Historical Adventures in Manteo and Kill Devil Hills – Excursions on the Outer Banks: Day Two and Three

Waking up after the hectic first day of vacation was luxurious; my mom and I were well rested after a comfortable stay at the inn and Roanoke Island was calling our names. Our second day was meant to be A LOT more relaxing than the day before. We wanted to explore some of the most popular attractions in Manteo and on Roanoke Island.

(Click on the following day to read more of my “Excursions on the Outer Banks” series. Blog post: Day One)

If you look on TripAdvisor at Manteo, the first six items on the top 10 list of things to do sum up what we explored during our second day of vacation. The following destinations and attractions all have the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence:

  • The Lost Colony
  • North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
  • Elizabethan Gardens
  • Roanoke Island Festival Park
  •  Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
  • Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

This lighthouse is small, but gives you a taste of what lighthouses are like on the Outer Banks. It honestly makes you want to get out and explore all of the North Carolina lighthouses. We enjoyed the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse because it was in walking and viewing distance from the inn; plus, it’s free to visit!


View from afar of the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

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North Carolina, here we come! – Excursions on the Outer Banks: Day One

Picturesque ocean-front cottages line the road, the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean coat the sand with white foam and the sun sets in the distance painting the sky a dreamy pink. The Currituck Lighthouse offers a panoramic view of these gems while the wind makes you sway back and forth at the top of the lighthouse. My mom and I experienced all of these things and much more when we traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in 2009.


View from the Currituck Lighthouse

The Outer Banks are a stretch of barrier islands located off the coast of North Carolina. According to the Outer Banks of NC, it (the Outer Banks) is over one hundred miles long and at its widest part only about 3 miles in width.

Each town offers something different from the other. Some towns are quaint with historical sights and cute shopping areas, other towns are full of bustling activity with plenty of water and onshore activities for adventure enthusiasts.

When we took this trip, our goal was to visit as many lighthouses on the Outer Banks as we could during our stay. Continue reading

Getting Lost in a Corn Maize

What screams fall more than pumpkin patches and corn maizes? There is nothing like picking out the perfect pumpkin for carving and enjoying an “innocent and easy” corn maize! It doesn’t matter if you’re nine or 90…you’re never too old to take part in the fall festivities.

Oklahoma has an abundance pumpkin patches, corn maizes, hay rides and many more fall activities. If you happen to be near Chickasha, be sure to visit Oklahoma’s largest and most challenging corn maize at the Reding Farm!

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Arkansas’s First State Park

Every June and September, car-lovers and bargain-hunters alike join together for a week of entertainment, food, fellowship, cars and beautiful scenery. The event I’m talking about is the Annual Petit Jean Show and Swap Meet at Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas.

This swap meet has brought Cody and I to Petit Jean twice and each time we go we discover a little more of Petit Jean’s beauty. With fantastic overlooks, a gorgeous waterfall, towering trees and numerous fun hiking trails, Petit Jean State Park is one you don’t want to miss.


The swap meet grounds

Petit Jean is Arkansas’s first state park, so there is a great backstory of history to experience when you visit the park. It is located near Morrilton, Arkansas.

According to the Petit Jean State Park website, the history of Petit Jean is rich with diversity. Petit Jean was home to Native Americans, French explorers and later, settlers. Eventually, a lumber company saw the undisturbed beauty of Petit Jean as something that should stay that way–untouched. Through their determination and strong will, they eventually helped play a part in making Petit Jean the first state park in Arkansas.

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10 Tips for Camping in the Fall

Fall is officially here! It’s time to break out your sweaters and decorate your home to add that extra touch of warmth. Indulge in all things pumpkin and fix up a pot of your favorite soup or stew.

My favorite part about fall is hands down the weather. I love sitting on my porch with a cup of coffee and being able to enjoy the cooler weather.

In Oklahoma, it’s usually a toss-up if we will have a hot or cold fall. So far, so good this year! We’ve had temps in the 70s and low 80s, perfect for enjoying time outside before the time changes.

Fall is an ideal time for camping. The mosquitoes aren’t as abundant, the heat has been chased away by crisp, cool air and the leaves have begun to change from a vibrant green to vivid oranges, yellows and reds.


Below are 10 tips to help ensure you have a memorable time camping during the fall!

Bring plenty of blankets and a good sleeping bag

  • Temperatures drop rapidly at night during the fall. When camping outside you are at the mercy of the unpredictable weather. Invest in a good cold-weather sleeping bag. I always like to bring my heaviest quilt or comforter. Small throws are also good for keeping warm by the fire. If a campsite has electricity, occasionally I’ll bring an electric blanket with me to get the bed warm before I clock in for the night.

Make sure to look your tent over

  • Always give your tent a good look-over if you haven’t gone camping in a while. You don’t want to haul a tent on a long camping trip only to set it up and realize there are holes in it…not the best way to stay warm or dry during cool fall weather or rain.

Don’t forget the rain fly for your tent

  • Speaking of tents, be sure to pack your rain fly! The tent rain fly is useful in more ways than just keeping rain out. Putting the rain fly on your tent will help keep the heat in and reduce the wind from blowing into your tent.

Pack supplies for your favorite hot drink

  • Hot chocolate, coffee, apple cider or a hot toddy…pick your favorite and run with it! Nothing beats having a warm drink to keep you cozy during the cold nights on a camping trip. My personal favorite includes a bold cup of coffee in the early morning followed up with a creamy mug of hot chocolate at night. Don’t forget the marshmallows!

Bring a good light source: lanterns or flashlights

  • When fall officially begins, that means the inevitable early nights are on their way. Slowly, the days begin to get shorter and shorter. This means having a reliable light source while camping is a necessity. Flashlights are easy and convenient; be sure to have new batteries in the flashlight or packed with you. Cody and I are partial to lanterns. We like Coleman fuel or Dietz lamp oil lanterns. Lanterns put off heat so not only are they providing light, they are also keeping you warmer! Make sure to keep your lantern in a well-ventilated area.


Warm clothes are a must!

  • Break out the scarves, gloves, toboggans and most importantly–the sweats! Layers are key when camping in cooler weather. The more clothes you have on, the better. The best thing about layering is if you get too hot, you can always take a layer off. Long johns are great for a base layer under your jeans or sweats.

Pack ingredients for chili, soup or a hearty beef stew

  • Now this tip I can’t stress enough…bring ingredients for your favorite fall dish. Nothing beats having a heavy bowl of something delicious after a busy day of exploring. My favorites include chili, potato soup or beef stew. All of these are included with a side of crispy cornbread made in a cast iron skillet over the fire. Most of these soups or stews can be prepped beforehand. I like to cook my ground beef before leaving and combine any spices and herbs in a Ziploc bag.  I also bring a few Tupperware containers to store any leftovers to enjoy the next day.

Chili made in a dutch oven

Plan plenty of activities to stay busy, busy, busy

  • You don’t want to become stagnant when camping. Sitting still for too long will only make your muscles stiff and you’ll end up staying cold instead of warming up, which is vital. Plan activities like hiking, fishing or kayaking to keep your body active. It will help generate heat, plus it will leave you more exhausted at the end of day which more than likely means you’ll be out like a light when it comes time for bed!

Games galore…

  • Continue the activity through the evening by playing a game of your choice. One of my favorites is Farkle. Farkle involves six dice and a variation of rules regarding scoring. Someone rolls the dice and depending on what they roll they may have certain combinations. For example, if someone rolls three dice with three’s on all of them it would mean they have a score of 300. They can set that aside and roll the other three dice. If they don’t get any combo or a one (100 points) or a 5 (50 points), then they lose their points. Other fun camping games include a deck of cards or Uno!


Keep your toes warm!

  • There is nothing worse than having cold toes, especially when you’re outside and feel like there is no chance of warming them up! By boiling some water and putting it in a bottle, you can stick it at the bottom of your sleeping bag and it’ll ensure your feet stay warm and toasty! You can also utilize an electric blanket like I mentioned earlier. I always pack a pair of fuzzy socks to slip on after returning to the campsite.

The most important thing to remember when camping in the fall is to slow down and enjoy the beautiful sights, the leaves are changing and it makes for gorgeous views. Make every moment count and relish in your time away from modern day luxuries.



Colorado in the Rearview Mirror: Cruising to Colorado – Day Seven, Eight and Nine

Waking up in a dry, warm room the morning after a long day of trail riding was one of the most blissful moments of the trip. Combine that with homemade bread being delivered to our room made for a great start to the seventh day of our escape from reality.

(Click on the following days to read more of my “Cruising to Colorado” series. Blog post: Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four and Five, Day Six)

We snacked on the bread until we caved and warmed up leftover pizza and quesadillas…breakfast of champions, am I right? We couldn’t waste all of that delicious food we had left and with a microwave in the room the decision had been made quite easily. We got our smorgasbord of food and went outside to the balcony, enjoying our “brunch” and watching traffic go by.


The balcony is a perfect place to drink coffee!

After spending some more time enjoying the luxury of an actual room, we packed our belongings and hopped back into the truck ready for another day of exploring the wilderness. On the itinerary was the Corkscrew Gulch trail, located back toward the direction of Silverton on the Million Dollar Highway. It gets its name “corkscrew” from the switchbacks you have to take to get to the top of one of the mountains.


Goodbye, Main Street Inn!

We made sure this trail would be a fairly easy ride after conquering Engineer Pass and Mineral Creek yesterday. We wanted a relaxing trail filled with beautiful sights and Corkscrew Gulch seemed like it would fit the bill. It was a perfect day for driving after the misty rain that took place the day before. The sun was shining radiantly and cotton ball clouds were floating in the clear blue sky.

Getting back onto the Million Dollar Highway was something I dreaded but also anticipated. We would be seeing some beautiful parts of the country while driving on an incredibly narrow road and with the wrong turn–off the cliff you would go. So, my feelings were without doubt mixed on the way to the trail.

Corkscrew Gulch

Once we arrived to the trail head, Cody did some tweaking under the hood to make sure the truck was good to go. We didn’t want to be on the middle of some switchbacks and the truck give up on us!


Starting out on this trail, I already knew we were going to have a good time. We went through woods, streams, rocky areas and up a mountain–this trail had the best of everything for people who may want to give off-roading a shot. Vibrant, red mountains were visible while driving on the trail, something we hadn’t seen in Colorado yet. Continue reading

Adventures on the Alpine Loop: Cruising to Colorado – Day Six

On our sixth day in Colorado, Cody and I had big plans for the day. Our goal was to enjoy the day traveling through the Alpine Loop, situated in the San Juan National Forest, something we had been planning for months in advance. Before this day, we had loosely followed the schedule we had planned for the trip. That was about to change because Alpine Loop was calling our names and we weren’t about to say no!

(Click on the following days to read more of my “Cruising to Colorado” series. Blog post: Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four and Five)

We packed our camping gear into the truck and said our farewell to our campsite at Molas Lake. To reach Alpine Loop, we drove back into Silverton and took County Road 2 past the Mayflower Mill in the direction of Animas Forks ghost town.


Alpine Loop Map

There was something in the air that made us both believe that everything would work out one way or another during this adventure. We were ready to explore and accomplish our goal of reaching Engineer Pass before leaving Colorado.

As we traveled along the trail to reach Animas Forks, the scenery was already breathtaking. We saw chipmunks, marmots, deer and even wild horses. Everything was awe-inspiring and words truly can’t describe the beauty–it’s something everyone should experience at least once in their life.

The Animas River snaked along the trail, its rushing clear water moving fluidly. The day was beautiful with great weather and clear skies. There was a chance of rain that could hit us but even that couldn’t bring our spirits down. We kept making our way through the winding trail enjoying the views.


Animas River


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