Standing on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s easy to feel insignificant
The ancient curves of red rock draw the eye toward the
hallowed waterway below. Stunning and ever-changing light bounces off
spectacular geologic formations, reflecting the winged shadows of raptors
Earlier this year (February 26, 2019), the US celebrated the
100th anniversary of the designation of one of the world’s greatest
natural wonders, the Grand Canyon, as a national park. However, the
underpinnings of what would become a national treasure and bucket list
destination began to take shape eons ago.
The sheer size of the Grand Canyon is difficult to
comprehend through photos or words. Much of the canyon is over a mile
deep, 15 miles wide, and 277 miles long, carved through geologic formations
that are over 1.7 billion years old. The vast majority of the Grand Canyon
National Park is extremely rugged and remote, and many places are only
accessible by pack trail.
The most popular viewpoints, such as the South Rim, are
visited by over 90 percent of the park visitors. Roughly 30 miles of the
canyon along the South Rim is accessible by the road. The North Rim, about
a 220-mile drive from the South Rim, gives access to the Kaibab Plateau and
Bright Angel Point.
And then, there is the human history, the stories of those
individuals with a pioneer spirit, ingenuity and steadfast commitment that laid
the groundwork for how we experience the Canyon today.
The first known Europeans to view the Grand Canyon—a
scouting party of the Coronado expedition in 1541—arrived, peered down,
attempted to scramble down to the river, failed, and left. Only Native
Americans would gaze upon the canyon’s wonders for more than 200 years.
Interest in the canyon and the Colorado River would spike
with the classic account of Maj. John Wesley Powell’s harrowing first
expedition down the river in 1869, and, 13 years later, the reports of Capt.
Clarence Dutton, whose monograph was published by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The exploits of those explorers were accented by the work of
illustrators Thomas Moran and William Henry Holmes. Holmes classic set of
drawings, including those entitled “Panorama from Point Sublime,” remain
to this day some of the great depictions of the Grand Canyon as viewed from the
The enterprising Santa Fe Railroad arrived in 1901 and soon
after, in 1905, El Tovar opened and quickly developed a reputation as the
fanciest hotel west of the Mississippi.
The Fred Harvey Company, now named the Xanterra Travel
Collection, was hired to manage the hotel. They knew how to address the needs
of tourists lured to the West by the railroad’s promotional images of the
extraordinary Grand Canyon.
The company soon needed help keeping pace with the increasing number of adventuresome travelers eager to explore the Western landscape and turned to a former St. Paul, Minnesota art teacher for assistance.
Mary E.J. Colter, who would become the chief designer and architect for the Harvey organization, drew inspiration from Native American and Spanish Colonial design. Rather than mimicking European architecture, her creations were meant to blend in with or enhance their surroundings. She was responsible for the design of 23 buildings, including Hopi House, Bright Angel Lodge, Lookout Studio, Hermit’s Rest, and The Watchtower, during more than four decades with the company.
Today, Grand Canyon National Park Lodges welcomes guests on
the South Rim with iconic accommodations like El Tovar and Bright Angel and
encourages guests to sleep in the area’s rich history.
The Fred Harvey Company, in the earliest years of the
nineteenth century, envisioned that the El Tovar Hotel, resting on the canyon
rim, would enable people from around the world to experience the wonders of the
Canyon. That vision is now a reality.
The best way to celebrate the Grand Canyon on its 100th
birthday is to see it yourself and take in the natural wonders spanning 13,000
years of human life, and eons of time before that.
The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately
represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself.
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 17 recall notices during May 2019. These
recalls involved 9 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (6 recalls),
Thor Motor Coach (2 recalls), REV Recreation Group (2 recalls), Jayco (2 recalls),
Keystone RV Company (1 recall), Entegra Coach (1 recall), Tiffin Motorhomes (1
recall), Newmar (1 recall), and Livin’ Lite (1 recall).
Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain
2017-2019 Rockport work trucks. The inline fuse that protects the cargo and
compartment lights circuit may not have been installed during production.
Forest River has notified owners, and dealers will install
an inline fuse, free of charge. The recall began April 8, 2019. Owners may
contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-522-7599. Forest River’s number
for this recall is 29-0987.
Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019
Dynamax Isata motorhomes built on a RAM cab chassis. The primary and secondary
brake hoses located between the brake master cylinder and the hydraulic control
unit may have been manufactured without anti-corrosion plating on the ferrules.
Forest River will notify owners, and FCA US dealers will
inspect the brake hoses and replace them if necessary, free of charge. The
recall is expected to begin May 21, 2019. Owners may contact FCA US customer
service at 1-800-853-1403 or Forest River at 1-574-262-3474. Forest River’s
number for this recall is 55-0992.
Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2018
Dynamax Isata vehicles built on a RAM chassis and equipped with a column
shifter. Pushing the brake pedal for prolonged periods when the vehicle is
running and in PARK may cause the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock (BTSI) pin
to stick in the open position. With the pin in the open position, the
transmission can be shifted out of PARK into any gear without pushing the brake
pedal or having the key in the ignition.
Forest River will notify owners, and Chrysler dealers will
update the vehicle software, inspect the BTSI, and, as necessary, replace it,
free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 21, 2019. Owners may
contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403 or Forest River at
1-574-262-3474. Forest River’s number for this recall is 55-0993.
Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019
Rockwood and Flagstaff recreational trailers. The wiring for the front bedroom
air conditioning may have been improperly installed and may come in contact
with the heat strip in the air conditioner.
Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will secure the
air conditioner wiring harness away from the heat strip, free of charge. The
recall is expected to begin May 29, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River
customer service at 1-574-642-8943. Forest River’s number for this recall is
Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain
2018-2019 Cherokee ACKT39CL and ACKT39RL travel trailers. The Federal Placard
may have incorrect axle rating, cargo carrying capacity, and tire/wheel
Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will provide
replacement placards that contain the accurate information, free of charge. The
recall is expected to begin June 19, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River
customer service at 1-260-499-2100. Forest River’s number for this recall is
Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain
2019-2020 R. Pod travel trailers. The wire for the refrigerator’s spark igniter
may have been connected to a breaker that permits a current higher than the
wire can handle.
Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will move the
wire from the 30 AMP circuit to the designated 15 AMP circuit, free of charge.
The recall is expected to begin June 19, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River
customer service at 1-574-642-3119. Forest River’s number for this recall is
Thor Motor Coach
Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2018-2019
Quantum RW28 motorhomes. The vehicles may be missing the mid-ship marker
lights. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 108, “Lamps, Reflective
Devices, and Associated Equipment.”
TMC will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and install
mid-ship marker lights, as needed, free of charge. The recall is expected to
begin May 20, 2019. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867.
TMC’s number for this recall is RC000167.
Thor Motor Coach
Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2018 Thor
Chateau and Four Winds motorhomes and 2019-2020 Magnitude and Omni motorhomes.
The backup camera displays may revert back to the factory default settings
which may cause the camera image to be reversed.
TMC will notify owners, and dealers will install a harness
to install that will prevent the image from inverting, free of charge. The
recall is expected to begin on May 27, 2019. Owners may contact TMC customer
service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000168.
REV Recreation Group
REV Recreation Group (REV) is recalling certain 2019
Fleetwood Flair and Holiday Rambler Admiral motorhomes. The metal battery hold
down straps or their mounting brackets may contact the terminals for the
auxiliary batteries, possibly resulting in a short circuit.
REV will notify owners, and dealers will rework the
motorhomes to prevent the auxiliary batteries from shorting against the battery
hold down straps and strap mounting brackets, free of charge. The recall is
expected to begin on May 10, 2019. Owners may contact REV customer service at
1-800-509-3417. REV’s number for this recall is 190318REV.
REV Recreation Group
REV Recreation Group (REV) is recalling certain 2019
Fleetwood Flair and Holiday Rambler Admiral motorhomes. The generator exhaust
pipe placement exits the motorhome within the vehicle’s departure angle.
REV has notified owners, and dealers will inspect and
reroute the generator exhaust pipe, as necessary, free of charge. The recall
began May 21, 2019. Owners may contact REV customer service at 1-800-509-3417.
REV’s number for this recall is 190412REV.
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2014-2019 Precept,
2016-2019 Alante and 2019 Precept Prestige motorhomes built on a Ford F53
chassis. The blower motor electrical circuit may be missing the 25amp fuse,
possibly resulting in overheating of the wiring.
Jayco has notified owners, and dealers will install a 25amp
fuse, free of charge. The recall began April 16, 2019. Owners may contact Jayco
customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9903432.
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019 Jay Flight TF
travel trailers, model 32RLOK. The supports for the fresh water tank may be too
thin, resulting in the brackets breaking and the tanks detaching from the
Jayco has notified owners, and dealers will install a
threaded rod in the center of the water tank support apparatus to provide
additional support, free of charge. The recall began May 9, 2019. Owners may
contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this
recall is 9901433.
Keystone RV Company
Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2018-2019
Dutchmen Kodiak recreational trailers, models 255BHSL and 283BHSL, equipped
with 15-inch tires. The tire clearance to the floor may be insufficient,
allowing the tire to contact the underside of the floor, possibly resulting in
Keystone has notified owners, and dealers will install a
suspension lift kit, free of charge. The recall began on April 12, 2019. Owners
may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for
this recall is 19-349.
Entegra Coach (Entegra) is recalling certain 2019 Entegra
Vision and Emblem motorhomes built on a Ford F53 chassis. The blower motor
electrical circuit may be missing the 25amp fuse, possibly resulting in
overheating of the wiring.
Entegra has notified owners, and dealers will install a
25amp fuse, free of charge. The recall began April 16, 2019. Owners may contact
Entegra customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Entegra’s number for this recall is
Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain
2018-2019 Phaeton, Allegro Bus, and Zephyr motorhomes. The alternating current
electrical wires may have been improperly secured in the Energy Management
Module, causing increased electrical resistance.
Tiffin will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the
Alternating Current Relay Board and make sure the wires are properly secured,
free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in May 2019. Owners may contact
Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is TIFF-111.
Newmar Corporation (Newmar) is recalling certain 2018-2019
Bay Star, Essex, New Aire, 2018 Bay Start Sport, Canyon Star, Dutch Star, King
Aire, Mountain Aire, Ventana LE, Ventana, and London Aire motorhomes. The power
supply for the WiFiRanger may overheat.
Newmar has notified owners, and dealers will replace the
power supply, free of charge. The recall began April 18, 2019. Owners may
contact Newmar customer service at 1-800-731-8300.
Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles (Livin’ Lite) is recalling
certain 2013-2017 Camplite and 2014-2017 Bearcat recreational trailers. One of
the exit windows may be blocked by a manual awning arm.
Livin’ Lite will notify owners, and dealers will remove the
exit label and alter the window levers, free of charge. The recall is expected
to begin June 15, 2019. Owners may contact Livin’ Lite customer service at
1-800-768-4016 extension 154 or 153. Livin’ Lite’s number for this recall is
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.
Dive into the crystal-clear water of the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool
In July, on a 100-degree day in the desert, 562 miles west
of Houston, the San Solomon Springs Pool at Balmorhea State Park in Far West
Texas, is a favorite place for many RVers and other travelers searching for
respite from the hot Texas sun.
The water is so clear it’s like jumping into a dream. The
water temperature hovers around 75 degrees, refreshingly cool in the heat of
the summer and comfortably warm in winter. It is, in the opinion of many, the
best swimming hole on Earth.
Set against the Davis Mountains where the Chihuahuan Desert
transitions into the low, flat Permian Basin, the San Solomon complex of
springs gush out 15 million gallons of artesian water every day, feeding a
canal system that runs to nearby farms and the town of Balmorhea, 4 miles away.
In the mid-1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built
walls around the desert marsh to create the pool. Today, more than 200,000
people stop by every year to swim with fish, waterfowl, and amphibians.
The CCC-era structure is the world’s largest spring-fed
swimming pool. More than 15 million gallons of water flow through the pool each
day, gushing from the San Solomon Springs. The 1.3- acre pool is up to 25 feet
deep, holds 3.5 million gallons of water with the temperature 72 to 76 degrees
Several years ago when we stopped by in early spring on our
route west to Arizona, we had the park to ourselves. But on summer weekends so
many people cram into the park that volunteers improvise parking in open
I always figured Balmorhea was too far away from major
population centers, too in the middle of nowhere, to get overrun. I was wrong.
In recent years, visitation has surged. For families between Van Horn and
Odessa, Balmorhea is the one affordable place within 100 miles to cool off and
Scuba clubs from as far away as Kansas and Arkansas explore
the springs on weekends year-round. Fitness buffs motoring coast to coast make
detours for a swim.
For almost three months, during the peak summer season, the
pool was closed as staff figured out how to fix a collapsed retaining wall
below the diving boards.
The closing was sudden and unplanned. During the annual
cleaning in early May (2018), Abel Baeza, the manager of the local water
district, was directing workers to make repairs in a nearby canal when he heard
a noise, then turned around to see the underwater concrete skirting cracking
off below the high dive.
The 80-year-old pool, like the nearby adobe San Solomon
Springs Motor Courts which are closed during a planned restoration, requires
constant upkeep. The concrete repairs were an even bigger deal. A dam had to be
constructed to hold back water around the damage during the painstaking
“There are five endangered species in the pool, and this is
the only population left of this species of black catfish,” said Mark Lockwood,
the West Texas regional director for Texas state parks.
“We can’t just open up the gates, let the water dry up
everywhere, build a wall, and put it back together.”
In early August, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
(TPWD) announced that pool repairs would begin imminently, with the
cash-strapped agency forced to find creative ways to pay the estimated $2
million bill. Apache Corporation, the company doing most of the fracking
exploration around Balmorhea, which some locals and environmentalists believe
caused the damage, offered a $1 million matching grant through the nonprofit
Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation.
The Garrison Brothers Distillery pledged a portion of
proceeds from its small-batch, $59-a-bottle Balmorhea whiskey. Even for a park
as popular as Balmorhea, getting things done these days requires the
governmental equivalent of a GoFundMe campaign.
This project is only one of the three major developments
underway at Balmorhea State Park. Renovations to the San Solomon Springs Courts
and campgrounds have been ongoing since 2017. Once these projects have
completed, visitors to Balmorhea will have an enhanced park experience at West
Texas’ most treasured oasis.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) has
established a fund to accept donations towards the structural repairs that are
needed to reopen the pool. These donations will help ensure that Texans can
continue to enjoy this historic spring-fed swimming pool and unique West Texas
destination for generations to come.
The park remains open for day-use only with limited
The restoration of the San Solomon Springs Motor Courts
should be finished by spring. The fallen wall in the pool should be repaired
any day now. I’m standing by.
Another sunny 70 degree fall or spring day with little wind
will do just fine. Odds are, we’ll have the park all to ourselves.
If you wait until next summer, y’all will be waiting in line
with the rest of y’all.
Texas Spoken Friendly
No matter how far we may wander, Texas lingers with us,
coloring our perceptions of the world.
Badlands National Park is one of America’s top destinations for outdoor recreation with camping sites, miles of hiking trails, and striking scenery
Roughly an hour east of Rapid City, Badlands National Park
is accessible by Interstate 90 or South Dakota Highway 44, for travelers who
prefer two-lane travel.
State Route 44 cuts through Buffalo Gap National
Grassland, which covers a huge chunk of South Dakota’s southwestern corner.
You’ll see prairie grass whether you’re officially within the National
Grassland area or not.
At first blush, Badlands National Park doesn’t sound like
the best place to go. After all, it’s called Badlands! For centuries humans
have viewed South Dakota’s celebrated Badlands with a mix of dread and
But these 244,000 acres of otherworldly landscape are
gorgeous, with deep canyons, towering pinnacles and spires, buttes, and banded
red-and-gray rock formations that transform into a veritable rainbow at the magic
hour shortly after sunrise or before sunset. Some describe it as otherworldly, lunar-like,
some say desert, the Lakota (Sioux) were the first to call it “bad
lands,” or “mako sica.”
The park also protects an expanse of mixed-grass prairie—the
largest in the U.S.—where bison, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, mule deer,
coyotes, and whole towns of adorable prairie dogs roam. Black-footed ferrets,
the most endangered land mammal in North America and a predator of prairie
dogs, were reintroduced to the Badlands late in the 20th Century.
Badlands is really a story of ongoing erosion. Every time it
rains, more sediment is washed from the buttes. On average, Badlands buttes
erode one-third inch each year. Erosion rates suggest they will erode
completely in another 500,000 years, giving them a lifetime of one million
An array of extinct animals, from enormous to very small,
once roamed this area. Some lived in the subtropical forests; others lived in
the grasslands that came in the years afterwards. Skeletons of three-toed
horses and saber-toothed cats are among the many fossilized species found here.
There is much to see and do at Badlands National Park, but
if you have only a short time to spend, begin your visit at the very cool Ben
Reifel Visitor Center at the southeastern tip of the Badlands scenic loop, next
to Cedar Pass Lodge. While there, pick up a park map, watch the award-winning
park video, and tour the exhibits. Visitors can interact with paleontologists
that are preparing mammal fossils they’ve found in the park. Ranger-guided
programs and hikes are offered.
Next, drive the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway. It would take about
one hour to drive the 39-mile loop of South Dakota Highway 240 between the
towns of Cactus Flat and Wall without stopping, but almost no one does that.
Breathtaking rock formations and native grasslands filled
with numerous species of plants and animals guarantee you’ll want to pause
along the route to enjoy the view. There are 16 designated scenic
overlooks that make for outstanding photo opportunities.
Stretch your legs along one of the many hiking trails and
remember to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Buffalo can most often be found
along the Sage Creek Rim Road, a gravel spur off the western end of the
Badlands Loop Road. Twisting curves climb through passes in the Badlands wall
of rugged rock pinnacles, buttes, and mounds.
Experience Badlands National Park overnight and enjoy its
breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, colorful flowers, bountiful wildlife, and
rugged scenery from one of two campgrounds available in the park: Cedar Pass
Campground and Sage Creek Campground. Both campgrounds are open year-round, and
camping is limited to 14 days.
Located near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, the Cedar Pass
Campground has 96 level sites with scenic views of the badlands formations. Cedar
Pass Campground offers tent camping and spacious RV sites with electric only
Bison often wander through Sage Creek, a primitive
campground, located on the west side of the park’s North Unit, near the
Badlands Wilderness Area. Access is located off of the Sage Creek Rim Road, an
unpaved road that may temporarily close after winter storms and spring rains.
The road provides limited turnarounds for large recreational vehicles.
The Badlands became a national monument in 1939. Congress
declared it a national park in 1978. Nearly 1 million people visit Badlands
National Park each year (996,223 in 2016.
Those who dwell among the beauties and
mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.
One of the primary benefits of RV travel is that your pets can enjoy the great outdoors all day and always sleep in the same space at night
More and more RVers are traveling with their beloved pets
and finding it makes the experience even more enjoyable. RV travel and pets
are, in most cases, a good mix.
RV travel with your pets can be rewarding for you and your
family’s pet but the key to a successful camping trip or any mode of vacation
travel is advanced planning and preparation, common sense, and sometimes a
dose of creativity.
Most dogs and cats can adapt to the RVing lifestyle by
following these three tips for a pet-friendly RV travel.
Make the RV Their
When you travel without your favorite pillow, don’t you feel
just a little lost at night? Cats and dogs also feel the same way when they go
places without their familiar stuff. Animals rely so much more on their sense
of smell than we do so when they go to places that lack odors from their most
familiar objects, their world becomes confusing.
You can help your pet adapt to your home on wheels in
Spend quality time together inside the RV during the days
leading up to your departure
Take along their favorite bedding, toys, and even a rug
Create a pleasant environment with their favorite treats
Practice leaving your pet alone inside the RV well in
advance of your departure gradually increasing length of time
If your dog is crate trained, use it―if not, consider using
a baby gate to keep your dog confined to a small interior area
Keep the Routine
As humans, we love the refreshing routine change that
RV vacations bring into our life, but it can cause confusion for pets. Minimize
their mental chaos by sticking to daily routines during RV travel.
Sleeping in is nice, but your pets will thank you when you
awake as close to your usual hour as possible.
Keep morning rituals the same: walk, potty, eat breakfast.
Stick to their usual eating pattern.
Take your dog on that last potty walk of the day at the
When traveling cross-country and switching time zones,
sticking to pet care routines is even more important. In his blog post
about helping pets adjust to time changes, Dr. Ernie Ward says “For most
pets, these changes are abrupt, unexpected, and challenging. They may ponder,
‘Why am I eating now? Why do I have to get up so early?’”
Wherever you go, RV parks will expect your dog to be on a
leash at all times. If your dog isn’t used to eliminating on-leash, you’ll need
to train him how to do so long before your departure date.
Nobody expects to get sick or injured while traveling, but
things do happen. Be prepared for pet-related emergencies.
Always travel with a digital or paper copy of your pet’s
most important medical records, including vaccination history and contact
information for your veterinary clinic. A good working relationship between a
pet owner and their veterinarian is the best bet to ensure the overall health
of any animal.
Carry a Pet First Aid Kit; don’t rely on ones made for
humans. There are numerous pre-packaged first aid kits that you can buy online
or at sporting stores.
Alternatively, ask your veterinarian to help you build a
good kit. Your vet knows the specific needs of your pet and can help you find
items to include in your kit specifically for your dog or cat, and the RV
activities you are planning.
If your pet is on a prescription be sure to pack an adequate
supply for the entire journey. Backup medicines for fleas, worms, and other
common illnesses are also recommended.
More RV parks than ever are laying out the welcome mat for
pets. Creating a safe, nurturing environment inside your home-on-wheels ensures
that everyone stays happy no matter where the road takes leads.
If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering
outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word
Located in southwestern Utah, Scenic Byway 12 is nestled between two national parks—Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon
A 121-mile-long All-American Road, Scenic Byway 12 winds
and climbs and twists and turns and descends as it snakes its way through
memorable landscapes, ranging from the remains of ancient sea beds to one of
the world’s highest alpine forests, and from astonishing pink and russet stone
turrets to open sagebrush flats.
The history and culture of the area blend together, making
Scenic Byway 12 a journey like no other.
Scenic Byway 12 has two entry points. The southwestern
gateway is from U.S. Highway 89, seven miles south of the city of Panguitch.
The northeastern gateway is from Highway 24 in the town of Torrey near Capitol
Reef National Park.
Shortly after entering the southwestern terminus at Highway
89, the scenic byway passes through U.S. Forest Service’s Red Canyon and two
short tunnels in bright red rock masses.
Established in 1924, Bryce Canyon National Park is famous
for its towering eroding-sandstone pillars called hoodoos. The breathtaking
three-mile-wide amphitheater is especially colorful at sunrise and sunset from
Bryce and Inspiration points.
Other major attractions include Grand Staircase-Escalante
National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Escalante Petrified
Forest State Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Hell’s Backbone,
Hole-in-the-Rock, Cottonwood Canyon, Burr Trail, Box-Death Hollow Wilderness
Area, and The Hogsback, a narrow ridge barely wider than the two-lane roadway
with cliffs falling away on either side.
Additionally, there are nine communities along Scenic Byway
12, each with a character all its own. Settled by Mormon families who
established homes and ranches in the area, the towns proudly display their
unique heritage and invite you to visit.
Settled in 1889, Boulder was America’s last town to receive
mail by mule (until 1972). The town’s main attraction, the Anasazi State Park
Museum, encompasses the ancient ruins of the Coombs archaelogical site.
Excavated in 1959, the site’s ruins and exhibits provide an interesting
look into how the Anasazi or ancient ones lived almost a thousand years ago.
About 20 miles south of Boulder, the Hole-in-the-Rock Scenic
Byway dirt road cuts south into the Escalante Canyons where you’ll find dozens
of arches, ancient Native Indian rock art, and the mind-boggling rock
formations of Devils Garden.
Escalante is often called the “Heart of Scenic Byway 12” as
it is nestled between the elevated meadows of the Aquarius and Kaiparowits
Plateaus and the low desert country surrounding the Escalante Canyons in the
middle of the byway.
About two miles northwest of town is Escalante Petrified
Forest State Park. A series of short hiking trails leads to groupings of
petrified logs, thousand-year-old petroglyphs, and dinosaur bones dating from
the Jurassic period. In the center of the park, the Wide Hollow Reservoir
offers great canoeing and bass fishing. Camping is available.
Thirty miles west of Escalante, you’ll come to the small
town of Cannonville and the Highway 400 turnoff to Kodachrome Basin State Park.
The changing warm light on the park’s towering sandstone chimneys prompted the
National Geographic Society to name the park Kodachrome in 1949.
What makes Scenic Byway 12 a journey like no other?
The way that nature strings together the best that the
Southwest has to offer in high density of scenery, iconic national parks, state
parks, museums, and scenic backways.
Mile for mile, few of America’s national scenic byways can
compete with the diverse scenery and number of natural attractions along Scenic
Byway 12. Recognized as one of the most beautiful drives in America, the byway
showcases some of Utah’s uniquely scenic landscape.
When lighted by the morning sun the gorgeous chasm is an
immense bowl of lace and filigree work in stone, colored with the white of
frost and the pinks of glowing embers. To those who have not forgotten the
story books of childhood it suggests a playground for fairies. In another
aspect it seems a smoldering inferno where goblins and demons might dwell among
flames and embers.
The Battle of Cowpens was one of those special moments in time when destiny is forever changed
On January 17, 1781, the Americans won a decisive battle
against the better-trained British Army. The Battle of Cowpens was over in less
than an hour. This battle was the event which started British General Cornwallis
on his march north to his eventual surrender at Yorktown just nine months later.
General Daniel Morgan had encamped his army the previous
afternoon surrounding Green River Road which wound through the lush South
Carolina backcountry. He was awaiting the arrival of British Troops under
the command of bloody Banastre Tarleton. The battle began before dawn. Tarleton’s
dragoons were joined by 200 Cavalry and a Brigade of Highlanders. Morgan
commanded Col. Andrew Pickens’ Georgia and South Carolina Militia, Lt. Col.
John Eager Howard’s Maryland and Delaware Continental Line, and Lt. Col.
William Washington’s Cavalry.
Let’s proceed into the park where the two armies met.
Entering Cowpens Battlefield Park we immediately approach
the well maintained visitor’s center. Standing watch over the entrance is
a monument dedicated to the valor of the patriots who fought on these
fields: “On this field American troops under Brigadier General Daniel
Morgan won a signal victory over a British force commanded by Lieutenant
Colonel Banastre Tarleton, January 17, 1781”.
After one’s tour of the visitor center the choice is between
a walking or a driving tour. Being a pleasant day, we chose the walking
Tarleton marched his troops up the Green River Road in
search of the Continentals. Morgan had already chosen the Cowpens, a local
grazing pasture surrounding the Green River Road, as the perfect spot to battle
the enemy. On January 16, 1781 he awaited Tarleton’s arrival and their
moment in history.
Morgan’s battle plan was a brilliant one which didn’t fit
the norm of period English warfare. He planned to have his sharpshooters
fire a few volleys and then retreat into the safety of the more seasoned troops
who brought up their rear. William Washington’s Cavalry would stand in
wait for the moment that they were needed to bring their expertise to the
Acting on faulty intelligence indicating the Continentals
were planning to retreat across the Broad River, Banastre Tarleton aroused his
troops in the wee morning hours of January 17th for a nighttime march up the
Green River Road. His plans were to annihilate the Continental Army during
the weakness of retreat.
Daniel Morgan’s troops spent the evening of January 16, 1781
resting in his chosen spot of battle, the backcountry cow pasture that locals
referred to as Cowpens. Morgan was rallying the troops, moving from
campfire to campfire to personally brief each group of soldiers on his battle
As dawn prepared its rise, Tarleton’s advancing army was
spotted by Continentals who informed Morgan of their approach. Patriots
troops were quickly awakened and readied to meet the enemy.
Tarleton was surprised to see Morgan’s army prepared for battle,
rather than in retreat. Daniel Morgan began the execution of his perfect
Morgan and his army turned the flanks of Tarleton’s British
army. This classic military tactic, known as a double envelopment, was one of
only a few in history. Considered a tactical masterpiece, this battle is frequently
studied in military academies around the world.
Although the battle appeared to be clearly favoring the
Patriots, Tarleton continued to anticipate an ultimate victory. An
impressive personal battlefield confrontation with William Washington proved to
be Tarleton’s final Cowpens defeat.
Convinced by associates that his safety was of strategic
importance to the British cause, Banastre Tarleton abandoned the fight. He
began a withdrawal down the Green River Road in search of the safety of
It was one of those special moments in time when destiny is
forever changed. The march to Yorktown had begun.
We exit Cowpens National Battlefield with a sense of awe at
the accomplishments of Daniel Morgan, Andrew Pickens, William Washington, John
Eager Howard, and the brave men they led into battle. The quiet of the
Cowpens on a warm November day stood in stark contrast to the bedlam of January
History, although sometimes made up of the few acts of the
great, is more often shaped by the many acts of the small.
The easiest solution to driving your RV in high winds is simply to not drive
High winds and the damage they can cause are frightening
enough; but experiencing severe winds while driving an RV is even more
High winds can damage an RV, blow it over, and cause fatal
injuries to driver and passengers. While responsible RV owners always
check weather conditions before traveling, windy weather can be unpredictable
and can surprise you with a sudden change in direction or unusually strong
Take extra precautions for tight spots, slow down as you
drive, steer clear of others on the road, and know when to sit it out can help
you confidently navigate the potential dangers of driving your RVing in high
Check Weather Conditions
Prior To Travel: Delay Departure
Always check weather conditions prior to travel and of
necessary, delay departure. Don’t rely on a single source of information, such
as a weather app. Have multiple ways of receiving weather information,
especially when weather turns potentially dangerous. Be aware of good weather
websites. Tuning into a local television station for live weather updates is
Own a NOAA Weather Radio. Weather radios are designed to
audibly alert you to local weather risks, but they require that you input the
NOAA county code.
Driving Through High Winds:
Driving an RV through severe winds can leave you feeling out
of control. This feeling is not misplaced as high winds can push your vehicle
off course. A quick course correction is not recommended since it tends to take
you just as rapidly in the opposite direction.
Slowing down is the only way to avoid losing control of your
vehicle when driving during strong gusty winds. You cannot outrun the storm, no
matter how skilled a driver you are, so stay safe by slowing down and taking it
If after slowing down you still don’t feel comfortably in
control of your RV, then find a safe place to pull off the road. Be sure to
take corners especially slow. When driving slow, do like the long-distance
truck drivers and use your four-way flashers.
Sharing the Road:
Keep Your Distance
You understand the importance of slowing down and driving
cautiously in high winds, but other drivers may not clue in. The best way to
share the road with others in windy conditions is to keep your distance.
Even smaller vehicles can be potentially blown into your
lane or directly into your RV. Trailers, campers, boats, and other towables are
even more difficult to control during strong winds since they have no power
source of their own.
Take a Break
You RV because it’s an enjoyable activity! Don’t let the
stress of driving in high winds ruin your good time. Rather than white
knuckling your way through, pull over and take time to regain your composure and
reassess weather conditions.
Arriving at your destination in good time is all well and
good, but your safety and the safety of your traveling companions is much more
important. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed driving through high winds,
don’t hesitate to pull over and take time to shake off the stress of driving during
poor weather conditions.
When in Doubt: Wait It
There is no shame in avoiding high winds by stopping at a
safe place to wait out the weather. Taking personal responsibility and knowing
when to sit it out are the best ways to stay safe.
Eventually the wind will die down or the storm will pass,
and you’ll be back on the road having fun again.
Only you can make the decision to slow down or stop due to
high winds; be sure to follow your instincts and err on the side of caution.
Take it easy, slow down, and put your safety ahead of your schedule.
Get a taste of frontier life as you retrace the history of California’s boom-and-bust Gold Rush, a defining event of the 1800s
Pan for the glittering metal and see merchants in period
dress recreate life as it was in the 1850s at Columbia State Historic Park.
Climb aboard an inflatable raft for a bump-and-splash whitewater raft trip down
the American River. Discover Placerville known during the gold-rush era as
The most popular whitewater-rafting river in the West, the
American tumbles through the Gold Country, an inviting jumble of churning
rapids, deep pools, and tumbling cascades. While its rich riparian ecosystem
long supported Native American tribes, the next wave of humans—the legendary ’49ers—saw
the waterway as means to their fortune, panning for gold in the river silt.
While remnants of old mining equipment still poke up in or
near the river, the rush for gold has mostly been replaced by the rush for
adrenaline. Each of the American’s three forks serve up their own style of
watery fun, and outfitters offer everything from family-friendly half-day
floats to white-knuckle multi-day adventures.
Though it only has a population of around 10,681, the number
and variety of attractions to be found in and around Placerville will be a
pleasant surprise to visitors.
After news spread about the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill on January 24, 1848, thousands began arriving from all over the United States, and even from abroad. People from all walks of life wanted to make their fortune in the area’s streams and hills.
Merchants and others hoping to profit from the miners soon followed. The “gold rush” was born, and by 1849 it was going full bore.
It has been estimated that at least 39,000 people arrived in
California by sea, and another 42,000 via overland routes, by the end of 1849.
Though Coloma was the initial rendezvous point for those who became known as
“Forty-Niners,” camps soon sprung up elsewhere in the area, including what
eventually became known as Hangtown.
What is now State Route 49 follows approximately the same
course as the trail used by miners—and the merchants who supplied them—as they
moved between Coloma and Hangtown. But mining was hard work, and not everyone
was willing to do it for long. Some resorted to stealing gold from others,
resulting in many robberies and even some murders.
Before the name Hangtown was applied to the camp, it was
referred to as Old Dry Diggins (because the miners had to cart the dry soil to
running water for washing out the gold).
Details seem to vary by some accounts, but in 1849 an impromptu jury met there to decide the fate of three accused murderers. After a trial that lasted about 30 minutes, someone reportedly shouted “Hang them!” Up to 1,000 miners gathered, and the sentence was carried out. Those first known hangings in the Mother Lode were carried out at a giant white oak near the center of the camp (where Coloma and Main streets intersect today).
Word spread rapidly, and other hangings were later carried out at the same place. The location soon became known as Hangtown.
By 1854, Hangtown was the third-largest town in California—behind
only San Francisco and Sacramento in total population. Los Angeles, at 15th
place, had a population of only 541 voters. That same year, Hangtown was
incorporated and renamed Placerville. The name was chosen for the
deep-reddish-brown soil that the gold was mined from. Some of the methods used
included excavating pits, digging tunnels and hydraulics (eroding the soil by
shooting large volumes of water under high pressure).
Many fortunes were made. Merchants from near and far flocked
to the rapidly expanding town.
Still a robust community today, Placerville also serves as
the El Dorado County seat. Through a variety of attractions and sponsored
activities that are put on within the historical section throughout the year,
people can now visualize what it was like during that wild period.
Though terrible fires tore through and destroyed most of the historical section, visitors can still see buildings of stone or brick that were constructed as early as 1852
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
Memorial Day is a time to revisit the stories of those who gave their life for freedom and remember the significance of their actions
Each May, America commemorates those who have died while
serving in the armed forces by organizing parades, picnics, and visits to
cemeteries and national memorials across the country.
This Memorial Day, honor those brave men and women by
exploring the country’s national parks, many of which are home to preserved
historic sites, monuments, and memorials dedicated to celebrating military
In an earlier post we commemorated the sacrifices made for a
revolutionary idea by exploring some of the significant landmarks that
witnessed the beginning of the new nation.
In today’s post we’ll dig a little deeper into American history
and find a wealth of other national parks and programs throughout the U. S.
that are equally exciting. This Memorial Day, take a moment to learn more about
the incredible men and women who have fought for and supported America throughout
From the soldiers that fought in the Civil War to the men
and women who sacrificed their lives during the Cold War, Memorial Day is a
time to revisit the stories of those who gave their life for freedom and
remember the significance of their actions.
The American Civil
From 1861 to 1865, the American union was broken in a Civil
War that remains a defining moment in America’s history. Its causes and
consequences, including the continuing struggle for civil rights for all
Americans, reverberate to this day. From the war’s outbreak at Fort Sumter, to
the largest battle fought at Gettysburg, to the closing chapter at Appomattox Court
House, more than 40 Civil War battlefields are preserved by the National Park
Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania
The bloodiest battle of the civil war, which served as inspiration for Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, was fought on the beautiful grassy knolls of this Pennsylvania battlefield.
Start at the National Park Service Museum and walk
the trails on foot or experience them on horseback. Complete your visit with a
stop at Soldiers National Cemetery, the resting place for many Union soldiers
as well as those who perished in all American wars since 1865.
Chattanooga National Military Park, Georgia and Tennessee
In 1863, Union and Confederate forces fought for control of
Chattanooga, known as the “Gateway to the Deep South.” The
Confederates were victorious at nearby Chickamauga in September. However,
renewed fighting in Chattanooga that November provided Union troops victory and
control of the city.
House National Historic Park, Virginia
Walk the old country lanes where Robert E. Lee, Commanding
General of the Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered his men to Ulysses Grant,
General-in-Chief of all United States forces, on April 9, 1865. Imagine the
events that signaled the end of the Southern States’ attempt to create a
The American Indian
During the late 19th century, as the United States sought to
expand its territory further west, a policy of removing the American Indians
from tribal lands was adopted. The resulting distrust and broken promises
ultimately led to violence, and more than 1,500 armed conflicts were fought
during the Indian wars. Today, the National Park Service preserves several of
the battlefield sites of the Indian War and interprets its effect on native
peoples and their cultures.
Fort Davis National
Historic Site, Texas
Set in the rugged beauty of the Davis Mountains of West Texas,
Fort Davis is the best surviving example of an Indian Wars frontier military
post and one of the best preserved Buffalo Soldier forts in the Southwest. Fort
Davis is important in understanding the presence of African Americans in the
West and in the frontier military.
The Cold War
The nearly 50-year period of political and military tension
between the Western world and communist countries known as the Cold War led to
the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons by both sides. Minuteman
Missile National Historic Site tells the story of these weapons that not only
held the power to destroy civilization, but also served as a nuclear deterrent
which maintained peace and prevented war.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, South Dakota
During the Cold War, a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles were placed in the Great Plains. Hidden in plain sight, for thirty years 1,000 missiles were kept on constant alert; hundreds remain today. The Minuteman Missile remains an iconic weapon in the American nuclear arsenal. It holds the power to destroy civilization, but is meant as a deterrent to maintain peace and prevent war.
This Memorial Day weekend take time to thank those who have
served and protected America.
Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do
for your country.