And Just Like that I am Home

Pipe Creek, Texas


CarPlay add-on

One of the best things that I did for this trip is to bring along the add-on of Apple CarPlay. That allowed me to not only see Google maps on a large screen, but also to listen to all my favorite Jazz songs and Podcasts, which made the driving so much more enjoyable.

A perfect ending to a perfect trip

My final night of “vacation” camping was at Petit Jean State Park, which was Arkansas’ first state park. And what a finish it was with an hour hike straight down to see a jewel like the Cedar Falls in all its splendor. What a great place to be alone early in the morning to collect my thoughts, eat breakfast and of course photograph this natural wonder.

Now I am back home in Texas to be welcomed by my lovely wife and adoring dog Nikki.

Nikki with her now favorite squeaky toy. A present to her from my sister Mary.

So Many Places, so……

Daisy State Park, Arkansas


That’s me trying to hold up my end of Elephant Rocks State Park
Apparently there are no “words” to describe Missouri highways ?

Here are just a few random photos from my trip. It seems that there is good cell service until I decide to post.

Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, MO was a pleasant place to camp and photograph the many cascades or as they call them in Missouri Shut-ins
One of my favorite places from the trip was the North Fork Campground in the Mark Twain National Forest.

I absolutely loved my time at the North Fork Campground. It was $5, and only one other camper. I had a great site right on the rushing river. What a view! A short 1/2 mile hike was the natural spring which bubbled up with enough force to give a great massage I do wish the water had been a tad warmer, as it was a little hard to relax and enjoy the massage in the 50 degree temperature!

I will take away a lot of memories from that place as it is kinda hard to forget the good case of chiggers that I also brought away with me. Still it is on my bucket list of places to return to. Maybe next time I’ll bring a wet suit and use some repellent when hiking in the forest.

On the Road Again

Brazil Creek Campground,

Mark Twain Forest


Interesting fact about Sand Ridge State Forest. When I was talking to the superintendent and he was telling me that his campground had NEVER be full, he slowly added that, “What with the ticks, and poison ivy and humidity, some people just don’t know how to survive an environment like this.” I thought, “My goodness, it’s a state park!” I am not sure that that “survival” is the first word that comes to mind when they think about camping.

Poison ivy was literally everywhere!

Still I was happy for the quiet seclusion. Oh, I did have to be careful for the poison ivy. It was literally everywhere! Tics- there certainly was a lot of them too, but I am a seasoned camper—or so I thought. In the end it was the nats that drove me screaming for the exit. They landed in your ears and mouth. I often swallowed them.

Still it was a beautiful campground, except for the nats.

So it was a pleasure to move 2 hours south, to the family friendly campground called Beaver Dam State Park. As you can imagine it has a nice lake that was formed when the beavers damed up the stream. I looked forward to photographing the little fellows until I found out that for all their hard work they were driven from the park.

Still it was a Sunday and so except for a few campers I once again had the place to myself.

A family friendly park for all ages, except of course for the beavers

Change of Scenery

Sand Ridge State Forest, Illinois


So I had to move from the most visited state park in Illinois (Starved Rock State Park with over 2 million visitors annually) to Sand Ridge State Forest. I don’t know how many visitors this park gets, but when I called to try and make reservations the park superintendentt answered on the first ring. He said to his knowledge the campsites have never been completely full, and even though it was the weekend, it was not necessary to make a reservation.

But before I left I had to take one more hike to see and photograph another canyon/waterfall. Leaving very early, I once again had the place all to myself. LaSalle Canyon wound up being one of my favorites.

LaSalle Canyon proved a perfect place to eat breakfast and photograph

The 2 1/2 hour drive was relaxing and uneventful. I set my GPS to avoid highways so it took me through all of the rural parts of Illinois.

When I arrived I had the pick of the campsites as there was only one other camper. Still I picked the most secluded one just in case.

That’s me in the back.

It’s so quiet I might just stay another day.

An end to great day.