Sunny Florida, Here We Come!

We wrote earlier about how our trip of a lifetime is coming to an end.  We listed four options that range from heading straight home to dilly-dallying along the way and ending our trip in Florida to visit my family.  Many of you emailed or commented with your opinions, and we truly appreciate your input.  We are so fortunate to have family and friends who are so supportive of our dreams!

You have probably figured out from the title that we are choosing “Option 4: End in Sunny Florida”—but with a twist.  Instead of visiting every park along the way to Florida, we plan to visit only a few of the best parks, just to break up the long drive. 

As I mentioned in the previous article, when eating a delicious dessert, we always want to know when it’s our last bite so we can really savor it.  So we are ending our trip with three spectacular bites, er, parks:  Snow Canyon State Park, Zion National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park.

As I write this article, we have already visited Snow Canyon and arrived today for five wonderful days in Zion. But we’ve also visited each of these parks before.

Theresa enjoying lunch on a petrified sand dune in Snow Canyon State Park

We visited Snow Canyon when Theresa got me a hot air balloon ride there as a gift for my 40th birthday.  Snow Canyon has some of the most colorful rocks in the world and giant petrified sand dunes. 

One of our prettiest campsites ever, under The Watchman in Zion National Park

We spent my 40th birthday in Zion National Park, one of our favorite places on Earth.  This will be our third trip to Zion, but we could never get enough of it.  As a matter of fact, Zion and nearby St. George, Utah is in the running for one of the places we may wish to live after our trip is over.  Zion is also home to Angel’s Landing, our all-time favorite hiking trail.  It’s a 1500-foot climb up a knife-blade-shaped mountain.  One section is so narrow and treacherous that hikers must grip chains secured to the rock to keep from plunging a thousand feet to the canyon below.  Angel’s Landing summit is only about 20 feet wide with a steep drop-off on three sides, but the 360-degree view down Zion Canyon is spectacular.  Last time we hiked it, Theresa was especially proud that she and only one other woman was brave enough to make the climb that day.

And what better place for our grand finale than the Grand Canyon itself!  It’s a special treat for me that we’ll spend my 48th birthday in one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  We visited Grand Canyon on my 31st birthday, and Theresa was there once before that.  About 5 million people visit Grand Canyon each year, but visitors spend an average of only 17 minutes standing on the rim looking into the canyon.  But to really appreciate this massive gorge, one has to hike down into it.  It’s unlikely we’ll hike the 16 miles from the rim all the way down to the Colorado River and back up in a day, because the climb out includes almost a mile of elevation gain.  On our last visit, we hiked into the canyon and had lunch on a plateau about 2,000 feet above the river, so we’ll probably repeat that amazing (but still incredibly difficult) hike on this visit.

After we leave Grand Canyon, we’ll head to Florida.  But as we learned from our zip south through Canada, driving for days on end can be stressful and boring.  So we will stop at a few of the more interesting small parks along the way to break up the drive.  These small parks will be “after-dinner mints” to our Grand Canyon “dessert.”

We expect to arrive in Florida around the end of November.  We’ll then spend a couple weeks in Sun City Center visiting my family.  We’ll also try to sell our RV to a private individual.  But given the poor economy and time of year right before the holidays, if we don’t sell the RV, we may leave the RV with one of the large RV consignment dealers there.  The Florida RV market is one of the best in the country, and consignment dealers are a popular way to sell pre-owned RVs.  Theresa will also use this time in Florida to research her next career and look for a job.  And we will hopefully decide where we want to live.  The top candidates for our next home base are:

  • Southern Kentucky at our Little Wolf Nature Preserve
  • Knoxville, Tennessee, which is about an hour’s drive from Little Wolf
  • Oregon
  • St. George or Moab, Utah

The decision to go to Florida instead of heading straight back to Little Wolf has many advantages.  The best part is we get to spend time with my family and especially my mom, who has been struggling with health issues lately.  We also get to end our trip in warm, sunny Florida!  (You can bet we’ll visit a few parks while we’re there.)  And we won’t have to waste the time and money necessary to setup Little Wolf to live, only to then decide we want to live somewhere else.

Although we are sad to see our trip coming to an end, we are so grateful for the opportunity to have experienced such an amazing adventure, and we’re thankful for our wonderfully supportive family and friends who have encouraged us all along the way.

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