Picture Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, U.S. – Trees, hammocks, Lakes Superior's crazy weather. Lately we've had plenty of time to sit around the north woods, watching the wind play in the leaves, the birds sharing food and building nests, the kids digging up earthworms for pets.
Harrington State Park, Wisconsin, U.S. – Going from northern Illinois into Wisconsin was the most dramatic climatic and seasonal change we've yet experienced on this trip. One day it was 103 and sunny, the next it was overcast and 60. A very welcome change.
Garden of the Gods, Illinois, U.S. – One of the few guidebook series I actually like is Smithsonian's various guides to "natural" America. The one for Illinois starts off with something to the affect: "Only one state has less public land than Illinois". I read that back when we were in Athens and I thought, okay, well, how bad can it be really? Turns out...
Babler State Park, Missouri, U.S. – We came to St. Louis for pretty much one and only reason, the City Museum. Surprisingly, it delivered, in a decidedly un-American way -- there was actual risk with your fun.
Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky, U.S. – Land between the Lakes is what is says it is: a huge chunk of land wedged between two large reservoirs. Most people come here for the water, we had the rest of the island, including herds of Buffalo and a work 1850s farm, pretty much to ourselves.
Meriweather Lewis Campground, Natchez Trace, Tennessee, U.S. – Surviving the Memorial Day crowds on the Natchez Trace.
Athens, Georgia, U.S. – The bus gets new brakes, finally, we visit Athens, couch-surfing, homeless style. It was wonderful to visit friends and family, but if anyone was wondering if we'd decide to move back, uh, yeah, that'd be a very emphatic no. We love the bus and we're still looking forward to what's around the next bend.
St. George Island, Florida, U.S. – We got tired of endless sunny days at the beach. I know that makes us sound like assholes, but sometimes you need to move on, even if where you are is beautiful. More puzzling to me is that I passed up a chance to help restore a wooden boat.
St George Island State Park, Florida, U.S. – If you were a bird returning from a warm sunny winter in Central America, at some point you'd have to head out over the Gulf of Mexico, starting from either Cuba or Honduras, either way, it's going to be a long flight over water. Millions of birds do it, every year, twice a year, a far more remarkable journey than any human as ever made and we hardly even notice them do it.
St. George Island, Florida, U.S. – Camping under a bridge, visiting with family and living indoors.
St Joseph State Park, Florida, U.S. – A year later we're very close to right back where we started, which feels natural to me. Everything moves in cycles. Time is a vast swirling whirlpool, spinning us all around and around, each time a little different than the last, but themes emerge, patterns emerge, events repeat, for us, in the world around us.
Camel Lake, Apalachicola National Forest, Florida, U.S. – Walking in the woods, the virtues of being barefoot, why Panama City isn't so bad, and the magic of ferns unfurling.
Grayton State Park, Florida, U.S. – Kids minding their own business, grownups who fail to do the same and spending all day in the sun, like you used to before the world got scared of the sun.
Topsail State Park, Florida, U.S. – After enjoying such a nice slice of wilderness (for Florida anyway), we were bound to be a little disappointed returning to the crowds. As we headed back to the coastline we found ourselves among two peculiar breeds of American tourist, spring break partygoers in rented convertibles and snow birds in massive RVs.
East Bay, Pensacola, Florida, U.S. – People say there's no free camping in Florida, but there is, you just have to know where to look. That said, the campground at East Bay is unique. It's a little slice of wild Florida that doesn't seem like it's changed much since the Choctaw were living here a few hundred years ago.
Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida, U.S. – The danger with reminiscing from afar is that you tend to forget the negative things, but at Gulf Islands National Seashore the only downside is the campground, which is little more than a parking lot. I can live with that when the beaches look like this.
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. – We limped into New Orleans on a Sunday afternoon. I parked the bus in a camp site at Bayou Segnette, jumped in the car and we headed into the city. No one used the word "brakes". It was a perfect day.
Grand Isle, Louisiana, U.S. – Driving from Vermilionville out to Grand Isle with very little in the way of brakes.
Lafayette, Louisiana, U.S. – When we were first plotting out a route for the spring it didn't occur to us that we'd be in Louisiana for Mardi Gras. Like most of the nation, for us Mardi Gras was just another Tuesday. Once we realized that our timing would put us there though we knew we had to go, preferably out deep in the Cajun/Acadian region from which Mardi Gras originates.
Avery Island, Louisiana, U.S. – Avery Island is best known to me as the title of a Neutral Milk Hotel album, but for most people it's probably better known as the home of Tabasco.
Rutherford Beach, Louisiana, U.S. – Soft sand? Ten thousand pound vehicle? What could go wrong?
Holly Beach, Louisiana, U.S. – Our plan for the remainder of winter was to chase the weather along the Gulf Coast, working our way up into Louisiana in time for Mardi Gras. After a week on Padre Island we headed north, hugging the coastline
Padre Island National Seashore, Texas, U.S. – On the Gulf Coast again at last. It's not all that warm, but at least we have sun and sand.
Kerrville, Texas, U.S. – Next year we'll winter in Mexico, but for now we're headed back to one of our favorite places -- the Gulf Coast. Naturally we didn't just drive straight there, we detoured up to Carlsbad Caverns before making a mad dash across Texas to the coast.