Open road ahead

We’ve got just about nine days left in Florida before we head west.  Our next stop is five days camped at Disney World, and then up to Green Cove Springs for a night or two to conclude business there, and then we head west.


Between Green Cove Springs FL and Tucson AZ are about 2,000 miles of interstate highway.  It’s a route we’ve driven many times, and we’ve always had a good time stopping at the Florida panhandle beaches, New Orleans, Austin & the Texas hill country, Big Bend, and the southern New Mexico state parks.  It would be easy to re-trace our usual route but I view each trip as an opportunity to explore something new, so I’m looking for nominations from you — our blog readers — of things we should see/do/explore/hike/snorkel/photograph/eat/cook/play along the general path of Interstate 10 through Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico.

That’s 2,000 miles of great American country, so don’t act as if there’s “nothing to do”!  Tell me what you recommend.  Should we take in some white sand in Florida’s panhandle, or investigate the status of the oil spill at the national seashores of Mississippi?  Camp in the newest state park in Louisiana, or drop in on New Orleans for some beignets and chicory coffee at midnight at Cafe Du Monde?  Park on the beach in Corpus Christi, or chow down on the Texas Barbecue Trail?  Walk through the Caverns of Sonora, or Carlsbad Caverns?

The good news is that we have such great choices.  Also, I have no business obligations or appointments along the way (although they have a tendency to pop up). We can set our own schedule for the home stretch, as long as we get back by our “hard stop” date of November 26.

You might be thinking, “Three weeks?  That’s a lot of time!” but it’s amazing how quickly three weeks vanishes. Given that we rarely drive more than 300 miles in a day, and usually less, we have to budget 8-11 days just for driving.  That leaves 9-12 full days for exploring, plus fractions of days left over after towing.

A really good destination stop like Big Bend takes a minimum of 3 days not counting travel days.  Likewise for an interesting city where we have friends, like Austin or New Orleans.  Just two major stops takes up at least six of our 9-12 full days. That doesn’t leave much room for other stops.  So we’ve got to be careful about our choices, and especially any detours from the general I-10 route.

In the past we’ve tried to rush through a bunch of stops, carving down places that would normally take several days to just a quick overnight, and it’s very unsatisfying.  It’s better to have a good stop at a few places than a lot of rushed pauses.  If you make a suggestion and we don’t take it, don’t take it personally.  We really can only do a few things on the way back and there’s a lot of country to cover, but that’s all the more reason to consider our options and make the most of what time we have left on this great journey.