February 28, 2018

Another Favorite Place - RVParkReviews.com!

Rather than just provide a complete list of my favorite websites under “Check out my favorite places!,” I decided to add them one at a time and let you know exactly why I like them.  That way, you’ll be able to determine whether or not the site might be of interest to you.  Besides, I believe that these sites do such an awesome job of providing information and/or entertainment that it really is a pleasure to bring them to your attention!

RVParkReviews.com has become an invaluable resource for me whether I’m in trip planning mode or we’re traveling without reservations and simply need to find a place to spend the night.  I’ve been known to spend hours digging up info on a campground that we may need for even just a night or two.  I’ll bet you’re wondering why.  Alan wonders why sometimes, too.  But, truthfully, his idea of a perfect campsite and mine are pretty similar.  We enjoy the larger size and more natural surroundings of campgrounds found in State and National Parks.  We’ll both gladly forego hookups for “a room with a view” and, of course, we both want someplace safe and quiet to lay down our heads at night.  Although we do stay in privately owned RV parks when the need arises, we don’t generally search them out or require any of the usual resort amenities when we’re staying at one.  Our perfect campsite would be on public lands - on a lakeshore or riverfront, deep in the woods or at the edge of a meadow with a view of the mountains.  Because I feel so strongly about the sites we choose, I’m willing to devote time and effort to online research trying to match our preferences to campgrounds in the area in which we’ll be traveling.  That’s where RVParkReviews.com comes in.  Photos included in this post are all from campgrounds I found with the help of this extremely useful web site!

February 25, 2018

Destination: Glacier National Park, Montana - But What About the Wildfire?! (National Parks Trip #1)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips, travel trailer in tow.

With reservations set at the West Glacier KOA for the next two nights, we pulled out of Itch-Kep-Pe Park in Columbus, Montana and headed west once again.  Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana would be the westernmost point of this epic adventure; after a visit there, we planned to drop down into Yellowstone.  When we left Itch-Kep-Pe, we were more than 2,000 miles from home; by the time we reached Glacier, it would be nearly 2,500.

February 22, 2018

Cabela's - More than the "World's Foremost Outfitter"

Please note that these comments are based on my own opinion and our family’s experience with Cabela’s.  I’m not affiliated with Cabela’s in any way and I’m not receiving any compensation from Cabela’s for this post.  Alan and I are huge fans of companies that strive for excellence in customer service and, in our opinion, Cabela’s is one of them.

Cabela’s, which bills itself as the “World’s Foremost Outfitter” is a specialty retailer of outdoor recreation gear, clothing and other merchandise.  Last year, Cabela’s was purchased by Bass Pro Shops for approximately $4 billion dollars.  Both retailers began their solid and lengthy histories as small family businesses – Cabela’s, I understand, in 1961 and Bass Pro Shops in 1971.  As of now, Bass Pro Shops seems committed to carrying on the Cabela’s name and lines and I hope that will remain true.  Aside from wandering through a few Bass Pro Shops, I’m not really familiar with the company.  I am, however, familiar with Cabela’s and, although I knew the company was friendly to RVers, it wasn’t until this past year that I realized just what that meant.

February 19, 2018

Devil's Tower National Monument - Wyoming (National Parks Trip #1)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips.

Our visit to the Black Hills of South Dakota was an excellent one – with the exception of forgetting to pack our daughter’s bathing suit in anticipation of a stop at Sylvan Lake.  That did not go over well at all.  (Note to self:  Always pack the beach bag on a day out even if you’re not sure you’ll come upon any swimming holes.)  We pulled out of the Mystery Mountain Resort in Rapid City, South Dakota, the following morning and continued west into Wyoming.  That evening’s destination was Itch-Kep-Pe Park, a small city campground in Columbus, Montana, that would provide us with safe harbor for a quick overnight stop.  But first . . . Devil’s Tower!

February 18, 2018

New York's DEC Launches a Campground Ambassador Program!

In New York, some State Park Campgrounds are operated by the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.  Other State Park Campgrounds are operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  This year, the DEC has launched a new campground host program called the “Campground Ambassador Program” as part of the "Adventure NY" initiative.

February 14, 2018

Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorials - South Dakota (National Parks Trip #1)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips.

Heading out from the Mystery Mountain Resort in Rapid City, South Dakota, we set our sights on Mount Rushmore (link HERE).  Alan and I had visited this National Memorial on our honeymoon - the trip we were now recreating with our kids who were ages 8 and 13 at the time.  I can still remember standing in the viewing area all those years ago, a young adult mesmerized by the size and the scope of the sculpture.  Since I was remembering it as we first saw it, I was surprised to see how much had changed at Mount Rushmore in the intervening years.  Silly me.

February 10, 2018

Wrapping a Gift for a Fellow Traveler? Here's a Tip!

In a previous post about the Butler County Donut Trail (link HERE), I had mentioned that I enjoyed perusing Visitors’ Guides from various states.  You know the ones I’m talking about, don’t you - the glossy booklets you can find at rest areas along the interstates or request from state, county and city tourism departments?  Those guides are some of my favorite reading material!  Nothing better to spark a case of wanderlust than gorgeous photos of travelers having the time of their life in the most beautiful or fascinating settings, right?  

February 07, 2018

Badlands National Park and Wall Drug - South Dakota (National Parks Trip #1)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips.

After our delightful stop at Clear Lake State Park in Iowa that included a refreshing dip in the lake, we continued north into Minnesota.  Our destination was the Flying Goose Campground in Fairmont, Minnesota - a quiet little RV park right on Lake Imogene (link HERE).  In case you haven’t already figured it out, you should know that our family loves the water – whether it’s in the form of an ocean, lake, river, stream or waterfall – as much as we love the mountains. (We like mountains of all shapes and sizes, too!)  When we’re on an extended road trip, we try to build what we call “R&R days” into our schedule.  Since we’re often rolling along for anywhere between 9 and 12 hours a day, having a day set aside for “rest and relaxation” breaks up the driving for Alan and the riding for the rest of us.  (Yup, I know that kind of traveling is not for everyone, but the system of long days coupled with days of R&R works well for our family.)  I had booked two nights at the Flying Goose because I knew that Lake Imogene would provide some much appreciated water fun on our day of R&R.  (It did.  We had the lake to ourselves and the kids had a wonderful time!)

A peaceful afternoon on Lake Imogene

Upon leaving Minnesota, we headed west into South Dakota where we would visit the Badlands (link HERE), the first of the National Parks on our list, as well as the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park.  Alan and I had made this trip once already – on our honeymoon many, many years ago.  We would now be entering territory we had already traveled and we were both looking forward to sharing this journey with the kids.  What would they like?  What would they not?  Would they find themselves under the spell of our National Parks just like two young honeymooners did so long ago?  We were about to find out.

February 03, 2018

Clear Lake State Park, Iowa (National Parks Trip #1)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips.

If there is such a thing as a “professional road tripper,” all four members of our family might qualify for that distinction.  On our first date, Alan and I went for a drive and that pretty much started our road tripping career.  Luckily, our two kids (now ages 18 and 23) took to the open road quite easily when they were young and each has since driven, alone, on a long distance trip to a destination several states away from home.  Since many of our days on the road were long ones on these cross country trips (which, I understand, doesn’t work for everyone), we always tried to find something of interest to the kids that would break up the day.  As we made our way north from Buffalo Shores Campground in Iowa on a hot summer day, I spotted Clear Lake State Park on the map.

February 02, 2018

The National Mall - Washington, D.C.

Guess what!  I completely missed National Plan for Vacation Day!  This year, it fell on Tuesday, January 30th.  Do you know why I missed it?  Well, I have the perfect excuse . . . Alan and I were on vacation!  Well, a mini-vacation.  On Tuesday, we were driving home from Virginia after a quick trip to visit our son (who was staying near Washington, D.C on an extended business trip) and our friends Peg and Bill.  From an earlier post, you may recall that we had overnighted at Peg and Bill’s home in Ohio when starting out on the first of our three cross country National Parks trips.  They now live in a lovely little town in Virginia and we had a brief but delightful visit.  Peg and I have been friends since the first grade (that was many, many years ago!) and enjoy an easy camaraderie that allows us to pick up right where we left off - no matter how long it has been since our last get together.  Her husband Bill is a great guy and Alan and I always enjoy the time we spend with them – no matter what we do or where we are.  Knowing that our son had a complete day free on Sunday and that Peg and Bill’s calendar was clear on Monday, we decided on a quick road trip to combine our Virginia visits.  Since our daughter was the only one in our family fortunate enough to have visited Washington, D.C. (on a school trip), Alan, our son and I headed to the National Mall late on Sunday morning to see the sights.