Well – after a few days of planning – our journey to the South is all mapped out. I’ve estimated 4,561 miles and 81 total hours of driving  over 11 days. It will be grand in scale, that’s for sure.

After this journey is done, I’m hopeful to get my state tally up to 40 (reaching Oklahoma will require a bit of a detour to the southeast corner on the return), my state capital count up to 22 and my overnight states (spending at least a night in the state) up to 29.

But what I’d really like to catch up with is my fairly humble tally of National Park visits. Our trip will grant us full visits to Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains and Mammoth Cave National Parks (a squeeze-in visit on our last full day of travel!). We’ll also take a rather quick peek at Big Bend (specifically the Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande) and Hot Springs National Parks – upping the count to 14 of 58 parks visited. We may even find time to grab a couple other National Park sites in that time frame – who knows.

The main goal of this trip is to see areas of the country we’ve never laid eyes on before. I’m as familiar with the deep south as I am with the North Pole – at least in person. We plan on seeing a scenic waterfall and an old baseball field in Alabama, taking the Natchez Trace from Jackson to Natchez in Mississippi and being wannabe riverboat gamblers in Shreveport, Louisiana. We’ll storm through Texas en route to the deserts of New Mexico and then back through Texas along the Big Bend and, well, actual Mexico…. It’s as new and exciting for us as it would be going to Hawaii (which was another thought that will get saved for later). Oh and yes, this is the reason for the relative lack of major weekend excursions as of late – we’re stretching the budget quite a bit these days to be able to pull this one off.


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