The end of one journey and the beginning of another.

October 17th we headed across Florida to Shell Mound, Ceder Key. This state park contains a shell mound that was built up over a 1000 year period. between 1,800 and 400 years ago, native people created the mound by discarding the shells of oysters and clams. Here we stayed at the state park and had the whole campground to ourselves.

October 19th found us at the beach for 6 days , Gulf Shores Alabama. Beautiful beaches but not a lot else. But I love the beach so I was happy !

Huge campground at Gulf State Park , lots of good walks though with some wildlife.

Voodoo Festival and New Orleans marked the last weekend of our trip 😦  But what a way to end , brilliant music from some much loved bands, Foo Fighters, The Killers, The Head and the Heart . But discovered some great new music, in particular Black Pistol Fire from Austin TX. Who I would call old school guitarist, totally immersed in his music. Loved it !

 

So there ends our amazing trip, 20304 miles, 177 Days, 48 states and $1000 under budget

I have been asked so many times “What was your favorite thing?” I have thought and thought about this and cannot come up with one single place or event. There were so many great moments, beautiful places and amazing sights. Chris and I both fell in love with the Oregon Coast, YellowStone NP was incredible, the festivals were so much fun and all without a single argument .

So begins our new journey together even though we are 5000 miles apart again. Chris had to return to England as his visa ran out. But the Green Card process has been started and hopefully it won’t be too long before we can be together again .

If anyone has any thoughts on doing a trip like this, we would thoroughly recommend it. Don’t put it off , you never know what is around the corner! This is truly an amazing country with so much to offer, go grab it whilst you can .

 

Day 160 Saturday October 14th

So a few things have happened since my last blog, the biggest one being WE GOT MARRIED ! What a great day, but more about that later.

Sept 30. We headed into Homestead just south of Miami, with easy access into the Everglades, Biscayne Bay and The Keys. On the way we stopped in at Loggerhead Marine Rescue Center, Chris finally saw some live turtles, I think he was beginning to think I was pulling his leg about seeing turtles.

 

In Homestead we set up camp for the next 4 nights in an expensive, lets nickel and dime the campers, RV park. But after Irma there is not a lot of choice. Miami does not look too badly affected, lots of vegetation blow down etc , but not much structural damage. The place that did look bad were the middle Keys.  Anyway next day we visited Everglades NP #56, but guess what no wildlife, no gators , nothing ! Apparently most of the wildlife has headed further inland as the salt water level in the glades got too high. So sadly no photos to show but grass and water .

Monday Oct 2 , hired a car and took off with Cole to The Keys. Driving though all the keys it was evident which one got hit the worst, boats, RV’s, vegetation and household appliances just piled up everywhere. We have never been in a disaster  zone before, it was quite eye opening.

Fortunately Key West had very little damage and we had a wonderful 24 hrs there, in a great Inn. Douglas House Inn, where we had a whole suite to ourselves completely separate from the rest of the Inn and right off Duvall Street.

Monday Oct 5th, We rented a house in Miami in Hollywood, all the kids are coming in along with very good friends of ours for 5 days. Steph and Matt flew in from England , Bex, Jewelia, Deb and Lissa drove down from TN and Steve flew in on Tuesday. We had a great house with a pool , lovely to see everyone and catch up. So next few days were spent at the beach, in the pool and generally enjoying each others company. All in preparation for a wedding on Wednesday !

We had originally thought we would get married on the beach, but it was so windy we stayed at the house and had a great time with family and friends finishing off with a pool party ! Thank you to all those who helped make our day very special.

Next couple of days were spent mooching around Miami and generally having a good time . Had fun on a Duck Tour and got soaked out in the bay when it decided to bucket down with rain. On Friday 13th we went deep sea fishing.

Chris was the only one who caught anything, King Mackerel , it was delicious !

So now all the family and friends have left , Chris and I have one more night in the house until we return to our mobile home. Tomorrow we start the final leg of our trip and the first part of our new journey together, heading up to the Florida Pan Handle, Alabama , Louisiana and Mississippi .

Lots of Love

Mr and Mrs Tullis  xx

Day 145

Today is Friday Sept 29th, wow where has the time gone. After a few days in Knoxville we headed off to the Carolinas. North Carolina #43, South Carolina #44. First stop was Congaree National Park #52 , a small swampy park. And from there into Charleston to spend the evening with Kristen.

Friday 22nd we headed to Tybee Island and Savannah , Georgia #45. We were hoping to see Turtles on Tybee, but a little too late 😦  Spent Saturday in Savannah, lunched at Six Pence pub, drinking bitter shandy and chatting with 3 sub mariners from north of England.

Next stop was Okefenokee Swamp Park and …. mosquitoes !!!! This is a National Wildlife refuge that covers nearly 1/2 million acres. Here we took a ranger guided boat tour into the swamp and got up close with the wildlife.

From the swamp to the beaches, we travelled to St Augustine Florida #46, and stayed at Anastasia State Park, lovely beach side campground. St Augustine is the oldest town in USA with lots of Spanish and English influences. Had fish and chips in Prince of Wales Pub, which was actually pretty good.

 

Wednesday 27th drove south on A1A to increasing amounts of debris on the side of the road. Have not seen too much evidence of hurricanes so far. Through Daytona Beach and into Cape Canaveral. Thursday we spent the day at Kennedy Space Center, fascinating place. Got to see the launch pads, Space Shuttle Atlantis and had a go on a launch simulator . The sheer size of the rockets and the transporters . Well worth a visit.

Unfortunately we did not get to see a launch, there is one in a few days ,but it is at 4am and if i see one I want to see it in daylight, rather than just an orange glow in the sky.

So now we are heading into The Everglades and The Keys, which should be opening up on Oct 1st. Fingers crossed.

46 states, 52 national Parks and 18246 miles.

Day 133

Theodore Roosevelt NP#43, North Dakota #34, was a small but pretty national park, sadly it was very over cast due to smokey skies yet again. Theodore Roosevelt moved here in 1883 to grieve after losing his wife and mother on the same day, the rugged landscape and strenuous life he experienced here helped shaped a conservation plan that we still benefit from today. Saw Prairie Dogs for the first time, along with Eagles and Coyotes.

Having photo issues yet again, putting up what I can , will add to it as I can.

From North Dakota into South Dakota #35, stopped in Buffalo for the night. Labor Day saw us passing the geographical center of the lower 48 in Belle Forche, really in the middle of nowhere !! Back into Wyoming (#27) and to Devils Tower (National Monument).  An astounding geologic feature protruding out of the Black Hills, America’s first national monument.  Lots of climbers , think Chris of feeling a twinge of jealousy.  The Native Americans hold Devils Tower in high regard and is scared ground to them. They still come here to preform ceremonies such as sweat lodges and sun dances and leave prayer offerings, colorful cloths or bundles.

 

From Devils Tower we drove to Sturgis SD, motorcycle capital of America, sadly we missed bike week by about a month so was very quiet. But used the time to have new tires put on Minnie and new glasses for Chris.

Wednesday sept 6 stopped in Deadwood SD , caught up with Wild Bill and Calamity Jane.

Then onto Crazy Horse Monument, this is the world’s largest mountain carving and its mission is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians. It was started in 1948 and is still on going.  We once again lucked out and were there on one of only 2 nights when they perform a Night Blast, lighting the carving all the way up with explosions.

Next day we took Piglet on a 70 mile ride though Custer State Park with amazing scenery and roads. Hiked upto some Cathedral Spires , another great climbing location. This park was a great surprise , had never even heard of it before. Well worth the visit and drive though.

Mount Rushmore was a little disappointing , maybe we have seen so much in the way of natural wonders of this country , that we were expecting too much ?? Anyway its checked off the bucket list.

Next up was Wind Cave NP#48 and Badlands NP#49, interesting landscape. One of the richest fossil beds in the world. They have fossils dating back 6,000,000 years.  From here it was onto Minuteman Missile Silo NHS#50.  Very interesting, also scary , showing you just how close man can come to annihilating the human race !!

From here on for a few days , it was just long days driving though Nebraska #38, Kansas #37, Iowa #38, Minnesota  #39, Wisconsin #40, Illinois #41, Indianna #42 and Kentucky , back home to Knoxville for a few days before we head south to the Carolinas and Florida to meet up with family.

42 States, 50 National Parks/ Monuments and 17,000 miles.

 

Day 117

The last week has seen us travel though Washington State into Montana and North Dakota. Washington is very beautiful but also surprising. As you move away from the coast it becomes very arid and dry, something i was not expecting. We drove though North Cascades NP #41, gaining its name from the innumerable waterfalls that feed into the parks cerulean lakes. But of being summer we didn’t get to see too many of these.

From here we headed into Leavenworth , a Bavarian town in the American Alps. Also home to some good friends, Bud and Pat, owners of Nisus Corporation, whom i worked for, for many happy years. Bud and Pat graciously hosted us for a couple nights in their gorgeous home, showing us the local sights.

Including their Pear orchard and a very good local winery, Icicle Ridge Winery, we sampled some wonderful wines there, so if you are ever in the area be sure to pay them a visit.

 

Finishing off our time with wine in the hot tub over looking the mountains !

Day 114 we left Leavenworth and headed east towards Montana and Glacier NP #42. The country here in Washington and Montana has tremendous wildfires, so a lot of our travels over the last few days have been very smoke filled and therefore not many good photos. We camped inside Glacier NP for 2 nights and took Piglet up “Going to the Sun Road”. Some amazing views that i am quite sure are even more spectacular when there is less smoke ! Glacier is enormous , covering over 1,000,000 acres of northern Montana. It is adjacent to Alberta’s Waterton NP across the Canadian border. In 1932 the two parks partnered together to become the worlds first International Peace Park.

Now we are heading to Theodore Rosevelt NP, a long drive across Montana and into North Dakota, with not a lot to look at. Currently sitting at a Visitor Center/Rest area as it has wifi !!

So we will catch up with you all in a few days. Hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend  xxxx

Day 110 !!

Drove though Lassen National Park #38, beautiful Alpine meadows with hot mud pots and onto the coast again and into Oregon #31 . Followed the 101, smokey in places from wildfires. Had a tractor trailer go off the road right in front of us. Fortunately the driver was unhurt, cannot same the same for his rig though..IMG_2669

Stopped at Bullards Beach State park in Bandon for 2 nights and saw the eclipse from here… Had pretty decent fish and chips here too !~!~!

Into Washington State and I am in love with the coast here. Oregon and Washington , have decided this is where i am moving to, a home over looking the wild and rugged coastline that is just spectacular ! And a motorhome to travel…

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Those are grey whales just off the beach, apparently very unusual to see them in so close to shore. But we met up with a Wildlife and Fisheries guy , who told us it was high tide and they were feeding on Razor Clams that were in abundance ! This is in Olympic NP #40, stayed in the Rain Forest … Still being amazed every day by the diversity of this great land.

Today we travelled by Ferry #1 from Port Townsend to Coupeville, All 3 of us first time on a ferry on this trip.  DSCF1492

I have not talked much about the folks we have met on this trip. There have been so many , good and bad !!! Today we met a lovely girl from Dorset UK, now living in Seattle with her husband, then there was the German couple with their son outside of  Yosemite. They were here on a house swap . An Aussie couple  in Monument Valley.. the South Africans ( two very different couples ) at 2 different sites  and so many more … Loving the way travel and camping/RVing brings people of all colour , gender, age and religion together ! And that is something Chris and I wanted to do with this trip. To spread peace, love , hugs and unity !

If you want to see even more photos, you can friend Chris on FB.

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Lots of love 48beforeitstoolate.com