Posts Tagged ‘campgrounds’

Doesn’t “Moki Dugway” Play Outfield for Cleveland? (Day 126, Part 2)

November 23rd, 2009 2 comments

Seems like he should if he doesn’t.

At the end of Valley of the Gods, the road dumps you off on Utah Highway 261, which you then follow if you’re trying to get yourself on to Lake Powell and Capitol Reef. The speed limit changes almost immediately from 55 to 35 and then to 15 and then the highway becomes gravel and good luck to you from there.

Road goes up quickly. Photos didn’t turn out that great, but it was an amazing stretch of road. I have no incentive to lie to you about this, therefore I *MUST* be a reliable source of information in this matter.

This drive, btw, is called “Moki Dugway”. Named after the outfielder. It made a Forbes list of America’s scariest highways.

moki-dugway 1

moki-dugway 2

moki-dugway 3

moki-dugway 4


moki-dugway (1)

At the top of it you get a view back over the Valley of the Gods, where my truck no longer is. Way cool drive, although the funnest part was being on one of the switchbacks and trying to figure out how where the road was actually going, cuz you sure can’t see how there’s going to be another ledge onto which it can switch back.

Lessee. Then I stopped by Natural Bridges National Monument and drove around their scenic loop. It was getting pretty late in the afternoon to try and take pictures, but oh well.

natural-bridges 1

natural-bridges 2

These bridges also had names. There were a couple others there as well. Would probably be a fun place to visit in the actual day-time so you could run out on the trails and check out the bridges from a vantage point other than the overlook on the road. Tja.

Then I got to Lake Powell.


The, uh, bridge goes over the lake. Camped about a mile away from here — last camping night on the trip! — at Dirty Devil River. Nice campground, $6, but fetchin’ cold.

All in all, a big day.


I Slept at Guadalupe Mountain (Sort Of)!

November 17th, 2009 3 comments

It’s the highest peak in all of Texas.

guadalupe-mtn10,000-some odd feet. I didn’t climb it.

guadalupe-mtn-sunsetSunset from the campground.

I think Guadalupe Mountain is probably best known for being an NPS campground pretty near Carlsbad Caverns. And the campground was really just a parking lot — charmless, but flat. And about 2 AM the wind started howling. At 5, I gave up on sleeping and pulled up stakes. Not literally — I slept in the back of the truck. Then I drove to Carlsbad and got a sausage egg McMuffin. Are you supposed to capitalize “sausage egg”?

And FWIW, I don’t think the government uses consistent criteria to determine which areas should be “National Parks”. Guadalupe Mountain, Carlsbad Caverns, and probably Mammoth Cave should all be National Monuments, not Parks. At least according to their stated criteria. Oh well.


Florida State Line (State #35)

October 28th, 2009 Comments off

That’s what the top sign says anyway. No idea on the bottom sign. But check out my windshield!

welcome_floridaY’know, one good rain would take care of this problem.

Also had my worst sleep-finding experience of the trip so far on Night 101 (how fitting!). Got to Tallahassee around 8 or so and then drove out to the NFS campground about 20 minutes west of town. Turns out they don’t allow camping there — just ATV’ing. No problem. There were a bunch of others in the Apalachicola National Forest southwest of Tallahassee. An hour later, I’m cruising down dark, dirt roads looking for any of three different campgrounds purported to exist there. Three strikes later and I was — oh man, baseball reference fine, but nothing *that* lame. Sorry.

So I headed back down to the coastal highway and it was maybe 10:30 or 11 by then. Figured I’d just stop at a motel somewhere. And then from behind, as is (apparently) southern custom, someone started tailgating me, so I pulled over first half-chance I got so they could pass. Instead of passing, they pulled up next to me and stopped. It was the local sheriff wondering what was wrong. “Just wanted to let you guys pass me,” I said. “You sure there’s nothing wrong?” I was *pretty* sure. Anyway — they thought there might be a campground open in the next town, 20 minutes down the road. But they were wrong.

There *was* a motel there, though — it was about 11:30. The motel had three cars parked in front of it, but when I got to the office door it said “no vacancy”. Sure. Back in the car. Per the map, I could take another little highway through Apalachicola National Forest again and if it didn’t work out *this time*, then I’d be back on the 10 in 60 miles. Went up the little highway and found a state park sign that said there was camping there. Unfortunately, past the sign was just a mess of roads and when I found a trailhead that didn’t include a campground, I turned back. But on the way back, I saw a sign that said that whatever sand-spur would lead me to a campground. I followed it in and found the campground. Except that it said I needed a permit that I was supposed to get in some town somewhere. Naturally, I couldn’t violate the law.

So I headed back out to the highway, but not before getting on my Blackberry to see if I could verify that one of the two NFS campgrounds that Rand McNally said existed actually existed. To my surprise, they both seemed to and I found Actual Directions on how to navigate FS roads to get to one of them. And then I did that and it was a real campground and it cost $3 and it was barely even 1 AM when I went to sleep.

I didn’t say it was an *interesting* story.


Categories: south Tags: , ,

South Carolina Puts Its Lighthouses Next to the *Water* for Some Reason (Day 99)

October 26th, 2009 Comments off

Ever wake up in the morning and you can’t remember what state you’re in? Yeah.

Left Charleston and headed south to Folly Beach. Meant to go swimming, but there weren’t showers and I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day encrusted with salt. And hopefully you tuned in for lighthouses today, because you’re getting lighthouses. Oh — and this:

folly-island_graffitiEven South Carolina’s fools are deserving of pity.

Then lighthouses.

folly-island_lighthouseYou had to be a good swimmer to work at this one.

folly-island_blusterThe sky shows off its dual nature.

folly-island_lighthouse-beachThe Folly Island Lighthouse in its full glory.

This was probably my favorite lighthouse so far, mostly because (a) it’s still where it’s always been and (b) it hasn’t been restored. I love ruins and relics and the fact that the top of this lighthouse is rusting visibly just — man. It’s perfect. I think there’s some sort of “save our lighthouse” thing going on amongst the locals. I hope by “save” they just mean to keep it standing rather than wanting to go all North Carolina and move it three miles inland. Lighthouses should be weathered, not freshly painted. IMHO.

From there, headed south, mostly along the coast, until I got to the Beaufort area. For some reason this is pronounced “Buford”. There’s a MCAS there and it adjoins Parris Island, whose gate I, well, looked at. They have a state park there that’s got the thickest palm tree jungle this side of Guadalcanal. Also has a campground that was utterly full and charmless as well as, of course, a lighthouse.

hunting-island_lighthouse-palmJust because you can’t see the water in the photo doesn’t mean it isn’t close (enough?) to it.

hunting-island_lighthouse-doorThe door to the lighthouse: *way* to freshly painted…

hunting-island_lighthouseSame lighthouse, different photo.

Ended up going to a private campground to sleep (“Tuck in the Woods” was the name of it). It was very nice and mostly unlike any other private campground I’ve driven by. The spaces actually had trees around them, for instance. Its owner also recommended a place in town that had very good hamburgers — better than the majority I’ve had this trip even.

And then I got bit by a bunch of mosquitoes.


Everything I Learned at Monticello (Day 84)

October 10th, 2009 Comments off

It’s a pretty house, I learned that.

monticello_back-lawn-viewIt’s maybe too centered in this photo? Whatever.

  • The c in Monticello is pronounced “ch”.
  • Thomas Jefferson was six-foot-two.
  • He was pretty eccentric — more eccentric than I am even! — and didn’t seem to equivocate much, even when it seemed like he was wrong.
  • It didn’t seem like his slaves were living as luxuriously as I might have thought.
  • He was really good friends with James and Dolly Madison.
  • They moved into one of the out-buildings (one room upstairs, kitchen downstairs) while the main house was still being built.
  • Jefferson defied conventional wisdom by building the house on top of a hill.
  • Most people in rural Virginia during Jefferson’s time had never seen a map before.
  • Ronald Reagan’s library is more impressive than Monticello. Of course, it has the advantage of having been built as a museum rather than a house, but, inasmuch as you can compare a museum to a house, Reagan FTW.
  • The Monticello tour is a little claustrophobic.

I think that’s about it. Or at least, that appears to be all that’s stuck with me over these two long days since I was there.

monticello_garden-longJefferson seems to have planted corn and other crops in his front yard.

Also went to Appomattox Court House on Day 84. It was a little lame. Here’s a picture so you can see how lame it is.

appomattox-court-houseI should probably just stop visiting Civil War sites. The photo itself probably doesn’t come off as all that lame.

And here’s what I learned there:

  • Appomattox Court House was the name of the village where the armistice was signed. It was not signed at the courthouse (pictured above), but at some guy’s house (not pictured).
  • The modern town of Appomattox moved closer to the railroad once the courthouse burned down.
  • The guy’s house that is currently set up at Appomattox Court House is a re-creation. The real one was dismantled and taken to DC, where it disappeared or something without ever having been exhibited as planned.
  • The guy who gives tours through the house is sort of cranky to people who don’t know they have to be led through it by him, even though there’s no indication anywhere that they’re not allowed to just walk into the house like they can every other house at Appomattox Court House.
  • It’s hard to use three words in spelling Appomattox Court House.

I didn’t take the tour. It’s probably a fantastic site if you’re into the Civil War. They also had a guy dressed up as a union soldier who acted like he was stuck in 1865. It probably would have been more convincing if he hadn’t been ethnically Indian (from India). I mean — the illusion’s pretty well broken before he even tries to talk to you about how expensive the tavern is, which makes playing along sort of stressful. He also has all his teeth and lacks powerful body odor, which should probably also have been illusion-breakers.

Looking forward to kayaking around the Outer Banks. I think that’ll help.

Oh, and I also went to Chancellorsville, another Civil War battlefield. I took one photo:

chancellorsville-battlefieldDespite plenty of trees to hide behind, Stonewall Jackson died here.

But it was getting on toward evening, the rangers were closing up shop, and so I pressed on. The campground I slept at that night is probably one of the ones on the western part of the map in Fallout 3. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. And I think I saw a super mutant while I was there — but, sadly, I found no jet, mutfruit, stealthboys, or railway spikes. They had a shower, though.


Camping in the Blue Ridge

October 10th, 2009 Comments off

Welcome to my world!

blue-ridge_campground-at-nightOtter Creek Campground, night. The orange spots are from the lantern off to the side of the camera.

Camping Sounds from Virginia

Click above to hear what Va sounds like out in the sticks at night. To complete the scene, figure there’s at least one of those insects that looks like a twig crawling on the picnic table and a daddy long-legs frying itself on the inside of your propane lantern (which is the white noise in the audio clip — sorry). And if you’re me, you can’t smell anything because you’re still a little congested.


Categories: south Tags: , ,

New Hampshire Has Leaves and Then I Leave New Hampshire (Day 74)

September 29th, 2009 5 comments

It’s silly to hold this against Vermont, but if I’d spent one day less in Vermont, I could have spent one day more in New Hampshire. Hopefully that’s my biggest regret of the trip. It might be in first place so far.

I needed to end the day in Maine, as close to Acadia National Park as possible, so decided to just run through one of the Reader’s Digest drives, end up at Mt. Washington — because I love a good drive-up mountain peak –, and then head east into the far corner. The plan was executed to precise specifications and many leaves were photographed.

I don’t know if Acadia will have leaves. I should probably read up on it. Some of the trees in Maine have already dropped their leaves and are therefore considered “No-Fo’s” — no foliage. Anyway, here’s to closing down New Hampshire and going back one day to do some hiking because it looked like it’d be a lot better than Vermont.

Not that it’s fair to blame Vermont. It’s really well manicured there.

Eh, so campground: stayed at the Hancock Campground in the White Mountains National Forest. As I’ve come to expect from all NFS campsites, I was parked right next to a river. Mostly heard rain falling, though, at least until about the time I got out of bed truck sleeping bag cot bed. Nice leaves there, too (not pictured).

new-hampshire_presidential-ridges“The Presidentials” are peaks in the White Mountains named after presidents. I think these might be among them.

new-hampshire_leaves-succotashThis is about the fourth one of these I’ve uploaded now. They all remind me of sweaters Cliff Huxtable would wear. That or succotash.

new-hampshire_side-mirror-leavesOne day I’m gonna take a side mirror photo that works!

new-hampshire_sabbaday-fallsSabbaday Falls, named after the Sabbath Day. Photo taken on Monday, which is holy in no culture.

new-hampshire_sabbaday-falls-bridgeThey always build foot bridges over waterfalls out here.

new-hampshire_red-leavesLeaves. Finally.

new-hampshire_bend-in-roadA bend in the road.

Really I just wanted to post some New Hampshire photos with blue skies in them (sorry, Chad). Then Mt. Washington, the highest peak in New Hampshire. Naturally you can take a toll road to the top: $23! Which, of course, is a full buck cheaper than the one in Vermont. BUT — it’s 3.5 miles longer, mostly paved, and ascends to a peak that’s like 2,000 feet higher. And they give you a CD to listen to on the way up that tells you how to use low gear to avoid overheating.

It got really cloudy near the top, and cold and windy.

new-hampshire_mt-washington-glenThe base of the mountain, right by the toll booth.

new-hampshire_mt-washington-towerObservation tower on top of the mountain. Winds 20-30 mph, mostly cloudy (just not in this photo).

new-hampshire_mt-washington-and-meOn top of *yet another* state.

new-hampshire_mt-washington-clouds-roadHeading down, above the clouds.

Yeah, so I gotta go back and visit New Hampshire some time. The hike up to Mt. Washington looked worth it — it’s high enough to be above the treeline and if you have a clear day, the views would be pretty amazing. Hopefully the hike starts around 4,000 feet, of course, and hopefully you got a sweater handy. Just that it’s cold and windy on top there is all.


Vermont Is a Well-Kept State (Day 71)

September 27th, 2009 Comments off

It’s kind of like Switzerland. Not much is out of place. The campground I stayed at, at Smuggler’s Notch State Park, was the nicest, cleanest campground I’ve ever been to in my life. Plenty of trees separated the campsites, for instance. There were showers and they were immaculate. There was a water feature inside the bathroom. There was a ranger on-site 24 hours a day plus a volunteer host. They sold firewood, kindling, and firestarter. And this post isn’t even about the campground.

Which, it turns out, was sort of the best part of Vermont. Ah well.

The campground was located between the town of Stowe and the Stowe ski slopes. Nice locale.

stowe_churchThe church in Stowe.

And then these waterfalls are across the street (and then a steep half-mile down) from the campground.

stowe_bingham-fallsBingham Falls, named after the copper mine.

Anyway, then I ended up going to this state park where they have an abandoned old town. About a mile into your hike through the old town, however, you begin to realize that there aren’t any building there any more or, like, anything to look at. Little River State Park was the name. Avoid it at all costs. I don’t think these pictures are as boring as actually being there, though:

stowe_little-river-leavesThat’s right, another photo of leaves. How I’ve kept my mind is a wonder.

stowe_graffiti-houseFine, there’s *one* house still standing. For now. And: you mean there’s a *down*-side to eminent domain?!

stowe_little-river-cemeteryThe town’s population was maybe 100 and existed for like 80 years, but somehow managed to maintain three cemeteries. Maybe people just died there a lot.

To be fair, I think the park’s trails were meant more for snowmobilers than normal people. Is that fair? Whatever.

Spent the rest of the day driving around the Stowe area trying to derive meaning — the next day was going to have better weather, so I was waiting for that before going up into the hills mountains. Tried to go to “Texas Falls”, but there was a bridge out at the trailhead. Drove up to Lincoln Gap, but there’s not really anything to *see*, just a road and another trailhead. Went to Shaw’s, which is the east coast’s Albertsons. Bought batteries and brown-and-serve sausage links. Pretty cool. Ate at an expensive Thai restaurant in Stowe. Then went back and luxuriated in the cleanliness (and orderliness!) of the campsite.


Welcome to [Bug Splatter] York, The Empire State (State #19)

September 22nd, 2009 5 comments

Oh yes, a previous home-state. I paid taxes here once — no, twice! Ah yes. Fond memories of taxes I have.

welcome_new-yorkIt would kind of be cool if the bug splatter were on the sign. Then again, that would be a very large bug traveling at a high velocity, which might actually not be that cool.

I stayed at a campground at Lake Erie State Park that night, whatever day this was. No idea, seriously. Anyway — was a decent enough campground right on he lake, no need to worry about trees separating campsites (because there weren’t any, you see). $17/night, pretty average. BUT there were free showers available, BUT the showers were really moldy. Tough.

I also had a skunk run through my campsite that night that tore through my garbage. It was a little weird listening to a skunk eat stale potato chips, so I put my headphones in. No one and nothing got sprayed, most importantly.


Categories: northeast Tags: , ,

Miner’s Castle Is Major Awesome (Day 57, Part 2)

September 16th, 2009 4 comments

Drove across the U.P. to Christmas, Mich., where I got a campsite for the night, then headed out to Munising (a town!) and then Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to see what was there, half-way intending on finding it to be lame and then leaving first thing in the morning.

I found out Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore existed by going through a list of all National Parks Service properties on Wikipedia and seeing that this one looked kind of pretty in the pictures, plus somewhere in my mind I thought I remembered someone telling me that the “claw part” of Michigan had something worthwhile about it. Turns out that real life is prettier than the pictures, most especially *my* pictures (in this case). IMHO.

munising-fallsSee that there? And if you squint hard enough, you can almost see a waterfall!

So Munising Falls wasn’t the good part. It was close to town, though, and thus got visited. The next site down the line was Miner’s Castle, which was recommended by RS’s Reader’s Digest book.

miners-castle_kayaksThe Miner’s Castle; the miner himself may be in one of the ‘yaks. But probably not.

miners-castle_pictured-rocksSans paddlers.

Was mostly struck by how pretty the water was. Looked like something you’d expect to find in the South Pacific, but it was on Lake Superior. Pretty cool. I figured I hadn’t seen enough of it and then found what looked like a good 10-miler I could try the next day.

Meanwhile, my writeups get continually lamer. This one’s almost *sincere* [shudders]. Only another 68 days of blogging to go (give or take)! Maybe my second (writing) wind is waiting for me in, oh, let’s say the Adirondacks. Seems likely enough.


PS, The campground was an NFS site, so you know it had to be good. It was a pretty big NFS campground (40 or so sites) and privately managed, which meant it was a little on the expensive site for NFS ($16). But: potable water, plenty of trees, and I could do laundry without my neighbors having to watch. NFS campgrounds über alles.

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