From New Mexico we headed home. It was with great reluctance. Halle must have suggested we go home, get our stuff and just go back to New Mexico for good, at least five times. Beth asked what about her sister. Her response was, 'she is going to college, she can come visit us during Christmas break. ' I think Halle sees the promise of the West more than Beth and I combined.
Unfortunately we had to go home to Maryland.
We first headed to Oklahoma City to see a former friend from New Mexico. He lost sight of the promise of the West and moved further East. We spent one night camped in his driveway. It was so hot all night I thought Anna might melt.
After Oklahoma City we headed to Memphis. We found a nice state park with full hook ups on the Southwest side of town called T O Fuller. I was blown away that the bath house had an ice maker for the guests. What a great perk. So simple and so beneficial. I asked the two rangers and the camp host where their favorite bbq was. I took the advice of the most rotund of the three figuring he knew bbq better than most. Interstate Bar-B-Q was where he sent us.
Apparently this guy, Jim Neely, is famous in these parts. His son and daughter in law have some kind of cooking/ food/ travel show. I have never seen it, but they say it is a great show.
This is Jim Neely's niece. Everyone working here is family. Seriously, if you are not in their family, you are not working here. Now, she may look completely non plussed as she makes up service ware, but she is one of those waitresses that is completely spot on. She was completely non intrusive and attentive to any anticipated need. A complete professional who earned her 125% tip.
I told her we wanted to chew on some bones and we wanted left overs. Just surprise us... First she brought us some onion rings, 'to get the mouth juices going'. She then brought us beef ribs, pork ribs, and rib tips. There was potato salad, coleslaw, and divine baked beans. I indeed had lunch for the next two days...
$41, two beers each, a soda for Halle, and all that food...
That night we decided to head North towards Mammoth Cave for one last adventure.
Here is where I have to rant just a little bit;
Our National Parks are being VISITED TO DEATH. You cannot just drop in and expect to see the sights any longer. You must plan the entire adventure days, months, even a year in advance. There are so many people who desire to see our National Parks that the demand way exceeds the ability of the parks to deliver. People come from all over the world. Mammoth Cave really demonstrated the over loving going on. When you arrive with an RV you will see signs telling you that RVs must park in designated spaces only. I went to those spaces to find every single one filled with automobiles. We then went to over flow parking where the sign says 'no rv parking'. A hint, the hotel at Mammoth has a very long curb in front of it with no signs saying you cannot park there. I took full advantage of it.
We wandered into the visitors center and waited in a major cue to see the cave. 'Two adults, one child' 'what is your reservation number sir?' 'Reservation number? I need a reservation to see the cave?' 'Yes sir, the tours are all booked for today.' 'what about tomorrow?' 'Well, we are booked for tomorrow. You can do the self guided discovery tour however...'
So this is the self guided tour.
You walk down these stairs. Pretty, right?
There is this gorgeous waterfall coming down right into the cave mouth.
Then you get 400 yards of this. This is reported to be one of the largest caves, with hundreds of miles of passages. You get 400 yards. No stalactites, no bats, no real natural wonders. They have a few sign boards about how the cave was formed. They also taught the wonders of other parts of the cave closed off to your self discovery. I heard a German guy comment on how he felt ripped off. I know I was incredibly disappointed.
We had to remain at the cave entrance for about 30 minutes while a thunderstorm passed by. We did not anticipate this wait in the cave. After a short time the 56 degree air overcomes the built up Kentucky heat you left coming down here.
The mouth of the cave is the best part of the self discovery tour. Just turn around after you see that.
If you want to actually see Mammoth Cave, be sure you plan it all out well in advance. If you like to be spontaneous, this is not the park to come visit.
Our last night was spent 3 1/2 hours from home in West Virginia. As you can see, Anna looks to be rode hard and put up wet over and over. The water and grime from the road have her looking less than shiny. She is more than willing to do it all over again. I know I am.
It took a good Maryland meal to make us come home. The crabs, corn, and beer were great, I wish I were still on the road however.
Total miles; 6285.4
Cheapest Diesel; $2.09(Baltimore MD)
Most expensive Diesel; $2.97 (Navajo Nation)
Favorite meal; Sugarburger at Sugars, Embuto NM
Favorite camp sight; The Laabis homestead
Least favorite camp sight; Cortez KOA
Longest day of travel; 11 1/2 hours, Hillsdale Kansas to Palmer Lake Colorado.
Shortest day of travel; 3 1/2 hours Coopers Rock WV to Catonsville MD.
Favorite road; Utah 12 tied with NM 64
Least favorite road; I70
Biggest highlight of the trip; Hiking Wheeler Peak with my friend Dan.
Lowest point of the trip; a tie between Oklahoma City and Mammoth cave.
The planning has already started for 2018. We will next time begin in Ocean City, Maryland and not turn East until we get to the Pacific in Washington State. Halle says it is a long way from New Mexico to Ocean City Maryland.