100 Days and Counting!

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Stretching my legs at Carhenge, a roadside attraction in Nebraska

Remember in grade school when you celebrated Hundreds Day? It was quite a milestone to have invested 100 full days into your current grade level.

Well, tomorrow marks my hundredth day on the road. It’s been an incredible journey, so I created a short video to commemorate the expedition thus far.

Click here to Watch Me!

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And the Winner Is…

Two weeks ago, I introduced the Jelly-Bean-Miles-Hiked contest. Congratulations to Debbie Minix, who guessed 165 miles (the correct answer was 171 miles).

Some numbers

Most miles hiked: 36 in the Smokies

Least miles hiked: < 1 in Biscayne

Average miles hiked per park: 12.2

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Jelly Beans and Miles Hiked

jelly-beans

You know those contests where you guess the number of jelly beans (or some other sugary candy) and the closest person wins a prize?

47parks.com is doing the miles hiked version of this.

Here’s how it works:

  • Leave a comment with your estimate of how many miles I have hiked in national parks since the beginning of my trip (state parks and walking in downtown Memphis doesn’t count)
  • Next Friday, September 30, I will announce the winner
  • Your prize? Either a big bag of jelly beans or any picture from my blog sent to you as a 8.5 X 11 print

Keep in mind that some parks, like Dry Tortugas, contain very little “hikeable” land.

Also, if you don’t see your guess posted right away as a comment, don’t panic, I have to approve all comments before they become official.

Good luck, have fun!

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(Oops… I accidentally deleted this post earlier, hence the double-publish)

Cuisine (Part II)

Food has become my frenemy while living on the road. I still enjoy a delicious meal, yet sometimes food preparation is simply a hassle.

My Yeti cooler has been phenomenal. It keeps produce cool and refreshing for up to 3 days. I thought I would miss my salads and raw veggie snacking, but I’ve been able to maintain my fruits and vegetable intake no problem. It’s a good thing, too, since McDonald’s cheeseburgers and vanilla cones have become a go-to (only $1 each).

Depending on my location, my eating habits vary drastically. Some days it feels like I’m just consuming energy bars, nuts, apples, and dried edamame.  Other days I feast on local cuisine or my sister-in-law’s impeccable frittata. I’ve gotten pretty creative with my nourishment, as well. A Spam sandwich, or Spamwich, isn’t half-bad. Also, Siracha can spruce up even the blandest of ingredients, including a lukewarm can of turkey chili.

The bottom line: I feel good, healthy, and still haven’t had to dip into my emergency MRE’s.

recipe-for-post

Treasuring Beauty, The Mile High City, and Traveling Safer

“I’m sure that after all the national parks you’ve been to, this is underwhelming.”

“You’ve been to all these incredible places – what are you doing here?”

People I run into seem to believe that my senses have become dulled towards appreciating beautiful things in a “lesser” setting. Sure, I’ve gazed upon the Appalachians, snorkeled in picturesque waters, and watched the sun set over Colorado mesas. Yet despite all of the big nature moments I’ve experienced, I still thoroughly enjoy the simple things about being outside. Whether it’s feeling a cool breeze as a respite from the hot sun, or exploring a strange rock outcropping, I am not in the habit of comparing my natural encounters or rating my perspectives. If anything, visiting so many national parks has piqued my curiosity and honed my ability to pick out the most alluring views. I have learned to treasure beauty, regardless of the place or form.

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Red Rocks Park (Morrison, CO)

Denver is a great example. This city is surrounded by a great outdoor playground. During my stay, I hiked in some local parks, marveling at the uniqueness of the area and its relative solitude despite its proximity to hundreds of thousands of people. My 2-day break from camping was ideal: I had all the amenities of a city, yet the ability to escape into nature for hours. My gracious Denver hosts, J.C. and Renae, are fellow nature-lovers and explorers. In fact, J.C. is a traveler/blogger who focuses on helping sojourners travel safely. I was able to gather some pro tips about staying safe while on the road.

In a couple days I’ll say goodbye to Colorado. The views have been spectacular, the people have been gregarious, and the beauty (big and small) has been absolutely extraordinary.

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The Royal Arch in Chautauqua Park (Boulder, CO)

 

Westward Bound

I wasn’t looking forward to the long drive from Arkansas to Colorado, but it turned out to be full of kicks and giggles.

I got my fill of kitschy roadside attractions, including Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, TX.

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This famous art installation is interactive; people bring spray paint and add their own designs

I found this adorable RV Museum that was FREE! It had a bunch of campers from the 20’s to the 70’s. It was really well-kept, and had a lot of little historical touches that made touring each unit quite memorable.

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A teardrop from the 40’s (Clarence was slightly jealous of its chrome finish)

I stopped at 2 state parks, one for a quick picnic lunch and nature walk, and another to camp for the night. Red Rock Canyon, in Oklahoma was a little piece of paradise off of the interstate.

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I saw an armadillo hanging out by the edge of the trail

Lake Clayton State Park in New Mexico was simply enchanting. The landscape was gorgeous, and it felt like I was in another world.

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I spent 2 hours just exploring all of the cool areas around the lake (they have a dinosaur track site)

Colorado, here I come!

Strolling in Nashville, Walking in Memphis

Nashville and Memphis were 2 cities that I proudly checked off my bucket list this week. While not as spectacular as a national park, they both brought some intriguing things to the table.

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It would take some talent to play this guitar!

Nashville had so much live music. In some venues, you could hear 3 different bands depending on which floor you were on. During my second night, I stumbled upon an eclectic neighborhood where the locals hang out. The tunes were good and the conversations were great.

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RIP, Elvis

I couldn’t go to Elvis’ homeland and not see Graceland. Apparently there’s a big celebration this week in August to commemorate his death. I saw 7-year-olds dressed up like the King himself. Fun fact: Elvis had 14 TVs in his home.

So long Tennessee. I’m westward bound, now.