Road trip Adventure! (Part 3 of 3)

Go to Road Trip Adventure part 1 or part 2.

From the Grand Canyon, we made our way to Cosmic Campground International Dark Sky Sanctuary (CCIDSS). This campground is the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary located on National Forest System lands. We were excited to try taking some long exposure photos of the night sky and the best place in the world to star gaze is an International Dark Sky Sanctuary – a designated place with low light pollution and exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights.

I was struck by how much the landscape changed as we drove east. I kept seeing these plants in the distance that reminded me of ostriches! I think these are called Soap tree (Yucca elata) .

Soap tree (Yucca elata)

As usually happens when I spend too much time in the dessert, I started to feel a growing sense of panic and the need to collect more water. Even though the camper van carries 10 gallons of water and we have two full 5-gallon water jugs, I kept buying more water bottles and refilling any water we used.

Then, almost out of nowhere we found this amazing little oasis in tiny Silver City New Mexico. We stayed at this little spot, walking along this path following a small river, soaking up the slightly less dry air and the greenery.

We followed this huge rainstorm all the way to Carlsbad caverns. My no water panic faded with the rain and we got to see what happens to the dessert after a rainstorm!

After Carlsbad caverns of New Mexico, we crossed into Texas and stayed at a campsite right on a lake.

On our way to Houston, we stopped at Mineral Wells fossil park. Mineral Wells Fossil Park is run by the Mineral Wells Parks and Rec. department along with the Dallas paleontological Society, and Mineral wells chamber of Commerce. Anyone can visit and dig for fossils. The rules are clear that it’s for personal use only, but seriously, how cool is this? I get to dig for fossils! The fossils are from the “Pennsylvanian Period” and have been dated at just over 300 million years old. 

Informational billboard at the entrance.

I found some very cool fossils and I’ll be writing up a more detailed post about those later.

Panoramic view of the dig site.

After the fossil park, we made our way towards Houston to visit the space center.

I stayed with Mia at a very sweet little neighborhood co-op/cafe while Chuck investigated the museum.

The space center is home to so many amazing space artifacts! The coolest was an intact falcon9 that still had char all over the outside from reentry. But mostly I was impressed by the size of everything; it’s so much bigger than you would expect!

The image below shows just one of the three engines on the back of the space shuttle. They look so tiny on videos, but in person it’s more obvious that these were the engines that lifted the whole thing!

Chuck Lauer Vose
One of the three engines on the back of the space shuttle.

We stayed on an island campground in Galveston Texas. I kept hearing this bizarre squeaking and shuffling/flapping sound – it sounded a bit like an old screen door shutting. I finally figured out it was coming from this bird!

Great-tailed Grackle

Our second night in Houston ended with a huge downpour. Thank goodness we were in a van – all the tent campers left in the middle of the night and we had to drive very carefully out of the flooded campground the next morning. It turns out we were following another storm which was moving along the coast flooding all of our next stops. Here’s the bayou campground were were planning to stay at in Louisiana.

Flooded bayou campground were were planning to stay at in Louisiana.

So instead of stopping, we just started taking turns driving and sleeping and made it all the way to florida two days earlier than planned.

And finally, we made it to our new home! Here we are now, in Florida.