3 Places To Go In August

This is it: The last full month of summer.

Don’t start pulling out the sweaters yet. There’s still a full month of summer to enjoy.

Before the cool air starts moving in, these three festival hot spots are great for your late summer escape.

Elvis Week 2014

elvisweek_2014_logoAugust is a special time for Elvis Presley fans and the city of Memphis. Each year, thousands of Elvis fans from around the world descend on the hometown of the late performer to celebrate his life, music, movies, and legacy during the annual Elvis Week.

Graceland is front and center for events celebrating the life of the iconic performer. But Elvis’ Memphis home is just the heart of the activities during Elvis Week. Traditional events such as the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, musical tours around the city of Memphis, special concerts, fan club gatherings, and much more will occur at Graceland and around the city during Elvis Week.

The highlight of the week is the annual Candlelight Vigil, which takes place the night of August 15. Fans walk up the driveway to Elvis’ gravesite and back down carrying a candle in honor of the King, who died in his home on August 16, 1977.

Elvis Week 2014 kicked off Friday, August 8, with the Hard Rock Last Chance Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. It ends more than a week later on Sunday, August 17, with the Elvis Gospel Celebration.

When: August 8-17, 2014

Cost: Ticket prices vary by event

Website: www.graceland.com

Burning Man 2014_theme_caravansaryBurning Man 2014: Caravansary

One of the most famous art and music festivals in the world, this year’s Burning Man theme is Caravansary. Come find yourself in the dust while donning fabulous costumes, gifting things to strangers and new friends alike, and marveling at some of the most impressive artwork out there.

Burning Man is an annual event and a thriving year-round culture. The event takes place the week leading up to and including Labor Day, in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

The Burning Man organization creates the infrastructure of Black Rock City, wherein attendees (or “participants”) dedicate themselves to the spirit of community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, leaving no trace.

As simple as this may seem, trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind. To truly understand this event, one must participate.

When: August 25-September 1, 2014

Cost: Tickets run $380

Website: www.burningman.com

43rd Annual Hatch Valley Chili Festival

Hatch Chii Festival header-140218As summer cools down, the Village of Hatch, New Mexico, heats up. Labor Day weekend heralds the annual Hatch Chile Festival, a two-day celebration of the valley’s world-famous crop. The festival attracts over 30,000 visitors from all over the United States, including such notables as the Food Network and the BBC.

Festival goers can sample famed chile recipes, watch the crowning of the chile festival queen, or toss a horseshoe in celebration of this famous crop. The event also features chile ristra contests, artisan and food booths, red chili cook-off, chili eating contests, a carnival, and live entertainment including bands, mariachis, and children’s folklorico.

The Village of Hatch, the “Chile Capital of the Universe”, is located off Interstate 25, between Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences.

The opening of Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, brings the exciting frontier of commercial space travel to the Village. The entrance to Spaceport America is only nine miles south from Hatch, which makes us the Village “New Gateway to Space.”

When: August 30-31, 2014

Cost: $10/vehicle; valid for both days

Website: www.hatchchilefest.com

Worth Pondering…
Much travel is needed before the raw man is ripened.
—Proverb of the Caravan of Dreams

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50 Magnificent RV Trips

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

Late afternoon shadows enhance the beauty of Joshua Tree. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Late afternoon shadows enhance the beauty of Joshua Tree. © 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:

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park encompasses one of the most interesting and diverse patches of desert in the U.S. Its namesake species, the spiky, dramatically crooked Joshua tree, is also considered by many to be the defining characteristic of the Mojave Desert.

But this huge desert park actually lies at the meeting point of the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. The park’s eastern and southern areas, with sub 3,000-foot elevation and plants such as “jumping” cholla cactus and spidery ocotillo, is Sonoran in character; its western areas are higher, cooler, wetter, and quite densely forested with the park’s namesake tree.

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Las Vegas, Nevada

You only live once, so Vegas is a must. The Strip is fun, even for those who don’t like to throw away their money—err—I mean gamble. Scores of free shows and nightly programs drop the collective jaw of be-dazzled viewers. Nearly a hundred casinos light up the Nevada sky to woo penny pinchers and high rollers alike. Area tours, desert beauty and some of the country’s best golf courses make Vegas far more than just a gamer’s paradise.

Memphis, Tennessee

Put on your blue suede shoes and drop on in. Whether it is the strains of the Blues, the smell of old fashioned Southern barbecue, or the myriad sights that catch your eye, there is something unique about the city of Memphis.

There are approximately 600 cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Birthplace of rock ‘n roll and the blues, Memphis lays greater claim to shaping the music of the 20th century than any other city in the nation. Memphis is home to blues notables such as B.B. King and the late W.C. Handy, as well as rock ’n roll pioneer Elvis Presley.

No visit to Memphis would be complete without a visit to Graceland, the home of the late Elvis Presley, otherwise known as “The King.”

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

More than a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national park devoted to preserving the works of man — Mesa Verde. Here, approximately 1,400 years ago, the Pueblo Indians lived in what we now call cliff dwellings.

Although the majority of these domiciles are relatively small, the largest, known as the Cliff Palace, contained 150 rooms. The park has more than 4,000 known archaeological sites, with many open for ranger-guided tours.

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Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona & Utah

Sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires rise majestically from the desert floor. Monument Valley offers the Western backdrop made famous in movies directed by John Ford.

An unpaved, and at times rough, road loops through the park. Several overlooks offer spectacular views of the wonders of Monument Valley.

Some of the most striking and recognizable landscapes of sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires in the entire Southwest are found in Monument Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Some of the most striking and recognizable landscapes of sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires in the entire Southwest are found in Monument Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the grandest—and most photographed—landmarks in the United States, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a sprawling, sandy preserve that straddles the border of northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah.

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Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S. spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. The most popular destination for visitors to Mount Rainier is Paradise located on the south slope at approximately 5,400 feet.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

South Dakota’s Black Hills provide the backdrop for Mount Rushmore, the world’s greatest mountain carving. These 60-foot high faces, 500 feet up, look out over a setting of pine, spruce, birch, and aspen in the clear western air.

The sculpture was carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum. This epic sculpture features the heads of four exalted American presidents (from left to right): George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

Please Note: This is Part 5 of an 8-part series on 50 Places to RV Before You Die

Worth Pondering…

The West is color. Its colors are animal rather than vegetable, the colors of earth and sunlight and ripeness.

—Jessamyn West

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