We took of our our road trip on Thursday March 10th around 4pm in the afternoon. We were all loaded up before heading to work this day and then took off as soon as we could-picking the girls up from daycare on the way out of town. By this time we decided instead of going straight south to Joplin, MO we would stay on I-35 through Kansas. There was a slight chance of storms in southern Missouri and we wanted to avoid them if we could. The drive went relatively smoothly as we traveled through Iowa and Kansas City. The girls did great on this stretch and stayed busy with their activities. We did not stop for dinner, I think we had some snacks and such on the drive. John’s only complaint was the wind-there were some stronger wind gusts around 20-25 mph so he drove pretty slow-around 60 mph-sometimes even less than that. Only downfall to that is that it takes WAY longer than if we were going 75 in our minivan.
As for stopping for the night we had three choices-the Kansas City West KOA in Lawrence, KS, the Topeka/Capitol City KOA in Topeka, KS or the Wellington KOA in Wellington, KS just south of Wichita. We ruled out the Kansas City one pretty know we wanted to get father down the road than that one and as we neared Kansas City we decided to skip Topeka as well so Wellington KOA it was! I called them ahead of time to make sure there would be a site available for us but did not make a reservation. It was March in Kansas, on a weeknight and we didn’t anticipate that they would be full-which they were not. We have never done an after-hours check in before and I must say that they process was pretty slick! We picked our site from a list of available sites and made our way to our spot for the night. We did not unhook the trailer but did end up putting the slides out. But other than that we crawled into our bed and got some rest.
The next morning we didn’t spend too much time at the campground before hitting the road again for our second day. Our destination was Waco, TX and we were trying to get through Fort Worth before rush hour traffic. Around Oklahoma City, we hit some traffic-this first of many traffic jams that we would encounter during the day. One thing I have to say about Oklahoma is that they do a great job of promoting their towns and communities along the interstate. At each exit there was a big, blue sign posted listing any points of interest in that community. If we were traveling without children or without a timeline I can imagine there would be things to see and do that you would never know about without that sign. But we did have a timeline so we didn’t stop.
Our one planned stopped en route to Waco that day was to Chickasaw National Recreation Area. We wanted to stop for a picnic lunch and some hiking and exploration. It was a GREAT stop for us and to stretch our legs.
We drove through the park towards the Travertine Nature Center. It was a beautiful drive which took us over numerous creek crossings with small waterfalls. At one point we had to drive through the stream a bit-Elsie thought that was pretty cool. We arrived at the nature center, stamped our passports and looked around the nature center.
After looking around a bit I chatted up the park ranger asking what is the best hike for us to go on in the limited amount of time that we had. This is something I recommend doing anytime you arrive to a park that you are unfamiliar with. They know the trails the best and will make sure it is good fit for your situation. After telling her we had a five year old on foot, we only wanted to spend about an hour on the hike, and wanted to see something interesting, she directed us to Antelope and Buffalo Springs trail which is an in/out flat trail-perfect for what we were looking for-plus it was located right out the back of the nature center. The ranger did share that if we felt adventurous we could take a drink of Antelope Springs and that it would be the freshest water we could ever take and it was safe. She also said they don’t publicly encourage it but sometimes mention it to people heading out there. We did not choose to drink the water but it did look refreshing.
It was a beautiful hike along Travertine Creek with plenty of things for the girls to see along the way. There were two things the Park Ranger warned about before we set out- the first was rattlesnakes and the second was feral hogs-apparently this is an issue since they are not native and the population is continuing to rise. We did not see any on the hike but we did see evidence of them rooting around. We took a bunch of pictures of things Elsie found along the way since we are really working on Leave No Trace with her (she has a bad habit of collecting things she thinks is neat). She received her own camera for Christmas and was busy taking pictures along the way. I love seeing what she thinks is interesting.
More images from our hike:
After our hike, we made our way back on the road. I grabbed a few items from the fridge and pantry and put together a lunch and we ate on the road. We were still hoping to get to Ft. Worth before the bulk of rush hour traffic hit. I think we would have been in a good place except right before the Texas/Oklahoma border we hit stopped traffic. Up ahead there was a truck that started on fire and blocked traffic for close to an hour. This set us back pretty good and we rolled into the northern Ft. Worth area around 3PM-just in time for heavy traffic. It took almost 3 hours for us to get through the Ft. Worth area which we knew would be a possibility. We finally arrived to our destination for the night in Waco, TX around 7:15 PM. We set up camp and headed out to grab some dinner.
Our drive ended up taking way longer than we had hoped for due to the heavy traffic we hit in Oklahoma City, the border, and then again in Ft. Worth but overall the girls did great! It was just the last 45 minutes that Evelyn was a challenge-which I can’t blame her-it was almost a 12 hour travel day.