sunset in highlands hammock state park

Highlands Hammock State Park

After my time in Crystal River, I backtracked toward Wellington where I planned to show a horse and made a stop in Sebring.  While I meant to check out the cute historic district, the Sebring International Raceway, and Maxwell Groves (an old-fashioned country store), I ended up spending the entire day in Highlands Hammock State Park. 


Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway

Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway is one of eighty parks in the State of Texas and is operated by the Texas Parks & Wildlife.  It is located just 45 minutes west of Fort Worth, approximately 1.5 hours west of Dallas, and within five minutes of Mineral Wells, a town known for its healing waters in the 1900’s. 

The park includes a lake, twelve miles of trails, several campgrounds including 20 sites for equestrians, a rock-climbing area, and boat rentals from flat-bottom boats with trolling motors to paddle boards.  There is also a 20-mile trailway which connects the park to Mineral Wells and the City of Weatherford.

Annie and I visited the park for hiking and hiked most of the twelve miles of trails over two days and followed the trailway toward Mineral Wells until we ran into a current trail closure.


Cerillos Hills State Park

During my three-week jaunt around New Mexico, I tended to circle back toward Sandia Park one day of the weekend to visit my friend Tina.  Of course, this visit also included using the washer and dryer and taking a long shower.  I must have driven through Madrid, a cute town between Sandia Park (Albuquerque) and Santa Fe, three times and never stopped.  As a result, I insisted we do hike nearby and go for lunch.  In so doing, we visited Cerillos Hills State Park.


Three Fall Hikes Near Taos

Taos is located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in north-central New Mexico.  The artsy town is home to a world-class ski resort and features many outdoor activity options.  As a hiking enthusiast, I checked out three trails while visiting this fall. 

sunrise in Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park – Day 3

For my third full day in Chaco Culture National Historical Park I hiked to Peñasco Blanco.  The trailhead to Peñasco Blanco is located at the Pueblo del Arroyo parking lot, and the 7.2-mile hike is the longest in Chaco Culture National Historical Park.  Aside from the length, this dog friendly hike is very easy.

annie in chaco culture national historical park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park – Day 2

Hungo Pavi

For my second day in Chaco Culture National Historical Park, I visited Una Vida by the Visitor Center, Hungo Pavi, Kin Kletso, the Pueblo Alto Complex, and Pueblo del Arroyo. Due to the one-way, 8-mile driving loop in Chaco Canyon, I stopped at Hungo Pavi first.

Hungo Pavi great house is located at the mouth of Mockingbird Canyon near natural drainages, seeps, and springs.  It is the most accessible great house in Chaco Culture National Historical Park. It takes little time to visit, and I popped in without Annie before continuing to my next back country hike with my crazy mutt.

pueblo bonito, chaco culture national historical park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park – Day 1

Chaco Culture National Historical Park features many Chacoan ruins from 1,000 years ago.  President Theodore Roosevelt designated the area as a National Monument in 1907 and it became a National Historical Park in 1980.  Chaco Culture National Historical Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, gaining the designation in 1987.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park is located in the middle of nowhere New Mexico.  It is surrounded by Indian land and as a result, the drive through the high desert fields to get there is sparse.  The park may be reached from the south or the north.

mama moose and baby in state forest state park

State Sign Challenge: Colorado

Just as with the State of Washington sign, I didn’t have any trouble finding the Colorful Colorado sign.  In fact, I have had this photo for some time!  For those who can’t figure this costume out, I’m John Denver and Annie is weed (Rocky Mountain High)!

If you have a fun state sign photo (taken responsibly), please share.  Join the challenge.

50th in coeur d'alene

Top Things to Do in Coeur d’Alene

History of Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene is located east of Spokane, Washington in Northwest, Idaho.  With a population of 50,000+, it is the largest city in Idaho’s northern region and is the county seat of Kootenai County.

Coeur d’Alene was named after a Native American Tribe who lived along the rivers and lakes in the region.  The city began as a fort town when Fort Sherman was constructed on the north shore of the lake.

Thereafter, it morphed into a mining town when silver was discovered in the Silver Valley.  With the arrival of the railroad in 1883, Coeur d’Alene expanded further.  In 1920, the discovery of white pine transformed the town into a logging community.

Coeur d’Alene relied heavily on logging for decades.  It wasn’t until the 1980’s that its economy became more balanced with an influx of tourism.

Currently, Coeur d’Alene is known for its premier golfing, the nearby Silverwood Theme Park, the Ironman Triathlon Event, one of the largest holiday light shows in the USA, and for the surrounding ski mountains.

There are many other things to do Coeur d’Alene as well, and we made the most of our three-day stay for my 50th birthday.

fall hikes near vail

Fall Hikes Near Vail

Vail, the largest ski mountain in Colorado, is a very popular mountain town located approximately 2 hours from Denver.  The ski mountain is known for its hotels, dining, and events.  While I’m not part of the winter ski attractions, I find Vail and the surrounding area to be an excellent place for fall hiking.  Below is a limited list of falls hikes near Vail. Directions to each hike can be found on