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Category: Scenic Byways/Historic Routes

Part 3 – Big Trees State Park, Calaveras County, California – Exploitation of the Sequoias

June 30, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

My wife standing on top of the “Discovery Tree” stump.The photo really brings home what a massive tree it was. The “Discovery Tree,” top and bottom right. The “Mother of the Forest,” bottom left, as it appeared during exhibitions. Calaveras Big Trees State Park’s “Discovery Tree” is one of the first trees that were exploited to prove that this incredible grove exists. Located in the North Grove, the tree stump and what’s left of the its trunk have lain on the ground for over 150 years. The fallen trunk actually served as a bowling alley and bar during the 1850s. The stump of the “Discovery Tree” was used as a dance floor for a 4th of July 1854 cotillion. Felled in 1853, it measured 24 feet in diameter at its base and was judged by ring count to be 1,244 years old when it was cut down. The “Discovery Tree’s” stump, which is now bare, also once had a structure built on its flat surface. Used as a dance hall during the 19th... [Read more...]

Part 2 – Big Trees State Park, Calveras County, California

June 27, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The Big Trees State Park contains two campgrounds with a total of 129 campsites, six picnic areas and hundreds of miles of established trails. Located in the Stanislaus National Forest, Big Trees S.P. has a water spigot near every site, but not close enough or compatible with the RVs city water connection (unless you have a “water thief” or serious plumbing skills to temporarily extend a hose over to the RV to fill the fresh water tank.). There’s also no electric or sewer hookups. Well, that’s not too much of a problem, you might be thinking, as long as they have a dump station, but they don’t (we were told that the dump station was “out of order.” It’s been that way for quite a while; coincidentally during California’s budget crisis, when parks were being closed to save money). We guess that it’s easier to tell campers that the dump station was out of order than to tell them that it was working, but no one was allowed to use it so that the... [Read more...]

Yosemite N.P. to Big Trees State Park, Calaveras County, California – Part 1

June 25, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Our home away from home After eight months of towing our trailer across the country and leaving the idea of reservations in God’s hands, we ran out of luck – again. We had decided during the planning stage for this trip that we wanted to be free to stop and stay at whatever place caught our interest and not have to be bound to the calendar; having to be in a certain place at a certain time. What we did, though, was call Reserve America hours or days before our expected arrival time and try to pick-up on any cancellations or open sites that might be available. This procedure had served us well so far, although we did have to patch together several different sites in order to lengthen our stays at the more popular parks, like Bahia Honda in the Florida Keys and the Grand Canyon. This procedure didn’t work this time, though. We lost cell phone service shortly after leaving Las Vegas, Nevada and were incommunicado for over 200 miles of desert along Route 95 to Tonopah, Nevada.... [Read more...]

Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center – 150th anniversary must-see!

June 19, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center – 150th anniversary must-see!

One of the most interesting places that we visited this past winter was actually an unplanned day excursion to a National Park that we weren’t even planning on hitting! Being a bit of Civil War buffs, we knew that while we were heading through Tennessee we would HAVE to visit Shiloh. Shiloh was one of the bloodiest battles of, and is now one of the most well-known battles of, the Civil War; we made a detour and fit in a day at Shiloh while we were heading through TN. Shiloh was a beautiful park, and we were content to tour the grounds, watch the film on the battle, complete the Jr. Ranger program, and peruse the museum, with Shiloh as our only destination for the day. However, while we were at Shiloh, and the kids were getting set up for the Jr. Ranger program, we got to talking with the rangers there and they asked if we were going to make the short jaunt down to visit the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center. We hadn’t been planning on it; we figured that it would be a... [Read more...]

WE ARE CHEATERS!

June 7, 2012 by · 7 Comments 

WE ARE CHEATERS!

Yes, I admit it.  We are CHEATERS! No, we don’t cheat on our income taxes or in a card game.  Like thousands of other RV owners, we cheat on what is perceived as conventional camping. For the past week, we have been camping at Big Meadows off of the Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park.  We have a beautiful pull thru site about 100’ long – more than enough space to accommodate our “big rig”.  There is only one problem with our site – we have no hook-ups for electricity, water, or sewage.  This, of course, translates to using our own on-board resources of water, battery power, and wastewater holding.  It is easy to get by with no hook-up for a night or two, but if you have a conventional RV with a refrigerator, water pump, and lights, you will quickly learn that the small battery packs that come with your RV will not sustain your needs.  The amount of water you can store and the capacity of your waste holding tanks will determine just how often you flush the... [Read more...]

Road trip!

May 24, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Road trip!

It’s the Memorial Day long weekend—the unofficial start of summer—and for many travel-wise Americans that means one thing: Road trip! Let's Go RVing on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The tradition of taking a road trip dates back about 3,000 years. The first road trip likely occurred in ancient Egypt around 1200 B.C., when Ramses II hit the road in his chariot. Similar ventures—using the well-loved automobile—began in Germany in the 1880s. As the car’s popularity grew, so did the practice of taking to roadways for a carefree holiday. The road trip became an easy, breezy travel idea that’s affordable and accessible—and in America today there is no shortage of highways, byways, and back roads. Answering the call of the open road is practically an American rite of passage—and today more and more are taking to the open road in a recreational vehicle. 5 Great All-American Road Trips These 10 distinctive all-American road trips, inclusive... [Read more...]

DANCING WITH THE STARS

May 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

DANCING WITH THE STARS

Mary and Alan live just outside the city of Richmond, VA,  in a nicely manicured suburban neighborhood.  Alan works for the State Government and Mary works in Medical Records for a local hospital.  They have two children, a boy and a girl ages 9 and 11.  Both children, Bobby and Suzie, attend a local elementary school and stay at an after school daycare until their parents get home from their jobs. It was the typical busy Monday morning at the hospital for Mary as she entered a rising pile of patient information forms into her computer. Her closest friend at work, Karen Karnes, was babbling about how excited she was for the coming long weekend and their family plans to go camping at Big Meadows in the Shenandoah National Park. Camping?  Mary shook her head in wonderment as to why anyone in their right mind would want to go off into the woods and sleep on the hard, cold ground.  Thoughts of a camping trip she had made with her big sister some twenty years back when they ended up sleeping,... [Read more...]

Land of the Standing-up Rocks: Chiricahua National Monument

May 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Land of the Standing-up Rocks: Chiricahua National Monument

Filled with extraordinary rock formations, the Chiricahua National Monument in southeastern Arizona is a wonder to behold. The standing stones: The Chiricahua terrain is marked by striking rock formations © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The word “Chiricahua” may be derived from the Opata Indian word for turkey—wild turkeys are common in the area. Chiricahua Mountains is designated by the American Bird Conservancy as a Globally Important Bird Area. With 12,000 acres of shapely hoodoos and weird rock formations, Chiricahua National Monument boasts fantastic hikes, scenic lookouts, and the historic Faraway Ranch. The visitor center is loaded with information on the wildlife, birds, geology, and history of the area. A favorite Chiricahua experience is driving to the top of the winding, eight-mile-long main road, Bonita Canyon Drive, which is flanked with overgrown trees and beautiful scenery. Twenty seven million years ago a massive volcanic eruption shook this land. One thousand times... [Read more...]

Delicious Picnic Venues!

May 11, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

So, have you had any fabulous picnics while traveling the highways and byways of our country? We have dished up some fun meals while cavorting around with our kids. When we lived in  Alaska, we spent a lot of time daytripping and camping during the summer. I soon learned that I always had to travel with picnic fare—many remote areas of Alaska lack amenities so I became the “fast food” resource at hand. I always packed a cooler with sandwiches, yogurts, fruits, chips, cold water etc. These “cooler picnics” were simply family-friendly fare–nothing super luxurious or outrageous. Over the years, we have also learned how to source local foods, such as berries, salmon, apples and oysters, and then enjoy those local foods at a beautiful venue in the area. This does, admittedly, take some planning and scouting around, but it so worth it! This morning, however, I was writing a blog post for Amazon’s Al Dente blog and while doing research on the Hog Island... [Read more...]

Steep Cliffs and Towering Spires: Dead Horse Point State Park

March 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Steep Cliffs and Towering Spires: Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park is perhaps Utah’s most spectacular state park. The park lies on the same broad mesa as The Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. The meandering Colorado River 2,000 feet below Dead Horse Point. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved Dead Horse Point is a peninsula of rock atop sheer sandstone cliffs about 6,000 feet above sea level. Two thousand feet below, the Colorado River winds its way from the continental divide in Colorado to the Gulf of California, a distance of 1,400 miles. The peninsula is connected to the mesa by a narrow strip of land called the neck. From the overlook, canyon erosion may be viewed on a grand scale. This erosion process has taken approximately 150 million years. Much of it is caused by the river slicing down into the earth’s crust as land is forced upward. These powerful forces are still sculpting the fantastic shapes of the precipitous bluffs and towering spires. Vegetation and wildlife in this desert environment... [Read more...]

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