My Great American Road Trip

To Americans, there’s nothing that holds more appeal than the classic road trip.

Moody Mansion, Galveston, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Moody Mansion, Galveston, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the ’20s, the car was a symbol of freedom—a chance to escape your small town or rural America.

As the highway system was developed in the ’50s and ’60s, a wave of young people set out on the road to explore the country, giving new life to America’s car and road trip culture.

And to this today, Americans have an ongoing love affair with the car and great open road. And no road trip holds more mystery and allure than traveling cross-country. It’s the king of all road trips.

In 1986 on a working road trip across the U.S. we drove our truck and fifth wheel trailer across the U.S. from west to the east and back west again.

Leaving our home in the Northwest we spent over eight months traversing the country, getting as far east as Virginia Beach, the Outer Banks, Charleston, Savannah,  and Jacksonville, and as far south as Orlando, Miami, the Everglades, and Key West before turning back west, driving across the southern states with numerous stops along the way including Pensacola, Mobile, Pascagoula, Galveston, San Antonio, El Paso, Las Cruces, Tucson, and Phoenix. But we barely scratched the surface of what America offers. We saw and experienced a lot—from the Rocky Mountains, to the Black Hills, across the Great Plains.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights
Our Grand Circle tour included Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights

But you don’t realize just how vast the U.S. is until you’ve been driving for twelve hours and notice you’re still in Texas.

The U.S. is big and there is still so much more of it to see.

During the past 18 years, we’ve driven over 130,000 miles in varied RVs as we explored America from the Oregon Coast to the Charleston and from the Upper Peninsula to the Rio Grande Valley.

We have traversed the U.S. along varied interstates and scenic routes and byways further exploring the beauty and uniqueness of this vast country. There is prodigious variety in the cities and towns and scenic attractions and offerings in various regions, a country of many impressions.

From Memphis to Montana, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians, Wine Country in California, Utah’s Grand Circle Tour, Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Mobile, and much more, we continue our exploration in our trusty and comfy motorhome.

“What’s your favorite place to go?”

Sedona and Red Rock Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sedona and Red Rock Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course that’s what we’re asked. It’s the polite thing to ask, after all. People like to seem as if they’re interested in what you do. In this case, the question also always has a twinge of yearning.

I always give the same answer. I find something I like nearly everywhere I go, and it’s hard to pick just one or even two places.

People hate that answer.

“Come on. If you could pick just one place, where would you want to go again? Just one place.”

They all want to hear something exotic and bucket-listy. They want to hear the Key West or Santa Barbara, the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, Sedona or Santa Fe, Charleston or Savannah. They don’t want the truth. Can they handle the truth?

The truth is, we have visited 34 states and 4 Canadian provinces in the past 18 years, and found something that we adored in every one of them.

Our decade and half of RV travel stoked a love affair with American and Canadian attractions and historic sites, local towns and cities, and national and state/provincial parks.

Historic Downtown Charleston has stood throughout Charleston’s history as the cultural capital of the South and is considered by many to be a living museum, with a wonderful variety of things to do and see. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Historic Downtown Charleston has stood throughout Charleston’s history as the cultural capital of the South and is considered by many to be a living museum, with a wonderful variety of things to do and see. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I did begin rereading John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley — an incredible rumination on the America that he experienced as he took a road trip around the country with his wife’s standard poodle as a companion. Steinbeck was 58 years old in 1960 when he began his journey, and he felt compelled to get out and really see the country for the first time in a long time. He said he felt like a criminal writing about a country that he didn’t know enough about anymore.

After all these miles and varied experiences, I still feel the same way.

The “Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise”, the best is yet to come as I have quite the long route in front of me. Please stay tuned!

Worth Pondering…

You’ve heard the old Willie Nelson country music song with the lyrics, “On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again…” We’ll be singing this song for sure.

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The Great American Road Trip

Ah, the great American road trip.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights
Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights

It’s a rite of passage, a combination of nostalgia, discovery, and misadventure ideally set against an ever changing landscape, iconic sights, and weird and wonderful oddities.

The beauty of the road trip lies in its simplicity: Little more is needed beyond a recreational vehicle, road maps, and a trusty campground directory for a Kerouac-worthy journey.

Vogel Talks RVing has boiled the planning down to several essential considerations.

The Route

How much time? Desert or forest? Seaside or lake? Mountains or canyons? Big cities, country routes, or a bit of both?

Guides abound for trips along the classic U.S. routes—California’s Coastal Highway, Route 66, Blue Ridge Parkway, Grand Circle Tour, New England Fall Foliage Tour.

If you want a unique itinerary, there are plenty of resources to help design a journey that leaves room for unexpected adventure while taking in sights you don’t want to miss.

Paisano Pete, the giant roadrunner sculpture in Fort Stockton, a true Texas icon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve
Paisano Pete, the giant roadrunner sculpture in Fort Stockton, a true Texas icon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Or, if you prefer a data-driven route, Randy Olson—a graduate student in the Computer Science Program at Michigan State and the guy who mastered the art of searching for Waldo—has planned the ideal U.S. road trip. His 13,699-mile-route is the shortest way to visit a national park, national monument, historic site, or natural landmark in each of the lower 48 states. As with so many things in life, the joy of finding Waldo is in the journey, not the destination.

Any itinerary should leave room to sample America’s rich and nutty menu of roadside attractions.

We’ve broken the route into two helpful categories: the classics and oddities.

The Classics

Some of the U.S.’s most iconic sights are road trip staples. Grand Canyon National Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Yosemite National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Acadia National Park. And if they’re not classics yet, they should be.

The Oddities

Hidalgo (Texas) is the "Killer Bee Capital of the World" and proud of it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve
Hidalgo (Texas) is the “Killer Bee Capital of the World” and proud of it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The highways are lined with examples of weird and wonderful oddities.

The town of Winslow, Arizona parked a flatbed Ford on a corner of the old U.S. Route 66, in homage to the song “Take it Easy”, made famous by The Eagles.

The World’s Tallest Thermometer (Baker, California), World’s Largest Roadrunner (subject of intense rivalry between Fort Stockton, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico), World’s Largest Killer Bee (Hidalgo, Texas), and World’s Largest Bottle of Ketchup (Collinsville, Illinois) all prove that where it counts, America’s roadside attractions are number one.

Some sights of roadside America defy classification, the handiwork of eccentrics with a singular vision, land to spare, and a knack for self-promotion.

There’s The Thing, an attraction of indescribable weirdness preceded by a miles-long billboard campaign that all but forces cars off Arizona’s Interstate 10.

Also The Mystery Spot of Santa Cruz, California; Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas; Carhenge of Alliance, Nebraska.

The Wigwam Village Motel stands adjacent to Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona, and draws a lot of business from nostalgia buffs.

Antique cars parked along Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Antique cars parked along Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Salvation Mountain, a religious sculpture made from adobe, straw, numerous fascinating and colorful objects, and thousands of gallons of paint covers a hill in the southern California desert. This unique masterpiece is located at The Slabs, a former U.S. Marine training base that attracts eccentrics and snowbirds for off-grid camping.

These places often leave you with more questions than answers. Why is this here? Doesn’t matter. The best attractions prove what another American classic put so well: If you build it, they will come.

Worth Pondering…

As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
— John Muir

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RV Parks As Base Camps For Annual Events

RV parks and campgrounds are great places to enjoy hiking, biking, boating, and other outdoor recreation activities during your leisure time.

Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market, Shipshewana, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market, Shipshewana, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With RV and tent sites as well as a wide range of accommodations, campgrounds can also serve as base camps for those interested in attending festivals and annual events throughout the U.S and Canada. These annual events range from rodeos to music festivals and cultural to culinary events.

Following is a sampling of the festivals and annual events that take place during the coming weeks and months, along with listings of nearby attractions and campgrounds and RV parks, many of which also have rental accommodations.

All parks included have been personally visited with a minimum of one night of paid camping.

Indiana: Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market, Shipshewana, May 5-October 3, 2015

What started out as a home business in 1922 is now the Midwest’s Largest Flea Market with nearly 900 vendors covering 100 acres and offering a variety of products from fresh produce and beautiful flowers to locally crafted items and handcrafted furniture. Held every Tuesday and Wednesday from early May to early October. The sights, smells, and sounds contribute to a unique experience the whole family will enjoy, remember, and want to repeat!

Lassen Peak and Manzanita Lake near the Northwesr Entrance Station. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Lassen Peak and Manzanita Lake near the Northwesr Entrance Station. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This small community comes alive with travelers from all over to visit this “do not miss” Hoosier tradition.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Menno-Hof, Das Dutchman Essenhaus, Amish Acres, RV/MH Hall of Fame

Recommended RV Park: Pla-Mor Campground, Bremen, Indiana

California: Redding Rodeo Championship Challenge, Redding, May 13-16, 2015

This rodeo is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Nearby Attractions: Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Whiskeytown Lake

Recommended RV Park: JGW RV Park, Redding

California: Lodi, ZinFest Wine Festival, May 15-17, 2015

There are over 80 wineries, hundreds of Lodi-labeled wines, and approximately 100,000 acres of premium wine grapes. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
There are over 80 wineries, hundreds of Lodi-labeled wines, and approximately 100,000 acres of premium wine grapes. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wine, food, and fun at the north side of Lodi Lake Park. Sip, swirl, and savor from a selection of 200 handcrafted wines from over 40 Lodi wineries at the 11th annual ZinFest.

Nearby Attractions: Wine Tasting, Historic Downtown Lodi, Galt Outdoor Market, Sacramento River Delta
Recommended RV Park: Flag City RV Resort, Lodi

Indiana: Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail, Amish Country, May 30-October 1, 2015

One million blooms of flowers come to life each year in the form of 19 dazzling quilt-patterned gardens and are featured with 21 art inspired quilt-themed murals.

Located in the communities of Bristol, Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury, Nappanee, Shipshewana, and Wakarusa along the scenic Heritage Trail in Amish Country of Northern Indiana.

This one-of-a-kind national event is free and fantastic. Combine Quilt Gardens with backroads Amish discoveries, hands-on programs, barn quilts, quilting bees, garden centers, quilt shops, delicious home cooked Amish food, and more. Round out itineraries with Amish farm tours, buggy rides, and step-on guides.

Amish horse and buggy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Amish horse and buggy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Shipshewana Flea Auction & Market, Menno-Hof, Das Dutchman Essenhaus, Amish Acres, RV/MH Hall of Fame

Recommended RV Park: Pla-Mor Campground, Bremen, Indiana

Indiana: Shipshewana Quilt Festival, Shipshewana, June 24-27, 2015

The Shipshewana Quilt Festival is packed with many exciting activities. A nationally recognized speaker kicks off the event every year on Wednesday followed by the opening of the Quilt & Vendor Show which runs Wednesday through Saturday. A Quilter’s Schoolhouse takes place all day on Thursday; workshops, Shipshewana Backroads Shop Hop and much more.

Experience an old-fashioned quilting bee with local Amish women, dine in an Amish home, or take in the sites at the Midwest’s largest outdoor fl ea market. All this and more await you at the annual Shipshewana Quilt Festival.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market, Amish Acres, Das Dutchman Essenhaus, Quilt Gardens Tour

Recommended RV Park: Pla-Mor Campground, Bremen, Indiana

Texas: 62nd Annual Luling Watermelon Thump, June 25-28, 2015

Riverbend RV Park, Luling, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Riverbend RV Park, Luling, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Guiness Book of Records Watermelon Seed Spit Record is 68 feet 9 1/8 inches from the starting line. The Championship Watermelon Seed Spit record was set in 1989 by Lee Wheelis from Luling, Texas.

Nearby Attractions: Texas BBQ, Lockhart, San Marcos, Austin, San Antonio

Recommended RV Park: Riverbend RV Park, Luling

Worth Pondering…

Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.

—Conita Kent

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Using RV Parks As Base Camps For Festival & Annual Events

RV parks and campgrounds are great places to enjoy hiking, biking, boating, and other outdoor recreation activities during your leisure time.

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With RV and tent sites as well as a wide range of accommodations, campgrounds can also serve as base camps for those interested in attending festivals and annual events throughout the U.S and Canada. These annual events range from rodeos to music festivals and cultural to culinary events.

Following is a sampling of the festivals and annual events that take place during the coming weeks and months, along with listings of nearby attractions and campgrounds and RV parks, many of which also have rental accommodations.

All parks included have been personally visited with a minimum of one night of paid camping.

Louisiana: Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette, April 22-26, 2015

Historic downtown Lafayette is transformed into an entertainment complex featuring six music stages, food court areas, street musicians and animators, arts and crafts boutiques, art galleries, beverage stands, cultural workshops, international cooking demonstrations, and a world music store.

All programming for the festival is designed to celebrate cultural expression in a variety of forms and to encourage understanding and appreciation for different cultures. Festival International events are free to the public and designed to encourage family participation from all sectors of the community.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Avery Island, Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, Breaux Bridge, Vermilionville, St. Martinsville, Local Cuisine

Recommended RV Parks: Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana, and Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana

New Mexico: Gathering of Nations Native American Powwow, Albuquerque, April 24-25, 2015

American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Gathering of Nations Powwow is North America’s largest Native American competition and powwow. The event celebrates Native American pageantry and culture with more than 500 tribes represented from across the U.S. and Canada.

Attracting more than 3,000 participants from all over the world, the powwow features aisles of shopping at the Indian Trader’s Market and native foods and music. Also featured during the powwow is the crowning of Miss Indian World.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Acoma Pueblo, Sandia Peak Tramway, Petroglyph National Monument, Local Cuisine

Recommended RV Park: American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Louisiana: Contraband Days Pirate Festival, Lake Charles, April 28-May 10, 2015

A+ Motel & RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A+ Motel & RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the first two weeks of May, the city of Lake Charles returns to the swashbuckling days of the pirates and buccaneers who once sailed the area’s waterways. Legend has it that pirate Jean Lafitte buried his contraband treasure somewhere along Southwest Louisiana’s plentiful waterways. The celebration of Lafitte and his adventures has grown into Contraband Days.

The first festival began in 1958 as a one day festival of water and has expanded to a 12- day festival with close to 100 events, such as pirates sailing in from Lake Charles, coming ashore to put up their pirate flag, and taking over the city. Lafitte makes the mayor walk the plank and jump into Lake Charles, which starts a two-week festival of concerts, carnival rides, food vendors, concerts, bike races, tennis and golf tournaments, a Kids’ Pirate Costume Contest, a petting zoo, and more.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Charpentier Historic District, Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, Mardi Gras Museum, Imperial Calcasieu Museum, Local Cuisine

Recommended RV Parks: A+ Motel & RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana

Louisiana: Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, Breaux Bridge, May 1-3, 2015

Crawfish, mudbugs, crawdads, or crayfish—call them what you will—are woven into Cajun culture. They raise them, catch them, eat them, sing about them, and have a festival celebrating them.

Held the first weekend in May in the Crawfish Capital of the World, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival has become one of the largest gatherings of world-famous Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop musicians and plays host to more than 30 bands on three stages during the three-day festival. Music fills the air from morning into night at Parc Hardy.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearby Attractions: Avery Island, Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, Vermilionville, St. Martinsville, Local Cuisine

Recommended RV Park: Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana

Worth Pondering…

With the coming of spring, I am calm again.

—Gustav Mahler

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Campgrounds As Base Camps For Festivals & Special Events

Campgrounds and RV parks are great places to enjoy hiking, biking, boating, and other outdoor recreation activities during your leisure time.

Coachella Valley Preserve, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Coachella Valley Preserve, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With RV and tent sites as well as a wide range of rental accommodations, campgrounds can also serve as base camps for those interested in attending festivals and weekend special events throughout the U.S and Canada. These special activities can ranges from rodeos to music festivals and cultural to culinary events.

Following is a sampling of the festivals and special events that take place during the coming weeks and months, along with listings of nearby attractions and campgrounds and RV parks, many of which also have rental accommodations.

All parks included have been personally visited with a minimum of one night of paid camping.

California: Indian Wells Arts Festival, Indian Wells, April 3-5, 2015

There’s something for everyone at the 13th annual Indian Wells Arts Festival. There’s sidewalk chalk drawing, children’s activities, wine tasting, live musical entertainment, and refreshments throughout the day.

Taking place on the grass garden plaza of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, more than 200 award winning artists set up their displays to create a unique artisan village with thousands of hand-made, one-of-a-kind painting, drawings, ceramics, glass, photography, sculpture, jewelry, apparel, and other wares.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Indian Canyons, Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Joshua Tree National Park, Coachella Nature Preserve

Recommended RV Park: Indian Waters RV Resort & Cottages, Indio, California

Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arizona: 33rd Annual Tucson International Mariachi Festival, Tucson, April 8-11, 2015

The Tucson International Mariachi Festival is an award winning conference recognized as one of the largest cultural events in the United States. Since the conference’s inception, organizers have made education an integral component, with more than 1,000 participants from across the country.

The festival continues to foster mutual respect between Hispanics and non-Hispanics through the celebration of music, dance, culture, arts, family, and spirit. The weeklong conference provides three days of workshops giving participants the best the world has to offer from the music and dance of Mexico.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, Sabino Canyon, Pima Space & Air Museum

Recommended RV Parks: Tucson/Lazydays KOA, Tucson, Arizona, and Catalina State Park, Oro Valley, Arizona

Heaven Hill Bourbon, Bardstown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Heaven Hill Bourbon, Bardstown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kentucky: 60th Kentucky Derby Festival & 141st Kentucky Derby Louisville,  April 16-May 2, 2015

The Kentucky Derby Festival is a whirlwind of 70 events starting with Thunder Over Louisville, the opening ceremonies of the two-week festival. With an estimated average attendance of half a million people, it is the largest annual event in the region, the largest annual pyrotechnics display in North America, and one of the top five air shows in the country.

Other highlights include a half and full marathon and live bed racing. The event that started it all, the Pegasus Parade marches down Broadway the Thursday before the Derby.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Slugger Museum, Muhammad Ali Center, Kentucky Derby Museum, Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Recommended RV Park: Grandma’s RV Camping, Shepherdsville

Texas: Fiesta San Antonio, San Antonio, April 16-26, 2015

The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fiesta San Antonio celebrates the Alamo City’s diverse history and culture with more than 100 events over 11 days. Fiesta includes parades, parties, coronations, fashion shows, athletic events, art exhibits, and much more. Fiesta is the party with a purpose because every official event is produced by a local nonprofit that uses the proceeds from its event to fund programs year-round in the community.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: The Alamo, River Walk (Paseo del Rio), El Mercado, San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, Texas BBQ

Recommended RV Park: Braunig Lake RV Resort, San Antonio

Worth Pondering…

Our nature lies in movement; complete calm is death.

—Blaise Pascal

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The View Campground: New Way To Enjoy Monument Valley

It’s all about the mystical view.

New Way To Enjoy Monument Valley
New Way To Enjoy Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That is, the view of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, on the northern outskirts of the Navajo Nation.

Experience Monument Valley as you’ve never seen before. The View Campground offers some of the most spectacular views of Monument Valley.

Opened in December 2008, The View Hotel is a Navajo owned business located within the Navajo Nation and the Navajo Tribal Park at Monument Valley.

The View Hotel features accommodations that serve the needs of visitors from around the world while blending with the environment so as not to detract from the beauty of Monument Valley. The three floors provide 95 rooms, each one with a private eastern facing balcony with views unlike anywhere else in world. The top floor features StarView rooms with unforgettable views of the stars, the entirety of Monument Valley, and serves as a perfect venue for amateur night-time long exposure photography without leaving the comfort of your room.

balcony_dsc_0093w1000Other amenities include Wi-Fi internet access in the lobby, conference room, a fitness center with sunset views, flatscreen televisions. Also included are in-room coffee makers with organic coffee and tea, a micro-frig, and microwave.

Unique to The View is the authentic Native American décor with a locally woven Navajo Rug, traditional Navajo dye chart, and other Native American inspired decorations.

New Way To Enjoy Monument Valley

A multi-dimensional campground, called The View Campground now offers a new way to enjoy Monument Valley. You can choose from RV sites, wilderness camp sites, or cabins. Each offers their own unique view of Monument Valley.

The cabins at the campground are called “The Cabins at The View.” Located just north of the hotel, the campground has 29 cabins that exemplify a cultural retreat and vintage peaceful pleasure.

The private, fully-furnished valley rim cabins offer a unique way to experience Monument Valley. Each cabin features a private porch that overlooks the valley and is decorated in an old west decor. Bedrooms are equipped with queen sized beds and an additional sleeper sofa can accommodate up to six guests. Each cabin also has a full restroom and shower plus refrigerator and microwave.

panorama1w1400-1024x242The View Campground also includes 30 RV spots and 30 wilderness campsites which attracts outdoor enthusiasts who want to capture the essence of rustic living and a dust of authentic Navajo history.

The RV sites feature the best sunset views of Monument Valley. All RV sites are dry camping with no hookups. A convenience store is located in the registration office and offers camping supplies, food, drinks, and ice.

The wilderness camp sites offer one of the best views from a campsite anywhere in the world. Located on the cliff-side of the park, the view is breathtaking. A full restroom and shower facility is available to all campers.

“The view captivates what we want visitors to see and experience,” said Armanda, Navajo/Dine.

In traditional Navajo culture, touching Mother Earth is a form of healing and medicine, so it was important to design the rooms with a ground level ambiance and give visitors a down-to-earth experience.

The Navajo-owned company hired up to 20 people during the peak of the tourism season in the summer. The campground was completed in June 2014; however, there are additional plans for improvement.

New Way To Enjoy Monument Valley  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
New Way To Enjoy Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The View Campground…where the stay is as important as the view. Is the perfect retreat to hear silent whispers of Navajo culture.

Details

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Monument Valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet, framed by scenic clouds, casting shadows that graciously roam the desert floor. The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations, providing scenery that is simply spellbinding.

The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by its size. The fragile pinnacles of rock are surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs, trees, and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent colors of the valley. All of this harmoniously combines to make Monument Valley a truly wondrous experience.

Address: PO Box 360289, Monument Valley, UT 84536

Phone: (435)727-5874/5870 or (435)727-5875

Website: www.monumentvalleyview.com

Worth Pondering…

…and may you always walk in wonder.

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Good Sam Announces Top Scenic RV Parks for 2014

The Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory announced its list of Top scenic Parks for 2014.

Good Sam 2014-Top-Scenic-ShieldGood Sam editors and consultants chose the list of Scenic Parks from the annual publication’s database of 8,000 private parks.

These special parks are situated in some of the most attractive destinations in North America.

While putting together the list, the Good Sam RV Travel Guide’s editors and consultants included parks whose landscaping in many cases rivals the stellar landscapes of the surrounding areas.

The highlights of this list include:

  • For some parks, wildlife viewing is a key part of the guest experience. At Eagle’s Rest Campground in Valdez, Alaska, guests are frequently treated to glimpses of eagles gliding over the campground, with spectacular mountains, waterfalls, and views of Prince William Sound serving as the backdrop.
  • Some RV Parks strive to make their landscaping design as beautiful as the surrounding area. For example, Indian Waters RV Resort in Indio, California, boasts sprawling grass and desert vistas along with ponds and towering eucalyptus trees that harmonize with its surrounding desert landscape.
  • Many RV parks serve as jumping off points to scenic excursion. At Lake Mead Village on the shores of sprawling Lake Mead in southern Nevada, guests can go on sightseeing tours or hike nearby trails to take in some of the spectacular surrounding scenery.

Facts About Scenic RV Travel

Sculpted, chiseled, and twisted red rock formations more dramatic than most others we have seen dominate the Valley of Fire State Park's 42,000 acres. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sculpted, chiseled, and twisted red rock formations more dramatic than most others we have seen dominate the Valley of Fire State Park’s 42,000 acres. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to USA Today, the most scenic place in the United States is Sedona Arizona, followed by the view of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Mount Washington and the Upper Mississippi River.

DigitalCameraWorld.com advises photographers to take the time to get the right shot of scenery. Travelers should get out of the RV, find the optimal position and, if possible, use a tripod.

When planning a vacation based on scenery, travelers are advised to factor in the season. For example, trips to New England during the fall season are dramatically different than summer trips to that region.

Top Scenic RV Parks

Alaska
Eagle’s Rest RV Park & Cabins, Valdez

California
Indian Waters RV Resort & Cottages, Indio
Santa Nella RV Park, Santa Nella

Kansas
Deer Creek Valley RV Park Llc, Topeka

Nevada
Lake Mead RV Village, Boulder City

New Mexico
USA RV Park, Gallup

North Carolina
Fort Tatham RV Park, Sylva

Good Sam RV Travel Guide

The RV/MH Hall of Fame showcases the growth, history, and accomplishments of the recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries, with displays and restored units dating back to 1913. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The RV/MH Hall of Fame showcases the growth, history, and accomplishments of the recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries, with displays and restored units dating back to 1913. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A different category of Top Parks will be featured each month in articles released by the Good Sam RV Travel Guide.

In addition to comprehensive listings of RV parks and campgrounds across North America, the 2014 Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory features travel itineraries, helpful maps, and informative tips that RVers need for a journey anywhere in North America.

Additional camping and RV Travel information is available on the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory Camping Blog.

Worth Pondering…

A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.

It is earth’s eye, looking into which, the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.

—Henry David Thoreau

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Sedona Named Top Tourism Destination

Sedona, Arizona has been ranked as one of the Travelers’ Choice 2013 Top 25 Destinations in the United States.

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

Coming in at lucky 13, Sedona is pleased with the abundance of positive feedback and awe-inspiring reaction of both long time visitors and newcomers, according to Chamber news release.

“Sedona is a true oasis, a vacationer’s paradise in the middle of the Arizona desert. Here, you’ll find resorts and spas, canyons and red rock formations,” said TripAdvisor.

“Bell Rock and Oak Creek Canyon are great hiking spots, and the dramatic architecture of the Chapel of the Holy Cross is a religious experience itself. When the sun dips down below the horizon it introduces the best show in Sedona: the night sky.”

“On behalf of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, it is great honor to be placed on the Travelers’ Choice 2013 Top 25 Destinations in the United States. As the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor assists visitors in gathering travel information, posting travel reviews and engaging in interactive travel forums,” says Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.

“This powerful web-based company boasts 200 million unique monthly visitors and over 100 million reviews and opinions. We are honored that world travelers voted Sedona as one of the best destinations to visit in the US.”

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

“It’s recognition like this that helps position Sedona as a premier destination in the world,” added Wesselhoff

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.

Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, another scenic destination, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Coffee Pot Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Courthouse Butte, as well as its surrounding lush forests. Sedona is located in both Coconino and Yavapai Counties and is surrounded by Coconino National Forest.

Sedona has developed into a center for traditional and contemporary arts and offers a variety of galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops.

In 1950, surrealist painter Max Ernst moved to Sedona, and other famous artists followed. Many artists have been attracted to Sedona and its rugged beauty which is said to enhance their creativity. Over the years, an artist colony has developed in Sedona and many of the artists sell their work in local galleries and shops.

Words alone cannot adequately describe this part of the country. Exhilarating nature! Scary excitement! Spiritual renewal! The sun and the moon! Incredible historic stories of wisdom and strength! The wild animals, birds, and flora! And of course, art! All are surrounded by azure blue skies and clean air.

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.

Finished in 1956, Chapel of the Holy Cross sits atop a pinnacle 250 feet above the valley floor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Finished in 1956, Chapel of the Holy Cross sits atop a pinnacle 250 feet above the valley floor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is believed by many that the region of Sedona contains a concentration of vortexes which are spots that release psychic energy or power from the Earth.

Positively charged vortexes are said to have feminine attributes: nurturing, calming, tranquil, or yin. Negative vortexes are masculine, active, energizing, or yang.

There are four local points which are considered to be energy vortexes in Sedona: Cathedral Rock (positive-feminine), Bell Rock (negative-masculine), Airport Mesa (negative-masculine), and Boynton Canyon (a balance of both energies).

For me, all of Sedona and Red Rock Country is one big vortex, a magnetic force that draws me back to this enchanting land year after year.

Sedona offers it all in a picturesque backdrop of serenity contrasted by some of the most rugged terrain to be found in The West.

The top 25 destinations include: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, Washington DC; Boston, Los Angles, Honolulu, New Orleans, Seattle, Miami, Sedona, Savannah, Charleston, Napa, San Antonio, Lahaina, Portland, Philadelphia, Myrtle Beach, Kailua Kona, Palm Springs, Naples, and Houston.

Worth Pondering…

There are only two places in the world

I want to live—Sedona and Paris.

—Max Ernst, Surrealist painter

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Alabama Gulf Coast Named Top Tourism Attraction

Alabama’s Gulf beaches and Gulf State Park are the largest tourism attractions in the state, overwhelmingly so, according to the new attendance figures released last week by the Alabama Tourism Department.

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 state’s largest stand-alone festival events, located about 20 miles apart, are also located in the Gulf Coast region. The Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival (March 14-16, in 2014) and National Shrimp Festival (October 9-12, in 2014) in Gulf Shores come in at the top two spots among event promotions staged over a single weekend.

The relatively new Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival (June 13-14, in 2014), which takes place in between the other two in Foley, is also rising up the state’s annual top 10 festival list.

According to the 2013 annual report, Mobile’s three-week long Mardi Gras celebration draws the largest attendance in the Events category, with 798,312 reported for 2013. The Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival turned out 300,000 last year, ahead of the National Shrimp Festival crowds reported at 250,000.

Birmingham’s Pepper Place Saturday Market had total attendance of 285,000 last year, however that event is ongoing from April through December.

Gulf State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Gulf State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Foley Balloon Festival came in with reported attendance of 65,000 in the latest report, in 8th place of the overall Events category.

The state’s largest Nature attraction is also by far the largest overall visitor destination. The Gulf beaches of Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, recording 2013 total attendance of 5.5 million. Gulf State Park alone had 1,965,000 visitors.

The state’s most popular Paid attraction last year was Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center, with more than 580,000 people visiting, followed by the Birmingham Zoo at second with 574,176 and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at third with 530,678. The USS Alabama attraction on the Mobile causeway came in at 4th with nearly 375,000 visitors.

Attendance figures were collected by the Alabama Tourism Department from local tourism organizations.

Summary of selected attendance figures follow:

Top 5 Admission Charged Attractions 2013

U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville (584,972)
Birmingham Zoo, Birmingham (574,176)
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (530,678)
USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile (371,229)
McWane Science Center, Birmingham (316,918)

Top 5 Free Attractions 2013

Birmingham Botanical Gardens (350,000)
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (157,609)
Alabama State Capitol, Montgomery (122,667)
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham (122,345)
U.S. Army Aviation Museum, Fort Rucker (95,030)

Top 5 Events 2013

Mobile Mardi Gras (798,312)
Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival (300,000)
Pepper Place Saturday Market, Birmingham (285,000)
National Shrimp Festival, Gulf Shores (250,000)
National Peanut Festival, Dothan (182,500)

Top 5 Parks and Natural Destinations 2013

Sparkling turquoise Gulf waters and stunningly white sand await the RVer on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sparkling turquoise Gulf waters and stunningly white sand await the RVer on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alabama Gulf Coast Beaches (5,500,000)
Gulf State Park (1,965,000)
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, McCalla (541,025)
Railroad Park, Birmingham (488,000)
Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham (433,500)

Worth Pondering…

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten,

Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.
In Dixie Land, where I was born in,
early on one frosty mornin’,
Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.

—lyrics by Daniel Decatur Emmett

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National Park Service Accused of Gestapo Tactics at Yellowstone

Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures.

Spider Rock at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Spider Rock at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Instead, the Massachusetts resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry, and heartbroken for her country.

Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on October 1, according to the Eagle Tribune (North Andover, Maine).

For many hours her tour group which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.

The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.

When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.

“We’ve become a country of fear, guns, and control,” said Vaillancourt.

“It was like they brought out the armed forces. Nobody was saying, ‘we’re sorry,’ it was all like — ” as she clenched her fist and banged it against her forearm.

Vaillancourt took part in a nine-day tour of western parks and sites along with about four dozen senior citizen tourists. One of the highlights of the tour was to be Yellowstone, where they arrived just as the shutdown went into effect.

Rangers systematically sent visitors out of the park, though some groups that had hotel reservations — such as Vaillancourt’s — were allowed to stay for two days. Those two days started out on a sour note, she said.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.

“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.

The seniors quickly filed back onboard and the bus went to the Old Faithful Inn, the park’s premier lodge located adjacent to the park’s most famous site, Old Faithful geyser. That was as close as they could get to the famous site — barricades were erected around Old Faithful, and the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door.

“They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside,” she said. “Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals.”

By October 3 the park, which sees an average of 4,500 visitors a day, was nearly empty. The remaining hotel visitors were required to leave.

As the bus made its 2.5-hour journey out of Yellowstone, the tour guide made arrangements to stop at a full-service bathroom at an in-park dude ranch he had done business with in the past. Though the bus had its own small bathroom, Vaillancourt said seniors were looking for a more comfortable place to stop.

But no stop was made — Vaillancourt said the dude ranch had been warned that its license to operate would be revoked if it allowed the bus to stop. So the bus continued on to Livingston, Montana, a gateway city to the park.

The bus trip made headlines in Livingston, where the local newspaper Livingston Enterprise interviewed the tour guide, Gordon Hodgson, who accused the park service of “Gestapo tactics.”

“The national parks belong to the people,” he told the Enterprise. “This isn’t right.”

Calls to Yellowstone’s communications office were not returned, as most of the personnel have been furloughed.

Many of the foreign visitors were shocked and dismayed by what had happened and how they were treated, Vaillancourt said.

“A lot of people who were foreign said they wouldn’t come back (to America),” she said.

Arches National Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Arches National Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The National Parks’ aggressive actions have spawned significant criticism in western states.

The Washington Times quoted an unnamed Park Service official who said park law enforcement personnel were instructed to ‘make life as difficult for people as we can’. It’s disgusting.”

The experience brought up many feelings in Vaillancourt. What struck her most was a widely circulated story about a group of World War II veterans who were on a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial when the shutdown began. The memorial was barricaded and guards were posted, but the vets pushed their way in.

That reminded her of her father, a World War II veteran who spent three years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

“He always said to stand up for what you believe in, and don’t let them push you around,” she said, adding she was sad to see “fear, guns and control” turned on citizens in her own country.

Worth Pondering…

The older I get, the more I learn to tolerate human shortcomings—and the less I tolerate bad attitudes.

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