Jerome: America’s Vertical City

High up on the side of a mountain is Jerome, Arizona. When I say on the side of a mountain, I literally mean that. At an elevation of 5,248 feet, Jerome hangs precariously on the 30-degree slope of Cleopatra Hill on the edge of Prescott National Forest. In fact, through the years some of the houses have lost their grip and have slipped down the slope.

Jerome, Arizona, is located high up on the side of a mountain. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This hidden gem was once a roaring mining town of 15,000 people, with multistoried buildings and fine homes. For a time, Jerome was the state’s fourth-largest town. But like all towns in the West, founded on digging up a limited resource, it is now a mini-version of its former self.

Early Jerome

Jerome started off as a copper mining town and became known as the wickedest town in the West, with more than its share of saloons, opium dens, and brothels.

Historians think Native Americans first mined this area followed by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1580s. Three hundred years later, a few American industrialists found the huge veins of some of the richest-ever veins of copper ore.

The United Verde Copper Company, an investment syndicate, was formed in 1883. Canvas and board hovels began popping up on the steep hillsides, and the community was named Jerome, in honor of one of the principal investors, Eugene Jerome of New York. Jerome, a cousin of Winston Churchill, never visited the town named for him.

By the late 1890s and early 1900s, the United Verde had become the largest copper mine in the U. S. It is said this mine produced 3 million pounds of copper a month.

At an elevation of 5,248 feet, Jerome hangs precariously on the 30-degree slope of Cleopatra Hill on the edge of Prescott National Forest. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jerome was incorporated in 1889, and as it flourished, became a real town with brick and mortar and wood buildings.

In 1912, James “Rawhide Jimmy” Douglas came to Jerome and bought the claim to the Little Daisy Mine. He struck it rich when his crews found huge copper ore deposits just as copper prices soared in the threatening shadow of World War I.

By 1929 Jerome had two major copper mines—the United Verde and the Little Daisy, each pumping out tons of copper ore.

But by 1930, as elsewhere, Jerome found itself in the throes of the Great Depression. Copper prices plunged, and in 1935 United Verde sold its mining interests to Phelps Dodge. By 1938, the Little Daisy closed down. In 1953, all copper mining there ended, when Phelps Dodge closed its Jerome operation. Businesses and residents soon departed. Jerome’s population dwindled to a mere 50 to 100 by 1953, and the town looked more and more like a ghost town.

Jerome today

Some remaining folks stayed, protecting many of Jerome’s historic buildings from vandals and squatters, and somehow preserved the town, which earned a National Historic District designation in 1967. Funds then became available to preserve Jerome.

The town began to attract tourists, history buffs, and the counterculture folks.

Today’s permanent population of approximately 600 consists of an eclectic group of artists, musicians, writers, craftspeople, merchants, hermits, bed-and-breakfast owners, and shopkeepers. It’s definitely not your typical Small Town America.

Jerome State Historic Park

Douglas Mansion, now Jerome State Historic Park, is a museum featuring exhibits of photographs, artifacts, and minerals in addition to a video presentation and a 3-D model of the town with its underground mines. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Douglas Mansion, on Douglas Road off Arizona 89A, has been an eye-catching landmark in Jerome since 1916, when “Rawhide Jimmy” Douglas built it on the hill above his Little Daisy Mine.

Douglas designed the house as a hotel for mining officials and investors as well as for his own family. It featured a wine cellar, billiard room, marble shower, steam heat, and, ahead of its time, a central vacuum system. Douglas was proud of the fact that the house was constructed of adobe bricks that were made on the site.

He also built the Little Daisy Hotel near the mine as a dormitory for the miners. The concrete structure still stands.

The mansion, now Jerome State Historic Park, is a museum featuring exhibits of photographs, artifacts, and minerals in addition to a video presentation and a 3-D model of the town with its underground mines. One room, the Douglas library, is restored as a period room. There are more displays outside along with a picnic area offering a magnificent panoramic view of Verde Valley.

Photo Tips

Jerome has been described by some as a photographer’s paradise. Situated on beautiful switchbacks, Jerome offers photographers an amazing view of the valley and mountains below. Everything about Jerome is an artistic photo waiting to happen, from the old doors to quirky light fixtures.

Jerome might be small, but its beauty is big, making it a favorite spot for photographers of skill levels.

Grab your camera and let’s get clicking!

Worth Pondering…
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.

—St. Augustine of Hippo

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Prescott: Everybody’s Home Town

A little farther afield, but still an easy day trip from Verde Valley is Prescott—the former territorial capital of Arizona. Nestled in a stunning mountain bowl and surrounded by one of the largest ponderosa pine forests in the West, this beautiful town is steeped in history with an authentic taste of western heritage.

The 1916 Yavapai County Courthouse, constructed of white granite and ringed by towering pines, is the centerpiece of Courthouse Plaza. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Modern Prescott has the advantage of not really being very modern. Banners proclaim Prescott as “Everyone’s Home Town.” You won’t find high rises, but the downtown businesses clustered around the 1916 Yavapai County Courthouse and its plaza are thriving.

The courthouse, constructed of white granite and ringed by towering pines, is the centerpiece of Courthouse Plaza, a popular public gathering place that features two bronze statues by noted Western sculptor Solon Borglum, brother of the creator of Mount Rushmore’s four notable presidents. One is Memorial to the Rough Riders, which has been called one of the finest equestrian bronze sculptures in the world. Locals refer to it as the “Buckey O’Neill statue” in honor of a former mayor who died at the Battle of San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. Cowboy at Rest is the other Borglum statue on the plaza.

On one side of the Court House Plaza is Whiskey Row. It’s more sedate now than it was prior to 1900 when the whiskey flowed and the faro tables were jammed 24 hours a day in its forty or so saloons.

Prescott boasts 525 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several important structures forming part of the Sharlot Hall Museum complex two blocks from the Courthouse Plaza were relocated there to save them from destruction. Residential streets lined with Victorian homes near the business district take visitors back to yesteryear. Many are still home to families, while others have been converted into bed and breakfast inns.

Sharlot Hall Museum

Sharlot Hall Museum features seven historic buildings, compelling exhibits, and beautiful gardens, which serve as the setting for numerous public festivals. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sharlot Hall Museum is named after its founder, Sharlot Mabridth Hall (1870-1943), who became well known as a poet, activist, politician, and one of the West’s most remarkable women. Sharlot Hall was an unusual woman for her time: a largely self-educated but a highly literate child of the frontier.

In 1909 Sharlot was appointed Territorial Historian and became the first woman to hold territorial office. At about this time she was also very active in the national political arena, first as a lobbyist and later as a presidential elector.

She began to collect both Native American and pioneer material. In 1927, she began restoring the first Territorial Governor’s residence and offices and moved her extensive collection of artifacts and documents opening it as a museum in 1928.

Today, the Museum features seven historic buildings, compelling exhibits, and beautiful gardens, which serve as the setting for numerous public festivals.

You can wander through the old log Governor’s Mansion lived in by the first governor, John Goodwin and contrast it with the residence of a later governor, John C. Fremont, the noted explorer. Fremont, you’ll be told, wasn’t too well liked in Prescott and felt the same about the town. Apparently, he wasn’t around all that much. The story is the Republicans foisted him off on Arizona to keep him from running for President against their handpicked candidate. The grounds of the museum are attractively landscaped and offer a quiet respite from the bustle of Courthouse Plaza and Whiskey Row.

Smoki Museum

Not far from downtown, a fine American Indian collection is housed in the distinctive Smoki Museum. Designed to resemble an Indian pueblo, Smoki was built in 1935 of native stone and wood. The museum traces native cultures from prehistory to the present and houses collections of ancient and contemporary pottery, jewelry, stone artifacts, and documents.

Granite Dells

Massive boulders of ancient rock have weathered into delicately balanced forms and fanciful shapes, reflected in the surface of Watson Lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some landscapes are magical. They seem more than pretty, more than picturesque. They take hold on your imagination and you can’t forget them, the same way you can’t forget a memorable tune.

Granite Dells, five miles north of Prescott, is one such place.

Massive boulders of ancient rock have weathered into delicately balanced forms and fanciful shapes, reflected in the surface of Watson Lake. Ruins and artifacts indicate that Native Americans used to live here. The scenic Dells offer a great place for boating, picnicking, or a stroll. Rock climbers tackle the challenging granite formations.

Worth Pondering…
My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.
—Diane Arbus

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: July 29

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. RV Evacuation from South Padre Island

World Birding Center, South Padre Island, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cameron County Judge Carlos H. Cascos has ordered a voluntary evacuation of RVs and all other high-profile vehicles that are in the Isla Blanca and Andy Bowie County Parks on South Padre Island, KGBT-TV, Harlingen, Texas, reported today (July 29).

All individuals with RVs or other high profile vehicles should immediately make arrangements to evacuate from the county parks.

“We continue to monitor Tropical Storm Don as it makes its way through the Gulf of Mexico with a trajectory between Brownsville and Corpus Christi, Texas. According to the latest advisory the storm is on a track to affect the Gulf Coast Texas region,” Cascos said in a statement.

Cascos has also already ordered all public works crews to begin taking all the necessary precautions in preparation for the hurricane season by cleaning out ditches, continuing to bag sandbags and pre-positioning some of our heavy equipment and water pumps in the low lying areas of the county.

2. Idling of diesel engines

Cummins does NOT recommend excessive idling of the engines, since it can cause excessive carbon buildup on the pistons, piston rings, injector tips, valves, etc. Truckers and bus operators keep their engines running to keep the heaters and/or air conditioning going; however, they run the engines up to about 1200 rpm or so and that will usually keep the coolant temperature in the 140 to 160 range.

3. A Warning: Most RV Storage Compartments Use The Same Key!

Spider Rock Overlook, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Back in the early 50s if you were locked out of your car it was a simple matter to go to a friend, neighbor, or co-workers and borrow the key to his car to unlock our family Chevrolet, since 3 out of 4 cars in the parking lot were keyed the same.

RV manufacturers have followed this same idea pretty much from day one. The key that opens the storage compartments on 90% of all RVs is the exact same one.

As a result virtually everyone who has ever owned an RV of any kind has access to your outside storage compartments.

Keep this in mind if you store your RV in a public storage facility. DO NOT leave valuables in the storage compartments.

Always use the dead bolt on the entrance door. Standard keys that will open most RV entrance door locks are easy to obtain.

4. Need a Dump Station?
RV owners periodically find themselves needing to find an RV dump station. This may be a result of dry camping with no sewer service or dump station available, or making one-night layovers and trying to get on the road quickly without using the campground or RV resort dump station on the way out.

Also affected are RVers working on the road or visiting places such as ball games, auto races, or dog shows, and not being near campgrounds or RV resorts.

It is important to understand that the number of public dump stations at highway rest stops and some travel centers is gradually being reduced because of maintenance, service, and vandalism concerns.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved is a comprehensive directory that helps RVers find RV dump station locations to empty or dump their gray water and black holding tanks, When RVs have to go…™

5. Avoid these common causes of RV accidents

  • Fires that occur from leaking LP gas (propane)
  • Tire blowouts due to overloading or to under inflated or aged-out tires
  • RV awnings: retract during poor weather and when leaving the RV
  • RV steps: ensure RV steps are retracted before traveling
  • Clearance and height driving mistakes: RVs hitting bridges and gas station overhangs
  • Overloading: uneven weight can cause restricted braking and steering problems

Until next time, safe RV travels, and I’ll see you on the road!

Worth Pondering…
The RV lifestyle is like nothing else.

It’s leaving home, exploring America, and yet bringing your home along with you!

Stopping at a wayside picnic area, preparing lunch in your kitchen.

It’s sleeping in your own bed every night, yet waking up to a new vista each morning!

The sounds of a crackling campfire; of a mountain stream, of frogs, and crickets.

It’s families drawn closer; it’s retirees being rewarded for many years of labor.

—Loren Eyrich, Two-Lane Roads

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Message from Vogel Talks RVing

This is article # 360 since my first post on August 18, 2010.

Honest, I try real hard NOT to be a grumpy ole' man!

Thank you for your readership during this time.

I will be off-line for up to a week as I enter the hospital later this morning for surgery.

I value each of you, my loyal readers, and trust that you’ll return as I continue “living my dream” with a passion for RVing, photography, hiking, and birding.

Happy Trails. Life is an adventure. Enjoy your journey.

Rex Vogel

Worth Pondering…

Time glides with undiscover’d haste
The future but a length behind the past.

—John Dryden

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Another Step Closer to a Flying Motorhome?

A flying motorhome may be part of our new reality sooner than you think—or at least we can all dream.

It’s another day, and another flying car. Hopes of the Age of the Flying Car were recently renewed with news that the Terrafugia Transition® Roadable Aircraft was deemed roadworthy by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Artists's conception of myCopter Flying Car. (Crecit:

Now, another flying car is in the limelight, bringing the possibility of Personal Aerial Vehicles (PAVs) even closer to reality.

So are we really approaching an era of flying cars?

A new vehicle with the creative name of myCopter is being touted as a solution to the ever present problem of road congestion.

The European Union is investing €4.2 million (US$6.2 million) to investigate the possibility of introducing PAVs into the skies of Europe’s most congested cities. The idea is for myCopter to attempt to solve the numerous problems that could potentially arise from futuristic flying cars.

This coming age of the “flying car” where vehicles leave the roads and launch into the skies promises to solve problems like dramatically rising urban traffic congestion, but it also throws up some formidable challenges that the myCopter project attempts to address.

According to Prof Heinrich Bülthoff of the Max Plank Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tubingen, Germany, the project aims “to develop technologies that could be used to form a new transportation system for personal travel that uses the third dimension, and which takes into account questions surrounding the expectations of potential users and how the public would react to and interact with such a system.”

They envision myCopter as part of a network of flying vehicles— a controlled network, that is. Imagine a cable car system translated into an air system—the myCopters would be programmed to follow formations and avoid obstacles. That may take away from the fun of flying, but isn’t safety is a more important consideration?

An artist's conception of a myCopter cockpit. (Crecit:

The last thing I want to experience is a myCopter plummeting from the sky and putting a permanent crater in my motorhome while enjoying a Shiner Bock with friends!

The myCopter project envisions that the PAVs and PATS (personal air transport systems) would initially be used to fly at low altitudes for domestic travel between homes and working places.

The idea is for PAVs to be partially or fully autonomous, doing away with the need for air traffic control, which is currently required for airplanes and helicopters.

By flying below 2,000 feet, the new traffic system hopes to operate outside of this controlled airspace, without ground-based traffic control, and without impacting on existing air traffic.

Whilst the concept sounds very appealing, considerable hurdles remain to be tackled involving aerospace legislation, security, and town planning related to landing, taking-off, and parking.

“Security issues are an important topic that requires extensive attention when the vision of the myCopter project becomes reality, but we foresee that automation will play a big and important role in the entire transportation system,” explains Dr. Bülthoff. “Therefore it could be highly likely that no-flight zones that PAVs simply could not fly in will be designed, because the automation that is onboard will not allow the vehicle to be directed towards these zones.”

myCopter is also likely to reduce greenhouse emissions in the long run because the flight path is more direct making trips more efficient. Researchers on the project estimate that trips will be shorter than 62 miles in length—allowing the vehicles to go entirely electric.

“Already now there are technology demonstrators such as the eCO2Avia from EADS that show that electrically powered vertical flight is possible, even though a diesel generator is currently still required to charge the batteries for sustained flight,” added Dr. Bülthoff.

The myCopter project aims to pave the way for PAVs to be used by the general public within the context of such a transport system.

The project consortium consists of experts that can make the technology advancements necessary for a viable PATS, and a partner to assess the impact of the envisioned PATS on society (socio-technological evaluation). To this end, test models of handling dynamics for potential PAVs will be designed and implemented on unmanned aerial vehicles, motion simulators, and a manned helicopter. In addition, an investigation into the human capability of flying a PAV will be conducted, resulting in a user-centered design of a suitable human-machine interface (HMI).

Furthermore, the project will introduce new automation technologies for obstacle avoidance, path planning, and formation flying, which also have potential for other aerospace applications. This project is a unique integration of technological advancements and social investigations that are necessary to move public transportation into the third dimension.

Currently, there are no plans to build a prototype vehicle, but simulators would be built by the year 2014. Stay tuned.

Worth Pondering…
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

—Helen Keller

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Capture the Journey: New Camera for RVers

tti, a leading supplier of vehicle plug and play mobile video solutions, released a sporty camera, the tt-i EagleEye earlier this year. The tt-i EagleEye is a lightweight high definition video camera that comes with a mounting bracket that can be easily mounted to a helmet or headband.

Easily attach to the windshield to video record your journey. (Credit:

tti has now announced the addition of a new plug and play camera to its growing lineup. Called the tt-i Buddy NightOwl, this camera is designed for recreation vehicle owners who want to capture their journey in full HD quality video for playback on their PC or television.

A benefit of plug and play solutions is they can be installed easily with a suction cup fixing and powered from the cigarette socket in the vehicle without incurring expensive installation costs.

Attached to your windshield with a special mount that makes use of a suction cup, the NightOwl has no moving parts, which means that bumpy journeys aren’t going to dislodge anything while you’re traveling down the road.

By fitting a two or three way power socket to the cigarette socket you can install multiple cameras on the same vehicle.

The tt-i Buddy NightOwl has an SD card slot to support up to 64GB memory cards, has motion detection, night vision, a built in screen that can fold away, and a real-time stamp on video so you’ll know when the video was recorded.

Night Vision, HD technology and motion detection. (Credit:

The NightOwl offers the highest resolution and frame rate combination in the mobile video market. Using H.264 compression it is a first with High Definition video quality and SD Card video storage.

Key features include:

  • Night and day vision
  • Full HD recording up to 720P
  • H.264 compression
  • 2.5inch 270 degree rotatable LCD display
  • Wide view angle, 140 degrees
  • Motion detection
  • Adjustable resolution and time slice
  • Real time stamp on video
  • Support up to 64GB SD Card

Additional features include:

  • Works with any vehicle with a cigarette lighter socket (easy plug & play with no installation costs)
  • Easily and securely fixes to the vehicle windshield (install in minutes)
  • Uses SD card memory storage (transfer to your computer easily)
  • Captures any incident for insurance claims (eliminate costly liabilities)
  • Easy to play back on any computer or television
  • Everything you need comes in the box


tt-i EagleEye records your achievements in HD. (Credit:

About tti
tti is a leading supplier of vehicle plug & play mobile video solutions. Their products are aimed at those operators looking for affordable recording solutions without compromising on quality. The product offering includes features such as High Definition recording, SD storage, motion detection, and viewer screens, which cannot be found in traditional, DVR’s on the market. They are dedicated to providing service and value for money in a solution that can be moved to other vehicles without any installation costs.

tt-i Buddy NightOwl

tt-i Buddy NightOwl has features such as High Definition, SD card up to 64GB (no moving parts) motion detection, night vision, built in screen that folds away for viewer location, real-time stamp on video and is easy to use.
Cost: $375 (with an 8GB SD card)

Worth Pondering…
The journey not the arrival matters.

—T. S. Eliot

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Help Design a Motorhome

Have you ever looked at a recreational vehicle at an RV show or on a dealer’s lot and said, “What were they thinking? They should let me design the next one. I’d show them how to build a better and more livable motorhome.”

Richard Baldwin Motorhomes. (Credit:

Well, now here’s your chance to put your motorhome design ideas put into practice!
You can help to decide the specification of an all new dealer ‘Special Edition’ motorhome.

Award winning dealers Richard Baldwin Motorhomes of the UK are embarking on a project to design their first ever ‘Special Edition’ motorhome and they are giving readers the opportunity to have their say in what should go into it.

The model range will be based on three tried and tested layouts and they will be built by Elddis using their hugely successful, great value Autoquest range.

Richard Baldwin’s partner and brains behind the project, Gary Morgan, states that they don’t want to do what all the other dealers seem to do by simply taking a standard vehicle, changing the fabric, bolting an awning and a couple of other bits on to it, and then calling it a special edition.

“No that’s not for us,” Gary says, “what we want to do is create a genuine and unique special edition with extras that customers really want, need, and value; and basically all ideas will be considered, no matter how daft, genial, or even extravagant.”

Richard Baldwin Motorhomes. (Credit:

With this in mind, they created a form that will assist you to tell Richard Baldwin what you think and even better, how to make it more interesting. Complete your details and come up with your best ideas and have your say.

And as an incentive, other than for customers simply just to have their voice heard, the dealer is offering a prize of an Avtec 7 in 1 TV with DVD player for what it deems to be the best response.

In addition to this prize, an acknowledgment for the winning entries may be made in the brochure that will accompany the new special edition model, “a real coup for any discerning motorhomer.”

You opportunity for input includes:

  • Suggested name for the Range
  • Suggested name for the three models
  • Suggested color scheme for upholstery, curtains, and graphics
  • Suggested style, e.g., floral, stripes, modern, traditional

Also you may rate the importance of a variety of features in the chassis cab as well as assign a perceived value of each:

  • Colored cab
  • Alloy wheels
  • Fog lights
  • Traction control
  • Alarm
  • Tracker
  • Air conditioning
  • Cruise control
  • Dash embellishment kit
  • Passenger airbag
  • Upgraded engine
Avoid being a grumpy old man and design your own motorhome. (Credit:

Click here to download the form in PDF format. Good luck!


Richard Baldwin Motorhomes

Locally covering Lancashire and Yorkshire, nationally covering the whole of the UK.

Address: Wakefield Road, Copley Halifax, UK HX3 0TP

Worth Pondering…
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

—Lao Tzu

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Owning an RV Just Got Harder

Where and when should you be able to park your recreational vehicle at your own home? In your own yard? Along the city street in front of your house?

Arizona is a popular all-season getaway for RVers. Pictured above Alamo Lake State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Burbank, California, owning an RV just got a lot harder.

Burbank, California: Owning an oversized vehicle in Burbank just got a lot harder. The City Council adopted a plan that would force drivers of non-commercial vehicles longer than 22 feet or taller than eight feet—which would include most recreational vehicles, trucks with campers or trailers, even raised pickups—to get a daily $5 permit for parking on residential streets or face a $55 citation.

Even those with a permit will be prohibited from parking within 80 feet of any intersection in a residential neighborhood under the new rules.

The ordinance has been almost six years in the making, said traffic engineer Ken Johnson, and began as an effort to address complaints of people living in recreational vehicles and parking them on residential streets—a practice prohibited by state and city law.

Daily permits will be issued for only three consecutive days, but vehicle owners can apply for 96 “permit days” each calendar year.

(Source: Burbank Leader, May 13, 2011)

Brunswick, Ohio: The building and building code committee has drafted legislation amending the city’s ordinance on the parking and storage of recreational vehicles.

The draft legislation will include a definition of every type of recreational vehicle, and will allow driveway parking for vehicles less than 20 feet in length.

The ordinance currently says that vehicles in excess of 30 feet can’t be on the property at all. The new legislation would increase that to 40 feet.

Utah Highway 12 is one of America's most scenic routes. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other changes to the ordinance include requiring that RVs be parked at least 20 feet from the property right-of-way and as close to the garage as possible, with nothing parked behind or between the RV and the structure.

The new ordinance would require that the RVs be operable, licensed, and owned by the homeowner; have no broken parts, windows or panels; and that the vehicles not be stored on property not owned by the RV owner or used for any purpose other than standard RV activities.

(Brunswick Sun Times/, May 30, 2011)

St. Albert, Alberta: The city of St. Albert, Alberta, will look to tighten up its bylaws to restrict the use of store parking lots for overnight camping and selling used vehicles.

Mayor Nolan Crouse thinks parking lots like Wal-Mart’s are being transformed into campsites and defacto used car lots.

Most Wal-Mart stores in North America allow overnight parking, according to research conducted by city administration. In some cases, individual stores or municipalities have banned overnight parking. The city hasn’t received any complaints about parking at the St. Albert Wal-Mart, said a background report.

City administration has until Feb. 28, 2012, to bring forward a recommendation.

(Source: St. Albert Gazette)

Sioux City, Iowa: Sioux City is considering when and where residents can park their recreational vehicles. The reason the issue even came up is because of Paul Gorski’s RV. Gorski received a citation this winter for having his motorhome in the driveway. He wanted to keep it at his home, and checked with the city to see how he could do that legally, which led to him appeal his citation.

For great mountain scenery tour the Cherohala Scenic Byway in North Carolina. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Planning and Zoning Commission is considering a number of options: including exemptions for people who have no access to their backyard.

Right now RV’s and other similar vehicles can only be parked in the front yard of a home during a time of what the city ordinance defined as “normal use.”

But just what is normal use and where can you park your RV?  That’s the question that has RV owners, and some of their neighbors up in arms.

(Source: KCAUTV)

Park City, Illinois: The council decided that recreational vehicles, camper trailers, and motorhomes may be parked on a paved driveway or garage in a residential district at any time of year provided they are appropriately screened by fencing or landscaping from the street or from neighbors. The vehicle fee for recreational vehicles will be $30 annually. (Source: Chicago Tribune: May 11, 2011)

Worth Pondering…
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.

—Robert Frost

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Will the Salton Sea Survive?

For decades, the Salton Sea, little more than a half-hour down Highway 111 from Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio, and the other desert cities of the Coachella Valley has lured all sorts of visitors looking to flee civilization for a few hours, a few days, or even the rest of their lives.

Salton Sea State Recreation Area is popular with snowbirds and other campers, birders, and boaters. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The gutted buildings and miles of lonely desert beachscapes make a trip to the Salton Sea feel like a journey to the end of the world.

The Salton Sea State Recreation Area is one of 70 California state parks set to close starting next year, part of an effort to save the state $33 million over the next two fiscal years.

Advocates say the park’s impending closure is the latest sign that the survival of the Salton Sea, and the ragtag collection of settlements along its shores, is looking less likely by the day, The Desert Sun reports.

“Without the park as a major player in it, we see the future for the Salton Sea as pretty bleak,” said Bill Meister, board president of The Sea and Desert Interpretive Association, a nonprofit organization that works to promote the recreation area.

“It’s one of the very few things that are still available at the sea to draw people to stay. It introduces people to the sea; it keeps them there; and it keeps them coming back,” said Meister, a North Shore resident since 1985.

The recreation area drew more than 87,000 visitors in 2010, the lowest attendance of the region’s six state parks.

Its closure would have a huge impact on the sea’s already sparse economy, said Gail Sevrens, acting superintendent for the Colorado Desert District, a division of the California State Parks.

Salton Sea State Recreation Area is a birders' paradise. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

She pointed to a 2009 Sacramento State University study that found a state park visitor spends on average nearly $60 per visit, including about $25 inside the parks and neighboring communities.

“We’re concerned what this will do to the local community,” she said. Between six and seven full-time park employees now work at the recreation area.

The situation at the park is in stark contrast to the area’s heyday about 50 years ago.

Developers thought lakefront property would be a big draw for Southern California families who were more interested in boating and fishing than in golf.

They built a motel and yacht club in North Shore and laid out streets for vacation homes.

In the 1960s, the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club was part of a thriving resort community that drew the rich and famous, people like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Desi Arnaz. It was a playground where you could race boats, water-ski, bask in the sun, or sit back and enjoy a performance by the Pointer Sisters at a beachside four-star restaurant.

But by the 1970s, the area was well on its way to abandonment. The increasing salinity of the water from irrigation runoff, intense evaporation from the desert heat, fish die-offs, and the receding shoreline contributed to the rapid decline of resort life.  Decades later these yacht clubs, restaurants, and resorts lay in ruin, abandoned to time and decay.

When the Salton Sea Recreation Area opened in the early 1950s, it was the second-largest in the California park system, and at one point it drew more visitors than the Yosemite Valley, Steve Bier, a ranger at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, said in a new video posted on the Sea and Desert website.

For tranquility and warm winter temperatures, point the RV in the direction of Salton Sea State Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Today the Salton Sea is home to millions of fish and thousands of migratory birds that take advantage of the sea’s high nutrient content and use the sea as a rest stop on their long distance journeys.

The 14-mile stretch of state beach offers fishing, hiking, camping, kayaking, bird-watching, and other outdoor activities.

Visitors pay an entrance fee at a main gate. They can hook up their recreational vehicle for $30 a night, camp at a tent site for $20 a night, or spend a day fishing and hiking for $5.

There is a Salton Sea Visitor Center run by Sea and Desert that displays artifacts and information about the lake. The center is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the summer.

The park has already closed two of its six campgrounds and a portion of a third camping area to save money.

If you find yourself traveling in the American Southwest, add the Salton Sea to your itinerary. Yes, it’s out in the middle of nowhere, but its diversity and stark beauty make it a deserving destination. Bring water, bring your camera, and leave the outside world behind for a while.

You may love it as we do, or you may hate it, but either way, you’ll never forget it. The memory will remain etched in mind for an eternity.

Worth Pondering…
To quote one long-time Salton Sea local, “all the normal people have left or died.”

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National Geographic Marks Parks Canada Anniversary

To mark Parks Canada’s 100th anniversary as the world’s first national park service, the first complete guide to Canada’s National Parks was recently (July 5) launched at Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.

The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in the village of Baddeck, Cape Breton in Nova Scotia showcases the amazing inventions and experiments of the Scottish genius. (Credit:

The Honourable Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada announced the first ever collaboration between National Geographic and Parks Canada to publish an official guide showcasing Canada’s 42 national parks.

“I am delighted to see Canada’s natural wonders presented by National Geographic in this unique guidebook featuring our national parks and national marine conservation areas”, said Minister Kent. “From cover to cover, this superb guidebook illustrates their awe-inspiring beauty—an especially fitting tribute as we celebrate our centennial.”

“We are pleased to publish this handy and practical resource for visitors to Canada’s natural treasures”, said National Geographic’s Barbara Brownell Grogan, Vice President and Editor in Chief of National Geographic Books. “We feel that this must-have guidebook for nature lovers, and especially for fans of Canada’s national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites, is a magnificent way to contribute to celebrating Parks Canada’s centennial.”

“In the stellar National Geographic tradition, this guidebook has captured the wow factor of our national parks and marine conservation areas in print”, said Parks Canada CEO Alan Latourelle. “It will undoubtedly make these special places better known at home and around the world.”

Jasper National Park, Alberta. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The launch of National Geographic’s guidebook not only celebrates the country’s most treasured places, it also shines a spotlight on the historical connection between the Society and one of Parks Canada’s historic sites—Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. Alexander Graham Bell was a co-founder, former president, and senior trustee of National Geographic Society.

The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site commemorates the life and work of this great inventor. Bell is most recognized for his work with the telephone and the Silver Dart aircraft which led to the first flight in Canada.

Alexander Graham Bell’s great-grandson, Gilbert Grosvenor, participated in this special launch of the book, as Chairman of the National Geographic Education foundation and Member of the National Geographic Board of Trustees. As a past president and former editor, he is also the fifth generation of his family to have served as president.


About Parks Canada

Parks Canada works to ensure that Canada’s natural and historic treasures are protected and presented for the enjoyment, education, and benefit of all Canadians, today and in the future.

About National Geographic Society

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. (Credit: Parks Canada)

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 400 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and a wide variety of other media.

National Geographic’s Guide to the National Parks of Canada

Canada’s 42 National Parks are beautifully showcased in this first edition official guidebook for the 2011 100th anniversary of Parks Canada. In the same manner that the best-selling National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States covers America’s crown jewels, this book is a handy, practical, and extensively illustrated guide to help visitors plan their trips to all the Canadian national parks. It also offers short excursions to more than 40 National Historical Sites and the four National Marine Conservation Areas.

Just in time for the Parks Canada milestone anniversary, this guide will inspire visitors to celebrate the treasures of Canada, from the pristine shorelines of British Columbia’s Pacific Rim to Newfoundland’s Gros Morne and from the Arctic landscape of Aulavik to the prairies of Grasslands.

This 352-page soft cover book contains 300 color photographs and may be ordered online.

Price: $26.00

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