Mining, Ranching, Birding & More In Patagonia, Arizona

Our narrative begins about 60 miles southeast of Tucson in a small historic mining town that still holds claim to a huge treasure—the birding kind.

On the road to Patagonia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
On the road to Patagonia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At an elevation of over 4,000 feet between the Santa Rita Mountains and the Patagonia Mountains, you arrive in the town of Patagonia. Here, the South Pacific Railroad once hummed with cattle ranchers and prospectors who worked the nearby silver mine. Ranches still dot the hills and historic ghost towns have replaced thriving mining outposts.

At first glance Patagonia is a town that you pass through on the way to somewhere else. However, a second glance will reveal some surprises about this historical former Spanish land grant. There is a growing community of artists and crafts people that have decided that this is a very desirable area to live and work.

Although the rail tracks were abandoned by 1970, the depot is now restored and adjoins a park in the center of town. McKeown Avenue is Patagonia’s authentic but small main street, housing the local saloon and shops.

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve © Rex Vogel, all rights
Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Patagonia is home to several arts and multicultural festivals throughout the year and also has numerous galleries here you can browse local pottery and paintings as well as other contemporary and traditional arts.

Chances are you’re here for Patagonia’s other side—the one that draws thousands of birders each year. Look closely, because this is the time of year when butterflies linger and more than 300 bird species migrate, nest, and live in Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, managed by the Nature Conservancy since 1966. Bird enthusiasts come thousands of miles to catch a glimpse of some of them. Of particular interest are the gray hawk, vermilion flycatcher, violet-crowned hummingbird, thick-billed kingbird, zone-tailed hawk, green kingfisher, white-throated sparrows (in winter), and black-bellied whistling duck.

You’re in luck: Now through September draws the greatest diversity of birds to what the Nature Conservancy dubs “the richest of the remaining riparian (or streamside) habitats in the region.”

Swimming and picnic area at Patagonia State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights
Swimming and picnic area at Patagonia State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights

The 850-acre sanctuary is where a cottonwood-willow canopy follows the ribbon of gentle Sonoita Creek, which runs year-long. You can opt for a guided tour of the preserve or you can head to the open-air ramada visitor center to study maps, peruse a list of the latest bird sightings, and get suggestions from the ranger to shape your own visit.

Three miles of easy walking trails take you along Sonoita Creek and through rare, 140-year old cottonwood willow forest.

A trip to Patagonia would not be complete without a visit to the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. Wally and Marion Paton first began inviting birders into their yard shortly after moving to Patagonia in 1973. They eventually put up a canopy and set out benches, bird books, and a chalkboard for people to record their sightings. The Patons had a special vision for supporting their backyard birds with an array of feeding stations—and supporting the wider birding community by sharing the riches of their yard. After Wally passed away in 2001 and Marion in 2009, the birding community was left with an inspiring legacy upon which to build.

212 bird species have been reported for this cozy home lot on the outskirts of the town of Patagonia, including violet-crowned hummingbirds, thick-billed kingbirds, gray hawks, and varied buntings. This amazing diversity results from its location in an ecologically rich and healthy corner of the state. Surrounding the Paton Center you will find: The Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, the Patagonia Mountains (one of Arizona’s newly declared Important Bird Areas), the San Rafael Grasslands, and the Sonoita Plain.

Sonoita Creek Natural Area © Rex Vogel, all rights
Sonoita Creek Natural Area © Rex Vogel, all rights

Continuing south on Arizona Highway 82 is Patagonia Lake State Park, a small paradise for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts. Fishermen and beachcombers enjoy a man-made lake more than two miles in length. At an elevation of 3,750 feet and adjacent to the Sonoita Creek Natural Area, the park becomes a year-round haven with 105 campsites with a picnic table, a fire ring/grill, water, and 20/30/50-amp electric service; select sites also have a ramada. A dump station is centrally located in the park.

Patagonia Lake offers a 0.5-mile hiking trail that leads to Sonoita Creek, a popular birding area. Additional trails can be accessed through Sonoita Creek Natural Area.

Worth Pondering…
I only went for a walk, and finally concluded to stay till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
—John Muir

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Junction: Texas Hill Country Hospitality Starts Here

Watch some birds, take a leisurely stroll, tube down the river, enjoy a sunset—and relax.

Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Junction boasts first-class outdoor recreation, a big-rig friendly RV park with true Texas hospitality, and all the mouth-watering Texas BBQ you can eat.

I expected the fresh air and open sky. After all, Junction is located on the western edge of the Texas Hill Country, elevation ranging around 2,000 feet. The abundance of outdoor activities was no surprise, either—the town is named for the junction of the north and south forks of the Llano River. Junction is ideal for fishing, tubing, and related activities, and there are scores of low-traffic roads for biking and a sprawling state park and wildlife management area checkered with hiking and biking trails.

What I hadn’t planned on was great Texas BBQ. Junction is a good place to work up an appetite, and, as it turns out, to satisfy it, too.

Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As we exited I-10 (Exit 465) for Junction North Llano River RV Park my heart skipped a beat as it jumped for joy! There to the back of a large parking lot was a huge BBQ pit surrounded by many, many, many cords of firewood piled higher than a man’s head like fortress walls. And an outdoor area with picnic tables under the spread of an enormous oak.

The food gods were really smiling on me. Heading west to Arizona with limited time and no hope of seeking out Texas BBQ, I lucked upon Cooper’s. Yes, Cooper’s Bar-B-Q & Grill is a happy accident food-wise on any road trip.

The Cooper family opened its original barbecue joint in Mason in the early 1950s, and Cooper sons later took the tradition to Llano—a location eventually sold outside the family—and here. Roy and Sheila Cooper, their son Mark and daughter-in-law Kim and their children all work at the restaurant, which has been in its current location for 16 years.

Texas Hill Country is the Lone Star State’s prime outdoor destination. But it’s not mountaintops and dramatic views that make this a vacation mecca—it’s water. More than 800 freshwater springs percolate to the surface in crystalline rivers and lakes, and the spot where the North and South Llano rivers meet spawned the town of Junction in 1876. One of the town’s first civic projects was a dam for power and irrigation, and Junction eventually became the commercial hub of Kimble County, named for an Alamo defender, George Kimble. But that has never meant many more than 2,500 people enjoying life in the county seat. Canoeing, kayaking, and tubing are the most popular ways to pass a day in Junction these days.

The dawn of another day along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The dawn of another day along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rolling hills and open spaces still define Junction. Wild turkeys also are a big part of the landscape. The largest concentration of Rio Grande Turkeys in the American Southwest gather in South Llano River State Park south of town. The gregarious birds winter in large flocks around the cottonwood riparian areas growing by the river. Turkeys can be spotted year-round, especially along the scrubby brush and open grasslands of the Fawn Trail that loops up open slopes for three miles.

The 524-acre park and adjacent 2,155-acre wildlife management area were donated to the state by cattle rancher Walter Buck Jr. Two miles of park front the river, but most folks congregate around the bridge near the entrance.

Activities include camping, picnicking, canoeing, tubing, swimming, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, bird-watching, and nature study.

The park offers approximately 20 miles of hiking/biking trails—15 of them prime for mountain biking—58 campsites with water and 30-amp electric service, six walk-in tent sites, and five hike-in primitive campsites.

Rest at one of the park’s top-notch bird blinds. These comfy shelters overlook water and feeding stations frequented by birds pretty much all day, although morning and evening are prime times. Common sightings are flycatchers, swallows, wrens, warblers, hawks, and hummingbirds.

Big-rig friendly North Llano River RV Park at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Big-rig friendly North Llano River RV Park at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next door, the Walter Buck State Wildlife Area is a destination to hike, watch birds, and polish wildlife photography skills.

Planning a Visit? Experience true Texas hospitality with welcoming smiles at Junction North Llano River RV Park. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a clean, spacious site nestled in a natural pecan grove along the banks of the North Llano River. Big rig sites over 80-feet in length are available; spacious full hookup sites with 50/30-amp electric service, free cable, and Wi-Fi.

There’s something for everyone whether you’re staying for one night, a week, or more—water sports, birding, fishing, hunting, scenic hill country drives, restaurants, golf, shopping, and good Texas BBQ! We’d be back in a Texas minute!

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

No matter how far we may wander, Texas lingers with us, coloring our perceptions of the world.

—Elmer Kelto

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4 More Cool Trailers

In a day where many recreational vehicles can easily cost six-figures and measure 40-feet or more, some people are returning to basics resulting in the minimalist RV trend gaining momentum.

Numerous vintage trailers, Airstreams, and other cool campers have been featured in Vogel Talks RVing. From modular trailers to bizarre shaped campers here are four that’ll certainly turn heads.

Teal Feather Camper

The Teal Feather Camper
The Teal Feather Camper

There is no other camper on the market quite like the Teal Feather. A modular camper that fits on a utility trailer or pickup bed, the Teal Camper is 8.5 feet long, 6 feet wide, just over 6 feet tall, and weighs a mere 500 pounds, hence its name.

The camper can be put together by one person in 60 minutes by piecing together panels made of polyethylene plastic filled with insulation. Only a Phillips screwdriver is purportedly needed for the job. When taken apart, the camper’s parts occupy a space of 4 feet by 5 feet.

Inside, the camper features a sink with a drain and a bottle to pump water to the faucet. The cabinets look more like a duffel bag—they open with zippers—though they have shelves and panels to support storage of belongings.

Dub Box

Dub Box is a customizable camper manufactured in Oregon.
Dub Box is a customizable camper manufactured in Oregon.

The Dub Box is a fun and creative retro camper with a new twist. The initial design was born from the American vintage trailer, merged with retro styling, and infused with modern conveniences for style and comfort. While it may appear that the company buys up all the Volkswagen camper vans remaining on the planet, Dub Boxes are manufactured from new fiberglass shells.

The initial design was born from the American vintage trailer, merged with retro styling and modern conveniences for style and comfort. And the rest of the design is up to you.

Dub Boxes are light enough to be towed by most vehicles, compact enough to be stored in a garage, the exterior and interior decor is customizable, and the layout can be altered to suit its intended use.

Eggcamper

The Eggcamper: Lightweight molded composite travel trailers
The Eggcamper: Lightweight molded composite travel trailers

As the name suggests, the Eggcamper has a distinct eggshell look.

Distinctly different in design and function, Eggcampers are handmade from nine molded lightweight composites — the entire camper weighs less than 2,000 pounds — and thus is easy to tow.

The entire exterior is intentionally painted an eggshell white color, which obviously helps give the product its name, but also makes it simple to clean and easier to keep cool.

The company also offers a smaller Teardropp trailer that’s based on a shape that was popular in the 1930s and is manufactured using a similar process.

Mehrzeller

Mehrzeller, a multi-cellular caravan
Mehrzeller, a multi-cellular caravan

If you don’t like to follow current trends and prefer to stand out from the crowd then this bizarre shaped caravan trailer with sleek angular lines, the Mehrzeller, may be the recreational vehicle for you.

The multi-cellular caravan  design can be entirely personalized by each customer resulting in an attractive one-of-a-kind trailer. The configuration is generated by a computer using the customer’s inputs, and then the final design is done by parameters from the architects to yield an attractive and practicable result. The caravans are produced using the principles of “mass customization”: this allows both the individual wishes of the customer to be accommodated while producing the caravan with series methods.

Worth Pondering…

All things are possible until they are proved impossible—and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.

—Pearl S. Buck

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Top Campgrounds, RV Parks & Resorts With Fun Activities For the Entire Family

These selected campgrounds and RV parks feature amenities, entertainment, and fun activities for the entire family and cultivate an atmosphere that’s welcoming for families of all ages. These campgrounds enable families to enjoy quality time together.

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled in the woods between Boston and Cape Cod, Normandy Farms is a luxury camping destination that has been a family tradition since 1971. Family amenities include four swimming pools, a Wellness Center, bike path, Creative Arts Center, 18-hole disc golf course, two playgrounds, fishing pond, nature trails, recreational lodge with indoor pool and Jacuzzi, volleyball and basketball courts, bocce ball and horseshoes, and dog park.

Featuring 85 foot pull-through sites and wide paved streets, Ambassador RV Resort is located near Idaho’s wine country and convenient to the Boise metro area: the perfect home base for all your family activities.

Fun for all ages, Cajun Palms RV Resort is a full service campground resort located at Henderson, near Breaux Bridge in Cajun Country. Accommodations consist of over 300 Deluxe RV sites and 25 cabins. Twenty cabins are facing the waterfront view stocked ponds. RV sites have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp electric service, on-site water and sewer, and 70+ channels of digital cable.

The clubhouse contains an assembly/reception hall and features two concession stands serving prepared food, a poolside patio, a second floor deck overlooking a resort style pool, and Kiddie pool. Fun attractions and amenities include Tiki Bar, band stand, beach volleyball, arcade, miniature golf, pool toys and waterslides, and Prehistoric Park.

With approximately 12 acres to explore, you will find yourself wandering amongst some of the most feared predators ever to walk the planet. Prehistoric Park offers a unique, natural setting featuring paved walkways where you will encounter a wide variety of realistic- looking steel and fiberglass dinosaur replicas, including some animated dinosaur exhibits. There is a concession stand, gift shop, and a sandbox with buried bones ready to be discovered by young paleontologists.

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California
Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

Lazydays RV Resort offers 300 sites with full utility hookups, entertainment, breakfast and lunch in The Front Porch Restaurant, sports facilities, complimentary morning coffee and newspaper, and much more. Close proximity to the Tampa Bay area and Orlando attractions and events ensure there is always something going on.

Lazydays provides fun activities for children of all ages, including a children’s playground and park. Other activities include a screened and heated pool and hot tub, tennis courts, horseshoes, beanbag tosses, ladderball, badminton, and pickleball. Whether the goal is to relax and unwind, or spend quality time with the family, the Lazydays RV Resort offers the complete RV campground package.

Nk’Mip Resort is a four season playground for the entire family, offering the ultimate Okanagan destination. South Okanagan’s largest RV park with over 400 full service sites has been welcoming guests since 1970. Perfectly situated along the shores of Osoyoos Lake with a private beach, playground, and convenience store, the all-season RV Park also offers yurt and cabin rentals and a club house with a seasonal pool and hot tub.

Nk’Mip Resort is a four-season tourism resort destination featuring premium accommodation and visitor experiences including an award-winning winery, gourmet dining, desert golf, a cultural centre, a full-service spa, and meeting space for up to 350 people.

Just a short drive from downtown Charleston, the 643-acre James Island County Park offers an abundance of exceptional recreation offerings and natural beauty with year-round enjoyment for the entire family. Activities include miles of paved trails for walking and biking, seasonal Splash Zone Waterpark, 16 acres of freshwater lakes with fishing, pedal boat and kayak rentals, modern playground, tidal creek fishing and crabbing dock, picnic areas, and off-leash dog park.

Vogel Talks RVing selected the list of top campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts from parks personally visited.

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama

Lazydays RV Resort, Seffner, Florida

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama
Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama

Nk’Mip RV Park, Osoyoos, British Columbia

Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort, Foxboro, Massachusetts

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California

The Campground at James Island County Park, Charleston, South Carolina

Worth Pondering…

In the end, we only conserve what we love.

We only love what we understand.

We will understand what we are taught.

—Baba Dioum, Sengalese poet

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Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together

With the arrival of summer Americans and Canadians are fleeing the cities by the thousands in search of open space and a chance to get away from others.

Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together.  Pictured above the Bavarian town of Helen, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together. Pictured above the Bavarian town of Helen, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That means virtually every campground and outdoor recreation venue within four hours of every major cities will be at capacity every weekend— full of people getting away from others while doing it together.

Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together.  Pictured above the Snake River at Twin Falls, Idaho. © Rex Vogel, all rights
Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together. Pictured above the Snake River at Twin Falls, Idaho. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping courtesy (the unwritten rules of campground etiquette) is an easy way to ensure that a group of people living in close proximity together where sounds travel and light can be a disturbance continue to camp together in harmony.

Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together.  Pictured above an Acadian farmstead at Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, Louisiana. © Rex
Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together. Pictured above an Acadian farmstead at Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, Louisiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Spending time in a campground requires a certain level of community patience and a willingness to live and let live, there are some basic rules of campground etiquette that will help create a friendly atmosphere and make the camping experience more enjoyable for everyone.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to achieve and maintain friendly camper status.

Be a Friendly Camper

Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together.  Pictured above Plimoth Planation near Plymouth, Massachusetts. © Rex Vogel
Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together. Pictured above Plimoth Planation near Plymouth, Massachusetts. © Rex Vogel

Be friendly and greet other campers. This is part of being within the camping community and even though you may not know the other people, you all have a common goal of enjoying the camping experience.

Being a friendly camper is more than saying hi to your neighbors. It’s being the kind of camper who makes the experience better for their friends and family as well as other the folks sharing the campground. It’s really the little things that can truly make a camping trip amazing for everyone around you.

Obey Campground Rules

Follow the campground rules and regulations. These rules usually include speed limits, fire regulations, quiet times, and so on. Adhering to these rules is one of the basics of campground etiquette. Be sure to review and enforce the rules with your children, as well.

Respect Your Neighbors

Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together.  Pictured above Mount Mitchell State Park, North Caroina. © Rex Vogel
Campground Etiquette: How To Get Away From Others While Doing It Together. Pictured above Mount Mitchell State Park, North Caroina. © Rex Vogel

Campgrounds are for relaxing and having fun—consider your neighbors as you kick back and relax. Keep your music and other noise to a reasonable level so everyone can enjoy the serenity of the great outdoors.

Keep in mind that others may be in the campground to get away from it all and wish to hear the wind blowing through the aspens, the babbling of a brook, the chatter of squirrels, or perhaps the call of a jay. While I recognize your right to enjoy a little music, I don’t necessarily share your musical taste unless, of course, it’s Willie’s “On the road again…”. That is why they make headphones.

Power down at night; shut off your generator and dim the lights. Remember not all generators are created equal. Some are designed to run very quietly, and others are not. Quiet hours are there for a reason.

Don’t Feed the Wildlife

Classic camping treats like a perfectly roasted hot dog or some gooey s’mores are amazing, no doubt. They’re just not amazing for the wildlife that make their home in and around the campground. This is one instance where it’s ok to be greedy with your grub.

Pick Up After Your Pets

Be a responsible pet owner. Keep dogs on leashes whenever they are outside so they are not bothering your neighbors and discourage them from barking. Never leave a dog that barks or howls unattended.

It’s great to have a furry friend as a camping companion, but make sure your pet isn’t leaving any surprises behind. When taking your dog for a walk, always pick up all pet waste. Many campgrounds provide pet waste collection bags to make clean up easy and convenient.

Leave No Trace

Clean up after yourself. When you prepare to exit the campsite, be sure to remove all garbage regardless of its origin and if the campground has a recycling program, take advantage of it.

Always leave the campsite as clean, or cleaner, than it was when you arrived. The camp host and the next camper will appreciate it.

The bottom line is that camping requires us to respect the land and one another. When it comes down to it, continued success of this ongoing social experiment requires it.

Have an enjoyable and safe camping summer.

Worth Pondering…

When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

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4 Cool Trailers NOT Named Airstream

According to Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey, Airstream is one cool camper!

While we can relate to the nostalgia of this classic trailer, there are other adorably cool trailers worthy of consideration.

From caravans that float to cabins on wheels, and minimalist campers to modern-day covered wagons fit for the Oregon Trail, here are four of the coolest trailers on the road.

Cricket

The Out-Of-This-World Cool Cricket Trailer
The Out-Of-This-World Cool Cricket Trailer

Part tent, part RV, the NASA-inspired Cricket Trailer is the go-to camper for the modern road tripper. Combining small-space expertise and backpacking background, a former space architect with NASA designed the Cricket Trailer, a small, self-contained pop-up camper. It’s his response to bigger-is-better RV cul­ture.

The name Cricket was inspired by an early design sketch, in which the lifts on the pop-up looked like the legs of the insect. The Cricket is a kind of hybrid tent and trailer, made of aluminum, wood and steel, with a pop-up style roof. It takes just 20 seconds to set up once you’ve arrived at camp, which basically involves popping up the roof which is made extra easy with the assistance of automatic gas pistons.

Sealander

This 840-pound microcaravan comes with an outboard motor. (Credit: sealander.de)
This 840-pound microcaravan comes with an outboard motor. (Credit: sealander.de)

Saving you the trouble of deciding between a boat and a camper, the Sealander is an amphibious vehicle that quickly transforms between the two. It can be customized to include two stainless steel gas cookers, a sink and water pump, toilet, and sound system, among other perks. And with two huge windows and a roll-up tarpaulin roof, you can stare at the stars while falling asleep to the soothing sound of water slapping against the hull.

Its wide, bowl-shaped design not only provides stability while floating, but it can easily navigate shallow waters without running aground. It also means you don’t need a trailer or a boat ramp to launch it in the water—simply back it up to a sufficiently cleared shoreline and the Sealander is successfully launched.

Leaf House

Leaf House is a tiny portable home design that takes up a small amount of space, is big enough to live in comfortably, and accommodates a family of four. (Source: tinyhousing.ca)
Leaf House is a tiny portable home design that takes up a small amount of space, is big enough to live in comfortably, and accommodates a family of four. (Source: tinyhousing.ca)

Handmade by a Canadian college professor, each 97-square-foot Leaf House is built of spruce pine and is tested to withstand even the harshest Yukon winter. It also weighs less than 5,000 pounds, thanks to lightweight concrete kitchen counters, bamboo flooring, and birch-plywood ceilings. Designed for a family of four, this fully self-contained portable house includes a sleeping loft, Murphy bed, full bathroom with a compact bathtub, a kitchen complete with a small fridge, and an open dining area.

The Leaf House is mounted on wheels, allowing you to pick up and go whenever the urge arises.

The Pod

POD-1172
The Pod

This retro caravan might be small — it’s only 34 square feet — but it won’t leave you wanting. The fiberglass and steel trailer features a four-person table that transforms into a double bed, a birch and aluminum interior, and a tiny-but-functional kitchen. And at only 705 pounds, it’s light enough to be towed by even the smallest car.

A fun and stylish living unit for two, the pod has now been in production for over 13 years and prides itself on being the forerunner of modern-retro teardrop trailers and micro-caravans.

Features of the pod include a dining area to seat four people in comfort with full size dining table and integral fold-away table, large interior sleeping space—equivalent to a double bed, large rear hatch door with gas-spring opening providing convenient access to the kitchen, quality hand-built kitchen, weatherproof foot-well with a fold-up feature, 12 volt power socket, two interior lights, leisure battery and charger, built-in storage areas, two support legs, and roof and floor vents.

Worth Pondering…

All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.

—Phillip Johnson

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Live Off-grid In An Ecocapsule

No humpty dumpty trailer but reminiscent of the Eggcamper, the futuristic Ecocapsule is poised to take the RV industry by storm.

Live Off-grid In An Ecocapsule
Live Off-grid In An Ecocapsule

For many the appeal of an RV road trip is enhanced by getting away from it all and living off the grid for a few days. Now, one design company seems to have taken the idea and turned it on its head, with the introduction of the Ecocapsule.

Slovakian design firm, Nice Architects, has built the egg-shaped Ecocapsule to allow those who wish to live off-grid to do so in great style. Despite looking like something more akin to a dinosaur egg from the Jurassic era, the capsule’s modern design and amenities are certainly a futuristic pod option to take seriously.

Packed into a compact form, the solar-and-wind-powered Ecocapsule merges an energy efficient shape, compact volume, and off-grid capabilities with the luxuries of a warm bed, running water, and a hot meal. The completely self-sustaining design, featuring its own solar panel system and high-capacity 9,700-watt-hour battery, tripled with a 750-watt wind turbine, allows for up to a year’s worth of energy.

The spherical, egg-shaped design allows for the collection of rainwater and dew to travel through water filters and provide fresh drinking water on tap. The water filters embedded in the upper surface of the pod purify rainwater and then funnels it into a sub-floor tank.

Live Off-grid In An Ecocapsule
Live Off-grid In An Ecocapsule

Dubbed “the first truly independent micro-home,” the real beauty of the Ecocapsule is that it allows you to camp anywhere you wish to travel. Whether you want to set up camp at the beach, on a mountain, in a cornfield, or in the tundra, this self-sustaining pod will keep you protected from the elements in style.

Able to be towed by a standard vehicle, but light enough to be towed by an animal according to Nice Architects, the options for where to camp seem rather endless and, despite lacking in size when compared to other trailers or caravans (it’s 14 feet 7 inches long and 7 feet 10 inches wide), it’s certainly not lacking in essentials featuring two berths, a built-in kitchenette with running water, flushing toilet, hot shower, as well as comfortable bed.

The Ecocapsule hasn’t just been created for those looking for a leisurely escape though, and it has also been designed to provide shelter in disaster areas, as well as doubling as a scientific research station in regions which are more difficult to reach by way of conventional methods.

The Ecocapsule was unveiled for public viewing for the first time at the 2015 Pioneers Festival on May 28 in Vienna, and will be available for purchase later in the year.

Live Off-grid In An Ecocapsule
Live Off-grid In An Ecocapsule

There’s no word yet on what this high-tech and environmentally conscious mobile home will cost you yet, but just think of it this way: You’ll never have to pay another utilities bill again. And you get to live on the road — forever.

What do you think of the Ecocapsule? Is this the ultimate in campers?

Or would you think UFOs have landed with extra-terrestrial life forms as neighbors if they camped next to you?

Details

Ecocapsule

Even though small in size, each Ecocapsule comfortably houses two adults. Its efficient spatial layout allows you to enjoy convenience of household facilities in off-grid conditions. Built-in kitchenette with running water, flushing toilet and hot shower are luxuries of a hotel room that are now also available in wilderness.

Despite its small form each Ecocapsule is fitted with all essentials necessary for a comfortable prolonged stay without a need to recharge or re-supply.

Live Off-grid In An Ecocapsule
Live Off-grid In An Ecocapsule

Ecocapsule fits into a standard shipping container and no special preparations and precautions are necessary to transport Ecocapsule worldwide. It can be shipped, airlifted, towed, or even pulled by a pack animal.

Website: www.ecocapsule.sk

Nice architects

Address: Páričkova 18, Bratislava,Slovensko

Phone: +421 (0) 904 672 530

Website: www.nicearchitects.sk

Worth Pondering…

The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.

—Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Must-ask Questions During RV Park Check-in

It’s the end of a long day of RV travel as you finally exit the Interstate and drive along the entrance road into your RV park destination.

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s a long sigh of relief as you anticipate a quick check-in process. You can already visualize settling into your site, hooking up the utilities, extending the slides, and kicking back and relaxing with a cool one.

But what happens when you walk into the office? Are you greeted warmly and treated in a friendly manner? Are the office staff approachable, friendly, and helpful?

The importance of first impression simply cannot be overstated. Once you’re all signed in, have your park map in hand, and headed to your site, you begin seeing this new and unfamiliar campground through either the lens of a good feeling, which tends to make everything look just a bit better; or through the more critical lens of a less-than-welcome feeling derived from the sign-in process. You will begin to see the park in either a more or less favorable light. But I digress.

Do you really want to whiz through check-in process paying mere lip service to the blah, blah, blah as the office staff attempts to give you pertinent information about your new designation and review the 19 or so rules.

During check-in the office staff will ask you the standard questions.

Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How many in your party?

Any pets?

Do you have a second vehicle?

Whether you are overnighting, camping for the weekend or an extended period of time, there are questions you must ask during the RV park check in process. Planning ahead and asking the right questions may save your life or the life of a family member.

In addition asking specific questions will ease the transition to your new campground and community.

What county am I in?

You need to know the county to be alert of dangerous weather. Watching the nightly news or weather channel does you no good if you don’t know where you are.

Port Lavaca RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Port Lavaca RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where is the closest hospital/emergency care?

A medical emergency requiring a hospital or medi-center can happen at any hour, day or night.

Do you have a storm shelter? If not, where is the nearest one?

This is especially important when traveling in the spring and early summer in Tornado Alley but something you should always know. You may need to drive to a local community center or fire department. Planning ahead can save your life.

In the event you travel with pets, you may wish to know the location and phone number of the nearest vet.

Now that you have the information you need to handle emergency/medical situations you hope never happen, there may be addition questions to ask.

Where is the nearest Walmart/major grocery store?

Where is the nearest pharmacy?

End of the day at Van Horne KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
End of the day at Van Horne KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you have laundry facilities? If not, where is the closest clean Laundromat? Unless your RV is equipped with a washer/dryer, you will probably need this service at some point.

Is there a local farmers market?

Can you recommend a local restaurant?

Taking several minutes to ask the right questions just might save your life or the life of a family member. Be safe out there!

Now go get settled in your site and relax a bit.

Useful Websites

What County Am I In?: www.whatcountyamiin.com

US Hospital Finder: www.ushospitalfinder.com

Tornado Central: www.weather.com/storms/tornado

Find a Laundry: www.findalaundry.org

Walmart Store Locator: www.mobile.walmart.com/location/find

Worth Pondering…

God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

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Most Popular US Campgrounds

Campgrounds and RV parks are great places to enjoy hiking, bikingboating, and other outdoor recreation activities during your leisure time.

Triple Blaze infographic of the most popular campground in each of the United States.
Triple Blaze infographic of the most popular campground in each of the United States.

The most popular campgrounds and RV parks in the United States and Canada are usually located in areas of natural beauty or popular attractions.

According to the bloggers at Triple Blaze these campgrounds are often located at or near national parks or state parks.

Based on reviews by campers the most popular campground in California is Yosemite National Park while Glacier National Park and Bandelier National Park are most popular for campers in Montana and New Mexico respectively.

Every year, America’s nearly 8,000 state parks see more than 720 million visitors—more than two-and-a-half times the number of all visits to national parks, which include marquee names such as Zion, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon.

State parks are number one in camping popularity in numerous states including:

  • Washington: Crow Butte State Park
  • Utah: Jordanelle State Park
  • Louisiana: Fontainebleau State Park
  • Georgia: Red Top Mountain State Park
  • South Carolina: Edisto Beach State Park
  • Indiana: Indian Lake State Park
  • Michigan: Ludington State Park
  • Iowa: Lake Mcbride State Park
  • Kansas: Ponoma State Park
  • Delaware: Delaware Seashore State Park
A+ Motel & RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping at A+ Motel & RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While these camping sites and other campgrounds listed in the Triple Blaze infographic are deemed by many campers as the most popular in their respective state, numerous other special RV parks and resorts are situated in some of the most attractive destinations in the US and Canada. These campgrounds with a view offer outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation including birdinghiking, biking, fishing, and boating.

Vogel Talks RVing selected the following top RV parks from parks personally visited.

Moab is known as Utah’s adventure capital, offering activities such as biking the Slickrock Trail, off-road routes, rafting down the Colorado River, and hiking to Delicate Arch, Utah’s famous icon. Enjoy the breathtaking natural surroundings of Moab at OK RV Park. The park provides easy access to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park. From scenic parks to adventure, Moab offers something for everyone.

A+ Motel & RV Park is centrally located in Cajun Country near Calcasieu “Big” Lake and other great fishing, hunting, and birding destinations and the Creole Nature Trail All American Road.

JGW RV Park, Redding, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
JGW RV Park, Redding, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Family-owned JGW RV Park welcomes RVers to enjoy its 32-acre facility nestled among the native black oak trees along the scenic Sacramento River. The park has a grassy, natural setting for viewing birds and wildlife and for strolling along the riverbank. You can also fish for steelhead, trout, and salmon.

A wonderland of scenic beauty and outdoor recreation, the Redding area offers unique experiences that include glistening lakes and world-class rivers to scenic drives and backcountry roads. Vibrant attractions include Lassen Volcanic National Park, Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta Lake, and the Sundial Bridge, a Redding icon.

Wake up to a breathtaking sunrise; wind up the day with a spectacular sunset at the Van Horn KOA, set in a beautiful desert valley surrounded by mountains. This country setting, landscaped with native plants that attract wildlife, is filled with the sounds of birds. Visit Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns national parks, Fort Davis and the town of Marfa, whose “Ghost Lights” have defied explanation since 1883. The full-service KOA Cafe can deliver a Texas dinner to your campsite.

Van Horn KOA, Van Horn, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Van Horn KOA, Van Horn, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enjoy the Old West in and around Angel Lake RV Park in Wells, Nevada. Some of the least known, pristine outdoor recreation areas in the West is all easily accessible. Deer, antelope, and other big game populate the surrounding back country. Anglers will find nearby lakes, reservoirs, creeks, and streams much to their liking. Angel Lake, tucked into the East Humboldt mountain range, is a particular favorite for its fish and striking 8,400 foot scenery.

Worth Pondering…

May all your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view……where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you.

—Edward Abbey

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Angel Fire RV Resort Now Open

Angel Fire Resort, located in the Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico, has opened its RV resort for its first summer season. The new state-of-the-art RV resort offers guests a scenic 35-acre location to camp and play.

Angel-fire-entrance-slider-960x360Some places start with RVs and call it a resort. Angel Fire started with the resort and added the RVs. The luxury resort, constructed on mountain meadowland at the foot of Carson National Forest, is now open with 102 RV spaces and will grow to offer 325 spaces in later phases.

The new RV resort includes a well-appointed private clubhouse, paved roads, fully concreted, over-sized spaces with easy pull-through access, and 30/50-amp electrical pedestals, DirecTV access, bathrooms, showers and laundry facilities, convenient Wi-Fi access and Jacuzzis, a putting green, horseshoes, a dog park and more.

With frontage access to U.S. Highway 64, the multi-million dollar resort will offer guests access to golf, fine dining, horseback riding, a zipline adventure tour, fishing and a mountain full of outdoor activities.

Additionally the resort is located on the Enchanted Circle and is in close proximity to world-class fishing in Cimarron Canyon and Eagle Nest State Park, guided hunting, and ATV trails. Guests also have access to Carson National Forest for biking and hiking.

The resort’s popular Bike Park, ranked No. 1 Bike Park in the Southwest for the second year in a row, has nearly double its trail access to more than 100 miles making it one of the largest bike parks in the North America. Additionally, the bike park is launching a new Global Gravity Season Pass—which allows season pass holders from any bike park in the world to purchase a single day pass for half price.

Entrace to Angel Fire RV Resort
Entrace to Angel Fire RV Resort

The resort will open a fully stocked fly fishing lake at the summit and offer fishing camps, lessons, and rental equipment. The resort is already home to New Mexico’s largest zipline tour, an 18-hole PGA championship golf course, and mountain lodge.

Continuing to build on its reputation as one of the largest world-class mountain biking destinations in the country, the Angel Fire Bike Park’s goal is to engage more beginners and intermediates to the sport and expand its cross-country trail network throughout the Angel Fire region and nearby Carson National Forest.

The park will also expand its new blue trail, Devinci’s Code, by two additional miles and will open to the public at the 5th annual Gravity Games and Bikes, Blues and Brews Festival, happening over Labor Day weekend. Rounding out the improvements for the park bike carriers have been added to the Chile Express chairlift for an easier transport to the summit.

A year in the making, the resort will officially open a fully stocked, fly fishing haven at the summit July 1. Summit Lake will be home to colorful Rainbow Trout and will host a series of fly fishing clinics, private lessons, and full rental equipment.

The resort is continuing to improve on its ever-popular Rocky Mountain Zipline Adventure Tour, which takes thrill-seekers through multiple zipline stages at the summit. The tour is the second highest elevation zipline tour in the United States and the largest in New Mexico.

Angel-Fire-ResortThe six-segment tour opened in 2012 and has been so popular that the resort is now adding additional early-morning tour times to give adrenaline seekers more opportunity to fly 200 feet high above the forest floor.

A zipline tour connects multiple ziplines of varying lengths and descents. The adventure begins with an introductory zipline of only 100 feet and works up to the Super Zipline, which carries guests on a 1,600-foot cable 200 feet above the forest floor.

Situated at 8,600 feet elevation, Angel Fire Resort’s high-altitude, 18-hole Championship golf is rated as one of the top five courses in New Mexico by Golf America, the course winds through two unspoiled canyons of aspen and spruce high up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Located at Olympic Park just south of the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort on Highway 434, the Angel Fire Resort Tennis Center includes six hard courts. Clinics, lessons, tournaments, and weekly play are available and start in June.

Details

AngelFireResortAngel Fire RV Resort

Some places start with RVs and call it a resort. Angel Fire is starting with the resort and adding the RVs.

Rates: $45 (May 1-June 30; October 18-December 10); $55 (July 1-October 17)

Pet Policy: Pet Friendly; Dog Park on site; 2 pets maximum on a 6-foot leash at all times: do not leave your pets unattended

Location: In Angel Fire, New Mexico in the Northeast corner of the state

Address: 10 Miller Lane, Angel Fire, NM 87710

Directions: From Taos, 24 miles east via US-64 & North Angel Fire Road

Phone: (844) 218-4107

Website: www.angelfireresort.com

Worth Pondering…

If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life.

—Georgia O’Keeffe

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