Five Things You Need to Know Today: March 30

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

1. RV Shipments Rise in February

RV shipments to retailers rose sharply in February this year, climbing 31.8 percent above last month and up 24.2% ahead of this same month last year, according to a Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) survey.

The 24,600 units reported in the latest survey of manufacturers marked the best February total in four years for all RV products and raised the first two months’ total this year 15.2 percent above the same period one year ago on shipment of 43,300 units. On a seasonally adjusted basis, February shipments were at an annual rate of more than 286,000 units, a gain of 12.9 percent over the January rate.

Shipments of towable RVs have improved 17% to 39,200 units, while motorhome products have held their own and produced 4,100 units so far this year.

2. Entrance Fees Proposed for Illinois State Parks

Visitors to Illinois state parks would face admission fees for the first time under legislation the Illinois House passed Monday (March 26).

The bill would allow the state to charge annual fees for vehicle stickers for park entry, as well as daily admission fees for pedestrians or drivers without annual passes.

Proponents of the measure said the money is needed for upkeep at parks, where funds, personnel, and care have been cut back heavily in recent years.

The revenue would be dedicated to the state parks fund or the fish and wildlife fund, according to the legislation.

The state Department of Natural Resources currently does not charge an entry fee to state-owned or -operated land except for Wildlife Prairie State Park near Peoria and sites with beaches, where the charge is $1 a day per person for beach use, according to the agency website.

The House sent the bill to the Senate on an 81-29 vote.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn said the governor backs the proposal.

3. Land of the Sleeping Rainbow: Capitol Reef National Park

A highlight for most visitors to Capitol Reef is the scenic drive from the visitors center. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A highlight for most visitors to Capitol Reef is the scenic drive from the visitors center. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Capitol Reef National Park is filled with geological wonders that stagger the imagination.

Somewhat remote, and not as well known as the other parks, Capitol Reef is located on the northern edge of the Grand Circle Tour. Capitol Reef encompasses a 100-mile natural upheaval in the earth’s crust known as the Waterpocket Fold.

We’ve traveled Utah’s red-rock country from Bryce to Arches and Zion to Monument Valley, but none is more impres­sive than Capitol Reef. Hundreds of millions of years of geological history are contained within this long, narrow park that stretches about 100 miles from its northern to south­ern boundary.

Time moves very slowly in the ageless world of colorful spires, pinnacles, and domes that form Capitol Reef. Formed by cataclysmic events of eons past, these rock formations have been defined and redefined over past ages as ancient sea waters advanced and retreated across the changing surface of the earth.

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4. Discover the Wildlife of Texas

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

Whether you are a birder, a wildlife enthusiast, or just ready to discover the wildlife Texas has to offer, there’s a map that makes it easy for you. These driving trails will direct you to the best spots in the state to observe wildlife such as birds, butterflies, bats, or pronghorns. Texas is the perfect place to view wildlife; the Lone Star State is one of the top birding destinations in the world and is rich in its diverse species of wildlife.

Along the trails, you will be captivated by all there is to do and local communities will welcome you with plenty of Texas hospitality.

Texas was the first state in the nation to create birding and wildlife viewing trails, an idea that resulted in similar projects throughout North America. These trails provide economic incentives for landowners and communities to conserve habitats while providing recreational opportunities for the traveling public. The wildlife trails of Texas promote sustainable economic development and build public support for conservation of wildlife and habitats.

5. Cuisine of New Mexico

A mural in Santa Fe's historic La Fonda on the Plaza depicting Pueblo life. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A mural in Santa Fe's historic La Fonda on the Plaza depicting Pueblo life. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Renowned New Mexico artist Georgia O’Keeffe once said, “If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life.” Millions of folks from all over the world have come to know exactly what she meant. The people, the culture, the landscape, the climate, and the cuisine—New Mexico just gets under your skin and takes hold.

The Land of Enchantment, New Mexico is known for its colors: turquoise skies, earthy browns, orange mesas, and purple sage. This time of year, though, the colors on everyone’s mind are red and green. Or maybe it should be red or green.

Chile is a term which usually refers to any of hundreds of chile peppers used in cuisines across the world to flavor and spice food.

In New Mexico, however, chile means much more than that. Chiles are the soul of New Mexican cooking, which blends Native American and Hispanic influences into a cuisine unto itself.

Chile is the New Mexico’s largest agricultural crop. Across the state chile is consumed at every meal, is celebrated in songs and at festivals, and is the subject of the Official New Mexico State Question, Red or Green?, estimated to be uttered over 200,000 times a day in the state.

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Have a great weekend.

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

Worth Pondering…

Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.

—Auntie Mame

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2011 Top 10 Great Neighborhoods in America

The Great Neighborhoods designation is part of the American Planning Association (APA) Great Places in America program, which began in 2007 and recognizes unique and exemplary streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces each year.

Highland Park, Birmingham, Alabama

Built around swales and ridges at the foot of Red Mountain, picturesque Highland Park continues to attract generation after generation of new residents with its enduring and distinctive public spaces, diversity of uses, University of Alabama’s Birmingham campus, medical facilities, popular businesses, and entertainment districts.

Northbrae, Berkeley, California

Nestled in the rolling foothills amidst outcroppings of volcanic rock, Northbrae stands out for its spectacular vistas of San Francisco Bay, environmentally sensitive design, connections to a unique network of 136 paths and steps crisscrossing Berkeley, and two nearby commercial areas for shopping and entertainment.

Ansley Park, Atlanta, Georgia

Large expanses of lush green parks are the hallmark of this 107-year-old garden suburb, which reflects design principles espoused by Frederick Law Olmsted. The brainchild of attorney and real estate developer Edwin P. Ansley, the 275-acre neighborhood was designed so that no home is more than a 10-minute walk from one of 14 parks, five of which create a continuous link from northeast to southwest.

The Pullman Neighborhood, Chicago, Illinois

The Pullman District was the first model of a planned industrial community in the United States and is designated on the National Register of Historic Places. (Credit: city-data.com)

Pullman’s timeless features have contributed to the renaissance of this handsome former company town. An experiment in industrial order and community planning, the neighborhood features a design that was intelligent in 1880 and “smart” today.

Gold Coast & Hamburg Historic District, Davenport, Iowa

Spectacular vistas, superb architecture, and active residents distinguish the Gold Coast-Hamburg Historic District, among Iowa’s oldest residential neighborhoods. Bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River afford unsurpassed views of the water, Davenport’s downtown, and the Illinois side of the Quad Cities. Lining the neighborhood’s streets are some of the city’s largest and most opulent houses, built between 1840 and 1910 by prominent citizens, many of them German.

Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Recognized for its Southern charm, the picturesque Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood retains many of the bucolic features that helped shape this urban treasure 127 years ago. Streets are lined with mature oaks and crape myrtles.

Dundee-Memorial Park, Omaha, Nebraska

A sense of community is palpable in the Dundee-Memorial Park neighborhood, where residents and merchants have sought National Register status, funded a streetscape plan, restored historic street lamps, and pushed to be declared a neighborhood conservation and enhancement district. A mix of uses, from quaint shops and restaurants to lovely early 20th century homes and inviting parks, infuses the neighborhood with vitality.

German Village, Columbus, Ohio

Unpretentious, renovated houses and cottages stand shoulder to shoulder. Small,

meticulously maintained front yards front tree-lined streets with brick sidewalks and cultivated village planters. German Village has remained true to its mid-19th century history, architecture, and character despite periods of disinvestment, decline, and near ruin.

Swan Lake, Tulsa, Oklahoma

As the name implies, Swan Lake is filled with beautiful swans and a majestic fountain. (Credit: tulsahomeforsale.net)

Replete with swans—real and handcrafted—Swan Lake is an idyllic neighborhood a mile and a half from downtown Tulsa. The neighborhood has made frequent use of the bird as a decorative motif ever since architect Joseph Koberling incorporated a swan into the facade of his French Eclectic-style stone house in 1944.

College Hill, Providence, Rhode Island

College Hill brings the past into the present. Its history reaches back to 1636 as the site of Rhode Island’s first permanent Colonial settlement. Cobblestoned Benefit Street, known as the Mile of History, is lined with 18th, 19th, and 20th century municipal structures, churches, and gracious homes. Two educational institutions—Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)—have contributed to the neighborhood’s vitality and character together with residents and organizations, including the Providence Preservation Society (PPS).

Details

American Planning Association (APA)

The American Planning Association (APA) is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities.

Website: planning.org

Note: This is the second of a three-part series on the American Planning Association (APA) Great Places in America program.

Part 1: 2011 Top 10 Great Public Spaces in America

Part 3: 2011 Top 10 Great Streets in America

Worth Pondering…
This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden

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2011 Top 10 Great Streets in America

The Great Streets designation is part of the American Planning Association (APA) Great Places in America program, which began in 2007 and recognizes unique and exemplary streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces each year.

Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, California

Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. (Credit: panoramio.com)

There was a time, not too long ago, where “you took your life in your hands just to cross Santa Monica Boulevard,” said Jeff Prang, a member of the West Hollywood City Council. Today, this reconstructed main street embraces pedestrians, linking them to neighborhoods, landmarks, and traditions.

U Street N.W., Washington, District of Columbia

In 2009 when president-elect Barack Obama ordered a chili half-smoke at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl along U Street N.W., crowds flocked to the legendary eatery and the street it has anchored since 1958. U Street has gone through difficult times. Today the street is pulsing again with the music, businesses and life.

Front Street, Lahaina, Hawaii

Front Street packs in everything that makes Lahaina, Lahaina: wooden storefronts, second-story balconies, public parks, art galleries, eateries, residential quarters, whale-watching tourists, divine views of the majestic West Maui Mountains, Lahaina Harbor and island of Lanai, and an archeological site dating to the year 700.

Main Street, Galena, Illinois

Once known as a great place to discover antiques, Galena and the surrounding rural communities in Jo Daviess County have grown into a haven for craft artisans, outdoor sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. (Credit: loghome.com)

Its alignment shaped by steep hills rising up from the banks of the Galena River, Main Street presents a nearly unbroken line of 140 buildings from the 19th century that help Galena live up to its reputation as “the town time forgot.” A destination for more than a million visitors each year, only cosmetic changes have affected the three- to four-story buildings that were reconstructed along Main Street following fires in the 1850s.

Main Street, Nantucket, Massachusetts

Round, uneven cobblestones pavers bring an immediate sense of history and intimacy to Main Street. Church spires, tree-shaded Greek Revival mansions, and the town’s waterfront frame the views up and down the street. More than two dozen sidewalk benches, located next to the “Hub” and the local drug store, invite residents and visitors alike to sit and visit, watch the comings and goings of downtown Nantucket.

Washington Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri

Once mostly vacant and deteriorating, Washington Avenue today has reversed decades of urban decline to become one of St. Louis’s most popular districts. A virtual museum of late 19th and early 20th century warehouse architecture clad in brick, stone, and terra cotta, this monumental corridor imparts one of St. Louis’s most cohesive vistas.

Market Street and Market Square, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

A public lottery held in 1762 paid for paving the Market Square in Portsmouth. In the 250 years since, the square and three streets originating from it—Market Street, Pleasant Street, and Congress Street—have remained the hub of downtown commerce and community life year-round.

Davis Street, Culpeper, Virginia

When a bypass for U.S. Route 29 took travelers out of downtown Culpeper in the 1960s, businesses in the 200-year-old town closed, and crime plagued streets originally surveyed by a young George Washington. When Norfolk Southern prepared to demolish part of the historic train depot in 1985, residents and downtown business owners joined together to save the building. The effort led to a much larger revitalization effort that saw quick results: in 1993 Culpeper was named one of “America’s Top 10 Small Towns.”

King Street, Alexandria, Virginia

Historic, vibrant, and eclectic, King Street has been enhanced by active planning and implementation through its evolution from an 18th century colonial seaport and 19th century center of trade to a center of 21st century commerce and tourism. Planning and preservation have ensured that King Street, part of the “Old and Historic District” in Alexandria’s “Old Town” neighborhood, balances the past with the present.

Downtown Woodstock Streetscape, Woodstock, Vermont

The American Planning Association just named the downtown Woodstock streetscape one of the top ten great streets in America. (Credit: thebluehorseinn.com)

Downtown Woodstock’s four principal streets—Central, Elm, North Park, and South Park—bring together scenic mountain skylines, early 19th century New England architecture, the center of community life, and 250 years of history.

Details

American Planning Association (APA)

The American Planning Association (APA) is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities.

Website: planning.org

Note: This is the last of a three-part series on the American Planning Association (APA) Great Places in America program.

Part 1: 2011 Top 10 Great Public Spaces in America

Part 2: 2011 Top 10 Great Neighborhoods in America

Worth Pondering…
Whether you stay six weeks, six months, or six years, always leave it better than you found it.

—Jim Rohn Enhance

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30 Tips to Cut Your RV Travel Expenses

The Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to the summer travel season, with many families either hitting the road or planning to do so within the following summer months.

Try local wineries for wine tasting and tours. Pictured avbove Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following are 30 tips that will help you save money while still enjoying all the fun, freedom, and flexibility that RVing has to offer:

  1. Buy a local newspaper when checking into a campground or RV park and check it for coupons, bargains, and savings before going out to shop for groceries.
  2. Don’t buy all of your groceries at supermarkets. Buy food and other necessities at thrift bakeries, discount stores, dollar stores, church and charity bazaars, flea markets, roadside fruit and veggie stands, canning plants, and u-pick orchards.
  3. Shop at a local farmer’s market and chat with the folks selling the fruits and veggies. Pick up something “new to you” and ask them how to prepare it—then go back to your RV and try it.
  4. When in a campground connect to “shore power” and use THEIR electricity, not YOUR propane, to heat your water and run your refrigerator. Water heaters in particular consume considerable amounts of propane.
  5. If you’re staying in a metered park and paying for the electricity, you can determine which energy source is most economical—paying for the electricity or using your propane. Multiply the kilowatt rate being charged by 20 and compare that to the price of a gallon of propane.
  6. When eating out, look for 2-for-1 coupons and early bird specials.
  7. Eat out at lunch instead of dinner.
  8. Attend festivals, fairs, and parades. Pictured above is a guord festival near Moab, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

    Eat in. Cook your family favorites in the convenience of an RV and avoid the higher costs of eating out. Better yet, cook over your campfire!

  9. Check the local paper for free community events including concerts in the park, lectures, plays, etc.
  10. Attend festivals, fairs, and parades. Tourism offices and RV magazines offer calendars of events.
  11. Visit the public library and check out a few movies, make some popcorn, set up the TV outside the RV and have a date night or family gathering under the stars.
  12. Take free tours of state capitol buildings.
  13. Visit churches, cathedrals, and architectural sites.
  14. Visit museums on their free days—most have at least one a month.
  15. Take a factory tour—sometimes they’ll include bonus samples.
  16. Try local wineries for wine tasting and tours.
  17. Check out cheese factories, breweries, and farms that offer tasting tours.
  18. Pack a picnic and spend an afternoon at a local park relaxing, eating, talking, reading, exploring, daydreaming…did I mention relaxing?
  19. Window shop a fancy part of town. End the afternoon with a cup of coffee, tea, or other refreshing beverage in said “fancy part of town.”
  20. Follow the trails of the pioneer settlers as traveled the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to the Pacific Oregon.
  21. Discover the history and charm of America’s historic routes such as the Ohio and Erie Canalway in Ohio; Historic National Road in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia; and Historic Route 66 in Arizona, California, Illinois, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
  22. Explore Americas Scenic Byways such as the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway in Oregon, Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, and Natchez Trace Parkway in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
  23. Check out the travel section of local bookstores for guidebooks on historical, cultural, and scenic travels.
  24. Visit the birthplace and memorial libraries of presidents. Pictured above is John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

    Visit the birthplace and memorial libraries of presidents such as the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts and George Herbert Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.

  25. Visit the birthplace and homes of other famous people such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida.
  26. Take up bird watching.
  27. Explore the public parks and gardens around the continent such as the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and Stanley Park in Vancouver.
  28. Explore the beauty of the outdoors by taking a walk along a river or lake or hiking into the wilderness.
  29. Take advantage of regional bargains. Each area of the country has bargains you can take advantage of as you RV.
  30. Take a walk in nature—breathe deep, walk softly, and observe your surroundings.

Unless you have written savings goals, it is often tempting to spend money on purchases that give immediate gratification instead of long term rewards. Being skilled at managing money often requires goal setting as well as long term planning and saving.

If you have additional thoughts, we would love to hear them. Please do share!! Send them in an email to vogelontheroad@gmail.com, and I’ll see that they appear in a future post.

Worth Pondering…

If you can, you will quickly find that the greatest rate of return you will earn is on your own personal spending. Being a smart shopper is the first step to getting rich.

—Mark Cuban

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What do Ohio, Tennessee & British Columbia Have in Common? Part 2

America’s State Parks

Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Throughout America, state parks are struggling.

These are your parks. Get out and enjoy them.

What do Ohio, Tennessee & British Columbia Have in Common?

Ohio, Tennessee, and British Columbia are among a handful of a few states and Canadian provinces that DO NOT CHARGE ENTRY FEES to their parks. Admission is also free to park users in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Alberta, and Manitoba.

Park fees vary in other jurisdictions. The following is a sampling of day-use fees currently in place:

Alabama          $1-3/person

Arizona           $2-20/vehicle

California        $3-15/vehicle

Colorado         $7-8/vehicle

Connecticut     $9-22/vehicle

Delaware         $3-8/vehicle

Quail Gate State Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Florida             $4/vehicle

Idaho               $5/vehicle

Kansas             $3.70-4.20/vehicle

Massachusetts $2-9/vehicle

Minnesota       $5/vehicle

New Mexico   $5/vehicle

New York       $6-10/vehicle

Montana          $5/vehicle

Ontario            $10.75-19.25/vehicle

Oregon             $5/vehicle; some parks free

Saskatchewan $7/vehicle

Texas               $1-5/person

Utah                $5-10/vehicle

Vermont          $3/person

Wisconsin        $7-10/vehicle

State Park Pass

Shenandonah River State Park, Virginia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The state park entrance pass system works differently in each state. Many states offer some sort of pass that allows for unlimited entry at most state parks, while other offer park passes on a park-by-park basis.

Other State Park News

Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska vetoed a bill that would have increased annual resident permits for state parks and recreation areas from $20 to $25 and nonresident permits from $25 to $30.

Raising fees during these difficult economic times is not the appropriate way to better Nebraska’s state parks, Heineman said in his veto letter. Nebraskans have had to cut their spending, and they expect the same from government, he said.

Details

BC Parks

Washington State Parks

Discovery Pass

The Discovery Pass can be purchased at almost 600 sporting goods stores and other retailers statewide next month. The pass can also be purchased online or by calling 1-866-320-9933. Starting next fall, the state Department of Licensing also plans to sell the pass.

Worth Pondering…
Your travel life has the essence of a dream.

It is something outside the normal, yet you are in it.

It is peopled with characters you have never seen before and in all probability will never see again.

It brings occasional homesickness, and loneliness, and pangs of longing.

But you are like the Vikings or the master mariners of the Elizabethan age, who have gone into a world of adventure, and home is not home until you return.

—Agatha Christie, British mystery writer

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