It’s time for another Unity Travel adventure. This trip will take us from our home in Austin, Texas to Niagara Falls, Canada with several stops along the way. We started out on this adventure on June 11, 2019 with our first stop in Bossier City, LA then Fort Smith, Arkansas, from there a stop over in Fayetteville to visit Lonnie’s brother, Dan and sister-in-law Barbara. We had a wonderful visit over lunch catching up since our last visit. We were off to St. Louis, MO to view the Arch Gateway. We stayed at the Casino Queen RV park which is located at one of the Metro stops making it very convenient to catching the train to the Arch. It’s a lovely walk from the Metro stop through the inner city community garden. The Arch rises 630 feet high and is a bold monument to the pioneering spirit. We took the tram ride inside the Arch to the top of America’s tallest man-made monument for a spectacular view of the city and the Mississippi River and up to 30 miles beyond. We stopped on the walk back at a great little coffee shop, sat outdoors enjoying coffee, tea and muffins overlooking the park before catching the Metro back
On to Elkhart, Indiana for the real purpose for this trip to get hydraulic jacks that automatically level the coach with a touch of a bottom. YEAH! No more trying to get the RV leveled with blocks anymore. We love ‘em, love ‘em , love ‘em and highly recomend them if you haven’t got them. While there we walked around impressive Notre Dame the campus and enjoyed walking around the St. Joseph river in Central Park, South Bend. The park is very attractive and a great place if you have children or a dog that need a good time outdoors.
We crossed into Canada on the 18th from Detroit, Michigan. The customs agents searched the coach from top to bottom, not finding anything that concerned them off we went. Luckily no problems getting our sweet Vegas, boxer dog, across the border. We took hwy 401 for a short distance before we cut off to Essex for a stop to exchange money and grab some lunch. We drove mostly back roads getting a good view of the country side and the small communities along the way. I have to mention what a difference from the industrial U.S. side to the agricultural open land directly across the border in Canada. We were amazed at the tidiness and impressiveness of everyone’s home. We virtually saw no shabby homes or lawns. We stopped for the night at Long Point State Park in Norfolk County. I am sure it must be a lovely park but they had such an abundance of rain the park was flooded. The sites were wet, sandy and swarming with mosquitoes. We left as early as possible the next morning for Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls, Canada, Thursday, June 19th. We are staying at Scott’s Good Sam’s RV park located on Lundy Road. The WeGo bus stops across from RV park and excellent way to navigate around town and to the Falls. The Falls are absolutely breathtakingly awesome. There are three falls, the America’s, Bridal, and Horseshoe Falls. We took the Horn Blower River Boat ride that takes you directly to the bottom of each falls. Even with the poncho on you get a little wet, but it is fabulous fun, very memorable, and I highly recommend it. Other activities included the Journey behind the falls and lunch on the patio at Table Rock House Restaurant the food was average but the view priceless.
The White Water Walk is along the Niagara River where the water from the 3 falls is force into a narrow gorge. The rapids reach up to 14 feet high strictly due to the volume of water and not due to rocks under the surface.
Indianapolis, Indiana to the see the Harness Races at Harrah’s Hossier Casino, then to the Indianapolis Speed Way also known as the Brickyard, famous for the Indianapolis 500 race. We toured the museum showing the evolution of racing cars, drivers and equipment dating back to the early 1900’s to modern day formula one. There was also a Corvette show with hundreds of cars from all time periods and some racing on the track. We spent the night at the Indiana State Fair Grounds campgrounds
We are now homeward via part of the Mississippi Blues trail from St. Louis, through Mississippi and Louisiana.
We just got back from Tampa where we boon-docked for two nights at the Tampa RV show. This show is unbelievably large and a great place to boon-dock. We met up with six other LTV Unity Owners and had a blast boon-docking.
The next night we boon docked at Bass Pro shops and had dinner at the restaurant.
We have been grounded in Austin for the last few months. Doctors’ appointments and the passing of Barbara’s brother Rick have kept us close to home. Fortunately, we were able to make one short trip to Oklahoma for a rally of Texoma Travelers LTV RV’s (a travel club that we joined). The rally was at WinStar Casino just across the Red River from Texas. We like these rallies and are looking forward to the next one in Louisiana.
Some people may call us crazy to go camping in 100 plus degree weather, but here at Emma Long Park we are camped at the water’s edge with large shade trees surrounding us. So, even though it is definitely hot the breeze off the lake and the shade of trees makes it most pleasurable for most of the day. Lonnie and Vegas have enjoyed tubing in the lake and we have all found this time most relaxing. The evenings are spent sitting lake side sipping on a refreshing gin and fresca watching the boats cruise by.
Each morning we have taken Vegas to Turkey Creek for a 3 mile hike. The trails are located about one mile from the park. Turkey Creek is a dog friendly off-leash area which Vegas has thoroughly enjoyed running free and splashing in and out of the creek. Her enthusiastic joy is something to behold – one has to be a boxer owner to know what this looks like.
Since it’s so hot we want to keep the outside cooking to minimum amount of time so I brought along my Sous Vide. Sous Vide is a cooking tool that heats water to a specified temperature then holds it at that temperature to cook food that is sealed in a food saver bag. The food will fully cook with little to no effort to the exact desired doneness. Once cooked then I quickly sear the meat, about one to two minutes per side and then dinner is done with the least amount of heat or mess. Great, you should try one.
Dinner is ready, time to go.
Wow, what a fabulous little town. All the National and public campgrounds were packed so we stayed at Spruce Lake RV park. We were disappointed at first not staying in one of the campgrounds but this RV Park is nice and very convenient to everything. There are a several restaurants, a grocery store, and the free public shuttle all within a very short walking distance. If you are traveling in an RV you can find parking downtown at the visitor center and also at the Library. They do allow overnight camping but the parking spots are very limited.
We enjoyed sightseeing and walking around this beautiful town. The Scandinavian Midsummer Festival was going on celebrating the summer solstice with music, dancing, Scandinavian culture education, food, and various vendors. We also rented a jeep from Backbone Adventures to drive the very rough off-road trails on the edge of the Roosevelt Forest. Lonnie very much enjoyed driving this challenging road. The jeep literally went over boulders, sideways along the road wash-out areas and straight up and straight down — very bumpy ride — yet worth the trip. The scenery was also divine.
We have been enjoying the temperatures, highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s with very low humidity. This climate just makes one feel energized and want to spend as much time outside as possible. Considering our hometown, Austin, Texas temperatures in the 100’s. No wonder so many Texan’s travel to Colorado.
We departed Mount San Jacinto early morning with light rain, spotting a beautiful rainbow on our way down the mountain toward Yuma, Arizona. Spent the night in Yuma where the wind was strong and dusty, creating a thin layer of dust throughout the RV. I wanted to drive through the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, outside of Phoenix, so off we went stopping at the Wild Horses Casino in Chandler to spend the night were we enjoyed an exceptional steak dinner at Shula’s steakhouse. The Apache Trail through the Superstition Mountains is 40 miles long beginning at Apache Junction and ending at Roosevelt Dam. The Apache Trail was a stagecoach trial and named after the Apache Indians who originally used this trail to move through the mountains. The road, no, the trail winds steeply through rugged desert mountains with two lakes, Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. The pavement ended after 18 miles leaving the rest of the trail mostly one lane dirt road, rough as an old wash board, and with hair pin turns. It took us 4 hours from start to finish. The scenery was remarkable but not sure it was worth the long and tedious drive. We found a lovely park about two hours away called Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area near Show Low, AZ. The drive on HYW. 60 to reach the lake was even more scenic than the Apache Trail and it was paved, the highway passed through a beautiful mountain range with deep gorges. We spent a wonderful day at Fool Hollow, located in the mountains with tall pines, cool temperatures, fresh air and good hiking trails. We are now beginning our return route homebound and took off for Albuquerque where we spent the night at the Route 66 Casino RV park, which was one of the nicest private RV parks we have stayed and would recommend it to anyone passing through this area. Today, New Mexico has issued high West winds alert, 25 to 35 winds with gust as high as 70 miles an hour. The drive west from Albuquerque heading to Texas has been windy and after about 250 miles we stopped at the Oasis State Park where the wind is alarmingly high. The RV is rocking, the wind whistling around the windows, the air vents rattling, with a dust storm blowing outside and is forecasted to last until around 1 am tomorrow morning. It should be an interesting night.
We made it into Palm Springs late afternoon after a long drive through the Mojave Desert. Palm Springs is a pretty city with business and home entrances filled with an abundant display of colorful flowers. It seemed like there was a lush golf course every few blocks and streets are named after movie stars and presidents. Unfortunately there must be smog or some other air pollution because we both had sinus problems so bad that we were ready to depart after one day.
Up to Mount San Jacinto State Park to experience the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The Tram departs about every 10 minutes up the mountain from zone 1 of 3,500 feet to zone 5 of 10,834 feet, straight up the mountain with absolutely gorgeous views. Once on top the mountain there are several trails to hike, we took the desert view trail. The temperature was cold enough for a coat but not too cold, the air was fresh with the scent of pine. Immediately we both felt better and our sinus problems were no longer. We enjoyed the mountain so much we decided to find someplace in the mountains to spend the next couple to days. Off we went to find one of the Mount San Jacinto State Parks that allowed RVs. The only ones we found were located on the other side of mountain from Palm Springs. We drove from Palm Springs up the steepest, narrowest mountain road toward Idyllwild I believe I have ever experienced and we have been on some thrilling mountain roads in Colorado, but this one beat them all in terms of scary – I was too scared to close my eyes and too scared to keep them open. We finally made it to Thousand Trails RV Park about 8,000 feet elevation. The park is very large with numerous trails, giant pines, the freshest air and perfectly cool temperatures. We hiked 5 miles today and feel pleasantly exhausted. It is so quiet here, only the whispering of the wind blowing through the trees and so scenic one cannot help but feel peacefully one with nature.
We drove highway 40 West from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Sedona, Arizona stopping at the Petrified Forest National Park that is located just off HWY 40 about a 2 hours from Flagstaff, Arizona. We drove the 28 mile road that runs through the entire park. The main sights are the painted desert, the blue mesa, the jasper forest and the giant logs. The painted desert is characterized by colorful bands of sedimentary rock called the Chinle Formation. This formation was deposited between 227 and 205 million years ago by northwest flowing river system. The petrified wood are colorful specimens of massive tree trunks strewn across the landscape. The trees were knocked down by wind or water and carried downstream being buried by layers of sediment over 218 million years ago. The logs soaked up groundwater and silica from volcanic ash and over time crystallized into quartz. Truly breathtaking sights of beauty and wonder.
We settled in the Sedona area for a couple of days in a state park called Dead Horse, don’t like the name but the park is large with numerous hiking trails, horseback riding, three lakes and surrounded by mountains. The park received its name because the original owners of the ranch asked their children which ranch they liked best when they were searching for property and they replied the one with the dead horse and so it was
named. When the owners gifted the land to the state for a park they requested the name remain — so there you have it — dead horse ranch state park. Yesterday we hiked in Sedona at Red Rock Crossing along a clear river gently flowing along the trial to view the impressive red Cathedral Rock.
Topsail is one of the best state parks in the country! Three miles of pristine beaches and enough hiking trails to keep you busy for weeks. The only negative of this park is that dogs are prohibited on the beach. Vegas really did not like the no dog rule but she found some other beaches that welcomed her.
We just got back from three days in Louisiana and some wonderful meals. Vegas especially enjoyed this trip because the Coushatta Casino has a dog park.
We needed a nature fix so we loaded up the tiny house and headed to Lost Maples, located along the Sabinal river west of San Antonio, Texas. This area is known for its big tooth maple trees. It offers several miles of rugged hiking trails through a quiet area of sheltered canyons, speculator views and scenic woodlands.
Off to see the “Big Tree” in Goose Island State Park, and hopefully see some whooping cranes that are in the area from late October to mid-April. The big tree is the second largest tree in the U.S., 11 feet across the trunk, 35 feet around, and 44 feet tall, 89 feet across the crown, and the most amazing fact is the tree is 1,000 years old. We did not see any whooping cranes around Goose Island so we headed for Aransas Wildlife Refuge
as National Wildlife Refuge. Aransas hosts the largest flock of wintering whooping cranes in North America with over 250 birds. By mid-April they depart for a hazardous journey of 2,500 miles to nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada.
Even with 250 birds in the area one is still lucky to see cranes feeding in the marshy salt flats in the refuge, and we were indeed fortunate. We took off on the Heron Flats trail and spotted a pair feeding. Whooping cranes being 60 inches tall and with white feathers were easy to spot against the green/brown marshes. The birds were elegant and gorgeous, a thrilling experience. Luckily Lonnie had his camera because I forgot mine and when I walked back (a very short distance) to get my camera the birds had flown away by the time I returned. And added plus on the walk down the trail we spotted a few alligators sunning themselves on the shore line. The park rangers told us to keep Vegas on a short leash because the alligators like puppy dogs for snacks. So glad the gators kept their distance.
Lonnie’s brother and sister-in-law (Dan and Barbara) who live in Arkansas would be visiting their son and daughter-in-law (Greg and Cathy) in Corpus. Great reason for a road trip, so off we went. We had dinner at Snoopy’s, a popular restaurant on intercostal canal, luckily they had a large roaring fire pit inside to warm everyone from the misty cold weather outside. The next day we were able to visit with Greg and Cathy whom we haven’t seen a several years and it was wonderful to spend time with family.
After the family visits we took off to Padre Island National Seashore, Malaquite beach. We were very fortunate to find a great camp site with an ocean view and a very short walk to the beach. Vegas truly enjoyed running in the sand and chasing the birds.
The Kentucky Horse Farm is located in Lexington, Kentucky and was open to the public in 1978. This farm is dedicated to the history of the horse and man’s relationship with the horse through out the ages. They have two museums; my favorite was the International Museum of the Horse. The farm houses up to 2,000 horses at times of special events and they offer various attractions through out the year. The day we were there, we saw three attractions, the Hall of Champions, The Parade of Breeds, and the Draft Horses. The Hall of Champions provides stalls and care for retired champion thoroughbreds. A couple of the horses brought out for viewing were Da Hoss, the pretty chestnut horse (harness racer) and Funny Cide (Kentucky Derby winner), the one with his tongue hanging out. The Parade of Breeds showcased various breeds of horses from around the world and explained the history and purpose of each particular horse, all gorgeous. The Draft Horse exhibition displays the largest and strongest of the horses. The size of these animals is beyond belief, true giants. The largest one was over 2,000 pounds and 18 ½ hands high.
The Kentucky Horse Farm has a convenient and very nice RV park adjacent to the farm, so we stayed there for a couple of nights.
We enjoyed our visit to the state of Kentucky very much. There are many things to do there, the state parks are very lovely, and the state overall is very attractive. I highly recommend a trip to Kentucky
After so many years of watching the Kentucky derby on TV we were excited to visit this beautiful historic site. The walking tour of the race track and grounds was very impressive. They said 165,000 people come on Derby day with the general admission open gallery area costing $80 per person. We of course had to have the official drink of Churchill Downs, a Mint Julep. It was very, very tasty. They told me it was made with Old Forester bourbon infused with mint, it is the Old Forester Mint Julep label. It has made me wanting another one.
Crazy Horse Memorial when completed will be 563 feet high and 641 long. It was started decades ago by Korczak Ziolkowski and his children are working on the sculpture today. The face was completed in 1998. The purpose is to provide a memorial to not only the great leader of the Lakota tribe but also to be a remembrance of Native American History in the Black Hills that are dear to the Lakota.
Next it was onto Mount Rushmore which was just a few miles down the highway. Impressive, spectacular, and amazing does not begin to describe the feelings we had gazing upon that mount. The wonderment of how they were able to carve such a massive sculpture with such fine detail visible from such a far distance is mind boggling. The gallery describing how this endeavor was accomplished was just as impressive as viewing the 4 presidents. A true wonder and well worth the time and distance to get here. A valued testament and tribute to our great leaders.