The Saguaro Cactus is present throughout much of central and southern Arizona. The Saguaro National Park has two areas around Tucson, one west of town, and one east – we visited the eastern one.
Saguaro cactus can live to 150 years old – the older they are the more arms they have, although they can grow old without growing arms.
In addition to the Saguaros there are numerous other natural Sonoran Desert plants, all of which were at their peak color because of recent monsoon rains – probably the greenest desert you will ever see.
From 1934 until 2020 White Sands was designated a National Monument, but in December 2020 it was upgraded to a National Park.
While being one of the country’s great natural wonders it has for years been used for military activities (White Sands Bombing Range) as well as Hollywood backdrops. Hopefully with National Park status it will remain a natural treasure forever.
We arrived late afternoon after a day of thunderstorms in the area, resulting in a great sky for the backdrop, as well as a mudslide that added 50 additional miles to our trip to Las Cruces.
Our next stretch break was only 1 hour from Little Rock, but well worth it. Our visit to Hot Springs was the highlight of the trip west.
Hot Springs is one of the oldest resort towns in the country, being home at one time to such diverse activities as Major League Baseball spring training, illegal gambling and Al Capone, and the beginnings of one of the most conservative churches in the country, as well as the town that President Bill Clinton grew up in.
Bath House Row dates from the early 1900s, all with exceptional architectural style.
In addition to the baths there are a number of other architecturally interesting buildings.
After an entire lifetime of living in the east, life has dealt us a curveball, resulting in us relocating from Ohio to Arizona. We took the opportunity to take a bit extra time during the 2000 mile move to stop and see a few sights along the way. Some of the more extended stops will have their own posting.
Let’s start by leaving Columbus
Time to head west.
First state – Kentucky
Our first stretch break was south of Louisville at Bernheim Arboretum. In addition to the natural scenery there were many sculptures.
After a very long drive across much of Kentucky, we reached the Tennessee border in the far northwestern corner of the state.
It was on to Memphis for the night. We saw enough sights in our brief visit to Memphis to warrant it’s own posting.
The next day started with a drive across the Mississippi River into Arkansas
After extended stops in Little Rock and Hot Springs (postings follow this one), we found ourselves near the small town of Murfreesboro at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. This park is known for being an open diamond ‘mine’ where you pay $10 and are welcome to go dig around for diamonds.
The park has a sign detailing recent and records finds – each day someone find small diamonds, and every once in a while a big find is made.
We did not strike it rich so we continued west, passing Texarkana, which as the name suggests is on the Texas/Arkansas border.
Our last brief stop of the day was in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Their very nice courthouse square has a public restroom with one way mirrors, so you can ‘take care of business’ while watching the world go by 🙂
A couple more hours lead to a great sunset while arriving in Dallas.
The next morning started out across West Texas, passing the town of Cisco (must be where they got the name of the company)
Our first extended stop of the day was in Abilene (posting to follow).
Texans are very proud of their home.
The drive across Texas continued, passing wind turbines then oil derricks.
After 575 mile we were through Texas (or so we though…), arriving in Hobbs, New Mexico.
Eastern New Mexico was still oil country but it quickly transitioned to the mountains. The peak of our trip was in Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
After dropping more than 4000 feet we arrived in Alamogordo, home to White Sands National Park (individual posting later).
The plan was to drive the 70 miles to Las Cruces for the night but there was a landslide, resulting in a detour adding an addition 50 miles, resulting us ending up back in Texas (briefly) again.
Eventually we made it to Las Cruces, and the next morning started on the literal home stretch.
After 2000 miles we have reached our new home state! With this move we have a fantastic opportunity for new sights and experiences, so stay tuned….
With minimal travel we had a weekend hiking close to home that gave a few photo ops of downtown Columbus, as well as nearby Licking County.
The trip to Licking County included a hike in Blackhand Gorge Park. Named for a (now long gone) Native American petroglyph the hike goes through a small ravine along a creek. The sandstone cliffs have a variety of vegetation growing on them.
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the backroads of the county.
We came across this fantastic abandoned schoolhouse. As I approached for a closer look the bird came flying out adding to the excitement.