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

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