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THANK YOU!!!

I’ve successfully reached my goal ~ I solo camped all 50 states before I turned 51 years old.

There have been many people who have helped and supported me along the way and I’d like to thank them.

My son and daughter and of course my adventuring grandchildren, Thank you for the times when you supported me with something that probable made no sense to you.

Glenn and Joleen, friends that are family. Thanks for keeping an eye on my house while I was away. Thank you for always supporting me in all the ways that you have.

Roy and Carley Dube for welcoming me into their home and your continued support throughout this journey. Hope you let me visit again, someday………… for a little longer next time.

Reta Coffman for welcoming me into your home, making me breakfast and allowing me to spend the afternoon/evening on the lake with you and your friends. It’s a sunset I’ll never forget.

Matt Mills for helping me with my Camp50 website and encouraging me to write about it. You’ve been so supportive, more than you realize and I thank you for your support.  I thank you a lot and I’m not sorry Matt.

Jess CCC for believing in me and always responding “thank you for believing in yourself” you’ve been a good source of support and inner strength and I thank you. Peace, Love, Dirt.

Tetonsports ~ what can I say Captain, that tent was very much field tested, I love how well it stood up to every kind of weather. You have awesome gear, your support throughout Camp50 was endless, always supportive in so many ways and I can’t thank you enough. You are a good friend to have.

I’d also like to thank BlueDog, if you didn’t make the decision to end our friendship, I might still be the unhappy, broken person I was when we first met. Tho it took me a few years, your decision helped me to find a way to my true self. If it wasn’t for your decision, I might be still stuck but, now I’m very much free. Miss you and thank you!! Namaste Blue.

I camped & visited some absolutely wonderful Recreational Areas, Majestic National Parks and numerous State Parks, these places helped pave the way for me to complete this journey. Camp50 a Healing Journey started April 2014, two years after I lost my dearest friend to a misunderstanding. Losing his friendship was not the only thing holding me back from being myself there were other things in my past but by taking this journey and spending time alone in the outdoors, I was finally able to heal and find true happiness. I also was able to see and explore so much of the United States, that in itself makes me very happy.

National Parks (alpha order)

  • Acadia National Park (Maine) Visited
  • Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah) Visited
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore (North Carolina) Camped
  • Denali National Park (Alaska) Visited
  • Glacier National Park (Montana) Camped
  • Great Smokey Mountains (Tennessee) Camped
  • Haleakala National Park (Hawaii) Visited
  • Kings Canyon National Park (California) Camped
  • Mount Rainier National Park (Washington) Visited
  • North Cascades National Park (Washington) Visited
  • Olympic National Park (Washington) Visited
  • Point Reyes National Seashore (California) Slept and Visited
  • Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) Camped
  • Sequoia National Park (California) Camped
  • Shenandoah National Park (Virginia) Camped
  • Yosemite National Park (California) Camped
  • Zion National Park (Utah) Camped

National Forest, BLM, Recreational Areas and 1 Private Campground

  • The White Mountains National Forest (New Hampshire) Camped
  • Richard Bong Rec Area – (Wisconsin) Camped
  • Lewis and Clark Rec Area – (South Dakota) Camped
  • American Legion State Forest – (Connecticut) Camped
  • Harpers Ferry Campground (West Virginia) Camped

State Parks

  • Groton State Park – (Vermont) Camped
  • Salisbury State Park – (Massachusetts) Camped
  • Lum Pond State Park – (Delaware) Camped
  • Caledonia State Park – (Pennsylvania) Camped
  • Wallowa State Park – (Oregon) Camped
  • Burlingame State Park – (Rhode Island) Camped
  • Clayton Lake State Park – (New Mexico) Camped
  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park – (Texas) Camped
  • Lake Scott State Park – (Kansas) Camped
  • Indiana Sand Dunes State Park – (Indiana) Camped
  • Harris Lake State Park – (Ohio) Camped
  • Illinois Beach State Park – (Illinois) Camped
  • Fort Clinch State Park – (Florida) Camped
  • Mistletoe State Park – (Georgia) Camped
  • Itasca State Park – (Minnesota) Camped
  • Ponca State Park – (Nebraska) Camped
  • Clear Lake State Park – (Iowa) Camped
  • St Bernard State Park – (Louisiana) Camped
  • Roosevelt State Park – (Mississippi) Camped
  • Mount Cheaha State Park – (Alabama) Camped
  • Crowley Ridge State Park – (Arkansas) Camped
  • Babler State Park – (Missouri) Camped
  • Valley of the Fire State Park – (Nevada) Camped

 

US FOREST SERVICE THANK YOU PAGE

 

Without public lands and the kindness of strangers this journey could not have happened and quickly as it did. THANK YOU to everyone involved no matter how big or how small.

Mission Accomplished Part 2 Alaska (April 2016)

PART 2:  Reminder, I will celebrate the completion of Camp50 along with my birthday while in Alaska by taking a 2 hour flightseeing tour around Denali with a 30 minute Glacier Landing. Yes, that’s 2 1/2 hours with Denali. Hope you like the last story of Camp50 as well as some of my photos.

Alaska – The Last Frontier

Alaska from the plane - Getting closer
Alaska from the plane – Getting closer

Since tent camping isn’t allowed until 4/15 in Seward, I had to work on alternate camping spots before I arrived. As my travel dates grew closer, it was clear to me Alaska was having a warmer than normal spring which could be great for finding a camping spot and not so great for hibernating bears to come out early.

Bears when no other people are around, is not something I want to experience.  I’ve camped for almost 10 years and have yet to see or come in contact with a bear, I count this as a camping blessing…… Good Bear Karma I guess!!!

I spoke to a National Forest Ranger a few days before I left for Hawaii, they told me what campgrounds were open since their website was not updated. Sounds like the vendor who manages their website with campground & trail updates is out of New York (OMG that’s sort of dysfunctional I thought). Anyway, they advised me to call when I arrived in Anchorage, because as you can imagine weather in Alaska can change at anytime.

Arrival Anchorage ~ After grabbing supplies, I called to check on campgrounds and then made my way south towards Seward. All I could think about was finding a camping spot in Seward, even though I knew tent camping wasn’t allowed yet.

I checked a few NF campgrounds along the way but, continued on to  Seward taking in the amazing scenery along the way. Arrived Seward, exhausted as it had been a very long day of traveling from Hawaii and there’s that whole time zone change.

Alaska
Alaska

I drove through the four campgrounds along the Seward harbor and noticed there wasn’t any grass, just gravel spots. I found grass at a day use area but, the sign said “NO CAMPING”.  I decided no matter what the sign said this was going to be my spot but, I wanted to be sure I wouldn’t get kicked out so I went looking for someone of authority. I went to the harbor masters office (CLOSED) talked to two locals who said “sure you can camp there, tell them we said it was ok” I said you don’t even live here do you? They walked away laughing saying ” sure we do”. Next stop the police station, they tried to contact the Parks & Recreation department without success. Then a lady came out of one of the town offices and asked if I needed help, so I told her the quick version of Camp50 and explained I would like to camp in the day use area for one night to complete Camp50 in Seward. She said hold on a minute…….. She came back out and said she spoke to the person on call for the Parks & Recs department,  he said I could camp in the day use area. She said if anyone tries to kick you out, tell them Brendan said you could camp there tonight. I spontaneously hugged her,  thanking her endlessly. I went back down and set up my awesome Tetonsports tent. I ended Camp50 where I wanted to end it, in Seward, Alaska. Mission Accomplished, well when I wake up in the morning it will be Mission Accomplished.

Seward Alaska 50th state camped 4-12-16
Seward Alaska 50th state camped 4-12-16

 

I woke up with a great sense of accomplishment. No time to celebrate, I want to see what Seward looks like before sunrise, so off I went to explore Seward.

Seward Alaska
Sunrise – Seward, Alaska 4-13-16
Seward Alaska
Shops lining the waterfront – Seward, Alaska

 

Since all the gates are now open, I spent some quiet time exploring Exit Glacier Road too.

Iditarod National Historic Trail
Iditarod National Historic Trail

 

Exit Glacier
Exit Glacier – Middle of picture

 

Spent a night in Girdwood with a childhood friend. No camping tonight, just some catching up, dinner and a view of Mount Alyeska (sort of). It was like 1/2 a zero day and I sure needed the rest since I had been traveling for almost a week at this point.

Girdwood Accomadations

Next morning I was off early, heading from Girdwood to Talkeetna, a 2-3 hour drive.

Girwood
Girdwood, Alaska

 

Talkeetna, Alaska (#3 of my all time favorite places of Camp50 )

Arrived a few hours early for checkin but, that wasn’t a problem since the room was all set to check-in. The joys of off season traveling.

Historic Roadhouse Talkeetna - Alaska
Historic Roadhouse Talkeetna – Alaska

 

All checked in Roadhouse
My room for the next two night – Room 4

 

Now to explore the town of Talkeetna. A short walk to the Walter Harper Ranger Station, watched a movie about Denali National Park, looked around, then overheard someone say the park road was open to the 30 mile mark. Of course that information had me ready to run to the car. I read that you can only self drive to the 13 mile mark,  then you need to use the shuttle service, since the shuttle service wasn’t running yet, self driving 30 miles would be such an amazing adventure. I took a walk to the Talkeetna river to think about the road opening and plot my next move.

2016 Climbing Season Stats
2016 Climbing Season Stats 4-14-16

 

The Big Three via Talkeetna
The Big Three via Talkeetna

The river had great views of Denali and I could feel the tug grow stronger, At 3pm I decided,  it doesn’t get dark until 10:30pm, so I’m going to drive to the park. Even though it was only 150 miles away, I was told by several people it would take 3hrs to drive from Talkeetna to Denali National Park and it did take that long.  Very scenic ride and hardly anyone on the roads.

Denali National Park and Preserve Sign
Obligatory sign – Denali National Park and Preserve Sign

 

Savage River - Denali National Park
Savage River – Denali National Park

 

Backroads of Denali National Park 4-14-16
Backroads of Denali National Park 4-14-16

 

End of the Road - Denali National Park April 2016
End of the Road – Denali National Park April 2016 Teklanika Mile Mark 30

 

Grizzly Denali 2016
My First Grizzly – Denali 2016

 

Talkeetna Air Taxi Flightseeing….. my time with Denali

 

Flightseeing view
Flightseeing view

 

Glacier Field - Denali National Park
Glacier Field – Denali National Park

 

Base Camp
Base Camp

 

DA Plane DA Plane
Our ride

 

Don Sheldon Amphitheatre on the Ruth Glacier
Don Sheldon Amphitheatre on the Ruth Glacier

 

Since it’s my birthday and it’s my last night in Talkeetna, I walked  to Denali Brewing Co, great atmosphere, amazing food and ice cold beer. No drinking and driving here, everything is within walking distance. Talkeetna is a wonderful town and I will definitely come back to visit.

Denali Brewing Co
Denali Brewing Co

 

Home for two nights
The last bit of snow until next winter – Roadhouse

 

That concludes Camp50. It’s been an amazing healing journey and I’m so very thankful for the people I’ve meet along the way, the places I’ve experienced and the history I’ve learned along the way.  There was that pivotal point back in April 2014 when I had just returned from Yosemite,  the past had me stuck in this very emotionally self-destructive way of living, something needed to change and that’s how Camp50 came to be. Solo camping all 50 states saved me, I will be forever grateful for each and every moment.

Don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin! – Henry David Thoreau

Mission Accomplished ~ Part 1 Hawaii (April 2016)

Well it’s finally arrived, time to camp the last two states. Hawaii and Alaska, Due to the distance of both of these states from New England, I will be spending a few days in both Hawaii and Alaska.

I will celebrate the completion of Camp50 along with celebrating my birthday while in Alaska by taking a 2 hour flightseeing tour around Denali with a 30 minute Glacier Landing. Hope you like the last story of Camp50 as well as some wonderful photos.

 Part 1 ~ HAWAII

Camp Keanae – Maui

The night I arrived at camp, it was raining so hard that I spent the night sleeping in the bunk room. The next day this was the spot I would call home for the next four nights. Love, wide open spaces!!!

Hawaii MUA2
Hawaii MUA2

Apparently, if you’re in Maui, driving the “Road to Hana” is a must. I didn’t find the road to be dangerous as described on the internet, in fact  I didn’t think the road had all that much to see really. I drove the “Road to Hana” now it’s done.

One of the many bridges on the “Road to Hana” circa 1910 ish

Road to Hana
Road to Hana

 

Just love the long waves of the beach and freedom that I feel just watching them roll in. People always seem happy by the ocean, this beach in Maui was no exception. Surfers, dogs, kids and families enjoying their surroundings, nothing like a day at the beach.

Maui
Maui
Island Life Maui
Wind Surfer – Island Life Maui

 

Hawaii Landscape
Hawaii Seascapes

 

Early Morning Maui
Early Morning Maui

Haleakala National Park

10,000 feet Maui
Elevation
Mars or Maui
Mars or Maui – Haleakala National Park
Crater Colors 2 Maui
Crater Colors – Haleakala National Park

I take photos of survey markers whenever I see them.  I often wonder why the ones I’ve seen are  surrounded by uneven mortar, doesn’t seem like the proper way to care for this important markers. I also wonder, how many people just walk past them and never notice them. What about the numbers and writings on them, someday I’m going to research what they mean. If you know anything about survey markers please contact me, I’d love to know more.

Survey Marker Haleakala National Park Hawaii
Survey Marker Haleakala National Park Hawaii

 

I’m not a fan of hot or humid and that’s what the weather was like all five days I was in Hawaii. It was either 80+ degrees with 80% humidity or it was raining buckets. So, what’s a girl to do with weather like that? I’ll tell you, she takes a two hour whale watch for $29, that’s what she does.

Whale Watch with Pacific Whale Foundation

Mom and Baby Maui 2016
Mom and Baby Maui 2016
Whale Maui 2016
Whale Maui 2016
There she blows
There she blows

 

Last Day Maui

Time to pack up everything, say goodbye to new friends, explore a bit and then make my way to the airport.

Goodbye Andy, you’ve been so kind and so welcoming. It was truly a pleasure to meet you, so glad I could spend sometime with you and your daughter Lexi. Mahola!!

Friends
Friends

 

I stumbled on this wonderful Buddhist Stupa in the small town of Paia’ while I was picking up pizza’s from Flatbread Pizza Company for me and Andy. I first discovered Flatbread Pizza Company in North Conway NH many years ago, the pizza, yes the pizza has special meaning to me so I’ve eaten at all of their locations, they’re mostly in MA, NH and CT so it was easy to do over a few years. I walked into this location and claimed I had been to every location, then they told me there was a new location in British Columbia….. guess I’ll need to plan a trip to BC.

Since I was leaving Maui in a few hours, I thought it I should spend a little time with the Stupa.  The sense of peace I feel when I’m around any stupa is so amazing. This stupa as the first one I’ve even been to that had an open room with the prayer wheel accessible. Truly special to turn the wheel and believe all your prayers and the prayers of others are sent out throughout the world. Perfect way to end my time in Maui.

Peace Stupa
Peace Stupa
Prayer Wheel
Such an amazing message about spinning the Prayer Wheel

 

Prayer Wheel
Prayer Wheel inside the Peace Stupa

 

This conclude Part 1 of Mission Accomplished (Hawaii) and here’s the quote to end this writing. Stay tuned for Part 2 of Mission Accomplished (Alaska)

Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it – Tori Amos

 

 

The Lower 48 Completed (November 2015)

t’s November and it’s time to wrap up the lower 48….. A one state camping trip seems so weird, but it has to get done or I won’t be able to move on to complete this goal. I’m heading to Las Vegas after work, I’ll be spending the night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and then heading out for a one night camping trip in the “Valley of the Fire” State Park in Nevada.

My morning view out the hotel window, interesting a Ferris Wheel in Las Vegas.

Vegas view via Hard Rock Hotel and Casino room website

 

Some scenes from the Valley of the Fire State Park.

Valley of the Fire Sign for webiste
Obligatory park sign

 

Valley of the Fire road - website
Long road of red rocks

 

Because I will be leaving early tomorrow for Death Valley and it will  be too dark for picture taking, I decided to take pictures tonight before it gets dark.

As some of you know, CAMP50 is a solo bid to camp all 50 states but the most important part of this journey is not the completion of solo camping all 50 states, it’s finding the happiness I’ve been looking for at the end of the journey. The broken pieces of me, will be no more and I will have found my “True Self”. I’m almost there and there’s nothing in my way.

Camp50 a Healing Journey

The road leading towards Death Valley National Park.

Heading into Death Valley
Come spend sometime with me “Death Valley”

Scenes from the Rhyolite Ghost town just outside of Death Valley. Rhyolite Ghost town is managed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). Stroll around, check things out, imagine what life might have been like back then, BUT never take any souvenirs from here…………………………………………………..NEVER

Rhyolite Ghost Town
Rhyolite Ghost Town

 

Rhyolite Ghost Town
Rhyolite Ghost Town

 

Abandoned Train Car
Abandoned Train Car

 

Time to explore another National Park.

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park

 

Sea Level - Death Valley website
Sea Level

 

Salt Flats in the Badlands.

Salt Flats badwaters basin Death Valley NP CA website
Salt Flats

 

Salt Flats
Salt Flats

 

Near Devils field Death Valley Website
Rays of light just before Sunset

 

Death Valley Sunset from Dunes website
Beautiful Sunset in Death Valley

 

This completes the Lower 48, time to take a few months off and rest. It’s truly been an amazing journey, nothing can change the things I’ve seen or the places I’ve been. Sometimes I think of those things from my past, the people and how I felt about so many things that weren’t good for me. It’s time to let go of all of that, and move forward to a happier life.

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become – Steve Jobs

 

 

West Virginia – Re-Do (October 2015)

In 2013,  I went to West Virginia as part of my healing process and to do some early morning photography in Harper’s Ferry. Duh, of course I camped, the campground is only 5 minutes away, so it was geographically perfect for morning photography. The problem now is, at that time I didn’t have the idea of Camp50 so I slept in my sleeping bag in a cabin, I guess I was being lazy because I was heading to Sedona in two days and didn’t want to take everything out and then pack it back up again.

There lies the problem, I slept in a cabin not a tent………..

Maybe, I was just looking for an excuse to go back to Harper’s Ferry, because it’s one of my  favorite places to spend time with my camera, or maybe it’s because this place holds a special meaning to me, a place I can’t find the right words to explain, in short my first visit to Harper’s Ferry is why I lost my friend Blue. So, yes it has meaning to me.

A lot of camping has happened in 2015 and it’s now clear to me that I will reach my Camp50 goal by April 2016, so I felt it was important to redo West Virginia, camp in my tent or WV would feel like unfinished business. How could I claim a 50 state solo camping trip if some of the states were not solo or weren’t in a tent.

Since I’m working on putting the past behind me, symbolic or not…. the right thing was to do was, re-do West Virginia the right way, same as all the other states………. In my tent.

This is where the Southwest Airlines voucher came into play again. No cost to fly in / fly out of BWI, just the cost of a rental car, campsite, food & gas. Dropped off Patriot for one night of boarding Saturday, took a quick 1 hour flight to Baltimore and made my way to Harper’s Ferry campground in West Virginia. Flew home early Sunday afternoon, picked up Patriot and then back home. Quick trip but, I felt so much better after I had camped it, now when April 2016 comes around I feel secure in knowing I reached my goal the right way. NO missed opportunities, an honest 50 state solo bid.

This is my WV campsite, along the Potomac River on a beautiful October weekend.

Harpers Ferry Campsite
Harpers Ferry Campsite

 

Made dinner and a campfire and enjoyed the quiet along the river, the air was crisp, it was a wonderful fall evening…………… UNTIL the train came rolling by. The campground website mentioned the sound of the train but, I didn’t realize the train would be approximately 50 feet from my campsite. When I first heard the train come by, it made me smile because it was starting to get dark and the train lights appeared out of nowhere…… It was like a ghost train on a cool crisp October evening along the Potomac. It was perfect.

It was a comforting sound until around 2:30 am when the hourly train came by and fear set it, I wondered hmm what if that train derails? I thought, it’s either going to land on me, or push me inside my tent into the Potomac River. Now, I was having a hard time falling back asleep, so I did some deep breathing meditation until I fell asleep.

Sine my flight was early, I had to get moving first thing in the morning. Being in Harper’s Ferry first thing in the morning is a very time. It’s so quiet, the light is amazing and there’s a little breakfast place the overlooks the town. It’s one of my favorite places to sit and watch the town. There’s so much history here, if you sit quietly you can almost feel it. Of course you have no idea what I’m talking about and that’s ok, someday I hope you can spend some quiet time in Harpers Ferry.

 

Here are a few pictures from my morning.

That's a wrap Harpers Ferry
That’s a wrap / WV Redo

 

Early morning Harpers Ferry
Early Morning Harper’s Ferry

 

Lewis and Clark - Harpers Ferry
Lewis and Clark

 

Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry

 

Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry

 

Harpers Ferry Bolivar Tree
Harpers Ferry Bolivar Tree

 

Thanks for reading my stories of #Camp50 it’s be an amazing healing journey and I’ve been able to see so much of this great country AMERICA.

I’ve been trying to end all my writings with a quote but, this story deserves something a little more personal.

A message to Blue: I’ve thought about you and our friendship everyday for the last four years. The amount of times I tried to get you to talk to me, the amount of times I tried to understand what really happened between us. Unanswered questions, not  getting closure to losing your friendship is a hard thing to live with. We said we would always support each others decisions, I’m truly sorry I wasn’t able to support your decision at the time. Hopefully, you’ve found peace in my silence. Anyway, you will always be someone I consider to be my dearest friend.  Who we were, the friendship we had, is in the past, we aren’t the same people we were then, hopefully now we are both able to find true happiness within ourselves.  You helped show me so much about myself, I’m grateful to you for allowing me to open up parts of me  that were closed of for so long. You were a safe place to rest when I wasn’t sure which path to take. Wishing you much happiness, you’re a good dog Blue.

 

 

 

 

Ending in The Great Smokey Mountains (October 2015)

Arrival Nashville, Tennessee – There is nothing more inspiring to me than being above the clouds and seeing the sunrise.

Arriving Nashville TN

Breakfast in Nashville before driving to Arkansas. I work with someone who has family in Nashville so who better to ask about best breakfast places than someone who knows the area. My friend Robin, gave me two places to check out but, Fido’s was the easiest place to find and park so that’s where I landed for breakfast. I didn’t really give the name much thought, until I went to open the door, I laughed, stepped back and took this picture.

Fido Nashville TN
Fido Nashville TN

There were many reasons I started this healing journey but, one of the biggest reasons was losing my friend “Blue Dog” to a misunderstanding. Looking at the Fido picture, hopefully you can see why I laughed. The universe has many ways of showing us signs, if you keep your eyes open the signs will reveal themselves to you.  You have to be open to seeing them tho.  Based on the many signs I’ve seen along this journey, I believe my friend is with me in spirit. In fact he’s probable a bit jealous at all the camping and exploring I’ve been doing 😛

YUM Coffee Nashville TN
YUM / Coffee

 

Arkansas

After breakfast, I had a four hour drive to Crowley Ridge State Park and I still had to pick up supplies for the next couple of day so four hours is really 5-6 with stops.

Like most other places I’ve camped, this park has influences by the CCC, so before setting up my tent I took a short walk along the boardwalk and explored the old pavilion within the park. As I walk around these places, I find myself  thinking about the history of these places and what life must have been like when these parks, sites were created.

Crowley Ridge State Park
Crowley Ridge State Park / Trails by the CCC

 

Pavilion and Bath House
Pavilion and Bath House built by the CCC 1930’s

 

This is how it starts, first night; unpack the gear, set up my tent, start a fire and then organize the car for the next morning. This has been my routine everytime I’ve gone out on a camping trip as far back as I can remember.

Gear to make a home
All the gear I need to make a home

 

The Teton Sports Mountain Ultralight 2 person tent has been my go to tent for most of 2015, easy set-up and more room than I really need.  It weighs roughly the same as my other Teton Sports tent, I absolutely love that it has two sides that open for air movement along with easy in and out accessibility.

Arkansas Campsite
Arkansas Campsite

 

LOVE CAMPFIRES

Campfire
Campfire

 

Missouri

St Louis was never in the plan. For some reason I woke up and mapped how long it would take to get there. Only three hours ok, I can do that and find another place to camp. Since the Arch in St Louis is considered the Gateway to the East and/or the West, I decided I should make an attempt to spend some time there. So off I went to make my way to the Gateway Arch in St Louis.

Arrived around lunch time, super easy to park and well within walking distance of the Arch. The allotted time for the parking meter was only 2 or 3 hours, so I had to be fast. I’ve got this!!!

Gateway Arch
Gateway Arch

 

STL Baseball Field
Busch Stadium St Louis – Taken from inside the Gateway Arch

 

Church STL
Church below the Arch – St Louis

 

It was now 3pm, time to find me a home for the night. The National Park Rangers at the Arch told me about Babler State Park so that’s where I went, 33 miles from Gateway Arch . Clean campground, clean bathrooms, hot showers and great firewood. Time to set things up, start a fire, and relax.

Campground RD Missouri
Campground Road

HOME

Babler State Park MO
Babler State Park MO

 

After a good nights sleep, I headed back into downtown St Louis. I enjoy exploring big cities early in the morning. Here are a couple of pictures before I found me a Starbucks and headed towards Kentucky.

Early Morning St Louis
Early Morning St Louis

 

Ball Park Villiage
Ball Park Villiage

 

STL Cardinals
Exploring St Louis / Early Morning

 

Kentucky

I did a lot of research on this location. Lots of amazing internet pictures but, you never really know until you get there and see for yourself. Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area, borders two states Kentucky and Tennessee. There’s so much to see here but, sadly like most of Camp50, I was in and out so fast I didn’t get to do much exploring. Great campsite, showers were clean and hot.

Land Between the Lakes KY
Land Between the Lakes KY – Lakeside site

 

There’s an Elk and Bison prairie within the borders of the park. For $5 you can drive around this 700 acre sanctuary as many times as you want but beware the bison may not let your vehicle pass. It’s not how I truly want to see bison but, since I didn’t seen any bison in North or South Dakota I wanted to take this opportunity to take a peak.

Bison KY
Interesting to witness for sure!!! Bison in Kentucky

 

Young Elk
Young Elk – Kentucky

 

Tennessee

I’ve been waiting to visit The Great Smokey Mountains National Park for a long time.  I’m so happy to wrap up this trip in this park. Like most of my Camp50 adventures in 2015, I’ve run into less than optimum weather on each trip and this trip would follow the same path.  Raining for days and now under a Flash Flood warning but, since some of these places are once in a lifetime places for me. I scouted out the river sites and made this site my home.  The site was about 75 feet from the raging river with a slight uphill slope so I was ok with my decision.  Plus the rangers were well aware of the flash flood warning and they were making regular rounds throughout the park watching the water levels. I was able to set up the tent when it wasn’t raining. BONUS……WINNING!!!

Elkmont Campground

Campsite GSMNP
The Great Smoky Mountains

Took a ride to the Cades Cove section of the park, it was raining, and there were misty mountains all around. It was more than I’ve dreamed of.

Waterfall GSMP
Waterfall
Horses Cades Cove
Horses – Cades Cove

 

Cades Cove 1
Cades Cove – Love Trees

Someone from work surprised me with gift certificates to Dick’s Last Resort, with locations on Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg so after exploring and since it was raining, I made my way to Gatlinburg for some dinner. Thank you for dinner and for being so kind and generous.

Gatlinburg or Seattle
Gatlinburg or Seattle

 

Frosty Mug
Would you like a Frosty Mug and this is what they gave me

 

There was no point in sleeping late since this was my last day before heading home and there was so much to see.  It was time to take a ride to Clingman’s dome. Misty morning, roads were wet with fall leaves and fog through the trees. It was a good morning to be driving on the back roads of the park before the masses got out.

The Road 2
The Road to Clingman’s Dome
Great Smoky MTN (2)
Great Smoky Mountains

Clingman’s Dome……. 6643 feet

  • Highest Point in Tennessee
  • Highest Point in The Great Smokey Mountains
  • Highest Point of the Appalachian Trail
  • The Third Highest mountain east of the Mississippi

Based on the above information, I had to make my way up to the Dome. I’ve never claimed to be a hiker and I know first hand how out of shape I’m in but, for some reason I had to make it up that trail. I had all morning to walk up the 1/2 mile steep but paved trail. Gusty winds and heavy misty were my companions. It was cold and raw but, I dressed appropriately and just took my time. I saw maybe four people total, so it was pretty much me and that mountain. I’ve listened to various experienced hikers over the last two years and  I’ve heard of “knowing when to turn back” but, not on this day. My gosh Karen,  it’s only a 1/2 mile.  Then I saw it “Clingman’s Dome”.  Felt great to reach a goal, felt great feeling the wind, felt great being soaked from the mist. Love the day that has been given to you!!

Clingmans Dome and Me HighPoint
Me and Clingman’s Dome

 

And that’s where this adventure ends, Clingman’s Dome in The Great Smokey Mountains. Now a quote to wrap things up.

I discovered our disconnect was never because of the insecurities we felt, but rather the emptiness we created when we failed to make sense of ourselves.  ~ R.M. Drake

 

 

 

 

Here I come New Orleans (September 2015)

Originally the plan was to fly in and out of Atlanta but, instead of all that driving, I decided to change my flight to arrive in New Orleans, rent a car there and return the car to Atlanta. No cost to me for changing the flight (remember that voucher) but, it did cost an extra $200.00 for returning the car to a different location, $200.00 may seem like a lot of money but doing it this way saved me about 8 hours of driving. That was a WIN to me.

Louisiana

Arrived New Orleans late morning. Typical September day sunny one minute then heavy downpours the next. Good thing the campground was only about 30 minutes from the airport, so I felt pretty  good that I’d have time to go explore the heart of New Orleans (NOLA), after setting up camp. Below is home for tonight, heading out to explore New Orleans now.

NOLA look no alligators
NOLA look no alligators

First stop in the city was to find these much talked about beignet’s. Thanks to Instagram for being one of my top research tools for any new area. There were pictures from two café’s but, Café Beignet was where I found the best tasting beignet’s in NOLA. I won’t name the other location. As you can see, it’s a very cute little café to relax in. Don’t take my word for it, try this place for yourself, I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Cafe Beignet NOLA
Cafe Beignet NOLA

 

YUM TOWN!!!!

Beignet's and Sweet Tea NOLA
Beignet’s and Sweet Tea NOLA

Next stop, I made my way up and down a few streets taking in the sites and taking some photos for a few hours, then I stumbled onto Bourbon Street. I was slightly entertained by the people but, it smelled like a place I didn’t want to be in, it just wasn’t my cup of tea so I headed to the car and made my way back to camp. After all this was a camping trip.

Next morning, it was still dark when I woke up. I broke down camp fast, fearing there may be alligators out in the morning (I have no clue when it comes to alligators). Yippee, no alligators, quick run and grab a shower, so you can make it to see the sunrise. I watched the sunrise, then walked around enjoying the early morning quiet of New Orleans.

Early Morning NOLA
Early Morning NOLA
Sunrise NOLA
Sunrise NOLA

I was now in search of a breakfast place I found via Instagram, Croissant D’ Patisserie on Ursulines Ave. Lovely little café, with great food, homemade pastries and excellent coffee. A must if you’re ever in NOLA.

Croissant D' Patisserie
Croissant D’ Patisserie

 

Best Coffee Companion “Tetonsports”

Best Coffee Companion TetonSports NOLA
Best Coffee Companion TetonSports NOLA

 

Mississippi

This has to be the strangest and scariest rest area sign I’ve ever seen. NO SECURITY PROVIDED and sometimes the rest stop would say 24hr security. These signs were along the entire route that I drove through. Clearly, this would give anyone an uneasy feeling especially if you needed to stop in a rest area.  I have no idea why and I’m not really sure I want to know. Good Luck Mississippi….

Rest Area Sign Mississippi
Rest Area Sign Mississippi

 

Roosevelt State Park, lakefront home. Just enough time to set up, take a few photos, organize the car, get things ready for the morning and make a quick dinner before darkness arrived. Windy night but, no rain for once during this trip.

Lakefront home for the night Mississippi
Lakefront home for the night Mississippi

 

No Campfires BAN
No Campfires BAN

 

Alabama

Mount Cheaha State Park, Alabama High Point.

This is how I honored those who lost their lives on 9-11-01. I also took a moment to honor our Servicemen and Servicewomen who protect us everyday…..

I honor you!! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart Thank you!!

My 9-11 Tribute to honor lives lost
My 9-11 Tribute to honor lives lost 9-11-15

This bag has traveled with me to every state in 2015 and it will be with me through to #50. My little travel buddy Tetonsports Oasis1200, the side pockets are the best idea ever #DoItRight

Tetonsports Oasis1200 Alabama
Tetonsports Oasis1200 Alabama

 

Still not a big fan of selfies but, since this blog is a way to chronicle my journey, what better way to show the journey than to show me when I’m outdoors and happy. I call this photo the triple H’s oh wait I’m calling it the four H’s

(Hazy, Hot, Humid and Happy)

 

Triple H's Hazy Humid Happy
Triple H’s Hazy – Humid – Happy

I would love to be camping in the backcountry but that’s not my reality right now, perhaps someday.  On all my trips, I like to capture the tent in it’s natural environment “The Great Outdoors”, it’s another way to chronicle the journey I’m on. When I looked up there it was “Oh Dear”  yes a dear behind the tent.

 

Sweet Home Alabama - Oh dear
Sweet Home Alabama – Oh dear

 

I’ve always been in awe with the craftsmanship of the CCC, from the trail work they did, to bridges and carriage roads they created, their work and their story is just an inspiring piece of American history.

Amazing craftsmanship by the CCC 1933
Amazing craftsmanship by the CCC 1933

 

I wonder how many people walk by this maker and never even realize it’s there. High Point Alabama.

Summit Marker - High Point Alabama
Summit Marker – High Point Alabama

 

Well, since its the last night of camping before heading back home to New England. My tent is set up and I’m tired, so I decided to eat at the State Park Lodge restaurant. Food was umm different, definitely not 3, 4 or 5 star but, the view was perfect.  Storm rolling in so I need to go get snuggly warm/dry in my Tetonsports MUA2 tent (see above).

Dinner View Mount Cheaha State Park Alabama

Thank you for following along during this journey I call #Camp50, I appreciate all that I’ve seen, the people I’ve met along the way and I’m ever grateful for the support of so many.

I recently started incorporating quotes at the end of my blog writings so here’s the quote for this writing.

Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe, it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who were meant to be in the first place.  ~ Unknown author

 

 

Finding Dreams (August 2015)

At the time of this trip, there were 15 states left to camp before completing Camp50, but this is the last multi state trip (4 or more). I’m checking off Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa on this round of Camp50.

Minnesota

Itasca State Park – The headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi which still seems weird to me since I was in Minnesota. Arrived Minneapolis St Paul airport, grabbed my rental car and I headed North (I think), picked up supplies at a Walmart on the way. It was still light when I arrived,so I had time to look for a camping spot, set up my tent, take some sunset shots and pick up firewood all before it was dark.  The forecast called for overnight lows in the mid 30’s with fog/mist in the morning. Exactly, the kind of weather I was hoping for but, first a good nights sleep.

Sunset MN
Sunset MN

 

Misty Sunrise at the Headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi
Headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi

 

Headwaters of the Mississippi
Headwaters of the Mississippi
Headwaters Green Trees
Headwaters Green Trees

 

The Sign
The Sign

 

 

North Dakota

Fort Ransom State Park – There was absolutely nothing on the way or around this park so dinner would have to be with the supplies I already had. There were only 3 other campers at this campground, I was the lone tent camper. Once my tent was set-up, I had time to explore the park, so off I went to look for the Sunne Family red barn. I had read that this barn was shipped to the original owners in pieces, it was sold by Sears and Roebuck. All pieces were numbers and plans were sent so they could build it themselves. Things just don’t work like that anymore and Sears certainly doesn’t sell barns by mail these days. Very peaceful place and the barn was wonderful to see.

Fort Ransom State Park ND
Sunne Family Barn (Original Barn)

 

Sunne Family Mail order barn
Sunne Family Mail order barn

 

Campsite Fort Ransom
Campsite Fort Ransom

 

I have no idea what this is, it was just outside Fort Ransom park entrance and it appears I caught it just at the right time. Timing is everything you know.

No Idea / saw this leaving Fort Ransom ND
No Idea / saw this leaving Fort Ransom ND

 

South Dakota

Great sign somewhere in South Dakota

Lewis and Clark Recreational Area – I was looking forward to staying here, it seems I gravitate towards anything Lewis and Clark, so I knew this was the right place for me. Rainy and damp when I arrived, but I had plenty of time to set up my tent, run into town grab some supplies. When I arrived back at my campsite it wasn’t raining so I had time to go take a few pictures before making dinner and starting a campfire. Tonight’s dinner, filet, rice pilaf and local strawberry milk. Shortly, after dinner was done, it started to rain, so I had a clean things up quickly and get into my home away from home, my Tetonsports MUA2. It’s as roomy as a castle. Rain & wind for most of the night but, I was warm and dry, I slept for a solid eight hours.

Lewis and Clark Rec Area
Lewis and Clark Rec Area
Campsite Lewis and Clark Rec Area
Campsite Lewis and Clark Rec Area
Best Strawberry Milk EVER (Buy Local)
Best Strawberry Milk EVER (Buy Local)

 

Nebraska

Nebraska Horses
Nebraska Horses

Ponca State Park – During the research of this area, I picked this state park for two reasons. Geographically it was on the right side (east) of the state but, what really grabbed my attention was “The Towers of Time’ located at the opening of this park. Since I follow signs the universe shows me, I knew this was the place I would consider home for the night while in Nebraska.

Towers of Time
Towers of Time

Of course it rained buckets last night so every site I looked at was muddy, until I saw the sign that said “River sites”, I had totally forgot about these campsites. Sites along the Missouri River. Go figure!!

 

Campsite Ponca State Park
Campsite Ponca State Park

 

The firewood was sort of a joke, but I did the best I could with what I had. Fire, dinner a place to rest my head along the river, under the stars…… I was just fine.

Iowa

I couldn’t go to Iowa and not make my way to The Field of Dreams. That movie is on my top 10 movie list, taking the 5th spot on that list. It was a bit out of the way but, I had to go. After spending time at The Field of Dreams, I still had a two hour ride to Clear Lake State Park. Sometimes, you have to counterclockwise to find your dreams (get it)?

 

Field of Dreams Iowa
Field of Dreams Iowa

 

If you build it they will come
If you build it they will come
Field of Dreams IOWA
Field of Dreams IOWA

 

Clear Lake State Park

This was probable my least favorite place this entire trip, this campground was a bit of a party campground. Found a dry site, did the usually set up with dinner and a fire and started organizing as much as I could since it was my last night before flying out tomorrow. It didn’t rain but, everything was soaked from humidity, fog and mist…..blah

Tossed everything in the truck, took a shower and made my way to Minneapolis St Paul airport. I’m going home, I’m going to get Patriot.

Sunset
Sunset

Along the highway on my way to the airport. Thank You FARMERS!!

Thank You Farmers - Camp50 Minnesota Trip

 

The plan was supposed to go like this, St Paul to Midway airport then home to Boston arriving late Sunday night, picking up Patriot Monday morning with us having a zero day at home.

When I arrived in Midway, they were looking for volunteers to change flights since they were overbooked. I inquired about this and gladly accepted when they offered me a $550 flight voucher, a ticket home in the morning and a hotel in Chicago. Seemed totally acceptable since  I was only going home to sleep anyway. I now had enough voucher money to complete my 2015 camping plans without worrying about where the money would come from for the next flight(s) (more on that in another story).

Thank you to all who have supported me during this journey. I really appreciate your support. Hope you enjoy this write up, only four more overdue write ups to go.

 

 

 

 

Twitter Meet-up #2 Plus (June/July 2015)

This three state trip will finish up the East Coast and includes my 2nd Twitter meet up.

South Carolina

The plan was to land, grab my gear and head to meet my Twitter friend Reta. Reta travels and enjoys life more than anyone I’ve ever know . Since she is always off on some adventure, I had to check to see if she would be close to home when I was in the area. I asked, can we meet for coffee or lunch but, instead Reta invited me to stay in her guest room…… I had to remind her I was trying to solo camp all 50 states so she said FINE….. You can camp in my backyard near the lake. WOOHOO!! Camping by a lake.

Arrived at Reta’s beautiful home, we quickly found ourselves with a beer in hand, chatting outside on the dock getting to know each other. I’d say within 30 minute of my arrival we were off on her neighbor’s boat going for a spin (or whatever boats do) around the lake.

Twitter Meetup two
Twitter Meetup two

 

Beer with a new friend
Beer with a new friend

 

Reta and Guy
Reta and Guy

Our first spin out on the lake was just amazing, then we headed back to each others house to check on a young adult at home, to grab sweatshirts and of course some more adult beverages. At this point we were off to watch the sunset.

Sunset South Carolina
Sunset South Carolina

After the sun had gone under the horizon,  Guy took us to something I’d call “Simply Amazing” he took us to see the Purple Martin migration. My pictures all look like blurry things in the sky, so I don’t have any to post. If you’ve even seen any bird migrations, it’s truly spectacular to witness.  I’ll never forget that night Guy!! Thank you!

Like most mornings, I was up with the first signs of light, I took a few photos because that’s what I do  🙂 and when I knew everyone was up inside, it was time for me to take a shower. After I was packed and ready to head out to conquer my next state, we sat down, had some coffee together and of course being the southern hospitality type she is, Reta made us breakfast, an egg sandwich…. it was a great egg sandwich. Now I was ready to head out.

This was my camping spot in South Carolina. Thank you Reta!! I can’t thank you enough for opening up your lovely home to me. Lots of love.

Campt50 SC lakeview
Campt50 SC lakeview

 

Florida

Arrived in Florida to camp at Fort Clinch, just outside of Jacksonville. It was late afternoon, still plenty of time to walk the beach and enjoy the quiet of the crashing waves. It’s relaxing, you should try it sometimes, just walk and listen to the waves.

Crashing Waves Florida
Crashing Waves Florida

 

Sailboat Sunset FLA
Sailboat Sunset FLA

The next morning the Fort was open and it was free to go inside, so I went to explore a bit before the sun, heat and humidity reared its ugly Florida head.

Here are a few pictures of the Fort, very different than the Forts I’ve explored in New England.

The Fort
The Fort

 

The Fort
The Fort

 

Dinner at the Fort
Dinner at the Fort

 

Fort Clinch
Fort Clinch

 

Hard life
Hard life

 

Georgia

It was summer, it was hot and humid so, during my drive to Georgia there were some thunderstorms but, otherwise it was an uneventful drive for my last night of camping before heading back home.  Oh look a rainbow while setting up my tent.

I made it to the campground just before dark and wasn’t able to find anywhere selling wood so NO FIRE tonight. Set the tent up, took a few pictures, made some dinner and was in bed around 9:30pm.  Some additional rain and I was asleep before I knew it, I do enjoy  sleeping by a lake, stream or ocean.

Mistletoe State Park
Mistletoe State Park

 

Georgia Campsite
Georgia Campsite

 

This completed the East Coast  portion of Camp50 , still a lot of camping to do in 2015 but, I feel great about where things are at and how things are coming together. Hope you enjoy this write up, until next time.