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Category: Roads & Routes

As the Boudin Turns

February 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As the Boudin Turns

Philadelphia might have the cheese-steak sandwich. New York may boast of its pizza, and Texas has BBQ—but Southwest Louisiana has boudin, and eating it guarantees a tingling palate and a full stomach. Boudin is one of most unique, tasty, and distinctly uncorrupted regional specialties in America. (Source: seriouseats.com) In many homes, boudin is more revered than crawfish, with recipes passed along for generations. Chances are, if you don’t live in or around Louisiana you haven’t heard of boudin. Boudin, a sausage made with pork, rice, and seasonings is generally considered the signature food of Acadiana and other rural parts of southwestern Louisiana. The pronunciation is a bit awkward. Visitors often say “boo-DIN” or “bow-DIN”. The locals say “boo-DAN”. If you’re having trouble with the pronunciation, just ask for a link. Most locals use that colloquial term, anyway. I had my first taste of boudin last winter and I am seriously hooked. History of Boudin Boudin is... [Read more...]

Czeching Out La Grange

January 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Czeching Out La Grange

We headed to the Central Texas town of La Grande to “Czech” out what might just be the “Best Little Day Trip in Texas.” Texas Quilt Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The events of La Grange’s famous Chicken Ranch inspired the stage play, movie, and the lyrics of a popular song, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Then there’s the ZZ Top song that still fuels Texas folklore. The brothel is no longer around—it was officially closed in 1973 after operating for more than 130 years. The building was sold and hauled to Dallas where, for awhile, it served as a restaurant that served—what else? Chicken. Later, the building burned to the ground. All that’s left these days is the legend and some fading memories. However, there’s still plenty to do in this town. For starters, we Czeched out the Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center. This museum gave us a feel for the culture and early days of Fayette County when thousands of Czech immigrants populated the area. The... [Read more...]

Taking it easy in Monroe, Louisiana…

January 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Taking it easy in Monroe, Louisiana…

We recently spent two weeks visiting Louisiana.  We were pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do there.  We spent a few days in Shreveport, where we stayed in a Louisiana state park, went bowling, visited a local nature center and a great science museum, and we found a yummy Cajun restaurant and even got to hold a gator! Next we took I-20 over to Monroe, where we found a few more fabulous stops! Monroe is home to the the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum. This free museum covers military history from WWI through Vietnam and specializes in covering aviation-related service members. The museum features displays on individual service members, including their story and memorabilia from their lives. The museum is small, but there is so much history packed into it! When we visited, there were two gentlemen there who acted as guides. They were very knowledgeable and had a passion for their topic! We spent about an hour and a half there but didn’t even visit all the exhibits... [Read more...]

Top 6 Birding Hotspots in Southeastern Arizona

January 27, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Top 6 Birding Hotspots in Southeastern Arizona

Southeastern Arizona is an ecological crossroads, where the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts all come together. Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is home to 260 species of birds including the vermilion flycatcher. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The abrupt rise of mountains like the Huachucas from the surrounding arid grasslands creates “sky islands” harboring rare species and communities of plants and animals. If you are a birder, Southeastern Arizona is the place to go. Birding enthusiast are attracted to this unique region with many arriving in recreational vehicles. The following are our suggestions for where to find the best birding spots. Generally, they are located along streams and rivers or in forested mountain canyons. Some will have nearby RV parks or forestry campgrounds but will require a drive in your toad/tow vehicle. 6. Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve Between the majestic Santa Rita and beautiful red Patagonia... [Read more...]

How Pinterest can transform a dreadful trip with kids into a fun one for everyone.

January 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling with kids.  Some friends of mine dread it and wait until their kids are much older before taking the road for long distance. Others like us don’t hesitate one second to embark in an adventure.   What is the difference between these families?   I think it can be summed up in one word – ORGANIZATION. When you travel with you kids you need to be creative in order to keep them entertained on the road. My husband’s parents used to live about six and a half hour from our home in Northern Ontario.  When we had our first born, we learned quickly to keep him busy while driving and how to adapt to life with kids. Within six years, three siblings joined him and our trips are fun (except when one child got sick in the truck once or twice…). Organization is a skill that you can learn – particularly if you travel long distance with kids. And when I say organization I don’t think only about packing clothes and preparing a lunch for the road.  No, I am thinking more of planning... [Read more...]

Eat My Words: Top BBQ Joints

January 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Eat My Words: Top BBQ Joints

Each of the four iconic barbecue regions—Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, and North Carolina—serve a different style of barbecue. Lockhart, the official Barbecue Capital of Texas, is home to four major barbecue restaurants including award-winning Black’s Barbecue, which has been owned by the same family since 1932. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved Typically, Memphis, St. Louis, and Kansas City are all about the ribs. In North Carolina, pulled pork dominates the menu, and Texans love brisket. Of course, you’ll also find chicken, turkey, and sausage along the way. Some of the biggest differences in cooking methods involves the type of wood such as oak or hickory, and direct or indirect heat. Then, there is the wet versus dry debate because some pit masters baste their meat while it is cooking and others use a dry rib. And of course, an entire book could be written on barbecue sausages alone. Vinegar-based sauce is preferred in the Southeast, while the Midwest and Western regions like... [Read more...]

Planning family travel with Pinterest

January 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The other day, I stumbled on a post about using Pinterest as a tool to plan family travels. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I have started “pinning” things on a board titled Homeschooling on the Road, which contains a ton of fun activities for our kids to enjoy while we travel. Some of you might be wondering what Pinterest is about. Well, it’s essentially a tool for collecting and organizing things you love.  You will find many “pins” out there, but the beauty of Pinterest is that your own board can be personalized with your own interests. Today, I will talk about using Pinterest to incorporate geography activities while driving with the kids. While traveling, you can interest the kids in a destination if you plan carefully and strategically. With Pinterest, you can excite their interest by downloading maps, coloring pages and gathering information on where you are going. Here are some links that I find particularly interesting when... [Read more...]

Shreveport, Louisiana – hold a gator!!!

January 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Shreveport, Louisiana – hold a gator!!!

For our last stop in Shreveport, Louisiana, we went to Gators & Friends.  G&F is a combo petting zoo and exotics park.  You purchase your admission in a cute gift shop that offers everything from stuffed alligators to dried alligator heads.  In the gift shop, you can also buy large cups of animal feed for $2. (the food is for hand feeding some of the domestic animals)  Immediately out the back door will be your first glimpse at gators.  Lots of gators.  The alligators are grouped based on size so they don’t eat each other! A little farther behind the gift shop, there is a big walking loop that is bordered by pens of animals.  Everything from ring tailed lemurs to kangaroos, camels to goats, chital deer to capibara.    The kids enjoyed feeding the geese, ponies, and goats (they had The Cutest new kids in there too!); personally, as a mom, I loved the container that the animal food came in! LOL!  The food came in large hot beverage containers, and the kids could just... [Read more...]

If You Only Do One Thing in Tucson…

January 16, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

If You Only Do One Thing in Tucson…

There are numerous reasons to visit Tucson and the many other historic towns and sights around Southern Arizona. Some RVers come for a day or two. Some come for a week. Others stay for the season. There are numerous reasons to visit Tucson. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved Those of us who spend time in Southern Arizona have our favorites places. What you do and where you go depends partly on the season, the amount of time you have available, and your interests. If you only do one thing while in Tucson… Then go to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. If it is HOT, go early; drink lots of water. Do take Gates Pass to get there. (Take Speedway west and keep going.) Stop at the rest area at the top of the pass for a great view amid a magnificent saguaro forest. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden, all in one place. The Desert Museum is unique among zoological parks for its focus on interpreting the complete natural history... [Read more...]

Shreveport, LA… discovering Louisiana…

January 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Shreveport, LA… discovering Louisiana…

During our recent time in Shreveport, our whole goal was to hit the best of the best in the area.  We tried to find a variety of destinations and activities, and here are a couple more sure-to-please-stops to add to our previous post Walter B Jacobs Memorial Nature Park…  This 160 acre park, located just west of Shreveport, is a haven for birds and other wildlife.  The park sports extensive walking trails through wooded areas, and there are bird and deer enclosures on the property.  The park has a visitor’s center with multiple rooms filled with interesting and educational displays, including a room with local reptiles in it (some of them were venomous snakes).  There were a lot of hands-on activities for the kids, and interesting exhibits for us bigger people. The park holds numerous naturalist-led programs, for all ages, throughout the week; the staff is friendly and knowledgeable.  We signed up for a ‘slithering snake’ talk, and the naturalist that was... [Read more...]

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