Plan To Attend the 2020 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show

Every January something happens that is hard to believe, unless you have seen it!

More than a million and half million visitors, mostly in recreational vehicles, converge on the sleepy little desert town of Quartzsite, located just 20 miles east of the California state line on Interstate 10, for the rock, gem, and mineral shows, plus numerous flea markets and the annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. Wherever you look, you see RVs of every type, size, and vintage. It’s the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

The 37th Sports, Vacation & RV show in Quartzsite, Arizona is scheduled for January 18-26, 2020.

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Attendance for the 2019 show was estimated at well over 100,000 with over 350 exhibits inside and around the show’s 70,000-square-foot and fully carpeted “Big Tent.”

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Co-promoter Kenny King noted in a news release, “If you’re looking for anything related to RVs, camping, and travel, you can usually find it at the Sports, Vacation & RV show in Quartzsite.” King added that here will be hundreds of new and used RVs on display and for sale and over a dozen service bays will be offering immediate installation, repairs, and warranty service.

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 2019, there were numerous tourism related exhibits from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe as well as representatives from dozens of the nation’s finest RV resorts and campgrounds. In addition many “workamper” recruiters from businesses, resorts, and private campgrounds were in attendance. King related, “The number and diversity of exhibits that you’ll find at the Quartzsite RV Show will not be found at any other show of this type in the United States.”

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This phenomenon started over 35 years ago and is now billed as “The Largest Gathering Of RVers in the World”. The inaugural Quartzsite RV Show opened January 28, 1984 at the corner of Highway 95 (now Central) and Business 10 (now Main Street) in Quartzsite. With just 60 exhibitors and a small tent, the “new show in town” was still very popular since the majority of the people in Quartzsite were RVers.

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1987 the show, now re-named the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, moved up the street to the Quartzsite Trailer Park which was situated directly across from the major attraction in town, the Quartzsite Pow Wow (the first Pow Wow was held in 1967).

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This new home for the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show lasted 10 years until the show grew to a point that the current 3.5-acre show site could barely hold the number of exhibitors that were now vying for exhibit space at this popular annual event.

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1997 the “BIG TENT”, as the show had become known, moved across the Interstate to its present home, a new 20-acre facility, ½-mile south of I-10 on Highway 95 (now 700 South Central).

With the new Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show grounds, the popular event was able to provide over 15 acres of public FREE parking.

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For 2020, several major players in the RV Industry have come aboard as sponsors for the event. Co-promoter Kimmy King noted that Progressive RV Insurance, who stepped up as the “Naming Sponsor” several years ago, would continue to have a major presence at the 2020 event. Cummins Diesel, which has participated as an exhibitor at the show since 2015, is a new “Platinum Sponsor” and will be introducing a new line of portable generators during the 2020 show.

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition, longtime exhibitor Dometic has added a Service Bay in the service and repair area of the show grounds and Dish Network is one the newest “Gold Sponsors” in support of its major trade show retailer CM Wireless. King also reported that FMCA had recently stepped up as one of the “Silver Sponsors” along with returning sponsors Redlands Truck & RV Service, Plasticover and the show’s exclusive RV dealer RV Country.

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During our last visit to the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, we reminisced about how Quartzsite has changed over the last 16 years since our first visit and what future years might bring.

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When we first attended the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show in ’99, the RV Pavilion was packed with big-ticket items like RV satellites, tow hitches, and companies offering to install a solar array on your vehicle.

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Looking ahead to future years, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show will continue to grow and attract a more general crowd. Thanks to items like cheaper flat screen TVs, smart phones, and affordable solar arrays with charge controllers to power all your gizmos, it is easy to have all the comforts of home while you’re camping.

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As Quartzsite continues to grow and evolve, it will still be a wonderful place for RVers of all types to gather and relax with near perfect temperatures during the day and clear starlit skies at night. Quartzsite is an experience not to be missed—and we think you’ll like it too!

Quartzsite RV Show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering… 

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February. As the saying goes, “If you can’t find it in Quartzsite, you won’t find it anywhere.”

Vogel State Park on My Mind

Vogel State Park is one of Georgia’s most beloved state parks and one visit there will show you why

Sharing the same name I knew that fate would one day find us within driving distance of Vogel State Park and when that day arrived, the park did not disappoint.

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As we entered Vogel State Park from US Highways 19/129, 22-acre Lake Trahlyta opened to the right, a fitting memorial to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that both dammed the lake and built the park. Georgia’s poet laureate, Bryon Herbert Reece, was born in a cabin on the land where Lake Trahlyta now sits. 

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1929, Augustus Vogel and Fred Vogel Jr. donated nearly 259 acres to the state, much of it still encompassed within the 233-acres within Vogel State Park. At the start of the 20th century the Vogels set up a lumber mill on the site of present-day state park to harvest oak trees, a major source of tannic acid for their leather company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Vogel State Park is in the heart of north Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains, 11 miles south of Blairsville.

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of Georgia’s oldest and most beloved state parks, Vogel is located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Driving from the south, visitors pass through Neel Gap, a beautiful mountain pass near Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vogel State Park has been an escape of families for generations. Returning soldiers following World War II found Vogel an ideal vacation spot to renew family relationships. Grandchildren of these early visitors have continued the tradition. Vogel offers a slower pace in these fast-paced times.

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At 2,500 feet elevation Vogel State Park maintains a cool evening temperature even in the dog days of summer, making this a great stop for camping. The park provide a range of overnight accommodations including 56 campsites with electric service suitable for RVs up to 40 feet in length, 22 tent/pop-up campsites, 14 tent-only walk-in campsites, and 34 cottages. All accommodations are available for reservation.

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A lake for swimming and boating, and miles of hiking trails adjacent to the famous Appalachian Trail offer something for everyone. The park’s 22-acre lake is open to non-motorized boats, and during summer, visitors can cool off at the mountain-view beach. 

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park offers 17 miles of hiking trails from easy to strenuous. Hikers can choose from a variety of trails, including the popular 4-mile Bear Hair Gap loop, an easy lake loop that leads to Trahlyta Falls, and the challenging 13-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail. 

Vogel State Park is 20 miles west of the Bavarian town of Helen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An annual wildflower pilgrimage is a favorite time for those who want to see a variety of spring wildflowers. This mid-April event provides an ideal opportunity for wildflower lovers to enjoy a casual walk with a naturalist and search for the hidden beauty of the forest floor.

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Constructed by the CCC during the depression years of the 1930s, Vogel’s park rustic architecture harkens back to a simpler time. The CCC history runs deep through the park. A museum recognizing the efforts of the greatest generation of natural resource workers.

Vogel State Park is 13 miles southwest of Brasstown Bald © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park hosts an annual CCC reunion of men who actually worked as President Roosevelt’s Tree Army soldiers. They have tales to tell of planting trees, fighting fire, building dams and parks, and other experiences that some say were the best days of their lives. This program is held in May. Everyone is welcome to attend this fascinating event.

Vogel State Park is 20 miles west of the Bavarian town of Helen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wildlife viewing at Vogel is a favorite pastime. There are deer, black bear, birds, and smaller creatures, but fishing is one of the more popular activities. The park hosts an annual Kids Fishing Rodeo the second Saturday of June. Youngsters 12 and under have the opportunity to fish for rainbow trout in Wolf Creek. Wildlife Resources Fisheries stock Wolf Creek with hundreds of trout which pretty much guarantees a catch for each child present.

Every Saturday evening during the summer, musicians and groups play on the theater over the lake. What better way to experience a summer evening than with a cool breeze on your face and beautiful music.

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Appalachian Mountains wouldn’t have the character they do, were it not for the music that has emanated from the hollows. September 12 (2015) is when Vogel hosts its 12th annual Mountain Music Festival. This all-day event has bluegrass, country, gospel, and mountain musicians playing on the lake shore. Crafters will also display their handmade wares in much the same way they would have done in an earlier time. Concessions will be provided by Vogel volunteers.

Vogel State Park is 13 miles southwest of Brasstown Bald © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vogel is fun year round but particularly popular during the fall when the Blue Ridge Mountains transform into a rolling blanket of red, yellow, and gold leaves.

Vogel State Park is 20 miles west of the Bavarian town of Helen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through

Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.

Georgia, Georgia, a song of you

Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines

—words by Stuart Gorrell and music by Hoagy Carmichael

Route 66 across Arizona

Route 66. The Will Rogers Highway. Mother Road. Main Street of America. The quintessential American Road Trip.

Route 66 served travelers for some 50 years, before the advent of the interstate highway system. Established on November 11, 1926, Route 66 was one of the original highways in the U.S., stretching southwestward from Chicago out to California’s coastal city of Santa Monica.

Historic Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in America, originally ran from Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to California, covering a total of 2,448 miles. 

Historic Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Route 66 was recognized in popular culture by the hit song (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66, a popular rhythm and blues standard, composed in 1946 by songwriter Bobby Troup and the Route 66 TV drama in the early ’60s.

Historic Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you are motivated by an interest in history or feel a nostalgic yearning for the “good old days”, Route 66 offers an unforgettable journey into America, then and now.

Historic Route 66 to Oatman © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Oatman

We’ll start our trip just west of the Colorado River and up the hill from Laughlin, Nevada in the historic town of Oatman. Once a gold-mining boomtown, Oatman hunkers in a craggy gulch of the Black Mountains, 28 miles southwest of Kingman. Rising above town is the jagged peak of white quartz known as Elephant’s Tooth.

Oatman © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Though Oatman is only a shadow of its former self, it is well worth a visit to this living ghost town that provides, not only a handful of historic buildings and photo opportunities, but costumed gunfighters and 1890s style ladies strolling the wooden sidewalks, as well as the sights of burros walking the streets.

Oatman © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Burros from the surrounding hills wander into Oatman daily and mosey around town blocking traffic, greeting visitors, and chomping carrots sold by the local shop owners.

Kingman © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kingman

From Oatman, take the thirty minute scenic drive through the Black Mountains to Kingman. A visit to the old powerhouse, which has been converted to a Route 66 Museum and visitor’s center, is a must. The Powerhouse Building is also home to Arizona’s Route 66 Association.

Kingman © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kingman is a jumping off spot for Hoover Dam and Chloride, a well-preserved ghost town, 20 miles northeast.

Hackberry & Valentine

Historic Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Continuing east along the Mother Road you’ll come upon the small ghost towns of Hackberry and Valentine. The oldest town along this old stretch of the road, Hackberry’s origin dates back to 1874 when prospectors set up a mining camp on the east side of the Peacock Mountains. Today, Hackberry sits mostly silent with the exception of the revived Hackberry General Store and Visitors Center. 

Historic Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The main attraction at Valentine is the old schoolhouse at Truxton Canyon Training School on the Hualapai reservation. Now referred to as “The Red Schoolhouse”, the boarding school was constructed to house and assimilate young Hualapai Indians.

Historic Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winslow

Popularized by the Eagles first hit single “Take It Easy” in 1972, “Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see…”, put the town on the national map of consciousness. Winslow was a major stop for early travelers on the Santa Fe Railway as well as Route 66. Built in 1929, the La Pasada has been fully restored and caters to a new generation of Route 66 travelers.

Holbrook © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Holbrook

From Winslow continue east 32 miles to Holbrook. In 1881, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad laid its tracks through an area that was known as Horsehead Crossing. Home to cowboys, cattle ranchers, and railroaders, the settlement soon took on all the vices of a typical Wild West town, complete with a saloon called the Bucket of Blood. Law and order were non-existent, gambling was popular. Before long, Holbrook became a trade center for the area, where cattle, sheep, and wool were shipped out on the railroad.

Wigwam Motel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

By the time Route 66 made its appearance, the wild and lawless town had become more settled, and the narrow strip of asphalt became a symbol of hope to the city and the many travelers of the Mother Road.

Wigwam Motel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tour the nearby Petrified Forest National Park, one of the world’s largest and most vibrantly colored assemblies of petrified wood, historic structures, and archeological sites.

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spend the night at the real cool Wigwam Motel, comprised of 15 large wigwam sleeping units and vintage cars and an RV.

Worth Pondering…

Well, I’m running down the road

Take it easy, take it easy

Don’t let the sound of your own

Wheels drive you crazy

And take it easy

Well, I’m a standing on a corner

In Winslow, Arizona

And such a fine sight to see

Oh, we got it easy

We oughta take it easy

—Eagles, 1972

Savannah: Southern Charm, History & Spanish Moss

This Isn’t Ordinary. This is Savannah.

If you’re heading to Savannah, Georgia, there are several things you should keep in mind: you’re going to walk more than you’re used to and you’re going to fall in love.

LaFayette Square © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even if you haven’t been to Savannah, you’ve probably heard the rumors of a history so deep you can practically feel it dropping off of every building. This is the very real aspect of the 286-year-old city.

Chippewa Square © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visitors to Savannah encounter Southern-style warmth and hospitality, akin to spending time with an old friend. The distinctive Spanish Moss-draped trees, antebellum homes, and horse-drawn carriages help to give one the relaxed and comfortable impression that there’s no rush here. Evidence of the city’s rich history is everywhere. Take time to explore and learn more about some of the people and the events that shaped Georgia’s oldest city.

Madison Square © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walk down the cobblestone streets of Georgia’s first city, a place filled with southern charm. Steeped in history and architectural treasures, Savannah begs to be explored by trolley and on foot. Much of Savannah’s charm lies in meandering through the Historic District’s lovely shaded squares draped in feathery Spanish moss—all 22 of them.

Emmet Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Southern live oak is the state tree of Georgia and a common and most striking tree throughout Savannah. Because it never drops all of its leaves at the same time, it looks the same in January and July. The Spanish moss draping hundreds of live oaks in Savannah is not a parasitic plant and does not damage its host trees. It just uses the tree for support.

First Baptist Church © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along the way, you’ll happen upon numerous historic homes like the Mercer Williams House and the home of Juliette Gordon Low who founded the Girl Scouts. Singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer, a native of Savannah, wrote more than 1,100 songs and won four Academy Awards during his career. The Mercer-Williams House, site of the shooting in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, was built by his great-grandfather.

From the movie, Forrest Gump, as shown at the Georgia Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More than 100 movies and TV shows have used Savannah as a filming location including Cape Fear, The Last Song, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Glory, Something to Talk About, Forrest Gump, and the TV miniseries Roots.

City Market © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1732, British General James Oglethorpe, a member of Parliament and an advocate of prison reform in England, laid out Savannah a year before King George II sent him to the New World to create a military buffer between Spanish Florida and British colonists in South Carolina. Oglethorpe’s blueprint for Savannah was based on a pattern of 24 “squares”—parks, gardens, cemeteries, and other pedestrian green space—of which 22 survive today.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 2.2-square-mile original town is now the largest National Historic Districts in the United States. Each square has its own monument or fountain in the center. Homes, churches, and other structures featuring a wide variety of architectural styles line the streets on all four sides of each square.

Our Old Town Trolley Tour prior to boarding at the Savannah Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Several historical tours are offered. The Old Town Trolley Tour offers a narrated loop tour that lasts an hour and 30 minutes. Do it all at once, or hop off at your choice of 15 locations within the Savannah Historic District. The trolleys run constantly and allow ticketholders to get on and off at will. The trolley pass can last for one or two days.

Historic River Street, Old Savannah Cotton Exchange © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Our guide explained that three different periods of history are represented in Savannah: Colonial, pre-Civil War, and Victorian. It’s interesting and informative to hear the stories that go along with each of those time periods. 

Historic River Street © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As with most cities, it is best not to tour Savannah via RV. Drive your toad into town, and pick up a map of the historic district. One place to do that is the Visitors Information Center located inside the old railway passenger station at 301 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. This is a good starting point to catch a trolley tour into the historic district. Visitors also can choose to drive into the historic district and tour on their own. 

Historic River Street, The Waving Girl statue © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With so much to see and do in and around Savannah, one visit simply isn’t enough. Fortunately, that same Southern hospitality is ready to welcome visitors back again and again.

Creek Fire RV Resort, our home base while touring Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Savannah is a lovely pastel dream of tight cobbled streets. There are legendary scenes to rival any dreamed up by Tennessee Williams.

—Rosemary Daniell

How Can You Travel In Your RV Without Worrying About Your Home?

With a little preparation you can travel to your snowbird roost without concern about your home

In 1969, the comedy troupe Firesign Theater asked, “How can you be in two places at once without being anywhere at all?” In the counter-culture haze of the late ’60s, this question was both strangely funny and unanswerable.

Taking inspiration from Firesign Theaters’ absurd musing, we offer a new, obviously not as funny question; “How can you travel in your RV without worrying about your home?”

Leaving Kansas for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the days leading up to your departure, scour your house for anything you might have borrowed from the library, a family member, or friend, and ensure those they are returned prior to leaving.

Leaving Pennsylvania for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even the most experienced RVers worry about their homes while they’re away. From the threat of a break-in to a failed heating system causing the pipes to freeze, the range of things that can go wrong at home are enough to keep folks awake at night. Did you remember to lock the sliding doors?

Leaving Alberta for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With a little preparation, and a dose of prevention, none of these fears should keep you from embarking on your much-anticipated snowbird travels. No worries.

Leaving northern California for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lock All External Doors, Windows, and the Garage

Lock your front door. Lock your back door. Lock the door between your garage and your house.  Lock all sliding doors with security locks. Lock pet doors and any other external entry ways into your house. Whenever possible, use deadbolt locks. And don’t forget to make sure that all of your windows are also locked.

Leaving Idaho for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Garage doors with electric garage door openers are vulnerable to thieves with garage door opener scanners. To defeat these scanners, unplug your garage door opener when you’re away from home. Additionally, remove garage door openers and valuables from cars stored in the garage. Inform anyone with access to your home that you have disabled the garage door system and/or manually locked the garage.

Leaving Indiana for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do Not Hide House Keys

Hiding a house key under the mat, in a fake rock, or inside a magnetic house key box stuck to the underside of an outdoor pipe is never a good idea. The thieves know about these products and tricks and look for these easy access vulnerabilities.

Leaving Massachusetts for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ask Neighbors To Watch

Let your neighbors know how long you will be away. In addition, provide a responsible neighbor with keys to your home and garage. Have them walk through your house on a regular basis. Check with your insurance provider to determine the frequency they require.

Leaving Montana for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the power went out, did your alarm turn back on? Is the furnace still up and running? A trusted neighbor can check and answer these questions instantly. Developing and maintaining good relationships with your neighbors is key to preparing for an extended trip.

Leaving New Hampshire for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Security Alarm System

Some folks wouldn’t consider leaving their house to go grocery shopping without setting the alarm system while some rural folks have never locked their front door.

Leaving South Dakota for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you have an alarm system installed, be sure to keep your contacts current with the names and contact information of neighbors and house sitters who may be at the premises.

Leaving New York for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check All Smoke Detectors

Even though you will not be home, it’s still important that your smoke detectors are functioning properly. Change the smoke detector batteries on an annual basis, and test.

Leaving Ohio for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Motion Activated Outdoor Lights

Having exterior lights turn on is an excellent theft deterrent. Outdoor lights with built in motion sensors are available at Home Depot, Lowes, and Amazon (among others) and do an excellent job at detecting and deterring would-be thieves. They can also automatically light the way when you get home.

Leaving Rhode Island for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be a Good Neighbor

As you can see, you are relying on your trusted neighbors or home-watching friends to help keep your home safe and intervening in any disaster. Consider thanking them with a thank you card and gift certificate at appropriate occasions. Also, when they are away, perform the same type of duties. 

Leaving North Dakota for a snowbird roost © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The best part of the above recommendations is the peace of mind they’ll give you if you’re away from home. 

Worth Pondering…

You’ve heard the old Willie Nelson country music song with the lyrics, “On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again…” We’ll be singing this song for sure.

Southwest Destinations with Awe-Inspiring Scenery

The Southwest is a fascinating and awe-inspiring place to explore

America’s southwest is home to lots of jaw-dropping scenery—how do you decide where to go and what to see? If you’re thinking about an RV vacation in this majestic region, you may want to consider one or more of these especially spectacular destinations.

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona, Arizona

It’s no secret that Sedona is home to some of the most jaw dropping scenery in the country. Known as Red Rock Country for the colorful red rock formations that dominate the landscape, Sedona is a popular destination for photographers, nature lovers, hikers, and mountain bikers. Sedona is home to hundreds of miles of trails, some easy, some difficult, yet all loaded with magnificent views of the surrounding million year old ancient rocks.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Carlabad Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As you pass through the Chihuahuan Desert and Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico and west Texas, filled with prickly pear, chollas, sotols, and agaves, you might never guess there are more than 300 known caves beneath the surface. The park contains 113 of these caves, formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone. This includes Lechuguilla Cave, the nation’s deepest and fourth longest limestone cave at 1,567 feet

Monument Valley, Arizona and Utah

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Monument Valley is one of the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. Eons of wind and rain carved the gargantuan red-sandstone monoliths into fascinating formations, many of which jut hundreds of feet above the desert floor in a scene that’s remained untouched for centuries. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by a vast, sandy desert have been filmed countless times for movies with nostalgic images that are sure to be familiar for John Wayne fans.

Bisbee, Arizona

Bisbee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bisbee’s beauty is at least in part due to its quirky character, charm, and street art. This colorful, historic mining town, nestled a mile high in southeastern Arizona’s Mule Mountains, is a funky artists’ haven filled with Victorian homes that are perched precariously on steep hillsides. Many of its eclectic bungalows can only be reached by climbing steep stairways built into the picturesque mountainside. 

Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One hundred fifty years ago, John Wesley Powell described Glen Canyon as a “land of beauty and glory” and named it for its many glens and alcoves near the river. About 100 years later the canyon was flooded by the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River forming a lake named for the one-armed explorer. With 2,000 miles of shoreline, Lake Powell offers boating, kayaking, and fishing amid rugged red rock canyons and mesas.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona

Canyon de Chelly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Step back in time at Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Steep canyon walls cradle hundreds of ancient pueblo ruins. A Navajo Indian community still inhabits the canyon floor herding sheep during the summer. Two self-guided drives follow the rims of the canyon. At the end of the South Rim Drive, take in the sights from the popular Spider Rock overlook, featuring the park’s signature geological formation.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visitors to Mesa Verde can retrace the ancient footsteps of the ancestral Puebloans who once lived in the park’s magnificent cliff dwellings. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to some of the best preserved archaeological sites in the U.S., with more than 4,500 found within its boundaries, including Cliff Palace which contains 150 rooms.

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Discover a landscape of contrasting colors, land forms, and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins, and giant balanced rocks. This red-rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you with its sunsets.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many come to the southwest to visit the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Brilliant colors and unforgettable panoramas make it one of the most popular attractions in the U.S. Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utah’s Zion National Park offers some of the most beautiful vistas and hiking opportunities in the Southwest with spectacular rock formations, towering cliffs, magnificent waterfalls, valleys, and deserts. The Narrows, a gorge with walls a thousand feet tall and the river, sometimes 20 to 30 feet wide, is one of the park’s highlights. The Narrows can be viewed by hiking the easy, paved Riverside Walk for a mile from the Temple of Sinawava.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water and wind over millions of years have carved the plateau into the park’s distinctive red rock pillars, called hoodoos, into the park’s series of natural amphitheaters. Bryce Canyon National Park awes visitors with spectacular geological formations and brilliant colors. The towering hoodoos, narrow fins, and natural bridges seem to deny all reason or explanation. Hiking is the best way to immerse yourself in the amazing geography. Day hikes range from easy 1-mile loops to challenging 11-mile round-trip adventures.

Worth Pondering…

The West is color. Its colors are animal rather than vegetable, the colors of earth and sunlight and ripeness.

—Jessamyn West

The Absolute Best Places to RV This December

Embrace the magic this holiday season in a warm destination

As a whole, the month of December is a whirlwind. Even as the chaos of Thanksgiving weekend begins to fade, the world is already preparing for the end-of-year holiday season.

Balancing the frenzy of shopping and family time can be daunting, but those who manage to squeeze in time to get away, will find warm weather, seasonal festivals, and beautiful landscapes in which to cap off another great year of RV travel.

December marks your last chance to cash in on this year’s travel resolution before they reset in the New Year, so let the magic of the season take you to a place near or far in your RV.

Looking to make plans for RV travel in January, February, or March in the New Year? We’ve got you covered with those recommendations, too. And be sure to catch up on all our recommendations for the best places to visit in September, October, or November.

Rockport, Texas

Rockport © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons. A winter hamlet that is a relaxing getaway year-round, Rockport-Fulton is known for its signature trees, clusters of giant ancient oaks sculpted by the Gulf Coast winds.

Goose Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Despite its small town status there are plenty of things to do. There’s fishing, golfing, and nature trails. A few places to enjoy the wildlife are at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Connie Hagar Wildlife Sanctuary, and Goose Island State Park. The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is the winter host for the largest flock of whooping cranes.

Nature Coast and Crystal River, Florida

Crystal River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fed by springs that flow at a constant 72 degrees, the Crystal and Homosassa rivers are winter havens for West Indian manatees. Between 400 and 700 of these endangered aquatic mammals—they have a population of about 4,480—call the rivers home from October through mid-April.

Manatee at Homosassa Springs © Rex Vogel, all rights reservedManatee at Homosassa Springs

When the Gulf waters warm up in the spring, most of the manatees venture out to their coastal homes. Manatees are gentle creatures that enjoy interacting with humans. Even though only 30 to 40 manatees stay in nearby Kings Bay year-round, more than 20 companies in Crystal River and Homosassa offer swim-with-the-manatees tours.

Homosassa Springs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, you can see manatees without donning a wetsuit. The 210-acre park is a rehabilitation center for injured or orphaned manatees. A 45-foot-deep natural spring, headwaters of the Homosassa River, provides the perfect habitat for recovering manatees.

Manatee at Homosassa Springs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An underwater observatory allows close-up views of manatees and freshwater and saltwater fish attracted by the spring. The park is also a showcase for Florida’s native wildlife, such as alligators, wood storks, and pink flamingos.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearly 800,000 acres of desert east of the Coachella Valley (think, Palm Springs), Joshua Tree National Park rewards visitors with a full range of peculiar treasures: spiky yuccas, spiny cacti, spindly ocotillos, gangly Joshua trees, and dramatic geological formations, including Jumbo Rocks.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As you drive up Pinto Basin Road, past the Cholla Cactus Garden, you’ll cross the transition zone between two major desert ecosystems: The lower Colorado Desert merges into the higher Mojave Desert, and cholla cactus and ocotillos give way to Joshua trees.

Joshua Tree National Park from Keys View © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An even bigger wow can be had at Keys View. To the west, distant San Gorgonio Mountain and San Jacinto Peak—both topping 10,000 feet—scrape the sky. Looking south, you can spy the Salton Sea.

Catalina State Park, Arizona

Catalina State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Catalina State Park, one of the many gems in the Arizona State Park system, offers beautiful vistas of the Sonoran Desert and the Santa Catalina Mountains with riparian canyons, lush washes, and dense cactus forests. The environment at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains offers great camping, hiking, picnicking, and bird watching—more than 150 species of birds call the park home.

Brunswick and the Golden Isles, Georgia

The Golden Isles © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Four of the beautiful isles—St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Jekyll, and Sea—and a nearby coastal town are known collectively as Brunswick and the Golden Isles.

Jekyll Island Club © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1886, Jekyll Island was purchased to become an exclusive winter retreat, known as the Jekyll Island Club. Members included such notable figures as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and Marshall Field. Jekyll Island, with its cottage colony and clubhouse, was viewed as a little paradise, where members and guests pursued “a life of elegant leisure.” Today, the former Club grounds comprise a 240-acre site with 34 historic structures.

Jekyll Island Club © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.

—Henry David Thoreau

November 2019 RV Manufacturer Recalls

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

When a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

The number of RV recalls has increased significantly in recent years: 169 recalls were issued during 2016, 203 recalls during 2017, and 230 for 2018.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

NHTSA announced 20 recall notices during November 2019. These recalls involved 8 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (7 recalls), Thor Motor Coach (4 recalls), Jayco (2 recalls), Airstream (2 recall), Keystone RV Company (2 recalls), Outdoors RV Manufacturing (1 recall), Starcraft RV (1 recall), Gulf Stream Coach (1 recall)

The Motor Coach Resort, Chandler, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020 Shasta Oasis SST30QB and SST31OK trailers. The trailers may have been built with an incorrect length axle hanger, allowing the axle to contact the chassis while moving.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will replace the equalizers, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-528-8717. Forest River’s number for this recall is 53-1100.

Meahler State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020 Sunseeker SSC2250SLEC, Freelander FLC26RSC, and Leprechaun LPC240FSC vehicles. The seatbelt-unfastened warning light will not illuminate for approximately five seconds after the ignition is moved to the “on” or “start” position. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.”

Forest River will notify owners, and GM dealers will reprogram the instrument panel, free of charge. The recall began on October 29, 2019. Owners may contact GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782 or Forest River customer service at 1-800-348-7440. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-1084.

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2017 Dynamax DX3 and Force motorhomes. The front axle stabilizer bracket may not properly mount to the axle, and may break as a result.

Forest River has notified owners, and a Detroit Diesel dealer will perform the recall remedy. The stabilizer brackets and I-beams will be inspected and spacers and replacement stabilizer brackets will be installed, as necessary, free of charge. The recall began November 6, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-800-348-7440 or find a Detroit Diesel location at www.detroitdiesel.com/locations/default.aspx. Forest River’s number for this recall is 55-1105.

Terre Haute Koa, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020 EVO, Salem and Wildwood travel trailers. The trailer cooktops were installed with a rubber liquid propane (LP) gas line instead of a copper one.

Forest River has notified owners, and dealers will replace the rubber LP gas line with a copper gas line, free of charge. The recall began November 7, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-909-873-3777. Forest River’s number for this recall is 67A-1107.

Reunion Lake RV Resort, Ponchatoula, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020 Surveyor trailers, model SVT33KFKDS. A fuse of the incorrect amperage was installed for the 12V refrigerator, potentially allowing the wiring to overheat.

Forest River has notified owners, and dealers will replace the incorrect fuse with one of the correct amperage, free of charge. The recall began November 7, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-260-499-2100. Forest River’s number for this recall is 37-1108.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. is recalling certain 2020 East to West Delta Terra (model 312BH) and East to West Silver Lake (model 31KBH) recreational trailers. The overhead bunk fasteners may not be properly secured to the backer board of the bunk.

Forest River has notified owners, and dealers will properly secure the bunk to the backer, free of charge. The recall began November 1, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-264-6664. Forest River’s number for this recall is 500-1112.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020 Cherokee Alpha Wolf Travel Trailers. The wire supplying the 12V power for the refrigerator may have been connected incorrectly to the circuit breaker.

Forest River has notified owners, and dealers will correct the wiring, free of charge. The recall began November 19, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-260-499-2100. Forest River’s number for this recall is 76-1109.

Two Rivers Landing RV Resort, Severeville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2014 Tuscany 36M, 40E, 2015 Citation 24SL, Siesta 24SL, Axis 25.1 and Vegas 25.1, 2016 Four Winds 31E, 31W, 35SF, Chateau 31E, 31W, Synergy SD24, Citation 24SL, 24SS and Siesta 24SL, 24SS, 2017 Four Winds 31E, 31W, Chateau 31E, 35SD, Citation 24SS and Siesta 24SS, 2018 Citation 24SS and Siesta 24SS, 2019 Quantum CR24, Four Winds 24BL, Citation 24MB and Siesta 24MB and 2020 Quantum CR24, Citation 24MB, Siesta 24MB, Chateau 24BL and Synergy 24MB vehicles. The Occupant and Cargo Carrying Capacity (OCCC) label has the incorrect carrying capacity listed, which can allow the vehicle to be overloaded. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 120, “Wheels and Rims – Other Than Passenger Cars.”

TMC will notify owners, and dealers will issue new OCCC labels with correct seating positions and weight calculations, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin December 2, 2019. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000176.

Hidden Lake RV Resort, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Chateau 22B, 22E, 23U, 24F, 25V, and 28A, Daybreak 22GO, Four Winds 22B, 22E, 24F, 26B and 28A, Freedom Elite 22HE and 2020 Quantum GR22, and SE22 motorhomes. The seatbelt-unfastened warning light will not illuminate for approximately five seconds after the ignition is moved to the “on” or “start” position. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.”

GM will notify TMC owners, and dealers will reprogram the instrument panel cluster, free of charge. The recall began October 3, 2019. Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-630-2438, GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782 or TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000177.

Columbia Sun RV Park, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Magnitude and Omni motorhomes. The seat recliner mechanisms may be missing the third pawl required for seat back strength, resulting in a loose seat back. These vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) numbers 202, “Head Restraints” and 207, “Seating Systems.”

Ford has notified TMC owners, and Ford dealers will inspect the seat structures and replace them, as necessary, free of charge. The recall began October 21, 2019. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332 or TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000178.

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2020 Sequence 20L motorhomes. The screws securing the solar panel to the luggage rack may fail causing the solar panel to detach.

TMC will notify owners, and dealers will replace the screws with plates, carriage bolts, washers, and locking nuts, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 3, 2020. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000179.

Wind Creek Casino RV Park, Atmore, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2016-2017 Alante motorhomes built on Ford F53 chassis. A heat shield may have not have been installed, allowing the hydraulic lines to be exposed to excessive heat.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will install aftermarket heat shields to the chassis, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 15, 2019. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9903442.

Tom Sawyer RV Park, West Memphis, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2017 Pinnacle Fifth Wheel trailers. The suspension system may fail.

The remedy for this recall is still under development. The recall is expected to begin December 2, 2019. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901443.

Cochise Terrace RV Resort, Benson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Atlas motorhomes. The SH1 Breaker Terminal may be wired incorrectly, causing some of the 12V circuits to have insufficient overcurrent protection.

Airstream will notify owners, and dealers will correct the wiring, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin December 14, 2019. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111, extension 7401 or 7411.

Creekside RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Sport, Nest, Flying Cloud, International Serenity, International Signature, Classic, Globetrotter and Tommy Bahama trailers and 2020 Basecamp, Bambi and Caravel trailers. Due to improper welding, the Demco ball coupler installed on the travel trailers may not provide enough clamping force on the tow ball, potentially causing the coupler to separate from the tow ball.

Airstream will notify owners, and will send a temporary use adaptor that can be slipped over the ball portion of the coupler to allow owners to tow their trailers. For the final remedy, dealers will add a shim plate to the backside of the ball coupler clamp to put it in position to apply the required clamping force on the tow ball, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin December 20, 2019. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111 extension 7401 or 7411.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020 Dutchmen Atlas 3382BH trailers. The trailers may have a non-metallic propane supply hose installed inside the burner box of the cooktop, instead of a copper supply hose.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will remove the non-metallic propane gas line and attach it to a copper propane gas line, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 15, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-363.

Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Crossroads Sunset trailers, model 242BH. The interior range cooktop is installed in a cabinet that may not be entirely sealed from the furnace cavity. As a result, during furnace operation, the interior range cooktop burner flame may invert.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the interior range cooktop with the furnace running, sealing it as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin December 16, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-362.

Hilltop RV Park, Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Outdoors RV Manufacturing (ORV)

Outdoors RV Manufacturing (ORV) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Trail Series MTN TRX 22TRX toyhauler travel trailers. The axles may be incorrectly mounted too far forward, potentially causing light tongue weight on the tow vehicle.

ORV will notify owners, and dealers will move the axles 10 inches back towards the rear of the trailer to increase the tongue weight, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 21, 2019. Owners may contact ORV customer service at 1-541-962-1866, extension 222. ORV’s number for this recall is 2019-001.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Starcraft RV

Starcraft RV (Starcraft) is recalling 2016 Solstice Travel Star fifth wheel trailers equipped with Atwood on-demand water heaters. The water heaters have a water and gas valve that may cause the water heater to overheat the water in the hot water supply tap.

Starcraft will notify owners, and Atwood dealers will install a water flow adjustment stop key that prevents the recall condition from occurring, free of charge. The recall began on October 23, 2019. Owners may contact Starcraft customer service at 1-800-945-4787 or Atwood customer service at 1-877-546-9074.

Palm Springs-Joshua Tree KOA, California

Gulf Stream Coach

Gulf Stream Coach, Inc. (Gulf Stream) is recalling certain 2020 Amerilite, Conquest, Innsbruck, Grand River, Kingsport and Trail Master trailers. The gas refrigerator compartment may not be properly sealed, potentially releasing carbon monoxide or flammable unburned Liquid Petroleum (LP) gases throughout the trailer.

Gulf Stream will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the gas refrigerator for proper sealing and repair, as necessary. Owners may contact Gulf Stream customer service at 1-800-289-8787. Gulf Stream’s number for this recall is 102919.

Note: Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Please Note: This is the tenth in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

A Monumental Big Year

643 bird species, 44 states, two trips across the country and back, one pickup camper—all Taylor Páez needed to complete her Big Year on the road

In case you didn’t see the movie The Big Year, a Big Year is a personal quest to find as many species as possible during a calendar year. There are personal variations on this simple definition, but any way you do it, a Big Year is a serious undertaking that takes an absolute dedication, lots of free time, and some extra cash, as most participants do a lot of traveling.

Gambel’s Quail at Usery Mountain Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enter an ambitious young birder, Taylor Páez, who planned her Big Year, saved money, and left her office job; then ready, set, go—she was off, with the hope of finding 700 different birds in the lower 48 states.

Sandhill Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Taylor’s route was a road trip of epic proportions. Starting at her home in northern California, she looped south through Arizona, southern Texas, and around the Gulf of Mexico; then turned north, passing through many eastern states to New Hampshire and Maine. Next: New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Michigan including the Upper Peninsula, and Wisconsin. Then it was back to the West: the Great Plains, Colorado, on to Washington, and back home to California—all by July; traveling solo, living out of her compact truck camper, and experiencing the ultimate bird search day by day.

Green Heron at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As she traveled cross-country, Taylor monitored bird sightings reported on eBird, the American Birding Association’s state by state Birding News, Audubon listserves, and local birding groups’ posts on Facebook. Sometimes she even learned of rare bird sightings on Instagram, or by word-of-mouth from birders she interacted with at popular birding hotspots.

Western Scrub Jay at Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After a month-long break to re-charge at home, Taylor began the “zig-zagging” phase of her Big Year, driving through southern California, Arizona, Texas, Mississippi, then zigging and zagging before taking a boat trip off the coast of Maine; on to New Jersey, Ohio, Minnesota, Nebraska, Montana, and back to California to finish the year. Taylor explained her zig-zag pattern: “Toward the end of the year it was pretty crazy because it’s less about the common birds and more about the rare ones;” so when a rare bird showed up cross-country, she might begin a heated chase.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at La Feria Nature Center, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After her sweeping bird quest across the country—twice—Taylor had a tough time picking just one favorite local. The country is filled with amazing biodiversity, and she enjoys it all. But if she had to pick a favorite, Taylor would pick the subtropical region of southern Texas. During one day at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge she identified 35 new birds, the most new species she listed at once.

Roseate Spoonbills along the Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Her favorite birds: Green Jays, Roseate Spoonbills, Greater Kiskadees, and Audubon’s Orioles—all found in the above-mentioned wildlife refuge.

Plain Chachalaca at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After spending a year in the great outdoors and tallying 634 species, Taylor did not go back to her office job. Instead, she turned to opportunities in the natural world: Working as a park naturalist and a stint conducting hummingbird surveys.

Tri-Colored Heron at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“I realized I not only wanted to be outside, but I wanted to make a positive impact on people. I wanted to bring them accessibility to nature and the outdoors. We need it now more than ever,” Taylor said. “I never thought I would do what I did—before that I played everything safe. I didn’t take risks, ever.”

Great Kiskadee at Edinburgh Wetlands, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Such a long trip was a big challenge, but after her Big Year, Taylor knows the risks are well worth the payback.

Black-necked Stilt at Gilbert Riparian Preserve, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The original article about Taylor Paez’s Big Year appears on the BirdsEye Birding website. BirdsEye’s free photography website is a comprehensive library of photos submitted by nature enthusiasts.

Great Horned Owl at Whitewater Draw, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

—Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays

Turkey Talk At Thanksgiving

Let’s talk turkey. We’ll examine some little known facts about the turkey to gobble up along with your Thanksgiving feast.

Today is my favorite holiday of the year.

No presents to buy.

And as Canadian Snowbirds we have the opportunity of celebrating Thanksgiving in October (Canadian Thanksgiving) and again today.

The only thing to spend is time with family, food, and football.

Giving thanks for turkeys © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Thanksgiving holiday is an opportune time to consider turkeydom—the wild stock and those top-heavy, farm-raised birds that are pardoned and spared from the dinner table each Thanksgiving by the President of the United States.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You know you’ll probably eat too much. But what do you really know about Thanksgiving? What do you know about the headliner of the day, Tom Turkey?

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wild Turkeys are native to North America, with some interesting historical and geographical twists along the way. The common turkey was tamed between 800 and 200 BC by the people of pre-Columbian Mexico. Up until about 1100 AD, the Pueblo peoples raised turkeys primarily for their feathers for use in rituals, ceremonies, and textiles.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Then in the 1500s, European explorers carried wild turkeys back to Europe, where the birds were further domesticated. When early English settlers brought turkeys to Eastern North America a century later, the species crossed the ocean once again.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wild turkeys live in hardwood forests and marshlands. Equipped with powerful legs and clawed toes, they are adept at raking through leaf litter and moderate snow depths. Their broad diet includes over 600 types of fruits, nuts, waste grains, grasses, and insects. At night, Wild turkeys roost in trees for shelter and predator protection.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Appearance-wise, the Wild Turkey won’t win a beauty contest. Males have blue or gray featherless necks and heads that can shift color according to the bird’s emotional state. When angry or during courtship displays, the neck and head turn a radiant red. The male toms are the larger sex that boasts a spikey “beard” of feathers protruding from their mid-chest.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The snood is a fleshy flap that hangs from the beak; prominent bumps on the head and throat are termed carbuncles, while the wattles drape from under the chin. These physical characteristics are far more pronounced in domestic turkeys.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most commercial turkey farmers breed their birds to have white feathers because white feathers leave no spots on the skin when plucked. Bred exclusively for the table, flightless domestic turkeys are 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat. This differs from their wild relatives, whose breast flesh is darker due to their active flight habits.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The two types of meat differ nutritionally. White meat has fewer calories and less fat than dark meat. The rich flavor of dark meat is especially valued in soup and stew recipes. Dark meat holds up well in rich marinades and is a perfect choice for grilling and barbecuing.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Benjamin Franklin, who proposed the turkey as the official United States’ bird, was dismayed when the bald eagle was chosen over the turkey. Franklin wrote to his daughter, referring to the eagle’s “bad moral character,” saying, “I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country! The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.”

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, supposedly as a response to a campaign organized by magazine editor Sara Joseph Hale. In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving Day forward one week, as it is presently celebrated.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 2012, more than 253.5 million turkeys were raised. More than 210 million were consumed in the United States. An estimated 46 million of those turkeys were eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas, and 19 million at Easter.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearly 88 percent of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey at Thanksgiving. The average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 16 pounds, meaning that approximately 736 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the United States during Thanksgiving in 2012.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Deep fried turkey originated in the southern United States but is popular today throughout North America. Quickly cooked, deep-fried turkey is rich in flavor with a golden brown crispy exterior while moist and fork-tender on the interior.

Turkey consumption has nearly doubled over the past 25 years. In 2012, per capita turkey consumption was 16 pounds compared to 8.3 pounds in 1975.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Turkey can be used in so many cooking methods, including stovetop, oven, microwave, and grill. The wide range of cuts and products available such as ground turkey, turkey ham, turkey franks, turkey pastrami, turkey sausage, turkey bacon, and deli turkey make this protein easy to incorporate into any meal.

Giving thanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Did you Know?

Only tom turkeys gobble. Hen turkeys make a clicking noise.

Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour and can run 20 miles per hour.