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Welcome to the Garden of Eden?

Thanks for joining me again on our Southern States Tour. We'll make it from Colorado to the Garden of Eden in this portion of our trip. That's right, The Garden of Eden!

I hope you saw the videos of Darin on Hwy 128 in our last blog post after we left Arches National Park. The amount of BLM land and the like in Utah is incredible. Colorado also has amazing spots to choose from, we chose the Wolcott BLM Campground. We took exit 157 off I-70 and turned left onto the frontage road (Old Hwy 6) to get to the campground on the river. The snow covered river bank should give you some indication of how cold it was that night. We were nice and cozy inside the van - the three of us snuggled in bed. When I say three, I mean me, Darin and our black lab, Shadow. This was Shadow's first experience with snow, he enjoyed it for a little while but this Southern California dog wanted back inside pretty quick. The temps dropped to 17 degrees that night, October 28, 2020.

The next morning we came across a Planet Fitness and got a nice hot shower before continuing on to Denver. In Denver we met a really nice customer of ours and checked out his van conversion and left him with an upgraded set of K.I.S.S. Airflow window screens for his Ford Transit. REI was next on our list to get a pair of 3-Season sleeping bags for better sleeping arrangements - Shadow tends to cramp our style when it comes to sharing the covers. Sleeping bags solved that problem. Backcountry is having a huge sale on winter goods right now so stock up!

Next time you‘re in Denver be sure to grab lunch or dinner at LaLoma. A friend suggested it to us and we loved it! After lunch we headed northeast and got on Hwy 34 toward Nebraska. This smaller highway and rural area was a nice change to the interstate traveling we did through Colorado. The only draw back was seeing the massive cattle feedlots that were along the way. Click that link if you want to know the details but let me just tell you I didn't want beef for a few days.

Just before Benkelman, NE we found a great state park/campground, Rock Creek State Recreation Area. It was remote and rural down dirt roads and on the water, what more can you ask for? We will revisit this spot - you'll see. We set up camp, which for us means we put out our step-stool. Since it was cold out we had dinner in the van, played backgammon and watched Prime Video.

Rand McNally puts out a good atlas and I have so enjoyed using it throughout our travels in 2020. One of the things I like the most is that they include little labels of points of interest. As we traveled east on Hwy 34 and I scanned the atlas I saw the Massacre Canyon Monument listed so we had to know what that was about. In Trenton Nebraska we started looking for the monument and turned down the wrong street. I think we got the attention of the locals as not being from around these parts... a man pulled up beside us to ask if we were lost. How do you feel about coincidences? He and his wife are the caretakers of the Monument, his name is Larry. Larry told us it was closed for the season but he led us over there anyway and let us in for a quick tour. The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me.

Trenton didn't have much to offer at the time in the way of food so we headed east and stopped at Hillside Perk, a recommendation of Larry's. The food was awesome and the people were even better. After breakfast we made our way to McCook, Nebraska and turned right to head south into Kansas. Looking at Kansas on an atlas is like looking at graph paper, all laid out in a grid. So after lots of left and right turns we arrived in Lucas Kansas. Once again there was a point of interest along our route in the atlas - The Garden Of Eden! Now who wouldn't stop for that? S. P. Dinsmoor created this sideshow, I mean attraction!

You really should click that link and read this history and if you are ever twisting and turning through Kansas be sure to stop in and see the creator of this place himself. Yep, that's right you can see the dead body of the Civil War veteran SP Dinsmoor right here in the Garden of Eden.

After Lucas we made our way to my birthplace, Hutchinson, Kansas. After dinner at a local spot and asking an officer for recommendations for boondocking we found Sand Hills State Park and crashed for the night. This is when we realized we had lost our step-stool! This loss was a real bummer because we had made that stool from an old barstool that belonged to my grandmother. We sawed off the legs and added a handle - it was perfect. Well, we figured out that we left it at Rock Creek Rec Area in Nebraska. No, we didn't go back at that point.

Remember this is a Southern States Tour but we also had decided we wanted to visit all of the lower 48 in 2020 so since we realized that we missed Iowa in the last trip we decided to head north again. The best route took us back into the southeast corner of Nebraska where we found the Homestead National Monument. This was surprisingly informative and very well put together. They had computers set up to do searches for ancestors that were homesteaders.

Just before Iowa we went through Nebraska City and stopped in at an antique store in search of a new old step-stool. We found an old child's desk chair that fit the bill and headed to Iowa.

One of the best things we did was to get an annual National Parks Pass. We get in all sorts of places and support a great cause. So please, click the link and get the pass!

Thanks again for joining us on our journey. COVID is changing the world and we are changing along with it whether we realize it or not. Now more than ever Darin and I are determined to focus on all the things to be grateful for and spread kindness where we can. Next up will be the Ozarks and Smoky Mountains.

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