The Great Road Trip of 2021

I’m baaaaack! Did you miss me?😄 The Great Road Trip of 2021 is officially in the books. This trip was originally planned for the Fall of 2020 but with COVID and everything, including campgrounds, shutting down, we postponed it until this year. This was the longest trip we’ve ever taken with a travel trailer. We were were on the road for 28 days from September 7th to October 4th.

The map on our travel trailer at the beginning of the trip

Over the course of the trip we covered 12 states (including our home state of Georgia), and a total of 4,856 miles. States visited:

  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Maine

True, some of those states were only overnight stays but that all it takes for us to get a new sticker on the map. (My rule: if we don’t overnight in the state, we don’t get a sticker.) We changed our route back to give us a chance to overnight in a couple of states that we otherwise would not have. Even just overnighting in a state gave us a chance to see a new-to-us part of the country. Looking at our updated map makes me feel very accomplished, LOL.

Our map now

I took my laptop with me so I could work on blog posts and the short story release I had planned for October. (I write under the pen name Isabella Norse.) I never took the laptop out of the closet, LOL. I spent my time just relaxing and enjoying the trip. I’ll spend the next few weeks sharing details. In the meantime, I’m glad to be back home and am busily getting caught up on all of the things that accumulated while we were away.

Until next time, happy trails!

Reminiscing: Devil’s Tower, Wyoming

When I learned that Devil’s Tower was on our route to Glacier National Park it became a must-see destination. Devil’s Tower features prominently in Close Encounters of the Third Kind which is one of my all-time favorite movies. Needless to say, as soon as it came into view on the horizon we had to pull over so I could have a total fan girl moment.

There may have been squealing involved when Devil’s Tower came into view

Devil’s Tower is still considered a sacred place to Native Americans and others so, if you visit, please be respectful by staying on the trails and not disturbing the prayer bundles and prayer cloths you will see in the trees and shrubbery.

One of my favorite memories of The Great Road Trip of 2019 comes from our visit to Devil’s Tower. As we hiked the trail around the base of the tower we had one of those “it’s a small world” experiences; we met a man from the Atlanta area, just a couple of hours north of our hometown and a young man and his son from South Carolina. (We have family in both North and South Carolina so we were familiar with the area from which the young man hailed.) We all chatted, then went our separate ways. Each time our paths crossed, we would stop and visit again. Finally, the young dad asked, “Does everyone here keep apologizing to y’all for the humidity?” We all had a good laugh. Indeed, one of the park rangers had expressed concern that our visit was occurring during such high humidity. Y’all the humidity level was 25%. For native Southerners, 25% doesn’t even register on our humidity scale. As far as we were all concerned, the air was downright dry.😂

Sadly, no UFOs made an appearance during our visit but Devil’s Tower did not disappoint.🛸

Until next time, stay safe and happy trails!

Reminiscing: Toad Suck, Arkansas and Peculiar, Missouri

It was The Great Road Trip of 2019. We were driving through Arkansas and were getting tired and hungry when we noticed a sign for the town of Toad Suck. After confirming that we did both, in fact, see the words “Toad Suck” we pulled off in Conway and found a restaurant. Our server was happy to tell us about Toad Suck, where to find it, and the fact that there is now a Toad Suck festival every spring. Once we had eaten and were feeling human again, we made the drive to Toad Suck. It should come as no great surprise to anyone that there’s not a lot to see; it truly is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town. (Surprisingly, there is an Army Corp of Engineers campground in Toad Suck.) However, there is a sign perfect for selfies and a convenience store (which was brand new in 2019) featuring Toad Suck themed souvenirs.

Y’all, we seriously suck at selfies
I had to have the shirt

While we were struggling to get a somewhat decent selfie in front of the Toad Suck sign, a battered, older Toyota truck pulled over next to us, and the driver called out through the open window “What in the world are y’all doin’?” I explained that when you see a sign with the words “Toad Suck” you have to stop and take a selfie. He followed up with “Y’all ain’t from around here, are you?” we assured him that we were not and proceeded to have an enjoyable conversation. I know that Arkansas is considered a Southern state but mentally I don’t think of it as one. I have to admit I didn’t expect an Arkansan to sound way more Southern than I do.🤷‍♀️😂

The next day as we motored though Missouri, we came across signs for the town of Peculiar so, once again, we had to pull over and take pictures. I think of Peculiar as a fairly typical older, small town – with an unusual name. As a matter of fact, I didn’t find out how the town got its name until after we got home.

There are so many beautiful and unusual things to see in this country of ours. It’s important to take the time to stop and smell the roses, check out the town with the strange name, and take the bad selfie. (I know, it’s not always easy when you’re towing a travel trailer. During this trip, we weren’t.)

Until next time, happy trails!

Meals on the Go

I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. It doesn’t come naturally or easily to me and it’s never been something that I have particularly enjoyed. That said, I did the cooking for the first few years of our marriage; Kenn took over a few years in. (I think he was tired of watching me stress out over every meal, bless his heart.) However, once I retired, it was only fair that I take over the responsibility once again. Less than a year later, the pandemic hit and eating out was no longer an option. Cooking may not be fun for me, meal planning is even less so. We had used the Hello Fresh meal kit subscription a few years ago and decided to sign up once again. Using Hello Fresh works for me on two levels: one, it gives us a chance to try things we normally wouldn’t and two, that’s two less meals I have to plan each week. Surprisingly, I’ve also discovered that I enjoy the prep work; I don’t mind getting in the kitchen and zesting, chopping, an mincing up a storm.

Now, we are planning our first long road trip with the travel trailer which means meal planning without the assistance of Hello Fresh. It also means meal planning within the limited storage of a travel trailer. We sat down and listed a few of our favorite meals and the ingredients of each. I know we’ll eat out occasionally during our trip. After all, part of the travel experience is trying new/regional foods. (My love of all things huckleberry is a direct result of our 2019 road trip. It’s too bad we don’t have huckleberries here in the South.) However, we know that we have a tendency to repeat the same handful of meals over and over. Pasta also features frequently since it’s so easy to prepare.

Image courtesy of Depositphotos.com

So, dear reader, I need your help. What are some of your favorite meals to prepare when you’re on the road? Do you have any cookbooks or online resources to recommend? (Insert puppy dog eyes here)

Until next time, happy trails!

Reminiscing: Wall, South Dakota

“Where the heck is Wall Drug?” When driving across South Dakota you’ll see numerous signs asking this question. SPOILER ALERT: Wall Drug is in Wall, South Dakota. Wall is just outside of Badlands National Park so we decided to use it as our base of operations for a couple of days while we were in the area. Since our hotel was just down the street from the famous Wall Drug Store, we decided to have breakfast there before spending our day in the Badlands.

I thought the breakfast buffet was a little pricey but at least it was tasty. Wall Drug still sells coffee for 5 cents per cup and honestly, it was some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. I’m a big fan of rustic decor and the dining area has it in spades.

I love stained glass so I’m a sucker for Tiffany-style lamps
I snapped a photo of my favorite painting before I saw the sign stating no photos allowed. Oops,

Is Wall Drug a tourist trap? You bet. Is it a fun place to spend some time? Absolutely. There is actually a pharmacy at Wall Drug but it’s only the beginning. (You know the place is big when they give you a map.) We spent a couple of hours wandering around and buying souvenirs – including cowboy hats from the western wear store.🤠

The Traveler’s Chapel
A book store? Yes, please!
Rocking our cowboy hats from the western store at Wall Drug

Since Kenn was still working at the time of our 2019 road trip, there was a lot of go-go-go mentality involved. Our trip to Wall Drug was unplanned but it was not only enjoyable, it gave us some much needed downtime.

Until next time, stay safe and happy trails!

Friday Funnies

Image from scenicdakotas.com

I’m still journeying down memory lane with this post but, I’m also telling on myself. I had what is probably the biggest brain fart of my life while driving through South Dakota.😂 There are a couple of places you see a lot of signs for: one is Wall Drug, the other is 1880 Town (which is where the brain fart came in).

I was driving when a small town came into view on the horizon. Kenn said, “Oh, that must be the place we’ve seen all the signs for.” Additional signage confirmed that he was correct; we were approaching 1880 Town. My response was “Oh, it’s eighteen eighty town!” I then had to explain that for the entire drive I had been reading each sign as “1-880-Town”; I had even gotten a little annoyed, wondering why they didn’t just put the name of the attraction on the sign instead of a phone number. (Yes, I know that’s not enough numbers for a real phone number but that’s still how my brain was interpreting it.) *facepalm* Kenn got several miles of laughter out of my revelation. I hope you get a good chuckle too.

Happy Friday!🥳

Reminiscing: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

It’s hard to believe that our last big road trip was in July 2019.😮 Our post-retirement plans were to have 1-2 “big” road trips every year in addition to our smaller trips. Our 2020 road trip was to culminate in Maine with a variety of stops up and down the eastern coast of the US. However, COVID had other plans so, not knowing which states and campgrounds might be closed, we canceled our much anticipated trip and rescheduled it for September of 2021. As the time for this year’s trip draws tantalizingly closer (and life throws in potential roadblocks) I’ve been looking through my photos from our last trip and decided to share some of my favorite memories with you.

The ultimate destination of our 2019 trip was Glacier National Park. However, on the way, I fell in love with the entire state of South Dakota. Seriously, I was ready to pack up and move. (Kinda still am.) One of the first things we learned is that Oklahoma is not the only place where “the wind comes sweeping down the plains.” The wind started blowing when we crossed the Iowa/South Dakota border and didn’t stop the whole time we were in the state. At some point we lost one of the little plastic rain shields Kenn had installed over the windows and we had to pull onto the shoulder of the interstate so I could remove another one that had started flapping in the never-ending “breeze”. One of our first stops was at the South Dakota welcome center where a very friendly woman whipped out a map and marked several things we should see while we were in the state. This is where we learned that there are actually falls in Sioux Falls South Dakota. Who knew?🤦‍♀️ (I know, I know. It makes perfect sense, my brain had just never put two and two together.) We hadn’t been planning to visit Sioux Falls but we changed our plans and I’m so glad we did.

Sioux Falls

I was instantly in love. Kenn gets a kick out of the fact that I love rocks and Sioux Falls had them in spades. (I think I should have been a geologist.)

My favorite photo from Sioux Falls was a happy accident. I took the picture just as foam from the falls splashed up.

It was an overcast day and rain threatened the whole time we were at the falls. Fortunately, other than a few drizzles, it held off. There was a small gift shop and a few buildings to visit but the actual falls were my favorite part. I also liked the buffalo sculpture named Monarch of the Plains. It was difficult to get a good picture of the sculpture because of the construction going on behind it; I wasn’t crazy about having all of the cones, etc. in the background of my pictures. On another note, I loved all of the different colors that began appearing in the local rocks once we reached South Dakota and continuing all the way to Montana. Some of those colors are apparent in the Monarch.

Monarch of the Plains

Thank you for joining me on my trip down memory lane. Be sure to join me again next week for more. Until then, stay safe and happy trails!

Review: Jack Hill State Park

Jack Hill State Park is located in Reidsville in southeast Georgia; it’s just far enough south that the red clay soil is changing over to a more sandy variety. We have family in nearby Statesboro and rather than make an overnight trip with a stay in a hotel so I could attend a baby shower, I talked Kenn into turning the trip into a long weekend so we’d have more time with family. Thus our stay at Jack Hill. (I didn’t exactly have to twist Kenn’s arm; he’s usually up for a trip, especially after our travels were so limited during 2020.)

When Kenn told me that he’d made reservations at Jack Hill, the name didn’t ring a bell with me. True, I don’t have the names of all of the Georgia state parks memorized but, until 2020, the park was known as Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park. According to the park website, the name was changed to honor “the late Georgia senator who did much for the community.”

I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at the park and I have to say… I absolutely loved it. Jack Hill is a small but beautiful state park. I haven’t been able to find any information on the age of the park but it felt fairly new. Older parks, no matter how well maintained, show their age in various ways. Sometimes it just the presence of buildings built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and 40s, or just the inevitable wear and tear that develops over time. Jack Hill has none of that. The park office, the cottages, the bath house (or comfort station if you prefer), even the individual campsites all had a new look and feel.

Site 16

Jack Hill has a 12 acre lake just a stone’s throw from the campground. If you like golf, there is also an 18 hole course. (Neither of us gives a whit about golf so we didn’t bother to check out the course.) In our efforts to find out the age of the park, we discovered that the 2020 Foot Golf Championship was held at Jack Hill State Park. 🤔 What? You’ve never heard of foot golf? Neither had we. It turns out that foot golf is a cross between soccer and golf in which players kick soccer balls into 21-inch cups. Who knew? I think I’ll stick to hiking and kayaking.

The lake at Jack Hill State Park

Jack Hill is an 30-minute drive from both Statesboro and Metter which made it easy to meet up with family. Not only is the park pretty but so is the area around it; our daily drives took us through a landscape dotted with farms, small towns, and old architecture – all of which I love. Every time we get together with the southern branch of our family, we all say we need to get together more often. Here’s hoping that from this point forward, we actually will – and Kenn and I won’t hesitate to stay at Jack Hill again.

Until next time, happy trails!