Cadbury Goes West: Part 1, Escape From Nashville

 In Travel

I love Nashville.  It’s my home.  Always has been, always will be.  But as a native (a Unicorn apparently), the past few years have been difficult.  The surge of people moving here has been overwhelming.  Not just for the natives, but also for the highways, the local administrations, and especially the real estate market.

I finally had enough.  I needed to see what it was that all of these people across the country were leaving behind.  So, road trip it was.

I packed some bags, threw Mrs. Pringlebatch in the car, and West we went.

We drove late into the evening, heading towards western Arkansas.  Our first destination was Crater of Diamonds State Park.  Here, you can literally dig for gems (including actual diamonds) and even take them ALL home with you.  We made it to our destination early in the morning, but with still enough time to grab some shut-eye.

Day 1:  Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Arkansas

My plan was to find ourselves a mega-carat diamond and retire….needless to say, my plan failed.

We dug out in the sun for a few hours, took our “pay-dirt” over to the water sluicing station, and tried to sort through our findings.

Diamonds?  No.

But…we did get a few cool stones, and some colorful gems.  I will say, I’m disappointed in my lack of wealth after the visit, but we were there for less than half a day.  Can’t really expect much from that I guess.

My recommendation?  9 out of 10 thumbs up would go back and keep digging.  That makes sense right?  Cool.

We finished cleaning our equipment and headed back towards the campground.  Oh yeah, did I forget to mention this trip is solely tent-camping?

Anyways, we hopped into the shower house, not realizing this would be our last shower for a while.  Had I known, I would’ve appreciated it much more.

On the road again, this time, the destination was Texas.

Enjoy this random cactus.

But, Texas is really big.  Like really, holy-shit that’s big, big.  So it was going to take a while to reach the night 2 campsite in Palo Duro Canyon (West TX).

Side note- did you know that Texas has the most counties out of any state?  294 to be exact.  You’re welcome, nerds.

About halfway into the drive, we decided to find some food for dinner.  Wichita Falls was the next big area to stop in, and Yelp recommended a visit to Back Porch Draft House.

The restaurant was pretty cool, definitely had the anticipated “Texas-vibe” going for it, and plenty of local beers on tap.

Looking for a quick burger, or sandwich even, I scrolled the menu and what did I find?  Nashville Hot-Chicken Sliders of course…insert eye roll.

Don’t be misunderstood, I love Nashville hot-chicken.  But, I’m not going to eat it in Texas.  So I grabbed some delicious BBQ wings, left a little Pete & Pete reference on my plate (see photo below), and away we went.

Several hours later, we found ourselves in the middle-of-nowhere west Texas, south of Amarillo.  It was way past midnight, but we could tell there was nothing but flat plains all around us.

In the near distance, I began to see flashes of lightning.  The mere flashes quickly turned into the most intense thunderstorm I have ever witnessed, and it pounded us hard.

At this point, we had turned South, heading down to Palo Duro Canyon.  I could barely see 20 feet in front of the vehicle, as sheets of rain slammed in nearly horizontal.  Still being blinded by the occasional lightning strike, the rain was eventually accompanied by loads of hail.

I’ll admit, this sucked.  But, I felt there was no option other than just plowing through it.

Thankfully, the storm began to pass just as we approached the state park.  We had reserved a campsite, and were told there would be instructions for us at the door of the welcome center since we’d be arriving after hours.

What was not communicated; however, was the fact that there was a large gate with an electronic key pad….and it was locked shut.

Not sure what to do, we began to consider a second option of setting up camp elsewhere, or just sleeping in the car.  Luck was on our side though, as two Park Rangers just happened to be driving through nearby at that moment.  We flagged them down with our flashlights, and they entered the gate code for us to go through.  Thank you, gentlemen.

We drove down, down….and down even deeper into the canyon.  The Rangers told us we’d pass three bridges after several miles, then the campsite would be on the right.

Five bridges and a family of raccoons later, we finally did find the campsite….

This was the second night of camping, and the second night of only having about four hours of potential sleep.  Emphasis on the potential, because our slumber was briskly interrupted by a critter or two scurrying around noisily nearby.  The same raccoons from before, I presumed.

Day 2:  Palo Duro Canyon, TX

After just a few, measly hours of sleep, we woke before the sunrise and began to tear down camp.  We sat in the dark for a bit enjoying the stillness of the canyon floor, while waiting on our coffee to percolate.

We slammed some caffeine, and began to head back up towards the top of the canyon hoping to get some sunrise photo opportunities.  It was still a bit cloudy, but we managed to steal some decent views.

Just a quarter mile or so into the park sits a visitors’ center with several Native American artifacts, ancient fossils, and history lessons of the park’s origins.  This is highly worth the visit for any geology/history nerds like myself.

If this sweet card doesn’t get your frisky-juices going then I don’t know what will….

We stepped outside, stumbled around some trails, enjoyed the large batches of cacti, and even witnessed a few tumbleweeds blow by.  But, once again, the road was calling.  So, we loaded up and aimed west once more.  This time, towards Santa Fe National Forest, which was only about four hours away…..or so I thought.

Be sure to catch the rest of Cadbury’s journey in the coming weeks here at SoBros Network!!

Cadbury Pringlebatch is the Lead Motorcycle Expert, Investment Analyst, and Travel Blogger for The SoBros Network, but knows a little bit about everything. Known for frequenting Nashville YMCA steam rooms, he’s a firm believer that winning football is produced by moving the chains, and became a SoBro after mistaking one of our podcasts for an AA meeting. Follow on Twitter: @SoBroCadbury

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