A late summer interlude trip is about halfway in our driving for the year, lots of time on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior visiting good friends all along the way. Somehow most of the places we encounter are new to us even as we run into people we know but didn’t make plans to see.
Back in June we drove the Blue Ridge Parkway from its start in Virginia to Asheville, NC on our way home. The Blue Ridge Music Center with locals playing casual live bluegrass most days is worth a mention and a visit.
Retracing paths from earlier this summer, we left the corner of Texas’ panhandle at Texline and meandered through northern New Mexico to Taos, finding our first fall colors of the year – golden cottonwoods in the canyons and aspens in the passes.
In Taos we toured living ancient culture (Pueblo continuously occupied for 1000 years), and modern sustainable off-grid housing inspired by the same (Earthship community).
Santa Fe surprised us with great museums (International Folk Art) and our first Audubon Center (hiking with borrowed birding binoculars in piñon-juniper hills). Grandparents came to visit and snow flurried for most of a day.
On our way to Chaco Culture NHP we passed through Los Alamos and Calles Valdera National Preserve (elk far across the valley).
We were only supposed to spend one night in Arkansas (and it was nice, on Greers Ferry Lake at an ACE campground), then visit Hot Springs and head on over the Talimena Scenic Byway into Oklahoma. Van trouble delayed us to see some more art, architecture, and gardens; long enough to take a rental car side trip down to Texas. The Hot Springs Public Library is a wonderful space of play and sharing, represents all the things libraries strive for, a standout for the trip. Ultimately we got back on track, and not far off schedule.
The year of roadtrips began to the east, and off to a quiet beautiful start in NC’s Outer Banks on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore a few weeks before Memorial Day. Ferries between barrier island towns, long stretches of wildlife refuge, and lighthouses. The desolate dunes and campgrounds nestled up within them remind me more of Washington’s Pacific coast than any other part of the Atlantic so far.
As always we wish we had more time in big remote parks like this. Vehicle troubles cut our stay down to 2 days, but we lucked out with our first real cold weather of the trip here in Southwest Texas, freezing mornings and highs in the 60s at the river. Real mountains in Texas, desert that looks like the ocean floor with ocotillo towering bizarrely, and the Rio Grande splitting Mexico from the USA.