Road Trip Nation: On The Road To Adventure

Summer has finally arrived, which means it’s time to hit the road in search of adventure.

Hyannis, Massachusetts © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Hyannis, Massachusetts © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So get out there and make some memories as you travel this beautiful country of ours.

But before you go, there’s the planning. Don’t just hit the road. Choose right.

The road trip is one of North America’s grand traditions—a chance to travel and see things from ground level. And with thoughtful planning you’ll avoid the “are we there yet” blues often associated with family vacations.

Where to road trip? Here are four road trips that will awaken your senses and make you glad to be “on the road again…”

Highway 6, Cape Cod, Massachusetts 

Cape Cod is an arm-shaped peninsula located on the Easternmost portion of Massachusetts. It is a well-traveled tourist and vacation area, featuring miles and miles of beaches, natural attractions, historic sites, art galleries, restaurants, and a variety of campgrounds and RV parks.

Scenic Byway 12 travels through some of the most diverse, remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Scenic Byway 12 travels through some of the most diverse, remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Allocate some time to explore this charming 117-mile route that wends through Cape Cod. You will go through forests, past saltbox homes in colonial villages, tidal ponds, and eventually end up at the Provincetown harbor. Don’t miss the towering sand dunes and beaches.

Along the route you can enjoy a bike ride along the sandy shores or bask in the sun before finishing the day munching on a plate of delectable, fresh seafood. But be prepared to spend a lot of time on stops in quaint Cape Cod towns like Hyannis, Easton, Wellfleet, Truro. You will have good chowder. See sand dunes. Drink some craft beer. Hear the slapping Atlantic Ocean. Maybe buy some antiques. This is Americana.

Word of advice: stick with weekdays.

Scenic Byway 12, Utah

Highway 12 is one of the most scenic highways in America, receiving the designation of All American Road in 2002. The highway has two National Parks, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, at each end and many other scenic points in between.

The route goes for 124 miles at significant elevations (9,000 feet) through forested mountains to the amazing bald mountains in Boulder. From there the road begins following a narrow ridge along the red canyons of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

The Green-backed Heron, the smallest Florida heron, is found along the Tamiami Trail. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Green-backed Heron, the smallest Florida heron, is found along the Tamiami Trail. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Around each bend, there are surprises: eroded towers and ramparts, dense forests of aspen and fir, pinyon and sagebrush, rolling slickrock, variegated buttes and mesas, snaking canyons, and rock walls varnished with mineral stains.

Part of the challenge of a road trip on Scenic Byway 12 is deciding which of several beautiful side trips to take: Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Calf Creek Falls, Burr Trail, and Capitol Reef National Park.

Tamiami Trail, Florida

Take a scenic road trip through the Sunshine State, enjoying a route that connects historical Florida with its modern counterpart. A National Scenic Byway, the Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41/State Road 90) is 264 miles of warm sunlight, salty breezes, and lush vegetation. The highway is described as the Beauty and the Beast of Florida roadways by the St. Petersburg Times, winding its way through the Florida Everglades, hammock oaks, and sandy pines.

Passing through Ruskin, Bradenton, Sarasota, Fort Myers, and Naples, the Tamiami Trail connects Tampa to Miami. It forms a portion of the northern boundary of Everglades National Park and provides access to Shark Valley Slough and observation tower. The road is the only way to access the Big Cypress National Preserve Visitor Center and Headquarters.

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Now, let’s go RVing to the beautiful Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Osoyoos? Okanagan? Oh, and how do you pronounce that again?

The northern most point of the Sonora Desert is British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley.

Located in the southern interior, the Okanagan is characterized by a dry, sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, and a series of lakes. The mountains are lined with ponderosa pine, which give way to cacti, tumbleweeds, and fragrant sage brush. An ever-changing panorama, the valley stretches over 150 miles from Osoyoos in the south to Vernon in the north.

If you’re not familiar with this pocket of British Columbia, then think, peaches and beaches, wine-tasting, foodie-filled, great outdoor experience and fun in this, Canada’s only desert.

The pairing of some stellar Okanagan Valley wines is all part of the experience.

And that’s the beauty of the Okanagan Valley region, and Osoyoos in particular. Grapes grow alongside desert-like dunes; low-lying golf course greens huddle between mountain peaks.

Worth Pondering…

Free again! All it takes is a clean windshield and a full tank of gas, and you feel a terrible craving to be “on the road again”. Let’s see what’s over the next hill complex. Is that Willie Nelson singing. For real, there’s the music of this friendly engine pushing you along with the lyrics of the road.

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Deer Tick Infestation closes Massachusetts Campsites

The busy summer season is over, and usually by this time the officials at Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod close one of their seven camping areas, but this year they are closing three of their campsites.

Diagram of the relative sizes of tick species at various life stages. (Credit: tbdalliance.org)

Instead of a lack of campers, it’s an infestation of Deer Ticks which is the reason. These pests are the carriers of Lyme disease.

Department of Conservation and Recreation officials note while they closed the three campsites that were closest to the problem areas, people can camp in other parts of the state park, they just need to dress appropriately and check each other for ticks when they leave, reports WBUR in a special series, “Living with Lyme.”

It’s a concern that swept this state park after nymph and larvae-stage ticks were found here this summer.

“What people were finding at Nickerson is, they’re finding like hundreds of these larvae on their little kids,” Cape’s Deer Tick Program Coordinator Larry Dapsis told NECN.

Dapsis said there were several factors that made this season worse than a typical year.
“There were so many days above freezing last winter the ticks had many, many opportunities to get a blood meal and lay eggs and so we have probably had a ‘kagillion’ more eggs than normal that were laid and are hatching out now.”

A small acorn crop last fall meant the tick’s favorite meal, mice, weren’t out as often feeding in the woods, Dapsis added.

Stages of the life cycle of a deer tick. (Credit: canlyme.com)

“So with fewer mice that meant the ticks were out there for a longer period of time so it increased the probability that they were going to encounter an alternate host like a person.”

“A disease like Lyme disease, the transmission is not immediate, it takes at least 24-48 hours of attachment before the risk of getting the transmission goes up considerably.”

DCR officials say they moved anyone who was supposed to be camping in any one of the three affected campsites and they gave refunds to any campers who didn’t want to move.

“It’s an unavoidable risk in this area,” Kevin McNamara told NECN.

Kevin and Lisa McNamara live right next to Nickerson State Park in Brewster, Massachusetts. They say they know the deer ticks have been prevalent this year and they understand the state’s decision to shut down nearly half of the park’s campsites to try to protect people from tick-born illnesses.

Lisa McMamara said, “Actually I think it was wise, just having a son who was so ill with Lyme disease.”

She says the symptoms were devastating. “Oh my gosh, high fever, aches, I mean literally couldn’t get out of bed.”

Trust Your Instincts and Protect Yourself (Courtesy of Time For Lyme, Inc., affiliate of Lyme Disease Association, Inc, Greenwich, Connecticut.)

Protect yourself. Check yourself, family members, and pets for ticks daily. Remember that ticks are carried by deer, mice, birds and other small animals. Nymphal ticks are the size of a poppy seed in early spring and are particularly hard to find. They are active above 35 degrees. You can be reinfected repeatedly each time you are bitten by a tick.

Observe. A person infected with Lyme disease can exhibit symptoms within days of exposure, but symptoms may appear weeks, months, or even years after the bite.

Treatable. Lyme disease in its initial stage is often easily treatable; however, delayed diagnosis or inadequate treatment can lead to serious brain, heart, or joint problems.

To remove, grasp the tick with fine-tipped tweezers and pull upward with steady, even pressure. (Credit: cdc.gov)

Examine/evaluate. Early symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, numbness, tingling, fatigue, swollen glands, and migratory pains that may come and go. Late stage symptoms are generally multi-systemic and can be very serious.

Co-infection. A single tick bite can transmit more than 1 tick-borne illness, such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, or tulermia.

Youngsters. Children ages 5-12 are at the highest risk for being bitten by ticks because they often play in tick habitats. Children often find it difficult to explain the subtleties of how they are feeling, and may often appear well and remain physically active.

Obvious. A person may have Lyme disease without presenting the most obvious and “classic” symptoms such as bull’s eye rash, flu, joint pain, or swelling.

Understand. There are over 100 strains of Lyme disease in the United States; therefore, length and choice of antibiotic treatment vary greatly. Standard treatment of 2-3 weeks may be insufficient.

Recurring. Many people who suffer from Lyme disease experience symptoms that come and go over time.

Symptoms. The symptoms of Lyme disease, (also known as the Great Imitator) may mimic those of multiple sclerosis, lupus, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, mononucleosis, Alzheimers, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson ’s disease, ADD, or ADHD, GERD, or many other diseases.

Lyme disease can affect behavioral and cognitive functioning. Memory loss, attention deficit and processing problems, mental confusion, slurred speech, disorientation, irritability, depression, anxiety, and learning problems have all been reported as a result of Lyme disease.

Worth Pondering…

What people were finding at Nickerson is, they’re finding like hundreds of these larvae on their little kids.

— Larry Dapsis, Cape’s Deer Tick Program Coordinator

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50 Spectacular RV Trips

You might have read it or flipped through it or seen it on a shelf and thought, “I should pick that up.”

A Blue Ridge Parkway experience is unlike any other, a slow-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A Blue Ridge Parkway experience is unlike any other, a slow-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s the national bestseller, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.”

Sometimes the best adventures are those in your own backyard.

Here, in alphabetical order, are 50 things to do or see in your RV before you die:

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina & Virginia

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road noted for its scenic beauty.

Meandering 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, the Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountains and boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. It runs through the famous Blue Ridge Mountains, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Brenham Creamery Company, Texas

Blue Bell ice cream is an icon in Texas. I consider ice cream to be a food group—and there’s no better ice cream available than Blue Bell.

In 1907, the Brenham Creamery Company opened its doors to sell butter. By 1911, they had put together milk, cream, eggs, and fruit fresh from local farmers and were making a gallon or two of ice cream daily, packing it in a large wooden tub with ice and salt, and delivering it by horse and wagon to neighbors. By 1930, Blue Bell Creameries had been born, and today their ice cream is a true Texas favorite.

What makes an exceptionally good thing good? For the answer, visit “the little creamery” in Brenham—I think you’ll find out.

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Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon's limestone has eroded into rock fins and spectacularly-shaped spires called hoodoos. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Bryce Canyon’s limestone has eroded into rock fins and spectacularly-shaped spires called hoodoos. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bryce Canyon National Park is actually less of a canyon than it is a series of natural amphitheaters sunk into pink cliffs and filled with delicate red rock “hoodoos.”

Millions of years of wind, water, and geologic forces have shaped and etched the surreal landscape. The most brilliant hues of the park come alive with the rising and setting of the sun. Bryce is an unforgettable experience. The 37-mile scenic drive will also get you to key overlooks and vistas, such as Sunrise, Sunset, Rainbow, Yovimpa, and Inspiration Point.

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Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona

A comparatively little-known canyon, Canyon de Chelly has sheer sandstone walls rising up to 1,000 feet, scenic overlooks, well-preserved Anasazi ruins, and an insight into the present day life of the Navajo, who still inhabit and cultivate the valley floor.

The northernmost and southernmost edges are accessible from paved roads—the North and South Rim drives. The South Rim Drive offers the most dramatic vistas, ending at the most spectacular viewpoint, the overlook of Spider Rocks—twin 800 foot towers of rock isolated from the canyon walls and a site of special significance for the Navajo.

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Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park covers a vast area of rock wilderness in southeastern Utah. Over millions of years, the rivers and their small tributaries have carved the flat sandstone rock layers into many amazing forms with a wide range of colors.

The 530 square miles of the park contain countless canyons, arches, spires, buttes, mesas, and a myriad of other spectacular rock formations.

The Island in the Sky region of Canyonlands is a wide high plateau with commanding views across many miles of deep canyons in all directions. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Island in the Sky region of Canyonlands is a wide high plateau with commanding views across many miles of deep canyons in all directions. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The sheer unbridgeable canyons of the Green and Colorado rivers divide Canyonlands into three distinct sections—Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze—which differ in the types of landscape found there, the number of visitors and the available facilities.

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Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod juts out from Massachusetts, extending 70 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The Cape and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard offer miles of glorious ocean beaches, quaint villages, art galleries, outdoor recreation including biking, hiking, and golf. Lighthouses, grassy dunes, whales, salt marshes, seafood, cottages, resorts, shopping, restaurants, clam bakes, pubs, galleries and, oh, yes, a little nature and history.

Each island town has its own personality, but they all share a relaxed way of living, clean saltwater air, and a sense that you’ve discovered a place where time might occasionally truly stand still.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of an 8-part series on 50 Places to RV Before You Die

Worth Pondering…

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the places and moments that take our breath away.
—George Carlin

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