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I am a Photographer, Solo Traveler, a Wanderer, a Lover of Summits, Trees, Rivers & Streams. Fresh Air & all things True & Natural. I am Camp50.org
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Part 2:

KANSAS

Still feeling uneasy from the overnight wind event in Oklahoma, I made a slow 4-5 hour trek to Kansas.  This was one of the states I was really looking forward to visiting because of two rock formations “Monument Rock” and “Castle Rock”,  but as time would have it I wasn’t able to make it to Castle Rock. I was however, completely happy with my time exploring Monument Rock. Below are a few pictures from Monument Rock, as you can see it’s nothing you’d expect to see in Kansas, these formations ARE just gorgeous, to think that the ocean was once running through Kansas is something that boggles my mind.

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Kansas
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Kansas 2

 

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Kansas 3

WYOMING

There was always the big question of “IF” I would be able to get Wyoming in on this trip. Due to the weather it was going to be a toss between too cold in Wyoming or too cold in Colorado, when everything was said and done, I knew I couldn’t have Wyoming out there undone so I headed to Wyoming. Not my preferred place to camp but, the only thing close to the WY/CO border that had an open shower was a KOA in Cheyenne so off I went to the KOA.

After paying for my site, I went on a little exploration of the state Capital – Cheyenne.

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Governor’s Office
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Cheyenne WY

 

When I came back from exploring, and drove into the campground, I noticed the KOA sign, anyone  who knows me, knows that I follow signs or at best I notice signs. I believe signs are placed in front of me, a gift from the universe, all I need to know is pay attention to see them……………. it’s a way to let me know that I’m on the right path. “JOURNEY”

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Journey

 

When I don’t have to set my alarm clock, I tend to be an early riser. There’s always so much to see when the day is new, add in that today was a special day…… it was my 50th birthday.  I broke down camp, packed it all up in under 10 minutes, took a quick shower and I was on my way to find me a Wyoming Sunrise.

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Wyoming Sunrise 4-15-15

 

COLORADO

There’s always a soft plan and it’s freeing to be flexible, so some decisions are made on the move. Today’s decision came while I was driving back towards Denver. I decided to spend a few hours in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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100 years on my 50th birthday RMNP

 

As I entered the park for my first visit, I drove up to the rangers station, bought a yearly National Park pass for myself as a birthday present and was off for another round of exploring.  15 minutes after arriving at the rangers station it started to snow. What an amazing gift for this birthday girl. It made me feel so alive, so happy. Feeling the snowflakes on my face as well as seeing them flying around was like a dream come true!!

 

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Rocky Mountain National Park – Exploring

 

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Name these trees

 

 

Since I had one last night of camping to finish up this leg of Camp50 and the overnight weather called for temps around 25 degrees AND of course WIND, I made a stop at the REI Denver Flagship store to see if I could rent another sleeping bag. I love my sleeping bag but, if I got cold I’d have a horrible time sleeping.  The rental guy was so nice, because I was an REI member, he let me borrow a fleece liner, I just had to bring in back tomorrow.

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I arrived at Cheyenne Mountain State Park, just outside Colorado Springs with only about an hour of light left. I found a campsite, set up my tent, paid with the self-service envelopes and I was ready for bed. I slept like a baby, I absolutely loved the level of comfort the fleece liner mixed with my Dri-down sleeping bag gave me. Not cold at all.

This is what I woke up to “SNOW” and “WIND”!!

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Home

It was now time to head home and pick up Patriot. I ended this trip feeling emotional & physically tired since I had traveled so many miles in such a small amount of time and because of that little wind incident in Oklahoma but, I ended the trip with a great sense of accomplishment. The healing had truly started to begin during this trip, I was finally able to open up to a someone I had never met, in fact it was first time in a long time I was able to open up to anyone. Looking forward to seeing Patriot and planning out the next #CAMP50 trip.

Happy Trails everyone

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During the long hard New England Winter with historic snowfall, in between all the shoveling, I had lots of time to plan out my next move for #Camp50. I mapped out the first trip of 2015 to include six states Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming. This would be the biggest trip yet for #Camp50 but, I knew I had a lot of ground to cover in 2015.

I had a lot of battles with myself over where to fly into and start this six state goal I had set for myself. The decision was finally made, fly in and out of Denver and go counter clockwise….. in a sense it was a way to reset my inner clock, to reevaluate my goals and allow myself to truly feel where I was with my healing process.

The trip went something like this…..

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First Time Seeing Colorado

Boarded Patriot, worked 8hrs,  jumped on a flight after work arriving in Denver around 10pm, grabbed my bags/gear, the rental car and I was on my way. I drove about 90 minutes then I knew it was time to stop and find a place to get some sleep. I stayed just outside of Colorado Springs in the town of Monument “Ramada Inn” it was clean, close to REI and Walmart  so I could pick up most of my supplies in the morning before heading out.

The Great Sand Dunes

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The Great Sand Dunes at Dusk

With all my trips, watching the weather is key for planning, thankfully I’ve never had to go to Plan B during my trips. The Great Sand Dunes was my first stop, so I watched the weather all week,  the reports showed temps around 25 – 30 degrees at night so, I opted to stay at the lodge vs. camping. I have to say this was a very good decision, since it gave my body time to aclamate to the higher elevation and adjust to the time change. In advance of this trip my friend Dylan told me to hydrate and stop drinking caffeine so I did,  I believe that helped me adjust smoothly to the higher elevations. THANK YOU DYLAN!! You’re a ROCK STAR!

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The Great Sand Dunes

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The Sangre de Christo Mountain Range

There is so much more to see and do at The Great Sand Dunes but, not this time not this trip. This place is definitely on the “Return To” list.  After a few hours of photography & exploring, I was at the end of the road leading out of The Great Sand Dunes, here is what I saw.

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Long Open Road

 

On Sacred Ground………

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On sacred ground
Mount Blanca

I spent quite a bit of time at this sign, taking in the history and legend that surrounded the mountains referenced in this sign.

  • Arizona “San Francisco Peaks”
  • New Mexico “Mount Taylor”
  • Utah “Mount Hesperus”
  • Colorado “Mount Blanca”

A section of the sign reads ; Many Native American groups believe that this valley is the source of life, where humans and spirit enter and leave this world.  Mount Blanca is considered to be the Eastern Boundary and Doorway to Navajo land.  How amazing it felt to be here even for just one day.

I took this picture for my good friend Matt “The PeakSeeker”, this mountain has your name on it my friend.

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Mount Blanca

 

Clayton Lake State Park

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Clayton Lake NM

After leaving The Great Sand Dunes, I headed south to New Mexico. I planned on camping at Clayton Lake State Park because during my research I discovered there was a section of the park where there are dinosaur tracks. WHAT? Dinosaur tracks, I want to see them.  With most trips, I find camping spots that are roughly a 3-5 hour drive time between each state.  Crossing the border into New Mexico, there was an electronic highway sign that said “High Wind Warning” so I stopped at another Walmart to buy longer tent stakes, because if you need supplies and you see a store, you should stop……… because you just don’t know when you’ll see another store. True!

There were only about eight campers set up so I had plenty of sites to choose from, it was very windy so it didn’t really matter where I set up but, a room with a view is always a good idea.  There’s not much to say about this park especially since I wasn’t there for very long and I don’t particularly like fishing but, if you like fishing this is a great place for you to come to.  I did enjoy the early morning walk with the dinosaur tracks, that was nice, imagining they were there eating right where I was standing.  Circle of life & existence!

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Campsite at a windy Clayton Lake State Park New Mexico

 

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The Land Before Time
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DINO TRACK

 

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park TX

This wonderful state park is just 20 miles south west of Amarillo Texas, It is the 2nd largest canyon in the United States, 2nd only to the Grand Canyon.  They proudly call this park “The Grand Canyon of Texas”. Upon arriving at the park, you register at the rangers station.  There, I talked with some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I was quickly given my site number and congratulated on making Texas #23. Off I went to explore the park, as I drove to the canyon floor there were lot of people hiking and ALOT of people mountain biking along the red clay landscape. I felt so at ease here, so relaxed. I set up tent, organized the car, then noticed storm clouds moving in along with the winds picking up so I grabbed my camera and went on a little adventure.  I captured a rainbow while dodging the rain drops. It’s hard to really get the size perspective of things in these pictures, but if you look closely at the below picture “lower center” you’ll see a white building that looks extremely small compared to the walls of the canyon. GREAT PARK, I’d stay here again if I could bring my mountain bike.

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Palo Duro Campsite TX ~ Tetonsports MUA2

 

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park TX ~ Quick storm with Rainbow

 

Oklahoma

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Have you seen my Mom  ~ Oklahoma

I took down the tent, grabbed a quick shower and before the sun came up I was on my way to Oklahoma. For the last 3-5 days there were tornado reports in Oklahoma but, the reports were in eastern Oklahoma so I stayed with my original plan to camp in the western part of the state. No wind, No rain in the forecast, just an increase in the humidity levels OH goodie, I despise humidity. I set up camp, made some lunch, organized the car, washed all the windows/mirrors before long it was time for bed. I think I was overtired because it took me a really long time to fall asleep and it seemed like right when I was able to fall asleep is when the trouble started. I was awoken up by wind and the feeling like the tent was moving…… in fact when I realized it, the tent WAS moving, pushing the back of the tent towards the front. I didn’t understand what was happening but during this time of year, this state was prone to tornado’s. I grabbed my sleeping bag and camping pad (I couldn’t let $400 in gear just blow away) and tried to get out of the tent while it was blowing over, I couldn’t get out very easily, but, after what seemed like forever, I was finally able to get out. I tossed the sleeping bag and pad in the jeep and went back for the tent. At this point the tent was being held up with one stake, I somehow grabbed the poles, tent and footprint and tossed them in the jeep.

Scared, alone, no cell service,  completely black outside and only 2 RV campers in the entire park who didn’t seem to be bothered by this wind, I stayed in the jeep. I started thinking about the movie “Twister” the scene when Helen Hunt came around the corner at the Drive-in and told everyone to get underground, that sky was scary.  The jeep was solid not moving at all, after a few minutes in the front seat, I told myself “you can’t sleep in the same position as driving” so I jumped in the back seat, covered myself with my sleeping back and tried to get a few hours of sleep.

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Black Mesa OK Campsite
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Well Good Morning

 

The events of last night scared me, they had me wondering “What was I doing this for”, there are plenty of other ways to heal my heart, dying isn’t supposed to be one of them. At this point I wanted to give up on #CAMP50. Sometimes it’s good to bounce things off someone else, so I reached out to two separate friends, I value both of their opinions and of course they both had wonderful words of advice for me.

Roy, thank you for reminding me to follow my heart, it always knows the right path, I just have to be open to hearing what it’s trying to tell me. Thank you for your endless support of #CAMP50

Tyson, I don’t think you know how much I value your friendship. Thank you for reminding me that everything is temporary.

Tetonsports, you’ve been amazingly supportive during this trip. You provide me with useful information and you make me laugh. I appreciate all that you do and I LOVE all of my Tetonsports gear #DoItRight

Because these people took the time to talk with me, to help me….. #Camp50 continued on. Please watch for Counter Clockwise Part 2 coming soon.

 

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It’s difficult to write about a place you visit often,  without thinking about it you just go, in this blog report I will try to explain a few of my favorite places in The White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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I’ve camped in The White Mountains of New Hampshire for roughly 15 years, mostly at the same campground. Once the campground opens in May then it’s camping season to me. Traditionally, I’ve camped the last week of June into July, then sporadic weekends from May – October. In my opinion, Fall is one of the best times to be in The Whites.

I’ve found over the years that heading up on a Wednesday or Sunday is the best time. Why? Well if you get there on Wednesday, the weekend campers haven’t arrived yet and if you get there on Sunday they’ve already left the campground so you WIN either day, either way. Campgrounds along the Kancamagus are part of the National Forest, most are first come first serve. Jigger Johnson is the only campground with showers and the sites are spacious. You won’t be disappointed with this campground.

The ride from my home to The White Mountains takes roughly three hours up Route 93N arriving at exit 32 (Kancamagus Highway Rte 112), then it’s another 20  – 24 miles to Jigger Johnson campground. When you exit 93 North onto Rte 112 you’ll be in the town of Lincoln, there you can grab gas, coffee and any other supplies you may need/want. I’d call Lincoln semi-commercialized but, thankfully no big chain stores so it still has a small town feel. There’s a visitor’s center when you come off Rte 93 so drive straight across Rte 112 for a bathroom break and maps of the area.

You could continue up Rte 93N into Franconia for some exploring if you wanted and you would not disappointed but, for the purposes of this writing, I’ll stick with along the Kanc, Crawford Notch, Mount Washington and North Conway.

Heading into the Kancamagus (Locals call it the Kanc)

There’s very limited, if any cell coverage along the Kancamagus Hwy, so make any last minutes calls or send those last minute tweets before you start heading in. You’ll pass Loon Mountain on your right that’s pretty much the last spot for cell coverage. There are many places to stop, take pictures also many trailheads if you’re looking to do some hiking so it could take you time to reach Jigger Johnson if that’s your destination. If you’re heading into the town of North Conway, take Rte 112 the entire 32 miles until you come to Rte 16 then take a left, this can be a congested area but, it’s will be ok as long as it’s not Friday of a holiday weekend #TRUE

Along the Kanc, I’d recommend a stop a

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Sunrise along the Kanc

Lincoln Woods

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Bridge – Lincoln Woods

Sabbady Falls

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Sabbaday Falls NH

Lower Falls

Rocky Gorge

If you’re heading to the Crawford Notch area (Rte 302), I recommend taking a left onto Bear Notch Road from the Kanc just after Jigger Johnson Campground. Bear Notch Road takes you NorthWest of North Conway into the town of Bartlett. At Route 302 (end of Bear Notch Road) take a left for Crawford Notch. There are many enjoyable hikes in the Crawford Notch area, there’s also the AMC Highland Center if you prefer a lodge type place to spend the night. There are many great trailheads just outside of The Highland Center so it could be a great location to spend the night if you don’t have camping gear with you. It’s a little pricey for some people especially if you’re not an AMC member but, you do get breakfast and dinner included, another option is their huge bunkhouse (cheaper, I think you only get breakfast). I love staying at the Highland Center, there’s no TV, no internet a huge fireplace, chairs to sit outside to watch stars….. ask for a room with a view of the Notch, there’s nothing like a misty morning.

If you’re heading to the Mount Washington or North Conway at Route 302 (end of Bear Notch Road) take a right for Mount Washington Rte 16 or take Rte 302 straight into North Conway. If Mount Washington is your destination, from the intersection of Rte 302 / Rte 16 take a left. This is another wonderful scenic drive around the 20 mile mark AMC has another lodge Pinkham Notch / Joe Dodge, which you could also spend the night at with Tuckerman’s Ravine trail and many other trails just outside their doors. Joe Dodge is much smaller than the Highland Center so you’ll need reservations for this location. Small but, an exceptional place to stay. I’ve seen many moose in the small marsh across Rte 16.

Another 5 miles from Joe Dodge is the Mount Washington Auto Road and the Great Glen Trails. You could spend an entire day in this area easily so grab as much information from the rangers in the Pinkham Notch visitors center.

Please be cautious when driving any of the roads in The White Mountains……. MOOSE are out there. I’ve had a lot of luck seeing Moose early in the am and around dusk. I was told many years ago that if you see a moose in one area they’ll be back in that same area in 12 hours, I was also told Moose will travel 250 miles per day so who knows when or where you’ll see a Moose but, Pinkham Notch and along the Kanc have been good spots for me.

My out of state friends that frequently visit The White Mountains generally stay at Golden Gables in North Conway, it’s clean and reasonably priced.

Favorite Places

  • Kancamagus Highway http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/byways/2458
  • Jigger Johnson Campground
  • Flatbread Pizza Company  http://flatbreadcompany.com/FlatbreadDirectionsNorthConway%202010.html
  • Arethusa Falls
  • http://www.northeastwaterfalls.com/waterfall.php?num=34&p=0
  • Pinkham Notch / Joe Dodge lodge http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/lodges/pinkham/
  • Highland Center http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/lodges/highland/
  • Golden Gables http://goldengablesinn.com/

There’s so much more I could share with you about this area but this is a good starting point….. just grab a map and get out and EXPLORE.

 

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Camping has always been a cost effective way for me to get outside, reconnect with my true self, sleep under the stars in a comfy sleeping bag and who doesn’t love the smell of a campfire under the stars.  Camping helps put things back into the simplest of perspectives for me.

On the morning of April 29, 2014, after returning home from a week of camping at Half Moon Beach, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, I was having a social media exchange with two of my Twitter friends “ThePeakSeeker” and “MissouriHowell” and the decision was made……………

I decided I was going to make a solo bid to camp all 50 states by age 50, but that wasn’t really a feasible timeframe so I redefined my timing, the more realistic timeframe was to start Camp50 with the 10 states I had already camped in and finish the other 40 states by the end of my 50th birthday. The goal was now all 50 states by April 2016.

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Camp50 decision on Twitter

 

Once the decision was made, I hit the ground running. Planning out Camp50 has been much like a project plan for me. Color the map with states done, figure how to get the most states without stressing my dog Patriot out by boarding him, the list goes on and on. During 2014, I was able  to camp in another 11 states

  • New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland (see prior posts) (May 2014)
  • Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho (see prior posts) (August 2014)
  • Rounding out the year with; Rhode Island, Virginia, Connecticut (September/October 2014)
  • Then it was time to rest and hunker down for a long Winter’s nap

Rhode Island

You’d think I would have camped in Rhode Island a long time ago, since it’s less than 15 miles from my home but, NO the problem for me is Rhode Island and Connecticut are known for high tick populations and most state parks don’t allow dogs. We found Burlingame State Park a close to home option for us since we were running out of available camping dates….. almost time for campgrounds to close in New England. I never imagined there would be tall pines trees just across the street from the Ocean but that’s what you’ll find at this campground. Nice and less people because it was after Labor Day so Patriot and I were able to explore parts of the park off leash (ssshh). A quick in an out and the smallest state in the Nation was in the books.

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Burlingame State Park – Rhode Island
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Camp50 made of tea lights

 

Virginia

Virginia was a state I needed to complete for personal reasons. It held a personal gap for me that I needed to close. Of course the right decision was to camp in Shenandoah National Park….. what an absolutely amazing National Park . Again, it was after Labor Day so the crowds weren’t as big as the summer months, there was a slight chill in the air and the trees/leaves were just starting to turn into their fall colors.  I camped two nights in two different campgrounds, both were uniquely different. Sunrises were in abundance along Skyline Drive every morning, sunsets weren’t to shabby either. I was able to see my first Black bear which was like icing on the freshly baked cupcake. Giddy Up!! I’ll be back for sure Shenandoah.

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Arrive Shenandoah National Park ~ Swift Run Gap Entrance
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Loft Mountain Campground night 1 – Fog settling in

 

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Shenandoah Mountains

 

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Shenandoah Sunrise along Skyline Drive

Connecticut

This would conclude camping for 2014, this was the absolute last weekend to camp in Connecticut so we took the opportunity to stay at American Legion State Forest in the NorthWest corner of the state. Great area at this time of year, still warm enough to camp, colors are starting to turn. I just love being able to camp with Patriot, he’s a great camper but, when he’s ready for bed he stands near the tent door LOL.

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Me and Patriot CT Camping
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That’s a wrap for 2014

 

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Closed for the Season  ~ 2014 is a wrap

 

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No Camping ~ 2014 is a wrap

Closing out 2014 ~ 21 States done……… Looking forward to 2015, making new friends and Exploring America one campsite at a time.

Thanks for your support and please continue to follow along as the Great Smokey Mountains and many other great locations are on tap for 2015.

Once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price ~ Ansel Adams

 

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Part Two:

Wednesday: The ride from Spokane to Glacier National Park is roughly a five hour ride but, since I was sick (really sick) I needed to stop twice to take a nap so, it took me seven hours before I arrived at Glacier National Park.

I arrived at Glacier National Park just before sunset and I was in complete awe at what I saw. After a quick look and a few photos,  I hurried to set up camp at Apgar. Since I was using me Teton Sport XXL tent it was an easy set up, so I went to grab fire wood and take another look at Lake McDonald at sunset.

To show scale (not me)
To show scale (not me)

After a few minutes by the lake, I headed back to my site to start a campfire while I made dinner. Early to bed for this camper, I needed some real sleep.  Around 5:30am I thought I heard a small animal around my tent so I rubbed the inside of my tent and made a little noise to scare whatever it was away, but when I rolled over I realized it was me that was making the noise, I was wheezing. NOT GOOD!!! Time to get up and find my way to Urgent Care.

Since I was up and dressed, Lake McDonald was my first stop, you can walk to the Lake from the campground but, since I was wheezing, I jumped in the rental care to watch the sunrise.

Sunrise Thursday
Sunrise Thursday

Two vans pulled up with SUP boards on top and five long haired young guys jumped out and discussed where they wanted to put their boards in the water before they have to arrive at work. They said let’s head down the road to that inlet,  I said “what road, what inlet, they explained there were many places to enter the water along the road to the right and if I followed that road it would take me to “Going to the Sun Road” so I went on a little adventure instead of going to Urgent Care. Four days sick and wheezing but, I needed to see what all the fuss was about with “Going to the Sun Road” and I do love early morning photography so off I went.

What is that?
Oh my, what is that, I said out loud

 

Look at the detail of that Mountain. Just Amazing
Look at the detail of that Mountain. Just Amazing

 

Swoosh
Swoosh

With every turn of “Going to The Sun Road” I was in complete awe. I have been to many places over the last two years trying to heal my heart, to fix my broken spirit but, I’ve never seen anything this beautiful before. On this morning, I was content…..completely content. I felt like I was one with Glacier National Park, with Montana.

Going to The Sun Road
Going to The Sun Road

 

Logan Pass / Continental Divide
Logan Pass / Continental Divide

 

St Mary's lake
St Mary’s lake

 

Good Gosh what is that
Good Gosh!! What is that

Two days is not enough time to spend with Glacier National Park. This is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been so far, exceeded any place I’ve been as of this writing.

Next stop….. Idaho

Since I had to drive back through Idaho to get to Oregon,  I knew I needed to find a place to camp for the night.  I also needed to check Idaho off the Camp50 list.  After 5-6hrs of driving, I found a National Forest campground, $20…. works for me!!!

Beauty Creek Campground
Beauty Creek Campground

Set up camp and then took a ride just outside the campground to watch the sunset. AMAZING!!!

Idaho Sunset
Idaho Sunset

Early to bed, Early to rise!! Just before sunrise, it was time to fold up the sleeping bag, fold up the tent, slip on the crocs and drive to the Washington State rest area to change out of my PJ’s and make the final push back to Oregon.

Good Bye Idaho
Good Bye Idaho

Being sick makes for a long ride back to Oregon, I think the prednisone helped to keep me going.

White Pass Scenic Byway US 12
White Pass Scenic Byway US 12

With every turn through Washington it was hard not to stop and immerse myself if all that is has to offer, but I got this crazy idea that I had time to slide through Mt Rainier National Park. It’s been almost eight years since we first met and all I wanted to was to  feel connected to the mountain once again.  So close to the entrance but, it was late and starting to rain, I had to divert and leave the area. TARGET….. Salem, Oregon

So Close
So Close

Arrived  “home”,  it was good to be there and spend time with the little one. My only plan for Sunday was to do laundry but for tonight I was warm, tucked into my sleeping, surrounded by family.  Next morning we both took off to do separate errands. My nephew found a cabin on the beach available for one night only, tonight (Labor day weekend) but, we would need to drive there to reserve it, we could not do it over the phone. We finished our errands, packed our gear into my rental and drove a little over an hour to Cape Lookout, the cabin was available, we were camping tonight on the beach. Our first camping trip together.

View of the Ocean from out Cabin
View of the Ocean from out Cabin
They stole my phone. Silly
They stole my phone. Silly

What a wonderful time on the beach with family. This cabin was spotless and I’d say less the two years old.

Ashli and Me
Ashli and Me

The next morning we had to stop at one more beach, because that’s what we do “WE ADVENTURE”

Beach Beer and Burritos
Beach Beer and Burritos

Sorry for the delay in writing up Part 2 and THANK YOU for following along as I attempt my solo bid to camp all 50 states before the end of my 50th birthday.

Coming soon, my last trips of 2014: Rhode Island, Virginia and Connecticut.

OR ~ WA ~ MT ~ ID ~ Part One

Part One:

I’m not a writer, I’m a just a girl who loves to camp and explore new places……these are my experiences.

As my plans to camp in Oregon and Washington started to take shape, I decided to add in Idaho since I would be just south of to Spokane. Idaho was roughly an hour from Spokane so it seemed like a good addition since I was “in the area”. Once those plans took shape, they changed again, adding in Montana. Now I would be camping in fours states, this was going to be the biggest trip that Camp50 has taken so far.

Plane tickets were purchased, car rental was in place and most of my plans seemed to be finalized (at least for the moment), now it was just a waiting game before departing BOSTON.  I was so excited to be heading back to the Pacific NorthWest, of course, part of me felt a great sadness knowing there wouldn’t be enough time to visit The North Cascades or even spend a day in Seattle “SIGH”!!! I’ll be back soon  “I Promised myself”. 

The plan was to spend the weekend with family in Portland, then head out for six days of camping and check four states off my Camp50 list, then back with the family for Labor Day weekend before heading back home to Boston.

Family time/Sunday: Short 1 mile hike with my niece, nephew and their two boys, Derek 2 years old and Henry 4 months. My nephew thought I’d like Cascade Head trail near Lincoln City.  Of course I would like it since I love the word Cascade anything. The trail went through mossy trees and opened out to a big open field overlooking the Pacific Ocean….. We took some pictures, made PB&J sandwiches, enjoyed the view and time together, then headed down for our next adventure.

Cascade Head - Oregon Coast
Cascade Head – Oregon Coast
Fragile Habitat Area
Fragile Habitat Area

 

Monday: It was now time for me to leave the family and head out for some camping…..oddly, I started sneezing when I woke up but, hey I was going to camping so I’d have to shake it off. I was heading East to Wallowa Lake State Park, Joseph, Oregon. I always try to reserve my first night of camping when I’m not in a familiar area, I can figure things out for the rest of the trip but, the first night needs to be in place and it was. I picked Wallowa Lake State Park, Joseph, Oregon. My travels took me along the Columbia River which is always a nice ride.

Along the Columbia River
Along the Columbia River

 

Along the Columbia River
Along the Columbia River

 

I finally made it Wallowa Lake State Park Campground just before sunset. No time to explore or take photo, just enough time to set up my tent and have something to eat.  At this point, the sneezing had turned to a full blown allergy event of some kind. I had to take allergy medicine early in the day and I was tired from all my traveling, so after I ate and brushed my teeth, I didn’t have any trouble slipping into my sleeping bag and falling asleep.  Uneventful night and of course, I woke up like I normally do, just before sunrise. I quietly packed up my gear, took a shower and headed out.  I was definitely sick  YUCK!!!! but, I kept to my plans. Washington here I come.

Arrival just before sunset
Arrival just before sunset

 

Departure: Morning.  Range of Light ~ Wallowa Lake State Park
Departure: Morning.
Range of Light ~ Wallowa Lake State Park

Pretty ~ Departing Wallowa Lake State Park

Tuesday: This was the day that I had been really looking forward to. I was going to have my first Twitter meet-up, I was going to meet Roy and camp on his farm…… Spoke to Roy for the first time when I left Wallowa Lake State Park, he gave me directions, told me what his day was going to be like since he was right in the middle of harvesting the fields but, he welcomed me to his home. Restored my faith in the kindness of people……you’re a good man Roy, I will never forget your kindness. I arrived sick as a dog, but still looking to explore the Palouse area. Part of me just wanted to go to sleep but, neither Roy or his wife were home yet so, I took some photos near the farm and waited for them to get home.  We talked a bit, had dinner, talked a little more and then called it a night. When I woke up the next morning…..I really thought I was going to die, I was now having wheezing and I knew it was time to see a doctor. Roy offered me a zero day (his words) so I could rest  but, I needed to keep going, I was within a five hour ride of Glacier National Park. Montana, a place I’ve dreamt about since I was a teenager…. and since Dreams do come true!!! I had to keep moving.

My campsite Washington
My campsite Washington

 

Fields of Gold ~ Palouse
Fields of Gold ~ Palouse

 

Favorite photo taken on the farm
Favorite photo taken on the farm

 

There’s still so much to tell about this Camp50 adventure but, I’ll stop here for now. Part Two coming soon. Thank you to those who are following along as I attempt my solo bid to camp all 50 states before the end of my 50th birthday. Happy Trails!!

The White Mountains of New Hampshire

I’ve camped in The White Mountains of New Hampshire every summer as far back as I can remember, this July was no exception.  I’ve camped a lot this year as I’ve been chipping away at my #Camp50 list but, work has been so crazy that I NEEDED TO GET AWAY!!!, I had to make time for some much needed R&R.  The decision was made, I packed up our gear and we headed NORTH for a five day camping trip.

My favorite campground, part of the National Forest is at the mid point of the Kancamagus Highway Route 112. The Kancamagus is a 34.5 mile scenic highway with several trail heads, lookout points and campgrounds along the way. The  campground I always stay at is called Jigger Johnson. The sites are spacious, the host has become a seasonal friend and JJ (as I call it) is the only campground along the Kanc that has flush toilets and hot showers. I like showers when I’m camping.  A friend once said, that the showers there were expensive, 8 quarters for 6.5 minutes but, I think he’s wrong…… I’ve been to other showers in the area and this one is the BEST and what does he know anyway? 😛

Since this is a first come first serve campground, arrival day/time is always important. For some stupid reason I decided to head up early on a Friday which was not my usual approach to claiming my site, usually I head up on a Wednesday or a Sunday (trust me those are the best days to claim a site), I arrived and Gary said, your site is taken so, I ended up in the tent only section which I hadn’t camped in for about 8 years, it was a different experience than we were used to, since Patriot and I like things a certain way when we’re camping and the tent only section has smaller sites and are closer together but, at least we had a home.

Our Home
Our Home

As always, once the sky begins to brighten, we head out for some early morning photography and trail running for Patriot.

Good Morning New Hampshire
Good Morning New Hampshire
Misty Morning
Misty Morning

There are some differences between this July and the past July trips. This was the first time in 5 years that I did not go to Seek The Peak and this is the first time in years that I spent all my time along the Kanc, except for grocery store supplies in North Conway.  I’ve always wanted to just stay along the Kanc, so on this trip I stayed along the Kanc and captured some of my most beautiful images of The White Mountains to date.

This was the best trip to The White Mountains for me. Here are a few of my photos from this trip………  Hope you enjoy them.

Morning Day 2
Morning Day 2
Teton Sports Hat at Sabbaday Falls
Teton Sports Hat at Sabbaday Falls
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Sabbaday Falls NH
Rocky Gorge along the Kanc
Rocky Gorge along the Kanc
Mountains and Trees
Mountains and Trees
Breakfast - Nature Valley Granola
Breakfast – Nature Valley Granola
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Bridge – Lincoln Woods
Campfire
Campfire

 

Plan A: Rough Draft

You may not be aware but,  I recently decided to camp all 50 states before the end of my 50th year on this earth (50/50). I don’t have many states in the books and I certainly don’t have much time left to complete this dream, this goal I’ve created for myself. I have roughly 22 months, so I really need to map this out. That’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last couple of weeks.

Of course, I’m very cognitive that funds, weather and real life may get in the way of my plan but, for now…….I have something to drive towards or is it fly towards?

I grabbed different colored highlighters and made what I’m calling  Plan A: Rough Draft. With the help of my trusty highlighters, I colored in the states that I’ve already camped in (pink). With the other highlighters, I grouped states together based in their geographical closeness and outlined those states by color.  It looks something like this….

Hold up, wait a second…….. I also needed to decide, what state was going to be #50 and since I was giving myself until April 2016 where was I going to spend my 50th birthday. These were some big decisions I needed to make while planning Camp50.

Here’s my plan……………

Next up: Washington, Oregon, Idaho & Montana

  • The two closest states to me, Rhode Island & Connecticut
  • Nevada, Florida, Virginia, each could be done over a weekend
  • Looks like I’ll be spending my 50th birthday exploring North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming & Colorado
  • Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin on another round. perhaps a long weekend exploration.
  • Texas, Oklahoma & New Mexico
  • Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri & Kansas
  • Ohio & Kentucky another weekend
  • Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana & Mississippi
  • South Carolina, Georgia & Alabama
  • #49 = Hawaii
  • #50 = Alaska

Camp 50 Plan A

Well that’s my rough draft for now. Having a bit of camping withdrawal but, my next big adventure is just around the corner. Really looking forward to my camping trip to the Pacific Northwest along with Idaho and Montana.

Some days I think that  it would be nice to have someone to share this experience with but, then I remember that camping, exploring, spending time with nature is the only way I know to heal my heart and find myself.  It’s been a solo journey so far, no sense in changing things now but, there are definitely a few special friends I’d like to have by my side in Alaska for #50.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No dogs allowed…….

Since Memorial Day Weekend was just around the corner I decided to take  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off from work, giving me a six day weekend. Oh where, oh where should I go?

I started reviewing maps and wondered…… what states were close enough for me and Patriot to drive to. The decision was made to knock out New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Not knowing the area, I researched campgrounds and distances between each state, I also asked friends who live in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for their recommendations.  The plan was starting to come together, we’d camp in each state for one night.
Worthington State Forest NJ unable to reserve but, I could call the day of,  Lums Pond State Park DE reserved  Caledonia State Park PA reserved, and we’d wing it for Maryland if things didn’t work out, perhaps we’d come back in the fall to camp in Maryland and Virginia.

Tuesday night came, two day workweeks are a killer….. time to pack up the CRV and get some sleep.  Up early, everything was packed, just needed to feed Patriot and make coffee for the road. I decided to test my Hydroflask for the first time so, I made three cups of coffee and we were off on our little adventure.  The plan was to call Worthington State Forest around 9am to reserve a site for the night, that’s when things got interesting. I called, spoke to the same lady I had talked to the week before, I babbled something about me and my dog just needed to camp one night that I was trying to camp in all 50 states……that’s when she said I’m sorry but,  “No dogs allowed”. How did I forget to ask that question when I talked to her last week.  She thought Camp50 was a great idea and told me there were three private campgrounds close by that allowed dogs, so I decided to head in the direction I had originally planned and figure things out when I got closer.

When we were about 15 minutes from Worthington State Forest, it was time for fill up the CRV again and find a place to call home for the night.  Those smartphones sure come in handy. Camp Taylor was 10 minutes away and dogs were allowed. Camp Taylor was our home for the night. Light rain showers most of the afternoon into the evening but, I set up our tent, we took a walk in the woods and had dinner.  Day one:  our long day of travel was over and we said good night to this day.

Up early, broke down the tent, took a shower, headed to Delaware but, we had to make a pit-stop for a little outside trail time on the Appalachian Trail since the trailhead was close by.

Patriot on the Applacian Trail NJ
Patriot on the Appalachian Trail

The days prior to our arrival, the Mid-Atlantic had seen several inches of rain, so when we arrived at Lums our reserved site was too wet for me so we changed sites and set up the tent again. Took a little walk around the pond and then went to find a store for ice.  Arrived back to camp just in time for a severe thunderstorm and tornado warning. GOOD TIMES.

delaware photo
Lums Pond State Park, DE

Up early, broke down the tent, took a shower and headed to Pennsylvania.  Found our site, set up our tent, checked out the bathrooms/showers and took off to find wood and some food. No rain in the forecast so we were going to have cheeseburgers and a campfire.

photo
Our home for the night, Caledonia State Park PA

Up early, broke down the tent and took a shower. Since we were about an hour away, I wanted to visit Harper’s Ferry WV there was also a campground in Maryland 5 minutes from Harper’s Ferry that I wanted to check out.  We stretched and had some lunch in Harper’s Ferry but, the campground was not going to work for us. Too Loud…… so I drove towards Baltimore hoping to find us a place to stay or we’d have to drive 7hrs home.

Oh look there’s a Starbucks.  Pulled out the smartphone again and found a KOA that allowed dogs, just 1hr away. Off we went.

First I should say that KOA is not my preferred place to camp but, I was tired and there was no way I was going to be able to safely make a 7hr ride back to Massachusetts. Arrived KOA and there were motorcycles everywhere <tilts head to the side> what did I just walk into.  Went in to register and they said we will be closed from 6pm- 7pm for the Blessing of the Bikes, there would be cake after. Ok, can I get ice and fire wood?? They said sure, we’ll deliver it to your site.  Nice way to close out a long day of travel.  A campfire and dinner while Patriot settled in.

Four days of travel along with…… tent up, tent down four times had made me pretty tired and hungry. The weather the last three days was on again, off again showers so dinners were not my usually camp style dinners but, tonight was the night…..tonight was the night to have BLT’s, so I did.

Now, time to check out that cake…… that’s when I realized there was no place I’d rather be on this Memorial Day weekend, no place I’d rather be to close out a four state camping trip. You see the Blessing of the Bikes was for the 25th anniversary of the Rolling Thunder a rather large group of veteran’s that would be rolling into Washington DC for Memorial Day. I was surrounded by men and women who have served this great country…… I was honored to be in their presence.

This story was a little long for my liking but, as I become more comfortable putting my adventures into words……the words will become less but, the things I learn along the way will stay with me forever. #CAMP50