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.


  1. John Irwin says

    Do not miss the Caverns of Sonora. Although they are not large caverns, I rate them highest I have visited for beauty. I enjoy them more than Carlsba. At Sonora, Many experts rate them on par with the world’s best. You are within arms length of some of the most beautiful formations I have ever seen.

    There is a small campground right at the caverns, W&E available. Stay there and listen to the coyotes in the surrounding hills.

  2. Fran says

    We thoroughly enjoyed the low key Florida beach experience at Port St. Joe (off US98) east of Panama City. Fabulous white sand beach, uncrowded, and a State Park we didn’t need reservations in (but check first).

    If you have some extra time in New Orleans, the WW II museum is worth a look.

    While in West Texas, and especially if you are planning on visiting the Big Bend;

    1. Seminole Canyon State Park…good camping with a very nice museum and guided walks to the canyon.

    2. Langtry – Judge Roy Bean legend comes to life (very close to Seminole)

    3. Mc Donald Observatory near Fort Davis. We lucked out and hit it on an evening where several telescopes were set up for our viewing pleasure. A good stop even without the telescope bonus.


  3. says

    My guess is that you’ve probably already stopped at Balmorhea Lake in W Texas. But if not you have a treat in store at this Texas State Park. The lake is really a high volume spring which offers swimming and scuba diving with some birding opportunities as well.

    In January we will be traversing this same route in reverse. I look forward to seeing what your readers suggest.

  4. says

    Those images of Tampa’s bike trail and of the sponge docks make me envious. Was a great time there several years ago, as you certainly know.

    Why not check out the oil spill, then give us a report.

  5. Hobie-man Kanobie says

    I think you’ve run your land-based adventures out. You’ve seen every rock. Stop at marinas around the gulf, get an old shrimper for cheap, tell them to retrofit it, go home and sell the all the trailers then in 3 months go back to get the boat and start the next Water Based tour of America beginning up the mighty ol miss.

  6. Arnis Pape says

    I’d suggest checking out the San Jacinto monument. Take the free Lynchberg ferry across the Houston Ship Channel to add to the adventure. While there tour the museum and monument and explore the “Battleship Texas” docked nearby. There are a couple of trails — an interpretive walking tour of the battleground and a raised boardwalk trail through a marsh restoration project.

  7. Tom Palesch says

    Crossing FL on I-10, stop at Lake Seminole and stay at the COE just north of Chattahoochee on the GA border and look across at AL. Cheap and esthetically filling!

    Travel Rte 90 in MS right on the shore and imagine a 35′ wall of water surging in, only the steps of grand homes and live oaks survived. Stay on the beach at casino in Waveland. You’re only 10 miles off the Interstate and in another world, especially if you drive around the small town of Pass Christian. In LA, west of New Orleans drop down to Grand Isle SP (if it’s been reopened SINCE THE STORM OF ’09) and stay on the Gulf and dream of hurricanes. Rte 82 west LA looks fascinating and should be explored. I bet there’d be some good seafood stops! Follow the TX Gulf to Port Lavaca, camp at Goose Island SP, take the ferry from Aransas Pass to N. Padre and camp at Malaquite and then pick your way across So.TX to Del Rio and follow the Rio Grande thru small historic towns such as Langtry and Sanderson to BBNP. Exit BB via Presidio for a world-class drive. A pleasant West TX diversion are the Guadalupe Mtns. NP by going up Rte 54 and the next day Rte 62/180 thru El Paso. Now you’re almost home except for a stop over at the east side of the Chiricahua Mtns. in Portal, AZ staying at Sunlight Basin NFCG. (if you arrive early enough) or near Rodeo, NM. WHAT A TRIP HOME!