Welcome to Field Notes, a quick behind-the-scenes recap of the goings on in my life that didn’t make the cut for social media or larger blog posts. Essentially, this is a dumping grounds for photos and thoughts that I believe are worth a glance.
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The Bro’d Trip: February
February began zipping through a couple states. We were so excited to move further west that we only spent a couple days in Alabama. We stopped just long enough to snag a quick photo outside the legendary Talladega Speedway and ride out a huge storm at a truck stop.
We raced through Mississippi and weren’t too pumped about any roadside attractions along the way. We checked out the river and called Mom from a casino parking lot and got the hell out. I didn’t even take a picture in Mississippi and I regret it every day.
Against the wishes of concerned friends and family at home, we had to stop in New Orleans for a quick Mardi Gras experience. We played it safe, parking the van in a Walmart parking lot in “the nice part of town” and took an Uber to the French Quarter. Our Uber driver told us about the recent crimes that he’s witnessed which had us on our toes.
We spent the afternoon taking in the sights of street performers and partiers who didn’t feel the need to wait until night for their fun to begin. My favorite part was watching street musicians break into their performance after a stream of cars would go by. After a couple parades we made our way back to the van. Not only did we have a great time, but we felt completely safe the whole day.
After New Orleans, we decided to seek out another side of Louisiana. An afternoon spent in the Kisatchie National Forest gave us the fresh air and tranquility that the city couldn’t.
We continued with this trend as we meandered to an out-of-season campground on a quiet lake in Arkansas. We were the only inhabitants which gave me the perfect opportunity to dip my toes in the water and strum some chords. I’m confident in saying that there’s nothing better than campfires and beers on the lake at night.
Hot Springs National Park isn’t quite what it sounds like. We expected open land and hot springs to dip into. Turns out, it’s a bunch of expensive bath houses. But that didn’t keep us from filing up our water tank with the spout in the center of town that is by far the best tasting water I’ve ever had in my life! Later we escaped the crowds in town for an overlook of the park from a tower.
Driving into Oklahoma had me feeling like I was driving onto the set of Twister. Luckily, we we made it through Tornado Alley before tornado season, making our visit quite pleasant. We managed to find a gem of a spot in southwest OK called Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. As we rolled up to the visitor center, we were greeted by bison munching on grass right next to the sidewalk.
After spending too much time in Prairie Dog Town, we made our way up to Elk Mountain, the high point of the refuge. Justin convinced me to swing my legs over the edge for a photo and I tried to suppress the feeling that I was going to shit my pants. I don’t mind heights, but being out on the edge with nobody around for miles is something I’m not used to. It turns out that this was a great introduction to our extensive time spent out west in following months.
After a detour through Dallas to spend time with a friend, we hustled down to the southern coast of Texas, Corpus Christi. We were hunting a bit of swell to surf on but as per usual, we got skunked. But the lack of waves drove us to a nearby laguna called Bird Island Basin. We camped at the water’s edge and watched windsurfers enjoy the lack of waves and surplus of wind. Mingling with fellow travelers, we were reluctant to leave. We met quite a few interesting characters including Denis and his bait canon. Yep. Bait canon.
What’s a drive through Texas without a weird experience in Austin? We scoped out the graffiti wall and Hamilton Pool before making our way further west.
San Antonio gave us a good stroll along the riverwalk and bellies full of Tex-Mex cuisine.
We cruised into our first national park of the year, Big Bend. From our first night at the Rio Grande campground, we were hooked. Maybe it was the family of roadrunners that kept me mesmerized for so long.
One of my favorite ever hikes has been Lost Mine Trail. It’s a Big Bend classic and for good reason. We made the trek up in the dark at 4am so that we could have the peak to ourselves for sunrise just after 6. Worth it.
By far my favorite evening in the park was a hike overlooking the Rio Grande. With feral horses drinking in the evening light, it was as peaceful as you could possibly imagine. Top the night off in a natural hot spring with some buddies and beers and you’ve got a happy camper!
Despite the amazing rock features hidden in the park, my favorite is the hot spring. It sits right on the edge of the Rio Grande, overlooking Mexico. And yes, we did cross the river and come right back, just to say we did. Wouldn’t you?