21 Tips for the Snowbird Asking, “Now What?”

Freedom is a wonderful thing. The kind of freedom offered by the snowbird lifestyle is the ultimate. What a life!

Mardi Gras parade

A Mardi Gras parade is a popular activity at many Sunbelt RV resorts. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

Home is where you park it. You’ve settled into your destination resort, your new home for the winter months. You’ve introduced yourselves to your neighbors and met several new friends.

You can choose to do nothing in particular and simply relax, socialize with your fellow snowbirds, and enjoy your winter home. Or you can opt for a more active lifestyle.

Following are 21 tips for the snowbird asking, “Now what?”

1. Many snowbird parks provide a wide variety of resort amenities and organized activities designed to keep their seasonal guests involved and active.

2. Computer rooms, game rooms with pool tables, tennis and shuffleboard courts, a pickle ball facility, and an arts and craft room frequented by quilters and sewing enthusiasts may be available at your snowbird park.

3. Check out the area’s visitor information center and local papers for current happenings, flea markets, arts and crafts classes and workshops, organized hikes, farmers markets, fairs and festivals, parades, and other events and happenings.

San Xavier del Bac

Explore the cultural history of the area. Pictured above San Xavier del Bac. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Take time to savor the local culture and learn about the area’s heritage and cuisine. Attend lectures and seminars, plays, musical performances, and dances.

5. Natural beauty abounds in most locations. Check out national, state, county, and regional parks, national wildlife refuges, national and state forests, scenic byways, nature parks and centers, aquariums, wildlife and zoological parks, and game reserves.

6. Explore the cultural history of the area by visiting museums, historical and archaeological sites, and other significant landmarks where important events took place.

7. Take tours of churches, cathedrals, antebellum mansions, architectural and heritage sites, and other locations of historical significance.

8. Check out activities and classes offered by the local parks and recreation department.

9. Absorb the local culture by attending sporting events.

10. A visit to the public library makes for an interesting rainy day activity.

11. Give back to your snowbird community by volunteering at one of the many nonprofit agencies in the area.

green jay

Take up bird watching. Many of the colorful birds found in Sunbelt regions are tropical species, reaching their northern range limits. The colorful green jay is usually seen in brushy areas and dense woods in the lower Rio Grande Valley.. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Keep a journal/blog with photos of your snowbird activities to share with family and friends.

13. Make a start on sorting and organizing your photos; don’t forget to back up all digital files in case of a computer crash.

14. Take up a new hobby or sign up for a class to hone your current skills.

15. Take up bird watching. Many of the colorful birds found in Sunbelt regions are tropical species, reaching their northern range limits.

16. RVing can be even more memorable when it’s shared with other snowbirds at an RV rally. There are several different types of RV rallies including Good Sam Club National and Chapter rallies, manufacturer club rallies, and club rallies for RVers of similar interests.

17. RV shows are also scheduled with snowbirds in mind. There is no better way to shop for a new RV or upgrade your current one than by attending an RV show, where numerous dealers and suppliers come together to show off their wares. You’ll have an opportunity to check out a wide-range of recreational vehicles in one location, often at special “show prices”.

18. Dining comes in all shapes and sizes in the various Sunbelt locations including slow-cooked barbecues through to fresh-out-of-the-water seafood, Mexican and Cuban cuisine, Southern Cooking, Cajun and Creole specialties, fast foods, and buffets. Senior specials are available.

19. Walking, hiking, and playing golf are great ways to stay physically fit and to meet new people.

Tamale Festival

Take advantage of a festival near your snowbird roost. Pictured above the Tamale Festival in Indio, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

20. Take advantage of some of the celebrations, parades, and other special activities held near your snowbird roost. Whether you’re a foodie or sports nut, you’ll find a seasonal festivals or fun-filled event that will highlight your stay.

21. Consider mapping your return journey home into segments of several weeks.

Even after six months “on the road” you may not be ready to start the northern trek home. But before long you’ll begin planning your return to the Sunbelt next winter.

Worth Pondering…

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:

“Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day…

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow…”

Happy snowbird travels!

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CrossRoads RV Delivers 30,000th Zinger/Z-1 Travel Trailer

Topeka, Indiana-based CrossRoads RV, a manufacturer of travel trailers and fifth wheel trailers recently surpassed a significant company milestone with the shipment of the 30,000th travel trailer produced by its Zinger/Z-1 division, a remarkable achievement since the division debuted in 2004.

Zinger-FrontPage2The Z-1 was delivered to Thompson Family RV in Davenport, Iowa in January.

“We are very excited to deliver number 30,000 to one of our top dealers in the country,” said Troy Nusbaum, product manager, in a company news release.

“Building this unit lets us all reflect on how far we’ve come as a manufacturer and how well we’ve done over the last several years,”

“All of us at Thompson Family RV L.C. are excited to receive CrossRoads 30,000th unit,” said Mark Thompson, president.

“We continue to enjoy growing with CrossRoads. We feel they build great quality products at very competitive prices. With all that, they stand behind us, the dealer after the sale. They, like us, focus on long-term win/win relationships.  Congratulations CrossRoads!”

Z-1-FrontPageDetails

CrossRoads RV, Inc.

CrossRoads RV, Inc. was established in 1996 in Topeka, Indiana where the company currently has five plant locations and employs over 400 people.

CrossRoads RV manufactures a full line of towable RV products including fifth wheels, travel trailers, ultra-light trailers, and destination trailers under the brand names of Carriage, Cameo, Rushmore, Cruiser Patriot/Provincial, Cruiser, Cruiser Sahara, Cruiser Aire, Zinger, Zinger SE, Z-1, Sunset Trail, Slingshot, Elevation, and Hampton.

CrossRoads RV factory tours are conducted Monday through Thursday at 1:30 p.m. To arrange a tour, please call (888) 226-7496.

CrossRoads RV, Inc. is a division of Thor Industries Inc.

Address: 1115 W Lake Street, Topeka, Indiana, 46571

Phone: (260) 593-3850 or (888) 226-7496 (toll free)

Website: www.crossroadsrv.com

2015 CrossRoads Zinger Z-1 302KB Rear Living Area

2015 CrossRoads Zinger Z-1 302KB Rear Living Area

Worth Pondering…

Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.

—Rudolph Flesch

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Half-Century Old Texas BBQ Legends

The popularity of Texas BBQ—primarily Texas-style smoked brisket—has launched a frenzy of new activity.

Prause Meat Market

For a real taste of Texas tradition, look no further than the wonderfully quirky Prause Meat Market right on one corner of the town square in La Grange. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New slow cook joints pop up with frequent regularity, and relatively new pitmasters are hailed as masters of the craft. Many deserve considerable attention and high praise, but let’s not lose sight of what came before, the historic barbecue joints that built the foundation of Texas barbecue many decades ago. The places that began operating a century ago, before barbecue gained its current popularity.

The average age of the celebrated barbecue joint is getting younger. In the statewide Top 50 barbecue list from the June 2013 issue of Texas Monthly, more than half of those listed—27—were opened this century. The average age was was just over 22 years old. In comparison, the oldest barbecue joint in Texas, Southside Market in Elgin, is 132 years old.

While age is not the only appropriate measuring stick for a barbecue joint, just staying open is something to laud.

The Texas Historical Commission has even created an award to help recognize these storied businesses. It’s called the Texas Treasure Business Award, and any business that has been open continuously for fifty years is eligible. I first noticed this award when I noticed it on display at Prause Meat Market in LaGrange.

Prause Meat Market

At Prause Meat Market I enjoyed a plate of brisket, sausage link, and their signature pork roll. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For a real taste of Texas tradition, look no further than the wonderfully quirky Prause Meat Market right on one corner of the town square in La Grange.

From the customer parking lot we walked through the back entrance, past the smoldering pits, and were relieved to find that they still had barbecue left for lunch, as they’ve been known to sell out quickly.

Established in 1904, this is one of the oldest BBQ joints in Texas, and one of the better ones. This historic joint is run by a fourth generation of Prauses who still operate a full-service meat market up front and offer smoked meats from the back.

This is a no-frills kind of place which serves amazing barbecue from its back room. Service is the old fashion way—you stand in line around the side of an old meat market counter that winds through the building to the door. Once you get to the front you tell the friendly folks what you want; they put it on a old time scale then calculate what you owe. You pay in cash as no credit cards are accepted.

Black's Barbecue

Lockhart, the official Barbecue Capital of Texas, is home to four major barbecue restaurants including award-winning Black’s Barbecue, which has been owned by the same family since 1932. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I get the feeling that the butcher shop is the main business and the BBQ was an afterthought which used to be true of most meat markets/BBQ pits in the distant past.

The taste is amazing. Smoke is the name of the game here, and the rub has a lot of pepper and salt and a great bark.

Everything is good so try it all from the brisket, to the sausage, to the pork—you can’t go wrong. I enjoyed a plate of brisket, sausage link, and their signature pork roll.

Fat has melded into a soft buttery smoky goodness that will leave you wanting more.

A sign near the door says “Seven days without meat makes one weak.” It’s one of many hilarious quips throughout this quirky market.

Numerous trophies hang on the wall. Signs with Texas wisdom also adorn the walls.

“We do not assemble sandwiches” to “My wife is like a bull… she charges everything” to my personal favorite “If a man is in the woods and no woman can hear him, would he still be wrong?”

New Braunfels Smokehouse (established 1952) is the only other barbecue joint with the Texas Treasure Business Award designation.

City Market

Barbecue fans head to downtown Luling to satisfy their craving for City Market’s succulent brisket, hot links, and pork ribs. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fifty-plus year old barbecue joints also deserving of recognition for their storied smoked meat history include:

  • Southside Market (established 1882) in Elgin
  • Kreuz Market (established 1900) in Lockhart
  • Black’s Barbecue (established 1932) in Lockhart
  • City Meat Market (established 1941) in Giddings
  • City Market (established 1957) in Luling
  • Gonzales Food Market (established 1958) in Gonzales
  • Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (established 1963) in Llano

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

You don’t need no teeth to eat my beef.

—from Legends of Texas BBQ

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Motorized & Towable RV Sales Soar in 2014

Sales of recreational vehicles in the United States hit a low point during the recession, bottoming out in the spring of 2009 with the bankruptcy of two large motorhome manufacturers—Fleetwood Enterprises and Monaco Coach.

2015 Keystone Montana 3791RD fifth wheel

2015 Keystone Montana 3791RD fifth wheel

Yet these days, RV sales have improved along with the economy. Lower priced towables with price tags that can start at around $10,000, led the recovery. Sales of the more expensive motorized RVs, including motor \homes that can have price tags well over $500,000, caught up later.

In North America sales were running over 300,000 units a year until 2008, according to report by Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI). In 2009, sales dropped to 206,000 units. By 2013, they went back to 303,000 units. So in four years it came back 47 percent from the bottom, which is very impressive as an economic indicator.

During that time, sales of towable RVs (including folding trailers, truck campers, and travel trailers) rose 46.4 percent while sales of the more expensive motorized motorhomes (Class A, B, and C) gained 51 percent from the 2009 low.

And in 2014 motorized and towable RV sales continued to soar.

December 2014 motorhome retail registrations increased 27.4 percent compared to the same period a year ago, driving year-end totals to a 16.4 percent increase.

2015 Tuscany XTE

2015 Tuscany XTE

Forest River Inc. was the sales leader for 2014 with a 24.8 percent market share, edging out No. 2 Thor Industries Inc. which captured a 24.2 percent share. Winnebago Industries Inc. was third with a 20.8 percent share, according to the latest report by SSI.

Sales in the Class A motorhome market grew 23.1 percent for the month while ending the year up 14.8 percent. Thor led the segment with a 23 percent market share followed by Winnebago (20 percent), Forest River (15.4 percent), and Tiffin Motorhomes Inc. (15.1 percent).

Class C motorhome registrations saw a 34.7 percent rise in December and posted an 18.3 percent gain for 2014. Forest River was the segment leader for the 12 months with a 35.7 percent market share, followed by Thor (25.6 percent), and Winnebago with 21.7 percent of the market.

Adding further evidence of a banner year for the RV industry, SSI reported that towable retail sales climbed 10.3 percent in 2014, spurred by a 24.4 percent increase during December. All segments showed year-over-year gains for the month.

Towable results by category showed:

Sales for the high-volume travel trailer sector shot up 30.5 percent for the month and 12.3 percent year-to-date.

Entegra Coach Introduces 2015 Cornerstone Class A in 3 Models

Entegra Coach Introduces 2015 Cornerstone Class A in 3 Models

Fifth-wheel registrations gained 12.9 percent in December and 7.1 percent for the 12 months.

Folding camping trailer sales were up 5.4 percent for the month but dipped 2.8 percent for the year.

Recreational park trailer sales gained 38.7 percent in December and 6.5 percent for the 12 months.

Forest River Inc. was the towable sales leader for 2014 with a 36.4 percent market share, edging out Thor Industries Inc. which captured a 36.1 percent share. Jayco Inc. was No. 3 with a 12.9 percent share.

By segment, Forest River was No. 1 in travel trailer sales for the year with a 37.4 percent market share, ahead of Thor (33.6 percent) and Jayco (14.4 percent).

Thor was No. 1 in fifth-wheel sales, capturing a 49.1 percent market share, followed by Forest River (30.4 percent), Jayco (8.9 percent) and Grand Design RV Co. (6.3 percent).

Forest River was the folding camping trailer sales leader for the full year with a 64 percent market share while Jayco (14.1 percent) held the No. 2 position followed by Columbia Northwest/Aliner Inc. (11.3 percent).

2015 Jayco Jay Series Sport exterior

2015 Jayco Jay Series Sport exterior

In the park model segment, Kropf Manufacturing Co. Inc. was No. 1 with a 15.1 percent share, followed by Skyline Corp. (12.7 percent) and Thor (10.8 percent).

Worth Pondering…

RVing is great no matter what the weather. If it’s pleasant outdoors, then you can hike, swim, fish, or just hang around camp and snooze on your lawn chair. If the weather is cold and dreary, or rainy, you can simply hole up inside your little house and be as comfy as can be.

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Oatman: Living Ghost Town, Gunfighters & Burros

Here is our plan: We’ll drive to a town that shouldn’t exist. We’ll travel a twisted ribbon of pavement along Historic Route 66.

Oatman: Living Ghost Town, Gunfighters & Burros © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Oatman: Living Ghost Town, Gunfighters & Burros © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Driving to the historic town of Oatman is a favorite Arizona road trip.

Once a gold-mining boomtown, Oatman hunkers in a craggy gulch of the Black Mountains, 28 miles southwest of Kingman. Rising above town is the jagged peak of white quartz known as Elephant’s Tooth.

Often described as a ghost town, Oatman comes close to fitting the category, considering that it once boasted nearly 20,000 people and now supports just a little over 100 people year-round.

Oatman has about 40 gift, antique, and craft shops, two Old Time Photo Shops, Judy’s Bar, assorted ghosts, and several places to eat and listen to live music.

Though Oatman is only a shadow of its former self, it is well worth a visit to this living ghost town that provides, not only a handful of historic buildings and photo opportunities, but costumed gunfighters and 1890s style ladies strolling the wooden sidewalks, as well as the sights of burros walking the streets.

The burg’s most famous residents are its four-legged ambassadors. Burros from the surrounding hills wander into Oatman daily and mosey around town blocking traffic, greeting visitors, and chomping carrots sold by the shop owners.

Oatman: Living Ghost Town, Gunfighters & Burros © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Oatman: Living Ghost Town, Gunfighters & Burros © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No matter how tame they seem, the burros are wild animals. Use caution and common sense when feeding them. Do not feed junk food to the burros. Also, it’s best to leave Rover at home. Many burros consider the family pooch nothing more than a coyote with connections.

The burros are descendants of animals used by miners and abandoned when the ore played out.

Oatman owes its place in history to two miners who struck it rich in 1915, uncovering more than $10 million in gold. A tent city soon sprang up as other miners heard of the gold find and flocked to the area; within a year, the town’s population grew to more than 3,500.

By 1930, it was estimated that 36 million dollars worth of gold had come from the mines. The town boasted two banks, seven hotels, twenty saloons, and ten stores.

The town’s name is attributed to Olive Oatman, a young girl kidnapped by Indians and eventually rescued and returned to her family.

More modern events add to the allure of the tiny town, the most famous of which is a visit by Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, who spent their honeymoon in the Oatman Hotel in 1939. The well-used building, listed on the National Historic Building Registry, continues to attract visitors today.

Oatman: Living Ghost Town, Gunfighters & Burros © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Oatman: Living Ghost Town, Gunfighters & Burros © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you notice folks clustering in the street without a ravenous burro in sight, it signals an impending gunfight. Gunfighter groups stage shootouts at various times throughout the day.

When the mines shuttered, the stream of traffic along Route 66, the main route from the Midwest to California, kept Oatman alive.

Then in 1952, Interstate 40 was constructed from Kingman, Arizona to Needles, California, bypassing this stretch of mountains. Oatman barely hung on.

In the 70s, Laughlin, Nevada started up; and in the late 80s, Route 66 became a popular destination for tourists from around the world.

Today, a half-million people visit this historic outpost each year. Not bad for an old ghost town off the beaten path. The town  just waited for the world to come back around.

Folks start to roll out of town in late afternoon. Even the burros clock out and mosey back into the hills.

Oatman is a day trip full of surprises—of ghost towns and ghost roads, and wild burros. And one of the most scenic drives in the state.

Oatman: Living Ghost Town, Gunfighters & Burros © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Oatman: Living Ghost Town, Gunfighters & Burros © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now that’s something to bray about.

Worth Pondering…

So many ghosts upon the road,
My eyes I swear are playing tricks;
And a voice I hear, it’s Tom Joad,
Near Oatman on Route 66.

—Dave MacLennan

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CrossRoads RV Reintroduces Carriage & Cameo Fifth Wheels

Topeka, Indiana-based CrossRoads RV, a manufacturer of fifth wheels and travel trailers, reintroduced the Carriage and Cameo fifth wheel trailers at the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa last month. They also presented the 2015 line of Rushmore fifth wheels.

2015 CameoThe Cameo will reach out to a rapidly growing market segment in this industry, the introduction into luxury fifth wheel camping, according to a company news release.

“We were thrilled with the feedback and support from the past, present, and prospective customers at the show,” said Rudy Boals, CrossRoads national sales manager.

“Whenever you can go into a show like that with new product and be a top seller it really says something.”

Cameo products will range from small to large bunkhouses with outside kitchens as well as extended stay floor plans with front and rear living rooms.

“With an emphasis on quality, uniqueness, and convenience, we have carefully priced the Cameo, to enable our dealers to bring as many customers to the family as possible,” stated Boals.

The 2015 Cameo is available in four floor plans:

  • CM34RL (Exterior Length: 35 feet 3 inches: GVWR: 16,000 pounds)
  • CM36MK (Exterior Length: 38 feet 1 inch; GVWR: 16,000 pounds)
  • CM39FL (External Length: 40 feet 8 inches; GVWR: 16,000 pounds)
  • CM39BH (TBD)
2015 Cameo 36MK floor plan

2015 Cameo 36MK floor plan

The Carriage and Rushmore cater to the needs of high-end residential-style living, with innovative and original master suite designs, complete with one-and two-year residential warranties.

The Carriage with full-body paint, 55-inch TVs and Class A motorhome features will be the pinnacle on a customer’s fifth wheel journey, according to the release.

The 2015 Carriage is available is three floor plans:

  • CG40RE (Exterior Length: 39 feet 3 inches; GVWR: 16,500 pounds)
  • CG40RL (Exterior Length: 39 feet 3 inches; GVWR: 16,500 pounds)
  • CG38SB (TBD)

2015 Carriage2015 Carriage standard features include:

  • 40,000 BTU Furnace
  • 30,000 BTU A/C w/Quiet Residential Return
  • 55-inch LG LED HD TV in Living Room
  • 39-inch LG LED HD TV in Bedroom
  • 16 cubic foot Residential Refrigerator w/800-watt Inverter
  • 22-inch Deluxe Bakers Oven
  • 30 OTR Microwave w/Exhaust Fan
  • Large Residential Pantry w/Coffee and Toast Station
  • 12-gallon Gas/Electric DSI Water Heater
  • 60-inch x 80-inch iCool Memory Foam Mattress
  • An upgraded Full Time Resort Package is available.

The Rushmore will have a unique and industry exclusive front windshield that opens up a floor plan like no other, the release continued.

Details

CrossRoads RV, Inc.

CrossRoads RV, Inc. was established in 1996 in Topeka, Indiana where the company currently has five plant locations and employs over 400 people.

CrossRoads RV manufactures a full line of towable RV products including fifth wheels, travel trailers, ultra-light trailers, and destination trailers under the brand names of Carriage, Cameo, Rushmore, Cruiser Patriot/Provincial, Cruiser, Cruiser Sahara, Cruiser Aire, Zinger, Zinger SE, Z-1, Sunset Trail, Slingshot, Elevation, and Hampton.

2015 Cameo 36MK floor plan

2015 Cameo 36MK floor plan

CrossRoads RV factory tours are conducted Monday through Thursday at 1:30 p.m. To arrange a tour, please call (888) 226-7496.

CrossRoads RV, Inc. is a division of Thor Industries Inc.

Address: 1115 W Lake Street, Topeka, Indiana, 46571

Phone: (260) 593-3850 or (888) 226-7496 (toll free)

Website: www.crossroadsrv.com

Worth Pondering…

Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.

—Rudolph Flesch

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Winnebago Brave & Tribute Awarded RV of the Year

Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries new retro-styled Brave and Tribute have been awarded RV Business magazine’s 2015 RV of the Year.

Winnebago Brave & Tribute Awarded RV of the Year

Winnebago Brave & Tribute Awarded RV of the Year

“I can’t think of a higher compliment than receiving this prestigious award from RV Business magazine,” said Winnebago’s Class A Gas Product Manager John Millis, in a company news release.

“We worked extremely hard as a team at Winnebago to ensure that we were both paying tribute to the fabulous design of our original motorhomes, as well as putting a lot of thought into making the Brave and Tribute a modern motorhome. That meant not only including all the features you would expect in today’s motorhomes, but also thinking outside the box to deliver features that were totally unique to the marketplace, such as the sofa in the 26A model that converts to not only a bed, but also a table, or it can fold completely out of the way against the wall for additional storage space.”

“We felt it was important to recognize authentically original thinking on this kind of a scale because Winnebago has boldly stepped into a place in terms of marketing and product design that no motorhome manufacturer has gone before,” said RVBusiness Editor Bruce Hampson. “The Brave/Tribute is a highly appealing and marketable new coach that will likely gain major traction among North American consumers before all is said and done.”

Winnebago Brave & Tribute Awarded RV of the Year

Winnebago Brave & Tribute Awarded RV of the Year

The RVBusiness article that announced the award quotes Bob Livingston, senior vice president and group publisher of Good Sam Enterprises, who recently tested a prototype 26-footer for MotorHome magazine.

“Livingston found that people off the street were following him into gas stations to get a better look at what they thought was a renovated vintage 1967 Winnebago Brave. In fact, Livingston says he never had more fun testing a unit than he did with that prototype Brave, which is only one of several reasons why RVBusiness has named this truly novel retro Winnebago Brave/Tribute motorhome RVBusiness’ “RV of the Year.”

The price-sensitive coach, retailing for $96,599 to $121,379, is available in three 26 to 31-foot floor plans on a 362-hp, V-10-powered Ford chassis.

Winnebago Brave

The new Winnebago Brave breathes new life into the legendary design, giving you the opportunity to relive your childhood memories with the next generation of young motorhome enthusiasts.

Beyond appearance, the new Brave is loaded with today’s best features and offered in two versatile floor plans fit for weekend getaways or extended trips.

Winnebago Brave & Tribute Awarded RV of the Year

Winnebago Brave & Tribute Awarded RV of the Year

While you won’t find one for the $4,000 price of the original, it is priced to fit within a growing family’s budget. Stand out. Be brave. The new Winnebago Brave.

Itasca Tribute

The Itasca Tribute took its trailblazing heritage with a fresh take on this iconic design. It is a look that conjures up the youthful enthusiasm you had when you first experienced the motorhome lifestyle, and it is an opportunity to share the lifestyle with a family of your own.

While the look brings you back, the amenities will keep you moving forward in comfort for years to come. With two versatile floor plans, exciting color schemes, and a price to fit the budget of a young, traveling family, the Tribute is testament to both our rich history and your proud future in the motorhome lifestyle.

Details

Winnebago Industries, Inc

Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries, Inc., “The Most Recognized Name In Motor Homes”, is a leading U.S. manufacturer of recreation vehicles, which are used primarily in leisure travel and outdoor recreation activities.

The Company builds quality motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth wheel products under the Winnebago, Itasca, Era, SunnyBrook, and Metro brand names.

Winnebago Brave & Tribute Awarded RV of the Year

Winnebago Brave & Tribute Awarded RV of the Year

Winnebago Industries has received the Quality Circle Award from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association every year since the award’s inception in 1996.

Postal Address: P.O. Box 152, Forest City, IA 50436

Street Address: 605 West Crystal Lake Road, Forest City, IA 50436

Phone: (641) 585-3535

Winnebago Website: gowinnebago.com

Itasca Website: goitasca.com

goLife Website: www.winnebagolife.com

Worth Pondering…

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

—Aristotle

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Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

Nestled in the scenic hills of Desert Hot Springs, a Hopi-inspired pueblo sits against a hillside. Not just any pueblo, but one built with natural materials collected throughout the desert.

Cabot's Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When homesteader Yerxa Cabot settled in Desert Hot Springs, he used re-purposed materials and a little ingenuity to build a home so unique it remains a preserved museum to this day.

While the structure’s architecture is a unique sight to behold, there’s more to see here than Cabot’s Hopi-style pueblo. Inside, the house has been turned into a museum with rooms filled with Indian artifacts, artwork, and memorabilia. One not to be missed artifact is Waokiye, a 43-foot sculpture of a Native American head. Waokiye is one of 74 heads in the “Trail of the Whispering Giants” collection.

Cabot’s pueblo spreads an impressive 5,000 square feet, divided into 35 rooms and adorned with 150 windows and 65 doors. What a sight it is to see!

Cabot the Man

Cabot Yerxa was an incredible man often described as a visionary, artist, writer, builder, architect, adventurer, explorer, collector, idealist, and entrepreneur. He was a human rights activist concerned about the legal, economic, and cultural crisis for Native Americans. Cabot was a highly degreed Mason. Masons believe in independent thinking and self-actualization. Cabot was also the president and founder of the Theosophical Society in 1946-47 in Desert Hot Springs.

Cabot's Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before settling in the California desert, Cabot Yerxa led an adventurous life, traveling to Mexico, Alaska, Cuba, and Europe. In Paris, France he studied at the Academie Julian art school.

In 1913 (at age 30) Cabot homesteaded 160 acres in what is now Desert Hot Springs. Pressed for water, he dug a well with pick and shovel, discovering the now famous hot mineral waters of Desert Hot Springs. Nearby, he dug a second well and discovered the pure cold water of the Mission Springs Aquifer. These two wells, hot and cold, give the area its name—Miracle Hill.

Cabot began construction on his pueblo-style home in 1941 and worked on it until his death in 1965 at the age of 81.

The Pueblo

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Cabot Yerxa started building his Museum and home in about 1941 at the age of 57, although collecting the materials he needed to build the Pueblo started years before.

Cabot's Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Hopi-inspired structure is hand-made, created from reclaimed and found materials. Cabot was inspired as a young boy when he first saw a replica of a Southwest Indian pueblo at the Chicago World’s Fair. Much of the material used to build the Pueblo was from abandoned cabins that had housed the men who built the California aqueduct in the 1930s. Cabot purchased these cabins and deconstructed them to build his Pueblo.

The Pueblo is four-stories, 5,000 square feet and includes 35 rooms, 150 windows, and 65 doors. Much of the Pueblo is made from adobe-style and sun-dried brick Cabot made himself in the courtyard. Cabot modified his formula and used a cup of cement rather than straw to make his bricks.

Waokiye

Waokiye (Y-oh-kee-ay), means “Traditional Helper” in the Lakota Sioux language.

Created by artist Peter “Wolf” Toth, Waokiye was completed in May 1978. At the dedication ceremony on May 20, 1978 Toth simply said, “The American Indian is a proud and often misunderstood people…even as a young boy I had admiration for my Indian brothers and perhaps this monument, and all the others, will bring awareness of a proud and great people.”

Cabot's Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Toth was an immigrant to the United States from Hungary. His family fled from the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. In learning about the Native American culture, he empathized with the tribes’ situation. He saw parallels to the violent repression of the Magyar people he experienced in Hungary.

Toth started his project, The Trail of Whispering Giants, to highlight the struggle of the American Indians for justice and recognition of their human rights. Waokiye is 27th in the series. The series has over 70 statues remaining throughout the United States, Canada, and Hungary. They represent all humanity and stand against injustice to all people. This philosophy is a mirror of Cabot Yerxa’s 50-year commitment as an American Indian Rights activist.

Tours

Guided tours are available October 1 to May 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are limited to 12 people.

Details

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

Cabot's Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Season Schedule: October 1-May 31

Guided Tours: $11; seniors, active military, children ages 6-12, $9
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Address: 67616 E. Desert View Avenue, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
Phone: (760) 329-7610

Website: www.cabotsmuseum.org

Worth Pondering…

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

—Arthur Ashe

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Lance Awarded Truck Camper of The Year

Lancaster, California-based Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. 1052 Truck Camper has been awarded Truck Camper Magazine’s the Truck Camper of The Year for 2014.

2015 Lance 1052 truck camper

2015 Lance 1052 truck camper

“This is a huge accomplishment for Lance and especially the product development team led by Randy Hunter,” said Bob Rogers, director of marketing.

“Quite simply, Truck Camper Magazine is the go-to resource for the truck camper customer and to be selected as the best among all the eligible choices by this very educated and passionate group, is indeed an honor.”

The 1052 was introduced early in 2014 and has been an increasingly popular model for Lance ever since.

The 1052’s huge double super slides, combine to create an open living space that will have you inviting all your friends over.

The 1052 also boasts the very popular dry bath layout, loads of extra large storage compartments, and an all new entertainment center with room for a 24-inch flat screen, allowing easy viewing from anywhere in the camper.

With the 1052, Lance also introduces the all new ultraDECKplus, an optional bumper that has redefined what is possible in bumper design and functionality with a large extendable deck area, three additional storage compartments, and an additional 2-inch receiver that accepts all popular sport racks and accessories.

2015 Lance 1052 truck camper

2015 Lance 1052 truck camper

“When I saw the first 1052 and then took it camping, I knew we had a winner on our hands. Everyone is amazed at the interior room provided by the double slides, the gigantic galley, the dry bath and huge U-shaped dinette,” added Rogers.

“On top of that, when you add the lengthy list of standard equipment including all-season dual pane windows, blue tooth compatible audio system and the optional ultraDECKplus bumper and multi-sport roof rack system, you have one awesome, very functional camper.”

Also noteworthy, Lance’s latest model, the new 995 Truck Camper took third place in the Truck Camper of the Year category and Lance’s ultraDECKplus bumper, designed in partnership with Torklift International, took home second place in the Innovation of The Year category of this year’s readers choice awards.

2015 Lance 1052 truck camper

2015 Lance 1052 truck camper

Lance 1052 truck camper specifications include:

  • Floor Length: 10 feet 11 inches
  • Overall Length: 19 feet 11 inches
  • Exterior Width: 96 inches
  • Exterior Height: 9 feet 5 inches
  • Interior Height: 6 feet 9 inches
  • Dry Weight w/Standard Equipment: 3,409 pounds
  • Wet Weight w/Standard Equipment: 3,928 pounds
  • Fresh Water Tank Capacity: 49 gallons
  • Grey Water Tank Capacity: 27 gallons
  • Black Water Tank Capacity: 22 gallons
  • Refrigerator: 6 cubic feet
  • Propane: 2-5 gallon tanks
  • Furnace: 20,000 BTU
  • Sleeps: 5
2015 Lance 1052 truck camper

2015 Lance 1052 truck camper

Details

Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp.

Lancaster, California-based Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. has been one of the largest and leading manufacturers of truck campers in North America since the company was founded in 1965.

Their line of ultra-light travel trailers is one of the fastest-growing RV lines in the American West.

Specializing in the design and construction of high-quality RVs, Lance’s recent ten-year win of the RVDA’s prestigious and coveted DSI (Dealer Satisfaction Index) Quality Circle Award is a direct reflection of this quality in both their products and the service provided to Lance dealers and consumers these past 47 years.

Lance manufactures from a state-of-the-art production facility—a 141,000 square foot, 22-acre campus.

Factory tours are by appointment only on Wednesday mornings during production cycles.

Address: 43120 Venture Street Lancaster, CA 93535-4510

Phone: (661) 949-3322

Website: www.lancecamper.com

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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Birding in South Texas

Not fitting the stereotype of the avid birdwatcher who travels to the most exotic corners of the globe, many RVers simply want to be where the birds are.

A few of the hundreds of black-bellied whistling ducks that make their home in the Mission area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A few of the hundreds of black-bellied whistling ducks that make their home in the Mission area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not wearing the latest outdoor gear, carrying the biggest scopes, peering through the most expensive binoculars, and checking another bird off the official life list, we carry our mid-priced super-zoom cameras and take great pleasure in seeing the beautiful creatures that fill the air with music and the skies with color.

That’s what draws us and many other snowbirds to South Texas.

Located at the southern tip of Texas, the Rio Grande Valley hosts one of the most spectacular convergences of birds on earth. Well over 500 species have been spotted in this ecowonderland, including several that can be found only in this southernmost part of the U.S. Each year, birders come to The Valley to see bird species they can’t find anyplace else in the country—from the green jay, black-bellied whistling ducks (pictured above), and the buff-bellied hummingbird to the great kiskadee (pictured below), roseate spoonbill, and the Altamira oriole.

The Great Kiskadee has a bright yellow belly and looks a little like a kingbird on steroids but with it’s bold black and white striped head, and reddish brown upperparts it is stands out from other species. It is also large (almost 10 inches in length) and loud, repeatedly calling out its name. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Great Kiskadee has a bright yellow belly and looks a little like a kingbird on steroids but with it’s bold black and white striped head, and reddish brown upperparts it is stands out from other species. It is also large (almost 10 inches in length) and loud, repeatedly calling out its name. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After all, The Valley offers not just one but a total of nine World Birding Centers, and it’s located at the convergence of two major flyways, the Central and Mississippi.

Often referred to as The Texas Tropics, this area is very popular, too, with snowbirds from the Midwest and Central Canada. However, these winter tourists are not simply referred to as snowbirds but affectionately dubbed Winter Texans. After all, these birdwatchers and winter visitors are very important to the area’s economy, so they are, indeed, welcomed.

Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, just south of Mission, is not only Texas’ southernmost state park, but since October 2005, the headquarters of the World Birding Center.

The 760-acre park draws visitors from as far away as Europe and Japan hoping to spot some of the more than 325 species of birds and over 250 species of butterflies, many of them from neighboring Mexico and Central America.

green jay

The colorful green jay is usually seen in brushy areas and dense woods in the lower Rio Grande Valley.. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cars are not allowed in the park but a trolley makes regular pick-ups along the 7 mile paved loop allowing birders to hitch a ride from one feeding station to the next. It’s a quiet, beautiful, place and it is filled with birds.

As the trolley rounds the bend into the park visitors are frequently greeted by a sizable flock of the loud and raucous plain chachalaca, a brown, chicken-like species that’s found only in this part of the country.

To assist the casual birder Bentsen offers a series of bird blinds strategically placed near various feeding stations. The hut made of horizontally-placed wood slats is reached by a ramp so it is accessible to those with disabilities.

Inside the blind the wood slats can be folded down to form a platform for cameras so a tripod isn’t necessary to keep the camera steady. All you need to do is sit and watch the show as the birds keep coming to feed. We sat on a bench in the blind, peered through the opening and pressed the shutter repeatedly without disturbing the birds.

Yellow-breasted great kiskadees swooped down in front of us and drank from the small pool of water. This flycatcher has black and white stripes on its crown and sides, appears to be a kind of cross between a kingfisher and a meadowlark, and attracts attention by its incessant “kis-ka-dee” calls.

Green jays (pictured above) postured and fluttered at the feeders. This beautiful bird is, indeed, green-breasted (unlike our blue jay), with green wings, but there’s also some white, yellow, and blue plumage. This bird’s flashy coloring, boisterous nature, dry, throaty rattle, and frequent “cheh-chehcheh-cheh” call make it very easy to spot.

common pauraque

A widespread nightjar throughout the Americas, the Common Paraque reaches the United States only in the Rio Grande Valley. Its call is a loud burry whistle, “purr-WEEE-eer.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A golden-fronted woodpecker fed at the peanut butter log. Barred with black and white above and buff below, the male has red restricted to the cap; nape orange; forecrown yellow; the female lacks red but has an orange nape. Its voice is a loud churrrr; the call a burry chuck-chuck-chuck.

Another World Birding Center located in McAllen, is at Quinta Mazatlan, a historic 1930s Spanish Revival adobe hacienda that’s surrounded by 15 acres of lush tropical landscape and several birding trails.

Estero Llano Grande in Weslaco attracts a spectacular array of South Texas wildlife with its varied landscape of shallow lakes, woodlands, and thorn forest. Commonly seen species include the great kiskadee, Altamira oriole, green jay, groove-billed ani, tropical parula, common pauraques (pictured above), green kingfishers, grebes, black-bellied whistling ducks, and an assortment of wading birds like the great blue heron, and roseate spoonbill.

The warm winter climate and the awesome bird watching attract Winter Texans to The Valley and keep them returning year after year. We’ll be back, Hope to see you there.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Winter Texan is Better Than No Texan

Posted in Birding, RV Lifestyle, Snowbird, State Parks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment