Come with us on a journey throughout the United States as we discover unique and offbeat destinations. In this episode, we'll share our road trip experience, driving from the vast landscapes of Texas' Big Bend National Park to Michigan. 

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Texas Attractions

The Odessa Meteor Crater, located in Odessa, Texas, is a fascinating geological site discovered by Dr. A. B. Bibbins of Baltimore in the early 20th century. After an extensive investigation, the area was confirmed to be an impact crater formed by a meteor made of nickel-iron. Between 1939 and 1941, the Odessa Crater Project conducted excavation and exploration activities to locate the large meteorite that formed the crater. 

Odessa Meteor Crater

Despite not finding the meteorite fragments within the bedrock walls, the project provided valuable insights into the crater's geology. It is now understood that the Odessa Meteor experienced several massive crustal explosions while traveling through Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the crater's unique shape. Over time, natural forces such as wind, rainfall, and human interaction have contributed to the crater filling in.

The Chris Kyle Memorial is dedicated to the memory of Chris Kyle, a highly decorated U.S. Navy SEAL sniper and a Texas native. Chris Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded numerous commendations for his heroism and service in combat. He became known as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, with 160 confirmed kills. Kyle's life and military career were later portrayed in “American Sniper.”

Chris Kyle Memorial

The George W. Bush Childhood Home is a historic house in Midland, Texas. The 43rd President, George W. Bush, lived with his family. The house is a modest, single-story, post-war, ranch-style home with a brick exterior. The home is now a museum showcasing artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs of the family and their time in Midland.

Amarillo, Texas, is a city steeped in history and tradition, especially regarding the iconic Route 66. Amarillo is home to various attractions that have become synonymous with the spirit of Route 66. 

Cadillac Ranch

One of Amarillo's most famous Route 66 attractions is Cadillac Ranch, a public art installation and sculpture created in 1974. This unique roadside attraction features ten half-buried Cadillac cars, nose-down in the ground, at an angle corresponding to the Great Pyramid of Giza. Bring spray paint and leave your mark on the cars.

Another noteworthy stop is the Slug Bug Ranch, a quirky and lesser-known version of Cadillac Ranch. Also known as Bug Ranch, it features five Volkswagen Beetles buried nose-down in the ground. Like Cadillac Ranch, visitors are encouraged to spray paint on the cars.

Tex Randall is a 47-foot-tall cowboy statue located in Canyon, Texas. The statue was originally built in 1959 and became a beloved local landmark and symbol of the Texas Panhandle. Tex Randall was initially constructed as an advertisement for a Western wear store but has since evolved into a popular roadside attraction, drawing visitors from far and wide.

Slug Bug Ranch, Tex Randall, Ozymandias Legs

The Ozymandias Legs is a lesser-known roadside attraction located near Amarillo, Texas. Inspired by the famous poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, this art installation features a pair of giant, bodiless legs standing in an empty field. The legs are made of concrete and are positioned to look as if they are the only remaining parts of a once-great statue.

Visitors should know that the area around the Ozymandias Legs can sometimes be muddy and littered with glass, so caution is advised when approaching the installation. Over the years, the legs have been decorated in various ways, such as with painted socks or graffiti, adding a touch of whimsy and creativity to this thought-provoking piece of art.

Places we stayed in Texas

West Texas Oasis: This is a Boondockers Welcome in Midland, Texas. A perfect location if you are traveling north from Big Bend National Park. 

Boondockers Welcome Hosts are private residences with very specific rules and stay requirements. Check the links to see if anything has changed with the host. 

Campground-McBride Canyon is a National Recreation Area about 45 minutes past Amarillo, Texas. This hidden gem offers a serene and picturesque setting for outdoor enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunities for off-roading adventures and exploration. Our stay at Campground-McBride Canyon was a delightful experience, as we could spend three nights free of charge.

During our time there, we discovered that the area was visually stunning and rich in recreational activities. We were thrilled to find a variety of off-road trails and even a National Monument within the vicinity. We look forward to returning for more exploration and fun in the future.

Places we stayed in Oklahoma

I wanted to share with you the Lucky Star Casino, Oklahoma. They offer various gaming options, including slot machines, table games, and poker. Lucky Star Casino attracts visitors from all over the region who want to try their luck and have a good time. 

For RV travelers, Lucky Star Casino provides a convenient and FREE place to stay. They offer full hookups (50amp, sewer, and water) and parking for up to three nights. This makes it an attractive stop for those exploring the region or passing through Oklahoma to other destinations. Make sure to check ahead because things can change. 

Southern Missouri Off-Road Ranch

A week in Missouri 

During our visit to Missouri, we had the pleasure of staying at a unique Harvest Host location called Chicken Bacon Ranch. We loved this spot because the listing on Harvest Host said there are no chickens, no bacon, and it's not a ranch. HAHA! Located about 40 minutes away from Southern Missouri Off-Road Ranch (SMORR), Chicken Bacon Ranch was an ideal spot to stay during our trip. The hosts were incredibly welcoming and accommodating, making our stay very enjoyable and one we would highly recommend to others. Chicken Bacon Ranch is situated near Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

We stayed at Chicken Bacon Ranch for the opportunity to visit the Southern Missouri Off-Road Ranch (SMORR), a premier off-road park located in Seymour, Missouri. Dedicated to providing off-roading lovers with a thrilling and enjoyable experience, SMORR has over 940+ acres of off-road trails and obstacles that cater to various skill levels. From easy gravel roads to insane rock-crawling sections, the park has something for everyone, ensuring visitors of all skill levels can have a fantastic time.

We spent an entire day at SMORR and quickly realized that we could easily spend much more time exploring the park and taking on its many exciting trails. One of the highlights of our visit was tackling the Jeep Badge of Honor Trail called Peewee Crossing, which you spent a lot of time wheeling in a stream. So cool! 

Besides its extensive trail network, SMORR is also committed to ensuring visitors have a comfortable and enjoyable stay. The park is well-maintained and offers a variety of amenities, such as RV and primitive camping spots, for those who wish to extend their visit. Additionally, the park features super clean restroom and shower facilities, making it easy for guests to freshen up after a long day on the trails. For added convenience, SMORR also has a general store where visitors can stock up on supplies and essentials during their stay. 

In addition to our stay at Chicken Bacon Ranch, we also spent time at River City Casino, conveniently located just 15 minutes away from Gateway Arch National Park. This was our 32nd National Park! Being so close to the iconic Gateway Arch made our visit to the park a breeze.

Gateway Arch National Park

Gateway Arch National Park, located in St. Louis, Missouri, is a unique and iconic landmark that attracts visitors worldwide. The park, which spans 91 acres, is home to the magnificent Gateway Arch, a 630-foot tall stainless steel monument that symbolizes the westward expansion of the United States. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen, the arch is the world's tallest man-made monument.

During our visit to the park, Tony and the kids took a thrilling ride to the top of the arch, where they enjoyed breathtaking panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. The journey to the top is made possible by a unique tram system that transports visitors through the arch's interior, offering a one-of-a-kind experience.

Gateway Arch National Park

In addition to marveling at the arch, we explored the Gateway Arch Museum beneath the monument. The museum showcases the rich history of the region, the westward expansion, and the arch's construction. 

Finally in Michigan 

We stayed in Buchanan, MI, for two nights without letting our family in on the secret. We stayed at Thousand Trails Bear Cave.

Having stayed here before, we knew that Thousand Trails Bear Cave would provide us with everything we needed to recharge our batteries and prepare for the big surprise. We took full advantage of the facilities, emptying our tanks, doing laundry, and getting everything in order before embarking on the next leg of our journey.

In this episode of our adventure, we covered a variety of experiences and destinations, including our visits to explore Amarillo's Route 66, great Harvest Hosts stays, and staying free at casinos. We also discussed our adventures at SMORR, the off-road park in Southern Missouri, and our Gateway Arch National Park visit. We couldn't be happier to conclude this episode with our surprise reunion with our family, creating unforgettable memories.

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