Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 114-Day 120

October 9- October 15

This is our last update, because we are finally home! 

    We left Tucson and drove 10 hours to Guadalupe National Park in Texas. The park was beautiful. The mountains were huge! We explored the park, and walked the Butterfield Station trail, and explored the Frijoles Ranch. The Butterfield station was a coach drawn by horses that used to deliver mail from St. Louis all the way to San Francisco. The Frijoles ranch was a family owned ranch that had such an interesting history. 

    Next, we drove about a half hour to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in New Mexico. We did a self guided tour of the Big Room, and of some of the Natural Entrance Trail. The big room was so amazing! It was so huge! It was the size of 14 foot ball fields. The cave was so ornate, there were so many stalagmites, stalactites, soda straws, columns, draperies and cave popcorn. We were in awe walking around the cave, there is so much to look at and take in, it's hard to wrap your head around all of it. We bought an audio guide, and we learned a lot of the caves history and geology. The lighting in the cave was designed by a broadway lighting designer, which I found to be so cool! 

   We left Carlsbad, and started our journey toward Memphis, Tennessee. We made it 6 across Texas, and stopped at a KOA in Abilene Texas, to sleep. We woke up and started our journey again. We drove 12 hours in a day, and finally made it to Memphis around 11 pm. We met my friend Sarah at her theater, and she took us to a restaurant for some food. She couldn't believe we were actually in Memphis. It was great to see her! Then we went out to her friends house and hung out for awhile. Then we went back to her house, and went to bed. 

    Woke up the next morning, and Sarah showed us the theater that she works at. The stages and the facilities were beautiful. Then she took us out to Central BBQ, she said we couldn't leave Memphis without eating BBQ. Neil got a pulled pork sandwich, and Sarah got pulled pork nachos, I got a portobello sandwich, everything was so good! Then she took us to the park, and we relaxed in the sun at the park. The park was beautiful and everything was so green! At around 3 pm, we said our goodbyes, and had a 6 hour drive to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

    Mammoth Cave National Park was very pretty, all the leaves were changing and it smelled like fall. We signed up for a historic tour of the cave. It was a two and a half mile tour, which lasted two hours. Mammoth cave is the longest cave system in the world, at   392 miles long. They have been giving tours of the cave for 195 years. The cave wasn't ornate or decorated like the other caves we've seen. This is because water doesn't seep into the cave. The history of the cave and the cave itself were both so interesting! We really enjoyed our tour. 

   Next we made the 6 hour drive to Great Smoky Mountain National. Half of the park is in Tennessee and half is in North Carolina. The park was gorgeous, with rolling mountains and bright foliage. We stopped and took a lot of pictures at different overlooks. We also walked a little bit of the Appalachian trail. We saw 2 huge elk on the way out of the park! Neil got me a stuffed animal bear at the park, to remember our trip. We drove some of the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way out of the park, which was a beautiful drive. 

    We drove for awhile, and made it to Virginia, where we stopped to sleep for the night. Then we headed to Shenandoah National Park the next day. We only spent a few hours in the park, but it was very pretty. Again, the mountains and the foliage were amazing. We had some great views looking over the Shenandoah Valley. We left the park around 5 pm, and started the trek home. We drove through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and then we finally made it back to Massachusetts. It was a 12 hour drive, and we made it home at 2:45 am! We had a safe ride home, and we are very happy to be back. 

Our trip:

-We traveled for exactly 4 months, leaving on June 15 and arriving back on October 15.
-We traveled through 33 states, and saw 32 National Parks. 
-We traveled a total of 15,946 miles. 

We had an amazing journey, but we are glad to be home. 


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