Dwelling in the Desert.

Lily and I have made our way back into the Pacific Time zone and have been thouroughly enjoying the splendor of the deserts we are traversing. We made a quick stop back in Borrego Springs to camp a few nights in the Anza-Borrego Desert before making our way north towards the next big destinations of this adventure.

It was nice to be back in Borrego Springs and experience the brilliant blue sky and giant harvest moon but after three dark sky nights it was time to get back onto the road and hit the last two National Parks on the itinerary.

Joshua Tree National Park

A very interesting and slightly odd National Park if I’m being honest. But then Joshua and Yucca trees are pretty interesting and odd. We dry camped here for just a few nights and did a few small hikes, more like walks, around the sprawling giant agaves.

After Joshua Tree we stopped overnight at Silurian Lake to boondock in the dry lake bed before moving into the next National Park. I think this might be my favorite BLM area to camp so far. We were totally isolated and alone about 4 miles off the main highway and it was truly an awesome experience.

Death Valley National Park

We stopped in Death Valley on the last trip but didn’t get the chance to do much because we camped about an hour outside the park. This time we were able to reserve a site down in Furnace Creek. At first I was skeptical about staying 4 nights in this dry, hot and dirty location but the more I got out and experienced the wonders of Death Valley the more I loved it. First stop was Badwater Basin for sunset over the salt flats.

Then it was time to do some hiking. I was excited to get out into the sunshine and wander around the badlands of Golden Canyon, Red Cathedral, and Gower Gulch. Hiking in Death Valley with full sun exposure even in February was not easy but it was totally worth the imminent heat stroke.

After spending three rather strenuous and exhausting hours in the badlands I trekked over to The Artists Palette to marvel at the splendid array of colors splashed across the hills. It’s truly amazing to behold.

Finally, I wrapped up my day at the Death Valley Inn lounge for a prickly pear margarita and front row seat to yet another stunning Death Valley sunset.

Reno, NV

We left the depths of the desert and continued north towards Reno for some much anticipated friend time with our most favorite people. En route to Nevada we spent a cold and blustery night at the base of the Eastern Sierras just off highway 395.

Arriving in Reno, we were able to park the Airstream in the side yard right next to the house and that was the cherry on top of an already amazing visit. Visiting friends while traveling with the Airstream is the absolute best.

And so, after a wonderful week of fabulous friends, fantastic food, cabana libations, and relaxing hot tub nights, we hitched up and pulled out to make the final push north towards the PNW and home. We are just about done with this trip and it’s been a long one for sure.

Stay tuned for one last blog before we hang up the travel hat for the summer and start planning our next adventure. As always, thanks for following us and happy travels!

Wonderful West Texas.

Lily and I spent a few weeks heading west across the Lone Star State to explore the enchantments of the Chihuahuan Desert. West Texas was such a nice surprise and welcome change of pace from the crowded beach towns of Florida. So let’s jump in because we have a lot of ground to cover.

Surfside Beach, TX

This was our first stop inside Texas and we pulled right onto the beach and camped for three nights mere feet from the gulf waters. I was super excited to be in this location and have such a unique experience. The waves roared and crashed all day and all night. And a pretty big thunder storm rolled thru in the middle of one night lighting up the sky for hours and flooding the beach with pounding rain.

I really wanted to stay on the beach more than three nights but a silly accident that created a significant laceration on my head sent us closer to civilization sooner than I had originally planned. So we pulled out and headed towards Houston.

Marfa, TX

Welcome to the artsy hipster town know for Mystery Lights and a funky art scene. I really enjoyed being here and exploring the Chinati Foundation on a sunny windy weekend.

In between art installations, I stumbled upon a unique and delicious coffee bean in the heart of the historic district. The hipster toast aka avocado toast was pretty stellar too.

One amazing thing about West Texas was the stunning presentation of sunsets and sun glows every night from our perch at the Airstream exclusive RV park. This site setup gave me some ideas about how I want to incorporate the Airstream into our home life someday in the future.

Big Bend National Park, TX

On to the next big destination. Big Bend was highly anticipated and I was ready to get out and do some hiking again inside a national park. After living the sudo snow crow life in Florida I was itching to be out in uncrowded and uncomplicated nature as soon as possible.

We setup home base in the funky little town of Terlinqua, TX and really enjoyed exploring the ghost town and cemetery on a brilliantly sunny day. This area is becoming really popular with digital nomads that crave solitude, sunshine, and fast internet.

As expected, the sunsets from the Airstream were stunning. There is just something breathtaking about the way a desert sunset turns the sky vivid orange/blue and the mesas brilliantly pink before surrendering to the night.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM

New Mexico was the next stop and Carlsbad was ready to be explored. And wow what an experience this was. I mean, I’ve been to show caves on my Airstream Adventures but nothing compared to the grandeur and sheer size of Carlsbad Caverns. It totally blew my mind. I descended 750 feet (75 stories) by foot into the earth, and spent about 3 hours wandering all around the cavern. It just kept going and going and going. There is even an information desk and little snack bar/cafe at the bottom.

Alas, my flashlight eventually died and I was getting tired of being underground so I took the elevator back to the surface and returned to the Airstream for a much anticipated happy hour with my new favorite Tequila. Lily and I camped for free on BLM government land for several days and enjoyed some very nice seclusion and decent sunsets.

McDowell Mountain Park, AZ

We took a little break from the highway to visit friends in Scottsdale and parked off the beaten path for a few nights at McDowell Mountain. I’ve wanted to camp here among the Saguaros ever since our first trip but reservations are really hard to come by. This place is really popular and really very special.

Desert sunsets cannot be beat and it was so nice being able slow down and relax for a few nights in this wonderful location. I cannot wait to come back someday.

And that’s it for this blog and this part of our adventure. We are staying in the desert for just about another month and then heading north towards the PNW by way of Nevada to spend quality time and drink quality wine with our most favorite people. As always, thanks for reading and being part of our adventures.

See you in the next blog. Until then, happy travels!

The Sunshine State, part 2.

Howdy! When we left off, Lily and I were still soaking up the sun in the Florida Keys. I spent the second half of our stay scootering around Key West, trekking across the old Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key, and exploring Bahia Honda State Park.

Of course, I enjoyed many Rum concoctions and patronized a fancy little wine bar on Duval Street. Believe me when I tell you that I didn’t want to leave Key West.

Dry Tortugas National Park

This was a huge highlight of being in the Keys. The National Park is located 70 miles from Key West and is only accessible by ferry or seaplane.

I took the seaplane and it was amazing. Flying at low altitude over the pristine Gulf of Mexico showcased a few rusty shipwrecks, some sea turtles, and even a shark or two circling about.

Fort Jefferson is the largest brick structure in the Western Hemisphere and was used as a military stronghold, prison, and hospital quarantine station before being named a National Monument in 1935. It was upgraded to a National Park in 1992.

The infamous Dr. Samuel Mudd was imprisoned here for his alleged involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The theory of his intentions is highly debated.

Many Cuban refugees make it to Dry Tortugas on their way to the United States. The refugees are intercepted and their primitive and usually overcrowded boats are towed in and grounded on the beach in front of Fort Jefferson. While I was on the island, I accidentally walked into an area of the fort where border patrol agents were detaining and questioning a group of people that had been captured the night before.

I wandered around and explored the entire island for a good 3 hours and then we all scrambled onto the seaplane and headed back to Key West. It was such an awesome experience that I will always remember.

Everglades National Park

After leaving the Keys, we stopped at the Everglades to try and spot some fresh water alligators. And it was a success. I went on a ranger guided night walk thru the glades on a raised walkway and had no problem summoning the alligators to me.

Camping inside the park among the Long Pines was super fun and lent to some interesting noises and creatures that came out at night. The sunset was really spectacular too.

The Gulf Coast

At the end of the year it was time to begin our journey west. We’ve officially passed the halfway point of this trip and must say goodbye to Florida. On the way out, we stopped at Carrabelle Beach and Destin to enjoy a few final southern sunsets and have one last sunshine state happy hour.

And so, that concludes our time in the Sunshine State. We spent just over 30 days in Florida and had the most amazing time. There are still places I want to see so we will be back again soon.

As always, thanks for following our travels and Happy New Year! We will see you again soon for another adventure update as we cross the Lone Star State on our way west.

Happy Travels!!!

Appalachian Mountains and Barrier Islands.

For this episode we venture away from the Atlantic Ocean for a few weeks to meander the Blue Ridge Parkway and see what remains of the autumn foliage on display in the Appalachians. It was sad leaving the coast but we will return after blowing some leaves in the Virginias.

The Commonwealth of Virginia

First up is Shenandoah National Park. Traveling in the shoulder season definitely has it perks – the campgrounds and National Parks are nearly empty. We just barely caught the tail end of the leaf peeping at the north end of the Shenandoah Valley.

Alas, the leaves were mostly on the ground by the time we arrived and setup the Airstream but that didn’t stop me from venturing out onto a few trails to see what was left of the fall color program.

Lots and lots of bare trees to behold. One annoying thing about camping during the fall forest foliage dump is the ridiculous amount of leaves that end up on the Airstream roof solar panels.

Little Stony Man Trail was the perfect little hike up to a vantage point with excellent views of the Shenandoah Valley and beyond.

We camped near the little town of New Market, VA which provided some interesting history and a decent latte for the drive to our next destination.

West Virginia

Hello West Virginia and the New River Gorge National Park. This was just a quick afternoon stop to check out a few overlooks and drive the narrow road that traverses deep into the gorge and back out again.

Summer is obviously the best time to experience New River Gorge for hiking and white water rafting. The area was mostly buttoned up for the winter when we arrived.

We were getting a little bored with leafing so I decided to switch up the itinerary and stay in WV a bit longer to do some wine tasting at the local Blue Ridge wineries. Lily and I moved to a stellar location close to the town of Floyd, WV that offered some spectacular valley views right outside the Airstream door.

The wineries were big and impressive but the fruit wine was horrible. At the end of the day, wine tasting was a nice change of pace and I got to meet some interesting people at the tasting rooms.

Back at the Airstream we enjoyed one last peek at the leaves before heading into the next state for a few days of hiking and adventuring.

The State of Tennessee

The Smokies beckoned us to come and explore the old growth forests. So, on a cloudy day we entered the most visited park in the United States – Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The clouds subsided just in time for my hike to Alum Cave. Being the most visited park in the NPS, the trail was crowded to the point of annoyance with people completely unaware of trail etiquette. But I was able to meander along for a while and get some good pics without any people interfering.

The trail to the cave was really fun with lots of “natures staircases” along the way. I’ve said it before, National Park hikes are the best.

Arriving at Alum Cave I had to ask people “was this it?” because it didn’t look like a cave at all. It was more like a giant overhang. But regardless of my disappointment it was still a glorious sunny day to be on a trial out in the woods.

North Carolina

Heading east we made a stop in Asheville to visit The Biltmore Estate. This was a quick stop with the Airstream attached while en route to Charlotte. It is an impressive and super busy/popular place. After seeing The Breakers in Newport I knew I had to stop in Asheville and continue my education of the Vanderbilt lifestyle.

The Biltmore was all decked out for Christmas and the self guided audio tour was really really good. I would like to come back to Asheville someday and stay a bit longer.

Lily and I arrived in Charlotte for the singular purpose of visiting John Van Buren and family. It’s always a wonderful treat to drop in on friends while Airstreaming around the country and this certainly was no exception. Three wonderful days of golfing, breweries, eating, drinking, and visiting. Thanks for the hospitality JVB, see you in Seattle soon!

The Outer Banks

Welcome to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This is absolutely the most enchanting stop on our trip so far. Rodanthe is uniquely beautiful and the seashore utterly captivated my soul.

We spent several days exploring the lighthouses and life saving stations positioned around the seashore. Oh, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills was very very interesting.

And what’s better than a beach front happy hour at sunset. The Airstream was parked mere steps from the ocean and I could hear the waves crashing and roaring all day and all night.

After five days on Hatteras Island, we loaded onto the ferry to Ocracoke Island for more days of sunny seashore exploring and sunset happy hours. Ocracoke is a tiny little town with a lighthouse, tiny narrow roads, and a pirate themed atmosphere.

Pristine white sand beaches and a local brewery in town is the absolutely perfect vacation in my opinion. I sampled them all!

About the only things to do on Ocracoke is beach, drink, eat, and relax. And I had no problem doing any of that. Even Lily was on beach time and enjoyed relaxing with me at the campsite.

The Outer Banks are simply amazing. The sunsets were like perfect paintings every night. I can’t wait to return someday soon.

So, that’s it. After many wonderful and relaxing days it was time to say goodbye to the Outer Banks. I absolutely loved it there and plan to return again soon.

Next up, we continue south towards Florida with a few interesting stops along the way. See you again soon for more adventure updates and don’t forget to check out @paulandlilygoplaces for lots more pics and videos.

Happy Travels!!!