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Category: Roads & Routes

Alabama Gulf Coast Named Top Tourism Attraction

March 4, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Alabama Gulf Coast Named Top Tourism Attraction

Alabama’s Gulf beaches and Gulf State Park are the largest tourism attractions in the state, overwhelmingly so, according to the new attendance figures released last week by the Alabama Tourism Department. Sparkling turquoise Gulf waters and stunningly white sand await the RVer on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The state’s largest stand-alone festival events, located about 20 miles apart, are also located in the Gulf Coast region. The Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival (March 14-16, in 2014) and National Shrimp Festival (October 9-12, in 2014) in Gulf Shores come in at the top two spots among event promotions staged over a single weekend. The relatively new Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival (June 13-14, in 2014), which takes place in between the other two in Foley, is also rising up the state’s annual top 10 festival list. According to the 2013 annual report, Mobile’s three-week long Mardi Gras celebration draws the largest attendance... [Read more...]

An Independence Day Must-See!

March 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

An Independence Day Must-See!

In a recent post, I have been talking about planning; planning your trips for next year, selecting campgrounds you want to visit and planning attractions you want to see.  This past fall, I also included a number of events and attractions for your consideration. But this post concerns an event in a place that everyone should experience, at least once in his or her life: the Arroyo Seco Fourth of July Parade. One kind soul brought hotdogs for everyone in the crowd! For those unfamiliar with it, Arroyo Seco is a small village on the way to the Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico. Known simply as “Seco” to locals, and boasting a mere 1,149 full time residents, the population swells to thousands each year on July 4th. I wrote a post detailing this picturesque village that published on September 8, 2013. But the time to visit Arroyo Seco is on the Fourth of July as it boasts a parade like no other event in this country. The NSA made their presence known as well! Locals and tourists alike begin... [Read more...]

Dance For a Chicken at a Cajun Country Mardi Gras

February 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Dance For a Chicken at a Cajun Country Mardi Gras

Mark Twain once wrote that a traveler “has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans.” On horseback and in flatbed trailers, participants and musicians sing, dance, and beg for chickens. (Credit: Terri Fensel) Of the thousands of festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada, none tops Mardi Gras. Spectacular parades, unbelievable costumes, music, dancing, food, drink­—take your pick of places to indulge and enjoy. The largest celebration occurs in New Orleans, but nearly every community from Pensacola, Florida, to Galveston, Texas, has its own version of the annual party. Wherever you go, you can find the style that best suits you, including tons of family-style celebrations. From rollicking Wrecks at Pensacola Beach to catching MoonPies in Mobile, communities all along the Gulf Coast have their own way of marking Mardi Gras season. The revelry in New Orleans tends to grab the spotlight, but how about dancing for a chicken at a Cajun Country Courir... [Read more...]

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, home of the USS Kidd…

February 24, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, home of the USS Kidd…

While we were checking out Louisiana, we wanted to stop in Baton Rouge to see what they had to offer for fun and interesting stops. While we didn’t have much time to  explore, we did find a couple of fun stops that fit into our schedule and interests. Our first stop was at the Bluebonnet Swamp, which is a county park located in the eastern part of the city of Baton Rouge. This 103-acre park is an ideal location to get out and explore the swamp, and it’s an exceptional stop if you are a “bird nerd.” Located just a short walk from the parking lot is a 9,500-square-foot exhibit building that houses a small gift shop and numerous animal habitats including many snakes and other reptiles.  Outside are several walking trails that lead along the swamp edge and through woods; the walks vary in length from 1/3 of a mile to 1 and 1/2 miles long.  Bluebonnet is a great place to spend an hour or so learning about and exploring, Louisiana swamp habitats.  It’s also... [Read more...]

Unique Orlando day-trip destination…

February 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Unique Orlando day-trip destination…

We are always on the lookout for a unique day-trip destination that’s fun and interesting, and this winter, while we were spending some time in Florida, we found such a treat of a day-trip in Orlando. We spent a morning at Wycliffe Bible Translators in Orlando, checking out their Discover Center. Wycliffe is a non-profit organization that translates the Bible into languages that do not currently have the Bible available to them in their “heart language” (your heart language is the language that you think, dream and naturally speak in). Named after John Wycliffe, the first man to translate the Bible into English, the Wycliffe Discover Center focuses on informing people of the need for Bible translations and the works that are in progress. The Discovery Center is a very engaging, interesting, and informative place; you can either self-tour the facilities, or the center offers 20 minute guided tours on the hour, every hour, from 9 to 3.  They also have a special talk every... [Read more...]

Valley of Fire State Park: Simply WOW!

February 12, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Valley of Fire State Park: Simply WOW!

The lights! The glitz! The shine! Sculpted, chiseled, and twisted red rock formations more dramatic than most others we have seen dominate the park’s 42,000 acres. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved From the bizarre to the beautiful, Las Vegas has it all: New York, NY, The Venetian, Caesars Palace, and Paris—and the Bellagio water fountain show. When the neon of Vegas becomes too much, head out to Valley of Fire, Nevada’s first state park, so designated in 1935. With its blood-red sandstone cliffs and weird rock formations, there’s an other-worldly feeling here. Valley of Fire State Park is 55 miles—and a few light-years—northeast of Las Vegas via Interstate 15 and on exit 75. Sculpted, chiseled, and twisted red rock formations more dramatic than most others we have seen dominate the park’s 42,000 acres. We felt as though we had been transported to the alien surface another planet. The Valley of Fire derives its name from red sandstone formations, formed from great... [Read more...]

Destination Gems in Lafayette, Louisiana

February 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Destination Gems in Lafayette, Louisiana

We recently spent a few days exploring Lafayette, Louisiana. We parked for four nights at Poche’s, just east of town. While this was not our first stop-over in Lafayette, it was our first time to find destinations to explore! These are some of our favorite discoveries: Vermilionville Living History Park.  Much like Williamsburg, with its period costumed re-enactors, Vermilionville is living history Cajun style!  This 32-acre, fully handicap-accessible park features numerous homes that are restored, as well as a church, schoolhouse (where we were treated to an upbeat, fun accordion concert), trapper’s cabin and blacksmith forge. The park has a lovely gift shop featuring artisan creations. There is also a great cafe’ onsite that serves Cajun style meals. There is the informative Watershed Exhibit which features the surrounding flora and fauna,  and a cooking school, where the staff gives cajun cooking lessons (check the schedule online).  My family’s favorite... [Read more...]

The GRAND Gathering at Quartzsite: World’s Largest Gathering of Grands & Great-Grands

February 8, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The GRAND Gathering at Quartzsite: World’s Largest Gathering of Grands & Great-Grands

The GRAND Gathering, the World’s Largest Gathering of Grand Parents and Great-Grand Parents, is planned for Quartzsite from March 6 to 9. So many Grands and Great-Grands are expected, organizers hope to set a new world record. The Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA) and Proud Neighbors of Quartzsite (PNQ) are spearheading plans for special events for this exciting four-day event. John Hendrix, of QIA, brought forth the idea to help extend the winter season. “I was just thinking, what we have most in Quartzsite are grandparents, so why not have a celebration for them?” Hendrix began sharing his idea with others and the event has grown as more people and organizations learn of the plans. The goal is for every club, organization, and charity to participate in a variety of events in early March while putting Quartzsite “back on the map in a positive light,” said Hendrix. Many Quartzsite RV Park owners/managers are offering special discounts for The Grand Gathering. Walking the... [Read more...]

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...]

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