Everyday is an Adventure. Embrace it

Posts tagged ‘travel’

Visit Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

While we were in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we asked several folks, “what is there to do in Dallas?” or “Where do you recommended to go in North Texas?” Often we were told about local parks. We did visit these local parks and were pretty disappointed. So began our search online to find things to do and places to go and adventures we could enjoy in North Texas.

I can’t remember if it was my husband or I that found Palo Duro Canyon State Park, but the pictures online were absolutely gorgeous. We dug out some Best Western travel cards we were holding back and found a pet-friendly Hotel in Canyon Texas.  After we booked our room, packed our bags and our dog, we hit the road. My husband chose our route based on the less travelled. He knew it would take longer to drive from Dallas to Canyon Texas, but it would allow us to see a lot of smaller towns, avoid toll roads and several hours of bumper to bumper traffic where cars freely weave in & out on multi lane bridges like they’re on a nascar track. (I’ll share those back road adventures in another article.) The total drive took us roughly 6 1/2 to 7 hours. Please keep in mind, we drove easy, stopped often and enjoyed the sites along the way. The drive from DFW to Canyon would have taken only 4 1/2 to 5 hours if we were more destination focused.

When we arrived in Canyon Texas, a small town about 20 minutes outside Amarillo Texas. It was a cozy place with Main Street literally being its main attraction. The people were very welcoming and the traffic was slow. The pace of life was much more easy going.

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The entrance to Palo Duro Canyon is about 8 to 10 minutes away from the Best Western Hotel in Canyon Texas. When we woke up the following morning we had coffee and packed a couple bagels, snacks & plenty of water for our adventure.

We arrived at the entrance & waited in line for about 25 minutes before we paid $5 per person. It’s important for any visitor to know that this park is highly populated as well as many of Texas’ other state parks. In the event the park is at full capacity, the park rangers pass out tickets to hold your place in line until they’re able to allow you admittance (which can take up to 4 hours). I highly recommend being one of the first in line or you may not be able to visit the park on the day you arrive.

Palo Duro Canyon is very well kept. The park rangers regularly patrol the canyon for exhausted visitors that may need a little aid. There were signs posted everywhere stating at least a gallon of water per person was recommended for each hour. The temperatures near the canyon floor where over 100 degrees easily when we were there. We sweated this much or more and drank about a gallon an hour each.

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Shortly after we entered there was a beautiful look-out point fabulous for taking photos!

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From that point we ascended down on a curvy road toward the bottom of the Canyon. We passed the theatre area where the play was presented in the evening.

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Next there was a store/deli/tourist shop. The prices were a bit higher there then if you weren’t inside a state park but not too terribly unreasonable. They made homemade ice cream which was absolutely delicious and I highly recommend you try at the grill! One serving was large enough to share but not knowing, we ordered two. Their french fries were absolutely great and my husband’s said their hamburger was totally delicious. They also sold water and gasoline for those who were low on fuel. This was also the place to locate t-shirts, postcards, and any other tourist gift and memorabilia to commemorate a visit.

There were too many campsites to count. We saw primitive, modern, and large RV sites as well. There was also a section on the far side of the park for equestrians.

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There’s a small stream of water that normally runs through the bottom of the canyon we were told. The creek beds were mostly dry when we were there.

The many hiking trails were varied from super easy to extremely challenging. I loved hiking there because the brush and trees provided shade to cool off at different intervals.

The dirt in the Palo Duro Canyon is red. The rocks are many colors though. The contrast was beautiful and made for some gorgeous photos. The flora in the canyon included small & large trees, several types of flowers and cacti, and many tumbleweed type bushes. The creatures we saw in the canyon include lizzards, rabbits, roadrunners, turkey and other birds. Signs along the way read that it was possible to encouter many other types as well, but we didn’t.

It was a dusty adventure. We stayed for about 5 1/2 hours on the trip hiking roughly 10 miles that day. When we left we were covered in the dusty red dirt from the second largest canyon in the United States.

It was rather surprising that the Palo Duro Canyon was so little known to the the various folks we spoke to in the DFW area. I don’t understand how such an awesome place was so unrecognized by the locals.

Enjoy the slideshow and leave me a comment about things to do in Texas. I love suggestions!

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What is Bigger in Texas?

Have you ever heard it said, “Everything is bigger in Texas”?  I’m here to tell you it’s true.  Almost everything I saw while I was there was much bigger than any place I’ve traveled.  Here’s a touristy perspective of Texas.

  1. The sky is bigger in Texas. It’s HUGE!  The sky is massively vast and will consume not only your immediate vision, but your peripheral vision too. Have you ever taken a photo with a fisheye or panoramic lens? That’s the best way I can describe how your eyes perceive the sky in Texas. In fact it’s so encompassing, your mind may go into shock. I remember the first time I saw the Atlantic Ocean from the shore line & how vast I thought it was. I was filled with awe. In comparison, the ocean seems so manageable after seeing the sky in Texas. And that is an honest compare after seeing the ocean from almost every beach on the east coast and the gulf. It’s just big. 20170520_204824_HDR
  2. Food is bigger in Texas. The chicken fried steak is bigger than the plate it’s served on. A serving of biscuit & gravy is enough to feed a family of 4. Tea glasses are so big, I had to use two hands to drink it. The only small food servings you can find are at National Chain resturants like Olive Garden or Ihop.20170613_142325
  3. The spiders are bigger in Texas. So are the cockroaches. One evening I was having a smoke on the patio and a cockroach at least 5″ long and 2″ wide came walsing up to me like everything was normal. I screamed, stomped it and it just looked at me and walked away!
  4. The crows are bigger in Texas. They’re a Mexican breed I was told. They have an eerie scream like a sound effect from a horror movie. They’re also big enough to pick up a Buick and fly off with it. (That may be a slight exaggeration.)
  5. Trains are bigger in Texas. They’re really long with several engines pulling them. Actually many towns were either made or broken by the Railway. The northern part of Texas being rather flat allowed for easy railway access to transport goods. These same railways were the cause of a few ghost towns too. Trains are a bigger deal in Texas than many other states.
  6. The affluent population is bigger in Texas. Look up a town named Plano, TX. Enough said!
  7. The highways are bigger in Texas. I’ve been in some congested cities, but oh my… If you haven’t been to Dallas on a bridge over a bridge that’s over another bridge thats over the tollroad below…you haven’t lived. Most of the highways, interstates and tollroads are 5 or 7 lanes wide all the way and up to 150′ tall.
  8. The traffic congestion is bigger in Texas! I don’t care where you live or how bad your roads are, if you haven’t driven to Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio in Rush hour you’ve never seen bad congestion.
  9. The tolls are bigger in Texas. It can easily cost over $20 one way on one road to go about 35-40 miles…without getting off on an exit (which is when you’re usually charged for a toll)
  10. The shopping options are bigger in Texas. Name a national or regional store. It’s in Texas along with thousands of home grown mom & pop shops.
  11. The windmills are bigger in Texas. The largest windmill farm in the U.S is in Texas in the town of Electra.20170611_155805
  12. Jalapenos are bigger in Texas. Oh I’m sure there’s a town here or there in other places that love jalapenos but in Texas almost every resturant will off you a jalapeno with your order. Order a hamburger, you’ll get jalapenos. Order a salad, you’ll have jalapenos sprinkled on it. Want an ice cream? Guess what they’re going to offer you on the side. Jalapenos! Every grocery store has a large display of jalapeños they show off with much pride.
  13. Electric company choices are bigger in Texas. In every neighborhood, folks have a choice of at least 2-10 electric companies. Shoot… at home, half my state has 1 electric company!
  14. The hiking trails are bigger in Texas. Hiking is a big deal for folks in North Texas. Afterall, they either live on a farm in the middle of nowhere or are crammed into a city with millions of people. Nature takes their mind off all that. Every hiking trail we found was so crowded with thousands of people, it was difficult to enjoy nature…you couldn’t  hear nature for the conversations & people!
  15. Pride for their state is bigger in Texas. Texans love other Texans and they love their state. They are living in a state that contains almost every terrain possible in the US and almost every weather pattern. Texas could easily be self contained and self supporting. The econnomy in Texas is great and the job market is ripe. Texans take pride in their heritage and home lands. Don’t underestimate a Texan either. Most are well educated and street smart too. Many folks fly the Texas state flag in their yards. And businesses fly it just under the United States Flag or right along next to it.  I understand now why so many people are dedicated to their state here. It truely is The Great State of Texas.20170521_110535

 

Be a Tourist in St. Augustine Florida – America’s Oldest City

I felt very fortunate to be able to visit St. Augustine, Florida. This is a city rich in history and culture. The locals here are proud of their status as the Oldest Established City in United States and are welcoming of tourist. Before we made the trip to St. Augustine, we searched the internet for things to do and “Pet Friendly”. We read on several sites that St. Augustine was an extremely dog friendly city, so we took our beloved dog along for the trip. However, we found that this was not necessarily true!

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We drove into the heart of downtown St. Augustine and parked in a public parking garage for the day. We walked through many streets of the downtown area on a self guided tour of our own making. There are many historic signs along the way and even more photo opportunities. The most notable historic part of our travels was Juan Ponce De Leon. His statue is in the heart of St. Augustine. It is a copy of the original statue located in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Legend says it was originally cast in bronze from English cannons seized after the English reigned down on San Juan in 1792.

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Architecture

The architecture of the buildings are magnificent and the building materials I found fascinating. Much of the original town was built from Coquina. We saw many of these huge rocks along side the beaches in Central Florida but didn’t understand their significance. We discovered that this coquina is highly sought after in modern day as landscaping displays. But back in 1565 when the Spanish landed and began their occupation, this building materials was plentiful. Coquina (Coe-Queen-a) made great material for forts, especially for heavy cannon use. Due to Coquina’s softness, cannonballs were said to sink into it instead of shatter it or make holes in the walls.  The walls of the Castillo de San Marcos are made of Coquina and the first Saint Augustine Lighthouse was also built of it. It’s truly a cool looking rock comprised of millions of pieces of shell and invertebrates from the sea; all compresses together to create a type of concrete.

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History

St. Augustine received it’s name after a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church. It is said that the land was first sighted on August 28th and also played a part in naming. The Timucuan Indians where inhabiting this land when the Spanish arrived.  They were a people of many chiefs and several tribes spanning across central Florida and stretching upward into Georgia. The Timucuan Indians were politically savvy in that they got along with the Spaniards in many ways and were peaceful. But within a few short years of meeting, their population was reduced from roughly 200,000 to 50,000. The Spaniards brought with them a multitude of European diseases to which the Timucuan Indians had no immunity or resistance. By the 1700’s the tribe had been reduced to less than 1000 and within the first of the 19th century, they were gone all together.

St. Augustine is hailed as the oldest permanently occupied European City in the Americas and this city is so worth a visit. There is a plethora of history here and the landscapes are breathe-taking. We went to spend the day and take in as much as could – but due to having our precious pooch with us, we were only able to stay for about 4-5 hours before we left.

Not Truly Pet Friendly

I believe this city could be family friendly, but I wouldn’t recommend it as pet friendly. We couldn’t take our fur baby into the stores or other establishments on our visit. She wasn’t welcome at public restrooms, visitor centers, shows or museums we may have been interested in. We did find 1 pet friendly public park that she was welcomed to, but there were so many dogs there, it was not the best environment. We had a good time with her, but we could have explored so much more had we left her with a sitter.

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We ate lunch at a quaint cafe downtown that actually brought our dog a bowl of water and was welcoming. (See photos above)

The people passing by on the sidewalk were not as nice though. Rude is a better word…they were not pet friendly. We were asked to “Hold your dog so I can pass” and asked several times if she would bite. All I could assume was that there have been some seriously aggressive dogs brought into this town at some point. As in other historic downtown areas, there was much of the downtown area turned residential and the rudeness we encountered was from these residents.

I would give St Augustine a 2 out of 5 for pet friendly, but I would rate it 4 out of 5 for family friendly and accessibility. Most of the streets are easily walkable and there are ramps at every corner for strollers, wheel chairs and motorized scooters. (Had the residents we encountered been a bit more amicable, I would be inclined to rate 5 out of 5 for family friendly. Having raised 5 kiddos myself, I can tell you that these folks won’t be as nice to your toddlers or pre-teens either.)

Until next time, hang tight…

Chrissy

Exploring Tomoka State Park, FL

Tomoka State Park is located in central Florida on the east coast side. It’s only about a 30 minute drive north from Daytona Beach, 20 minute drive east from Destination Daytona (in Ormond Beach), about an hour and half drive from Orlando, 15 minute drive from Flagler Beach and is located just on the mainland across the Halifax River from Ormond By The Sea.

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Family oriented and pet friendly, this state park’s admission was $5 per vehicle or $2 per bicyclist or pedestrian for an all day stay. There are camping sites within the park and several great fishing holes. We didn’t enter into the camping area, so I can’t tell you much about it, but we saw a great many folks fishing all over the park.

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Gorgeous greenery, seasonal flowers and filled with palm trees of various sorts, this park is inviting and beautiful.  Large turnarounds are situated along the main gravelled (crushed shell) roadways. Well laid trails to hike are scattered about and there’s some wildlife to see. Large turtles call this park home as well as a stray alligator from time to time also. The turtles were particularly intriguing to our dog. They were digging into the soft sandy soil to conceal their eggs, so we didn’t get to see them up close.

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At the far end of the main trail there is a large tribute statue to the Tomoka Indians. It is weathered terribly and large sections of the statue have fallen off. The state of decay was sad to see, but it seems any money spent on the park has gone into the upkeep of the grounds – which were very nice. A restroom facility is located in the same alcove as the statue and there are several camping or cookout sections there as well.

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Visiting the Tomoka State Park was a delight for the day and gets a 5 out of 5 for family friendly and pet friendly. I highly recommend it! Click here to learn more about the park.

Adventuring onward….

Chrissy

A new love 💘

 

I have a confession to make. I fell in love several months ago. Keeping it to myself until just recently when I shared it with my husband was difficult to do. He has been understanding and very accepting of my new love. He’s definitely my best friend and understands.

You see until recently, I enjoyed travel as long as it was recreational, short lived and I knew we were coming back home soon enough.  But lately, so many things have changed in our lives. All the kids are “grown” or at least they think they are. They have all moved away from home now and declared their independence.  We are now Empty-Nesters and have grown into a new class of people. One that I always assumed would never affect me much because I just knew that all the boys would still be around. I assumed that they would be around regularly and that the house they would always come home to- the house they grew up in, the house they matured in and had so many developmental memories and such- would somehow mean the world to them. Why I thought this way, I’ll never know.

I moved away from home at 18 and struck off on a life of my own too. I never looked back or even considered going back home. Actually, I saw going back home as a failure in life. If I couldn’t make it on my own, I would have been devastated!  There was one point when I went back though, in 2001 for about a year and half when both my parents were in a terrible car accident. Mom begged me to come help her and I did. That was short lived as God gave her Grace and she was walking again when I left. Alas, I digress…. so back to my new love…

So delusional thoughts aside, reality is often not was we expect it to be. In an adventurous ever changing world that we cannot control, we are but passengers on this  ride through life. A passenger doesn’t control the direction – and in my life God is the driver. So in recent years, I have just sat back and watched he scenery as I’ve been passing through. God is still my greatest love of all, number 1 in my life…my husband is number 2. But as for this new love I referred to, well it surprises me just as much as it has surprised my husband.

I love to travel! Not just leisure travel, but packing up and moving away travel. This travel is one that I had always denied before, absolutely refusing to leave East Tennessee.  Now, I’m excited by the thought and look forward to many new adventures along the way!

 

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