50 of America’s Most Spectacular RV Trips

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

The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages” and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial preeminence in turn of the century America. © 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:

Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea includes three major components for visitors: a re-created 19th-century coastal village with historic ships, a working preservation shipyard, and formal exhibit galleries. It consists of more than 60 original historic buildings, most of them rare commercial structures moved to the 37 acres site and meticulously restored. Founded in 1929 Mystic Seaport also boasts four vessels that are designated National Historic Landmarks.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is country music and all that goes with it—glittering rhinestones; cowboy hats; red, white, and blue leather boots; and songs with titles like Thank God I’m a Country Boy and On the Road Again, Country Roads and I Fall to Pieces.

Also known as “Athens of the South,” downtown Nashville is set around magnificent Greek revival architecture. But the Greek revival lost out to country music when radio station WSM began broadcasting the Grand Ole Opry, making Nashville “Music City, USA.” Downtown, the Ryman Auditorium is known as the “Mother Church of Country Music.” And just around the corner is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

New Orleans, Louisiana

When most people think of New Orleans, images of beads and floats and Mardi Gras may come into mind. Others may think of great food, cool jazz, and fabulous architecture.

New Orleans is one of the most visually interesting cities in America and of significant historic importance.

The phrase “Laissez les bon temps rouler”—Let the good times roll—is exemplified by Bourbon Street’s non-stop party atmosphere. But for many visitors to New Orleans, it’s all about the food. Seasonings are the lifeblood of good New Orleans cooking.

Newport, Rhode Island

Driving around Newport you can’t help but gawp at the turn-of-the-20th-century mansions—Italianate palazzi, Tudor-style manors, faux French château, all set in elegant formal landscaping, with imposing gates or walls to keep out hoi polloi (for example, you).

It’s incredible to imagine the sort of wealth that built these homes, even more incredible to realize that these were just these families’ summer houses—offhandedly referred to as mere “cottages”.

If you tire of Newport’s spectacular coastal scenery, awe-inspiring architecture, there’s always shopping in thriving downtown Newport. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park’s true distinction lies in its stunning diversity. Few places on earth have so much of everything: human and natural history, unusual flora and fauna, utter wilderness, and spots for every kind of outdoor recreation.

The park divides neatly into three major areas—the glaciered mountains and high country of the interior; the lush rainforest of the west-facing valleys; and the rugged wilderness coastline. It’s a landscape that renders a quick visit nearly impossible.

The Outer Banks, North Carolina

The Wright Memorial Bridge is just three miles long, but by the time you’ve crossed it you realize that you’ve arrived in an entirely different place. The bridge spans the Currituck Sound, connecting mainland North Carolina to the 130-mile string of narrow barrier islands known as the Outer Banks.

Along the way are historic sites, quaint villages, a variety of recreational activities, breathtaking views, and acres of unspoiled beauty. Because the waterways and coast along The Outer Banks is in constant motion, its wide variety of climates, wildlife, and landscape are ever changing.

Please Note: This is Part 6 of an 8-part series on 50 Places to RV Before You Die

Worth Pondering…

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.

—Mark Twain

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Hurricane Irene: “Get the Hell off the Beach”

Hurricane Irene made landfall near Cape Lookout, North Carolina, just before 8 a.m. EDT with Category 1-force winds of 85 mph.

This graphic shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow). The orange circle indicates the current position of the center of the tropical cyclone. (Credit: noaa.gov)

The center of Irene is located about 5 miles north-northeast of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, or about 60 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and is moving to the north-northeast near 14 miles per hour.

The center of Irene is forecast to cross through the North Carolina Sounds, through the Outer Banks, and back into the Atlantic today, then riding up the coast with an eventual landfall anticipated on Sunday along Long Island then on the other side of Long Island Sound in Southern New England as a minimal hurricane.

Tropical-storm-force winds will continue to spread up the coast and inland across parts of North Carolina and Virginia, with hurricane-force winds moving onto the North Carolina Coast near the Sounds and along the Outer Banks.

Hurricane warnings for the next 48 hours have been issued for North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Hurricane Irene's outer bands reach Kill Devil Hills, N.C., early Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. Hurricane Irene has weakened to a Category 1 storm as it nears the North Carolina coast but forecasters say it remains extremely dangerous. (Credit: ABC News)

So far, eastern North Carolina has already seen three tornadoes in the past few days, and the majority of the state and areas of Maryland and Virginia are under tornado watches through Sunday.

Nearly 200,000 homes in North Carolina are without power. Hardest hit were Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, where Progress Energy reports 190,000 customers without power. Most of those customers are residences.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie didn’t sugarcoat his warnings yesterday (August 26) for residents of his state still on the coast as Hurricane Irene lumbered northeastward: “Get the hell off the beach. You’ve maximized your tan.”

“Don’t wait. Don’t delay,” said U.S. President Barack Obama. “I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now.”

This is especially sage advice for all RVers along the Eastern Seaboard. “Get the hell out of Dodge!”

Evacuation orders for the country’s eastern seaboard covered at least 2.3 million people, including 1 million in New Jersey, 315,000 in Maryland, 300,000 in North Carolina, 200,000 in Virginia, and 100,000 in Delaware.

“This is probably the largest number of people that have been threatened by a single hurricane in the United States,” said Jay Baker, a geography professor at Florida State University.

The last hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Ike, which pounded Texas in 2008.

Abandoned beach front houses are surrounded by rising water in Nags Head, North Carolina. (Credit: Gerry Broome/AP)

After several extremely active years, Florida has not been struck by a hurricane since Wilma raked across the state’s south in October 2005. That storm was responsible for at least five deaths in the state and came two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

It has been said to everything there is a season. Hurricane season is considered between June 1 and mid- to late- November and should be of some concern to RVers.

Here are some bits of information that may help RVers in understanding hurricanes and in planning survival preparations:

  • Hurricanes don’t appear without warning as tornadoes often do.
  • Hurricanes slowly develop from tropical depressions into tropical storms before becoming named hurricanes. The process takes days, sometimes weeks. By the time they are named they are being followed closely by weather media.
  • As they develop they grow in size. Average is 200 to 400 miles across. The big ones grow to 550 or more miles wide.
  • Hurricanes move forward slowly along their way which is not a straight line. They have been known to twist and turn and double back or go in a loop.
  • Some Hurricanes carry huge quantities of rain while others transport very little water.
  • A danger of hurricanes comes from flying debris picked up by the winds and thrown or dropped with great force.
  • Tornadoes are frequently spawned by hurricanes.

Worth Pondering…
Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You’re done. It’s 4:30. You’ve maximized your tan. Get off the beach. Get in your cars and get out of those areas.

—New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

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