Arkansas [Draft]

This post is about the Arkansas leg of my year on the road. I’m traveling to all the national parks in the contiguous 48 states. I’m also stopping at several other interesting spots along the way, and making sure to sample the local fare.

Previous: Louisiana

Next: Mississippi

  • Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Timeline

There is one national park in Arkansas!

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

 

Budget

 

Local Fare

 

Louisiana [Draft]

This post is about the Louisiana leg of my year on the road. I’m traveling to all the national parks in the contiguous 48 states. I’m also stopping at several other interesting spots along the way, and making sure to sample the local fare.

Previous: Texas

Next: Arkansas

  • Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

Timeline

There are no national parks in Louisiana but there are some other interesting things to check out.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Budget

 

Local Fare

 

Texas [Draft]

This post is about the Texas leg of my year on the road. I’m traveling to all the national parks in the contiguous 48 states. I’m also stopping at several other interesting spots along the way, and making sure to sample the local fare.

Previous: New Mexico

Next: Louisiana

  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
  • Big Bend National Park, Texas
  • Breakfast Tacos, Austin, Texas
  • Hippy Hollow, Austin, Texas
  • Rainbow Ranch

Timeline

Texas is a big, weird place. This will be my first time visiting. I’m scared and excited! I plan to spend up to two weeks here.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

The Guadalupe Mountains are another fossil reef just like the Carlsbad Caves were in New Mexico. They are literally right next to each other so that makes sense. There is lots of hiking and scenic vistas so that will be a nice time.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend seems like a pretty normal area without any really amazing or unusual aspects aside from some scenic vistas and lots of interesting endemic species and habitats.

Big Bend also has a hot springs!

Hippy Hollow, Austin, Texas

Hopefully it needs no introduction but Hippy Hollow is a park at Lake Travis in Austin. It is the only legal nude park/beach in Texas. It’s funny there are half a dozen in northern California and yet Texas identifies as being a freer place. 🤣

Todo: Find breakfast taco recommendations

Rainbow Ranch Campground

 

Budget

The current route as planned is 666 miles long 😈, not including ingress and egress thought I am starting basically exactly where I left off in New Mexico. With my average 30 mpg will take 22 gallons of gas and cost about $64.60 in gas.

I am camping in my diy trailer the whole time so there will be no cost in hotels or lodging.

I’m budgeting $100 a week for food during this trip including both groceries and eating out.

Local Fare

I have been told by friends that I must try breakfast tacos in Austin. According to Eater, I should check out Paco’s Tacos and potentially Vaquero Taquero both of which are in Austin.

Buzzfeed says I should try Smoked brisket with white bread, white onion, pickled jalapeños, and bbq sauce. That’s a VERY specific suggestion so I will look for that. Far & Wide agrees with some more suggestions of their own.

 

 

Next up: Louisiana

New Mexico [Draft]

This post is about the New Mexico leg of my year on the road. I’m traveling to all the national parks in the contiguous 48 states. I’m also stopping at several other interesting spots along the way, and making sure to sample the local fare.

Previous: Arizona

Next: Texas

  • The Very Large Array, New Mexico
  • Earthship Biotecture, Taos, New Mexico
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Timeline

There’s not a lot going on in New Mexico in terms of national parks. In fact there’s just one. I plan to spend about a week in New Mexico.

Very Large Array

This is a very cool feat of engineering which has always fascinated me. It’s a very large array of radio telescopes. They are networked so they can work together to see far away parts of the cosmos.

I’m currently planning to stay at Cebolla Mesa Campground which is a free USDA campground near Taos

Earthship Biotecture

As someone studying sustainable urbanism, and who is a huge fan of Black Rock City and many places like it, Taos is a no brainer for this trip. This is a community which builds experimental xericulture homesteads using recycled material and designing their homes and communities to capture rainwater and coexist with the ecosystem, growing their own food in sustainable desert gardens.

You may notice a theme developing from my previous post which focused heavily on the work of Paolo Soleri in combining community architecture with ecology to create sustainable, regenerative alternatives to the modern industrial city.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

I’ve visited some cave systems in the past, but nothing anywhere near the scale of the Carlsbad Caverns. Formerly on the coast of a now-gone inland sea, these caverns host the nation’s largest natural cavern room. “The big room” is 4,000 feet long by 625 feet wide and 255 feet tall. I’m excited for this one.

Budget

The current route as planned is 823 miles long, not including ingress and egress, and with my average 30 mpg will take 27 gallons of gas and cost about $81 in gas.

I am camping in my diy trailer the whole time so there will be no cost in hotels or lodging.

The cost of the guided tour at the Earthship Visitor Center is $16.

I’m budgeting $100 a week for food during this trip including both groceries and eating out.

Local Fare

Buzzfeed recommends Adovada. According to Wikipedia this is “a baked meat dish that is a specialty in New Mexican cuisine. In its simplest form, raw pork is cut into strips or cubes and placed in a large plastic bag with New Mexico red chili powder or minced red chili peppers, garlic, oregano, cumin, lime/lemon juice and/or vinegar, and salt, then mixed and refrigerated overnight. The dish is cooked by baking at low heat wrapped completely in foil or in a covered dish like a casserole dish to keep the meat moist.”

Sounds good. Looks good. Let’s try it! There doesn’t seem to be any exceptionally popular place to get this so I will probably try several different ones and report back.

 

Next up: Texas

Arizona [Draft]

This post is about the Arizona leg of my year on the road. I’m traveling to all the national parks in the contiguous 48 states. I’m also stopping at several other interesting spots along the way, and making sure to sample the local fare.

Previous: Southern California

Next: New Mexico

Arizona

Todo: go through atlas obscura and add more things

Timeline

I plan to spend about a month in Arizona.

One of the main suggestions from TripAdvisor is kayaking but I’m going to be there in January so that’s probably not the most ideal activity for the winter. I would love to come back someday in the summer and run the Colorado. In particular I would love to do a multi-day trip through the grand canyon.

Quartzsite, Arizona

La Posa South LTVA Nude Campground

This is the nation’s largest nude campground at over 400 acres. It’s inside a BLM LTVA which means you can stay for two weeks for $40 with water, showers, bathrooms, hookups, tank dumps, etc.

The Q Rainbow RV Arizona RV & Tent Show (Link)

From January 15h-24th, this is one of the largest rv meetups in the world, and there is a large LGBT contingent which camps nearby in another LTVA. I think this will be a cool way to make connections in the community and hopefully have a good time.

It’s not exactly clear but it seems like this contingent is meeting at the same place where the huge nude campground is, so it may be that these two items will overlap.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

This park has the nation’s largest cacti. It’s a small park and there seems to be a limited number of activities so we will see how much time I spend here.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

I plan to spend a week here, boondocking near Tusayan at Long Jim Loop Camping. Camping here is free for up to two weeks. This spot is also just a few hundred feet from downtown Tusayan with all the shopping and wifi you could wish for. (I will be maintaining a full-time class schedule while on this entire trip.)

Meteor Crater, Arizona

About 50,000 years ago a meteor struck this spot in Arizona. It left a huge crater. I want to see it.

Arcosanti, Arizona

In the words of Maynard James Keenan, “If you were an extra-terrestrial traveler and you landed in the Southwest and wanted to assume an identity here and blend in. This would probably be a good spot to do that.”

I’m very excited to visit Arcosanti! This is a proof of concept Archology designed by visionary architect and urbanist Paolo Soleri. The idea is that the community is designed intentionally to incorporate closed loops which allow it to recycle its waste while providing for its own needs. It also houses as many people as possible in a small, dense area with no cars while preserving the vast wild lands around it; resident stewardship and ecology are built into the architecture of the community. This is where the term arcology comes from.

One of the products they produce are unique hand-forged bronze wind bells. I’m very excited to pick up one of these in addition to a copy of Soleri’s book, City In The Image Of Man.

I plan to spend a week here, reading and learning as much as possible.

Shangri La Ranch

This is supposed to be the best nudist resort in Arizona. We’ll see. It’s certainly much more affordable than anything in California which is a big plus. I’ll probably start with a weekend here and see how I feel about staying a bit longer. it might even make a nice base for the Saguaro trip since they don’t have camping there, and it’s a long drive there and back.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

This is a very cool-looking place. I’m excited to see all the weird petrified trees and do the many hikes that are available.

I plan to spend about a week here. There are a lot of options for free camping in the area, but the Crystal Forest Gift Shop seems like the most obvious option since it’s right there at the park.

Budget

The current route as planned is 1,061 miles long, including ingress. With my average 30 mpg will take 35 gallons of gas and cost about $105 in gas.

I am camping in my diy trailer the whole time so there will be no cost in hotels or lodging.

I plan to spend ~$200 on a wind bell and a copy of Soleri’s book at Arcosanti.

I’m budgeting $100 a week for food during this trip including both groceries and eating out.

Camping at Arcosanti is $20/night and I’m planning to spend a total of a week there which comes out to $140 for the whole stay.

Local Fare

One of the main goals I set for this trip is to try weird and popular local food options. According to Buzzfeed, Sonoran hotdogs are the thing to try while in Arizona. Furthermore, Far & Wide agrees, and suggests that Nogales Hot Dogs in Phoenix is the best place in Arizona to get these mythical Sonoran hotdogs. We will see!

Honorable Mention

Tombstone seems like it would be fun to check out, but I don’t want to get the normal tourist experience.

Further Research

Here are some other resources that helped me plan my trip.

 

Next up: New Mexico

Southern California [Draft]

This post is about the Southern California leg of my year on the road. I’m traveling to all the national parks in the contiguous 48 states. I’m also stopping at several other interesting spots along the way, and making sure to sample the local fare.

Next: Arizona

Timeline: Two Weeks

  • Mammoth Lakes, California
  • Saline Valley Hot Springs, Death Valley, California
  • The Racetrack, Death Valley, California
  • Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley, California
  • Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, California
  • Aguereberry Point, Death Valley, California
  • Dante’s View, Death Valley, California
  • California City, California
  • Joshua Tree, California
  • Salton City, California
  • Slab City, California

Todo: go through atlas obscura and add more things

Getting There

Day 1 – Friday 1/1

It’s a nine hour drive from Sacramento to Death Valley. The halfway point is near Mammoth Lakes. This area is full of hot springs on BLM/USDA land so you can camp there for free. I plan to stop here for the night to have a soak before moving on in the morning.

I am also doing a whole separate week-long trip to Mammoth Lakes to check out many different hot springs before heading on this trip. The details are here! I’m sure I will update this post based on my experience there.

Death Valley National Park, California

I went to Death Valley when I was a kid but we just stopped briefly on the way through. There are a few interesting things I want to see this time.

Day 2 – Saturday 1/2

Drive to Saline Valley Hot Springs. This is a set of three popular hot springs where people can camp for free, bathe in the springs, and they even have showers.

Day 3 – Sunday 1/3

The Racetrack: Where the famous moving rocks race across the desert.

Ubehebe Crater: A very weird recent magma explosion that created a huge crater.

Arrive this evening at Sunset Campground. There is dispersed camping available just before Zabriskie but you need 4wd and sadly I do not have that, so I plan to spend the night at Sunset Campground. According to the website, they have hundreds of spots and they rarely fill up, plus it’s first-come first serve. Also it’s just $14 a night and that includes water and restrooms so it’s a pretty great deal.

Day 4 – Monday 1/4

Zabriskie Point

Aguereberry Point

Dante’s View

Then back to Sunset Campground to spend the night.

Day 5 – Tuesday 1/5

California City, California

This is a super weird place that I’ve always wanted to visit. They planned a whole city and built the roads and infrastructure, but nobody wanted to live there so it’s just empty roads for the most part.

It’s on the way so I decided to quickly stop and check it out.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

I have always wanted to visit here. I’m very excited to finally see Joshua Tree!

I plan to spend two nights at Hidden Valley Campground inside the park which is walk-in only and costs $15/night.

A close runner up was the recommendation of AdventureVanMan to camp at some BLM land outside the park. This seems like it would be more fun with a larger group of friends, but since it’s just me, I’d rather do the camp site inside the park so I can feel safe leaving everything at camp to go explore.

Day 6 – Wednesday 1/6

The big attraction here is the Joshua Trees themselves. There is hiking and rock climbing, but I have a lot of parks to visit so I will probably spend just a day or two here before moving on.

While researching this park, I was struck by the quote from Wikipedia, “In 1772, a group of Spaniards led by Pedro Fages made the first European sightings of Joshua trees while pursuing native converts to Christianity who had run away from a mission in San Diego.”

Day 7 – Thursday 1/7

I plan to leave Joshua Tree in the morning, stop at Salton, and then find a spot to set up in Slab City.

Salton, California

This is an inland sea which exists as the result of an industrial accident. It has been the subject of documentaries, development attempts, disasters, and a seemingly endless string of misfortunes.

I’m very excited to check it out. This will probably just be a quick stop between Joshua Tree and Slab City.

Slab City, California

For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with places like Slab City, Burning Man, Arcosanti, and other weird nomadic experimental communities. This will be my first time visiting Slab City, and I’m very excited to finally see it!

There are A LOT of things I want to do here, so I’m planning to stay for a week.

I really want to check out the Oasis Club.

I definitely want to see East Jesus and West Satan.

Hopefully, I can be here for the weekend and catch some entertainment at The Range.

Salvation Mountain is on the way to the Hot Springs, and perhaps one of the most striking and recognizable vistas.

I also want to make sure to visit the Hot Springs.

I will have about a week here before I leave on the morning of the 14th to head to Quartzsite.

Budget

The trip is 705 miles excluding ingress and egress which at 30 mpg comes out to 24 gallons or $70. [Update this to include ingress]

I am camping in my diy trailer most of the time so there will be little cost in hotels or lodging.

I will be spending two nights at Sunset Campground at $14/night.

I will also be spending two nights at Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree at $15/night.

I’m budgeting $100 a week for food during this trip including groceries, eating out, and alcohol.

Local Fare

So I have lived in California for over a decade but there are some local variations in the south that might be fun to try. Most of the sites recommend carne asada tacos and things like that.

 

Up Next: Arizona