Route 66: Oklahoma to Texas…

DAY FIVE: An amazing sunrise on the lake this morning in Foss State Park, on the edge of Oklahoma. But it is HOT and HUMID!!! Still the campsite was amazingly beautiful, and we had a nice relaxed evening last night making our BBQ lakeside…

Back on Route 66 today and we were still chasing down some of the “landmark” sites the road has become famous for, as well as discovering some details for ourselves…

The town of Texola wasn’t supposed to be a ghosttown, but it seemed one step away from Ghost status when we drove thru… We couldn’t help but get out and walk around, exploring what happens when a town is on the verge of extinction but still holding on…

It was kind of eerie. It was hot and the sun was high in the sky and the streets were deserted and some of the buildings were in ruins while others were simply abandoned, as if someone had left for work in the morning, locking the door, and then never returned… everything was left as it had been that day… looking just as if nobody was home… but it was clear that “nobody was home” for a very very very long time already… in the distance a dog barked, attesting to the fact that some folks hadn’t given up on the place, even if many of their neighbors had…

On the edge of town, a boarded up saloon front was painted with the surreal sign “No Place Like Texola”… a small town’s pride surviving the town itself…

posted by Blue Coyote in On the Road and have No Comments

Texas to New Orleans to Home…

Am fleshing out the planning for the final segment of the trip — from the Big Bend back to New York, and once again have questions and options to consider. And this is probably something we will need to decide BEFORE we leave…

The current trip plan has us doing the following:

DAY 40: Big Bend to Palmetto state park, TX

DAY 41: Palmetto state park, TX to New Orleans, LA

DAY 42: New Orleans Visit Day

DAY 43: New Orleans, LA to Lurleen state park, AL

DAY 44: Lurleen state park, AL to Smoky Mountains National Park TN

DAY 45: Pick up day

DAY 46: Smoky Mountains National Park TN to Shenandoah National Park VA

DAY 47: Shenandoah National Park VA to HOME

That would give us no time to spend in the Cajun area of Layfayette which seems to really have a lot of fun and interesting things to do (almost more so than New Orleans itself)… Think it could be really good to break and spend the evening there and possibly do the swamp boat ride with that guy  in exchange for the pickup day we currently had in the Smoky mountains (i mean they are beautiful… but we will have seen so much incredible nature already… i think the Cajun bit is more interesting at that point in the journey…)

So if we decide to make the switch we have:

DAY 40: Big Bend to Palmetto state park, TX

DAY 41: Palmetto state park, TX to Layfayette, LA

DAY 42: Layfayette, LA to New Orleans, LA

DAY 43: New Orleans Visit Day

DAY 44: New Orleans, LA to Lurleen state park, AL

DAY 45: Lurleen state park, AL to Smoky Mountains National Park TN

DAY 46: Smoky Mountains National Park TN to Shenandoah National Park VA

DAY 47: Shenandoah National Park VA to HOME

The only “down” side to that is it leaves us with the last 4 days as straight “DRIVE” days with not much else…

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comment (1)

Options from Moab to the Big Bend…

Moab to Big BendWe had an interesting discussion yesterday about the need for rest during the journey. Originally it was built into the plan with pickup days between the various travel legs, but as we refined things we have (on paper, anyway) decided to split up some of the drive days, eating into those pickup days. And adding on the Zion Narrows required further reworking the schedule, stealing a bit more from the “rest” time.

This has left us with a segment from Death Valley through Moab which may be a bit of an endurance challenge for the driver (though not exactly, as there is a big difference between driving 12 hours from point A to point B on the highways and doing an off road jeep trail through the canyons and deserts we came to explore…). However, we do always have the option on those off-road trails, of just stopping and staying in place (that is the beauty of the road side camping … we don’t have to have an approved pre-determined campsite) — though for the Death Valley segments I think we just need to be aware of environmental factors, and make sure if we decide to hold up somewhere, we chose a wise location…

So with the discussion of “rest” still in mind, I am looking at the post-Moab segment of the trip… the long ride down to the Big Bend… and seeing how best to approach it…

In the original plan we had Day 33 (our exit from the White Rim) staying in a hotel in Moab (btw, should we go back to the one we had last time? The Big Horn Lodge…), then Day 34 canyoneering, with the option of leaving Moab that evening…

But perhaps we stay that night in the Moab hotel again… (allowing for a good night’s rest before hitting the road again)…

Then the following day we have a couple of options. Basically we have 3 days to get down to the Big Bend (we need to be in the area on the night of Day 37, as we have the river trip starting the morning of Day 38)… And to put it in perspective, the total distance from Moab to Big Bend is just about 100 miles less than Nesconset, NY to Orlando, FL (where we went to Universal Studios park)!

so Option A:

Day 35 – rest in Moab till lunchtime, then drive 2 – 3 hours to cortez colorado, settle in there and  see the indian dancers at 7pm… (overnight in Cortez area)

Day 36 – drive Cortez to Elephant Butte or El Paso (8 – 10 hours drive depending on how far we go)

Day 37 – drive Elephant Butte/El Paso to Big Bend National park (5 – 8 hours depending on start point)

Option B:

Day 35 - depart moab after breakfast and get as far as we can either Aztec or Albuquerque… (it is 6 – 8 hours to Albquerque… if we could get that far, or stop around farmington/aztec NM area which also has a number of lodging options)

Day 36 – drive Aztec to Elephant Butte or El Paso (7 – 9 hour drive)

Day 37 – drive Elephant Butte/El Paso to Big Bend National park (5 – 8 hours depending on start point)

Option C:

Day 35 – early wake up and marathon drive to Elephant Butte (approx. 12 hours)

Day 36 – day off / rest

Day 37 – drive Elephant Butte/El Paso to Big Bend National park (5 – 8 hours depending on start point)

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

St. Louis to Tulsa to Amarillo camping options

After discussion the other day, we decided that we will try to split this segment of the trip with shorter drives over a few days rather than trying to do St. Louis to Tulsa in one day, then have a rest day, then do Tulsa to Amarillo in one day, followed by a rest day, as our original plan indicated (and we can always go back to that formula if we come across something super interesting to do in a specific location).

So, on Day 5, we are spending the day canoeing at Meramec state park, then visiting the Meramec Caverns. The ideal scenario would be, if after visiting the Caverns, we can get a start on the next day’s drive by moving forward about an hour and a half or two hours (not sure how far we can get, depending on hour tired we might be, but any mileage we can do will make the next day a bit easier).

We have the great list of campgrounds put together by the folks at Route 66 News, but i decided to research the National Forest and State Park campgrounds in Missouri and Oklahoma as we might prefer more primitive camping options.

Was able to come up with a workable list of state parks/national forest areas that could make good stopping points along the way (none are that far off the Route 66 itinerary, though they may not exactly be “on” the route itself).

state park locations along the segment from St. Louis to Tulsa to Amarillo.

state park locations along the segment from St. Louis to Tulsa to Amarillo.

Here’s the best scenario (with some options):

The first possible National Forest stop is near Rolla MO, about an hour and a half west of Meramec state park. At the Mark Twain National Forest, dispersed camping is allowed. According to the main campsite page for the forest:

<< Dispersed Camping areas have few, if any, amenities or other facilities. Primitive Camping is allowed throughout the forest except in day use areas, administrative sites, within 100′ of springs, stream, caves and other natural features or archeological sites, or where otherwise prohibited. Follow Leave No Trace principles and protect the forest resouces. >>

Depending on time, we could try to find our own spot, but might be best if we head for the Cole Creek Trail, which is actually for horses, but hikers are welcome and primitive camping is allowed along the trail. The reason i suggest this, is because we have written directions to the trailhead, and if we tried to find our own location, we might spend a lot of time driving around looking for an entry point, etc. If we chose Cole Creek Trail, we will have to leave the jeep at the trail head and hike in a bit…

If we can drive a little bit further, about 2 hours west of Meramec (and a little bit east of springfield MO), is Bennett Spring State Park, in Lebanon MO.

So we sleep at one of these locations, then pick up the route in the morning of Day 6, with a goal of reaching the Keystone state park near Sand Springs, OK, which is just outside of Tulsa. If we need to stop sooner, there is a state park, Twin Bridges State Park, which is not that far off the route a bit east of Tulsa.

Then, on Day 7, we head for Crowder Lake state park, which is a good halfway point between Tulsa and Amarillo. But also has some interesting activities. We have some other alternatives for that night, too. Either Red Rock Canyon state park, which is a little closer to Tusla side, or Foss state park, which is a little closer to Amarillo.

Then Day 8, we get into Amarillo as planned, but a little more rested (hopefully) and ready to explore!

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comments (2)

Palo Duro Canyon choices…


Click on map to see it larger.

When doing the Route 66 Amarillo segment, the plan is to stay in Palo Duro Canyon state park. There are a few different options for that park that we should consider (it is one of the places we need to make reservations for, and is pretty popular in the summer, so we will need to decide this early on).

We have choices between 3 camping options: Hike-in backpack camping, “Developed Primitive” campsites, or cabins. Here are the details…

BACKPACK CAMPING: Back-pack camping is permitted only in the area south of the turn-around. You must hike into the area for at least 30 minutes. Water is only available at the trailhead. Fires are not permitted, although stoves with containerized fuel are permitted. You must carry out all that you carry in.

cactuscamplocationDEVELOPED PRIMITIVE CAMPSITES: There are two camping areas that have been designated “primitive”. (Cactus and Fortress Cliff) The areas have designated camping sites. Each has a table, a shade shelter, fire-ring and water available in the area. They have no restroom or shower facilities. You may drive (1/2 to 2 miles) to an adjacent camp loop for restroom/shower facilities. A maximum of 8 people are permitted in each site.

cactuscampdetailCACTUS CAMP: Of the “Developed Primitive” locations, Cactus Camp seems like the better choice for privacy, as there are fewer sites here and they seem a bit more spread out. It seems from the map like it is not far from the river (or creek, or whatever that water source is running through there). Not sure what the location is like visually (or if it is high or low ground, as the map has no relief). Also, it is next to the day use area (don’t know how close, or if that impacts us at all).

fortressclifflocationFORTRESS CLIFF: Am guessing this site is on the highground, so probably has a really nice view. However there seems to be a lot of sites here and they seem pretty close together on the map. Also seems like it is far from the restroom facilities (and if all the campsites are so close together we might rather use the restroom facilities than go out in the bush when the need arises).

fortresscliffdetailCABINS: There are two CCC vintage cabins perched on the rim of the canyon. Though rustic, these cabins have been renovated and have modern heating and cooling systems. Each cabin consists of two rooms plus restroom and shower. Lighthouse has a day bed with a pull-out. Goodnight and Sorenson have full size bunk beds. Both have a queen size bed. There are no kitchen facilities, but there is a table and charcoal grill located just outside. Cooking is not permitted inside the cabins. Bed linens and towels are provided. A maximum of 4 persons are permitted per cabin. (these cabins are a bit pricey at $110 per nite, but there is another option that seems like it might be a good choice: the Cow Camp Cabins, see below)

COW CAMP CABINS: In 1933, the C.C.C. built four very small cabins near the turn-around area of the park. Referred to as “Cow Camp Cabins”, these have been renovated and are available for rent. Three are one-room, and one has a second small “alcove” room off to the side. Each cabin has a full size bunk bed that sleeps four, a small table with two chairs, a small refrigerator, and a microwave. A picnic table and grill are available on the outside. Bed linens and towels are not provided. (Cow Camp Cabins are $60/night)


one of the "cow camp" cabins

We will be spending two nights here in Palo Duro Canyon (and one of the nights we will be going to see the Texas show elsewhere in the Canyon (and there is a dinner right before it, outside at the same location). I think we definitely do not want to do hike-in camping for the night that we are going to the show because after the performance it might be dark, and that is just too complicated… I kind of like the cow cabins… but would be fine with “Developed Primitive” too… what are your thoughts?

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

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