Boston Freedom Trail: Old State House To Bunker Hill

The Freedom Trail, recognized as a National Millennium Trail and part of Boston National Historical Park, visits 16 sites and structures of historic importance in downtown Boston and Charlestown.

The Old State House dates back to 1713 and was the center of political activity in Colonial Boston. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Old State House dates back to 1713 and was the center of political activity in Colonial Boston. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In earlier posts on Vogel Talks RVing, we introduced the Boston Freedom Trail and toured eight sites on the trail from Boston Common to Old South Meeting House.

In today’s post we take you on a walking tour of the Freedom Trail from the Old State House to “Old Ironsides” and Bunker Hill.

A ring of cobblestones in front of the Old State House, at the Devonshire and State Street intersection, commemorates the spot of the Boston Massacre, where on March 5, 1770, a minor disagreement between a wigmaker’s apprentice and a British sentry turned into a riot. Although only five colonists were killed, Samuel Adams and other patriots dubbed it a “massacre”.

The Old State House, on the corner of State and Washington streets, dates back to 1713 and was the center of political  activity in Colonial Boston; it was here that the Declaration of Independence was first read to Bostonians from the building’s balcony, which was also the first public reading in Massachusetts. The Old State House, the city’s oldest public building, was the headquarters for the British government in Boston. Today it serves as a Boston history museum.

A marketplace and meeting hall since 1742, Faneuil Hall (rhymes with “manual”) was once a spot where speeches by the likes of Samuel Adams were given, and is now in an area to relax and get a Sam Adams, the city’s most famous brew.

Paul Faneuil, a Boston merchant, built the structure and later donated to the city. Its meeting hall is dubbed the “Cradle of Liberty” because of the protests against British taxation voiced here during the 1760s.

The Paul Revere House, built around 1680, is the oldest private building in downtown Boston and a tribute to the city’s most recognized hero. It is from here that Paul Revere left for his “midnight ride”. The house is also the only Colonial residence of its type to be situated in the middle of a major American city.

The Paul Revere House, built around 1680, is the oldest private building in downtown Boston and a tribute to the city's most recognized hero. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Paul Revere House, built around 1680, is the oldest private building in downtown Boston and a tribute to the city’s most recognized hero. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The next stop is one of the most popular sites on the Freedom Trail. The Old North Church on Salem Street is Boston’s oldest church building. The Episcopal church was built in 1723, and is where Robert Newman signaled the approach of the British with two lanterns in its steeple: “One if by land, and two if by sea”—which sent Paul Revere on his famous ride to Lexington and Concord to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming.

The 191-foot steeple of the Old North Church is the tallest in the city. The church also has the first set of bells ever brought to America, and Paul Revere was a neighborhood bellringer.

The last Freedom Trail stop on the Boston side is Copp’s Hill Burying Ground—the city’s second graveyard. First founded in 1659 as Winmill Hill, it got its current appellation because shoemaker William Copp once owned the land. Because of its strategic height overlooking the Charles River, Copp’s Hill was used by the British during the Battle of Bunker Hill to bombard Charlestown, which brings us to our final two stops.

The Paul Revere statue in Boston is the most recognized and most photographed statue in the city. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Paul Revere statue in Boston is the most recognized and most photographed statue in the city. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Across the Charles River, the Charlestown Navy Yards is one of the first shipyards built in the US and home to the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.

Launched on October 21, 1797, the ship was later nicknamed “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812 because British cannonballs appeared to bounce its thick hull, causing one of her crew to remark that her sides were made of iron. In fact, the hull of Constitution is constructed of a three-layer wooden sandwich comprised of live oak and white oak.

Guided tours of the US Navy active-duty-manned Constitution are available or you can roam the ship at your own accord.

Only yards away from USS Constitution, the Museum is a “must see” for everyone visiting Boston. Interactive, hands-on exhibits for all ages brings history to life as one learns what life was like at sea over 200 years ago.

Learn how “Old Ironsides” earned her nickname and how she has remained undefeated since her launch in 1797. Swing in a hammock, join a mess, and furl a sail at the USS Constitution Museum, where you don’t just learn about history, you experience it.

Charlestown Navy Yards is one of the first shipyards built in the US and home to the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Charlestown Navy Yards is one of the first shipyards built in the US and home to the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Battle of Bunker Hill marks the first time Colonial forces held their own against the British army. Today a 221-foot granite obelisk denotes the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. If you can reach the top you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Boston.

Located across the street, the Bunker Hill Museum’s exhibits and dioramas tell the stories of the battle and the monument.

Worth Pondering…

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in time of challenge.

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Boston Freedom Trail: Boston Common To Old South Meeting House

Boston is a city steeped in American history, and the cries of “Freedom!” from Revolutionary War apparitions still echo throughout its sometimes modern, sometimes Colonial city streets.

The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street was built in 1798 on a cow pasture owned by Massachusetts' first elected governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street was built in 1798 on a cow pasture owned by Massachusetts’ first elected governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston’s two and a half mile Freedom Trail is not just a self-guided lesson in history, but a chance to encounter some of America’s most famous ghosts in what is arguably the country’s most historic city. From Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution to the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s House, the Freedom Trail is a spectral dream.

In an earlier post on Vogel Talks RVing, we introduced the Boston Freedom Trail. In today’s post we take you on a walking tour of the Freedom Trail from Boston Common to Old South Meeting House.

Like most visitors we began the trail in Boston Common.

America’s oldest public park, 50-acre Boston Common has been used throughout history as a common grazing ground for sheep and cattle, for public hangings (until 1817), and was the staging ground for British troops before Lexington and Concord in April of 1775.

Today, the Common is a place for relaxation. You can also relax in the Boston Public Garden across Charles Street which is graced by a statue of George Washington.

The 217 foot steeple of Park Street Church was once the first landmark travelers saw when approaching Boston; a building that Author Henry James called “the most interesting mass of bricks and mortar in America.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The 217 foot steeple of Park Street Church was once the first landmark travelers saw when approaching Boston; a building that Author Henry James called “the most interesting mass of bricks and mortar in America.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street was built in 1798 on a cow pasture owned by Massachusetts’ first elected governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock. It sits across from Boston Common on the top of Beacon Hill. The imposing dome of the state house, originally constructed of wood, and later overlaid with copper by Paul Revere. It was covered with 23-karat gold leaf for the first time in 1874.

Today it is the seat of the Massachusetts state government. It is also the oldest building on Beacon Hill.

The third-oldest burying ground in Boston, the Granary Burying Ground is the final resting place of three signers of the Declaration of Independence: John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and Samuel Adams.

Founded in 1660, it was in 1737, when grain was stored where the present Park Street Church stands, and the burying ground was renamed the Granary. The 217-foot steeple of this church was once the first landmark travelers saw when approaching Boston. The church is the site of the first Sunday School in 1818.

In 1829, William Lloyd Garrison gave his powerful anti-slavery speech here and in 1831 My Country ‘Tis of Thee was sung for the first time by the church’s children choir.

The King’s Chapel Burying Ground is the oldest in Boston proper, and is the final resting place of John Winthrop and Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower. The Anglican chapel was built at the behest of King James II to ensure the presence of the Church of England in America.

The church was completed in 1754 and is one of the 500 most important buildings in America. Its sanctuary is considered by many to be the best example of Georgian church architecture in North America. In 1785, it became the first Unitarian church in the country, where services are held to this day.

The Old State House has stood as an emblem of liberty in Boston for over 300 years. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Old State House has stood as an emblem of liberty in Boston for over 300 years. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The first public school in America was established in 1635 in the home of Philemon Pormont but was later moved to its current location on School Street. Its illustrious list of alumni includes Samuel Adams, John Hancok, and Ben Franklin, whose statue overlooks the site. It later became Boston Latin School, still in operation in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston. Today, a mosaic marks the spot where the school once stood.

One of Boston’s oldest surviving structures, built in 1712, now houses the Boston Globe Store, founded by The Boston Globe newspaper. It was here, when it was the Old Corner Bookstore, that some of America’s most famous books were published, including The Scarlet Letter and Walden.

In the 19th century, this building was the center of literary Boston, attracting such luminaries as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Henry David Thoreau.

Originally built in 1729 as a Puritan house of worship, the Old South Meeting House was once the largest building in Boston, but its best known as the site where the Boston Tea Party began, which, in turn, began the American Revolution.

USS Constitution and the Boston Skyline. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
USS Constitution and the Boston Skyline. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1773 more than 5,000 colonists gathered here to protest the tax on tea. After hours of debate, Samuel Adams declared that “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country!” The protesters emptied out of the Old South Meeting House and proceeded to Boston harbor, where they emptied out three shiploads of tea, and changed the course of American history forever.

Worth Pondering…

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
—Benjamin Franklin

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The Great American Road Trip With 4 Great Stops

Summer is here and there’s no better way to spend this long awaited season than on an RV road trip.

If you're traveling through southern Utah, you'll want to visit this land of the hoodoos. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
If you’re traveling through southern Utah, you’ll want to visit this land of the hoodoos. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

America is brimming with beautiful and diverse routes from the glittering waters of the Pacific to the majestic Rocky Mountains and down to the mysterious swamps of the South. And what’s a great road trip without great stops along the way. Possibly, the following four iconic destinations will whet your appetite as you embark on the Great American Road Trip.

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Mormon pioneer Ebenezer Bryce who ranched in the area described the canyon that bears his name as “a hell of a place to lose a cow”. But the rest of the world knows the canyon as a vast wonderland of brilliant-colored spires, rising like sentinels into the clear sky above.

Hiking is the best way to experience the stunning mazes. The park has over 50 miles of hiking trails with a range of distances and elevation change. Most of the park’s trails range from half a mile to 11 miles and take less than a day to complete.

Most trails descend into the canyon and wind around the oddly shaped formations. In just a few hours on the trail, you can experience Bryce Canyon’s spectacular scenery.

But if hiking isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the landscape from the overlooks on the main park road, which heads 18 miles along a winding corridor through forests and meadows to the park’s southern end.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Massachusetts

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located on Boston’s waterfront at Columbia Point, the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is set on a ten acre park landscaped with pine trees, shrubs, and wild roses reminiscent of the landscape of Cape Cod familiar to President Kennedy.

Experience the Museum through three theaters, period settings, and 25 dramatic multimedia exhibits, and enter the recreated world of the Kennedy Presidency for a “first-hand” experience of John F. Kennedy’s life, legacy, and leadership.

This unique tour re-creates the JFK-era White House by using President Kennedy’s voice to tell his story during a self-guided tour of the exhibits. Step back into the middle of the Cold War and the civil rights movement.

Walk along the Boston Harborwalk or picnic on the beautiful grounds at the Harbor’s edge.

During the summer President Kennedy’s 26-foot sail boat Victura is on display on the museum grounds at the edge of Boston Harbor.

Mount Washington Cog Railway, New Hampshire

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mount Washington is the highest peak in the White Mountains of New Hampshire—and in the Northeast—and is therefore a very popular attraction for RVers and other sightseers and hikers.

The beauty of the mountains and the thrill of ascending the Northeast’s highest peak are just as enchanting today as they were in 1869, when Sylvester Marsh opened the world’s first mountain-climbing railroad on Mount Washington.

Nearly 150 years later, the Mount Washington Cog Railway continues to provide a sense of adventure and history as it carries passengers up a 3-mile-long trestle and the steepest railroad tracks in North America to the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington. There, visitors can take in the spectacular panoramic view, spanning the mountains and valleys of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, north into Canada, and east to the Atlantic Ocean.

Saratoga National Historic Park, New York

Saratoga National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Saratoga National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here in the autumn of 1777, American forces met, defeated, and forced a major British army to surrender. This crucial American victory in the Battle of Saratoga renewed patriots’ hopes for independence, secured essential foreign recognition and support, and forever changed the face of the world.

Tours of the Battlefield are self-guiding, using information in the park brochure, optional audio tour CD, optional cell phone of MP3 tour, smart phone/tablet Mobile Web App, and interpretive stations along the way.

Whether you’re a history buff or a nature lover, an afternoon at the this beautifully scenic park is a trip worth taking.

Worth Pondering…

What will you begin today?

Yesterday is gone.

Tomorrow has not yet come.

We have only today.

Let us begin.

—Mother Teresa

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Boston Freedom Trail

Boston, a large, metropolitan city packed with revolutionary history, cultural venues, and sophisticated shopping and dining opportunities. A jaunt around “town” is like opening an American history textbook.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston has some of the worst driving and parking on the East Coast; its winding, angled roads meandering like the old cow paths they originally followed. But, don’t let this deter you; you will be rewarded many times over.

Boston had been a thriving city long before the United States itself existed. Founded in the 17th century, Boston has been the center of attention in New England since the colonial period. Today, Boston continues to boast some of the best attractions to be found in the Northeastern US. As the “Cradle of the Revolution”, Boston is full of history like no other city in America. For over 350 years, some of the world’s greatest patriots, writers, thinkers, athletes, and artists have called Boston their home, leaving an indelible mark on this incredible city in the process.

A trip to Boston is necessarily a trip into American history. Boston was the center of the revolutionary movement in the 1770s, and the monuments to those glorious times still stand.

Faneuil Hall (1742) was a meeting place for revolutionary leaders, and it now houses dozens of shops and restaurants. Built by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil in 1741, this imposing structure is the place where the Sons of Liberty proclaimed their dissent against Royal oppression.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Old State House (1713) was the site of the colonial government and is open for tours.

The oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston, the Paul Revere House (1680) today serves as a museum.

The oldest church in the city of Boston, the Old North Church (1723), and its famous signal lanterns are still in use.

The site of the Boston Massacre where five colonists died in 1770 has been preserved.

The First Public School was in Boston; some of its graduates include Sam Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

Built as a Puritan house of worship, the Old South Meeting House (1729) was the largest building in colonial Boston. No tax on tea! This was the decision on December 16, 1773, when 5,000 angry colonists gathered here to protest a tax…and started a revolution with the Boston Tea Party.

Adjacent to King’s Chapel (1688), the first non-Puritan church in the colonies, the Granary Burying Ground has the graves of patriots John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even the Boston Tea Party is commemorated in a floating ship museum, not far from the floating museum aboard the USS Constitution, America’s first great warship. Launched in Boston in 1797, America’s Ship of State earned her nickname “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812 when she fought the British frigate HMS Guerriere.

On our National Park ranger-led tour, we visited sites along the Freedom Trail and heard about the American Revolutionary story, the people who lived here, their courage, and what they risked striving for freedom.

Freedom Trail, the red-brick line through the city takes us on a tour of 16 sites in Boston’s history for two and a half miles, including Boston Common, the State House, the Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, King’s Chapel, the site of the first public school, Old South Meeting House, the Old Statehouse, the Boston Massacre Site, Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument.

The Freedom Trail was created in 1951 to set recognize and set aside a cluster of historically significant building and locations in downtown Boston.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We began our 90-minute ranger-led tour at the Old State House and concluded at the Old North Church, five sites along the Freedom trail that highlights Boston’s role in the American Revolution. The other sites, prior to and following our ranger-led tour, were on our own.

And that my friends, is the subject of another post.

Worth Pondering…

Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.

—Samuel Adams

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America’s Hometown: Plymouth Rock, Mayflower & Plimoth Plantation

Plymouth, Massachusetts, is home to one of the great dramas in the founding of America.

Step onto a full-scale reproduction of the tall ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Step onto a full-scale reproduction of the tall ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the landing location for the Mayflower’s Pilgrims in 1620, and their subsequent settlement, it has earned the nickname America’s Hometown. The Pilgrims also celebrated what is now known as the first Thanksgiving with their Wampanoag neighbors here in 1621.

Situated about 40 miles south of Boston along Massachusetts’ South Shore, Plymouth unfolds along a scenic harbor of blue waters and picturesque boats. The town is walkable, so you can park along the waterfront and head to its most famous landmark: Plymouth Rock.

The legendary granite rock, known as the ‘Landing Place of the Pilgrims’, rests in the sand along the waterfront. Being a rock, it’s not the most interactive attraction, but the bold neoclassical portico enshrining it gives weight to its hallowed significance. A guide usually stands nearby answering questions, and recounting the rock’s adventures and how it was identified in 1741 as the landing place.

After Plymouth Rock, you can visit two nearby sites: Cole’s Hill and Mayflower II. Cole’s Hill, located behind Plymouth Rock and across Water Street, reveals a scenic harbor view from which you can observe Mayflower II, as well as the comings and goings of today’s yachts and fishing boats. On the hill you’ll find a statue of Massasoit, the Wampanoag Indian chief who befriended the Pilgrims, plus a sarcophagus containing recovered bones of the settlers who died (half of the original party) during the first winter.

Then, just north of Plymouth Rock, you’ll find the dockside home of Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the original. It was built in Brixham, England, and sailed to Plymouth in 1957 as part of a transatlantic goodwill project.

Take a step back in history at the 1627 English Village in Plimoth Plantation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Take a step back in history at the 1627 English Village in Plimoth Plantation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The adjacent dockside museum offers exhibits about the voyages of both the Mayflowers, but the real fascination begins onboard the ship. There, you can walk the oak-timbered half-deck, smell the salt air, and imagine the settlers approaching land and nearing their dream of religious freedom. While exploring the ship, you’ll also meet guides who offer a wealth of knowledge about the voyage and those traveling onboard.

After disembarking Mayflower II, delve into history by traveling 3 miles south of town to visit Plimoth Plantation. Since it’s an historical highlight of any trip to Plymouth, you’ll want to arrive early enough to enjoy several hours.

Plimoth Plantation is a living historic museum dedicated to telling the history of Plymouth Colony from the perspective of both the Pilgrims and the Native Wampanoag people. The museum is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate that includes the Wampanoag Homesite, 1627 English village, 17th-century Craft Center, Plimoth Bread Company, and Plimoth Grist Mill.

Costumed role-players tell you about their perilous journey across the Atlantic, while modern guides speak about the fascinating history of Mayflower and Mayflower II. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Costumed role-players tell you about their perilous journey across the Atlantic, while modern guides speak about the fascinating history of Mayflower and Mayflower II. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Visitor Center offers an indoor gallery exhibit, Cinema, gift shop, and the Patuxet Café serving delicious New England fare.

At the homesite along the Eel River, you’ll find the recreated home and garden of a 17th-century Wampanoag family. You’ll meet native Americans, including members of today’s Wampanoag tribe, who answer questions and demonstrate traditional skills such as preparing a meal, making a canoe, or building a home.

From the homesite, you can stroll along the Eel River boardwalk to the English Village rising over Cape Cod Bay. For the many costumed interpreters mingling around the re-created Pilgrim Village, the year is 1627—seven years after the first arrival of settlers.

Exploring the village is like traveling back in time. You’ll wander along paths with colony ‘residents’ who enter and exit their thatched-roof homes and pursue their chores. Although they’re focused on their lives, feel free to approach them ; they’ll be glad to answer questions. Speaking in 17th century English dialects, they convey not only the histories of the people they re-enact but also their viewpoints and concerns.

It may seem awkward to converse with someone from the 17th century—to ask how a colonist feels about the neighboring Wampanoag, for instance—but after a few questions you might get hooked on the experience, gaining much through the interaction.

Take a step back in history at the 1627 English Village in Plimoth Plantation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Take a step back in history at the 1627 English Village in Plimoth Plantation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Like most people, I was immediately struck by how small the ship seemed—particularly in the ‘tween decks, where the passengers were confined. How could 102 people, including three pregnant mothers, have survived more than ten weeks in a space this size?

—Nathaniel Philbrick, “At Sea with the Pilgrims: Writing About the Voyage of the Mayflower”, Plimoth Life, 2007

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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 Amazing Places to RV

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

The 17th-Century English Village is a re-creation of the small farming and maritime community built by the Pilgrims* along the shore of Plymouth Harbor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The 17th-Century English Village is a re-creation of the small farming and maritime community built by the Pilgrims* along the shore of Plymouth Harbor. © 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:

Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts

A living history museum in Plymouth, Plimoth Plantation depicts the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony established in the 17th century by English colonists. Visitors relive the past by experiencing a living museum that showcases the distinct lives of two cultures that came together during the 1600s.

The interaction between guests and the current day Wampanoag and people playing the part of the original English colonists, provides keen insight into life in Plymouth during the times of early colonial life, and uneasy, yet respectful, relationship that existed between the colonists and the native Wampanoag.

Quartzsite, Arizona

A dusty destination in the middle of nowhere—but, come January, the little town of Quartzsite transforms into the vendor capital of the world and becomes the largest gathering of RVs and RVers on the planet.

This sleepy Arizona town has become famous for luring snowbirds who like to browse amid RVs and RV products, gems and minerals, crafts and hobby items—and the “mother of all swap meets.”

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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

A mere two-hour drive from Denver, Trail Ridge Road takes visitors into the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, traversing a ridge above 11,000 feet for 10 miles. Along the way, tiny tundra flowers and other wild blooms contrast with sweeping vistas of towering summits; 78 of them exceed 12,000 feet. Alpine lakes reflect the grandeur.

On a one-day blitz from the East Entrance, drive Trail Ridge Road as far as Farview Curve for the classic overview of the park’s mountains, valleys, and tundra, then double back and take Bear Lake Road to see a collection of scenic lakes

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

An Arizona highlight is a visit to Saguaro National Park near Tucson—the only place in the United States where unique “man-shaped” saguaro cacti grow. The towering saguaros which can grow up to 50 feet in height are the highlight of this national park, of course.

Tucson, Arizona is home to North America’s largest Cacti. The Giant Saguaro is the universal symbol of the American West. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The scenery is spectacular and captures the beauty that is so unique to the region. Saguaro National Park is divided into two segments in Tucson: Saguaro East (Rincon Mountain District) and Saguaro West (Tucson Mountain District).

Santa Fe, New Mexico

A combination of altitude, desert, and pueblos has produced a magical city that bears little resemblance to nearby Albuquerque or anywhere else for that matter.

Santa Fe is the United States’ longest continuously occupied state capital. Located high and dry in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this well preserved center of Southwestern art and architecture attracts visitors with its galleries, cuisine, and play of light on its adobe buildings. Santa Fe is referred to as “the city different,” a city that honors its Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo heritages.

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Sedona, Arizona

Nestled within the red rocks, Sedona attracts four million new and returning visitors each year, making it the second-most-visited place in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Nestled within the red rocks, Sedona attracts four million new and returning visitors each year, making it the second-most-visited place in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona is an Arizona destination not to be missed—a must-see wonders.

Sedona easily makes the “A” list of RV destinations in the U.S. due to its rugged western appeal and colorful rock formations. Tourists come from around the world to absorb the natural wonders of Red Rock Country and Sedona, its centerpiece.

Sedona’s mesmerizing red-rock country is unique to the world. The Sedona community offers so much—history, archeology, arts, culture, hiking, biking, off-road adventure, and spiritual and metaphysical meditations.

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Please Note: This is Part 7 of an 8-part series on 50 Places to RV Before You Die

Worth Pondering…

People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.

—Saint Augustine

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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.

Continue reading →

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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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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