LIVIN’ ON STILTS
We stayed two nights at the free Redden State Park spot in Delaware. On Tuesday, we ended up walking a flat five mile loop around the park. It’s always nice to walk but I can tell I’m going to have a rough go of it when we actually get back on a substantial incline. The weather was phenomenal, especially after what we had been dealing with earlier in New Jersey.
On Wednesday, we headed out of our lonely free spot for our appointment at Pep Boys. After buying new tires in Delaware, (no sales tax, yay!) we headed to a surprisingly expensive state park in New Jersey called Turkey Swamp. I did some research but didn’t realize the park offers a different price for non-residence. Oops. $40 a night, guys! The park was nice with quite a few easy trails throughout. We were practically alone in the park those two days. It would not be my favorite park if it was full with how close the sites are. Everyone is in your backyard, but it was good for us then. The next day, I took Fred on a long walk connecting three of the trails to make a five mile loop. It was a bit muddy in spots but I just love the crunch of crispy leaves under my boots. It was the perfect time of year for it and Fred’s head practically swiveled right off with how many squirrels pranced around us. He was on high alert!
That same day, we headed into Red Bank, NJ, to see my cousin in the play production of “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site.” She happened to be on tour with the production on the east coast and it was the perfect excuse to put on real pants and mascara. The show was so cute. It’s adapted from and kids book and I just loved seeing all the kids engaged and fully loving the play. We only got to see her for a few minutes after the show before she had to get back on the road, but it was lovely and I can’t believe I’m related to so many talented people. I, for one, can’t sing but try often. Fred, however, was not amused to have been left in a parking lot. So it goes. (can you tell I just read Slaughterhouse Five?) So it goes.
Friday and Saturday weren’t very exciting. We drove through Pittsburgh and Ohio, staying both nights at truck stops. Just a couple of very long drives and a couple of cranky Roadtrippers needing a place to rest our cranky bodies.
We got to Johnny Appleseed Park in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Sunday. It was a fun little stop and happened to be the day the park opened for camping. We went on the hunt for Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman’s grave, which is pretty much the only reason to visit as far as we could tell. We found it just outside of the campground next to a giant arena on a small grass hill surrounded by bare cherry and apple trees. After staring at it for an appropriate amount of time, we headed back down to our rig and relaxed in our heated camper.
If you haven’t noticed by now, we’ve drastically changed our plans, totally flipped the script and at this point decided to head to Colorado.
After visiting everyone’s pal, Johnny, we headed into Illinois for a two-night stop at Starved Rock State Park. On Monday, we hiked to Starved Rock, which is basically a paved incline and then stairs to a circular deck on top of the rock. We read all of the plaques, stared out across the Illinois River and it’s damn big dam. Matt even spotted some bald eagles chilling on a small island in the river. After the main attraction, we hiked through some of the small canyons to one of the 14 waterfalls within the park.
In winter, the falls are frozen and magical. In spring, they are gushing from the excess melted snow. Somehow we ended up there right in between those two points, leaving us with a sorry trickle. Still, the canyons were beautifully carved out from years of flowing water, and happened to look a lot like a thick stack of pancakes.
We thought we’d keep to the south end of the northern states, get to SD and Yellowstone. However, it’s still cold as frick there. Plans changed once again.
We really never planned on going through Kansas. Not at all on this year long trip. But, in trying to be flexible, and warm, we did just that. At first, there was just nothingness off the highway. Farms, funny cows, and more farms. One great thing about Kansas is all of the free camping and boondocking opportunities. On Tuesday, we spent our first night at Milford Lake Loop between Topeka and Salina. Not much to say about it other than the big fat fish Matt caught! Wednesday night we ended up at Cheyenne Bottoms campground in Great Bend, KS. Still, not much to do or say about it other than we were warm and it was pretty.
Up until this point, Kansas was just kind of boring. It’s not as flat as I thought. Although there aren’t any spectacular mountain ranges, or any mountains at all really, the state is quite hilly. But then, we got to Goodman Lake in Ness City. This free spot was just beautiful. The golden landscape against the corn blue skies and puffy white clouds had me in awe. Admittedly, there wasn’t much to do, but Matt did drop a line in the lake without a bite.
Little singing birds kept us company all day in Goodman Lake. The tune was just too perfect. If you told me Disney himself came to this spot for audio of the birds in Snow White, I’d believe you. I fell a little bit in love with Kansas in two days, which surprised me as much as it might you.
Now, I wouldn’t plan a special trip to Kansas, and I challenge you not to say “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” an annoying amount of times the second you leave the state.
We landed in a small town called Flagler on Sunday. Another free spot under our belt that isn’t a parking lot! Heck ya, my friends. We’re back in boondock friendly territory and loving it. This area of CO looks quite a bit like Kansas but we’re only a few hours from the Rockies. I can feel them calling to me, taunting me with hikes that are much too difficult for me in my current shape. Also, I’m probably going to need a day or two to get acclimated to the elevation change.
After leaving Flagler, we headed northwest to Fort Collins. We FINALLY got a peek at the Rockies from the highway. Just straight looming over us getting bigger and prettier the closer we drove. AHHHH it feels good to see some mountains again. We’ll be in CO a few weeks before heading into Utah. Don’t hold me to that plan, though, since we’ve had more changes than I can count at this point. We’re taking it slow, avoiding the snow, and enjoying every last bit of it.
Something random I thought of while driving through CO: Up until this trip, I had been to a Walmart maybe three times in my life. I go to a Walmart three to four times a month now. There everywhere and just so damn convenient.
Ta ta for now!
Ariel + Matt