What Is Starlink for RVs? Is It Right for You?

Are you curious about Starlink and wonder if Elon Musk’s satellite internet technology is right for you? I answer the most pressing questions about the system that’s currently shaking up the ISP (Internet service provider) market.

What is Starlink? Technically speaking, it’s a satellite internet system. But to many web users, it’s a potential godsend.

If you live in a city or a big suburb, you probably enjoy fast internet speeds, maybe at 1Gbps or beyond. But imagine enduring internet speeds at 20Mbps or even as low as 0.8Mbps every day. What’s worse, your home only has one or two internet service providers to choose from leaving you stranded with crummy service. 

Camping at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights

Unfortunately, people across the US and the globe are stuck in this very situation. Installing fiber in a city and bringing Gigabit broadband to millions of customers is potentially lucrative but not so much in a rural area home to only a few hundred people.

Enter Starlink. The satellite internet system from SpaceX is capable of delivering 150Mbps internet speeds to theoretically any place on the planet. All the customer needs is a clear view of the sky. In fall 2020, the system began serving its first users, many of whom were based in remote or rural regions of America—and the response was enthusiastic to say the least.

Below, I’ll cover basic questions about Starlink. 

Camping at My Kentucky Home State Park, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights

How does Starlink work? 

Satellite internet technology has been around for decades. It involves beaming internet data, not through cables, but via radio signals through the vacuum of space. Ground stations on the planet broadcast the signals to satellites in orbit which can then relay the data back to users on Earth.

One of the main existing providers has been HughesNet which relies on satellites 22,000 miles above the planet. SpaceX’s system improves on the technology in two notable ways:

The company uses low-Earth orbiting satellites that circle the planet at around 300 miles above the surface. The shortened distance can drastically improve the internet speeds while also reducing latency.

Second, SpaceX wants to launch as many as 40,000 satellites in the coming years to power the system ensuring global coverage without service dropouts.  

Camping at Poche’s RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights

Starlink RV service

Two years later in April 2022 SpaceX gifted a boon (albeit an expensive one) to digital nomads when it launched its Starlink RV service enabling internet connection in the types of remote, primitive spaces where it was definitely lacking.

One of the shortcomings of the service has been that it can only be used while stationary but now SpaceX has solved that issue with the new Flat High Performance Starlink option. With updated hardware, the service supports broadband internet while mobile allowing nomads to more productively use the time they spend commuting in the passenger seat. It could be a game changer for those who want to put in a day’s work without being stuck in one place.

German camper van manufacturer Alphavan was quick to jump on the news and declare itself the first camper company in the world to offer Starlink-ready vans. It will prep its vans for simple, plug-and-play compatibility with Musk’s off-grid internet service.

Camping at Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights

Ever since its first satellites found their way into space in 2018, Starlink has sounded like a godsend for RVers, particularly those who regularly travel in wilderness areas without mobile coverage and those who rely on mobile internet to work remotely while on the road. But the service didn’t get started nearly as RV-friendly as it sounded on paper requiring users to log in with a specific location, a problem by definition for RVers and others on the move.

The Flat High Performance Starlink service relies on a flatter dish affixed to the vehicle with an included wedge mount. SpaceX says the service has a wide field of view and enhanced GPS capabilities to connect to more satellites at once and maintain a consistent connection on the go. The equipment is designed to hold up to wind and weather. However, SpaceX still advises users to keep the dish clear of snow to ensure the signal quality isn’t disrupted. “Heavy rain or wind can also affect your satellite internet connection, potentially leading to slower speeds or a rare outage,” the company says in a FAQ. The dishes were designed to operate between -22 degrees Fahrenheit up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Camping in Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights

Inability to connect while in motion was a major missing piece of Starlink’s RV service. While RVers certainly vary widely in their habits and connectivity needs, being able to connect reliably without having to park in one place seems like it’d be high on the wish list of anyone who moves around a lot but wants to make productive use of downtime in the RV. With the on-the-go Flat HP service, mobile remote workers can, theoretically, pick up and hit the road whenever they want while passengers are still able to log in and get work done without worrying about being offline for the entire ride.

While the Flat High Performance service solves one of the major shortcomings of Starlink for RVs, SpaceX’s untethered satellite internet is still subject to the whims of traffic. The company’s website still includes the disclaimer, “Network resources are always de-prioritized for Starlink for RVs users compared to other Starlink services resulting in degraded service and slower speeds in congested areas and during peak hours. Stated speeds and uninterrupted use of the service are not guaranteed. Service degradation will be most extreme in Waitlist areas on the Starlink Availability Map during peak hours.”

Camping at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights

So how well it actually works for those looking to connect on the road remains to be seen.

At US$599, the basic Starlink hardware isn’t inexpensive but the Flat High Performance kit more than quadruples that to $2,500. That’s a steep buy-in but possibly well worth it for those who can now get lucrative work done more efficiently while RVing. The service still costs $135/month and can be activated and paused as needed.

Starlink started shipping its Starlink for RVs flat high performance kit in December 2022 offering high-speed, low-latency internet on an as-needed basis in any destination where Starlink provides active coverage. Its active high capacity coverage promise includes most of the US and Canada although about a quarter of the US from the Great Lakes down to Florida is less than perfect. All of Europe is included as high capacity as is Brazil and Chile, much of Australia, and all of New Zealand.

Starlink says its new Flat High Performance Starlink allows users to enjoy high-speed, low-latency internet while in-motion. With a wide field of view and enhanced GPS capabilities, the Flat High Performance Starlink can connect to more satellites, allowing for consistent connectivity on the go.

Camping at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights

SpaceX to integrate Starlink directly on some RVs

Thor Industries says its family of RV companies will be the first RV original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to integrate SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet system. SpaceX plans on bringing its Starlink system directly to recreational vehicles through a partnership with Thor Industries, the world’s largest RV manufacturer. 

In a recent release (January 17, 2023) Thor Industries says it’s the first RV provider to work with SpaceX on integrating Starlink’s satellite internet system. The company plans on adopting the high-performance Starlink dish on select RV models offered this year.

Thor oversees 17 RV brands. But for now, only four—Airstream, Entegra Coach, Jayco, and Tiffin—will offer Starlink as an optional add-on.

The partnership with Thor Industries offers a way for SpaceX to sell more Starlink dishes to high-end buyers. Thor RVs can range from $100,000 to around $1 million. 

Camping at Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights

Of course, customers could buy the Starlink access separate from the RVs. But Thor says buyers will have the benefit of their Starlink dish being factory installed while receiving a “one-month service credit” when Starlink RV costs $135 per month for the internet access. In return, Starlink RV users can expect to receive download speeds ranging from 5 to 50Mbps at a time when the satellite internet service is facing congestion woes and SpaceX is preparing to implement a high-speed data cap for the satellite internet service. 

The news arrives months after Winegard, a provider of antenna equipment to RV makers, also entered into a partnership with SpaceX to sell flat high-performance Starlink dishes. In addition, cruise line operators and airlines have been adopting Starlink for in-flight and on-ship internet access.

Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights

The best solution for RV internet isn’t one solution

Marc and Tricia Leach of Keep Your Daydream have been RVing for years. Their YouTube channel equips new RVers to get on the road while providing travel tips and gear reviews. In their Starlink review video, Marc gives his opinion. Overall, he’s very happy with the product and believes it’s worth the $139/month fee. However, his biggest takeaway is that Starlink isn’t going to replace their other internet providers. Starlink RV internet just isn’t at a place where it can be the sole internet provider for travelers because of the connectivity issues.

Worth Pondering…

We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.

—Stephen Hawking

10 Amazing Places to RV in February 2023

If you’re dreaming of where to travel to experience it all, here are my picks for the best places to RV in February

The mind is like a car battery—it recharges by running.

—Bill Watterson

Every day, for 10 years, cartoonist Bill Watterson delighted readers with a new story in his beloved syndicated comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. But that kind of round-the-clock ingenuity is no easy feat. His secret? Recharging the mind by letting it play. “I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness,” Watterson said in the same 1990 commencement speech at Kenyon College where he gave the quote above. “A playful mind is inquisitive and learning is fun.”

In other words, creative ideas come when the mind is encouraged to wander into new areas, exploring wherever your natural curiosity may lead. Instead of shutting off your brain at the end of a long day, reinvigorate it by indulging your innate sense of wonder. If you follow what makes learning fun, it’s bound to lead you to new ideas.

With a chill in the air we head into February literally and figuratively cold with no idea what those rodents we trust as meteorologists will predict. Will it be six more weeks of a holed-up winter? Or will it be an early, forgiving spring? Like pretty much every single day of the last three years, the answer is: Who knows! Certainly not our friend Punxsutawney Phil whose accuracy rate is a whopping 39 percent! You’d be better off flipping a coin.

We do know, however, that we’re gonna embrace the here and now. This month we do have ostrich races at the Indio Date Festival and another reason to visit Charleston. We also have desert warmth and wildflowers along the Pinal Parkway and places to celebrate President’s Day.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in January. Also, check out my recommendations from February 2022 and March 2022.

Mexican poppies along Pinal Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. The Pinal Pioneer Parkway

The Pinal Pioneer Parkway connected Tucson and Phoenix in the years before Interstate 10 was built. Now a little-traveled back road, it’s a much more picturesque route than the main highway especially in wildflower season. The parkway itself is a 42 mile-long stretch of Arizona State Highway 79, beginning in the desert uplands on the north slope of the Santa Catalina Mountains at about 3,500 feet and wending northward to just above 1,500 feet outside the little town of Florence.

Mexican poppies along Pinal Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In spring, the parkway is lined with desert verbena, lupine, Mexican poppies, globemallow, chuparosa, penstemon, and daisies. Even in dry years when other parts of the desert aren’t flowering, the Pinal Pioneer Parkway always seems to manage a good show.

The parkway is marked with signs pointing out some of the characteristic desert vegetation such as saguaro and mesquite. Pack a picnic lunch and stop at one of the many roadside tables. Stop at the Tom Mix Memorial, 23.5 miles north of Oracle Junction at milepost 116, to pay your respects to the late movie cowboy.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

2. Visit the Presidents (and other things) in South Dakota

As always, Presidents’ Day lands in February. So maybe it’s time to get extra presidential by firing up the RV for a jaunt to South Dakota. After your patriotic tour of Mount Rushmore, you’ll have free reign of one of the least-visited states at its emptiest time. Hike a frozen waterfall, hang out on a frozen lake, or get to know the land’s first people.

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Or dig deep into the western part of the state: Not far from Rushmore, you can pretend you’re on an alien planet in the Badlands, kick up your spurs with some ghosts in Deadwood, hop on a jackalope while stuffed with homemade donuts at Wall Drug, and gaze upon the wonders of the Corn Palace. Visit the stunning lakes and spires of Custer State Park and see where the thrilling buffalo roundup happens in September. Just give your new fuzzy friends lots of room.

>> Get more tips for visiting South Dakota

Bay St. Lewis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. A place apart

Considered a place apart, this quaint seaside town has been named one of the Coolest Small Towns in America by Budget Travel and was also recognized as a top 10 small beach town by Coastal Living Magazine. From friendly folks to historic buildings, this unique city embraces the heritage of the Coastal Mississippi region.

The town’s prime spot on the Mississippi Sound, an embayment of the Gulf of Mexico, provides a glorious stretch of white-sanded beach with virtually no crowds.

Bay St. Lewis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just off of Beach Boulevard, you’ll find Old Town Bay St. Louis, a walkable area full of local shops and eateries. Spend an afternoon strolling through Old Town, browsing the beach boutiques and art galleries. Don’t miss the French Potager, an antique store and flower shop.

>> Get more tips for visiting Bay St. Louis

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Where Life is Rice & Easy

At the crossroads of LA 13 and U.S. Highway 90 lies the city of Crowley.

Rice is the bedrock of the region’s celebrated Cajun cuisine and no other Louisiana community is as intimately tied to the crop as Crowley. The swallow ponds and level prairies surrounding the city produce lots of crawfish too, but it was the turn-of-the-century rice mills that gave Crowley its identity and made possible today’s impressive collection of historic structures.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many historic buildings still play prominent roles in the city’s life. One such example is Miller Stadium, a 1940s-era ballpark and the Grand Opera House of the South that first opened in 1901 and was recently revived as an elegant space for world-class performers. Visitors can relive regional music history at the J.D. Miller Recording Studio Museum downtown or get a taste of prairie life at the Crystal Rice Heritage Farm.

>> Get more tips for visiting Crowley

Sculptures of Borrego © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Beyond the Sculptures of Borrego

Nestled between the historic gold mining town of Julian and The Salton Sea, Borrego Springs and the surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park offer several exceptional experiences. Located two hours from San Diego, there are activities and natural attractions suited for many types of RVers. With 500 miles of dirt roads, a dozen wilderness areas, and miles of hiking trails you would expect some great adventures, and you won’t be disappointed.

Christmas Circles in Borrego Springs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walking downtown Borrego Springs is a fun experience. Start at Christmas Circle—the main attraction—and poke your head into some exciting shops or visit The Borrego Art Institute. This is where you can observe potters and en plein air artists complete their current artworks.

Hiking is popular in the Anza-Borrego Desert and enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. The desert trails are not for the faint of heart but rather ideal for those with a sense of adventure. Remember, hydration is vital in this arid region and be sure to bring along plenty of water. The routes are not always well marked and cell service is almost non-existent.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Borrego Springs isn’t known for its nightlife or at least not the club kind.  However, it is an area that should be explored well after the sun sets. Borrego is an International Dark Sky Community that was designated by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Stargazing is encouraged.

There is no need for a telescope and the brilliantly lit skies will awe anyone who hasn’t been out of the dome of a city glow. Billions of stars make themselves known and form many prominent constellations.

>> Get more tips for visiting Borrego Springs

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Beauty and History Combine

There’s no experience quite like the untamed beauty of Cumberland Island National Seashore, a barrier island only accessible by boat from the small town of St. Marys. Home to a handful of residents and a whole lot of wildlife, it’s an incredible place to go off-grid. Visitors can hike the miles of trails sharing the space with wild horses, alligators, and birds.

Ruins of Dungeness, Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tours are available of historic Carnegie mansions like Plum Orchard and the ruins of Dungeness. On the northern side of the island, you can see the First African Baptist Church, a historic African-American church where John F. Kennedy Jr. was famously married. To spend the night, choose from the multiple tenting campsites or the luxurious Greyfield Inn set in another Carnegie home with chef-prepared meals and naturalist tours.

>> Get more tips for visiting Cumberland Island National Seashore

Lyndon Baines Johnson National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. The Texas Whitehouse

Those who have ascended to the presidency of the United States are products of the environments in which they were born, raised, and educated. Their early experiences usually have a significant effect on how they manage their presidency and the subsequent policy and programs developed under their watch. 

Lyndon Baines Johnson National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lyndon Baines Johnson is a fitting example of that.  His presidency was guided in full measure by his upbringing, his personal experiences with poverty and shame, and his observation of racism and hate. 

Lyndon Baines Johnson had a staggering impact on the United States during his time as president. Much of his approach to government was instilled during his early life in Texas. The LBJ Ranch was where he was born, lived, died, and was buried.

>> Get more tips for visiting Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park

Charleston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Wild now. Wild forever.

Since 1983, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) has celebrated the finest in wildlife art and the sporting lifestyle. SEWE is a celebration of the great outdoors through fine art, live entertainment, and special events. It’s where artists, craftsmen, collectors, and sporting enthusiasts come together to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle.

Whether you’re browsing for your next piece of fine art, searching for distinctive hand-made creations, looking for family-friendly entertainment, or you just need an excuse for visiting Charleston and the Lowcountry, there’s something for everyone at SEWE, February 17-19, 2023. 

>> Get more tips for visiting Charleston

Riverside County Fairgrounds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. It’s a Date!

Originating as a festival to celebrate the end of the annual date harvest, the annual Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival welcomes over 250,000 guests each February. The 75th Annual Date Festival will be held February 17-26, 2023 featuring 10 days of family fun and world-class entertainment. 

Dates © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Indio Date Festival and Riverside County Fair celebrate the desert’s favorite crop, dates. You’ll also see llamas, dairy goats, poultry, camel and ostrich races, WGAS Motorsports Monster Trucks, concerts, contests, games, food, and a carnival with midway action. It’s one of the best fairs in California because of its location and date.

The Riverside County Fairgrounds hosts a variety of community-focused events all year long, ranging from multi-day festivals to private events. The Fairgrounds are located on Highway 111 in Indio.

Buffalo Trace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Bourbon bonanza

Buffalo Trace is ringing in the New Year in record-breaking good spirits. The whiskey distillery officially filled its eight millionth barrel of bourbon since Prohibition. The major milestone occurred only four years after the seven millionth barrel was filled due to the distillery’s recent $1.2 billion expansion. 

To celebrate the major achievement, Buffalo Trace announced its Bourbon Experience of a Lifetime contest offering a $10,000 trip for two. After running (or walking) one mile, entrants have the chance to win a fully paid, two-night trip to the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Buffalo Trace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This includes first-class, roundtrip airfare, car service, and a one-night stay at Buffalo Trace’s exclusive Stagg Lodge. The invite-only lodge has never been open to the public before. Built adjacent to the distillery in 2020, the 4,000-square-foot log cabin overlooks the Kentucky River and the city of Frankfort. The house has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, gorgeous great room with floor-to-ceiling windows, a double-sided fireplace, and a wrap-around deck. The experience includes a dinner for two prepared by a private chef at the lodge as well as private tours of the grounds and distillery.

Buffalo Trace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The second-night stay will be in Louisville, Kentucky.

Winners will also be awarded an $800 Buffalo Trace Distillery gift card, plus Buffalo Trace will donate bourbon to a mutually agreed upon charity of the winner’s choice.

Interested participants in the Bourbon Experience of a Lifetime contest can enter at willrunforbuffalotracebourbon.com.

>> Get more tips for visiting Frankfort

Worth Pondering…

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

―Charles M. Schulz

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Reclaim the richness of the moment

During this first month of the New Year, do you hear the open road calling? Are you reading RVingwithrex.com’s travel blogs wistfully thinking of your next road trip? Or are you out and about in your RV now, looking to add to your adventures? 

Many people prefer to have a plan. It’s just human nature. The planning could involve the number of hours you log on the road each day (330 Rule), atlases and apps that enhance your journey, podcasts to pass the time, easy campsite recipes, events, and bucket list destinations.

My suggestion: Make a plan, however extensive or simple it is and go for it. I hope the information that follows provides you with some inspiration to do so.

Travel…be free…in 2023!

A recent survey has found that 37 percent of American leisure travelers representing 67 million plan on taking an RV trip this year, according to a News & Insights report by the RV Industry Association (RVIA).

When planning a road trip be aware of low underpasses and tunnels © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Know before you go

RVing with Rex provides an RV Checklist for RVers to use as they start planning their upcoming adventures. The RV Checklist is a valuable tool you can use to help prevent setbacks and costly repairs while ensuring your next RV trip starts with a smooth ride.

Check out my arrival and departure checklist here

Road tripping on Utah Scenic Highway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan a road trip

There are a variety of tools you can use to plan your next road trip. However, the preparation can be a little more challenging when you travel in an RV. You face obstacles other drivers don’t such as locating large enough fuel stations, nearby campsites, water, and electric hookups, and avoiding low-clearances bridges and tunnels. I have found some of the top RV road trip apps to help you select the best ones for you:

  • RV Life Pro is a platform/app designed by RVers that gives you info about campgrounds and RV parks including reviews plus tips and suggestions for your next destination. It also provides an RV-safe GPS for navigating allowing you to add the height and weight of your RV. Quickly access your planned trips and get GPS directions to the next stop.
  • Roadtrippers Plus lets you create and edit a road trip, estimate your fuel costs, and indicate cool points of interest for your journey. If you prefer, choose from premade road trip itineraries. Live traffic updates are available as well as hotel bookings if you need a night away from the RV.
  • Campspot lists top-rated camping destinations available for online booking in North America. Discover campgrounds big and small, RV parks, glamping, cabins, and lodging. Book all listed campgrounds on the app instantly—no membership fee is required.
  • The Dyrt Pro features predesigned road trip maps and the ability to unlock discounts. This app includes offline maps and cell-service maps and it allows you to contact campgrounds and to ask other members for reviews. Many features are free but it is not accessible in Canada at this time.
Cave Creek Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Folks who do not enjoy the process of planning trips and booking campgrounds might consider another idea: an RV travel agent. This may be an attractive option for RVers who just want to travel with no fuss and no stress, and enjoy things as they come. However intriguing as that may sound, this obviously would be more expensive than the do-it-yourself option. Also, make sure your travel agent has the skills to book campsites and to plan an RV itinerary—and knows the difference between campsites, RV parks, and resorts as well as your preferences in that regard.

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

Difference between RV parks, campgrounds, and RV resorts

Asking what the difference is between RV parks, RV campgrounds, and RV resorts is a bit like asking the difference between a condo, a cabin, and a mansion. Think about it. They’ll all give you a place to stay. But, similar to the types of houses, the RV park, campground, and resort all offer different amenities. 

Portland Fairview RV Park, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV parks are generally located either in town or just outside of town proper. Their pricing can range anywhere from $35 a night to $70 a night. Many RV parks also participate in discounted camping programs such as Passport America or Good Sam making their nightly rates even cheaper.  Many will also offer weekly and monthly rates upon request. Typically RV parks will have full hook-ups at most sites but some will offer dry camping for a reduced cost to you. Most will have laundry facilities on site, Wi-Fi available (but often sketchy), along with showers and restrooms. 

Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campgrounds are located in places of scenic beauty such as a national park, state park, county park, or regional park. Being located in nature-surrounded areas you’ll usually have more space between sites than you would in a typical RV park. Most campgrounds have shower facilities and restrooms and electric and/or water hookups. Typically, the utilities do not include sewer at your site. In most cases, a dump station is available. Most campgrounds have hiking and biking trails right outside your door.

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Want it all?  Including the cell service, the WIFI, the nature trails, the full hook-ups, the privacy, and the space? RV resorts can give you that and more. With prices ranging anywhere from affordable to well over $100/night, usually you get more if you pay more. Some RV resorts are truly lavish in their resort style. From hot tubs to swimming pools to private dinner clubs and massage therapists, you can get it all. A word of caution: Some RV parks are billed as RV resorts when truly they are your typical RV park maybe with a tree or two more in between spaces.

Road tripping on Newfound Gap Road through Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

330 Rule of RVing

While the excitement of picking your next RV destination may be at the forefront of your 2023 plans, it’s also important to consider how you’ll stay safe while on the road. Even if every second of your itinerary is perfectly calculated, you still want to keep safety in mind so you can enjoy every minute of your trip. Try using the 330 Rule while driving. This rule contains two pieces of advice to make traveling by RV more comfortable and to help keep you focused: Stop when you have driven 330 miles or its 3:30 in the afternoon.

Road tripping from Flagstaff to Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To a seasoned traveler, 330 miles per day may not seem that long, but driving, especially on long stretches of highway, can be very tiring, no matter how comfortable you are. Since trailers and motorhomes are larger vehicles more focus and caution are needed to operate them which can lead to fatigue as well. It’s also a good idea to reach your destination before 3:30 p.m. as most RV parks still have working attendants at this time and you will have plenty of daylight to set up camp. And because exploring your destination can take some time, consider staying several days to allow time to enjoy the place you are at while taking time to refresh.

Keeping these rules in mind can help you have a successful 2023 travel season!

Worth Pondering…

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

—Jon Kabat-Zinn

Crowley: Where Life is Rice & Easy

A wonderful blend of the past and the present where life is rice and easy

At the crossroads of LA 13 and U.S. Highway 90 lies the city of Crowley. It was founded by C.C. and W.W. Duson back in 1886. At just 137 years old, Crowley is practically a teenager compared to other cities in the state. But what a ride it’s been!

Crowley is a railroad town. It was named after Pat Crowley who was the railroad owner who brought the depot to the land owned by the Duson brothers. The town was a planned community. The streets and properties were plotted out and developed. Unlike many Louisiana towns, the layout is a grid using numbered and lettered streets with the courthouse circle being the center.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rice is the bedrock of the region’s celebrated Cajun cuisine and no other Louisiana community is as intimately tied to the crop as Crowley. The shallow ponds and level prairies surrounding the city produce lots of crawfish too, but it was the turn-of-the-century rice mills that gave Crowley its identity and made possible today’s impressive collection of historic structures.

Victorian hone in Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With its district lined with oaks and ornate Victorian homes, downtown Crowley is part of the state’s Main Street Program. Many historic buildings still play prominent roles in the city’s life. One such example is Miller Stadium, a 1940s-era ballpark and the Grand Opera House of the South that first opened in 1901 and was recently revived as an elegant space for world-class performers. Visitors can relive regional music history at the J.D. Miller Recording Studio Museum downtown or get a taste of prairie life at the Crystal Rice Heritage Farm.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Opera House of the South

One of the most unique second-story opera houses still standing, the Grand Opera House of the South is a beautifully restored historic theater that hosts shows and events. Built in 1901 by David E. Lyons, a livery stable owner and deputy sheriff, the Grand, as it was named then, was referred to by the Daily Signal as a beautiful little playhouse.

Costing a mere $18,000 to build, Mr. Lyons carefully constructed his masterpiece using virgin Louisiana cypress, pine, and oak. The Grand Opera House of the South featured everything from musical performances to theatrical presentations with figures from Clark Gable, Huey Long, and Babe Ruth to opera singer Enrico Caruso and Madame de Vilchez-Bisset of the Paris Opera gracing its stage.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As for why The Grand Opera House lured so many A-list performers to its stage in its early years, consider Crowley’s location, positioned halfway between New Orleans and Houston. It was a convenient stopover point along the rail line where performers could spend a night or two.

The Grand Opera House of the South was more than a performance venue, too. On the first floor there was a saloon, café, mortuary, and a pool hall. Until the opera house closed its doors in 1939—the victim of changing times and the advent of modern movie theaters—it was a thriving part of Crowley’s downtown.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Restored in 2004 and reopened in 2008, the revived auditorium seats up to 400 guests and offers a schedule of performances that’s guaranteed to entertain. One hour tours are offered by appointment only ($10 per person/minimum of 3 guests/$30).

The Grand Opera House is one of more than 200 Crowley structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other buildings of historic interest include the Houssaye House (1887), the Egan Hotel (1914) and the Blue Rose Museum (1848).

Crowley Motor Co. in Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crowley Motor Co.

Next door to the opera house, the Crowley City Hall, housed inside a restored 1920 Ford Motor Company building has been restored and features a museum on the city’s history. All are worth checking out when visiting Crowley.

The Crowley City Hall, Historic Ford Building is comprised of four interesting museums—Rice Iterpretive Center, the History of Crowley, J.D.Miller Music Recording Studio, and Ford Automotive Museum. Built in 1920 at the cost of $40,000 the Crowley Motor Co. was the city’s Ford Motor Model T dealership. Designed by an architect for the Ford Motor Co, it was one of 1,000 similar Ford dealerships constructed in the U.S. Admission is free to the museums.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kelly’s Landing Agricultural Museum & Cajun Prairie Farm

Explore the agricultural importance of the area with Kelly’s Landing Agricultural Museum & Cajun Prairie Farm. Tour a working farm on the Cajun Prairie, learn how crawfish and rice are farmed, view Kelly’s extensive collection of antique toys and equipment, and take part in an AgiTour.

Rice and crawfish farming © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kelly started his John Deere collection in 1989. Visitors frequently ask Kelly, “How many toys do you have?” To which Kelly responds, 1837, give or take. But, the truth is that no one’s ever counted and the collection grows too rapidly to try. The real John Deere enthusiasts and farming fanatics will recognize 1837 as being the date that John Deere invented his first successful steel plow.

The collection at Kelly’s Landing goes beyond John Deere. Kelly has also acquired an array of Massey Ferguson, Case, Moline, and Oliver toys, as well as model planes.

Rice and crawfish farming © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AgiTours include:

  • Crawfish Pond Tours: Learn how crawfish are farmed at the only working agritourism destination in the parish, possibly in all of Acadiana
  • Rice Field Tours: Learn how Acadia Parish’s #1 crop is produced; from field flooding to harvesting, Kelly covers it all
Crawfish trap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crystal Rice Heritage Farm

The Crystal Rice Heritage Farm is the historic location in Crowley where Sol Wright (full name Salmon Lusk Wright) invented the Blue Rose variety of rice which changed the rice industry—and the world—for the better. The rice varieties Sol bred successfully are the basis for the strong, disease-resistant American rice seed being used today.

In 1890, Sol Wright purchased 320 acres of land 5 miles south of Crowley. He made the move from the Midwest to a tract of land down south that would later become Crystal Rice Plantation. Since he was already a successful wheat farmer getting to know the rice field was easy. He soon found out that the imported seed from Japan and Honduras was not well suited for the area.

Rice and crawfish farming © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sol’s next challenge was to produce seed rice that would offer a better yeild in the field and be hardy enough to withstand the milling process. He was on a mission to turn around a struggling industry. Using natural selection and cross-pollination he labored for 12 long seasons with patience and determination.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At last, in 1912 his hard work paid off. Laying before him in his study were the grains of crystal rice he had sought to achieve.  Sol went on to develope new varieties in long, medium, and short grain rice. News spread quickly and soon Sol’s seed rice varieties were being used in 70 to 80 percent of the United States. Some say that Sol Wright saved the rice industry.

The Crystal Rice Heritage Farm is also the location of the Blue Rose Rice Museum, home to many relics of the Acadian era and other pieces of history including some from Abraham Lincoln. The Blue Rose Rice Museum is a National Historical Landmark located in Crowley adjacent to the Wright Group’s manufacturing facility.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crowley Rice Arena

The Crowley Rice Arena hosts seasonal events and activities including rodeos, youth 4-H and FFA live-stock shows, tractor pulls, barrel racing, cutting horse shows, timed events, youth and LRCA rodeos. Forty RV hook-ups sites are available for rent whether you are attending a function or just passing through and need a place to overnight. 

Victorian home in Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

International Rice Festival

Plan a visit for the International Rice Festival (86th annual; October 19-22, 2023) and stay to explore the area. The International Rice Festival, held annually every third full weekend in October, is one of Louisiana’s oldest and largest agricultural festivals.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Reggie’s Downtown

Dine and drink at Reggie’s Downtown, a restaurant and microbrewery in Crowley’s historical, main street, and culture district. All of their beers contain Crowley Rice and other locally sourced ingredients which is why their beer is so tasty.

Specialty beers include:

  • Mermentau: This is where it all began. Their German Hefe Weisen Dunkel or Dark Wheat lagered beer is named after the Mermentau River. Color and complexity with a light smooth finish.
  • Atchafalaya Amber: A crisp lager with a hint of caramel for a smooth taste. 
  • Vaux Sur Sure: Belgian style ale with a hint of citrus for a light flavor. This beer is named after Crowley’s twin city Vaux Sur Sure, Belgium.
  • The Standard: Pilsner with heavy Rice elements, lagered. Named after Standard Mill Road where Crowley had 16 Rice Mills in its peak.
Crawfish traps © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fezzo’s Seafood Steakhouse & Oyster Bar 

Fezzo’s Seafood Steakhouse & Oyster Bar cooks up a large menu of authentic Cajun food in the Cajun tradition in a family dining atmosphere. Something for everyone: steaks, seafood, pasta, po-boys, salads, and more.

Worth Pondering…

Jambalaya (On the Bayou)

Goodbye joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, well have good fun on the bayou

—Lyrics and recording by Hank Williams, Sr., 1954

The Best Collection is Recollection: 2023 RV Resorts Guide

Get highlights and the low-down from over 50 favorite RV resorts across the country

Whether you collect mementos from your travels or just store away memories in your mind, it’s all about the road trip. According to a release from Newmar, the 2023 RV Resorts Guide makes it easy to pick a location and hit the road.

“With 55 traveler-favorite places across the United States, the 2023 RV Resorts Guide from Newmar offers a variety of places to stay—whether it’s along the way or your final destination. This year, you’ll find several that are brand new to the guide as well as a new map that makes searching for resorts along your route even easier.”

Bella Terra of Gulf Shores © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Newmar Corp. published its first RV Resorts Guide in 2017 and highlighted 30 of North America’s finest RV parks and campgrounds. These would be considered the best of the best resorts and especially accommodating for the more discerning owners of Class A motorhomes.

Since then, the Guide has grown to not only include more resorts—there are 55 listings in the 2023 edition—but it has become a valuable resource used by thousands to plan their RV trips and destinations. In fact, over its lifetime, the digital publication has generated 41 million impressions, downloaded over 140,000 times, and introduced over 123,000 unique people to the Newmar brand.

Seven Feathers RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But the positive marketing is only a side effect of the Guide’s primary motive of being a trusted resource for RVers. There are no ads in the current 32-page Guide and save for being mentioned on the front and back covers, you’d never know it was published by Newmar.

Having visited seven of these top parks, I’m pleased to see some old favorites and new RV resorts to check out in future travels.

Alabama

Bella Terra of Gulf Shores © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bella Terra of Gulf Shores

Get the best of the coast experience at Bella Terra of Gulf Shores. Rated as the 6th Best Luxury RV Resort in America by USA Today, Bella Terra of Gulf Shores guarantees an unforgettable experience. With nearly perfect weather all-year-round, a host of high-quality amenities, and located only minutes away from white sugar sand beaches, this resort offers endless opportunities to make lifelong memories for you, your family, and your furry friends.

Bella Terra of Gulf Shores © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highlights

  • 9-acre lake
  • Lush, tropical landscaping
  • Clubhouse with movie theatre and fitness center
  • Optional grills, fire pits, storage units, and carriage houses
  • Fenced in dog parks
Bella Terra of Gulf Shores © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Need-to-know

  • Address: 101 Viabella Terra, Foley, AL 36535
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • RV nightly rate: $57-125
  • Availability: Year-round
  • RVs permitted: Class A only, 32-foot minimum, 15 years or newer
  • Power: 30/50 amp

Arizona

CT RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

CT RV Resort

Whether you’re escaping the cold winters of the north or just looking for a place to relax and enjoy the dry heat, CT RV Resort is for you. This luxury RV resort—and community of four neighborhoods—sits in Benson, Arizona, home of Kartchner Caverns State Park. This welcoming resort is your home away from home with mountain views and neighborly group cookouts, campfires, and get-togethers.

CT RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highlights

  • Exercise equipment
  • Putting green
  • Heated pool and spa
  • Pet friendly
CT RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Need-to-know

  • Address: 1030 S Barrel Cactus Ridge, Benson, AZ 85602
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • RV nightly rate: $42-49
  • Availability: Year-round
  • RVs permitted: All (contact if 10+ years old)
  • Power: 20/30/50 amp
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort

This active 55+ resort takes relaxation seriously. Situated in Casa Grande, Arizona, the Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort welcomes guests with many amenities and a par 3 championship golf course with 9 or 18 holes. Surrounded by magnificent views, Palm Creek boasts a bistro and sports grill on the property, crafting classes like stained glass, and plenty of outdoor activities so you can play all day.

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highlights

  • Onsite gourmet bistro
  • Pickleball and other courts
  • Pet friendly
  • 4 swimming pools
  • Par 3 championship golf course
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Need-to-know

  • Address: 1110 North Henness Road, Casa Grande, AZ 85122
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • RV nightly rate: $67
  • Availability: Year-round
  • RVs permitted: All
  • Power: 30/50 amp

California

Golden Village Palms RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Golden Village Palms RV Resort

Discover why sun-seeking snowbirds and long-term RV park guests flock to this pet-friendly oasis hidden in the Desert of San Jacinto Valley in Southern California. With more than 320 days of sunshine, Golden Village Palms RV Resort is known for over 60 seasonal activities aimed at those 55+, ranging from water volleyball to pickleball and ballroom dancing. When it’s time for a little me time, visit the fitness center, putting green, or one of the pools and spas.

Golden Village Palms RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highlights

  • Largest luxury RV resort in California
  • 10 professional Pickleball courts
  • 3 unique heated pools
  • Regular group activities
Golden Village Palms RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Need-to-know

  • Address: 3600 West Florida Ave, Hemet, CA 92545
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • RV nightly rate: Call for details
  • Availability: Year-round
  • RVs permitted: All
  • Power: 30/50 amp

Oregon

Seven Feathers RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Seven Feathers RV Resort

With twenty-three acres of lush lawn, enjoying the outdoors has never been easier. Enjoy a heated pool and hot tub, 24/hour grocery, deli, and ice cream, and make some fun friends and memories at the Seven Feathers Casino. Rent a yurt or RV site, or, if you want more space, stay in a comfortable cabin and purchase luxury packages for enhanced leisure.

Seven Feathers RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highlights

  • Indoor heated pool & hot tub
  • Across the street from Seven Feathers Casino
  • Garden walk
  • Barbecue pavilion
  • Table tennis, cornhole, and horseshoes
Seven Feathers RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Need-to-know

  • Address: 325 Quintioosa Blvd, Canyonville, OR 97417
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • RV nightly rate: $82
  • Availability: Year-round
  • RVs permitted: Call for details
  • Power: 30/50 amp

Texas

Buckhorn Lake Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buckhorn Lake Resort

Deep in the heart of the Texas Hill Country where the stars are big and bright, you’ll find Buckhorn Lake Resort. Located in Kerrville, the resort is your perfect jumping-off point for the charming towns and festivals that dot the region—and only about an hour from historic San Antonio. On-site, mosey up to the premier amenities including pickleball and tennis courts, a fully equipped fitness center, pools and spas, and a 9-hole putting green.

Buckhorn Lake Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highlights

  • Private stocked catch-and-release fishing pond
  • Short drive to many quaint towns
  • Country store onsite
  • Adults-only areas
  • Swimming pool and whirlpool spas
  • 9-hole practice putting green
Buckhorn Lake Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Need-to-know

  • Address: 2885 Goat Creek, Kerrville, TX 78028
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • RV nightly rate: $46-68
  • Availability: Year-round
  • RVs permitted: All
  • Power: 30/50 amp service
Jamaica Beach RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jamaica Beach RV Resort

Explore the island destination Galveston at Jamaica Beach RV Resort. Enjoy a luxurious stay at an RV site or cottage only a five-minute walk from the beach. Spend your stay enjoying the extensive amenities available like the 700-foot lazy river, pickleball courts, infinity spa, outdoor theater, and more. In Galveston, enjoy bird watching, biking, hiking, and fishing.

Jamaica Beach RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highlights

  • Lazy River
  • Mini Golf course
  • Splash pad
  • Beach access
  • Outdoor theater
Jamaica Beach RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Need-to-know

  • Address: 17200 Termini-San Luis Pass Road, Galveston, TX 77554
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • RV nightly rate: $50-88
  • Availability: Year-round
  • RVs permitted: All
  • Power: 30/50 amp

Worth Pondering…

For all of us have our loved places; all of us have laid claim to parts of the earth; and all of us, whether we know it or not, is in some measure the products of our sense of place.

—Alan Gussow

Best Bird-watching Trail in Arizona

Arizona offers some of the very best bird watching in the United States

Blame it on the state’s remarkable diversity. Soaring mountains, warm deserts, deep canyons, and rolling grasslands provide welcoming habitats for a wide range of birds. Arizona’s species list of around 550 is the highest of any state without an ocean coastline.

Mourning dove © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Important Bird Areas, identified by the National Audubon Society, can be found throughout Arizona but there’s an especially high concentration amid the sky islands in the southeastern corner of the state. These forested mountaintop habitats are surrounded by seas of desert and grasslands creating tightly stacked ecosystems, distinct and isolated. This is the Arizona rainforest, a hotbed of life.

To enjoy an assortment of feathered friends grab your binoculars and cameras and hit some of Arizona’s best birding trails. And these are birding trails, not birding hikes. Birding is hiking interrupted. Finish the trail or don’t finish; it doesn’t matter. Birding is all about the pauses—the stopping and listening and, most importantly, the discovery.

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Patagonia: Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve

The Nature Conservancy protects a stretch of Sonoita Creek at the edge of Patagonia and the verdant floodplain adjacent to the stream as its first project in Arizona.

More than 300 bird species migrate, nest, and live in this rare and beautiful Fremont cottonwood-Goodding’s willow riparian forest where gray hawks like to nest. Over 20 species of flycatchers have been recorded in the preserve along with the thick-billed kingbird and Sinaloa wren.

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are several gentle paths including one along the old railroad grade, another that follows the creek, and a one-mile connector to the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. If you want to stretch your legs a little more, the Geoffrey Platts Trail makes a 3.2-mile loop through mesquite-covered hills with views of the mountains and valley.

Details: Hours and hiking access points vary; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. 150 Blue Heaven Road, Patagonia. $8, free for age 12 and younger.

Vermillion flycatcher at Paton Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Patagonia: Paton Center for Hummingbirds

The Paton family began welcoming strangers to their backyard feeders swarming with hummingbirds in the 1970s. After Marion Paton died, neighbors kept the feeders stocked until the Tucson Audubon Society took over.

Visitors travel from all over the world just to sit quietly in a small Arizona backyard and watch clouds of hummingbirds. It’s a lovely, small town way to spend an hour.

Details: Open dawn to dusk daily. 477 Pennsylvania Avenue, Patagonia. Free; donations are appreciated.

Acorn woodpecker at Ramsey Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sierra Vista: Ramsey Canyon Preserve

Almost 200 species of birds have been seen in high-walled Ramsey Canyon, a lush defile in the Huachuca Mountains south of Sierra Vista that’s managed by the Nature Conservancy.

A single trail starts from the back of the visitor center past several hummingbird feeders buzzing with activity. After all, Sierra Vista is known as Arizona’s Hummingbird Capital where 15 species of small winged jewels have been sighted.

Mexican jay at Ramsey Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The path moseys alongside Ramsey Creek for about a mile beneath a canopy of shade. Big sycamore trees drape the stream with oaks and pines filling the canyon. Summer avian visitors include the painted redstart, black-headed grosbeak, and black-throated gray warbler. Surprise visitors like the flame-colored tanager and Aztec thrush are occasionally seen.

Past the small ponds that provide habitat for the threatened Chiricahua leopard frogs, the trail turns into the woods and switchbacks up to an overlook with nice views.

Ramsey Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Details: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays to Mondays from March 1 through October 31; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the rest of the year; Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 27 E. Ramsey Canyon Road, Hereford. Parking is limited; try to arrive early. $8 per person, free for ages 12 and younger.

Sierra Vista: Brown Canyon Trail

If the small parking area at Ramsey Canyon is full, the trail to historic Brown Canyon Ranch makes a nice alternative. Meander through rolling grasslands dotted with manzanita and oak in this shallow canyon.

Resident birds include the Mexican jay, bridled titmouse, and Montezuma quail. Look for elegant trogon and Scott’s oriole in the summer. A small pond at the old ranch site attracts many water loving species. Trailhead is on the north side of Ramsey Canyon Road, two miles from State Route 92. 

Lesser Goldfinch at San Pedro House

Sierra Vista: San Pedro River

The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area protects a 40-mile stretch of the San Pedro River. This slender forest of cottonwood and willow trees creates some of the richest wildlife habitat in the Southwest.

Start at the historic San Pedro House and, as with all birding trails, go only as far as you like. Follow the path through the grassy meadow to the river.

Curved bill thrasher near San Pedro House © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A network of trails follows the bank of the San Pedro in both directions skirting oxbows and loops around a pond named for the elusive green kingfisher. Other sightings might include vermilion flycatchers, lesser goldfinch, summer tanagers, and yellow-breasted chats.

Details: San Pedro House, operated by The Friends of the San Pedro River, is nine miles east of Sierra Vista on SR 90. It will be open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Sandhill cranes at Whitewater Draw © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wilcox: Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

A 1,500-acre wildlife habitat, Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area is famous for the large population of sandhill cranes during the winter season of October through February. Whitewater Draw lies in the Chiricahua desert grassland habitat of the Sulphur Springs Valley.

The Sulphur Springs Valley, west of the Chiricahua Mountains between Bisbee and Douglas to the south and Willcox to the north, is great for bird watching. The valley’s highways and back roads offer access to a variety of habitats including grassland, desert scrub, playa lake, and farm fields. A wide variety of birds winter here alongside permanent residents.

Sora at Whitewater Draw © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in the southwestern part of the valley, the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area lies within a desert grassland habitat. Nearly half of the Wildlife Area falls within a floodplain. Over 600 acres of the area is intermittently flooded wetland with two small patches of riparian habitat. The surrounding agricultural community of the valley enhances feeding opportunities for wintering birds.

Whitewater Draw has a one-mile boardwalk trail that takes you around cattail marshes, shallow ponds, and eventually to several viewing platforms. Here you can use permanently-mounted spotting scopes to observe the wintering sandhill cranes and the flocks of snow geese and tundra swan that share the sky with the cranes. This is also a great place to see avocets, stilts, and yellowlegs. Wetland birds include egrets, great blue heron, black-crowned night heron, ibis, soras, terns, and other shorebirds.

Green teal at Whitewater Draw © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Overnight camping is allowed in designated areas only, for no more than three days within a seven day period. Camping is free; however, no utilities are available. There is a vault toilet on site. Open fires are allowed in designated areas only.

Details: Open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day

Related article: Southeast Arizona Birding Hotspot: Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

Madera Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Green Valley: Madera Canyon

South of Tucson and west of Green Valley, Madera Canyon is carved from the Santa Rita Mountains. The road into the narrowing gorge climbs from desert grasslands to mixed woodlands shading a seasonal stream.

More than 250 species of bird have been documented in these varied habitats. Favorite sightings include elegant trogon, elf owl, sulphur-bellied flycatcher, and painted redstart.

Madera Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Madera Creek Trail follows the stream and has multiple access points. The Carrie Nation Trail branches off from Old Baldy Trail, tracing the creek bed deeper into the canyon. It’s a good place to see elegant trogons in April and May. 

Non-hikers can enjoy the picnic areas and the free viewing area at the Santa Rita Lodge, filled with hummingbirds and other desert species.

Old Baldy Trail at Madera Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Details: $8 day-use pass for Madera Canyon is sold on site.

Related article: Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains

Read more: Now is the Time to Discover Madera Canyon, a Hiking and Birding Paradise

Gambel’s quail at Catalina State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Oro Valley: Catalina State Park 

Catalina State Park sits at the base of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. The park is a haven for desert plants and wildlife and nearly 5,000 saguaros. The 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons, and streams invites camping, picnicking, and bird watching—more than 150 species of birds call the park home. The park provides miles of equestrian, birding, hiking, and biking trails which wind through the park and into the Coronado National Forest at elevations near 3,000 feet.

Western scrub jay at Catalina State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Because of the high diversity of bird species, the National Audubon Society has designated the park as an Important Bird Area (IBA). The species count has reached 193 and includes several much sought-after birds such as Gilded Flicker, Rufous-winged Sparrow, and Varied Bunting. 

Gilded flicker at Catalina State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The makeup of birds in the park varies with the seasons. Spring and summer birds include noisy Brown-crested Flycatchers, beautiful Blue Grosbeaks, and the tiny Lucy’s Warblers. In the early fall, waves of migrants pass through including Lazuli Buntings, Western Tanagers, and several kinds of warblers. Winter brings in a variety of birds that nest in the north such as Red-naped Sapsucker, Green-tailed Towhee, and several species of sparrows. Permanent residents include Great Horned Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, and many other Sonoran Desert species.

The many trails in the park provide great opportunities to see birds. In addition, there are regular bird walks from October into April led by local experts. The park is located within minutes of the Tucson metropolitan area.

Related article: Catalina State Park: Sky Island Gem

Read more: Flooding Strands Campers at Catalina State Park

Red Rock State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona: Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park is located 5 miles west of Sedona off State Highway 89A on the lower Red Rock Loop Road. A bird list is available upon request. This park makes a great introduction for novice birders. Guided bird walks take place at 8 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The park has an abundance of resident and migratory birds that can be appreciated by park visitors. A five-mile network of trails loops through this park. The Kisva Trail and Smoke Trail are easy strolls along the banks of Oak Creek beneath the shade of cottonwood, sycamore, velvet ash, and alder trees where you might spot wood ducks and common mergansers.

Red Rock State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Non-hikers can settle in on the patio beside the visitor center. It’s with hummingbird feeders.

Details: 4050 Red Rock Loop Road, Sedona. $7, $4 for ages 7-13. Pets are not allowed. 

Related article: Color Your World at Red Rock State Park

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Sedona

Conclusion

No matter if you’re new to bird watching or are an avid birder looking to check rare species off your life list, Arizona is your place. A day pack will help stow your creature’s comfort items: snacks, water, a sweater or light jacket, a birding field guide, binoculars, and camera. Bring enough gear to ensure your stay in the field is as comfortable as possible.

The last piece of the birding equation is totally up to you. Just get out there and enjoy nature. Hike around while peering into the brush, on the water, or in trees for Arizona’s diverse bird species.

Plan your trip:

Worth Pondering…

Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy, and celebration. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.

—Papyrus

Why You Should Follow the 330 Rule

The 330 Rule will save you from RV burnout and enable you to have a more enjoyable experience overall

If you haven’t heard of the 330 Rule, get ready for it will change how you travel!

The idea is to get somewhere while it is still early enough to explore, chill-out, and enjoy the place when you’re not exhausted from driving mega miles. Is there anything worse than pulling into a campsite after dark? Less mileage and stopping early should be your travel style of choice.

On the road to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 330 Rule is a rule I (try to) live by when on the road. I learned the hard way that traveling without it leads to exhaustion and frustration. Here’s what it is and why you should (try to) follow it, too.

The 330 Rule goes like this: Don’t drive more than 330 miles in a day and arrive at your destination no later than 3:30 pm.

When we first started, I would hit the road and keep hitting the road until we crammed as much into one day as possible. In my mind, the more we drove, the more we would see, and the more fun we’d have. I recall a 2,000-mile trip we made in three and one-half days. And yes, it was tiring and exhausting! And, I vowed never again!

Driving Newfound Gap Road through Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Well, we quickly learned that long days of RV travel don’t work out well. Sure, we covered a whole lot of the map in a matter of days but it sure wasn’t as fun as it could have been.

That’s why we adopted the 330 rule and have tried to live, or rather, traveled by it ever since. I’m going to explain what it is and why every RVer needs to know it.

Driving Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is the 330 Rule?

I had a fulltimer explain this to me early on. The 330 rule is you “stop when you have driven 330 miles or its 3:30 in the afternoon.”

The idea is to get somewhere while it is still early enough to explore, chill out, and enjoy the place when you’re not exhausted from driving miles upon miles. 

In our early days, I looked at the daily driving mileage as a challenge—the more the better. 

Driving Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I kept trying to set another personal best. Its 650 miles, by the way! Silly! Stupid! Really stupid!

There’s really nothing worse than pulling into a campsite after dark. It can even stray into bad camping etiquette. 

>> Read Next: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

You might think that if you leave at 10 a.m., you’ll have plenty of time to get to your campground by 3:30. But we all know that life on the road is almost always more unpredictable than that. You could have a tire blow out. Or you might want to stop at a roadside attraction or historic site along your way. Before you know it, the sun is setting, and you’re now pulling into an unfamiliar place in the dark.

Arriving before 3:30 gives you ample time to pull in safely and get level. It gives you time to properly set up and hook up, minimizing chances of human errors and extra stress. You can relax and explore the neighborhood.  

Driving Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why should you follow the 330 Rule?

There are two main reasons every RVer should try to adhere to the 330 Rule. The first is health and safety-relate. The second is sanity-related. 

It’s safer and better for your health

Pushing yourself too hard when driving isn’t great for your health and can even be downright dangerous. I certainly crossed the safety line when I pushed myself to drive those 650 miles in one day and 2,000 miles in three and one-half days. 

Drive alert—protect yourself and others on the road. Drowsy driving significantly increases the risk of accidents leading to a troubling number of injuries and deaths every year.

Driving Organ Pipe National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drowiness affects your ability to drive safely:

  • Makes you less able to pay attention to the road
  • Slows your reaction time if you must brake or steer suddenly
  • Affects your ability to make good decisions

According to the Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving is most likely to occur in the late afternoon when most people are naturally sleepier and between midnight and 6 am.

That’s why stopping by 3:30 pm (before late afternoon) is the safest!

>> Read Next: 7 Driving Tips You Should Know

Driving long hours can also lead to multiple health concerns including Sitting Disease. And yes, that is a real disease and a real health risk for RVers. Blame it on our sedentary lifestyle, our desk-bound working days, our computer and smartphone use, TV watching, and yes, driving long days.

The fact is, the average person these days sits—at a desk, in the car or RV, or on a couch—nearly eight hours every day, sitting, planted, not moving.

Driving Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It will keep you sane (and married)

The second big problem of pushing yourself beyond 3:30 and 330 miles is you’re almost guaranteed to end up frustrated and grumpy—and fighting with your spouse or travel companions. 

If you arrive at camp late or after extensive driving, you’re exhausted and still have to set up camp. This often leads to touchy nerves, bickering, and downright fights between travel companions. That’s NOT a great way to start your camping trip. 

Adopting the 330 rule will keep you sane and it will also keep you happily married!

>> Read Next: Raise Your RV IQ with These Tips

Our road trips have been far more enjoyable ever since.

Driving Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alternative Guidelines

3-3-3 Rule

You may have heard of another RV rule of thumb called the 3-3-3 Rule. This rule is similar to the 330 Rule.

The 3-3-3 Rule is as follows:

  • Don’t drive more than 300 miles in a day
  • Stop by 3 pm (or stop every 3 hours, depending on who you ask)
  • Stay at a campground for a minimum of 3 days
Camping at Harvest Moon RV Park in Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2-2-2 Rule

The 2-2-2 Rule is similar to the 3-3-3 rule. The 2-2-2 rule is driving fewer than 200 miles, arriving at your campsite no later than 2 pm., and staying for two nights. This gives you time to drive less during the day while still allowing time to relax without having to pack up immediately the next day. If you want to stop at more places along your route, this guideline might be better for you.

4-4-4 Rule

The 4-4-4 rule is a bit different from the others in that the first three is for driving less than four hours. The rest follows suit: Arrive no later than 4 pm. and stay four nights or less. By driving less and staying in one spot longer, you may not get to all the places you want to see, but you can make the most of the destinations you do reach.

Camping in Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you follow a version of the 330 Rule? 

Whatever RV rules you choose to follow, keep in mind that they’re guidelines meant to keep RVers safe and happy. You don’t have to go everywhere and see everything. It can be tempting to try to do it all but by trimming down your expectations you might have more worthwhile experiences on the road.

Have you ever tried the 330 Rule? How did it work out for you?

Driving Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To Each His Own

I won’t go as far as saying every RVer needs to abide by the 330 Rule. However, I will say that I do highly recommend it. 

>> Read Next: 10 RV Driving Tips

I know that from my own experiences (and mistakes) and from countless RVers who say the same, the 330 Rule makes traveling more enjoyable—and safer.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

Flooding Strands Campers at Catalina State Park

The park, located north of Tucson was closed last week after rains caused a wash to flood

Some 300 campers were stranded at Catalina State Park last week after heavy rains caused the Cañada del Oro wash to overflow. The park is located next to the Town of Oro Valley, 6 miles north of Tucson.

They headed back to dry land on Wednesday (January 18, 2023) as park rangers helped campers walk across the receding wash at the park’s entrance. The only road out of the campground was filled with wet sand making it impossible to drive across.

Catalina State Park crews clear a path through the flooded wash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What stops people isn’t the water. It’s the sand.

“Doesn’t matter if you have four-wheel drive, you are going to get stuck,” said Catalina State Park manager Steve Haas. “You are going to get stuck. It is not the water that is going to stop you. It is about 4 to 5 feet of sand from the bottom of the road that is stopping people.”

The park reopened Friday, January 20 as crews continued to clear flooding debris and create a safe path to drive across near the park entrance. Visitors were requested to observe all rules distributed by rangers when entering the park and to use caution as flooding is still possible. Parking is only allowed in designated parking spots.

Catalina State Park crews clear a path through the flooded wash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition, Catalina State Park released the following Facility Information, available on its website:

  • Significant rain and weather events may require day-to-day decisions on remaining open. The fire caused significant runoff and debris that can be dangerous to staff and the public.
  • Many areas of the park look different than they did prior to the Bighorn Fire. The burned areas host hazards such as fallen rocks, trees, debris, and potential flash flooding, and visitors enter these areas at their own risk.
  • Roads near campsites may face flash flooding which could prohibit campers from leaving the park until flooding subsides. 
  • We encourage advance reservations for overnight camping and RV sites.
  • Please maintain awareness of your surroundings and the weather at all times while visiting the park.
Catalina State Park crews clear a path through the flooded wash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fortunately, this was the only flooding in the park and the campground was not affected. It would be really bad if there was this obstacle plus a whole bunch of flooding where people are located. That was not the case.

Many campers had been at Catalina since the holiday weekend. Some had been making the trek across the wash by foot to get food and supplies in Oro Valley.

Catalina State Park crews clear a path through the flooded wash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A lot of people’s lives were interrupted but they were in a good spot.

Crews worked on Wednesday to try and dig out the sand and waiting for the water level to go down before letting people drive through. Haas said the campers aren’t in any danger. “They are totally safe on the campgrounds. It is outside the floodplain,” said Haas.

Catalina State Park crews clear a path through the flooded wash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rangers said the flooding happens regularly during the summer monsoons. But campgrounds aren’t as busy during the summer.

“This past summer, we were closed 20 nights because of this,” said Haas.

The Big Horn Fire in 2020 took out a lot of vegetation making runoff from rainwater more extreme. The Canada del Oro arroyo and its tributaries carry runoff from the Santa Catalinas during rain storms—a common occurrence that can and does often lead to flooding during monsoon but something that occurs less frequently in the winter.

Catalina State Park crews clear a path through the flooded wash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We found ourselves in a similar situation in February 2010 when we were campimg at Catalina State Park. Since we were self-contained and planned to spend a week camping in the park we were basically unaffected by the flooded wash. The photos in this article were taken at that time.

Campers were eager to get home but grateful to be safe. “We have bathrooms over there, we have fresh running water. This is Arizona, it doesn’t get cold. So, we are fine, but we are ready to go,” said one camper.

Catalina State Park crews clear a path through the flooded wash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arizona State Parks officials said there are plans and a budget to build a bridge over the wash in the coming years so flooding won’t continue to be a common occurrence. Funding has been approved and the bridge is a work in progress in collaboration with ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation).

Catalina State Park sits at the base of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. The park is a haven for desert plants and wildlife and nearly 5,000 saguaros. The 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons, and streams invites camping, picnicking, and bird watching—more than 170 species of birds call the park home.

Catalina State Park crews clear a path through the flooded wash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park provides miles of equestrian, birding, hiking, and biking trails that wind through the park and into the Coronado National Forest at elevations near 3,000 feet. The park is located within minutes of the Tucson metropolitan area. This scenic desert park also offers equestrian trails and an equestrian center provides a staging area for trail riders with plenty of trailer parking.

One hundred twenty campsites are available that have electricity, and water, and are either tent or RV ready. The campground is located in the shadows of the famed Catalina Mountains. Native birds and wildlife abound and help make any camping trip a memorable experience. Two RV dump stations are available in the park.

Bring along your curiosity and your sense of adventure as you take in the beautiful mountain backdrop, desert wildflowers, cacti, and wildlife.

Catalina State Park crews clear a path through the flooded wash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Park Details

The park is open year-round

Entrance fee: $7 per vehicle (1-4 Adults)

Camping fee: $25 per vehicle per night

Catalina State Park crews clear a path through the flooded wash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Day use hours: 5 am.-10 pm. daily

Visitor center/park store hours: 8 am.–5 pm. daily

Worth Pondering…

This was as the desert should be, this was the desert of the picture books, with the land unrolled to the farthest distant horizon hills, with saguaros standing sentinel in their strange chessboard pattern, towering supinely above the fans of ocotillo and brushy mesquite.

—Dorothy B. Hughes

TGIP: Thank God it’s National Pie Day!

Pie purveyors create sweet comfort by the slice

Pie, in a word, is my passion. Since as far back as I can remember, I have simply loved pie. I can’t really explain why. If one loves poetry, or growing orchids, or walking along the beach at sunset, the why isn’t all that important! To me, pie is poetry that makes the world a better place.
―Ken Haedrich, Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie

Good morning. There are many things to celebrate today: National Handwriting Day, Measure Your Feet Day (I only ask….why?!), and National Pie Day!

Friday’s Fried Chicken, Shiner, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

January 23: National Pie Day

National Pie Day is today, a January 23 holiday. Today is a special day that is set aside to bake all of your favorite pies. On this day, you are also encouraged to bake a few new pie recipes. And most importantly, it’s a day to eat pies! The American Pie Council created this day simply to celebrate them.

A great way to celebrate National Pie Day is to bake some pies and give them away to friends, neighbors, and relatives. You never know, you may be starting a tradition of pie giving between your friends and family.

Mom’s Pie House, Julian, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Pie Day celebrates one of America’s favorite desserts. No matter how you slice it, pie in just about any form makes a crowd happy. Fruit pies, berry pies, cream pies, pecan pies—they are mouthwatering servings of homemade goodness. 

Whether it is apple, pumpkin, blueberry, raspberry, cherry, peach, Key lime, lemon meringue, coconut cream, sweet potato, mince, or countless more, the sweet, savory tastes are as American as… well, you know.

Many people think that Pie Day is March 14, but that is Pi Day—the celebration of the famous mathematical constant when people also eat pie.

Krause Berry Farm, Langley, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A Boulder, Colorado, school teacher named Charlie Papazian takes credit for founding National Pie Day. Around 1975, he declared to his students that his birthday—January 23—would be known as National Pie Day. Charlie likes pie and he celebrates with candles on his birthday pie.

Charlie also founded the American Pie Council and that group registered the holiday and began promoting National Pie Day celebrations in 1986.

It’s a holiday simply to celebrate pie, because pie so deserves to be celebrated!

I’ve been pondering pie lately and why it, perhaps more than any other food, is so endearing. Pie somehow takes us back, like old songs do, to those who remember when moments worth recalling. And why I wonder, does it seem as if the pie has become the cool kid on the dessert block … again? Trendy or not, pie satisfies our sweet tooth and carries us back in time to those fun times. It deserves its own day.

You can join the celebration by baking your pie since it’s easy as, well, pie. Or consider your options: Plenty of pie purveyors have perfected the art of creating sweet comfort by the slice.  A good pie, after all, is like a hug. The better the pie, the bigger the embrace! I recently went looking for full-on-tackle hugs—the ultimate pies—and found them.

Julian Pie Company, Julian, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

History of pies

Pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians. The first pies were made by early Romans who may have learned about them through the Greeks. These pies were sometimes made in reeds which were used for the sole purpose of holding the filling and not for eating with the filling.

The Romans must have spread the word about pies around Europe as the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word pie was a popular word in the 14th century. The first pie recipe was published by the Romans and was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie.

The early pies were predominately meat pies. Pyes (pies) originally appeared in England as early as the twelfth century. The crust of the pie was referred to as coffyn. There was more crust than filling. Often these pies were made using fowl and the legs were left to hang over the side of the dish and used as handles. Fruit pies or tarts (pasties) were probably first made in the 1500s. English tradition credits making the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.

Krause Berry Farm, Langley, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pie came to America with the first English settlers. The early colonists cooked their pies in long narrow pans calling them coffins like the crust in England. As in Roman times, the early American pie crusts often were not eaten but simply designed to hold the filling during baking. It was during the American Revolution that the term crust was used instead of coffyn.

Over the years, pie has evolved to become what it is today—the most traditional American dessert. Pie has become so much a part of American culture throughout the years that we now commonly use the term as American as apple pie.

Friday’s Fried Chicken, Shiner, Texas© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Pie Day by the numbers 

  • 6000 BC: Earliest date pie is traced back to
  • 186 million: Pies sold in stores each year in America alone
  • 23,236 pounds (10,540kg): Weight of the largest pie ever baked
  • 1675: Pumpkin pie makes its first appearance in a cookbook
  • 47: Percentage of Americans think pie is comforting
  • $9,500: Price of the world’s most expensive pie
  • 1 in 5: Americans have eaten a whole pie by themselves
  • 9: Percentage of Americans prefer eating the crust first
  • 1644: Year that pie was banned by Oliver Cromwell for being a pagan form of pleasure
  • 18: Percentage of men that say their wives bake the best pie
Mom’s Pie House, Julian, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to celebrate National Pie Day

Eat some pie: Naturally, the best way to celebrate National Pie Day is to eat a slice of your favorite—or try a new and adventurous flavor

Bake a pie: Baking a pie can be as easy as, well, pie. Look up a recipe online, in a cookbook, or ask a family member to share a favorite recipe

Share a pie: If you make or buy a pie, share it; by its very nature, pie is meant to be eaten with others

Sample different slices of pie: When life gives you choices, you don’t have to only pick one

Krause Berry Farm, Langley, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Share your favorite pie recipe with friends and family: Baking with others brings a whole new ingredient to your recipe.

Eat a whole pie by yourself: Sometimes you just need to indulge in the sweeter things in life but I recommend eating a pie in more than one sitting.

Host a pie night: Gather family and friends for a pie celebration—everyone must bring one homemade pie for the pie buffet (More than 100 folks with 100 pies?)

Julian Pie Company, Julian, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enter a pie bake-off: Many organizations hold pie baking contests; if you’re feeling proud of your baking skills, try showing them off at your local bake-off

Host a pie-making contest: Invite the best pie-makers in town to compete for prizes in various categories; ask cooking teachers, pastry chefs, and pie lovers to be judges (Contact the American Pie Council and they will send you a sample pie judging sheet)

Eat more pie: You can always have another slice, preferably warm and a la mode.

Do pie stuff: Sing pie songs, read pie books, quote pie poems, make pie charts.

Mom’s Pie House, Julian, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fun Pie Facts

The oldest known pie recipe was for a rye-crusted goat’s cheese and honey pie in ancient Rome about 2,000 years ago

Related pie days

  • National Pi Day (March 14)
  • National Cherry Pie Day (February 20)
  • National Blueberry Pie Day (April 28)
  • National Pecan Pie Day (July 12)
  • National Peach Pie Day (August 24)
  • National Pumpkin Pie Day (December 25)

No matter how you cut it, pies are a great reason to celebrate.

So preheat your oven or visit your local bakery, grab a slice, and celebrate the simple, delicious pleasures of good pie.

Julian Pie Company, Julian, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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Worth Pondering…

Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.

―Yogi Berra

I ate another apple pie and ice cream; that’s practically all I ate all the way across the country, I knew it was nutritious and it was delicious, of course.

―Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Winter 2022-23: 10 Best Things to Do in America

While summer gets all the popular attention—sun, sand, sea, surf, and so on—it’s safe to say that winter is underrated

From fishing and camping to a taste bud tour, RVing with Rex reveals unique and unusual picks for the 10 best things to do in the US this winter. Your RV bucket list just got (a lot) longer.

The best things to do this winter include many hidden gems and unique experiences. You’ll find plenty of tried-and-trued staples too. But, as is my style at RVing with Rex, I tend to embrace under-the-radar spots as well as famous attractions. You’ll likely find things to do that you didn’t even know existed!

Believing the most authentic recommendations derive from personal experiences, the list highlights the places I’ve discovered and explored on one or more occasions. But, no matter where you plan to travel you’re bound to find something unique and fun to do this winter.

Daytona Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Cruise the Atlantic Coast of Florida

Location: Jacksonville to Key West, Florida

Stretching along Florida’s Atlantic Coast from Fernandina Beach to Key West is the iconic A1A highway. The famous route passes through historic towns like St. Augustine before making its way through hotspots like Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Then, stay a few days in Miami before continuing south on the Overseas Highway, a scenic 130-mile stretch of roadway connecting Key Largo to Key West in the Florida Keys.

Kennedy Space Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Discover Outer Space at Kennedy Space Center

Location: Kennedy Space Center Complex, Merritt Island, Florida

Visiting Kennedy Space Center allows you to live out the dream of being an astronaut. You can see the space shuttle Atlantis, meet an astronaut, and watch a space movie in the IMAX movie theater. For true space travel enthusiasts, consider booking one of the add-on enhancements such as the Special Interest Bus Tour or the Astronaut Training Experience. 

Mount Dora © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Wander through Mount Dora

Location: Mount Dora, Florida

Time slows down in this quaint Florida town filled with unique shops and delicious eateries.  Located approximately 45 minutes north of Disney World, Mount Dora is like a real-life Main Street U.S.A. This small town is known for its boutique stores and the downtown area is filled with eateries, tasty coffee, and ice cream shops. Cruise on Lake Dora, sip on a signature cocktail while enjoying the spectacular sunset, and slow down and take in the relaxing atmosphere. 

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Feel the warm desert air in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Location: Ajo, Arizona

The remote Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a gem tucked away in southern Arizona’s vast the Sonoran Desert. Thanks to its unique crossroads locale, the monument is home to a wide range of specialized plants and animals including its namesake. The park lies near Ajo, 43 miles south of Gila Bend on Interstate 8. This stretch of desert marks the northern range of the organ pipe cactus, a rare species in the U.S. With its multiple stems, the cactus resembles an old-fashioned pipe organ. There are 28 different species of cacti in the park ranging from the giant saguaro to the miniature pincushion.

>> Get more tips for visiting Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Goose Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Fish and camp at Goose Island State Park

Location: Rockport-Fulton, Texas

Lapping water and Gulf breezes: We must be on the coast! Goose Island offers camping, fishing, and birding along St. Charles and Aransas bays. Camp, fish, hike, geocache, go boating and observe and take photos of wildlife, especially birds. Fish from shore, boat, or the 1,620-foot-long fishing pier. Choose from 44 campsites by the bay or 57 sites nestled under oak trees, all with water and electricity. Every camping loop has restrooms with showers. Be sure to visit the Big Tree which has been standing sentinel on the coast for centuries and has withstood several major hurricanes.

>> Get more tips for visiting Goose Island State Park

Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Sample the South in Savannah’s Historic District

Location: Savannah, Georgia

Few US city centers match the charm and style of Savannah’s Historic District. Every corner reveals an 18th-century home somehow more picturesque than the last. The area is perfect for strolling aimlessly and stopping for treats (and shade) along the way. Wander down River Street to sample the famous southern pralines at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen or indulge in a Bourbon Pecan Pie martini at Jen’s & Friends. If you’re somehow still hungry, choose from over 100 eclectic restaurants. Then, burn it all off by dancing the night away in Savannah’s buzzing nightlife scene. 

>> Get more tips for visiting Savannah

Usery Mountain Regional Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Experience the magic of the Sonoran Desert at Usery Mountain Regional Park

Location: Mesa, Arizona

Located on the Valley’s east side, this 3,648-acre park is located at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. The park contains a large variety of plants and animals that call the lower Sonoran Desert home. Along with the most popular feature of the park, the Wind Cave Trail, water seeps from the roof of the alcove to support the hanging gardens of Rock Daisy.

Usery Mountain Regional Park offers a campground with 73 individual sites. Each site has a large parking area to accommodate up to a 45-foot RV with water and electrical hook-ups, a dump station, a picnic table, a barbecue grill, and a fire ring.

>> Get more tips for visiting Usery Mountain Regional Park

Bay St. Louis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Experience the quaint, seaside town of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Location: Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

It’s no secret that the farther west you travel along the Mississippi coast, the stronger you’ll hear the call of New Orleans. Once you hit the waterfront in Old Town Bay St. Louis, you might as well be in the French Quarter. Many locals here have New Orleans roots and this little burg is all about letting those bons temps rouler. Its artsy, funky, and quirky yet still peaceful and relaxing, with the unhurried, y’all-come-on-in attitude of a small Southern town: NOLA, meets Mayberry.

In 2010 Bay St. Louis was listed as one of the Top 10 Beach Communities in the U.S. by Coastal Living MagazineBudget Travel magazine named it one of the “Coolest Small Towns in America” in 2013 and Southern Living magazine named Bay St. Louis one of their 50 Best Places in the South in 2016.

>> Get more tips for visiting Bay St. Louis

Fairhope © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Experience Southern Coastal Charm in Fairhope, Alabama

Location: Fairhope, Alabama

Wiry trees draped with Spanish moss frame pastel-painted bungalows in this small Alabama town. Fairhope is perched atop bluffs overlooking Mobile Bay. You can bike oak-lined sidewalks, watch watercolor sunsets, and browse inspiring shops including Page & Palette bookstore and other businesses in the town’s French Quarter near the water.

Explore the piers and meander the parks and beaches—if you’re lucky, you’ll witness the summer jubilee when sea creatures wash up on the beaches by the bucketful. Once you watch a sunset from the Tiki Bar at the American Legion Post 199, you’ll understand Fairhope nostalgia and wonder why anybody would want to live anywhere else.

Breaux Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Discover the Crawfish Capital of the World

Location: Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

A tiny bayou town just a short hop from Lafayette, Breaux Bridge is not only the “Crawfish Capital of the World” per the Louisiana legislature but lays claim to having invented crawfish etouffee. It’s in the heart of Acadian Louisiana with all the fantastic food and music that entails. Cajun dancers have been two-stepping and waltzing around the beautiful old dance floor at La Poussiere since 1955. On Saturdays, Café des Amis serves a Zydeco breakfast with live music downtown.

Breaux Bridge is one cool little Louisiana town where locally-owned shops, Cajun eateries, French music, bayou country, and crawfish all come together. The walkable downtown hub is studded with antique shops, restaurants, and homey cafes. And if you love fishing and boating, you’ll be right at home thanks to the town’s quick access to Lake Martin. For art lovers on a budget, the Teche Center for the Arts has regularly scheduled workshops and musical programming that typically clock in under $10.

>> Get more tips for visiting Breaux Bridge

Worth Pondering…

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.

—Anita Desai