John Deere Tractor Drives Cross-Country for Wounded Warrior Project

Ivan Stoltzfus is fulfilling a life-long dream of driving a John Deere tractor cross-country.

John Deere Tractor Drives Cross-Country for Wounded Warrior Project
John Deere Tractor Drives Cross-Country for Wounded Warrior Project

And he is doing it for a good cause—to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, a service organization that helps wounded veterans.

Stoltzfus is a retired auctioneer, real estate broker, and farmer from Pennsylvania who divides his time between Honey Brook, Pennsylvania and Sarasota, Florida. He grew up farming with John Deere tractors and loved the sound of the two-cylinder engine.

As a child, he watched his father do a long journey while finding farm work and it sparked something in him.

“My father went from farm to farm in a two cylinder tractor and drove across the United States working,” Stoltzfus told Public Opinion.

“He would go all day and all night for about a year. I was intrigued at the idea and wanted to do it myself.”

About 10 years ago, his father passed away but Stoltzfus remembered something his father said to him.

“If you have a dream, do it,” he said.

A 1948 John Deere Model A serves as the great machine for the epic journey. With the help of a tractor club, Waterloo Boys of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the tractor was restored and retrofitted with a 1984 Peterbilt model 359 cab. Dubbed Johnabilt, it certainly has a unique look.

John Deere Tractor Drives Cross-Country for Wounded Warrior Project
John Deere Tractor Drives Cross-Country for Wounded Warrior Project

A 24-foot Trail-Lite travel trailer donated by his cousin Earl Stoltzfus of Stoltzfus RVs and Marine in West Chester, Pennsylvania, is towed behind and serves as home and business headquarters.

The journey from Manasquan, New Jersey to Crescent City, California began on April 26 and he estimates will be completed in 3 1/2 months.

“Veterans have come up to me and told me not to give up,” he said. “It keeps me going. I’m focused on the cause.”

Stoltzfus has set an ambitious $1 million goal for the project. At the time of posting, $47,933 had been pledged.

He is also being joined by Dave Stoltzfus, no relation, a friend who will be traveling part of the way with him on his road bike.

On the Road Again…

And if you listen real close you may hear Johnabilt singing Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again… (with Johnny’s thoughts in parenthesis)

On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again (was tired of laying in the tractor hospital, that’s for sure)

The life I love is making music with my friends (putt-putting music that is)

And I can’t wait to get on the road again (boy, does it feel good to stretch my legs today after that hip replacement)

John Deere Tractor Drives Cross-Country for Wounded Warrior Project
John Deere Tractor Drives Cross-Country for Wounded Warrior Project

On the road again (yup, on the road just a struttin’ away)

Goin’ places that I’ve never been (yeah, I have never been in the city before)

Seein’ things that I may never see again (who knew buildings could be put so close; my barn is the only building on my 70 acres)

And I can’t wait to get on the road again (flying along these roads at 17 mph beats going 5 mph and pulling a plow)

On the road again, like a band of gypsies we go down the highway (gypsies- yeah, I would call C. Ivan, Rooster and Smiley gypsies alright)

We’re the best of friends (but I wouldn’t trade my gypsy entourage for anyone else)

Insisting that the world keep turning our way and our way (well, I’m just gonna keep turning my tires one mile at a time across America)

Details

Across America for Wounded Heroes

Follow Ivan Stoltzfus and Johnabilt journey across the country and donate to the project.

Website: www.helpamericanheroes.com

Wounded Warrior Project, Inc

John Deere Tractor Drives Cross-Country for Wounded Warrior Project
John Deere Tractor Drives Cross-Country for Wounded Warrior Project

The mission of Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is to honor and empower wounded warriors. The purpose of WWP is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members; to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other; and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.

Address: 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, Florida 32256

Phone: (877) TEAM-WWP (832-6997)

Website: www.woundedwarriorproject.org

Worth Pondering…

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

—Goethe

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RV Road Trip Planning Tips

A family road trip is about the destination―whether it’s a theme park or a national park―but a road trip is just as much about the journey.

Nestled between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Scenic Byway 12 is located in one of the most beautiful places on earth. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Nestled between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Scenic Byway 12 is located in one of the most beautiful places on earth. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An RV road trip IS NOT about getting from Point A to B to C. It’s about the people, places, and things that you meet and see and experience along the way.

If you are going on a family road trip, planning is essential.

That’s a big responsibility but with a little preparation, you can head off complications before they happen.

With advance preparation, the road trip can be one you will remember for a long time.

Like any getaway, whether it’s for a weekend, a month, or an extended period, an RV road trip requires careful planning to ensure all goes smoothly. When you think of what you’ll need for a road trip, a common list unfolds. Food, beverages, (healthy) snacks, paper products, lawn chairs and recliners, maps, and Good Sam GPS are all items you might bring along.

One of the best parts of a trip is often the daydreaming, discussions, and planning that precede it. Brainstorming ideas, doing the research, and putting together your itinerary are all just as fun and relaxing as the trip itself.

Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon,  Sedona is a scenic RV road trip destination renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Cathedral Rockt. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona is a scenic RV road trip destination renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Cathedral Rock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

By keeping a checklist of mundane details as you go through your regular routine, you can be inspired in the weeks before your trip to remember all the little things that make your life easier.

Make a list and check it twice. Using a checklist is an excellent way to ensure you have everything you need. Even if you are not a list person, make one. Checking off items as you pack your RV will ensure you don’t find yourself in the middle of nowhere without toiletries or water.

There are some items you CANNOT do without while RVing and these should be at the top of your list. It’s important to take sufficient drinking water, a well-stocked first aid kit, paper towels, toilet paper, and clean-up materials (soaps, scrubbers, rags, trash bags, dish drainer).

If you RV on a frequent basis, have non-perishables stored in the RV. Items like plates, cooking utensils, pots, pans, dishes, and cutlery can be stored in cupboards in the RV.

Also store items like canned goods, can opener, bottle opener, coffee, potholders, ziploc bags, aluminum foil, wax paper, saran wrap, and cooking oil as well as paper products, towels, and first aid kit. Being prepared will save time and frustration.

Newmar Dutch Star Diesel Pusher and toad at Cajun Palms RV Resort which consists of over 300 Deluxe RV Spots,12 Chalets,and 25 Cabins. RV spots have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp, 70+ channels of digital cable, and on-site water and sewer. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Newmar Dutch Star Diesel Pusher and toad at Cajun Palms RV Resort which consists of over 300 Deluxe RV Spots,12 Chalets,and 25 Cabins. RV spots have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp, 70+ channels of digital cable, and on-site water and sewer. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This list will give you some of the pointers that seasoned travelers know can take a good trip and make it a great one.

There’s no shame in writing down even obvious things: You’re bringing your family’s entire life along with you, and everybody knows you can sometimes forget important things in that last-minute dash.

And during the RV road trip, make note of things to take on your next outing.

It’s important to keep in mind your goal for the journey. If you’re packing your family into an RV and driving a considerable distance, you will deal with some frustration and chaos―some of it normal stuff and some specific to being together in a confined space. Nobody wants to remember a trip where you yelled the whole time, so it’s important to be clear-headed about where you’re going and why.

Nothing goes perfectly smoothly all the time, but thinking seriously about how your family will interact in the available space is one way to head off problems before they surface.

Also be realistic about exactly how much you can do. Be generous with your timeline―your travel times from Point A to B to C―and you won’t feel pressured to keep driving after the whole family is exhausted and crabby. By following conservative estimates, you can ensure that the entire road trip is leisurely and relaxing for the entire family.

A toll for planning your RV road trip is the Good Sam’s Trip Planner.

Features include point-to-point trip planning and ability to research and add Good Sam Parks and points of interest to your route. You can also calculate fuel costs and travel time and use RV travel filters to find low clearance and tunnel warnings.

Worth Pondering…

People don’t take trips—trips take people.

—John Steinbeck

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Meditation Museum RV Participated in Thanksgiving Parade

Last weekend, numerous local clubs, businesses, and organizations showed off their holiday spirit at the annual Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade.

Meditation Museum RV Participated in Thanksgiving Parade (Credit: Rachel Nania/wtop.com)
Meditation Museum RV Participated in Thanksgiving Parade (Credit: Rachel Nania/wtop.com)

But for one Maryland organization, getting in the spirit means getting spiritual—in a RV.

For the past three years, Sister Jenna, director of the Meditation Museum in Silver Spring, Maryland, participated in the parade by driving a classic Mercedes convertible with some of her museum team members.

“All the sisters and the kids would walk around (the car) with angel wings and bubbles,” Sister Jenna told wtop.com, explaining that her name signifies kindness and respect, not religion.

But this year, Sister Jenna ditched the angel wings for a set of big wheels.

About a year and a half ago, the museum, located on Georgia Avenue, received an RV as a donation, with the intent to travel across the country to meet individuals and groups interested in meditation.

“We wanted to travel around the U.S., anyhow, and just stop at different places and invite people into a place of understanding and silence and power,” says Sister Jenna, who named the RV tour  America Meditating.

“The real intent was to have a place where people can come to and just figure themselves out, de-stress, get clear.”

Meditation Museum RV
Meditation Museum RV

But before heading out on the big journey, Sister Jenna and her team showed off the RV to the local community.

Following the parade, the public to see the vehicle, which has a sofa, a kitchen, a bedroom—soon to be converted into a meditation room—and a colorful changing light display, which is undoubtedly Sister Jenna’s favorite feature.

“When you come in at night, it’s like ‘Come into my space and be silent.’ It’s very lovely,” she told wtop.com.

The RV also has a large sticker map of the U.S. on the kitchen table, which will help Sister Jenna and her team on their journey.

“So when we stop at all the places, we can just X-mark the spot,” she says.

In addition to the Meditation Museum’s RV, the parade also featured giant balloons, a variety of floats, high school marching bands, and dancing groups.

Plus, Santa, his sleigh, and all of his elves made an appearance.

Sister Jenna said participating in the Thanksgiving Parade is a reminder of everything for which there is to be thankful.

Details

America Meditating

Address: 8236 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Phone: (301) 588-0144 or (301) 660-0065

Website: americameditating.com

Worth Pondering…

Our wish to you is this: drive a little slower, take the backroads sometimes, and stay a little longer. Enjoy, learn, relax, meditate, and then…plan your next journey.

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Rand McNally Launches 2013 Best of the Road

The most successful tourism campaign to discover Small Town America is back!

RandMcNally-62265-rm-botr-logo-new-mdOnce again, Rand McNally is searching for the Best Small Towns in America. This year, Rand McNally teams up with two new partners, Good Sam Club and Geocaching.com.

With these new partnerships, the Best of the Road program kicked off this week and is sure to provide excitement, inspiration, and an increase in travelers interested in visiting America’s best small towns, according to a news release.

Winning towns in six categories will receive a FREE custom iPhone App and online travel guide developed by Rand McNally, coverage in the 2015 Road Atlas, billions of media impressions, and thousands of new visitors.

In 2012, with over 700 towns participating and over 1 billion media impressions generated, thousands of road travelers and small town residents encouraged friends, family, and fellow residents to vote for their favorite town in five different categories: Most Beautiful, Most Fun, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, and Best for Food.

“The Best of the Road program put us on the map in a way that no amount of traditional advertising could,” said Kim Huston, President of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency, representing Bardstown, Kentucky.

RandMcNally-62265-rm-botr-banner-original“We have received so many national accolades, visits, and notoriety because of Best of the Road. Best of the Road showcased what our community is truly about, and why it should be part of your journey. People are driving 100 miles out of their way to visit with us. Local businesses shared that the recognition of our town as the ‘Most Beautiful’ in 2012 has led to significant increases in revenues, and our residents are even more proud to hail from Bardstown, Kentucky—the Most Beautiful Small Town in America!”

This summer, Best of the Road will again ask America to vote for the small towns that everyone should visit. But this year will be better than ever, with a new category and more online and social media interaction as Best of the Road goes all-virtual! Enhancements to Best of the Road 2013 include:

  • New website featuring a simple path to registration and easy voting features
  • Increased integration with social media
  • New category—Best for Geocaching, sponsored by Geocaching.com

“The addition of two new partners this year brings a great combination of inspiration and trip-planning, and a new way to experience a small town—all via technology,” says Dave Muscatel, CEO of Rand McNally.

“Our new digital product offerings for CVBs and DMOs, in addition to our partnerships with Good Sam and Geocaching.com provide tools to optimize the trip experience. Between Good Sam’s online trip planner, where travelers create a road trip and download it to the Good Sam GPS device for navigation, and Geocaching.com, which promotes pre-planned GeoTours within a location to attract the Geocaching community, we’ve combined forces to help destinations showcase the best that their towns have to offer.”

Program Details

Rand McNally 2014 Road AtlasJuly 1 through September 3, 2013, nominations will be accepted, and the competition to capture the most votes in each of the six categories (Most Beautiful, Most Fun, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, Best for Food, and Best for Geocaching) will take place.

Five finalists will be selected in each category by a panel of travel experts based on a number of criteria.

Finalists and winning towns will be featured in Good Sam Club’s Road Trip Planner, a new online tool that helps road-trippers organize and plan their trips and the stops along the way.

Also new this year:  the winning town in each category will receive a FREE custom online travel guide and iPhone app developed by Rand McNally and powered by Best of the Road. Additionally, the winning Best for Geocaching town will receive a FREE GeoTour, courtesy of Geocaching.com. Geocachers from around the world will be able to use the Geocaching smartphone app to learn about the town’s best places via strategically placed geocaches.

Note: Small towns for the Best of the Road program are defined using the 2010 U.S. Census definition of “Places” (Towns, Cities, Villages, CDPs, Municipalities, etc.) and having a population under 150,000.
Details

Rand McNally

Rand McNally logoRand McNally is the most trusted source for maps, directions, and travel content.

Products and services include: Road travel review site bestoftheroad.com, America’s #1 Road Atlas, RVND GPS for RVers, IntelliRoute truck routing software and navigation devices, TPC 7600 and TND 760 mobile fleet management solutions for the transportation industry, and leading geography-based educational resources for the classroom.

Website: randmcnally.com

Best of the Road website: bestoftheroad.com

Good Sam Club

Website: goodsam.com

Geocaching

Website: geocaching.com

Worth Pondering…

Every exit is an entry somewhere else.
—Tom Stoppard

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More Americans Plan a Road Trip This Summer

To mark the unofficial start of summer, Expedia.com commissioned a study of the American summer traveler and launched a new travel blog.

The Alabama Gulf Coast. features 32 miles of white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Alabama Gulf Coast. features 32 miles of white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.
© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The American Traveler study, conducted by Harris Interactive, finds that Americans’ love of the open road burns brighter than ever. 50 percent of Americans plan to take a road trip of more than 200 miles this summer and are 14 percent likelier to take a road trip in 2013 than they were in 2012.

To make summer travel easier and more rewarding, Expedia has also launched a new travel blog, Expedia Viewfinder (SEE link below), that pairs the resources of the online travel agency with the travel knowledge of a diverse group of independent travel bloggers.

Expedia Viewfinder provides readers extensive travel content including real-time travel coverage alongside insights for travelers across categories, such as the budget-minded, the luxury-minded, LGBT, solo wanderers, couples, and families.

“Travel is inherently one of the most social experiences we do today, so partnering with travel bloggers—the people who live their entire lives on the open road—makes perfect sense,” said Sarah Gavin, director of PR and social media at Expedia Worldwide.

“Travel bloggers bring a huge amount of real-world experience and each has their own perspective. Bringing our expertise together means Expedia travelers can not just feel confident that they are getting a great deal and a great set of choices, but that the trip they are taking is going to be just right for them. Our American Traveler study proves that the national appetite for travel is undiminished, so we aim to give Americans every resource and insight they might need to get moving.”

The River Walk has grown to a stunning eight miles and will stretch to 15 miles by 2013. Each part offers a unique look and feel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The River Walk has grown to a stunning eight miles and will stretch to 15 miles by 2013. Each part offers a unique look and feel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The American Traveler Study is in its second year. The study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive, on behalf of Expedia.com, from May 20-22, 2013, among 2,341 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Expedia’s travel bloggers have each created their own perfect road trip recommendations to accompany the launch of this year’s study which can be viewed on the Expedia Viewfinder blog.

96 percent of Americans listen to music on road trips. The most popular road-trip genre is classic rock; nearly a third (32%) of Americans plan to make classic rock their road-trip soundtrack of choice. Country and pop are preferred by 15 percent, followed by R&B/Hip Hop (12%), classical jazz (4%) and dance/techno (4%). A full 14 percent refused to specify a category, choosing “Other.”

As part of the Expedia Viewfinder launch, Expedia’s travel bloggers are creating their own Spotify road trip playlists to celebrate the importance of music to the great American road trip.

Among the 50 percent of Americans planning a road trip this summer, half will travel with children and half without. For both groups, the top iconic destination is the Grand Canyon (22% cited it as their favored landmark) followed by Mount Rushmore (11%), Statue of Liberty (10%), and Washington’s National Mall (8%).

The biggest deterrent to a summer road trip is high gas prices, at 64%. Additional deterrents include taking time off from work (36%), traffic (30%), kids fighting in the back seat (22%), and no desire (8%); no deterrents at all (13%).

Entertaining the kids is the top priority for those who plan to take an extended road trip with children. Mobile games top the list of in-car entertainment. 68 percent report that their children play games (on tablets, smartphones, computers and handheld game systems) on the road followed by 61 percent listening to music through headphones, 60 percent watch movies or TV shows on a mobile device, 40 percent play interactive games with the family, and 38 percent of children read books.

Arches is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Arches National Park is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mobile devices are critical to the travel experience. While on a road trip nearly half (46%) of Americans use smartphones to share status updates on social media sites during road trips, 82 percent smartphones to make calls, 73 percent for maps and directions, 71 percent to check email, 70 percent to send texts, 64 percent to take travel photos, and 46 percent for playing games.

Details

Expedia, Inc.

Expedia, Inc. is the largest online travel company in the world, with an extensive brand portfolio that includes some of the world’s leading online travel brands.

Website: expediainc.com

Expedia Viewfinder Travel Blog

Website: viewfinder.expedia.com

Worth Pondering…

Road trips have beginnings and ends, but it’s what’s in between that counts.

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Giving Thanks & RVing

Many will be on the road traveling today and throughout this Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanksgiving offers the opportunity to reflect on life, liberty, and the pursuit of full hookup campgrounds with really good WiFi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thanksgiving is the biggest travel weekend in America, and RVers are out in force, back on the road, crossing the country in their RVs to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends.

And many Snowbirds are traveling south to their favorite Sunbelt roost to avoid the rigors of another northern winter.

I have so much to be thankful for! I give thanks to my partner—my wife Dania, my co-pilot—and our family and friends.

With a lifelong love of travel, a condo-on-wheels has always been our destiny. Yes, we’re living our dream! We’ve wintered in Southern CaliforniaArizonaTexas, and Florida. Our RV travels have taken us to over 40 states and four western provinces.

I am thankful as Canadian Snowbirds that we have the opportunity of celebrating Thanksgiving in October (Canadian Thanksgiving) and again in November.

Thanksgiving offers the opportunity to reflect on life, liberty, and the pursuit of full hookup campgrounds with really good Wi-Fi.

We’re thankful that RV travel is so popular in our own vast and wonderful countries. We are fortunate that the RV industry is rebounding and that RVing is supported coast-to-coast!

I’m thankful for our continued health and safety while traveling. Any time you venture onto highways, you are rolling the dice. So far we’ve enjoyed over 125,000 miles of safe and mostly carefree travel as we cruise the highways and byways of our two great nations!

I am thankful for our freedom. As Americans and Canadians we take so much for granted when it comes to freedom.  We have freedom of speech, expression, the right to vote, and so much more that others across the world only dream of.  That freedom came at a price—and that is the lives of many of our servicemen and women.  So, I also would like to give thanks to our troops.

Combining Birding and Photography with our life on the road is like enjoying pecan pie with Blue Bell ice cream for dessert following a turkey feast on Thanksgiving Day! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Combining Birding and Photography with our life on the road is like enjoying pecan pie with Blue Bell ice cream for dessert following a turkey feast on Thanksgiving Day! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Oh yeah … and I give thanks to the Internet which has given me the opportunity to share my thoughts on RV Travel.

Stay tuned, friends…the best is yet to come!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and Safe Travels…and we’ll see you back here tomorrow!

Worth Pondering…

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.

—Edward Sandford Martin

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Utah: Five Spectacular National Parks

Utah’s five national parks have it all.

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

You’ll see unique soaring spires, towering pinnacles, sandstone canyons, and intricately eroded arches of sculptured stone for starters.

Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park splashes color for 100 miles from its northern to southern boundaries.

The central geologic feature, the Waterpocket Fold, is a bulging uplift of rainbow-hued sandstone “reefs” and canyons. Much of Capitol Reef is an inviting wilderness of sandstone formations such as Capitol Dome, Hickman Bridge, and Temple of the Sun and Moon in the backcountry of splendid Cathedral Valley.

Rock art petroglyphs are abundant in the midst of Capitol Reef’s red rocks and tell the story of the early indigenous people, the Fremont Culture. Close by are the large orchards of Fruita, an early pioneer settlement—and now headquarters for the park—where a variety of fruit may be picked in season.

The visitor center and campground are open year-round. Several easy hiking trails and a 25-mile scenic drive are found in this area. Cathedral Valley and other backcountry regions are reached by traveling on dirt roads, so make sure to inquire locally about current road conditions.

The park is 11 miles east of Torrey or 37 miles west of Hanksville on Utah Highway 24.

Continue reading →

Canyonlands National Park

The Island in the Sky region 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

Views thousands of feet down to the Green and Colorado Rivers, or thousands of feet up to red rock pinnacles, cliffs, and spires create the incredible beauty of Utah’s largest national park.

The rivers have sliced Canyonlands National Park into three districts, each named according to its distinctive landscape.

Island in the Sky is the northern section where visitors can look down to the Colorado River on the east and the Green River on the west. The southern tip overlooks the rivers’ confluence.

The Needles District is named for its profusion of red rock spires and sandstone fins.

The remote Maze District is Canyonlands’ most jumbled stone playground, requiring backcountry use permits year-round.

Major entrances to the park are accessible from U.S. Highway 191. Access to Island in the Sky is 35 miles northwest of Moab and access to the Needles District is 22 miles north of Monticello.

Canyonlands is world-renowned for its four-wheel-drive vehicle and mountain bike routes, and its whitewater rafting. Visitor centers are open year-round.

Continue reading →

Arches National Park
Arches National Park has about 2,000 windowed arches, towering spires, harrowing hoodoos, and precarious pinnacles on display—such as Balanced Rock, Skyline Arch, and Courthouse Towers.

Delicate Arch, perhaps Utah’s most iconic feature is a must-hike destination in the park. Arches contain 73,000 acres of varied landscapes, with a paved 40-mile scenic drive from the park entrance to the campground at Devil’s Garden.

There are numerous parking areas for trail access and scenic overlooks. Two trails, and a viewpoint accessible by car, offer different views of Delicate Arch, the park’s most famous geologic feature.

Arches is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Arches is renown for an awe-inspiring combination of arches, cliffs, stone spires, and other dramatic rock formations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Road guides and hiking brochures are available at the visitor center and the park entrance, located five miles north of Moab via U.S. Highway 191.

Arches National Park is open year-round, as is the campground. Water is only available seasonally.

Continue reading →

Come visit Utah. Come and live Life Elevated®! 

Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series

Part 1: Utah: The Ultimate Road Trip

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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Utah: The Ultimate Road Trip

Utah is a place of unfathomable natural beauty—with its unique natural formations, colorful history, and culture, and exciting recreation opportunities—it is a state that contains the best elements of the great Mountain West and the Desert Southwest, from red rock splendor to mountain peaks with The Greatest Snow on Earth®, Utah is a four-season world-class travel destination.

Home to five national parks, Utah is the perfect place for your next family road trip.

The majesty that is Zion © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The majesty that is Zion © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utah’s five spectacular national parks stretch across the southern half of the state. Each park offers the traveler unique, world-class scenic vistas, and geological phenomena. In fact, Utah’s National Parks feature some of the most astonishing landscapes in the world.

Each park shows off a completely different scenic view of the state’s natural beauty.

These national parks are perfect for camping, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, rafting, kayaking, and even golf.

Before you start packing the RV and inflating the mountain bike tires, let’s take a closer look at what you can expect at each of Utah’s breathtaking national parks.

Zion National Park
The soaring towers and massive monoliths of Zion offer a spectacular grandeur. Recently celebrating its 101st year as a national park, it is also Utah’s most popular park, welcoming nearly 2.6 million visitors in 2010.

A multi-passenger shuttle system is the only motorized transportation allowed in the main canyon during peak season. The open-air shuttles allow visitors to enjoy Zion’s lofty formations such as the Great White Throne, Angels Landing, and Weeping Rock. It also includes a “town loop” that stops in the town of Springdale at the park’s south entrance.

Visitors can still use private vehicles to tour the park on Utah Highway 9, but RV and other over-sized vehicles are subject to restrictions and a fee charged for escort through a mountain tunnel.

Hiking and photography are two favorite activities at Zion National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Hiking and photography are two favorite activities at Zion National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are numerous easy, self-guided trails in Zion, including Gateway to the Narrows, which is suitable for strollers and wheelchairs with assistance. More adventurous or strenuous hikes are also found in the park such as The Subway, Angels Landing, and The Narrows.

Two entrances to Zion are 33 miles east of I-15 or 12 miles west of U.S. Highway 89, both on Utah Highway 9. The northern Kolob Canyons section is accessible off I-15, 18 miles south of Cedar City.

Visitor centers, campgrounds, and the historic Zion Lodge are open year-round.

Continue reading →

Bryce Canyon National Park
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.

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

Located 24 miles southeast of the town of Panguitch, the park is open year-round and the area is popular with the cross-country skiing and snowshoeing crowd in the winter months. Summertime offers a myriad of walking and hiking trails along the rim and toward the bottom of the canyon. Many visitors think it’s even better seen from horseback.

The 37-mile scenic drive will also get you to key overlooks and vistas, such as Sunrise, Sunset, Rainbow, Yovimpa, and Inspiration Points.

The visitor center is open year-round. Bryce Canyon Lodge, a National Historic Landmark, is open April through November.

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Come visit Utah. Come and live Life Elevated®! 

Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series

Part 2: Utah: Five Spectacular National Parks

Worth Pondering…

Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.”
—Walt Whitman, Song for the Open Road

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Be Prepared with Road Trip Planner

You and your family are packed into your recreational vehicle, heading out of town for a much-needed vacation to kick off the summer.

Heavy rain severely diminishes visibility on the road. Photo courtesy of RozSheffield (who was a passenger, not the driver when taking this photo)

The skies were clear when you left home, but several hours out the skies turn dark and ominous. Suddenly, rain pours down in buckets and you can hardly see.

A flashing road sign instructs drivers to turn to the highway’s emergency radio station. A severe thunderstorm warning, complete with quarter-sized hail and exceptionally high winds, is being issued for several local counties.

But you have no idea what county you’re in. Are you heading directly into the path of severe weather? Have tornado watches or warnings been issued?

When planning for a road trip, people often think to check the weather at their destination so they know which clothes to pack and the type of activities to prepare for. But how many people think to track the weather along their route?

Some RVers may look at a national summary forecast to get a gist of their route’s weather, but they may not have information on the specifics. Who knows what counties they’ll be going through, what the weather will be like, and when or where they can stop if the weather becomes too severe?

One useful tool to assist the traveler in planning ahead is the AccuWeather.com Road Trip Planner.

Using directions by Google Maps, Road Trip Planner allows you to not only enter your start and end points to get detailed driving directions; you can also input the time you plan to leave to see hourly weather forecasts along your route.

In the image below you live in Burlington (Vermont) and plan to take your family on a vacation to Cape Cod. Using Road Trip Planner, you select that you are leaving your address at 9:00 a.m. and heading to a specific location.

AccuWeather Road Trip Planner provides the weather forecast for your route so you can plan ahead.

A list of directions will be generated, as well as a map that shows your route and the weather you can expect along the way. It approximates where you should be in hourly intervals and gives you the weather and temperature for that area.

If you were to see that you should be near the Methuen (Massachusetts) area around 2:00 p.m., and that they are expecting rain, you could research what counties you’ll be passing through so you can understand emergency warnings. You’d know to keep your umbrella easily accessible in the cockpit area.

You could also look for a place where you can stop temporarily in case the rain reduces your visibility so that you no longer feel safe on the road. You could look up the town on AccuWeather.com to see if a warning for flash flooding or severe weather is posted.

While you’re on the road it is crucial that you pay attention to all lights and signs.

Keep your radio on and tuned to the weather channel. Ensure that you heed all watches and warnings.

“Watches, like severe thunderstorm watches and tornado watches, which are two of the most common types, are issued when weather conditions are conducive for the event to occur,” said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Mike Pigott.

A “tornado watch,” for example, includes the “large hail and damaging wind threats, as well as the possibility of multiple tornadoes,” according to NOAA National Weather Service.

Image courtesy AccuWeather

“Warnings are different. A warning is issued when the weather event is happening now,” Pigott said.

“In terms of flooding, for instance, a flood warning means a river has spilled over or flash flooding is occurring.”

Your RV or car is NOT a safe place to be if a flash flood or a tornado is coming through the area, so if the weather is turning severe find a secure place to stop and wait out the worst of the storm.

Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle so you don’t end up stranded without the proper supplies.

By taking the time to prepare before you hit the road, you could save yourself hours of aggravation during your trip.

In poor visibility, drive slowly and put on your hazard lights. It’s always better to be late to your destination than to get in an accident and not arrive at all.

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Worth Pondering…

You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.
—Yogi Berra

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California Road Trips 2012 Focuses On Family Road Trips

It’s family road trip season and California Road Trips 2012 encourages visitors to hit the road and explore the Golden State, with this year’s focus on fun for the entire family.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco (Source: Visit California/Christian Heeb)

The newly released guide maps out special two- to three-day driving getaways as well as more detailed routes for longer vacations throughout California’s 12 diverse regions, according to a news release.

“California is home to many iconic destinations—many of which are best viewed from the road. Visitors who travel our highways and byways can experience the incredible diversity of the state from its spectacular coastline to the higher ground of the Sierra and everything in between,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California.

“California Road Trips 2012 reinforces the best of California with a focus on our incredible attractions that every member of the family will enjoy.”

This year, the theme of the guide, produced by Visit California and Sunset Publishing, is “Family Fun,” a focus that has special resonance in California, with its abundance of attractions from historical sites, educational museums, and hands-on experiences to incomparable theme parks to outdoor adventures.

Each itinerary presents a range of activities for all kinds of travelers, inviting people to stop, explore, learn, and have fun.

Inside California Road Trips 2012, readers will find inside scoops on things to see and do and the abundance of activities they’ll find throughout the state of California. As part of the guide’s “Strike it Rich” trip, drivers can fuel up for a trip back through time into California’s Gold Country.

In “Welcome to Adventureland,” visitors discover wild beaches, serene tide pools and a surprise safari along California’s North Coast.

San Diego Skyline (Source: Visit California)

They can also head for the “Great Wild North” to sample outdoor adventures in the mountains, lakes, and secret swimming holes of California’s Shasta Cascade.

This is shaping up to be California’s best summer ever as 2012 is a huge year for theme parks and attractions with new rides and attractions opening from north to south, including Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park, the new Transformers: The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood, and SeaWorld’s first thrill ride—Manta!

This year’s issue of Road Trips will see one million distributions, with 600,000 guides being distributed in the June 2012 issue of Sunset magazine; the remaining 400,000 will be distributed through domestic and international direct fulfillment and trade shows.

Details

Visit California

Visit California (formerly known as the California Travel & Tourism Commission) is a non-profit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs—in partnership with the state travel industry—that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination.

According to Visit California, travel and tourism expenditures total $102.3 billion annually in California (20 percent of which is international), support jobs for 893,000 Californians and generate $6.3 billion in state and local tax revenues.

Address: P.O. Box 1499, Sacramento, CA 95812-1499

Phone: (916) 444-4429 or (877) 225-4367 (toll free in U.S. and Canada)

Website: visitcalifornia.com

Catalina Island (Source: Visit California)

Road Trips 2012

Road Trips 2012 will be available for free in digital format on the Visit California website and Visit California iPad app, available in the Apple App Store, or by calling 1-877-CALIFORNIA.

Worth Pondering…

California Dreaming

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I went for a walk
On a winters day
I’d be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin
On such a winters day

Oh, California dreamin (California dreamin)
On such a winters day (California dreamin)
—Beach Boys

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