horned Lizards, Cottontail Rabbits, mule deer, white tailed deer, prairie dogs, and wild turkeys are some of the wildlife I was able to capture.

Being serenaded, attending a fiddle fest, listening to music in a dance hall, touring the Buddy Holly museum, going to Luckenback, and seeing signs about Willie Nelson reminded us of how important music is to the Lone Star State.

For us, no trip to Texas would be complete without sampling some of their fantastic steaks and barbecue, especially the brisket.

In Paris, Texas we stopped to see the Eiffel Tower with a red  cowboy hat and attended chuck wagon races.

There were interesting things to see all around the state.

One of the best things about visiting Texas is meeting native Texans. Without fail, every  Texan we met was proud of their state and eager to share their favorite places to visit or where to find the best brisket. One woman I met had so many good suggestions about places to go I had to get a notebook out of the truck to take notes!

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Tennessee

State 38:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

Tennessee

Tennessee became the 16th state on June 1, 1796. The Capital is Nashville.

Elvis, BBQ, Blues and the Mississippi River in Memphis. Country music, The Grand Ole Opry and camping beside a lake in Nashville. The Tennessee Aquarium and other attractions in Chatanooga. Waterfalls near Crossville. Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Sevierville. Waterfront camping at J. Percy Priest and Normandy Lake. Touring a famous distillery in Lynchville. These are just a few of the things we loved in Tennessee.

Before our RV days, the Opryland Hotel was our home base in  Nashville for a night at the Grand Ole Opry, cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs as they played the Vanderbilt Commodores, and a night at the Wild Horse Saloon.

20031017Grand-Ole-Opry
Grand Ole Opry
20031017Opryland-Hotel-(8)
Atrium at the Opryland Hotel
20031018Wildhorse-(4)
Line Dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville

On our way home from our first RV trip out west we spent a couple of days wandering around Memphis. We toured Elvis’ Graceland, ate our fill of ribs at two different restaurants, listened to blues at B. B. King’s BBQ and Blues on Beale Street, and strolled along the scale model of the Mississippi River at Mud Island River Walk.

20060908Graceland-(47)
Elvis’s grave at Graceland
20060908Graceland-(52)
Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis
20060908Graceland-(70)
Elvis Presley’s Pink Cadillac

 

While wandering near Crossville we discovered two waterfalls.

Tennessee-2003-(82)
Fall Creek Falls
20090810Ozone-Falls,-TN-(1)
Ozone Falls near Crossville

We enjoyed the campground at Old Stone Fort Archeological State Park and have camped there twice. Both times we hiked beside the Big Duck River to see the waterfalls.

20100623Old-Stone-Fort-(2)
Campers cross this bridge to get to the campground at Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park
20070405Old-Stone-Fort-SP-TN-(14)
Waterfalls on the Big Duck River in Old Stone Fort State Park

One November we traveled to Sevierville to take in the beautiful fall colors and scenery of Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

A mama bear and her cub were hanging around the picnic area when we stopped for lunch in the park. Mama kept a close eye on her cub as he searched for a bite to eat. When the rangers chased them off the cub scampered up a nearby tree.

20081105Cades-Cove-(63)
Mama bear watching out for her cub at picnic area in Cades Cove
20081105Cades-Cove-(53)
Bear cub at picnic area in Cades Cove
20081105Cades-Cove-(70)
The cub escaped to a tree when the rangers chased them away

Seven Points Corps of Engineers Campground in Nashville is a favorite of ours. Seeing this sunset from our campsite was a great way to end the day.

20090811Seven-Points-Site-23-(11)
Sunset over J. Percy Priest Lake at Seven Points COE Campground

In Chattanooga the Tennessee Aquarium was a highlight of our stay.

We chose a waterfront site at Barton Springs TVA Campground as our home base for taking a tour at the Jack Daniels Distillery in nearby Lynchburg.

Blondie enjoying our site Barton Springs
Blondie enjoying our site Barton Springs
Old time jugs
Old time jugs

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – South Dakota

State 37:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

South Dakota

South Dakota became the 40th state on November 2, 1889. The Capital is Pierre.

Our travels have taken us through South Dakota a surprising number of times. The Corn Palace in Mitchell and Wall Drug Store in Wall are two fun places to take a travel break along Interstate 90.

Like so many other people, we made the Black Hills our primary travel destination in South Dakota. There is so much to see there we couldn’t do everything we wanted on our first trip so we returned five years later. In addition to the spectacular scenery, the highlights of our visits were Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Custer State Park, the wildlife, Deadwood, Wind Cave National Park and Badlands National Park.

20060831Mt-Rushmore-(6)
Mount Rushmore National Monument
20060831Crazy-Horse-(3)
Crazy Horse Monument in 2006
20110602Needles-Hwy-and-Wind-Cave-(116)
Crazy Horse Monument in the summer of 2011
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Five years after our first trip to the Black Hills, we camped at Game Lodge Campground in Custer State Park. We loved being close to so much wildlife.

Custer State Park is home to herds of Bison, also known as American Buffalo. Many can be seen from the scenic Wildlife Loop Road. Some also like to hang out in other parts of the park and we often saw them near the Game Lodge Campground. There were many calves when we were there in early June. As we drove through the park and on the drive through Wind Cave National Park we saw bison, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs wild burros, and even white tail deer. This collage of the bison and other wildlife we saw in and around Custer State Park shows just a small sample of the wildlife that is there.

Just driving through the Black Hills is an adventure and there are several scenic drives to enjoy. Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway are both narrow, steep, curvy roads with single lane tunnels. There were spectacular views from the Mount Coolidge Overlook at the end of another narrow road. Another day the views were spectacular as we drove through Spearfish Canyon but I forgot my camera that day!

20110602Needles-Hwy-and-Wind-Cave-(16)
Along the Needles Highway in Custer Sate Park
20110602Needles-Hwy-and-Wind-Cave-(80)
Eye of the Needle on the Needles Highway
20110602Needles-Hwy-and-Wind-Cave-(98)
Needle Tunnel
20110601Custer-SP-(204)
Mount Rushmore from one of the tunnels on Iron Mountain Road
20110601Custer-SP-(157)
View of Crazy Horse Monument from the top of the Coolidge Overlook in Custer State Park

Deadwood is famous for being the town where Wild Bill Hickok was shot by Jack McCoy in the Number 10 Saloon in 1876. In the new Number 10 Saloon visitors can see a reenactment of the shooting of Wild Bill and there are reenactments in the street with gunslingers. We took the drive to his grave in the nearby Mount Moriah Cemetery.

We discovered a couple of delightful campgrounds outside of the Black Hills during our South Dakota journeys. The owners are hard working and helpful at the Belvidere East KOA. Blondie enjoyed the dog park and we loved the Indian Tacos at their restaurant. The sunset was great, too.

Sunset at Belvidere East Campground
Sunset at Belvidere East Campground

Mina Lake State Recreation area near Aberdeen was a perfect place to chill after our time in the Black Hills. The park was practically empty and the camp hosts were friendly and helpful. They even brought us some pheasant appetizers one evening.

20110609AMMina-Lake-(1)
Mina Lake State Recreation area near Aberdeen

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Oregon

State 34:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

Oregon

Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859. The capital is Salem.

Our visit to Oregon was entirely along the spectacular Pacific coast along Highway 101. In order to have easy access to the scenic overlooks we traveled south from Washington. After crossing the Columbia River bridge our Oregon journey began.

20070427Columbia-River-(8)
Crossing the Columbia River into Oregon

We were towing our fifth wheel as we drove south. Lucky for us the overlooks were big enough that we didn’t have any trouble finding parking places.

20070427Oregon-Coast-(9)
Tillimook Rock Lighthouse
20070427Oregon-Coast-(10)
Northern Oregon Coast
20070427Oregon-Coast-(25)
Northern Oregon Coast

We enjoy camping in state parks so before we left home I called the Oregon State Parks to find out if I needed campground reservations. We were traveling in late April and the ranger assured me we would not have a problem finding a campsite that time of year (this was ten years ago and campsites may be harder to get now). Our first two night stay was at Beverly Beach State Park in Newport. With the fifth wheel parked in our campsite we were able to take the truck on several scenic drives.

20070428QDevils-Punchbowl-(9)
Devil’s Punchbowl
20070428QDevils-Punchbowl-(26)
Surfer’s on the beach looking for the right waves
20070428Depoe-Bay-(7)
Bridge at Depoe Bay
20070428Otter-Crest-Drive-(15)
Bridge on Otter Crest Drive

We visited two lighthouses near Newport.

After climbing to the top of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse we walked down a series of stairs for a stroll along the beach. We came upon Harbor Seals sunning themselves on the rocks.

I love the Oregon bridges and this one we saw from the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was one of my favorites.

20070428TYaquina-Bay-Lighthouse-(18)
Bridge near Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Our Oregon adventure continued as we continued south from Newport on Hwy 101. The first stop of the day was at the Sea Lion Caves near Florence. The caves are 250 feet below the visitors center. After a long elevator ride we were down in the caves for a close up view of the Stellar Sea Lions. The waves crashed into the cave while the seals held on to the rocks and barked at each other.

As we continued south we passed the huge Oregon sand dunes and stopped for lunch at the Umqua Lighthouse State Park.

20070429Umpqua-Lighthouse-(6)
Umpqua Lighthouse

We settled into our campsite at Humbug Mountain State Park near Port Orford for our next two night stay. Our campsite was a short walk from the beach.

The campground was just a short drive to the Port Orford Heads State Park and Lifeboat Stations. The ocean views were breathtaking as we hiked along the trails on top of the cliffs. At the museum we learned the Coast Guardsmen used to go down over 500 steps to launch their lifeboats.

When we weren’t enjoying the rugged coast, lighthouses, dog friendly beaches, bridges, seals and lifeboat stations in Oregon we took time out to enjoy some amazing fresh seafood in Newport and Port Orford. Our time there was short and we didn’t waste a minute of it.

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Maryland

State 18:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state is

Maryland

Maryland was one of the original 13 colonies and became the 7th state on April 28, 1788. The capital is Annapolis and the largest city is Baltimore.

Although we traveled to Maryland multiple times before our RV’ing days, back then we spent most of our time visiting family and seeing the sights in Washington, D.C. Way back in the early 1980’s we wandered around Baltimore touring the National Aquarium, the B&O Railroad Museum, and enjoying the beautiful harbor.

B & O Railroad Museum (early 1980’s)
Tall Ship in the Baltimore Harbor (early 1980’s)

After we started traveling in the RV, we enjoyed camping in Rocky Gap State Park on Lake Habeeb. The birds in the trees and the chipmunks on the ground kept us entertained when we weren’t enjoying the lake.

Lake Habeeb in Rocky Gap State Park
This chipmunk visited our campsite at Rocky Gap State Park
Great Crested Flycatcher in Rocky Gap State Park

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine