Washington: State Parks Pass Generates $2.9M

Several months ago I reported that as part of a plan to keep Washington’s state parks operating amid a $5.3 billion state budget deficit, state lawmakers approved the Discover Pass in late April, and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the legislation into law. The signed legislation created a $30 vehicle pass for state parks and other state recreation lands.

The state of Washington has generated $2.9 million for state parks and other public recreation lands during the initial six weeks of Discover Pass sales, state agency chiefs recently announced (August 24).

Officials started requiring the $30 annual pass or $10 day-use pass to park vehicles at recreation lands statewide July 1. The state started selling the passes in June, the Issaquah Press reported.

Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director, said the revenue is crucial to state parks, because the agency must rely on user fees and donations to cover costs. In recent years, the Legislature slashed funding for agencies managing outdoor recreation lands and facilities.

“Public support has been essential as we begin this new program aimed at preserving public access to recreation lands,” he said in a statement. “It’s heartening that Washington citizens are willing to help keep their recreation lands open and operating. And we are optimistic that sales will continue to grow to help fund our state recreation lands.”

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources also receive a percentage of Discover Pass revenue.

The pass is required for state parks, as well as lands managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources. Users must display the annual or day-use Discover Pass in vehicles’ front windshields or face a $99 fine.

Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson said sales figures during the months ahead should provide a good indication of public support for the Discover Pass.

“It’s hard to tell much from one month of data,” he said. “The public is still learning about this program and sales outlets will increase substantially as state vehicle licensing offices start selling the Discover Pass.”

Starting in October, the state Department of Licensing plans to offer vehicle owners the option to purchase the $30 Discover Pass as motorists renew vehicle tabs.

Revenue from pass sales is to be divided among the state land-management agencies: 84% to state parks, 8% to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and 8% to the Department of Natural Resources.

The state needs to generate about $60 million per year to compensate for budget cuts to parks and recreation lands.

May the joy of today, bring forth happiness for tomorrow.


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Worth Pondering…
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.

The winds will flow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

—John Muir

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Meet the GO! by SylvanSport

At SylvanSport, a Brevard, North Carolina-based startup company, Tom Dempsey and his team of designers set out to put the cool back into pop-up campers.

Tom Dempsey sits inside a GO camper with a customer's two dogs, Diggidy and Gertie. The GO pop up camper, built by Sylvan Sport, is a highly engineered 800-pound camper that can carry extra outdoor equipment such as canoes and bicycles and be towed by a small car. (Credit: citizen-times.com)

As an entrepreneur, Dempsey saw an opportunity to make camping, already a relatively affordable vacation option, more comfortable for a new generation, reported the Asheville Citizen-Times.

They came up with the Go, an 800-pound lightweight but solidly constructed platform that turns into a spacious living quarters that you can tow behind a Prius, instead of a huge pickup. The Go is billed as “Mobile Adventure Gear” rather than a trailer, which brings to mind the old-fashioned aluminum box on wheels.

“Pop-up campers are part of the entry-level RV world, which hasn’t really changed in the last 40 years,” Demspey said. “We wanted to take the pop-up camper out of the RV world into the REI world.”

The Go has proved a hit with enthusiasts eager to drive cross-country to Brevard to pick up their $8,000 campers, ordered online. Dempsey sees “a massive paradigm shift away from SUVs and big trucks to more compact cars, but people still want to play even if they own a Prius, so we hitched our wagon to a trend to more efficient vehicles.”

Dempsey got his start out of college as an industrial designer for Coleman, a leader in camping equipment, including those pop-up campers that your parents might have used on their summer vacations.

The Go, an 800-pound lightweight but solidly constructed platform that turns into a spacious living quarters. (Credit: sylvansport.com)

Dempsey went on to become a serial entrepreneur, starting up a medical supply company in Huntsville, Alabama, before returning to his first love—recreation. He was able to transfer much of the plastics injections technology from his first company into a successful kayak company, Liquid Logic, near Brevard, North Carolina.

The gearhead generation

But Dempsey kept thinking about those pop-up campers and how to make them cool for a new generation. Seven years ago, he started yet another company, SylvanSport, to see his vision through.

He enlisted the aid of Kyle Mundt, an industrial engineer who had worked for Johnson Outboard Motors designing GPS units and fish finders, and Tom Reeder, a mechanical engineer who had a background in precision metal manufacturing at Cane Creek Cycling.

They wanted to design a product that would appeal to “gear heads”— those outdoor enthusiasts who appreciate well-designed mountain bikes, kayaks, backpacking, or rock climbing equipment.

“We put our energy, time, dollars into truly engineering a piece of gear,” Mundt said inside a Go that he and Dempsey popped out in just 10 minutes. “We have a custom aluminum, tigue-welded extension frame that you would find in the best mountain bikes.”

“People think, ‘Oh, a tent on wheels’ and then they see one and fall in love. There’s a market out there,” Mundt said.

Meet the Go! All ready to Go! (Credit: sylvansport.com)

Camping has changed as people want to tote more gear with them to the outdoors, be it mountain bikes or kayaks. By the time you get everything stuffed in the back or tied on top, you’ve run out of room for the dog. The Go can haul all the gear, as well as provide two comfortable beds off the ground.

That versatility is what sells many customers, Dempsey said. The Go serves as a ready-made trailer to cart a motorcycle or lawn tractor or take home the refrigerator you bought at the store.

That interest in the cool camper cuts across a large demographic. One couple picked up their Go in Brevard and immediately set off for Alaska with it in tow.

Some 200 Gos have been sold to date, and Dempsey sees interest expanding. Triatheletes, kayakers, musicians, families, and couples of all ages have taken to the Go.



SylvanSport was founded in 2004 to develop great gear to support an evolving sense of adventure. Adventure can be on a mountain, river, or in your backyard.

Their team brings decades of experience designing and making outdoor products from the most respected companies. They offer products that blend utility, quality, and value while respecting the purity of the places our adventures take us.

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Fleetwood RV Introduces the 2012 Storm

Fleetwood RV Inc., a Decatur, Indiana, producer of Class A Diesel and Gas motorhomes, and Class C Diesel and Gas motorhomes, unveiled its 2012 Class A gas-powered Storm during the company’s 2011 National Dealer Meeting last week at the Grand Wayne Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

2012 Fleetwood Storm 32BH. (Credit: rvt.com)

Touted as a “crossover” motorhome, Fleetwood said the Storm features the sleeping capacity and value of a Class C coach along with the roominess and storage capacity of a Class A.

“It’s a coach that is loaded with standard features, and offered at a value that appeals to a wide range of RVers,” said John Draheim, president and CEO of the two-year-old, Decatur, Indiana-based builder.

The 2012 Storm is available in five floor plans, ranging in size from 28 to 32 feet. The dual-slide 32BH offers either standard bunk beds or the optional “Bunk Bed-n-Breakfast” space-saving two-person dinette with convertible bunk beds while the dual-slide 32V features a 30-inch deep living area slideroom.

The Hide-a-Loft option, featuring a queen-sized, electronic drop-down bed with air mattress located above the driver/passenger captain’s chairs, is available on all models.

2012 Fleetwood Storm interior. (Credit: fleetwoodrv.com)

Standard features on the 2012 Storm include:

  • One-piece windshield 82-inch interior height
  • Soft Touch Flexsteel driver/passenger captain’s chairs
  • High-gloss fiberglass sidewalls, pass-through storage, and a full basement exterior with enclosed, heated holding tanks and luggage compartments
  • Onan 4.0 kw MicroQuiet generator
  • 15,000-BTU ducted air conditioner
  • 30,000 BTU furnace, wall mounted thermostat (except 32BH)
  • 6-gallon propane water heater w/electronic ignition
  • 32-inch LCD wide-screen TV w/remote & DVD player
  • Power Roof Fan-Tastic vent fan
  • Dometic 6 cu. ft. refrigerator/freezer
  • 3-burner range w/high output/Piezo igniter and oven
  • Queen bed w/mattress
  • Patio awning
  • Rear vision camera with monitor built in to the dash radio
  • Dual deep cycle auxiliary batteries
  • Carbon monoxide, propane, and smoke detectors/alarms
  • Whole coach water filtration

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Fleetwood RV, Inc.

Fleetwood RV, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of Class A and Class C motorhomes. This RV manufacturer boasts some of the industry’s most recognized and iconic brand names such as Bounder and American Coach. Fleetwood RV is headquartered in Decatur, Indiana, which is also its principal manufacturing location. Fleetwood RV, Inc. also owns Goldshield Fiberglass, Inc., an industry leader in custom molded composite products across a variety of industries including heavy truck and RV.


Chassis Details

Model: Ford

Engine: 6.8L Triton V10

Transmission: Ford 5-speed, automatic w/overdrive

Torque: 457 lb-ft @ 3250 RPM

Horsepower: 362HP

Fuel Capacity: 80 gallon

Starting MSRP: $83,300

2012 Fleetwood Storm 32V Length: 32' 9" (Credit: fleetwoodrv.com)

Worth Pondering…
But do not ask me where I am heading,

As I travel in this limitless world

Where every step I take is my home.

—Eihei Dogen

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Tow Ratings Standardization: Comparing Apples to Apples

Have you ever wondered if 10,000 pounds of towing capacity means the same for trucks manufactured by GM, Ford, and Dodge?

Towing Capacity Overkill. What could possibly go wrong here? (Credit: tacomaworld.com)

You will soon know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Automotive manufacturers agreed in 2008 to standardize tow ratings as specified in the SAE’s Surface Vehicle Recommended Practice J2807 to take effect by 2013.

The industry alliance includes Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda, along with several leading trailer and hitch makers.

Until now, each manufacturer was free to test using proprietary conditions ideally suited to a truck’s towing strengths and decide their own maximum trailer rating. They could pretty much advertise whatever ratings they wanted since there was no “apples to apples” comparison between brands or models.

Each company designed its own test, and—surprise, surprise—their trucks always aced the tests. Imagine the EPA didn’t exist, and car companies could just make up fuel-economy figures to boost sales. Kinda like, catch me if you can—on my towing ratings!

Makers would boast about the pounds their pickups and SUVs could tow, and their exhaustive testing used to determine the towing capacity.

But when a new truck claimed a higher number, the other manufacturers would rewrite their spec sheets with increased towing capacity and, as if by magic, match or beat the new kid on the block.

The maximum vehicle towing capacity is... (Credit: eviews.ebay.ca)

And there was nothing a customer could do, short of bringing a 12,000-pound fifth wheel or travel trailer to a test drive.

Towing capacity measures the maximum weight that a vehicle can safely and legally haul. The rating is as important to many pickup and SUV buyers as fuel economy or horsepower are to minivan or sports-car shoppers, reports the Detroit Free Press.

“Before, you couldn’t say who had the best towing capacity, because you didn’t know how it was tested,” says Mike Levine, editor of Pickuptrucks.com. “This is the first time a customer can do an actual apples-to-apples comparison.”

Major makers of pickups and SUVs have agreed to a standard test to rate their vehicle’s towing capacity. By the end of the 2013 model year, most truck buyers should know—for the first time—how a vehicle performs compared to the competition.

This will allow for apples-to-apples comparisons between trucks from different manufacturers and it’s a really big deal for millions of drivers especially for RVers towing a fifth-wheel or travel trailer.

There are five engineering characteristics that strongly influence any tow vehicle’s performance:

  • Engine power and torque characteristics
  • Powertrain cooling capacity
  • Durability of the powertrain and chassis
  • Handling characteristics during cornering and braking maneuvers
  • Structural characteristics of the vehicle hitch attachment area
To tow safely, do what the pros do: Visit a certified scales to find out what your truck weighs loaded, what your trailer weighs with everything in it, and the two together weigh. With that, you can compare to the manufacturer's published capacities and plan accordingly. (Credit: rvmagonline.com)

The standard, known as J2807, spells out test procedures and performance requirements that must be met for a manufacturer to assign a maximum tow rating to a particular vehicle. While various trailer configurations are suitable for these tests, the towed unit must provide a minimum specified frontal area starting with 12 square feet for a TWR (Trailer Weight Rating) below 1500 pounds, ranging to 60 square feet for a TWR exceeding 12,000 pounds. There are also specifications for how the trailer’s load is distributed on its axle(s) and how the attachment tongue is configured.

One major change from past practice is what the SAE committee defines as TVTW (Tow Vehicle Trailering Weight). Unlike the past, a driver, a passenger, optional equipment purchased by at least one third of the customer base, and hitch equipment are now included in this calculation along with the base weight of the tow vehicle. Raising the TVTW figure automatically lowers the maximum permissible GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) and TWR figures.

With the demanding test, automakers expect their tow ratings to decrease by anything from a few hundred to more than a thousand pounds. They’re willing to take the hit, because it’s in their interest as well as the customers’ to have credible towing figures.

Toyota was the first to use the standard. It already applied it to the Tundra. The Tundra’s claimed towing capacity decreased, but its credibility grew.

Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and GMC full-size pickups are expected to adopt the test during the 2013 model year, which begins January 1, 2012. Nissan will use the standard someday, but won’t say when or on which vehicles.

Every truck tested to the standard can say its towing capacity is SAE rated. That’s the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval when it comes to vehicle performance. The SAE is the leading independent body for vehicle standards and tests.

The towing standard is not mandatory. No manufacturer has to use it. If they don’t, though, the figures they claim for towing capacity will be less credible and more open to challenge than their competitors.

Worth Pondering…
The important thing is not to stop questioning.

—Albert Einstein

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Yellowstone Grizzly Victim Identified

A grizzly bear killed a Michigan man whose body was found by hikers last week in Yellowstone National Park, officials said earlier today (August 29).

Grizzly bears are powerful, top-of-the-food-chain predators, yet much of their diet consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, and roots. Bears also eat other animals, from rodents to moose. (Credit: talktocanada.com)

The victim was identified as John Wallace of Chassell, Michigan.

Wallace’s body was discovered along a trail about five miles from the nearest trailhead. Results of an autopsy concluded that he died as a result of traumatic injuries from a bear attack, reported the Associated Press.

It is the second time a visitor to the park has been killed by a bear this year.

Authorities say Wallace likely died Wednesday or Thursday.

He was traveling alone and had pitched a tent in a campground on Wednesday, park officials said. Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk has previously said that the hiker was found with a snack bar in his closed backpack, but that it appears the grizzly did not try to get at the food.

“We know of no witnesses to the event at all,” Wenk said today. “As far as we know, he was in good health and out enjoying the park.”

Grizzly bears have a distinctive muscular shoulder hump, and the claws on the front paws are large, strong and slightly curved. (Credit: edu.pe.ca)

Two trails and a section of the Hayden Valley west of Yellowstone’s Grand Loop Road have been closed to hikers. Park officials asked hikers elsewhere in the park to stay on the trails, to hike in groups of three or more and carry bear spray.

Wallace’s death comes after a female bear attacked and killed a 57-year-old California man in July on the popular Wapiti Lake Trail, several miles away from where the Michigan man’s body was discovered Friday.

The female bear was not killed because officials said the sow was only defending its cubs and had not threatened humans before.

Rangers found grizzly tracks and scat, or bear droppings, near Wallace’s body.

The Mary Mountain Trail is closed from March to June because park managers list it as “high-density grizzly bear habitat.”

Park employees have been searching for the bear around the Mary Mountain Trail northeast of Old Faithful. That’s the area where hikers discovered Wallace’s body on Friday.

Traps have been set to try to capture the bear. Wenk said it would be killed if it can be linked

Bear Safety

The long guard hairs on their backs and shoulders often have white tips and give the bears a grizzled appearance, hence the name grizzly. (Credit: firstpeople.us)

It’s important to be informed about bears and what to do when you come into contact with them.

Bears are not tame, gentle, or cuddly; they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. The rule about bears is their unpredictability.

Note: A two-part series on Bears and Bear Safety was previously posted.

Worth Pondering…
Alive, the grizzly is a symbol of freedom and understanding—a sign that man can learn to conserve what is left of the earth. Extinct, it will be another fading testimony to things man should have learned more about but was too preoccupied with himself to notice. In its beleaguered condition, it is above all a symbol of what man is doing to the entire planet. If we can learn from these experiences, and learn rationally, both grizzly and man may have a chance to survive.
—Frank Craighead, Track of the Grizzly, 1979

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Historic Walks of Santa Fe

Walking tours with professional guides leave most of the major hotels every day.

Santa Fe Ghost Tour

Pointing dramatically across the St. Frances Hotel lobby to the Ore House on the Plaza Restaurant, Marilyn launched into her first tale. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For an hour or so at twilight we took a short walk into Santa Fe’s less well known past, a past filled with mysteries, unanswered questions, and the not quite dead. It was a fun walk, including visits to many of the buildings and places where unexplainable things have happened, and are still happening, with the story behind the events. It was a lighthearted but thought provoking look into the inevitable result of 400 years of Spanish folklore, encircled by 1,700 years of Pueblo tradition, both surrounded by Apache, Navajo, and Comanche, topped off with the Wild West.

We met in the lobby of the St. Frances Hotel for the Aspook About, a Ghost Walking Tour of Santa Fe, when suddenly, a one-woman cyclone whirled into our midst. It was Marilyn, our guide.

Marilyn Adams, our “intrepid tour guide”, was quite something. An aging but spritely actress, she took great pleasure in leaping off the sidewalk whenever we came to a halt, waving her arms about, a clipboard firmly in her grasp. She must be a regular sight in these parts as passing cars seem to know to give her a wide berth. We trailed along behind her, hearing stories of bloodshed and trauma.

On the Old Santa Fe Trail. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pointing dramatically across the St. Frances Hotel lobby to the Ore House on the Plaza Restaurant, she launched into her first tale.

It seems a young couple had just seated when the guy stared wild-eyed at something just beyond his girlfriend’s shoulder and began screaming, “Tell that woman to get away from me! Tell her to get away!” His girlfriend began to panic as well and the guests at the surrounding tables reared back like spooked horses. Desperate, their waiter stood in the spot, passing his hand back and forth through the empty air. Immediately, as if awakened from a spell, the man’s face calmed and he said, “Well, I think we’ll have our menus now.”

Marilyn paused a beat. “Shall we be out the door?” she sweeps us down Burro Alley, recounting tales of burros once bustling there, there ghostly hooves echoing down the centuries, best heard “at that marvelous witching-hour time between three and four in the morning.”

On to the Palace Restaurant, our guide paints an enthusiastically vivid imagination of its original owner, La Doña Tulis, a garish dresser who smoked stubby little cigars and who, “well, wasn’t very ladylike.”

We troop into the restaurant behind Marilyn to gawk at Doña’s portrait, hear of her scandalous life and, eventually, her restaurant’s sad decline. “Nowadays, on certain cold, bitter nights—preferably nights with a little snow in the air—if you glance in, you just might see a woman looking very much like Doña sitting at the end of the bar, disappointedly nursing a drink—but don’t look directly at her! Or she’ll disappear.”

The city's most famous ghost is Julia Staab whose Victorian home, the Staab House, is now part of La Posada Hotel. Her painting still hangs in the hotel and Marilyn regales us with a first hand account of meeting Julia in what was her bedroom when she was alive. (Credit: legendsofamerica.com)

As we wended our way across the Plaza and beyond, more stories of the weird, the inexplicable, ensued: stories of echoing footsteps in the middle of the night that stop when you stop, stories of the unrequited love, of copious tears being cried into “a white linen serviette” at the corner table (“and now, quite often, someone finds a serviette upon its service. Crumpled. Dampish with tears.”)

I won’t give away Marilyn’s piece de resistance.

Hint: It involves the ghost of La Posada’s Julia Staab. And—Marilyn has actual photos.

Note: This is the final of a four-part series on Santa Fe, New Mexico

Part 1: The City Different: Santa Fe, NM

Part 2: Historically Significant Santa Fe

Part 3: The City of Holy Faith: Santa Fe

Worth Pondering…
For all of us have our loved places; all of us have laid claim to parts of the earth; and all of us, whether we know it or not, are in some measure the products of our sense of place.

—Alan Gussow

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Tiffin Motorhomes: New Look for the 2012 Allegro Bus

Red Bay, Alabama-based Tiffin Motorhomes has implemented a variety of upgrades in the 2012 Allegro Bus.

  • According to a recent news release, several cosmetic changes have been made, including: Two new exterior color schemes, the Milan and Tour de France
  • Shiny chrome handles on the compartments and entrance door
  • LED ceiling lights to brighten the interior, reduce heat, cut power drain, and to last a lot longer
  • Optional Paramont Carefree awning running the full length of the 43-foot Bus models

But it may be what you don’t see that catches your eye. Tiffin also added features to create a more streamlined look:

  • Rubberized gaskets sticking out around windows have been replaced by flush-mount, metal frames painted to match the exterior
  • Side-view cameras jutting out from the cockpit side exteriors have been integrated into the VelVac rearview mirrors

“Clean exterior lines provide the higher-end look, as in luxury automobiles,” said Tiffin National Sales Manager Jerry Williamson. “Last year, we hid the air horns under the hood instead of sticking them on the top of the front cap. Tiffin is ahead of the curve in bringing sleekness with few interruptions. That’s the look our customers tell us they want. We listen.”

The 2012 Allegro Bus is offered in five floor plans with lengths ranging from 36 to 43 feet. The MSRP on the Allegro Bus starts at $313,320.

Standard on all 2012 Tiffin coaches is a convenient exterior potable water fill. A high-pressure water supply is not required, since the potable tank can be filled with jugs or a water hose.

2012 Tiffin Allegro Bus 40QBP (Credit: vogtrv.com)

Among the other features visible on Tiffin’s 2012 gas-powered Allegro and Diesel Pusher Allegro RED models are:

  • High-gloss cabinetry and wood trim
  • Movable recliner with footstool
  • Color rear and side cameras
  • Cool, bright, and long-lasting LED ceiling lighting
  • Recessed cook-tops to increase counter space
  •  “The recessed cook-top is a grand improvement,” Williamson says. “The cover over the cook-top doubles the usable galley solid-surface counter space. The high-gloss cabinetry provides a great first impression. ”
  • The 2012 Allegro gas is offered in five lengths and floor plans ranging from 30 to 35 feet.

The MSRP on the Allegro gas starts at $114,240.

The 2012 Allegro RED is offered with lengths and floor plans ranging from 34 to 38 feet. The MSRP on the Allegro RED starts at $198,660.

The nationally best-selling Phaeton Diesel Pusher also has:

  • Side cameras integrated into the VelVac rearview mirrors
  • Redesigned driver’s console for added convenience
  • Distinctive wood and wrought iron ceiling trim ring
  • Rustic Canyon, a new exterior color scheme
  • Two new interiors, Capri and Palmetto
2012 Allegro Bus interior. (Credit: irv2.com)

While Phaetons come in 36-, 40- and 42-foot lengths, the longest of the trio now boasts an ISL 400hp engine. The Phaeton MSRP starts at $248,192.

Tiffin Motorhomes has earned one of only five Quality Circle Awards presented by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) to Class A motorhome manufacturers for 2011 for vehicle design, vehicle reliability/quality, competitive price/value, dealership warranty support, parts support, overall dealer communications, and sales territory. The 2011 Quality Circle Award is Tiffin’s 13th.


Tiffin Motorhomes

Celebrating its 40th anniversary with the release of its 2012 models, Tiffin Motorhomes manufactures the Allegro, Allegro Breeze, Allegro RED, Phaeton, Allegro Bus, and Zephyr model lines.

Worth Pondering…
People who enjoy what they are doing invariably do it well.

—Joe Gibbs

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The City of Holy Faith: Santa Fe

The Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, to the east of the Palace of the Governors, offers the National Collection of Contemporary Indian Art and a spectacular sculpture garden.

A block east of Santa Fe Plaza is St. Francis Cathedral, named for Santa Fe’s patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Two blocks south of the plaza is the San Miguel Mission Church. One of the oldest churches in America, this buttressed adobe building is a favorite with photographers who can snap away both indoors and out.

A block east of Santa Fe Plaza is St. Francis Cathedral, named for Santa Fe’s patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi.

The cathedral was built in French Renaissance style and was the design and dream of Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy. Built between 1869 and 1886, this structure replaced an older adobe church built after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. In the small chapel to the left of the Cathedral altar is a very beautiful willow sculpture of the Madonna called La Conquistadora. She is the oldest religious statue in the United States and is an enduring treasure and symbol of the Spanish heritage of Santa Fe. La Conquistadora has a wardrobe of over 160 garments, some of which were gifts from Indian Pueblos, the Pope, and the King of Spain.

Continuing past the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assis to the south, and behind La Fonda on the Plaza, is a small one-way street, Water Street. Go west one block to the intersection of Water and Old Santa Fe Trail. There stands a small chapel also built under the auspices of Archbishop Lamy.

The Loretto Chapel with its Miraculous Staircase. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is a copy of his original parish church in Paris, La Sainte Chapelle. This Neo-Gothic chapel was built for the students of the Loretto Academy which was the first girls’ parochial school in Santa Fe.

When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, its quarried stone facade and elegant stained glass stood out from the adobe churches common in this frontier town.

What draws the visitor is the spiral staircase inside that leads to the choir loft. The chapel’s small sized made access to the loft possible only by ladder.

When none of the local carpenters could build a staircase that wouldn’t encroach on the limited floor space, the Sisters prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.

Soon a mysterious stranger arrived, looking for work, and built an elegant spiral staircase. Without presenting any bill for payment, he disappeared as suddenly as he had come. The staircase—with two 360-degree turns, no visible means of support, and without the benefit of nails—has been called the Miraculous Staircase. The identity of the builder remains unknown.

In between and around these destinations near the plaza are shops with merchandise in all price ranges; art galleries showcasing art from around the world; and restaurants whose menus reflect the many cultures represented here.

Continuing south on Old Santa Fe Trail there is a simple but beautiful adobe church, the San Miguel Mission. It is the oldest church in the United States, built between 1610 and 1626. The church was built for the Indian slaves that the Spanish had brought with them. from Mexico. This part of town is called the Barrio de Analco, a charming area to explore, and is now home to many interesting galleries, restaurants, and shops dealing in Indian arts.

The staircase—with two 360-degree turns, no visible means of support, and without the benefit of nails—has been called the Miraculous Staircase. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Parking that can accommodate vehicles of all sizes is available in city lot 9 at Alameda, west of Paseo de Peralta. The parking lot is only two short blocks from the Santa Fe Plaza.

A visit to Santa Fe is not complete without a trip along Canyon Road. The narrowness of this road is a reminder of its past, for at one time it was a principal route from the Rio Grande to the Pecos area. The buildings are full of galleries featuring a variety of fine art. The galleries, along with the many others in Santa Fe, have made the city the second largest art market in the U.S.

Do not attempt to drive a recreational vehicle down Canyon Road, as it is far too narrow.

If you are traveling to Santa Fe from the south via Interstate 25, you can stop at the La Bajada State Visitor Information Center, 17 miles south of town, for maps, directions, and brochures. Similar information is available from the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Note: This is the third of a four-part series on Santa Fe, New Mexico

Part 1: The City Different: Santa Fe, NM

Part 2: Historically Significant Santa Fe 

Final article in the series: Historic Walks of Santa Fe

Worth Pondering…
Whoever designed the streets in Santa Fe must have been drunk, and riding backwards on a mule.

—Will Rogers

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Prime Time Introduces Sanibel Fifth Wheel

Wakarusa, Indiana-based Prime Time Manufacturing has begun producing the all-new Sanibel fifth wheel.

First Sanibel at Leisure Time RV. (Credit: Leisure Time RV)

The new fiver targets the luxury fifth wheel buyer and is intended to compliment the company’s mid-priced Crusader fifth wheel.

The 2012 Sanibel fiver is currently offered in two floor plans—3400RB and 3500RL.

Standard features include:

  • 32-inch LCD TV; 40-inch LCD TV on some models
  • 12-inch SBS refrigerator
  • 30-inch convection OTR microwave
  • 36-inch king size shower with built-in seat
  • Exterior entertainment center that includes 26-inch LCD television
  • Central vacuum with 20-inch hose
  • Laptop/cell phone charging station at dinette and bedroom
  • Intelligent Lighting Package
  • 30-inch deep bedroom slide room
  • Walk in closet with shoe storage
  • King size “Ever Rest” luxury foam pillow-top mattress with decorative bedroom pillows
  • 15,000 BTU premium air conditioner; wired for second A/C
  • 50-amp (110) detachable power cord
2012 Prime Time Sanibel fifth wheel. (Credit: primetimerv.com)

Optional features include:

  • Dual pane windows
  • Slide out awnings
  • Full body paint
  • Fireplace
  • 2nd A/C; quiet cool with dual zone temperature sensors
  • Generator prep
  • Onan 5.5KW generator installed

The base manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the new 2012 Sanibel fifth wheel is $65,000.

Prime Time management recently delivered the first production model to Leisure Time RV in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Upon receiving the new unit, Debora Bingham and Ron Walker, dealer principals at Leisure Time RV, commented that the Sanibel will be another success for the rapidly growing manufacturer.

“Sanibel looks absolutely fantastic and is loaded with lots of easy-to-sell features that high end customers are going to love,” they said. “Prime Time represents a big part of our business and we think Sanibel will be another great addition to our dealership.”

Sanibel Product Manager, Jeff Wagner, described the special relationship with Leisure Time RV.

Sanibel fifth wheel model 3500RL (Credit: primetimerv.com)

“Ron and Debora were one of the very first dealers to sign up with Prime Time when the company was started in 2009,” he explained. “They have done a fantastic job representing all of our products in the Oklahoma City market and we are thankful for their continued commitment and support. It’s an honor to deliver the first Sanibel to Leisure Time RV.”


Prime Time Manufacturing

Prime Time Manufacturing is a division of Forest River, Inc, a Berkshire Hathaway company. Prime Time offers towable recreational vehicles under the brand names of Avenger, Crusader, LaCrosse, Sanibel, and Tracer and is located at 66149 SR 19 in Wakarusa, Indiana, the center of northern Indiana’s Amish community.

Factory tours are available Mondays at 4 p.m.

“Quality Isn’t Just a Slogan, It’s Our Culture”

Worth Pondering…
Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.

—Tom Landry

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Hurricane Irene: “Get the Hell off the Beach”

Hurricane Irene made landfall near Cape Lookout, North Carolina, just before 8 a.m. EDT with Category 1-force winds of 85 mph.

This graphic shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow). The orange circle indicates the current position of the center of the tropical cyclone. (Credit: noaa.gov)

The center of Irene is located about 5 miles north-northeast of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, or about 60 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and is moving to the north-northeast near 14 miles per hour.

The center of Irene is forecast to cross through the North Carolina Sounds, through the Outer Banks, and back into the Atlantic today, then riding up the coast with an eventual landfall anticipated on Sunday along Long Island then on the other side of Long Island Sound in Southern New England as a minimal hurricane.

Tropical-storm-force winds will continue to spread up the coast and inland across parts of North Carolina and Virginia, with hurricane-force winds moving onto the North Carolina Coast near the Sounds and along the Outer Banks.

Hurricane warnings for the next 48 hours have been issued for North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Hurricane Irene's outer bands reach Kill Devil Hills, N.C., early Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. Hurricane Irene has weakened to a Category 1 storm as it nears the North Carolina coast but forecasters say it remains extremely dangerous. (Credit: ABC News)

So far, eastern North Carolina has already seen three tornadoes in the past few days, and the majority of the state and areas of Maryland and Virginia are under tornado watches through Sunday.

Nearly 200,000 homes in North Carolina are without power. Hardest hit were Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, where Progress Energy reports 190,000 customers without power. Most of those customers are residences.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie didn’t sugarcoat his warnings yesterday (August 26) for residents of his state still on the coast as Hurricane Irene lumbered northeastward: “Get the hell off the beach. You’ve maximized your tan.”

“Don’t wait. Don’t delay,” said U.S. President Barack Obama. “I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now.”

This is especially sage advice for all RVers along the Eastern Seaboard. “Get the hell out of Dodge!”

Evacuation orders for the country’s eastern seaboard covered at least 2.3 million people, including 1 million in New Jersey, 315,000 in Maryland, 300,000 in North Carolina, 200,000 in Virginia, and 100,000 in Delaware.

“This is probably the largest number of people that have been threatened by a single hurricane in the United States,” said Jay Baker, a geography professor at Florida State University.

The last hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Ike, which pounded Texas in 2008.

Abandoned beach front houses are surrounded by rising water in Nags Head, North Carolina. (Credit: Gerry Broome/AP)

After several extremely active years, Florida has not been struck by a hurricane since Wilma raked across the state’s south in October 2005. That storm was responsible for at least five deaths in the state and came two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

It has been said to everything there is a season. Hurricane season is considered between June 1 and mid- to late- November and should be of some concern to RVers.

Here are some bits of information that may help RVers in understanding hurricanes and in planning survival preparations:

  • Hurricanes don’t appear without warning as tornadoes often do.
  • Hurricanes slowly develop from tropical depressions into tropical storms before becoming named hurricanes. The process takes days, sometimes weeks. By the time they are named they are being followed closely by weather media.
  • As they develop they grow in size. Average is 200 to 400 miles across. The big ones grow to 550 or more miles wide.
  • Hurricanes move forward slowly along their way which is not a straight line. They have been known to twist and turn and double back or go in a loop.
  • Some Hurricanes carry huge quantities of rain while others transport very little water.
  • A danger of hurricanes comes from flying debris picked up by the winds and thrown or dropped with great force.
  • Tornadoes are frequently spawned by hurricanes.

Worth Pondering…
Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You’re done. It’s 4:30. You’ve maximized your tan. Get off the beach. Get in your cars and get out of those areas.

—New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

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