BUSY PLACES: NATURAL SPACES – PART I

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the seriesFavorite Places

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

To keep my often too-long RV.net blogs a bit shorter, I posted an excerpt of this article on that site:  this is the full article, subdivided into two parts.  Part I is about favorite cities; Part II is a list of all National Parks from the most visited to Lake Clark in Alaska at the bottom of the ratings – a shame since it is absolutely stunning in the Alaskan sunshine.  I wrote an article a year ago about the destinations chosen by RV.net readers.  Since it vanished somewhere between Point A and Point B, I’ve republished it.  I assure you, I’m not trying to sell anything (unless you’re interested in one or more of my photos of North America).

BUSY PLACES:  Enough pregame chatter, time to get to the good stuff.  I recently came across two “favorite lists” that I found interesting.  The first lists the “Travelers’ Choice 2013” of favorite cities to visit published by Tripadvisor.  I’m not sure how the “travelers” made their selections, but the number of attractions in the selected areas probably influences it.  For instance, New York, the #1 choice, has dozens of museums, historic sites, entertainment, etc.

So now, the Top 10 American cities, from the Big Apple to the Big Easy:  After New York in first place comes San Francisco, then Chicago, Las Vegas and Orlando finish out the first five.

The sights and sounds of Chinatown in San Francisco make visiting a unique experience.

The sights and sounds of Chinatown in San Francisco make visiting a unique experience.

My comments:  San Francisco is a beautiful, fun town, and if you visit Chicago, we strongly recommend taking the American Institute of Architects boat tour along the Chicago River.  I

"The Bean" at left is the most interesting feature of Millennium Park in Chicago

“The Bean” at left is the most interesting feature of Millennium Park in Chicago

got a whole new favorable impression of the city.  Some people avoid Las Vegas thinking it’s SinCity, but it’s so much more than gambling and risqué shows.  There’s entertainment galore and lots of interesting desert.  Need I comment on Orlando – home of numerous family-oriented attractions?

The only thing I can say about Washington, D.C., No 6 on the list, is that you can’t stay long enough to see it all – a week minimum – and we started out with the Gray Line tour “D.C. After Dark.”  The history in Boston is obviously legendary (maybe “legendary” is the wrong word since the courage of our founding fathers is factual).  It’s mostly what Boston is all about … plus the Boston Pops Orchestra.  Los Angeles is a metropolis that never ends, with museums, entertainment, 20th Century history, family amusement parks … whatever you’re looking for, it’s probably there.  No. 9 is Honolulu.  I’m not sure why, except that the airport is the jumping off point for much of the South Pacific islands.

And No. 10 – New Orleans.  I’m a bit prejudiced about this one – it’s my hometown.  Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, Creole food and nearby Cajun Country are the traditional main attractions, but I strong recommend the incredible World War II Museum.  Just watching the Tom Hanks-narrated video is worth the price of admission.

And now for the final 15 cities to visit in the U.S.:

11. Seattle, Washington

12. Miami, Florida

13. Sedona, Arizona

14. Savannah, Georgia

15. Charleston, South Carolina

16. Napa (Wine Country), California

17. San Antonio, Texas

18. Lahaina, Hawaii

19. Portland, Oregon

20. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

21. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

22. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

23. Palm Springs, California

24. Naples, Florida

25. Houston, Texas

We rarely assign major cities as destinations, but we do have favorites.  Monique puts

The quaintness of Savannah, Georgia, lies in its preservation of its glorious history.

The quaintness of Savannah, Georgia, lies in its preservation of its glorious history.

Charleston or Savannah at the top of her list.  I still have to say I really appreciate the unique culture of New Orleans … and both of us like Washington, D.C., not only for the attractions, but for the cleanliness and grandeur.  My favorite town is Mountain View, Arkansas (population:  less than 3,800 and not on the list), where the folk music never stops.

I doubt if you’ll get bored in any of them … so you can join us as being “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

BUSY PLACES: NATURAL SPACES – PART II

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the seriesFavorite Places

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

NATURAL SPACES:  This is a list of all 58 U.S. National Parks, arranged by number of visitors in a year.  It doesn’t include monuments, scenic rivers, historic locations and other designated Park Service sites.  Three eastern parks made the cut; the rest are out West.  Most convenient to a good portion of the U.S. population is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which hosted 9 million visitors last year.  It’s also on the “flyway” for snowbirds.

The next three are Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone, each with its spectacular scenery.  I am surprised that Rocky Mountain National Park is in fifth place, but we also put it very high on our list of the 46 that we’ve visited.

What could be more peaceful than parking your rig at Aspenglen Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park. This was on the last day the campground was open before autumn closure, which sent us to Moraine Campground, another spectacular site.

What could be more peaceful than parking your rig at Aspenglen Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park. This was on the last day the campground was open before autumn closure, which sent us to Moraine Campground, another spectacular site.

No. 6 is Olympic National Park between the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound in Washington State.  Then Zion in Utah and Grand Teton in Wyoming (not far from Yellowstone) and 11th on the list, Glacier, both in Montana.  Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park is No. 10.  And now for the full list of National Parks, sorted by number of visitors in 2012.  The * indicates that you can’t drive there in your RV.

Truly one of the greatest vistas in the United State are those in Glacier National Park in Montana. We hiked to Avalanche Lake, where we were stunned by the majestic beauty.

Truly one of the greatest vistas in the United State are those in Glacier National Park in Montana. We hiked to Avalanche Lake, where we were stunned by the majestic beauty.

  1. Great Smoky Mountain (North Carolina/Tennessee)
  2. Grand Canyon (Arizona)
  3. Yosemite (California)
  4. Yellowstone (Wyoming)
  5. Rocky Mountain (Colorado)
  6. Olympic (Washington)
  7. Zion (Utah)
  8. Grand Teton (Wyoming)
  9. Acadia (Maine)
  10. Cuyahoga Valley (Ohio)
  11. Glacier (Montana)
  12. Hot Springs (Arkansas)
  13. Joshua Tree (California)
  14. Hawaii Volcanoes (Hawaii)
  15. Bryce Canyon (Utah)
  16. Shenandoah (Virginia)
  17. Arches (Utah)
  18. Mount Rainer (Washington)
  19. Sequoia (California)
  20. Haleakala (Hawaii)
  21. Death Valley (California)
  22. Everglades (Florida)
  23. Badlands (South Dakota)
  24. Capitol Reef (Utah)
  25. Petrified Forest  (Arizona)
  26. Saguaro Forest (Arizona)
  27. Mesa Verde (Colorado)
  28. Kings Canyon (California)
  29. Theodore Roosevelt (North Dakota)
  30. Wind Cave (South Dakota)
  31. Mammoth Cave Kentucky
  32. Biscayne* (Florida)
  33. Canyonlands (Colorado)
  34. Virgin Islands* (Virgin Islands)
  35. Glacier Bay* (Alaska)
  36. Crater Lake (Oregon)
  37. Denali (Alaska)
  38. Redwood (California)
  39. Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)
  40. Big Bend (Texas)
  41. Lassen Volcanic (California)
  42. Kenai Fjords (Alaska)
  43. Great San Dunes (Colorado)
  44. Channel Islands* (California)
  45. Voyageurs (Minnesota)
  46. Black Canyon of the Gunnison (Colorado)
  47. Guadalupe Mountains (Texas)
  48. Congaree (South Carolina)
  49. Great Basin (Great Basin (Nevada)
  50. Dry Tortugas* (Florida)
  51. Wrangell-St. Elias (Alaska)
  52. Katmai (Alaska)
  53. North Cascades (Washington)
  54. Isle Royale* (Michigan)
  55. Gates of the Artic* (Alaska)
  56. Kobuk Valley* (Alaska)
  57. American Samoa (American Samoa)
  58. Lake Clark (Alaska)

*Inaccessible by roads

What a view!  Last on the list of visited National Parks is Lake Clark on the way to Homer, Alaska.  Oh, how I long to  take another "trip of a lifetime" to the Land of the Midnight Sun.

What a view! Last on the list of visited National Parks is Lake Clark on the way to Homer, Alaska. Oh, how I long to take another “trip of a lifetime” to the Land of the Midnight Sun.

I can’t end this without mentioning my own personal favorite, Bryce Canyon in Utah, No. 15 on the visited list.  Just preparing the list above (including determining which ones we’ll never visit in our travel trailer) gave me the will to go on to explore the few that we can

A scene in Theodore National Park, North Dakota, where cowboys roam among the herds of feral horses.

A scene in Theodore National Park, North Dakota, where cowboys roam among the herds of feral horses.

reach via land.  We haven’t been to Hawaii yet, but we plan to rent a small RV while there, possibly in 2015 [I find that when we plan these trips ahead a long way off, we’re eager and ready when the time comes to cover lots of distance].

We’re the “Never-Bored RVers,” and very appreciative of being able to visit so many of the world’s most scenic lands in our home on wheels.  We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

DESTINATIONS PART 3 — SURPRISES

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the seriesRVers Choices
A quartet of tourists performs for the camera.  That’s Monique and me on the right, and Monique’s brother and sister-in-law visiting from France on the left.

A quartet of tourists performs for the camera. That’s Monique and me on the right, and Monique’s brother and sister-in-law visiting from France on the left.

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

 

Via the Internet I asked the RVers to let me know their favorite spots to visit and where they planned to go in the years ahead.  Hundreds of responses poured in, and names like Yellowstone, Alaska, the Utah national parks, and Florida were the most often mentioned.

Signs of abundant life are still visible at the Salton Sea, but it’s not a place we plan to visit again until drastic measures are taken to remove the stench of dead fish.   -- Photo courtesy California Dept. of Parks & Recreation

Signs of abundant life are still visible at the Salton Sea, but it’s not a place we plan to visit again until drastic measures are taken to remove the stench of dead fish.
— Photo courtesy California Dept. of Parks & Recreation

But then there were some surprises – either because I would never have expected these to be preferred destinations or I had never heard of them.  For instance, there was one vote for the Salton Sea in California, as a favorite place.  Monique and I set down our stabilizers there in 2006, expecting to stay for a week.  We left the next day.

Why? The inland Salton Sea, south of Palm Springs, is, by all accounts, a depressing place. It’s California’s largest lake and — thanks to its toxic water and resultant abundance of dead fish — gives off a smell that’s so powerfully rancid it’s been known to waft all the way to Simi Valley. Its glory days are many decades in the past, the lake is shrinking, and many of its residents have left (or, in some cases, fled). There are a few traditional tourist attractions left (the International Banana Museum!) and a state park, but if this … article is anything to go by, its stock-in-trade these days is disaster tourism.”  That quote is from an article in the September 2013 online newsletter “Curbed.”   

That about sums it up in my experience, so I still don’t know why it’s a favorite destination.  P.S.  There’s a vey aggressive effort being made now to have the State of California solve the problems and restore it to the resort-level beauty of 40 or more years ago.

Another vote was for Nauvoo, an Illinois town in a bend of the Mississippi River.  I don’t remember going through there, so I looked it up and found that it’s known for the establishment of a Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS, the Mormons) and it is acclaimed for its beauty and history.

Standing nobly in Paris, Idaho, is the Church of Latter Day Saints Tabernacle.  Despite being built on the Idaho side of the state line with Utah, it remains a center for followers of the Mormon religion.

Standing nobly in Paris, Idaho, is the Church of Latter Day Saints Tabernacle. Despite being built on the Idaho side of the state line with Utah, it remains a center for followers of the Mormon religion.

A personal remembrance here:  In 2008, we stopped in Paris, Idaho, where we were invited into the imposing Mormon Tabernacle to listen to the local organist “practicing” on the grand organ … a WOW that we reveled in for about 30 minutes.  In reading the sign in front of the magnificent structure, we learned that the LDS pioneers established the community in 1863, but it wasn’t until nine years later that they found out they were in Idaho instead of their destination – Utah!

I had no reason to question the responder who said he likes “the Bourbon Trail” of Kentucky, nor Ennis, Montana, famed for fly-fishing.  I never thought of Pahrump, Nevada, as a place to stop for very long, but two people casts ballots for it as a destination.   It has a speedway, access to many desert places worth visiting, and extreme summer heat.  Apparently lots of RVers spend more than a day there.

We’ve never heard of Door County, Wisconsin, but after reading about this peninsula in eastern Wisconsin, we will put it on our places to go next time we’re in the Great Lakes area.  To quote the local visitors bureau, With more than 300 miles of spectacular shoreline and five majestic state parks, Door County is a four-season, outdoor recreation and pleasure lover’s dream come true. If you enjoy history, discovery and fun, Door County is home to 11 lighthouses, unique communities, performing arts, entertainment, music, boutiques, galleries and mouth-watering cuisine …” yadda, yadda, yadda.

Boy, what an exploration in fascinating places!  And here are a few other places that got mentioned, many of which you’ll probably agree with:  the Mississippi River Road (very educational with RV caravan companies); riding along rural roads in the Northeast when the leaves are changing; Route 66; the Four Corners (UT, CO, NM & AZ); and the Great Lakes, national parks (several are on islands inaccessible by RV), stadiums and presidential libraries.

Hundreds of RVs travel down to Mexico and Central America every year, and we have talked with several who went into South America, including one adventurer who journeyed down to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip.

One respondent listed New Zealand — I would put that on my “bucket list,” but it will probably never happen.  What is on our list is the Hawaiian Islands, which we will do next year or in 2015, renting an RV and traveling in our rental rig through one or more of the islands.  While we’ve been to the Islands before our days in a home-on-wheels, that will be our 50th state to visit as the Never-Bored RVers … which we remain.  We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander, unless otherwise identified.   All rights reserved

 

DESTINATIONS PART 2 — Where do you want to go?

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the seriesRVers Choices

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

WHERE ARE YOU HEADING?   I know you’ve waited with bated breath for the second episode in the saga of where the hippest RVers are.  My second question posed via the Internet was “Where are you going?”  By far, the No. 1 answer was Alaska, hands-down.  My recommendation is that everyone should put the “Land of the Midnight Sun” as the mustest of the must-see places in North America.  I mentioned the beauty of the trip up and the friendliness of the people.  What you can’t grasp without being there is the immenseness (is that a word?), the variety of terrain, the diversity of animals, and the feeling of accomplishment from making the long drive.  If there were ever one place to call a trip of a lifetime, Alaska is it!

The Screech-In was an absolute highlight of our visit to the Canadian Atlantic Provinces.  Visitors toast the Province of Newfoundland/Labrador and are then subjected to the “kissing the cod” ceremony, which, along with other rituals, is what it takes to officially become a Newfie.

The Screech-In was an absolute highlight of our visit to the Canadian Atlantic Provinces. Visitors toast the Province of Newfoundland/Labrador and are then subjected to the “kissing the cod” ceremony, which, along with other rituals, is what it takes to officially become a Newfie.

Going down the list of top destinations mentioned by blog readers after Alaska, we hit 2)

It’s like walking into a postcard.  Touring Arches National Park in Southern Utah is an unforgettable experience.

It’s like walking into a postcard. Touring Arches National Park in Southern Utah is an unforgettable experience.

the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada, 3) Yellowstone, 4) the parks of Southern Utah, tie 5) Washington State and 5) Key West, Florida.   What all these have in common is they can strain the budget. Utah being the most centrally located of the top choices, is probably the least expensive, depending on your starting point.  On an Alaskan trip and to a lesser degree Washington, it’s the cost of fuel to get there; for the Maritimes,

Key West, Florida, may be the only place in the Continental U.S. where, no matter how long you stay, you still feel like you’re on vacation.  It’s an island paradise connected to the mainland by causeways through “the Keys.”

Key West, Florida, may be the only place in the Continental U.S. where, no matter how long you stay, you still feel like you’re on vacation. It’s an island paradise connected to the mainland by causeways through “the Keys.”

the ferries and fuel; and for Key West, time, fuel and camping costs.  On the other hand, if depleting the piggybank gets you nervous, think about them as ultimate places to see.  Consider Washington and Idaho for a summer trip – beauty abounds.

This was all compiled before Monique and I went to the Atlantic Provinces of Canada in 2013.  You, the readers, had listed it as second most desired place to visit.  Now that we’ve been there, I can say New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland/Labrador and Prince Edward Island are special.  It’s not just the sights, but the people, lifestyles, history and beauty that come at you from all directions.  It’s among the top spots on my favorite places list.

5 - Final 4 Collage

As I tallied the votes, I wondered what happened to some other big-name national parks, primarily Yosemite in California.   Yosemite has, to be sure, the most spectacular variety of views of any national park we have been to (we’ve been to 46 different ones).  Our reason for avoiding one of naturalist John Muir’s favorite haunts more often is, to quote Yogi Berra, “It’s so crowded, nobody goes there anymore.”  It is the second-most popular national park (after Smoky Mountain), which accounts for lots of visitors … and that convergence of tourists also afflicts the Grand Canyon.  We’ve been told often that Yosemite is in its greatest glory in the winter when snow-covered.  We might have to park the trailer in warmer climes and four-wheel in to check it out.

If you haven’t been on “The Road to the Sun” in Glacier N.P. in Montana you’ve missed one of the best touring roads in America, but hurry.  The glaciers are melting. Acadia National Park in Maine is also considered to offer the most beautiful views of any of the parks except maybe Glacier.  It is beautiful, but we felt it is more of a park to visit because it’s symbolic of the Maine Coast.  Neither got the attention they deserve in the survey, but they are at least better known than another highly touted national park, Big Bend on the Texas-Mexico border.

The Olympic National Forest on the western peninsula of Washington State is a trip into a rainforest.  The “Evergreen State” offers some of America’s most interesting and varied scenery.

The Olympic National Forest on the western peninsula of Washington State is a trip into a rainforest. The “Evergreen State” offers some of America’s most interesting and varied scenery.

Additional recommendation:  Don’t miss the Black Hills of South Dakota.   Hugging the coastline of Lake Superior is unforgettable.  Sedona and Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona are classics.  Cajun Country in South Louisiana and New Orleans is like visiting a different, fun country.   Another destination to consider:  we spent a week last May parked outside of Washington, D.C., taking the Metro from our campground into the city almost everyday.  We started with D.C. After Dark, enjoying a bus tour of the Capital under the lights, and then returned to visit the Smithsonian Institution, the traditional and newer monuments, memorials and sights.   I’ve been there many times before, but doing it with our home-on-wheels as our base made it even better.

There were some surprising responses to the survey, which I’ll mention in the weeks ahead.  I think for now, you’ve got enough ideas to chew on without those.  We welcome your recommendations.

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

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

CANADA’S ATLANTIC PROVINCES – A WRAP-UP – PART IV

This entry is part 16 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

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

I’m going to wrap up this series about the Maritime plus Newfoundland-Labrador with a quick list of things that are indelibly etched in our minds.

Shuffin' Off

The poem above by David Boyd is what I consider symbolic of the way of life throughout most of these four isolated provinces that touch the Atlantic Ocean and its maritime arms.  It’s my impression that the people of this land are fighting valiantly to retain their independence and the lifestyle that has manifested for more than 400 years.  It’s a struggle.

David Boyd, the poem’s author, is a fighter – he has spent years and great energy preserving the historic fishing culture that generations in his family have enjoyed.  A tough, but very satisfying existence for the fishermen that, for many reasons, is losing out to a complex tapestry of current conditions.  David is the proprietor of the Prime Berth Heritage Centre in Twillingate, Newfoundland.  Go to the website www.primeberth.com for extensive information, more than I can explain in a blog.

TOWNS – I’m going to be brief, since I’ve written about all of these over the past four months:

A typical Newfoundland village hugging the bright blue waters

A typical Newfoundland village hugging the bright blue waters 

Twillingate, NF, was a favorite, a small town center of activity and interesting shops, plus the site of one of our favorite mini-hikes across from Peyton’s Woods RV Park.  It was also where we were introduced to Ugly Sticks, which I have written about several times.

St. John’s, NF, probably had more interesting sights than any other city.  I would call it a definite “must visit.”  (Not to be confused with St. John, NB, which was also interesting.)

Lunenburg, NS, with its seaside downtown and beautiful gardens, plus nearby beautiful Mahone Bay and the Blue Rocks.

Bonavista – Very interesting town with the St. Matthew’s Legacy, a typical Newfoundland small town with traditional structures.

Hikes — Maybe “strolls” is a better term, since we didn’t have extensive time to wander far and wide, but we did take mild excursions to immerse ourselves in the pastoral surroundings.

Cape Onion, NF. The grassy trail takes off from the historic and critically reviewed Adams House, bordering the shoreline and then ascending via wooden steps to a meadow high above the aqua-green waters pounding the rocks below.

Elliston and Spillar’s Cape, NF – We were the “early birds” arriving at the cliff across

Lighthouses -- like "exclamation marks" -- punctuate the thousands of miles of coastlines

Lighthouses — like “exclamation marks” — punctuate the thousands of miles of coastlines

from the island of puffins at Elliston, where we were treated to a show that included a puffin waddling five feet from Monique – an  absolute highlight of the entire six-month journey.  On recommendation from a tour-bus guide, we left there and went to Spillar’s Cape nearby for another puffin experience, plus a vista of better-than-postcard proportions.

A quote from a sign in a restaurant in Twillingate:  “And there you find yourself, Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, And oddly enough, It’s exactly where you want to be.”

The Louisbourg Fortress -- History where you can touch it

The Louisbourg Fortress — History where you can touch it

Events: Without a doubt, the Tattoo and Screech-In are at the top of our list, but we saw plays, and walked through museums, government buildings, forts, gardens and much, much more.

Other favorite memories – As part of a caravan, we were in different places almost every day or two, seeing different things in our own vehicle (we pull a travel trailer), in cars of newly-made-friends, on tour buses, from tour boats and a schooner, and walking.  Here are a few other topics that come to mind:

Just Another Pretty Moose

Just Another Pretty Moose

Creatures — Eagles, ospreys, moose, caribou, deer, a fox, and livestock grazing peacefully in verdant pastures.

Scenery – The Atlantic and other great waters; glacier-sculpted hills, rocks, lakes and rivers; fishing villages; icebergs (not many this summer), Jellybean houses in St. John’s, the Bay of Fundy.

Food – Lobsters, cod, haddock, salmon, crabs (depending on the seafood season), Poutine, Denair, fish & chips, Tim Horton’s bakery/coffee shops; a lot more that we either sampled or didn’t want to try.

For environmental concerns, coal mining has shut down, but a few miners are now sharing their experiences on guided mine tours.

For environmental concerns, coal mining has shut down, but a few miners are now sharing their experiences on guided mine tours.

I have to mention again that each of the Atlantic Provinces is unlike the others, except that they all have evolved around fishing and have histories that are linked with the explorations by Europeans, and therefore are somewhat similar.  Going to any and thinking you’ve seen it all is a mistake.

And finally, for the sake of those who qualified as Newfies, “Long may your big jib draw.”

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

Ah, such fond memories!

Ah, such fond memories!

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

MY FAVORITE PLACES – A REVIEW – PART 3

This entry is part 15 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

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

Our seven-week tour of the Atlantic Provinces of Canada included so much, such variety and so many memories that, if I told you about each and every place, each would lose its significance.  Therefore, I’m going to give you a brief synopsis of a few places that, in my opinion, you won’t want to miss while you’re there.  I’m sure all of these I’ve written about in past episodes, but I’m looking back in retrospect at the ones that stand out the most in my memory.

At the sea, at the sea, at the bottom of the sea -- The Bay of Fundy provides a low-tide spectacle

At the sea, at the sea, at the bottom of the sea — The Bay of Fundy provides a low-tide spectacle

FLOWERPOTS – We were able to see many views of the world-famous Bay of Fundy – this was the “fundiest.” Located at Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick, the Hopewell Rocks, also known at “the flowerpots,” are

interesting monolithic outcroppings visible in their entirety at low tide.  Six hours later when the water rises more than 40 feet they become tiny offshore islands.  The Bay of Fundy is probably the most famous attraction of the Maritimes, but there is so much more to experience.

THE TATTOO – I was expecting an evening watching a conglomeration of bodies

The Tattoo -- SPECTACULAR!

The Tattoo — SPECTACULAR!

marching around an arena.  Nothing more.  Those expectations fell far short of the spectacular show we witnessed.  Yes, the ranks-and-files did their thing, several times, and each time was a bit of a thrill with marchers wearing traditional uniforms.  There were enjoyable circus acts; vocal numbers by rich-voiced singers (both individually and in choirs); competition among military units; performing police groups, several thousand participants, lights, noises, music, and other sensory sensations to keep everyone entertained.  Officially named the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo held annually in a modern arena in Halifax, the 2014 edition will be July 1-8.  Better get your tickets early.

Dennis is definitely enjoying the fun. That's me at right, and I'm less joyful. I think the cod, center, is taking it all in stride.

Dennis is definitely enjoying the fun. That’s me at right, and I’m less joyful. I think the cod, center, is taking it all in stride.

SCREECHING IN — If you’re a C.F.A., you will become a Newfie when you kiss the cod at a Screech In.  Our caravan of 45 people whose backgrounds span the gamut from technology to farming, all sorts of folks with different assessments of what is fun – and yet, I doubt if any of them didn’t think the Screech In was A BLAST! Giving you the specifics of the ceremony would diminish the excitement, so I’ll just say that changing from a C.F.A. (we “Come From Away”) to a Newfie (Newfoundlander) is filed in our memory banks forever.

UGLY STICK CONCERTS — As we walked into the Prime Berth Fishing Museum, I glanced at the collection of broomsticks with tin cans on top and boots at the base.  An

I wasn't prepared to see Ugly Sticks at the center of the entertainment, so I shot this scene with my IPhone camera.

I wasn’t prepared to see Ugly Sticks at the center of the entertainment, so I shot this scene with my IPhone camera.

hour later when I saw the sheer joy in Monique’s eyes as she banged out an Ugly Stick percussion accompaniment to local Bill’s guitar-playing, I suggested that we buy one.  And when fellow-traveler Ron bought one, Monique proposed that they play a concert at that evening’s Fantasy Tours caravan barbeque and potluck. That was the start of something big and spontaneous.  We took turns thumping the Ugly Sticks, with even the most laid-back of the group movin’ his feet when forced to join the music-making.

After five more members of the troupe bought Ugly Sticks, the ensemble performed several times after that, including with a band that was playing at an RV park days later on Prince Edward Island, wishing that they had discovered this homiest of rhythm instruments earlier.  The band had never heard of Ugly Sticks, but I’m certain that by now it’s part of their selection of instruments.

Elizabeth LaFort's hook rug work is a delight.

Elizabeth LaFort’s hook rug work is a delight.

THE CABOT TRAIL – This two-lane road undulates as it plies its way on Cape Breton Island, on the northeastern part of Nova Scotia.  It goes on and on, embracing the coastline for mile after mile, and cuts across the interior.  We were aboard a tour bus, appreciative that our driver was contending with the steep grades and narrow highway.  We stopped at a shop in Cheticamp, where they make and sell masks.  It was much more interesting that we expected – Monique bought two to decorate for our Mardi Gras in California celebration.  The next stop was up the road at a museum featuring hook rugs and tapestries in the Elizabeth LeFort Gallery. Impressive!  Honestly, the ride was long and the scenery repetitive, but it’s worth devoting a few miles to the historic section of the island.

I NEEDED HER! — I’ve been an Anne Murray fan since the ‘80s.  Apparently she has

A few of Anne Murray's Platinum Records - Quite a collection

A few of Anne Murray’s Platinum Records – Quite a collection

other fans, too, based on the exhibition of her numerous platinum albums, as displayed in the Anne Murray Centre in Springhill, Nova Scotia.  I was absolutely amazed realizing the scope of her success, as shown by decades in the twisting galleries.

ANOTHER TIME IN ANOTHER PLACE — A Newfoundlandism of interest:  this province, which includes Labrador, is a half-hour ahead of Atlantic Time, which is an hour ahead of Eastern Time.  What I haven’t mentioned in this synopsis is the beauty, wildlife and history elements of what we experienced.  The Atlantic Provinces are much more than attractions, as I’ll try to convey in the next edition.

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

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

P.E.I. – A SMALL ISLAND; A LOT TO SAY – MARITIMES PART 2

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

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

While a good percentage of inhabitants of the “Atlantic Provinces” [see Barbara and Tom Palmer’s Comment below] are closing up their businesses and preparing for the winter migration to the U.S. Sunbelt states, your excitement in visiting this easternmost Canadian turf next spring and summer can be building.  After 17,050 miles of driving, it may be a while before we return, and we have several other journeys in our plans, but the call to revisit the Atlantic provinces is certainly worth considering.

I’ll write more in the future about the specific places that were the most memorable in our seven weeks of caravanning to the “Maritimes Plus One.”  I think the best service I can provide in this blog is to mention briefly what were highlights for us – adventures that will stay with us for years to come, supplemented, of course, by photographs.

What stand out in our memory about P.E.I. - the pastoral scenery

What stand out in our memory about P.E.I. – the pastoral scenery

The last province on our RV expedition was P.E.I., or as it’s known to non-locals “Prince Edward Island.”   And, let me mention at this point that each of the four Atlantic Provinces has its own history, customs, and way of life.  The fishing villages are somewhat similar in many areas, although the fishing boats aren’t necessarily the same and they are out to haul in different catches – lobster, oysters, cod, salmon, haddock, probably others I don’t remember.  And fishing seasons, as set by the Canadian government, are a bit complicated for us outsiders and vary by provinces.  What I want to emphasize is that going to New Brunswick is not the same as going to P.E.I., nor is Labrador very similar to Nova Scotia.

P.E.I. settles on our minds as luxuriant greenery, pastures, farmland, rolling hills (most of the provinces also have grassy rolling hills).   But this, the smallest of the provinces, has a serenity we appreciated more than other places.  Our caravan schedule included much ado about “Anne of Green Gables,” one of the most popular books of teenage girls for over a century.   Monique read the book prior to arriving there and passed it along to others in the coterie, all of whom seemed to enjoy it.  Monique and I visited the “Green Gables” house that was the setting for the novel and attended a play loosely based on the book in the mini-metropolis capital city of Charlottetown.  Charlottetown is a beautiful, historic place, bedecked with voluptuous hanging flower baskets.

Can you believe, I intended to wrap up this series in this blog, but I haven’t even finished with P.E.I.?   I hadn’t mentioned playing golf on one of the greenest of courses, a few hours of enjoyment much greater than the normal frustration.  I felt it was a good day on the course since I only lost one ball and had 35 putts.

Not to be forgotten from our week on Prince Edward was meeting Brian MacNaughton at

Bruce & Shirley MacNaughton Welcome Diners at P.E.I. Preserves

Bruce & Shirley MacNaughton Welcome Diners at P.E.I. Preserves

the P.E.I. Preserves Co. near Cavendish.  Soon after our tour bus pulled into the parking area, a sprightly, kilt-clan MacNaughton hopped up the steps and quickly gave us his rollicking version of his winding course from when his first restaurant failed to when he began selling jars of preserves featuring Grand Marnier, Champagne and other unique ingredients to some of the classiest stores worldwide.

A few minutes later we were enjoying one of the best meals of our caravan trek in his P.E.I. Preserves restaurant.  After dinner we sampled preserves and other treats made in that same building, and finding things we didn’t know we needed to buy in the gift shop.  If you like mussels, this is the place!

After the caravan concluded and our new friends dispersed — some north to the Gaspe Peninsula, others to Quebec and beyond, and others to the U.S.  – we spent a few days on the northwestern part of the island mainly “chillin’” and reveling in the pastoral serenity of that off-the-beaten-trail area.  Starved after driving for hours one day, we stopped at Randy’s Pizza at a remote intersection on the French-speaking Acadian region (also called Region Evangeline) and ordered a plate of “donair” to go.  We didn’t know what it was, and we’re still not sure, but it’s something like a meat pie.  Yes, we would order it again, unlike our experience with poutine in Newfoundland, which didn’t excite our palates.

The Bottle House with the Lighthouse Overlooking Egmont Bay

The Bottle House with the Lighthouse Overlooking Egmont Bay

Most notable place to us on our freelance drive was “The Bottle Houses,” a cluster of three small cottages made with bottles encrusted in mortar and built on land that includes the Cape Egmont Lighthouse.  Adding to the spectacle are the colorful gardens interwoven among the buildings.  It’s worth driving the extra miles to the town of Cape Egmont to see the creative construction by Edouard Arsenault.

A FEW P.E.I. SCENES [FROM TOP]: In anticipation of the opening of the lobster season the next day, fishing boats were lined up and loaded with traps; we entered the Acadian area, also known as the Evangeline Region; the setting for the novel “Anne of Green Gables”; our travels were punctuated with opportunities to make music with Ugly Sticks (as demonstrated by Roger, Sarah and Jean); Donair, featured at Randy’s Pizza near nowhere; and the bridge from Nova Scotia to P.E.I. is the longest span over the Atlantic Ocean.

A FEW P.E.I. SCENES [FROM TOP]: In anticipation of the opening of the lobster season the next day, fishing boats were lined up and loaded with traps; we entered the Acadian area, also known as the Evangeline Region; the setting for the novel “Anne of Green Gables”; our travels were punctuated with opportunities to make music with Ugly Sticks (as demonstrated by Roger, Sarah and Jean); Donair, featured at Randy’s Pizza near nowhere; and the bridge from Nova Scotia to P.E.I. is the longest span over the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ll save a few more memories for the days ahead.  Meantime, there are a couple of interesting comments below:

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

 

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

COMMENTS TO RECENT BLOGS

From Barbara and Tom Palmer (and Shelby the border terrier) — Hi Barry and Monique, We have really enjoyed your travel blog – but one thing that is driving me crazy is your inclusion of Newfoundland and Labrador as part of the Canadian Maritime provinces. We are also full-time RVers who spent the summer of 2011 in the Maritimes and Newfoundland – and rest assured, the Newfies we met did not consider themselves part of the Maritimes (New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia). Nor did the Maritimers we met consider Newfies to be part of the Maritimes.

As you undoubtedly know by now, Newfoundland was an independent country until 1949 when it confederated with Canada (with a bare majority of Newfies voting for confederation); is there any way you could work that bit of history into your future posts? We really need to give Newfoundland credit for providing space and hospitality to US forces during the second world war – the US built a number of antisubmarine and naval warfare bases (as well as the Air Force base in Gander) in Newfoundland to protect the northern Atlantic from the Germans. Also, although it’s clear to us outsiders that they really could not have survived as an independent country, many Newfies are still uneasy about being Canadians!

Sorry you had to disable the comment section in your blog – we enjoyed seeing what others had to say!  Did you kiss the cod?

Barry’s Response — I find your note absolutely amazing.  In all our pre-planning and in our three weeks in Newfoundland and Labrador, I had never heard or seen anything that explained that NF/LB are not Maritimes, so I looked it up on Wikipedia:

“The Maritime provinces, also called the Maritimes or the Canadian Maritimes, is a region of Eastern Canada consisting of three provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. On the Atlantic coast, the Maritimes are a subregion of Atlantic Canada, which also includes the northeastern province of Newfoundland & Labrador.”

There are so many highlights from our trip; we appreciated each province for its own character.  Newfoundland, the largest, probably offered more variety.  Everything you mention in your comment is true.

As for the comments, that was disabled by the Web folks to combat the incredible volume of spam coming through.  I find that use of the web more distasteful than my experience of kissing the cod!   Thanks for the geography and history lesson.

From David Harrison — I do enjoy your blogs, but after reading the comment on the “far north” region of my country, I think you should buy yourself a globe.   The Canadian Maritime provinces are on the same latitude as southern France and north-central Italy.  Do keep the blogs coming, though.

Barry’s Response – You’re also right … BUT, as mentioned, many Maritime people go south for the winter for warmth.  In France and other European nations, the south of France and Italy are destinations where travelers go to avoid the cold, dreary weather.  Latitude doesn’t seem to have much to do with climate – looking up from the lower 48, it’s still the “far north” to me.  I do appreciate you comment.

MORE ABOUT THE MARITIMES – PART I

This entry is part 13 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

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

The Canadian Maritimes (a.k.a. the Atlantic Provinces) are special places.  While we still consider our Alaskan trip “The Trip of a Lifetime,” we will long cherish our seven weeks in the Maritimes.  It’s not simply that we visited so many interesting places on this trip … it was much more than that.  Yes, almost every view of the blue Atlantic and its inlets was spectacular, but even that could make one blasé after weeks of peering over stunning rocky cliffs and driving along winding seaside roadways.  No, our appreciation went much further than that to include memorable events; sampling Maritimes food; being where the earliest of American history actually happened; getting at least an introduction to and a brief understanding of the unique people who populate this far-north fishing and agricultural region; plus, we toured with people who bonded into a fun troupe of travelers.

I’ve written much about our tour in the 16 blogs posted during our 48-day caravan, but before mentioning a few places that stand out vividly in our minds, peppered with some of my opinions and editorializing, TIME OUT! After being on the road without a “bricks & mortar home” for much of the past seven years, we have returned to the little wooden mountain cabin bought a little over a year ago.  Honestly, this is our first time experiencing the rigors of moving all the necessities needed for six months on the road and having to find places in a 1,000-square-foot cabin built in 1937 without luxuries like adequate closet space.  But we know that when we head out again on our journeys through North America, it will be reversing the process.

I mention this as my excuse for taking so long to tell you more about the wonders of the Atlantic Provinces – and if you’re just tuning in, specifically we’re talking about New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the merged province of Newfoundland-and-Labrador.

Now, on with the show! Prince Edward Island, the smallest of the provinces, claims to have 90 lighthouses.  Larger Atlantic Provinces have at least that many, so you’d think we’d get bored with seeing another along the route.  Holding true to being “the Never-Bored RVers,” we snapped photo after photo of lighthouses (also called “lights” and “heads”) almost every day of the journey.  It’s not that each is different:  mostly, they are stalwart reminders of days when men went to sea in ships without guidance systems, many never to return to their wives awaiting familiar sails on the horizon.  And I want to add that we were still drawn to the lighthouses even after having seen dozens along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. in the spring.

LIGHTING THE WAY -- Clockwise from top left, St. John's Newfoundland; Peggy's Cove; Across from the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Nova Scotia; and Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

LIGHTING THE WAY — Clockwise from top left, St. John’s Newfoundland; Peggy’s Cove; Across from the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Nova Scotia; and Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

It took several weeks before the significance of the history of these far-away lands became an important element of our travels.  It was honestly confusing trying to sort out all the wars and skirmishes that, as our trip continued, fell into place.  For us, it brought history to life.  The war of 1812, the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, planting of flags by the Norse, the French, the British, the Portuguese, the Scots, all on soil inhabited by native tribes for hundreds of years – I won’t say we have it all clearly in our minds, but as our travels continued, the torment inflicted on hard-laboring fishermen and farmers by one, then another, played out as a continuing drama from place to place.

Names of New World explorers whose deeds and dates we forgot as soon as our history exams were over (if not during) kept cropping up, again adding color to that thread of history.

Young John Cabot welcomes visitors to see the recreated Matthew's Legacy. More understandable history under one roof than a whole schoolhouse.

Young John Cabot welcomes visitors to see the recreated Matthew’s Legacy. More understandable history under one roof than a whole schoolhouse.

Monique, being from France, and me, a South Louisiana native, took special interest in the Acadians, the French settlers who sailed across the sea to make a new life for their families, only to have it taken away violently when the British wanted to establish a stronghold in the lucrative fishing grounds.  The French returned; they left; the Scots came … well, my abbreviated recall of all we learned (and the accuracy of it) can’t be appreciated as well by reading without walking the land.

I fear going off on a tangent – it’s all part of the Maritimes we found so special – so I’ll end this segment here, except, I have two messages to you.

1)  Now that I’m on solid ground with a comfortable working space, I will do as long-promised.  I will start posting all my past blogs from blog.RV.net, along with new writing on my website ontopoftheworld.bz.  As soon as time allows, Monique and I will begin sifting through photos from our seven years on the road to post our favorites on that site, beginning with the Maritimes.

And 2), I know that when most RVers hear the word “caravan,” they immediately think, “That’s not for me.”  Monique and I had that opinion before our Alaska trip, but the advantages made us realize we could do and see more in the Maritimes if we signed up for a second caravan.  I’ll have another blog soon to give you the plusses and minuses of going with a caravan.  I’ve never seen any articles about it, except for mine, so I think it’s worthwhile mentioning it again.

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

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

 

YOUR ADDITIONS TO THE CONVERSATION

This entry is part 12 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

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

We’ve been high-tailing it across America diagonally from the Northeast to Southern California, taking in a few sights along the way, like Niagara Falls and Montezuma’s

Montezuma isn't home at the moment

Montezuma isn’t home at the moment

Castle in Arizona.  We’ve done about half-and-half, interstates and hundreds of miles of surprisingly smooth back roads.  I still promise to write more about our travels in the Canadian Maritime Provinces, but for now, here are some comments to recent blogs.

From Mary Jane Cookingham — I was delighted to read you are at the Ozark RV Park.  I spend every September and October there.  The big draw for me is the music.  With all the other wonderful music down on the Square and at the Ozark Folk Center you may not realize you are in a town that is a mecca of mountain dulcimer music.  Go into the Ozark RV Park office in the morning and you will probably meet Jack Giger.  He and his wife, Mary Giger, are the nationally known dulcimer group Red Dog Jam.  If you miss him there, head over to The Dulcimer Shoppe.

Monday is Dulcimer Night at Ozark RV Park. You'll also see autoharps, guitars, mandolins and others joining in the music-making.

Monday is Dulcimer Night at Ozark RV Park. You’ll also see autoharps, guitars, mandolins and others joining in the music-making.

You’ll probably catch Jack there, plus Mary works there.  Judy Klinkhammer, another terrific nationally known dulcimer musician, also works there.  The Dulcimer Shoppe is owned by Jim and Betty Woods and is where McSpadden Dulcimers are built.  Any time you drop by there will probably be people strumming in the dulcimer nook as well as people eager to show you how to play the dulcimer.  Mountain View is the best!

From Ozzie in the Ozarks – Glad to know how much you appreciate God’s Country, Mountain View.  There is more than one Pickin’ Shed in town and lots of other places to hear local musicians.  Visit the city park to see some impressive stone work … And there are quite a few choices of where to park an RV.  Lots to see and do around here.

From Joyce & butterbean Carpenter — We love The Ozarks, too, except for the trails they call highways and the ‘local’ driving habits’; i.e. passing on u-curves, etc.  I wished y’all had bought a place in ‘MUSIC-COUNTRY,’ then we could come to see y’all … You’re right about the folks being friendly and cheerful; they have to work hard for such as they get, but are thankful to God for it

From Dennis Smith – [things to do in Vermont]  Barre, Vermont — Great exhibit on granite quarries.  Can’t remember the name of the cemetery in Barre with beautiful granite carvings. w Burlington-Lake Champlain “6th Great Lake”, only one that flows North!  Maritime Museum. w Shelburne-Shelburne Museum, Huge exhibit includes a reconstructed lighthouse and the last steam driven ferry, The Ticonderoga brought by rail laid from Lake Champlain to the museum.

Fort Ticonderoga, N.Y., accessible by the last cable driven ferry in the U.S.  Montpelier- gold leaf state capitol dome.  Morse Farms, best real Maple Creamies in the U.S.  Lots of stuff that is local folk art. w Barre-Montpelier Rd The Wayside Restaurant.  Piles of food at good prices, and where else has a Salt Pork and Milk Gravy night?

O.K. So I live in Vermont.  If David is a Good Sam member, remind him a Standby Sam may have suggestions!  Dennis Smith, Retired…except from snowboarding, sailing, RVing, SCUBA diving, fishing, and a few other things!

From Laura Lavallee — Hi, I don’t have specific info on COPD.  I have a friend who has the disease and who travels with a breathing machine.  He has increased his battery bank and added an inverter.  They do not boondock very often.  He is ok with short stays without hook-ups.  He carries Oxygen but does not have to use it all the time.  Not sure if this is helpful, hope so.  Here is a link to your subject (http://copdforum.portalone.us/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1380 )

From Mina Greenlee — I read your newsletter where someone asked about traveling with COPD.  My husband was diagnosed with COPD 15 + years ago. Emphysema is the base of his disease. There are many different aspects of COPD. So I can only relate how it affects us and our full-time travel going on 5 years.

Where to start?  I would truly recommend Respiratory therapy before traveling very far.  My husband finally did it after 2 years and it has made a world of difference in the confidence of our travel decisions.  Elevation and air quality plus exertion will define the enjoyment of traveling.

Being informed takes a lot of the unknown away.  My husband has coped with his treatment with inhalers. There was a bit of trial and error, but not much. Breathing treatment machines were not a part of his treatment plans. (He seemed to think he would not need them until it was too late and then the ER room was his only option.  That happened a few times and then he learned how far he could go before he needed to use his course of treatment.)  This last time he was able to qualify for oxygen to be used as needed. So now we travel with portable and a condenser in the trailer. The portable is in the truck.  His first hospital and ambulance ride was in San Jose, Ca.  A pulmonary specialist became his doctor that gave him the best advise.  No steroids if possible. They cause him to be more susceptible to bronchial infections.

One very important thing to remember is to tell any health care person you come in contact with is to tell them immediately you are COPD.  Different treatment of oxygen treatments for first responders.  All this is assuming you will have the correct health info with you.

By the way, Lincare is nationwide and is familiar with RV full-timers or long timers.  Please feel free to write back any questions if needed.

From Ray Shoemake — We are not due to go full timing for another two years but I do know something about COPD. I do not have it, but I do have a lung condition that causes me to cough a lot and have breathing problems. My doctor prescribed Spiriva for my condition since the then current medication, Combivent, depleted the potassium in my blood stream. One of the side effects of Spiriva is Dry Mouth. That might sound relatively benign, but after 3 weeks I had cottonmouth 24 hours a day. I stopped the Spiriva and started taking a Potassium supplement and went back to Combivent. That problem solved. (except after 4 weeks, I am still experiencing dry mouth several times a day.) I hope it stops sometime. Good news is I am drinking a lot more water.

Back to COPD, a close friend of mine has it and has been taking Spiriva for years. He says it works well for him.  Good Luck and keep the news coming.

Thanks for all the comments. I had to add the photo below from last Wednesday, the day I

"Turn Right 100 Feet"

“Turn Right 100 Feet”

was ready to defenestrate Camille [translation: throw our GPS out the window].  She advised us, “Turn right 100 feet,” which would have given us an exciting ride over a cliff.  And a few minutes later, I argued with her when she wouldn’t get us on the road to the out-of-the-way town we programmed.

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

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

 

ENJOYING THE JOURNEY

This entry is part 11 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

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

“Turn around.  You could have turned around at that driveway,” demanded Monique.  “I’m going to go three more miles,” I answered.  If we don’t find a campground, I’ll turn around …”  “There’s a brown sign.  Float Camp Recreation Area.  But is there camping?” asked Monique.  I lucked out.  Despite no signs anywhere indicating that this was a campground in Mark Twain National Forest in Southern

The Current River by the Float Camp -- A National Scenic Waterway

The Current River by the Float Camp — A National Scenic Waterway

Missouri, I trusted my instincts (not very reliable, I might add) and proceeded to search for a place to stop for the night.  What made it more tenuous was that, earlier in the day, I had turned off a main highway to see “The World’s Biggest Wind Chime,” which we never found.  As compatible as we are, there was a bit of friction in the air – but that’s understandable after being on the road together exactly five months and having parked for at least one night in 85 different spots!

I left off our most recent entry on this blog site mentioning that there are other places from our caravan trip to the Canadian Maritimes that I want to write about.  That’s still true, but

You don't see this on Interstates. We share the road with Amish, who cling to their heritage

You don’t see this on Interstates. We share the road with Amish, who cling to their heritage

while on the road 7 to 9 hours a day since we left Niagara Falls, New York, we keep recalling additional places worth mentioning.  We are looking for a day of rest, when we can sit back in our recliners and list those places, so I can make sense out of it all.  I will say that we are still smiling when we talk about the Tattoo, the Screech In, the Ugly Stick concerts, Spillars Cove, the north end of Prince Edward Island … oh, so many places we were exposed to over the past two months.

We are now parked in Ozark RV Park and Cabins in Mountain View, Arkansas, one of the very few places we have visited three times.  We love this area so much, we had looked for land or a bungalow here years ago, but, realizing how far we’d be from family, we went on, eventually buying a cabin in the mountains of Southern California.

What’s so special about this place?  The Ozark scenery, for one.  The friendliness of the local folks, for another.  And mostly for the music in this, the Folk Music Capital of the World.  There is music everywhere around here, year-round, including in the “pickin’ sheds” and on the Courthouse Square.  In parks and on the porches of stores and in homespun theaters.

Are we having fun yet?  You betcha! at the Jimmy Driftwood Barn

Are we having fun yet? You betcha! at the Jimmy Driftwood Barn

Sunday night was quiet after a big weekend for bikers, who showed up from miles around, so we took in the by-donation Jimmy Driftwood Barn show.  “Jimmy Driftwood was a prolific folk singer-songwriter who wrote over 6,000 songs. He gained national fame in 1959 when Johnny Horton recorded Driftwood’s song, ‘The Battle of New Orleans’,” to quote the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

This is Americana at its best.  The cast of local musicians with varying degrees of polish sing folk songs and gospel, some from the fine grain of the past, some seemingly made up (with lots of humor) yesterday. The instrumentation makes it all the more enjoyable – for

Cloggin'

Cloggin’

Sunday’s two-hour performance, they strummed on guitars, steel guitars, mandolins, a bass fiddle, autoharps, a washtub bass and more.  Add in harmonicas and a lady who played the snare drum and washboard, and you get the gist of what we listened to.  A few times during the show, several of the musicians/singers entertained with clogging.

There’s lots of music in Mountain View, plus two other main attractions.  It’s the home of Blanchard Springs Caverns National Park, which in our opinion is the most beautiful cave of the dozen we’ve traversed.  Then there’s the Ozark Folk Center immediately next to our campground.  It’s closed on Sundays and Mondays so our timing is bad, but we’ve spent many hours there during past visits.

After hour-after-hour over the last week plying the concrete of interstate highways, where the ripening corn crop on both sides of the road becomes hypnotic, I was excited when Monique routed us back to Arkansas.  We are “journey” travelers as opposed to “destination” people, so I appreciated the chance to tackle the severely winding roads and steep hills of the Ozark Mountains, at least in few-hour intervals.  We are here for two nights, then it’s onward!

Kites a-flying

Kites a-flying somewhere over New York State

One more thing I want to mention.  The electric jack on our trailer that lifts the tongue off the hitch ball on our truck was clucking and chucking, ready to strand us.  We left Niagara Falls with the trepidation that we would have to stay hitched up for the next two weeks, when we spied a Camping World sign on a through-town highway in Hamburg, New York, just southeast of Buffalo.  An hour later we drove away with a new electric lift recommended over the six others by the parts manager (and strangely enough, it was the least expensive).  We give thanks to their efficiency and congenial spirit.

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

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

COMMENTS TO RECENT BLOGS

From Dan and Terry Meehan — First, we would like to compliment you on the quality and usefulness of your blog about your RV travels.  We look forward to it every day.  We should have been off to see the US in our RV by now, but a COPD diagnosis has slowed our plan.  As we get the final pieces in place, we have two topics that we have not been able to find discussed via any of the blogs we have found and are wondering if you can guide us to either:  Can you direct us to someone who is currently traveling with COPD?

BARRY’S RESPONSE – We’ve met people with this breathing problem but never gotten any names or discussed it at any length.  I open the line, via emails, to neverboredrvers@gmail.com , to anyone who can provide information.

Do you know of a mapping, suggested routes, type of site, where we could find some planned routes designed for long-timers who don’t want to deal with weather on any grand scale?

BARRY’S RESPONSE – There is usually plenty of warning before hurricanes arrive, so that shouldn’t be a problem (I lived in New Orleans most of my life, so I am practically an expert).  We’ve hit snow flurries in Austin, Texas, in September and huddled in brick bathrooms when tornados were imminent in the Plains States.  You never know.  Again, we welcome reader input.

Thanks and keep the travel commentaries coming, loved the Puffin pics from yesterday.

From David Palazzolo — I stumbled over your blog on rv.net.  I was wondering and hoping to see if you could give me any information on traveling to the Northeast, specifically Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  I am planning a two-week RV trip with my in-laws (both about 75 years of age).  Would like to see things that are simple but fun.

I have planned to visit Ben and Jerry’s factory, LL Bean, Norman Rockwell museum, and a train ride.  I am trying to make it a trip where my in-laws can roam and enjoy the sites.  I am interested in neat places to take them to eat (mostly Mom and Pop places, or dives that have the best food).

Would you have any info that could help me or guide me in planning this type of travel.  We like to know some things to avoid because it would be a waste of time.  Not so much in a rush, but wanted to make this a trip of a lifetime with my in-laws.  Hope to find a nice fishing spot where my and my father in law could spend a few hours.  Any input will do.  We are coming from the Cincinnati area up to Niagara Falls and then heading east.

BARRY’S REPONSE — Thanks for you note.  I like your planning.  The last blog I wrote before going into Canada was at http://blog.rv.net/2013/06/downeast-mid-coast-and-the-bold-coast/ and I wrote several before then about the areas where you are traveling.  My Internet connection is less than optimal; doing further research at this time is annoying.

We stop at state travel centers when we get there during their open hours.  Monique picks up brochures and asks questions of the staff members.  Often they have interesting suggestions that we take.

We’re currently in Mentor, Ohio, heading west, having spent the past two days at Niagara Falls (the Canadian side is much better than the American side — take the Lewiston Bridge to save time – passports required).  All the places you are planning to visit are good, although L.L.Bean was only an hour attraction.  We mostly avoid the places set up for tourists, opting for some of the less renowned places along the way.  Some are good; for some, we are ready to move on.  You never know, and then again, your interests and the interests of your in-laws may be totally different from ours.  While near Niagara, we stayed at 4-Mile Creek State Park and visited Old Fort Niagara, where we found the confusing history of the colonial era history interesting.  Take the back-road scenic byways.  The scenery is unforgettable.

I wish I could fish during our travels, but paying for a fishing license in every state gets very expensive.  I bought a rod & reel when we went to Canada — the price tag is still on it.

One specific suggestion — Campobello Island near Eastport, Maine, will certainly be of interest to you and your in-laws.  You get there through Lubec, but you need your passports to get there, since it’s in New Brunswick.  (turn off your phone — international rates apply).

Thanks for you note — we’re rushing to get through dinner and into bed for the evening.  It’s been another long day.day.