Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Across Covid America - Tour of National Parks 2020 - Day 30 - The End

Day 30
18147 mileage
9:08 A.M.
3639 steps

We did it. We set out to spend a month reveling in this great country of us and here we are on Day 30. We did not, as some predicted, kill each other along the way. We did enjoy ourselves immensely and managed to check several items off our Bucket List. 

One of our final planned stops was to be in New Orleans for lunch with my niece. Again, major Covid hotspot which is why we didn't plan on staying there overnight. We hung out for an hour and then jumped back on the road to head to Mobile, Alabama. 


We made it for the five hour drive and checked into the hotel. Umm, it was kinda stinky and not very well cleaned. We were tired and were only staying one night so we decided to overlook this and go out to dinner. 

G realized we were only five hours from home. After much discussion and telling him it was his decision since he would do all this driving back to back, we decided to forego the hotel and push ourselves onward. 

We arrived on Wednesday, July 1 at 1:21 A.M. 

Across Covid America - Tour of National Parks 2020 - Day 29

Day 29
17890 mileage
7:53 A.M.
3548 steps

Breakfast was at this cool spot called Snooze with this Chili Verde Eggs Benedict dish that was just the right amount of heat. 

Today we traveled to Lafayette, LA to see a friend, Jody, who was also on our trip with Chad from Louisville. We grabbed a quick nap in our hotel and then drove around checking the city out. Somehow we ended up at a military airport of sorts. 

Jody took us out to Don's Seafood Hut for some boudin balls and fried oysters. I was in heaven. We pumped him for recipes for okra in hopes that he would give us some fresh from his garden. He didn't take the hint. Oh well, okra season will be starting when we get home. 

Across Covid America - Tour of National Parks 2020 - Day 28

Day 28
17668 mileage
8:35 A.M.
2990 steps

Out of the frying pan into the Covid hotspot. G has a nephew who recently moved to Houston with his company so we had planned to make this a stop on our tour. Houston was currently seeing the highest surge in positive Covid cases for the entire state. 

We chose once again to stay outside of the city and try to reduce the amount of exposure we would have with others. We found nephew's store and hung out with him for a bit. We walked out with some pretty sweet merchandise and with plans for dinner. 

We took him out to Taste of Texas for a dinning experience. This steakhouse does everything right. When they told us there was a salad bar included the waitress saw the look on my face and took the time to explain that it was more of a serving line where we told the servers what we wanted on our plates. This reduced the amount of people who were touching our food, so all was good. 

Next we got to go into the butcher case and personally select our cuts of meat. They tag your food with a metal numbered disk so you know it's yours when they present at table. 

Since we were celebrating a special event they even gave us a dessert on the house. Now we're talking!

Across Covid America - Tour of National Parks 2020 - Day 27

Day 27
17605 mileage
10:25 A.M.
7316 steps

Yep. You read that time correct. We lounged around until almost 10:30. It was great. Our friend, Lisa, who lives in the area told us about the Natural Bridge Wildlife drive, so we decided to check it out. So glad we did. The 100 year old family owned area is recognized by the Texas Land Heritage Property and has the motto of "African Safari - Texas Style."

There are over 400 acres for you to drive though and spot some of the most incredible exotic creatures. Don't get out of your car. I mean it! And don't you DARE feed any of the animals. There were plenty of park staff out zooming around in their golf carts and they will get you!

We drove around with our handy little guide to the numerous animals that we would see. The area is separated into sections such as Kenyan Preserve and Tatonka Range. Since it was after spring there were a ton of babies hanging out near the mothers. So cute!
You can drive around as many times as you like, but make sure to pay attention to what folks are doing ahead of you, since many of them pull over without warning. Many animals cross the road whenever they please and some come right up to your window. Because of this the speed limit is a leisurely 15 mph and the park suggests that you not pass, however we saw some folks ignoring that part. 

We drove through twice mainly because I wanted to see if the longhorn cattle were any closer than our first drive through (nope) and G wanted to see the zebras again. 

No idea. 

Now our friend Lisa who lives just outside the city always comes and hangs with us whenever she is in Atlanta, I thought it was high time we return the favor. We had been planning our get together since the beginning of the month and I was looking forward to seeing her and meeting her new hubby. 

Wouldn't  you know that Covid-19 would rear its ugly head and change our plans. Walt had been feeling poorly for a few days and decided to get tested. It came back positive for Coronavirus, so we were not able to party HARD. Next time. Lisa promised. 

Something fun to add to 2020 was the Saharan Dust Cloud that came into the city with a fury. Sand from Africa was carried across the Atlantic and up through the Gulf of Mexico to blanket San Antonio.  It was so hazy throughout town that we could hardly see the top of the Tower of Americas. 

What's next? Plague of locusts? Oh, wait, that already happened in Somalia. 

Across Covid America - Tour of National Parks 2020 - Day 26

Day 26
17592 mileage
8:49 A.M.
17562 steps

Ahh, sleeping in. It's for real. 

Our first stop in San Antonio had to be at the Alamo. We weren't very far and walked directly to it only to find a perimeter fencing that blocked our access. 

Due to updated national guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local ordinance from the City of San Antonio concerning Coronavirus (COVID-19) the Alamo is closed until further notice.

How fun. I did managed to stick my arms through the barrier to take a snapshot of the frontpiece of the famous mission. That's as close as I could get. 

Bummer. Sign of the times, I guess. 

We looked at the overcast skies and thought what to do next. Why visit the San Antonio Zoo of course! We drove out in the rain and bought our tickets. There were some people inside wandering around with their umbrellas out. The zoo was a lot bigger than I originally thought and we wandered from cage to cage looking at clouded leopards, elephants, giraffe, and some surly rhino that would only show us their backsides. 

The zoo backs up to a park that is one of the largest nesting grounds for the white crane. We could see the graceful birds clustered in the treetops overhead. We had a nice time walking around in the pouring rain and checking out all the animals. 

We got back up to the front gate when we were finished and they had closed it down. Apparently higher authorities were reacting to the continued rise of cases and closed the zoo after we entered. Oh, they let us out. Nothing to worry about!

We moved onto the Botanical Gardens after lunch and the rain stopping. Another area that is much larger than what appears from the front. There is definitely a lot to see within this park, so check it out if you are there. 

Across Covid America - Tour of National Parks 2020 - Day 25

Day 25
17275 mileage
8:44 A.M.
8256 steps

We drove and drove until we reached San Antonio, Texas. We did make one stop for lunch in Kerrville where we had a most excellent meal at Grape Juice. Our hotel was right beside the Tower of America and a short walk away from the famous River Walk. We headed over that way in search of some food. 

I am really impressed again by the city planners. What an incredible set up along the calm waters of the river that runs through the heart of San Antonio. It's beautifully maintained and dotted with flowerbeds. Ducks were plentiful and were not afraid of all the pedestrians. There is a river tour company that runs boats up and down the River Walk giving historical facts about the city. Plus there were tons of restaurants up and down both sides. 

Loads of people were strolling up and down the boardwalks that kinda lacked some railings. Us Clumsy Folk worry about falling into the river, especially if so many people are all trying to move around at the same time. 

Masks were present through about half of the people including those on the boat tours. We elected not to take one to reduce our exposure since Texas was seeing an enormous surge of new Coronavirus cases. 

Despite that the River Walk made for a cool respite from all the heat we've been experiencing since Wyoming. 

Across Covid America - Tour of National Parks 2020 - Day 24

Day 24
17087 mileage
6:58 A.M.
13579 steps
$30 All Access Card Savings

Nine days ago G was a sad dude thinking that one of his favorite childhood memories would not be open in order to revisit. Carlsbad Cavern mad him so happy when they announced on Tuesday, June 16th that they would be reopening the caves to visitors. If it hadn't have been opened we were going to head to Four Corners and Mesa Verde. 

Those we can save for another day. Today we explore the underworld. G never stopped talking about the formations he saw and the awesome interior of this cave ever since we visited Mammoth. So I know he was just thrilled to go back down 750 feet below the surface to see his old friends. He kept telling me of his childhood visiting the caves with his family and how it really stuck in his mind. His sister's biggest memory of this family trip was being dive bombed by the bats from the cave at their hotel pool. 

We had to get there early because they only let in 25 people at a time staring at 8:30. We still had some driving to do today and we were eager to have enough time to see everything we could. 

I knew it was going to be a fun day when the first thing I see walking across the path was a palm sized tarantula. 

There were other cool critters around such as lizards, road runners, and this desert centipede that was a thick as a finger and longer than a foot. 

At our designated time we headed out the back door of the visitor's center and walked over to where the entrance cave started. Because of Covid the only way down was by this 45 minute walk through a series of switchbacks that take you deeper into the earth. The exit would utilize the elevators back up. 

The temperature stayed steady at a cool 56 degrees, but it wasn't necessary to put on our coats this time. The entire path is paved with railings on both sides. This came to be helpful later on as we got into the cave itself. It became so dark that we were bumping into walls and banging our heads on low ceilings. At one point G thought we were going the wrong way and may have ventured off into a closed off tributary. We headed back until someone at the controls realized that the lights weren't on. They flicked the switch and illuminated the path ahead. 

G did not lie. The formations here were indeed amazing. Stalagmites, stalactites, sheets, popcorn, and dripping water came together to form this surreal picturesque vista below grounds. 


I didn't even feel like I was still on the same planet. Here is that alien landscape I was craving in Roswell. To think that humans played no part in the creation of these statues and art boggled my mind. It's like the trees I'm so obsessed with. The curves and angles are completely organic and have not been forced through millennia it took to create them. 


We spent three hours wandering through the alien artistic endeavors. We knew the sunset bat assembly would not be happening tonight because of crowd restrictions, so we didn't need to stay. We headed on our way to Pecos, Texas figuring that was a good halfway point between here and our next location, San Antonio. 

Pecos is rather desolate and the hotel had some issues, so we pushed forward to the next largest town, Fort Stockton to spend the night.