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Road Trip 2012

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Road Trip 2012 - Page Text Content

S: Road Trip 2012

FC: September - October 2012 | Road Trip

1: Road Trip | September - October 2012

2: Georgia | Watson Mill Bridge | Our first stop was this old restored wooden bridge which is still in use today. We continued toward Atlanta and even though we were well north of the city, at 9:30 on a Sunday morning, the traffic was horrendous.

3: Tennessee | We stopped at the Tennessee Visitor's Center and the guide suggested we tour the Jack Daniels Distillery. We enjoyed the tour immensely; everything smelled wonderful. Unfortunately, the distillery was in a dry county, so we couldn't have a taste. | Jack Daniels Tour | We had a two hour drive to our B&B which was an old Victorian home that had been moved 60 miles in seven pieces. It was beautifully restored; our room was small but very interesting. Breakfast was delicious. | Jack on the Rocks

4: Manor at Twin Oaks | State Capitol

5: Nashville | The next day, we drove to Nashville, climbed the hill to the Capitol Building and then walked through the music district. | Capitol Building

6: Belle Meade Plantation | The plantation was founded in 1807 and was the premier thoroughbred horse farm in the South. They don't raise horses now but they do have a vineyard and a wine tasting was included in the tour. | Carriage House

7: Illinois | We arrived at the park in the late afternoon, settled in and had time before dinner to climb the 50-foot water tower for a view of the park. | Giant City State Park | The next day we hiked four short trails for a total of 5 miles. Two were rated strenuous but had only short hills and weren't bad at all. | Trillium Trail | Our cabin

8: Stone Fort Trail | Devil's Standtable Trail | The main attraction of this trail was the 280 foot long prehistoric stone wall, located high on a bluff. After hiking, we returned to the lodge for a leisurely lunch and then drove to the Devil's Standtable Trail. The gnats had come out as the temperature rose but luckily we had our mosquito netting - we felt silly but the bugs didn't bother us at all.

9: Giant City Trail

10: Owl Creek Winery | After hiking all day, we needed to relax before dinner. There were 15 wineries near the park so we decided to visit one. We tasted five wines and liked them all.

11: Missouri | The next morning we drove north along the Mississippi River. We stopped at the Lewis & Clark Historical Site which told the story of how Lewis & Clark outfitted their expedition.

12: We spent the night in Hannibal. After walking along the Mississippi and touring the shops, we had a wonderful dinner. | Hannibal

13: Ledges State Park | Iowa | The next day we drove into Iowa and stopped at this park where we took the scenic drive. The road fords Pea's Creek in several spots but the water was low so we had no trouble crossing. We stopped to hike the Old Indian Trail ending at the Crow's Nest Overlook. | Old Indian Trail

14: Le Mars

15: We stopped at Le Mars to visit the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Museum. It was lunch time and we were hungry so we decided to have a large sundae as our meal. It was delicious!!!

16: South Dakota | Newton Hills State Park | As we drove through wheat field country, we could see hills in the distance. This park consists of an old oak forest and small patches of prairie. We hiked the Woodland and Turkey Trot Trails.

17: Steever House | We stayed at this lovely B & B in the Blue Room. This was a restored Victorian which had been moved from a nearby town and was set in the middle of the prairie. We were served fresh fruit and a delicious frittata for breakfast. Our hosts recommended stopping at the Porter Sculpture Garden. Unfortunately, it was closed for the season. | We were able to see three of the sculptures from the gate. The bull's head was 60 feet high.

18: Our next stop was the Corn Palace. The murals are replaced every year; this year the theme was youth sports. The palace is used for concerts, exhibitions and sports events. Lots of 'corny' souvenirs. | A-Maize-ing Corn Palace

20: Badlands

21: Window Trail | We didn't arrive at the park until after 4:00 so had time for only a short walk. The Window Trail gave us a taste of what we would see the next day.

22: Badlands Inn | The Badlands Inn was just outside the park with beautiful scenery in every direction. | Wine and ice cream - what more could you ask for?

23: Castle Trail | One of the rangers recommended this trail - it's 5 miles one way but she said to start in the middle and walk as far as we wanted. We planned a one mile walk but the scenery was so nice we walked about three miles. We were able to get right into the midst of the rock formations and also saw some prairie land.

24: Notch Trail | This was the hardest trail in the park but we didn't realize that when we started. We walked toward the rock formations, climbed a wobbly 100-foot ladder and then hiked along the side of a gully to a break in The Wall where we could look over the prairie and badlands. | The 61 log rungs of the ladder were only connected by a cable. As we climbed, the ladder swayed. It was worse coming down since we couldn't see where the unevenly spaced rungs were. I had a few moments of terror coming down but the rest of the hike was quite interesting and the view at the end was well worth the exertion.

26: Notch Trail

27: Cliff Shelf Trail | Water collects in this area so there are plenty of shrubs and trees - a nice change from our previous hike. We even saw some mule deer. The trail climbs 300 feet for a nice view of The Wall. We saw the end of the Notch Trail high above us. | The Notch Trail

28: Badlands Scenic Drive

30: Wall Drug Store | After our scenic drive we drove to Wall, SD to see Wall Drug Store. The drug store opened in 1931 and gave free ice water to thirsty travelers. It has now expanded to a full city block and is a really tacky souvenir area but everyone stops here. When we tell people we visited South Dakota, the first thing they ask is: 'Did you stop at Wall Drug?' | The original pharmacy

31: The famous jackalope

32: Sylvan Lake Lodge | Our cabin | We arrived at the park in the late afternoon and had time to relax before dinner. The cabins and lodge are on a steep hill - we walked up to dinner the first night but the trail was almost non-existent and dangerous in the dark. After that, we drove. | Custer State Park

33: The next morning we drove to Wind Cave Park for a cave tour and some hiking above ground. This cave is the fifth longest in the world. Our tour was the Natural Entrance Tour - about 0.75 miles with 450 steps and lasted an 1.5 hours. Wind Cave is famous for its boxwork formations. | The original cave entrance | Wind Cave Park | Early visitor

34: Elk Mountain Trail | This trail starts in the prairie, climbs a hill and then continues through the forest. | Wind Cave Park

36: A storm was brewing and the sky turned almost black but luckily we had no rain or lightning. | Bison | Prairie Dog | Elk Mountain Trail

37: Rankin Ridge Trail | Mule deer | This 1.5 mile long trail was mostly uphill. The climb to the top of the ridge afforded wonderful views of the Black Hills and prairie. The fire lookout tower, with its 250 steps, was open to explore but we were too tired to go up.

38: Rankin Ridge Trail

39: Wildlife Loop Scenic Drive | Bison | We took the Wildlife Loop Drive after touring Wind Cave Park and saw lots of animals - bison, prairie dogs, pronghorns and goats.

40: Prairie Dogs

41: Wildlife Loop Scenic Drive | Pronghorn

42: At the end of the drive, we drove to the town of Custer for groceries; saw lots of bison there too. | Goats

43: Iron Mt. Scenic Drive | The next morning we drove to Mt. Rushmore. The road has three short tunnels all of which frame Mt. Rushmore. There were also several pig-tail bridges. Very pretty road.

44: Mt. Rushmore

45: Washington's head is 60 feet tall; his eye, 11 feet wide; his nose, 20 feet long and his mouth, 18 feet wide. | Washington | Jefferson | Roosevelt | Lincoln | Gutzon Borglum, Sculptor | The entrance to Mt. Rushmore is through the Avenue of Flags

46: Presidential Trail | This trail took us right to the bottom of the mountain for spectacular views of the presidents. The trail took us past the Sculptor's Studio and back up the hill. | Mt. Rushmore is pictured everywhere!

47: Sylvan Lake

48: Sylvan Lake Shore Trail | We returned to Custer Park mid-afternoon and had time to walk around the lake before dinner. The lake is beautiful with granite outcroppings along the northern shore and golden aspens everywhere.

50: Sunday Gulch Trail | The Sunday Gulch trail was less than 4 miles long. However, the first half mile was a steep drop over boulders using hand rails. In places, the railing was missing or loose making for a treacherous descent. After finally making it down onto fairly level ground, we hiked through granite outcroppings and a forest of aspens. Of course, since we climbed down we had to climb back up - luckily not by way of the boulders. It was a very exhausting hike.

51: Rock climbers

52: Jewel Cave Park | The Wild Cave Tour requires people to fit through this small space. Luckily, we planned to take the Scenic Tour. This cave is the third longest in the world. The park name refers to the calcite crystals which glimmer like jewels when light is shone on them. | 8.5 in. by 24 in. | The Scenic Tour was 1 mile long, had 723 steps and lasted 1.5 hours.

54: Aspens

55: After our cave tour, we returned to Custer Park on the Needles Highway. This beautiful road had views of lakes, aspens and the granite needles. | Needles Highway

56: Needles Highway

57: Needles Eye

58: Harney Peak Trail | The next morning we hiked the hardest trail of the entire trip. The trail was almost 7 miles long and started at an altitude of over 6100 feet with an elevation gain of 1100 feet. The first mile was a gentle uphill slope which we had no trouble with. After that, the trail got steeper and steeper and rougher and rougher. We almost made it to the top but the altitude did us in.

59: Harney Peak is in the background. It is the highest mountain in South Dakota with an elevation of 7242 feet. | Lookout tower on Harney Peak

60: Spearfish Canyon Scenic Drive | We left Custer Park the next day and took this scenic drive. The road was beautiful with its rugged cliffs, sparkling waters of Spearfish Creek, beautiful reflections, waterfalls and golden aspens.

62: We stopped at this picnic area to see the falls. It was crowded with people enjoying the nice weather, picnicking and getting married.

64: Spearfish Canyon Scenic Drive | Bridal Veil Falls

65: Devil's Tower | Wyoming | Circle of Smoke Sculpture | We could see Devil's Tower for miles before we reached the park. Once inside, we drove through a prairie dog town and stopped to see this sculpture.

67: Devil's Tower is 1267 feet high with a diameter of 1000 feet at the bottom and 275 feet at the top. There are many different routes to the top, all of them difficult. We could see several groups climbing on this warm sunny afternoon. Better them than us. | After seeing the Visitor's Center and talking to a ranger, we decided to walk the Tower Trail which is a relatively flat 1.5 mile loop around the tower. | Tower Trail | Devil's Tower

68: Devil's Tower Lodge | The only access to the lodge was through the park. There were about 15 other guests, most of whom were staying in tents. We were the only non-climbers. We had a large room with a view of the tower from our window.

69: Ferris Mansion | After driving all day, we arrived at our B&B to be met by a herd of mule deer. We were in the middle of town but the deer make a circuit of Rawlins, eating as they go. | The house had been beautifully restored; we stayed in the Blue Room. Great breakfast! | Rawlins

70: Colorado

71: Colorado National Monument

72: Colorado National Monument | It was getting late, so we drove the Rim Road for only 10 miles. We saw steep canyon walls, balanced rocks and towering monoliths. | Rim Rock Drive

73: Vistas & Vineyards B&B

74: Colorado Mountains

75: We left early the next morning for our drive through the mountains. It was raining but the aspens and the snow-covered mountains made for a lovely ride.

76: Mesa Verde

77: Our lodge was located on a hill in a series of two-story buildings. We had a nice view of the mesa from our window. | Far View Lodge | Mesa Verde has about 600 cliff dwellings and over 4500 archaeological sites.

78: Cliff Palace

79: We took the ranger-led tour of Cliff Palace which is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. It has 150 rooms and 23 kivas. We descended 100 feet over uneven stone steps to reach the ruins. The exit trail was five ladders for a 100 foot vertical climb. These ladders were much more stable than the Badlands Notch Trail ladder and a lot easier to climb.

80: Cliff Palace

81: After our tour, we drove two scenic loops, stopping at most of the overlooks. Cliff dwellings were everywhere. We toured the Archaeological Museum and then ate lunch. | Mesa Top and Cliff Palace Scenic Drives | Cliff Canyon | Square Tower House | Spruce Tree House | Sun Temple

82: Petroglyph Point Trail | We asked the ranger how difficult this trail was. His answer was not too hard, only moderate - no need for hiking boots or poles. Wrong! Luckily we brought our hiking poles but we could have used the boots. | We climbed up and down boulders, over roots, through crevasses, up hills and down steps. The trail took us under the canyon rim, up a steep wall with only hand and foot holds and then along the top of the mesa. The trail was 3 miles long and took about 2 hours.

83: The hardest part of the trail was getting to the petroglyphs. The panel was 12 feet long and in very good condition - probably because it was so hard to get to.

84: Petroglyph Point Trail | You can just see the first part of the trail below the canyon rim.

85: Although the trail was quite difficult, it was well worth the exertion. | Four Corners | We stopped at Four Corners on our way to Page.

86: Arizona | We drove past Monument Valley on our way to Page and Lake Powell. | Rose Walk Inn

87: Lake Powell | After checking in, we drove to the Visitor's Center at the dam and stopped at a viewpoint overlooking the Colorado River.

88: Glen Canyon Dam | The following morning we hiked down to a viewpoint of the dam. Very interesting rock formations. We drove south to Sunset Crater Park where we toured the Visitor's Center and took a short hike. | Colorado River

89: Sunset Crater Volcano Park

90: Lava Flow Trail | The volcano erupted in the 11th century; the trail took us through the lava's path where we saw rocks, cinder cones and dead trees. The crater is 1000 feet high and is a pile of small, loose volcanic cinder. Only a few sagebrushes and flowers are growing here.

91: Prescott | We arrived at Linda & John's in the late afternoon and settled in. Over the weekend, we took a walking tour of downtown Prescott, a short walk at Thumb Butte and then visited Sharlot Hall Museum. | Thumb Butte Trail

94: Grand Canyon

95: Rim Trail | The next day we drove to the Grand Canyon. It was a two hour drive through mostly uninteresting scenery. Everyone fell asleep except John who was driving.

96: Rim Trail

97: Bright Angel Trail | The Bright Angel Trail goes into the canyon. Since we were visiting in the middle of the day, the ranger recommended that we not descend below the rim until after 4:00. We didn't plan on staying that long so we just took pictures. | 1.5 mile rest house

98: On our last day in Prescott, we took a hike with the local hiking club. We visited a park and wandered around the trails - a little up and down but fairly easy. That evening we went out to dinner and celebrated Mom's 93rd birthday. | The next morning we headed east to Winslow, AZ where we 'Stood on the Corner'. We had lunch and then drove to Petrified Forest Park where we took several hikes. It was quite impressive - many, many petrified trees. | Winslow, Arizona

99: Petrified Forest

100: Giant Logs Trail

101: Long Logs Trail

102: After our two hikes, we took the scenic drive and stopped at several viewpoints. Saw more petrified wood and walked into the badlands. | Petrified Forest Scenic Drive

103: Holbrook | We drove to Holbrook on Historic Route 66 and spent the night in a restored 1950's motel. From the outside, it looked like a really old motel, but inside was beautifully restored. The room was large and the bath was modern. It even had a hand painted sink. | Globetrotter Lodge | We walked several blocks to a steakhouse for dinner - we had very good fish. We walked past the famous Wigwam Motel, complete with old cars parked in front. | Wigwam Motel

104: Painted Desert

105: Rim Trail | The next morning we drove to Painted Desert Park. We walked the Rim Trail, took a short scenic drive and toured the Painted Desert Inn Museum.

106: Painted Desert Inn Museum | The museum was once actually an inn serving travelers on Historic Route 66. The soda fountain still has 1950 prices listed and the murals depict Indian life.

108: New Mexico

109: Sculpture Garden | La Jordana (The Journey) | This massive sculpture depicts the journey of the Spanish conquerors and settlers from Mexico into New Mexico. | We had planned to visit Old Town when we arrived in Albuquerque but missed the turn-off. As we were trying to find our way back, we drove by the Museum of Art where we saw this sculpture garden. It looked interesting so we decided to stop. | Albuquerque

110: Sculpture Garden

111: Hula Hoop crossing???

112: Los Poblanos

113: When we arrived at our B&B, we found we had been upgraded to a 5-room suite - living room, bed room, bath, dressing room and small kitchen. We had a gourmet dinner at the inn which was delicious.

114: Santuario de Chjimayo

115: We drove to the northeast corner of New Mexico today, planning to stop in Santa Fe and Taos. We couldn't find a place to park in Santa Fe and Taos was one massive traffic jam. Outside of Taos, we stopped at this historic church where many miracles have occurred.

117: St. James Hotel | After visiting the church, we continued driving to Cimarron where we spent the night. Our hotel was reputed to be haunted. We didn't see any ghosts but we did smell flowers in our room when we returned from dinner. The hotel was built in the 1870's and we felt we were in the Old West. Saloon doors led to the dining room where we had a nice steak dinner. There was even a list of all the gunfights that occurred in the hotel.

118: The next morning was cold and rainy. Today was supposed to be an outdoor day - we had planned to visit several parks and do a little hiking. The temperature hovered around 32 degrees; since we had only light jackets we decided to stay in the car. | Our first stop was this park where I braved the rain to get a few pictures. | Sugarite Canyon Park | Capulin Volcano Park | When we arrived at the volcano, the ranger told us it was safe to drive to the top of the cone. We took this winding road but the higher we got, the foggier it was. By the time we reached the top, we could see nothing! I got out for pictures but everything was covered with ice.

119: We drove to Folsom to see the museum which turned out to be closed. We weren't surprised, the town looked as if it was abandoned years ago. | Folsom | Eklund Hotel | We decided to skip the dinosaur park and drive directly to our hotel in Clayton. The Eklund was built in the 1890's and retained the Old West feeling although no gunfights occurred here and it was not haunted.

120: Texas | The following morning we drove into the Texas panhandle where we took the scenic drive through the Palo Duro Canyon and later stopped at Caprock Canyon Park. | Palo Duro Canyon

121: Caprock Canyon Park

122: Caprock Canyon Park

123: This park is the home of the Texas bison herd. We drove into the park and immediately saw several bison grazing among the sunflowers. Two of the beasts ran across the road about 20 feet in front of the car. Luckily, we were almost stopped. | As we drove further into the canyon, we left the sunflowers and bison and entered red rock country. Very pretty park.

124: Quality Inn | Caprock Canyon Park

125: Oklahoma | Check the price of gas!

126: Route 66 Museum | Route 66 Diner | The museum traced the history of Route 66 through the decades from the twenties to the eighties.

127: Route 66 was officially removed from the US Highway system in 1985.

128: Red Stone Inn | Route 66 Landmarks | Round Barn | We spent the night in Norman, just south of Oklahoma City. Nice B&B with a delicious breakfast. We stopped to see some Route 66 landmarks and then visited the zoo.

130: After the zoo, we drove to Arkansas where we spent the night. | The zoo was huge - we explored for several hours and didn't get to see everything. | Quality Inn | Oklahoma City Zoo

131: Tennessee

132: Graceland

133: We drove to Memphis the next day and toured Graceland. It was pretty tacky but still interesting. We stayed at the Heartbreak Hotel that night. Our room had several pictures of Elvis, the lobby and restaurant had Elvis' movies playing and his music could be heard everywhere. It was a real hoot. | The next morning we toured Sun Studios where Elvis got his start and Rock'N'Roll was born.

134: Elvis, Johnny, Carl & Jerry Lee | The following morning, we drove by Beale Street on our way out of town but nothing was going on. We continued into Mississippi and on to Alabama. | Days Inn

135: Alabama

136: Indian Stone Head | Natural Bridge | The next day we drove to this small private park. The double span bridge is the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies. It is 148 feet long and 60 feet high. We walked about 1.5 miles enjoying nature and looking at the rock formations.

137: Dismals Canyon

139: Dismals Canyon | Our next stop was Dismals Canyon. We took a fun hike that was only two miles long. Once we got into the canyon, the trail took us along the creek, over bridges and stepping stones, under obstacles and through narrow openings.

140: We ate lunch at the canyon and then continued to our B&B. It was in the middle of nowhere and the GPS couldn't locate it. We drove along country roads for what seemed like hours and finally arrived. The B&B was right on the lake and the view was wonderful. We stayed in a restored Air Stream trailer which was small but had an screened-in deck overlooking the lake. We had brought our dinner and the weather was perfect for eating outside. | Smith Lake B&B | The main house | Crane Hill Alabama

141: We had a delicious breakfast and spent an hour or so talking to our hosts. We had a late start and since we would lose an hour driving into Georgia, we didn't do any sightseeing on our way to our last B&B. | Georgia | Long Mountain Lodge | We ate at the Oar House Restaurant where we had a delicious dinner and a yummy dessert on our last night out. | Dahlonega

142: South Carolina | After 36 days and almost 7000 miles, we arrived home! It was a great trip! | McCormick | Home Sweet Home

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Carol LaPonte
  • By: Carol L.
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