DESTINATIONS PART 1 — Where have you been

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the seriesRVers Choices
Old Faithful in Yellowstone -- right on time

Old Faithful in Yellowstone — right on time

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers*

WHAT ARE RVers FAVORITE DESTINATIONS?  I asked RVers two questions via the Internet.  Responses poured in from more than 200 other travelers.  Question No. 1 was, “What is your favorite RV destination?”, which I’ll talk about today.  PART II is responses to the second question, “Where are you planning to go?”

Topping the immediate itinerary list is Yellowstone National Park.  It’s gratifying to realize that every one of the top responses would be on our list of favorites, although not necessarily in the order of voting.  Meanwhile, some of our favorites – the Ozarks Mountain region of Arkansas, for instance — was rarely mentioned.  Bryce Canyon, the Oregon Coast, the Michigan Upper Peninsula and the route to Alaska through British Columbia are definitely high on our list, but didn’t make the top five.

Music all around in a Mountain View, Ark., "pickin' shed"

Music all around in a Mountain View, Ark., “pickin’ shed”

Why didn’t the Ozarks get the recognition we feel it deserves?  I would attribute it to differences in our likes, dislikes and reasons for traveling in recreational vehicles.  Before we started our first cross-country trip in our get-acquainted-with-RVing 22-footer, I told Monique, “You’re going to love Arkansas.”  … and she did!  As soon as we crossed the state line from Missouri, the beauty of the serrated, thickly forested hills enthralled her.  When we stopped at the usual travel spots on our way to exquisite Blanchard Springs Caverns, she felt the warm reception from everyone she met.  And when we parked in Mountain View, she was swathed by the loving folk music wafting from throughout the town and in the “Pickin’ Shed.”

This August when, on our way westward from the Canadian Maritimes, I complained that I was tired of staring straight ahead at interstate highways.  A jolt of joy surged through me when she asked, “Do you want to take a detour to Mountain View?”   Of the thousand places we’ve been, I think that little happenin’ town is my favorite.

Now to list places that got the highest number of responses in that online survey after

Spectacular scenery at Bryce Canyon

Spectacular scenery at Bryce Canyon

Yellowstone: 2) Bryce Canyon was often mentioned, and it’s definitely among our favorites.  To me it is the brightest gem in the crown of Southern Utah parks, which include Zion, Capitol Reef and Arches.  3) The Oregon Coast is spectacular, but probably not so different than Northern California and Washington State.  Why it was singled out over its neighbors, I suspect, is there are fewer other must-see places competing for the traveler’s interest (Columbia Gorge between Oregon and Washington and the Cascades are worth a few days on its own.)

One of my favorite memories -- the Oregon Coast offers serenity in the fog

One of my favorite memories — the Oregon Coast offers serenity in the fog

4) “Uppies,” as the denizens of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are known, are fiercely loyal to their spit of land among the Great Lakes, and they have a right to be proud.  It’s a different kind of place, a secluded woodland away from it all.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula is a different kind of place with some unconventional folks

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a different kind of place with some unconventional folks

5)  As for the inland roads up to Alaska through British Columbia and the Yukon by way of

The Alaskan Coastal areas are unforgetable

The Alaskan Coastal areas are unforgetable

Banff and Lake Louise, I vote it as the most beautiful scenery that we’ve seen in North America.  That leads you to ask, “What about Alaska itself?” Alaska is friendly.  The people there are, well, Alaskans, quite a bit more independent, more “I-can-do-anything” types.  When it’s 60degrees below and you have sled dogs to care for, you’ve got to be heartier than us lower-48ers.  There are adventures in Alaska around every curve.

1.Glacier National Park’s Weeping Wall greets motorists on the Road to the Sun – but park your RV and take your tow on this narrow, steep drive.

Glacier National Park’s Weeping Wall greets motorists on the Road to the Sun – but park your RV and take your tow on this narrow, steep drive.

The top pick in the survey, Yellowstone National Park, is what I consider “Nature’s Amusement Park.”  It’s miles of almost unbelievable unique colorful formations, plus bison, elk, moose, bear and other critters rarely seen in such abundance around the contiguous states.  It also has campgrounds with hook-ups, making it more popular than many national parks.

Stay tuned to find out what the RV community named (in my unofficial survey) THE NUMBER ONE PLACE TO TRAVEL IN THEIR RV.

As for the * Asterisk at the top, let me take a moment to explain that Monique is my “Cruel Editor!”  She fixes punctuation and spelling, inserts words that I forget to put in, and scratches out sentences that she finds offensive in one way or another.  Cruel, but I agree with her changes 99% of the time.  She definitely earns having her name included in the creation of my blogs and articles.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

MORE WHALES AND SO MUCH MORE PART 1

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

Going out in a panga into Bahia de los Angeles, a bay on the Sea of Cortez, seemed a more interesting diversion than sitting by our travel trailer looking out to sea.  After all, by the time our caravan pulled into this scruffy little Mexican town in Baja California, we were ready for more adventure.

The Never-Bored RVers were far from disappointed by their decision to shell out $34 each to cruise around the bay.  As soon as our skipper, Joel, launched us onto the rich blue waters, we were getting our money’s worth.  I quickly spotted a whale’s spouting mist high into the warm air a quarter-mile ahead of us.

It was a finback whale, the second longest animal on our planet, and it was right there in front of us.  American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews called the fin whale “the greyhound of the sea… for its beautiful, slender body is built like a racing yacht and the animal can surpass the speed of the fastest ocean steamship1.”  But, after two days in Guerrero Negro on the Pacific side of Baja, would this be an anti-climax?

 

Not for a second.  While we didn’t see a breach (where the whale comes out of the water) or a spyhop (similar to a breach, but this is when the whale goes straight up to look around the surface of the water).  The broad dark tail fins (flukes) glistening in the morning sun excited members of our two boats time after time.

 

Attention to their performances was often interrupted by the dramatic dives of the blue-footed booby – yes, there is such a thing, and that’s the real name.  A dozen times each minute, these sleek seabirds circled and dove from heights of up to 100 feet at 60 miles an hour into the choppy waves.  Tough way to feed a seafood habit, but cheaper than a rod, reel and boat.  [INSERT BIRD DIVING PHOTO]

 

From our distance, we had to take Joel’s word that they have blue feet; however, later in the voyage my trusty camera showed it to be true. [INSERT BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY SHOT]

 

In my excitement to relate our mini-cruise, I’ve blurted out lots of words and chose some appropriate pictures … and at that point, we had more than three hours remaining before turning toward our dock.  There will be much more in Part 2, but before turning to starboard, I’ll spend a moment to talk about Joel [pronounced “Hoel”], the enterprising captain of our craft.

 

[JOEL PHOTO] “Joel, how did you learn to speak English so well?” asked a shipmate.  “I have learned from friends and Americans who come down here, but if you ask me about anything other than the boat, the bay and the animals we see, I don’t know.”  He did know a lot about his environment and was very capable of explaining it all to us and answering questions.  A smart man.

 

And his interest in learning has been passed along to his son, a marine biologist, and daughter, a college student in philosophy.  I mention this because, despite our being surrounded by a totally different culture than what we experience in the States and in Canada, we met many educated locals.  And those I encountered who understood no English were very friendly, which we found very welcoming when pulling into a Pemex gas station and not knowing how to say “Fill it up.” [OPTIONAL PEMEX PHOTO]

Stay tuned for Window Island and Skull Island, clamming and more.

1 This and corroboration of other facts was through Wikipedia.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

THE WONDERFUL FALLACY OF AN RV COMMUNITY

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

First published on AmeriGO.com website

As RV travelers, you and I are often put into the group known as the “RV Community.” It’s a marketing and journalistic term that rounds all of us up into a herd to which one title is applied. I want to dispel for you, as a novice RVer, the myth of a homogeneous RV community.

More important, I want to point out why we’re better off not being part of a single At Zion NP - 6248community.  As you travel, you’ll come across dozens, if not hundreds of different reasons people own or rent RVs and just as many ways they use their “recreational vehicles.” I put that term in quotes, because both can be inappropriate. Not everyone actually uses an RV for recreation. “Vehicle” often implies a motorized conveyance, but it also covers non-motorized contraptions like 5th wheels, trailers and bicycles.

Depending on how you use your RV, you will probably encounter all sorts of RV owners/travelers/renters (and for the rest of this article, let’s just lump us all under the term “owners”). I would say the predominance of folks we’ve met in campgrounds are either weekend users or full-time travelers, some of them working from their rigs (as I did for five years). But, every now and then we talk with someone who travels the countryside going from job to job, parking in one place for a week, a month or more.

Then there are “snowbirds,” who live double lives. Usually they are at home in the northern tier of states or in Canadian provinces for about six months until they head south to the Sunbelt states and Mexico, where they can enjoy the winter in shorts and t-shirts. In the north, they are part of a neighborhood with people they’ve known for years; in the south, they meet the same people year-after-year — Part 2 of their double life.

Out in the wilds, RVs are owned by different types of creatures – either the toy-hauler sports enthusiasts (also found at racecar tracks); boondockers who want to get off the grid, save bucks and experience life almost in the raw; and nature-lovers, including photojournalists.

Grandma and Grandpa love to host their children and especially their grandchildren, who are gaining an appreciation for the richness that this country has to offer. When we toured full-time, we were always hoping to encounter a nearby music event or local festival. It wasn’t our purpose for traveling, but it gave us a direction. Lots of “our kind of people” travel from place to place checking off attractions as they go, like ballparks, national parks, state capitals, presidential museums, etc.

In private RV parks, side-by-side sites are mostly filled with motorhomes and 5th wheels. These are primarily RVs built for comfort, more of a home-on-wheels than smaller rigs, like truck-campers and travel trailers. With prices that range from under 100 grand to over a million, owners buy the luxury that is within their pocketbooks. The size of the rig limits the places they can go, but we’ve known one Prevost couple willing to take their 7-figure fancy bright-red-and-stainless-steel bus off-road.

Truck-camper RVers are often fishermen. Not only can they drive up next to just about any remote stream, they have the advantage of being able to pull their boat or put it on the roof. We can’t do that in a travel trailer, and motorhomes usually tow a run-about car behind.

You’ll probably come across single men and women, widows, 21st Century beatniks and gay couples in your days on the road. There are a few full-time families home-schooling their youngsters (like AmeriGO bloggers Susie & Dan Kellogg). We meet many foreigners taking advantage of extended vacations, soaking up the many wonders of North America. Then there was Dermott, an Englishman, a physician, college professor, a Shakespeare enthusiast, with whom we struck up a conversation that we didn’t want to end.

Not every RV houses an interesting story or a memorable character. Yet, if you’ve gotten the gist of this blog, you are realizing that to lump all of us into one community is folly. A strong reason to get on the road in your RV is the people you meet. Unlike the manicured neighborhood where most of us live, when we’re dispersed along the highways and byways of America, we’re not all members of the same types of organizations. We don’t all have children the same ages. While the predominance of RVers is definitely Caucasian American, our backgrounds and reasons for loading up and taking off are diverse.

We are wonderfully not a single community. If you extend your reach to neighbors in your RV environment, you’re bound to enhance your life. Every time we get on the road, we know we’ll run into some interesting people, and that’s a big reason we can call ourselves “The Never-Bored RVers.” We look forward to crossing paths and talking with you on down the road.

© Photo by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved.