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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Mount Washington Traffic Increasing

New Hampshire’s Mount Washington has the reputation of being “Home of the world’s worst weather”.

Originally called Agiocochook by native Americans, the mountain boasts some of the planet's most severe weather, and retains the world record for wind speed, 231 mph © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Originally called Agiocochook by native Americans, the mountain boasts some of the planet’s most severe weather, and retains the world record for wind speed, 231 mph © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Severe storms, including snow, can happen at any time of the year. The combination of severe winds, cold, and wetness can exhaust the strongest hiker.

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. As a result the most widely used trails can be quite crowded, and however you climb the summit will have crowds, many having come up by the Cog Railway or the Auto Road.

Mount Washington Cog Railway

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.

Passengers may choose to ride The Cog in a car powered by a historic steam locomotive or the more modern and eco-friendly biodiesel engines. A fifth diesel engine is currently under construction.

The company is also revamping the track system at the summit so that trains can start up the track every 45 minutes.

The 52-acre Mount Washington State Park surrounds the summit, where visitors will find a multitude of old and modern buildings, once known as the 'City Among the Clouds' © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The 52-acre Mount Washington State Park surrounds the summit, where visitors will find a multitude of old and modern buildings, once known as the ‘City Among the Clouds’ © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This coming year, Cog Railway will try running until New Year’s weekend, and if that goes well, opening weekends and holidays all winter. The Cog would not go all the way to the summit in the wintry months.

In 2013, the Cog moved 80,000 people, the most ever.

Mt Washington Auto Road

The Mount Washington Auto Road (originally Mount Washington Carriage Road) is a 7.6 mile toll road that extends from New Hampshire Route 16 in Pinkham Notch to the summit of Mount Washington in the White Mountains.

The road climbs 4,618 feet from an elevation of 1,527 feet at the bottom to 6,145 feet at the top, an average gradient of 11.6 percent.

The Mount Washington Auto Road was completed in 1861. On August 8, 1861 Col. Joseph Thompson drove the first horse drawn vehicle up to the summit of Mount Washington.

Today, approximately 40,000 cars drive Mt. Washington Auto Road annually.

Hiking Mount Washington

Note that it is a strenuous climb for those who are not in good shape. The distance by most routes is around four miles each way; that may not sound like much. But in those four miles you gain roughly 4,000 feet of elevation, which is a lot for those not used to strenuous exercise.

Mount Washington State Park

Members of the Mount Washington Commission support and encourage the increased use of the Mount Washington State Park at the summit of Mount Washington but success has its drawbacks.

“It’s getting busier and busier,” park general manager Mike Pelchat said.

“We used to see hundreds waiting their turn to get their picture taken at the sign, usually in the summer, not the winter. Literally, now we have hundreds in the winter.”

In the normal summer season, the increasing numbers of people who visit the summit is seen as a good thing.

Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern U.S., attains an elevation of 6,288 feet © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern U.S., attains an elevation of 6,288 feet © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Details

Mount Washington Cog Railway

Location: 6 miles from Route 302 in Bretton Woods

Mailing Address: Mt. Washington, NH 03589

Phone: (603) 278-5404

Website: thecog.com

Mt Washington Auto Road

Location: NH Route 16 in Pinkham Notch, 12 miles north of Jackson and 8 miles south of Gorham

Mailing Address: 1 Mount Washington Auto Road, Gorham, NH 03581

Phone: (603) 466-3988

Website: mtwashingtonautoroad.com

Worth Pondering…

A mountain has no need for people, but people do need mountains. We go to them for their beauty, for the exhilaration of standing closer to mysterious skies, for the feeling of triumph that comes from having labored to reach a summit.

—Earl Hamner, Jr.

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Camping with Pets

With more and more campgrounds accepting pets and offering on-site pet amenities, more pets than ever are being included on camping trips.

Camping with pets
Camping with pets

Camping with pets can be a very enjoyable experience for both owners and their animals with a little preparation and planning.

While camping can be a very affordable vacation option, being able to bring pets eliminates the need for a boarding facility. Owners and pets can enjoy their vacation together, an experience that’s usually not available on other types of vacations, according to a New Hampshire Campground Owners Association news release.

Sylvia Leggett, owner of Roberts Knoll Campground in Alton, New Hampshire, and member of the New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association Board of Directors, has been camping with her three golden retrievers for many years. Leggett has noticed an increase in the number of campgrounds that allow pets, with many adding pet-friendly services.

“That’s why many people camp, so they can be outdoors and keep their pets with them, Leggett noted.”

Leo Spencer, owner of Chocorua Camping Village in Tamworth, New Hampshire, agrees, noting he has seen the number of owners camping with their pets increase within the last decade. Chocorua Camping Village was one of the first New Hampshire locations to offer a dog park and has since added additional amenities, which Spencer said has garnered very positive responses from campers and keeps them coming back year after year.

Camping with pets
Camping with pets

While being able to bring pets along can eliminate the need for a dog sitter or kennel, it does require some advanced planning on the owners’ part to make sure they are prepared for all situations. Only friendly, non-aggressive dogs should be brought to campgrounds.

When camping with a pet for the first time, Leggett recommends planning a shorter trip so the animal can get used to being away from home. That way, the trip can be ended early if needed.

When making a reservation, it’s a good idea to mention pets are part of your group. Some campgrounds can offer a campsite further away from busy areas, which may be more comfortable for some pets. Other campgrounds have a restriction on the number of pets allowed per campsite, which is helpful information for pet owners looking to bring more than one animal along.

Many campgrounds require proof of vaccines against rabies and Bordetella, a type of bacteria, though calling the campground ahead of time to confirm is suggested. Leggett recommends copying vet records with proof of all current vaccines and making sure licenses and contact information are included on pets’ collars. While all of her dogs are micro chipped, Leggett also has her phone number embroidered into her dogs’ collars in the event that they ever became separated.

When it comes to packing for pets, it’s also important to remember food and water dishes, an extra collar and leash, medicines or supplements, brushes, tie outs, shampoo, and something familiar from home, like a toy or blanket. If a dog is comfortable sleeping in a crate at home, that should be brought along too.

After settling into a camp or RV site with pets, it is important to be a responsible camper and pet owner. This includes cleaning up after pets, keeping them leashed, and making sure they stay out of prohibited areas.

Chocorua Camping Village has had a dog park for about 10 years now, but an AKC agility course was added about four years ago. The course contains a series of obstacles that anyone can use. In addition, there is a dog pond where dogs can swim and play fetch off leash, a dog wash station and access to five miles of walking trails. Pet themed events are held at the campground during the summer to include a pet parade.

Camping with pets
Camping with pets

When in doubt, do not leave pets unsupervised in an unfamiliar environment, as pets may act differently than they do at home.

As other places add pet-friendly amenities, it is getting more convenient for pet owners to bring their pets along. Many campgrounds can offer suggestions on places to visit with pets, from nearby hiking or walking trails to stores.

Like Leggett suggests, if you plan ahead and are prepared, camping can be a rewarding, memorable experience for both owners and pets.

Worth Pondering…

There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.

—Franklin D. Roosevelt

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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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