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Devils Fork State Park | Weekly Adventure Photos

Devils Fork State Park

This photo is a stunning view of Lake Jocassee located in Devils Fork State Park.  The state park is located in the northwest corner of South Carolina.  There are waterfalls and a boat-in campsite accessible only by boat or kayak.  A regular campground and picnic area are also available within the park.  Some of the best trout fishing in South Carolina can be found at Lake Jocassee.  Scuba diving is also a favorite sport to do at the park. We spent the day paddling to a few of the waterfalls and doing some fishing.   The water is really clear, but be warned it is also freezing! There are plenty of activities to do at Devils Fork State Park from boating to hiking, or a refreshing swim in the lake. Get reservations for the campground and plan to stay a few days enjoying the beautiful views of Devils Fork State Park.  It is a breath of fresh air!

Devils Fork State Park

Ochlockonee River State Park | Weekly Adventure Photos

Ochlockonee River State Park

The Ochlockonee River State Park is located near Sopchoppy, Florida, about 40 miles south of Tallahassee.  For this paddling trip, we launched from the boat ramp in the park and started down Tidal Creek.  We came out on the Ocklockonee River and did a quick paddle across to the other side.  From there we entered the Bear Creek Paddling Trail. Along Bear Creek, we saw osprey, large osprey nests up in the trees, blue heron, and many fish jumping out of the water.  The landscape had many trees covered in moss that were beautiful.  We had quite a bit of wind to contend with, especially once we reached the Ochlockonee River at the other end of Bear Creek.  It was a difficult paddle back to the boat ramp with the increased head wind.  Overall it was a great day of paddling!  There are two paddling trails to do in Ocklockonee River State Park, both being about 7 1/2 miles in length. We didn’t get a chance to really explore any of the other areas in the park.  Bear Creek Paddling Trail is an easy paddle and great for the beginner to the experienced.

Journey On,
Annette

Ochlockonee River State Park

Hot Springs, Arkansas is One Cool Place

Hot Springs, ArkansasTravel Log: 

Location:  Hot Springs, Arkansas
Access Point:  34.4923004,-93.0571505

We recently made a journey to Hot Springs, Arkansas, located an hour southwest of Little Rock, for a family vacation and for our son to compete at the ATA World’s Championship.  The championship took place in Little Rock.  We wanted to take our motorhome to stay in, and we wanted a nice RV park to stay in that had a pool.  We couldn’t find any in the Little Rock area, so we started researching surrounding areas.  Troy remembered one of his co-workers telling him that if we were ever near Hot Springs, Arkansas to check it out. After looking at the map, we realized that Hot Springs was not that far of a drive from Little Rock.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

We started looking for RV parks in that area.  We ended up finding Catherine’s Landing, which is an RVC Outdoor Destination, and we had stayed at two of their other locations in the past.  We knew that this RV park would be a great place to stay.  The accommodations and the amenities are superb at all the RVC Outdoor Destinations we have stayed at.  We highly recommend planning a getaway to one of their locations.  If you don’t have an RV to stay in, you can rent one of their cottages or yurts (not all the destinations have yurts, but Catherine’s Landing does).  Catherine’s Landing is located on Lake Catherine where you can launch your boat or kayaks and spend a day out on the water.  We didn’t bring our kayaks this time since most of our time would be spent at the tournament.  We did manage to get in some pool time though!

Hot Springs, Arkansas

We spent four days in the Hot Springs area.  We spent one day relaxing from our drive there…610 miles from our house in a motorhome….makes for slower travel than driving a regular car.  The next day we spent in downtown Hot Springs which houses Hot Springs National Park.  We explored the National Park for several hours.  We took a tour of the old Fordyce Bathhouse and enjoyed a walk around the downtown area.  We strolled along the Grand Promenade Trail which sits above the National Park on the hillside and enjoyed the greenery and views of the historic buildings.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

We stopped at several small thermal springs and felt the extremely hot water.  We made our way into the gift shop where we purchased a souvenir water bottle.  Then we found one of the water faucets where you can fill up your water bottles with the scorching hot water.  We then took it back to the RV and put it in the fridge to drink later.  Canyon called the water “spirit water” and drank it before his tournament to get energized.  I wanted to go Buckstaff Baths and soak in one of the traditional bathtubs, but with the sweltering, muggy heat outside, it didn’t sound that refreshing to me.  I think we need to make a winter trip to Hot Springs….soaking indoors in a bath full of steamy hot water with a cold outside temperature sounds more relaxing to me.

While we were downtown, we stopped at Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcake Shoppe and partook of several flavors of cupcakes.  We love cupcakes, and these were delicious!  We also journeyed up the hillsides and went on the park’s scenic drives.  It was nice to feel like we were traveling up into the mountains.  We have always lived near large mountains, and now living in the Deep South makes us miss the mountains.  Hot Springs and Little Rock are culturally hip and diverse areas.  It is a very different atmosphere in Arkansas than here in lower Alabama, where we currently live.  We met a lot of great people at the RV park and spent time with people from all over the world at the tournament.  Next year we will be returning for the tournament.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

One place needed mentioning is McClard’s BBQ restaurant.  We love BBQ more than we love cupcakes! Canyon ate ribs that were the size of his head! That boy loves his ribs and McClard’s didn’t disappoint him. Troy and I both had the beef sandwiches, and they were huge and delicious.

The advice that we were given to make sure we check out Hot Springs, Arkansas, is advice we pass on to you as well.  Put this one on the to-do list!  You won’t be disappointed!  For next year, we have our list of things to do that we missed this first visit.

Journey on,
Annette

St. George Island State Park | Weekly Adventure Photo

St. George Island State Park

St. George Island State Park is this week’s photo spotlight.  We launched from one of the boat ramps in the park and paddled over to this sandy beach at Gap Point.  There is primitive camping available at Gap Point. We spent the day out catching slimy Gafftopsail catfish and playing on the beach in the Apalachicola Bay.  There were several others out kayaking and enjoying a day of fishing and sunshine.  St. George Island State Park has the Gulf of Mexico on the south side and the Apalachicola Bay on the north side.  You can access both sides and enjoy the diverse landscape the state park has to offer.  There are miles of white sandy beaches to play on in the Gulf.  The Bayside is accessed by a hiking trail or by boat.  You can also get a campsite within the park.  St. George Island is a great place to come and spend the day on the water or hiking around for some hidden geocaches.

Weekly Adventure Photo | St. Andrews State Park

St. Andrews State Park

This week’s photo comes from St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, Florida.  These are the beautiful sand dunes that sit behind you while viewing and playing on the Gulf Coast.  This is a great place to come and play in the Gulf while enjoying the warm sunshine.  Make sure if you go to St. Andrews State Park that you take the time to hike the nature trails (maybe you’ll see or hear an alligator) take the boat shuttle or kayak to Shell Island, or even plan a camping trip and stay a few nights.  This is a perfect beach getaway!  Bring your cooler full of food and drinks, fishing gear, and snorkeling gear and enjoy a beautiful day at St. Andrews State Park.  Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Once you’re done at the park, drive into Panama City or Panama City Beach and explore those areas as well.  Stop by one of our favorite ice cream shops, Bruster’s, and get a tasty summer treat!  There are also plenty of great places to eat and tons of shopping to do!  Also, don’t forget to check out the other state parks in the area!  There’s a lot to see and do….grab your gear and head out to catch some sun and surf!

Journey on,
Annette

Step Back in Time at Hovenweep National Monument

Travel Log: 

Location:  Hovenweep National Monument
Access Point: 37.3573981,-108.8597312
Length:  1 – 3 hours

Hovenweep National Monument Our family has always been fascinated with Native American history.  On one of our trips to Cortez, Colorado, we took the opportunity to visit Hovenweep National Monument.  The masonry structures that have stood the test of time will amaze anyone who visits.  There is a two-mile hike around the structures with plenty of photographic opportunities.  Each structure is stunning with a story to tell.  The story is that of ancient Puebloans who worked hard to live and survive in this area.  Hovenweep National Monument is rich in history, and to be able to explore the area and to get up close to the structures makes the trip even more memorable. Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument Make sure when you visit Hovenweep National Monument that you bring good hiking shoes, your camera, and water.  Take your time enjoying each structure and the view of the mountains.  The trail is a little difficult in a few places so make sure you are prepared for that.  Also, make sure you check the weather as it can vary.

While in the area, make sure to check out Cortez and Durango, Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park.    We highly recommend the Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA as your base camp.  You can camp in a tent, stay in one of their camping cabins, or take your own RV.  The Cortez area is one of our family favorites!  Also, if you mountain bike, hit up one of the awesome trails in the area.  The historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a fun trip to take.  This area is brimming in history and beautiful landscape!  Make the Cortez area a place to visit where you can take a step back in time!

Journey On,
Annette Hovenweep National Monument

Weekly Adventure Photos | Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

This week I’m highlighting Yellowstone National Park. This is one of our favorite places to visit! The diverse landscape offers many adventure opportunities from hiking to sightseeing. You will leave with a camera full of photos and memories to last a life time. We have been many times and still haven’t explored the area fully. We would like to take a winter trip there and explore Yellowstone by snowmobile. Canyon loves all the “hot boiling water” as he calls it! We’ve stayed in a tent, a couple of the hotels, and our motorhome on separate trips.  We highly recommend the Yellowstone Park KOA.  You can camp there in a tent, rent a cabin, or bring your RV to stay in.  The fresh air and stunning views will amaze everyone of all ages.  The wildlife is impressive to see up close!  When you visit, make sure you have about 3-4 days to spend there.  Yellowstone is a vast area with many places to explore.  Make sure you get off the beaten path and see things from a different point of view.  The photo below is of the Grand Prismatic Spring taken from a trail behind it.  

Yellowstone National Park 

Weekly Adventure Photos | Sandestin, Miramar Beach, FL

Sandestin, Miramar Beach, FLThe weekly adventure photo is of the sunset from a weekend trip to Sandestin, Miramar Beach, FL.  I took this photo from our hotel room at the Hilton Sandestin, Miramar Beach, FL back in January.  We were down for a Strong Bonds retreat that Troy was teaching at.  Our room had the perfect view of the Gulf Coast and the stunning colors of the evening sunset was amazing.  The beach is powdery white sand and the water is a deep emerald color.  The beaches of the Emerald Coast are not to be missed!  We have been on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf Coast beaches, and the beaches here on the Emerald Coast are some of the best.  From Destin down to T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park you will find stunning white beaches with gorgeous emerald water.  The sand is so soft and powdery with very little shells.  One of our favorite places to play on the beach is Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.  You can’t go wrong with any of the beaches located on the Emerald Coast.  The sunsets are breathtaking with the beautiful color of the water.

Sandestin, Miramar Beach, FL

This was the view the next morning.  A storm had moved in with thick fog and low visibility.  The view from our room was a little eerie but still beautiful.  If you haven’t visited the Emerald Coast yet, don’t miss out!  Make plans now to visit some of the most beautiful beaches where you can relax and soak up some sun!

Journey on,
Annette

Fort Davis National Historic Park

Travel Log: 

Location: Fort Davis National Historic Park, Fort Davis, Texas
Access Point: 30.597932,-103.892014
Length: Plan about 2 hours

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Fort Davis National Historic Site

One of our favorite historic sites to visit in Texas is Fort Davis.  We have lived in El Paso, TX two different times in the past and this is a gem we found while living in the area.  Canyon has a love for history and getting to visit actual historic sites just increases his interest of past events.  As soon as you step your foot out of your car, you can feel a sense of wonderment of life that once existed in this barren area.  Fort Davis is located in the dry desert Texas landscape.  It is hard for me to image life in the hot summer heat with no air conditioning and no amenities during that time. It is amazing to be able to walk through the renovated buildings and to try and picture those that once lived there.  One particular building that really stands out to me is the hospital.  To walk the hallways, peek into rooms once occupied by ill patients, and to see the medical instruments once used to treat the sick is almost too much to bear.  I’m glad for the medical advances that have been made!  An interesting fact about that hospital is that it was considered to be one of the most up-to-date medical treatment centers west of San Antonio (http://www.nps.gov/foda/upload/Post-Hospital-Bulletin-8-5-X-11-2-col.pdf).

Fort Davis National Historic Site

I love walking through all the old homes and seeing the antique furniture, musical instruments, and children’s games.  Canyon had a great time doing the Junior Ranger activities and looking for hidden objects among all the restored buildings. There are many trails around the area for hiking and getting different views of Fort Davis.  If you are in the mood for military history, check out Fort Davis National Historic Site.  Plan on spending several hours to explore all the buildings, watch the videos in the visitor center, hike a few trails, and take lots of photos.  Make sure you take some water to keep hydrated in the dry climate.

There is a lot of amazing things to see in the Fort Davis area.  You could easily spend 3 – 4 days sightseeing and exploring!

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Journey On, Annette

Kayaking Gear

We get a lot of questions about the kayaking gear we use.  We get stopped all the time at gas stations or at the boat ramps where the conversation is about our kayaking gear.  We’ve been kayaking for about 4 years and are on our second set of kayaks.  We’ve used various gear over the past few years and we finally feel we have reached our perfect setup.  I’m going to give you a list of the items that we use every time we go out.

1.  Jackson Big Tuna Kayaks – we own two, and highly recommend them
2.  Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle 240 cm (Troy)
3.  Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Hybrid paddle 240 cm (me)
4.  Yeti 35 qt cooler filled with drinks, snacks, and lunch (it rides with me, while Canyon rides with Troy).  This cooler does an amazing job at keeping items cold for several days.  We also use several Artic Ice packs instead of regular ice to keep items very cold.
5.  Fishing gear – 4 fishing poles and a gear bag, sometimes live bait
6.  PDFs (personal floatation devices) – we wear these no matter how shallow or deep the water is
7.  First Aid Kit

If you have any questions or comments about any of the kayaking gear we use, drop us a note and we will be glad to talk kayaking with you!

Journey on,
Annette

Kayaking Gear, Big Tuna Jackson Kayak