Today’s barn decorating revival became
popular with a woman named Donna Sue Groves, from Adams
County, Ohio. She wanted to honor her mother by hanging a
colorful painted quilt square on her barn.
From the start, the mother of the quilt-barn movement
envisioned mile after mile of quilt trails throughout Appalachia, but the
folksy phenomenon has exceeded her expectations.
“We’re celebrating quilting as an art form. We’re
celebrating our agricultural heritage and supporting entrepreneurial
opportunities,” Groves says.
The history of barn decoration dates back to the mid
1800s. Painting symbols on barns originated from traditional folk art
passed along from the German and Swiss immigrants who settled the Pennsylvania
Dutch region in southeastern Pennsylvania. Once these groups including
Lutherans, Moravians, and Mennonites built their family farms and
communities, they would paint small patterns on their barns to celebrate their
heritage. Originally these patterns were simple stars, compass roses, or
stylized birds from traditional folk art.
In 2000, when Donna Sue Groves set out to fulfill her
promise to paint a quilt square on her mother’s tobacco barn, she decided to
expand her folk art idea beyond their farm. As an Ohio Arts Council employee,
she had a hunch that quilt squares painted on the sides of barns throughout
Adams County would provide work for local artists and encourage
visitors to travel through the countryside.
Groves organized volunteers for the Adams County Quilt Barn
Sampler committee as they established guidelines for the 8-foot-by-8-foot
painted wooden squares called “barn quilts.” Her mother Maxine stitched a
sampler quilt with 20 traditional patterns chosen by the group and in October
2001, they unveiled their first painted quilt square—an Ohio Star—on a barn
during the Lewis Mountain Olde Thyme Herb Fair in Manchester, Ohio.
From the beginning tourists roamed the back roads of the
county in search of the colorful quilt patterns, taking photographs, and
visiting with barn owners.
As the folk art spread across the countryside, Donna Sue’s
gift to her mother became a gift to rural America.
This was the start of the first quilt trail in America.
Quilt trails have now being organized all across the
country. Barn quilts are displayed around communities and then
mapped out for tourists to follow these amazing works of art. They promote
tourism and help draw visitors into rural communities.
Traditional stars and various quilt patterns are now being
displayed on barns, homes, sheds, and sides of buildings. They
are also put on posts and displayed in yards and parks.
Today, more than 4,000 quilt squares adorn barns and other
buildings in 34 states, most situated along more than 120 designated barn-quilt
“The trails are very localized. What’s going on is local
pride,” says Suzi Parron, author of Barn
Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement, published in 2012.
Parron, an English teacher from Stone Mountain, Georgia,
became smitten with the folk art phenomenon after seeing a Flying Geese quilt
square on a barn in Cadiz, Kentucky.
The quilt squares are painted by farm families, professional
artists, high school art students, quilt guilds, 4-H groups, and other
Each community organizes its own trail. Many groups seek art
and tourism grants and donations to pay for paint, wood, and brochures. Local
utility companies, fire departments, and building contractors often provide
manpower and trucks with lifts to hang the wooden blocks. Sometimes, barn
owners pay a few hundred dollars for their own barn quilts.
In Morgan County, Colorado, quilting enthusiast Nancy Lauck
has painted nearly 200 barn quilts since 2007 because she treasures the barns
built by pioneering farmers.
Another barn preservationist, Marcella Epperson in Johnson
City, Tennessee, enjoys meeting visitors and sharing stories about her
wooden-pegged barn built in 1898 by her grandfather. A combination of two quilt
patterns—a LeMoyne Star set inside Swallows in the Window—decorates the barn.
Barn quilts remind people of their agricultural roots, as
Donna Sue Groves intended, and bring attention to the endangered status of
The mesas, thin buttes, and the tall spires rising above the valley, and the contrasting orange sand, makes Monument Valley the most impressive landscape in the southwest
One of the most iconic and enduring landmarks of the American Wild West, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park has isolated sandstone mesas, buttes, and a sandy desert that has been photographed and filmed countless times.
Monument Valley boasts crimson mesas, surreal sandstone towers which range in height from 400 to 1,000 feet. Made of de Chelly sandstone, which is 215 million years old, the towers are the remnants of mesas, or flat-topped mountains. Mesas erode first into buttes like the Elephant, which typically are as high as they are wide, then into slender spires like the Three Sisters.
The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations,
providing scenery that is simply spellbinding.
It is one of those sights that takes your breath away and
makes you speechless—what the Western writer Zane Grey once described as “a
strange world of colossal shafts and buttes of rock, magnificently sculptored,
standing isolated and aloof, dark, weird, lonely.”
Known as Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii (or Valley of the Rocks) to the
Navajo, they believe it is a gift from their creator and each unique formation
has a story.
Entering Monument Valley is to enter a world of mystery,
incredible beauty, and age-old tradition.
The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by
its size. The fragile pinnacles of rock are surrounded by miles of mesas and
buttes, shrubs, trees, and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent
colors of the valley. All of this harmoniously combines to make Monument Valley
a truly wondrous experience.
Our first stop was the legendary Goulding’s Trading Post located
just north of the Arizona-Utah border, six miles from the Monument Valley
Navajo Tribal Park.
After arriving Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in
mid-afternoon and obtaining information about available options for exploring this
wonderland of rocks, we departed the Visitor Center at Lookout Point and
started the Valley Drive, a 17-mile self-guided dirt road. The road winds past
the valley’s best red rock buttes and spires, with 11 stops for photos.
This is considered one of the world’s premier spots for
landscape photography. The best stops for photographing the towers are the
Mittens and Merrick Butte, Elephant Butte, Three Sisters, John Ford’s Point,
Camel Butte, The Hub, the Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei, Sand Springs, Artist’s
Point, North Window, and The Thumb. The best times for photography are early
mornings and late afternoons when the shadows lengthen and the sun brings out
the reds and oranges in the buttes.
Allow at least two to three hours at the posted 10 mph. Expect
to eat the valley’ orange dust, because other vehicles will kick up thick
clouds of it during the dry weather that you’ll find in this high desert most
of the year.
In a swirl of red dust we dropped down into the valley rim
in our four-wheel-drive dinghy with guide map in hand.
The road is dusty, steep in a couple of places and rather
uneven, but does not need a four-wheel-drive—the journey is suitable for the
majority of family cars, and small to medium sized RVs, though the surface is
perhaps not improved too much in order to increase business for the many Navajo
guides and 4WD Jeep rental outfits, which wait expectantly by the visitor
Though rough in many spots and probably impassable in wet
weather, the road was easily travel on this day.
We wound our way past the Mittens, Elephant Butte, the Three
Sisters, and to John Ford’s Point—named for the famous director who made movies
in Monument Valley, many of them starring John Wayne.
The weather was perfect—sunny and warm—as we continued on past Camel Butte, the Hub, and to the Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei. The changing light and shifting shadows created an never-ending stream of views. Continuing on around Raingod Mesa and Artist Point, we timed our drive to return to the
After photographing the amazing sunset we drove our toad
east to our camping site at Cottonwood RV Park in Bluff, Utah, a round day trip
of 119 miles.
Here are some things you can do to help protect your home while you head for warmer weather.
If you’re planning for snowbird travel or other long-term RV adventure, you need to prepare your home to be unoccupied for months at a time. A key aspect of this preparation is making sure your home appears occupied.
Stop the Mail and
The mail is often a never-ending cascade of advertising and
other solicitations—with bills and an occasional letter or card
in-between. Left unchecked, mail will likely accumulate beyond your mail
box capacity and potentially announce your absence. Thank you, junk mail.
Thankfully, stopping the mail is as easy as going onto USPS.com and
requesting your mail to be held or forwarded. For $1 you can have your mail
forwarded for as short as fifteen days or as long as one year. After the
first six months, you can extend for another six months. Even better, you
can adjust the amount of time your mail is forwarded online. You can
shortened or extended mail forwarding based on changing road plans.
Canadians have a similar mail forwarding system but pay a
minimum of $52.95 for four months of mail forwarding within their province,
$65.95 within Canada, and $152.95 to the U.S. For more information about mail
forwarding in Canada visit CanadaPost.ca.
For many, there’s nothing better than reading a physical
newspaper or magazine. Be sure to pause those newspaper drops while you’re
away, or they may give your absence away.
Even if you have your newspapers stopped, circulars and
phone books may be dropped at your house. Again, ask your neighbor to
check for these. There is nothing that says, “no one at home” like an
accumulation of newspapers on your front step or at the end of your
Arrange with a neighbor, relative, or commercial service for
snow removal. Depending on the season of your absence, and your home climate,
it may also be necessary to have someone help with lawn maintenance, weed
control, leaf raking and removal, and lawn and shrub watering.
Those with house plants should also make arrangements to
have their plants watered and cared for.
Consider a Web Camera
With high-speed internet and a high quality camera, it’s possible
to see a live video feed of your house and property from almost anywhere. That’s
right, you can watch your house yourself when you’re away.
Many of the internet and security system companies now sell
and install web camera systems for a monthly fee. On the other hand, there
are companies that sell do-it-yourself kits including the web cameras, digital
hubs, and software that allows you to install, set-up, and use such a system. Be
aware that these web camera kits are not for the technologically challenged,
and likely require running wire and cables throughout your attic and crawl
Never Post Travel
Plans or Events on Social Media
It’s common sense that you don’t run around telling everyone
that you’ll be away and your house will be unoccupied, but that’s exactly what
you do by posting your trip plans and adventure to social media: Facebook,
Twitter, YouTube, etc. It’s also not a good idea to change your answering
machine message to anything implying your absence.
Naturally you might think taking pictures is what you do
once you’re on the road and exploring new places. While this is certainly
true, you also should take pictures of your home and possessions prior to
leaving. In case of a fire, flood, or other disaster, these photographs
will prove what you had, and in what overall condition it was in.
You may also consider photocopying your passport, credit
cards, drivers license, and other important documents. Hopefully you will not
need these images but having evidence of this information can make or break
travel plans in case of an emergency.
The best part of the above recommendations is the peace of
mind they’ll give you if you’re away from home.
We have chosen to be reasonably warm year-round, so we are
snowbirds. Every year when I hear the honks of the Canada geese overhead,
something in my genes starts pulling my inner-compass to the South. And an
inner voice whispers: “Surely you’re as smart as a goose.” Feeling that I am at
least as smart as a silly goose, I line up the motorhome with that compass
pointer and head for the Sun Belt.
The eleventh month of each year brings beautiful fall foliage, a pre-holiday calm, and tons of things to give thanks for—especially when it comes to RV travel
November may seem like an inconvenient time to vacation due to Thanksgiving at the end of the month, but there are benefits for RV travel during this shoulder season. Crowds at popular destinations are a thing of the past.
From cool fall breezes to pre-holiday calm, November offers
plenty of reasons to give thanks while RVing.
With these five November travel ideas, you’ll be plenty
relaxed before all the holiday hoopla.
And be sure to catch up on all our recommendations for the best places to visit in August, September, or October.
Civil War Battlefield
Though all the survivors from the Civil War are now gone, it’s still a great way to honor veterans and learn some history at the same time. Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania, is perhaps the epitome of Civil War battlefields. It was the largest, bloodiest battle of the Civil War with 50,000 casualties.
Though the conflict took place more than 150 years ago, it’s
still a powerful reminder of the sacrifice and strife that took place and that
almost tore apart the nation.
Sometimes referred to as Florida’s inland sea, Lake Okeechobee is central to a region
of Florida historically known for its agriculture, but in recent times also
equated with superior fishing, boating, and trails. Waterways on either side
run into the “Big O,” as the lake is called, making it part of
a152-mile boating passage way through the middle of the state known as the
Clewiston, on the 750 square-mile lake’s southern shore, has
the most to offer travelers, especially those intent on hooking into the lake’s
legendary largemouth bass and speckled perch. Fishing guides and resorts help
out with that goal. Blue gills, Okeechobee catfish, and black crappies are
other local catches.
Clewiston is also known as “America’s Sweetest
Town,” so be sure to do the Sugarland
Express tour of a local farm and mill (you even get to chew on some
sugarcane) and a three-hour boat cruise that explains the lake’s historic and
Battlefield, South Carolina
On Jan. 17, 1781, the Americans won a decisive battle
against the better-trained British Army. The battle was over in less than an
hour. This victory gave the Patriots the moral support needed to continue
fighting and win the Revolution just nine months later. Featured at the
battlefield are a walking trail and marked road tour, picnic grounds, and a
visitor center with exhibits, memorabilia, and a multi-image presentation.
The British sustained one of the worst disasters of their Southern campaign, and the Patriots finally defeated “Bloody” Tarleton. General Daniel Morgan displayed brilliant tactics in the disposition of his forces, making effective use of both militia and Continental troops to envelop and rout the British. Most of Tarleton’s army were killed or captured, and the rest fled. The Battle of Cowpens was the event which started Cornwallis on his road to Yorktown.
Bosque del Apache National
Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
Bosque del Apache stands out as one of the country’s most accessible and popular national wildlife preserves—for wildlife and human visitors alike—providing a seasonal home, November through March, for up to 12,000 sandhill cranes, 32,000 snow geese, and nearly 40,000 ducks.
Many thousands of bird watchers, photographers, and nature lovers from around the nation and beyond follow them here. And there’s no better time or way to appreciate all that the 57,000-acre refuge has to offer than attending the annual Festival of the Cranes, the week before Thanksgiving.
Imagine a place where unusual creatures swim through
mirror-top waters and exotic plants sprout from floating islands—a place where
thousands of creatures serenade the setting of the sun each day.
The Okefenokee offers so much, one could spend a lifetime
and still not see and do everything. Spanish moss-laced trees reflect off the
black swamp waters, while cypress knees rise upward from the glass-like
surface. Here, paddlers and photographers enjoy breathtaking scenery and
The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.
A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired
Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.
What is a recall?
When a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.
NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.
The number of RV recalls has increased significantly in
recent years: 169 recalls were issued during 2016, 203 recalls during 2017, and
230 for 2018.
It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.
NHTSA announced 13 recall notices during October 2019. These
recalls involved 8 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Jayco (4 recalls), Forest
River (2 recalls), Keystone RV Company (2 recalls), Airstream (1 recall), Heartland
Recreational Vehicles (1 recall), Cruiser RV (1 recall), Pleasure Way (1
recall), and Starcraft RV (1 recall).
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Jay
Feather X19H travel trailers. The handles for the emergency exit windows may
not allow the windows to open sufficiently for them to be used as an emergency
Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will replace the
emergency window handles, free of charge. The recall began October 11, 2019.
Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for
this recall is 9901441.
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Redhawk
SE motorhomes. The seatbelt-unfastened warning light will not illuminate for
approximately five seconds after the ignition is moved to the “on” or
“start” position. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the
requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208,
“Occupant Crash Protection.”
GM will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the
instrument panel cluster, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin
October 16, 2019. Owners may contact GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782 or
Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137.
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019 Eagle HT and
Eagle recreational trailers. The gas range does not vent outside.
Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will install a range
hood vent out the sidewall of the trailer, free of charge. The recall is
expected to begin November 20, 2019. Owners may contact Jayco customer service
at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901438.
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2014-2018 Precept
motorhomes built on Ford F53 chassis. The hydraulic lines may have been
incorrectly routed too close to the exhaust without a heat shield.
Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and correct
the hydraulic line routing as necessary and install a heat shield, free of
charge. The recall is expected to begin November 15, 2019. Owners may contact
Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is
Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain
2019-2020 Sabre trailers, models SRF261RK-C, SRF270RL-C and SRF301BH-C. The
rotating pin box may come into contact with the 7-way junction box/wiring and
cause an electrical short circuit.
Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will relocate
the 7-way and junction box to a location that allows movement when the pin box
is pivoting, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 30, 2019.
Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-2100. Forest
River’s number for this recall is 62-1085.
Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020
Cherokee trailers, models CKT16BF-D, CKT16BFH-D, CKT16GR-D and CKT16GRH-D. The
protective paneling may not have been installed around the distribution panel,
allowing the distribution panel wiring to be exposed in a storage compartment,
which can lead to damage to the panel and wiring.
Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will install a
divider in the storage compartment to ensure the distribution panel wiring is
protected, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 30, 2019.
Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-260-499-2100. Forest
River’s number for this recall is 17D-1089.
Keystone RV Company
Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020
Cougar 30RKD trailers. The 60″x29″ emergency exit windows over the
dinette table in the cabin are missing a red handle and “EXIT” label.
Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will replace the
existing black exit handles with red handles and add an “EXIT” label,
free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 5, 2019. Owners may
contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this
recall is 19-360.
Keystone RV Company
Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020
Cougar fifth wheels and travel trailers, models 22RBS, 23MLS, 25RES, 26RBS,
26RKS, 27RES, 27SAB, 27SGS, 29BHS, 29FKD, 29RLD, 30RKD, 31MBS, 32RDB, 32RLI and
34TSB. The wiring for the solar preparation kit may have been incorrectly wired
to the wrong side of the 12V breaker, potentially allowing an electrical short
circuit in the event of damage to the wiring.
Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and
correct the installation of the solar preparation wiring, as necessary, free of
charge. The recall is expected to begin November 11, 2019. Owners may contact
Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall
Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2016-2017
International Serenity, 2016 International Signature, and Flying Cloud trailers
that are 19 feet long. The vertically-mounted inverter may contact the
floor-mounted inverter fuse.
Airstream will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the
location of the inverter and inverter fuse. If the inverter and inverter fuse
are not mounted on the same surface, the inverter fuse will be relocated, and
secured to the same surface as the inverter. In addition, a protective cover
will be installed on the inverter fuse bar, free of charge. The recall is
expected to begin November 15, 2019. Owners may contact Airstream customer
service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111 extension 7401 or 7411.
Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is
recalling certain 2020 Milestone recreational trailers. The wood backers for
bunk supports were not installed on the slide out bunk end walls during
manufacturing, possibly allowing the upper bunk bed to fall.
Heartland dealers will install wood backers to secure the
bunk bed, free of charge, all affected vehicles were on dealer lots. The recall
began on September 20, 2019. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at
Cruiser RV (Cruiser) is recalling certain 2020 Southfork
recreational trailers. The wood backers for bunk supports were not installed on
the slide out bunk end walls during manufacturing, possibly allowing the upper
bunk bed to fall.
Cruiser will notify owners, and dealers will install wood
backers to secure the bunk bed, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin
November 15, 2019. Owners may contact Cruiser customer service at
Pleasure Way Industries Ltd. (Pleasure Way) is recalling
certain 2018-2020 Plateau, Plateau XL, Ascent and Lexor motorhomes equipped
with a Fiamma F45 Eagle or Fiamma F65 Eagle awning. The awning drive mechanism
may fail causing the awning to extend unexpectedly without input from the user.
Pleasure Way will notify owners, and dealers will install
straps to keep the awning closed, as a temporary solution, free of charge.
Fiamma will provide a permanent solution. Pleasure Way issued owners an interim
notification on October 7, 2019. Owners may contact Pleasure Way customer
service at 1-800-364-0189.
Starcraft RV (Starcraft) is recalling certain 2018 Comet
Mini, 2018-2019 GPS, Autumn Ridge Outfitter, Launch Ultra Lite, Launch
Outfitter 7, Autumn Ridge, Launch Outfitter, Satellite and Avalon and 2019
Mossy Oak and Mossy Oak Lite travel trailers. The fuse/circuit breaker wiring
between the battery and the converter may have bypassed the 30amp fuse,
creating an unprotected circuit.
Starcraft will notify owners, and dealers will install a
fuse harness assembly to protect the circuit, free of charge. The recall is
expected to begin November 22, 2019. Owners may contact Starcraft customer
service at 1-800-945-4787. Starcraft’s number for this recall is 9902439.
Note: Owners may
also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety
Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
Please Note: This
is the ninth in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls
It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you
Now that it’s October, a month where people actively seek out the best places in America to terrify themselves for some reason, you’ll have lots of options for scary places
October’s the only time of year when people applaud you for
showing up to a party with an ax in your head. It’s an entirely themed
month in which normally staid drugstores fill with Dracula puppets
shriek-laughing on an endless loop. It’s also the best time of year to step
beyond mere horror movies to try and scare you silly, just ‘cause you can.
Arizona is terrifying. Between its creepy-crawly
rattlesnakes, horrid Gila monsters, unnerving black scorpions, and almost-unbearably
high temperatures, the Copper State is a pretty scary place to live. And as if
that is not frightening enough, Arizona’s Wild West past and haunted history
gives us even more reason to go hide under the covers. Sure, you can stand
120-degree heat and ride out haboobs, but can you brave these Arizona haunts?
Ask yourself whether if you’d want to be locked up in
anything called a “territorial prison” and then jump ahead a hundred years to
haunting the hell out of the place—like 100+ inmates, you died inside those
walls. Not one to shy from a locking people into hot, dark places, Arizona has
designated Yuma Territorial Prison a state historical park—easily one of the
creepiest in the nation, and one of the most haunted spots in Arizona.
Guides report feeling chills when they pass Cell 14, where
an inmate doing time for “crimes against nature” killed himself. In the
so-called dark cell, prisoners in pitch-black solitary went mad chained to
ring-bolts in the walls.
Its whiskey spirits with a side of ghostly spirits at Buffalo
Trace Distillery’s ghost tours. One of the biggest and most well-known
distilleries in Kentucky bourbon country, most visitors are unaware that
Buffalo Trace has ghostly ties, let alone nighttime tours through the Stony
Ghost tours are an hour long and take place at 7 p.m., led
by guides who wax poetic on supernatural spirits said to frequent the grounds.
The most notable is Colonel Blanton who died in the on-site Stony Point Mansion
which feels like a real life version of the Clue board game. At the end of the
ghostly portion of the tour, guests will get to taste a series of Buffalo
Trace’s potable spirits.
The South is known for its southern charm, especially in
places like Charleston, New Orleans, and Savannah. The latter was founded in
1733 which means thousands flock to Georgia every year to take in the old
buildings, walk the historic streets, and get a little taste of what colonial
living might have been like. Underneath all the charm, however, there are
stories of murder, tragedy, and mysterious hauntings.
The Jekyll Island Club, whose members included some very
famous last names—the Morgans, the Vanderbilts, and the Pulitzers—the spot for super-rich
folks from 1886 until World War II. The Club still stands as do some of the
cottages of the wealthy in Jekyll Island’s historic district.
Naturally, with all the wealth that’s passed through its
doors, the club is haunted, namely by the ghost of a former railroad magnate,
who apparently gets his morning coffee and kicks back with the newspaper just
to mess with your mind. Room 3101 of the Annex is also said to be haunted, but
by a friendly ghost (yay!) named Charlotte Maurice, who advises visitors on how
to live their best lives.
For a real-life version of Stephen King’s Room 237, look no further than the Mount Washington Hotel. The tale of Carolyn Stickney sounds like the worst Disney princess story ever: she married the hotel’s founder, who died right before construction was completed. She then remarried into European royalty, but alas, she too passed soon after.
She never checked out of Mount Washington, though; she appears in people’s photos as a hazy apparition, floats around the hallways, and is a regular fixture in room 314, apparently her favorite place to challenge the notion of 5-star accommodations. The four-poster bed she slept in remains in the room, where you can still hear her voice, some say…
The long, violent, and controversial past of Texas combines
with its imaginative and adventurous population leading to a lot of unexplained
phenomena popping up across the former republic’s deserts, hills, and pine
In its 300 years, the Alamo has shaped the city of San Antonio, ignited the battle for Texas independence, and influenced American history. It might seem obvious, but the Alamo isn’t only a revered historic shrine. During the infamous siege of 1836, thousands of men were killed and their bodies dumped unceremoniously into mass graves, so it’s no wonder a few of their disembodied spirits are pissed off.
Several security guards have reported hearing footsteps in the middle of the night, some have seen a small blonde-haired boy in the gift shop, and a ghastly John Wayne—yes, John Wayne—reciting lines from his 1960 film on the subject.
Werewolves howl. Phantoms prowl. Halloween’s upon us now
Every trip to Moab should include a drive along at least one scenic byway
The Moab area is blessed with four scenic byways. National
and state scenic byways help recognize, preserve, and enhance selected roads
throughout the U. S. based on their archeological, cultural, historic, natural,
recreational, and scenic qualities.
Upper Colorado River
Scenic Byway (SR-128)
This spectacular route along the Colorado River gorge begins
at the Colorado River Bridge on the north end of Moab. For the first 13 miles
it parallels the Colorado River within a narrow section of the gorge providing
breathtaking views of the surrounding red sandstone cliffs. Popular attractions
along this portion of the route include viewpoints of the river, public camping
areas, and Grandstaff Canyon. At 13 miles the gorge widens as the highway
proceeds past Castle and Professor Valleys.
After 24.7 miles the highway passes a viewpoint for an
amazing view of the red rock spires of the Fisher Towers. After leaving the
valley, the road winds farther up the river gorge until arriving at the site of
historic Dewey Bridge at 29.8 miles. Unfortunately Dewey Bridge was destroyed
in April 2008 by a brush fire. The road then follows the northern bank of the river
before exiting the Colorado River gorge. The highway proceeds across open
desert toward the ghost town of Cisco at 44 miles. After another 5 miles the
route intersects Interstate 70.
River Scenic Byway (SR-279)
This Scenic Byway provides great views of the Colorado
River, ancient rock art, and dinosaur tracks. A late afternoon start is
rewarding as the sunset on the reddish-orange sandstone cliffs along the route
is especially beautiful on the return drive to Moab. The byway begins 4.1 miles
north of Moab where Potash Road (SR-279) turns off of Highway 191. After 2.7
miles Potash Road enters the deep gorge of the Colorado River. At the 4 mile point,
look for rock climbers on the cliffs along the section of Potash Road.
At 5.1 miles several petroglyph panels are visible on cliffs
on the right side of the highway. At 5.9 miles the Poison Spider Trail Parking
will be on the right. A kiosk on the end of the parking lot will have a map for
a short trail to dinosaur tracks and rock art. Trailhead parking for the trail
to Corona and Bowtie Arches is available at 9.9 miles.
Look for Jug Handle Arch at 13.5 miles. Shortly beyond Jug
Handle Arch, the canyon widens and the sheer cliffs below Dead Horse Point
State Park become visible in the distance. The paved highway ends at the
Intrepid Potash Mine where potash, a mineral often used as a fertilizer, is
extracted. From the end of the byway drivers with high clearance vehicles can
continue on a dirt road to Canyonlands National Park.
Dead Horse Point Mesa
Scenic Byway (SR-313)
Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway (SR-313) takes you through
miles of incredible red rock canyon country. To reach the byway, head north
from Moab on US-191. After about 9 miles look for the “Dead Horse Point State
Park” sign and turn left (west) onto SR-313. This is the start of the byway.
After a series of hairpin curves as you begin to ascend the
plateau, the road mellows out allowing you to appreciate the scenery. At about
14.6 miles from the beginning of SR-313 a fork to the left leads to Dead Horse
Point. Towering 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, the overlook provides a
breathtaking panorama of Canyonlands’ sculpted pinnacles and buttes.
After leaving Dead Horse Point State Park, backtrack to
Highway 313, turn left, and head toward the Island in the Sky District of
Canyonlands National Park, ultimately ending at Grandview Point. This section
of the park sits atop a massive 1500 foot mesa—quite literally an Island in the
La Sal Mountain Loop
Road Scenic Backway
The La Sal Mountain Loop Road Scenic Backway features spectacular scenery ranging from the forested heights of the La Sal Mountains to expansive views of the red rock landscape below. This paved Scenic Backway begins on US 191, six miles south of Moab, and winds north over the La Sal Mountains through Castle Valley, ending at Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway U-128.
Returning to Moab provides a 60 mile loop drive that requires approximately 3 hours to complete. Note that several hairpin turns on the Castle Valley side of this route are unsuitable for large RVs.
Spending the day at Cades Cove is a must for every visitor to the Smoky Mountains
Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in the ancient Southern Appalachians, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is almost as renowned for its well-preserved pioneer settlements as for its natural beauty. More than 90 historic structures—homes, barns, churches, and gristmills—have been preserved here, including the largest collection of log structures in the eastern United States.
Cades Cove, on the beautiful Tennessee side of the park, offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park. Cades Cove is a broad, verdant valley surrounded by mountains and is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The valley has a rich history. For hundreds of years
Cherokee Indians hunted in Cades Cove but archeologists have found no evidence
of major settlements.
Settlers came to this area in 1819, migrating here from
Virginia. Later they came from North Carolina, enriching their culture from the
old world with knowledge gained from the Indians. They cleared the land for farming and set about building log
houses, barns, smokehouses, and corncribs. By 1830, the population had already grown
to 271 and by the 1850s the population of Cades Cove peaked at 685, occupying
With this population growth the soil quality deteriorated.
The opening states of the West brought the opportunity of more fertile frontiers
and by 1860 only 269 people remained.
Largely isolated by the mountains that surrounded them, the residents of Cades Cove were by necessity a close-knit, hardworking, and self-sufficient group. Plentiful game, such as deer and bear, provided meat to accompany garden vegetables. Over the years mills, churches, and schools were built to support the growing community.
In 1927, the state governments of North Carolina and
Tennessee began buying up land for a national park. Many of the Cove’s families
willingly sold their properties, but others initially fought the effort.
Members of several families signed life leases that allowed them to remain on
the land during their lifetime.
Today the National Park Service maintains the location as it
looked in the 1800s. An 11-mile Loop Road circles the Cove, with stopping-off
areas at several homesteads, three churches, a working gristmill, and a number
of trails and overlooks.
Halfway through the Loop, make a point to stop at the
Visitors Center in the Cable Mill Area. Photo opportunities are ample and
restrooms available. Wandering the Cable Mill Historic Area, we explored the
Visitor Center, Blacksmith Shop, LeQuire Cantilever Barn, Millrace and Dam,
Cable Mill, Smokehouse, Gregg-Cable House, Corn Crib, Barn, and Sorghum Mill.
Built in 1972,the Visitor Center is a place for visitors to
obtain information and buy books, post cards, maps, guides, batteries, and
Large barns were common in the Cove where farmers needed
shelter in the cold months for livestock. The overhang in cantilever barns such
as the one here provided shelter for animals as well as storage space for farm
A second barn in the Mill Area with a drive-through in the
center and stalls on either side, was more typical in East Tennessee than the
cantilever barn. Two men with pitchforks, one on a wagon of hay in the
drive-through and the other in the loft, could transfer the hay to the loft in
a short time. The drive-through sometimes served as a storage place for farm
We had visited twice previously; over 30 years ago and about
12 years ago when we gave up due to gridlock on the loop road. On that day, the
traffic was heavy, bumper to bumper to times. On this visit, we purposely
avoided the weekend.
We’ve been to many frontier museums and exhibits, but Cades
Cove is unique in that an entire valley has been preserved, allowing a rare
opportunity to see what the pioneers saw generations ago.
From our home base at River Plantation RV Park in
Sevierville, we traveled south on US-441 to Pigeon Forge; at Traffic Light #3
we turned southwest on US-321 to Townsend; turned south (left) on SR-73; west
on Laurel Creek Road to Cades Cove Loop Road. We returned home via Townsend and
Marysville on US-441 to Sevierville.
I think, being from east Tennessee, you’re kinda born with a little lonesome in your soul, in your blood. You know you’ve got that Appalachian soul.
The V-shaped flight pattern of geese heading south for the
winter has become a symbolic image of frigid weather approaching. A similar
phenomenon takes place with humans as thousands of Northerners flock south
seeking refuge from the blistering cold.
From scenic views to five star dining and shopping, the US Sunbelt has become a major attraction for snowbirds—and the season is now in full swing.
Fledgling snowbirds often start as vacationers, but most evolve in flocks, following friends and family and regional or social enclaves into migratory communities. Snowbirds of a feather do tend to flock together.
They are gilded nomads, prosperous enough to at least afford
a camper, trailer, or motorhome.
And most of them seem to like company. At journey’s end:
Happy reunions and outdoor play under mostly sunny blue skies. That’s a slice
of the good life that snowbirds relish. Between golf, pickleball, bocce, hiking
and biking, going to the restaurants— and just enjoying the weather: it’s
The weather is a driving factor in pushing snowbirds from fleeing the falling temperatures and their cold-climate and snowy nests following the first winter blast of the season. Life is good here, pleasant, easy, fulfilling, sunny, warm. That most of all, warm.
Climate is a major economic driver for Sunbelt states as
winter visitors flee their homes in colder parts of the country. Many snowbirds
fill up the RV parks, resulting in millions of dollars being dumped into local
Time was when snowbirds adhered to the calendar as
predictably as swallows return, each March 19, to Capistrano or Monarch
butterflies, each October, to Mexico. The Season began on October 15 and
ended on April 15.
Snowbirds tend to migrate in waves with the early birds
arriving in October, and another flock after Thanksgiving with the final wave following
Christmas and New Years. Then, in the shift of seasons, they go again returning
north anytime between March and May.
Through both journeys, they change the lives of everyone else who comes, for however long, and of everyone who stays. Snowbirds create a demand for goods and services. They
create additional jobs. The dollar impact of their presence is anyone’s guess.
No one tracks snowbirds in Florida. The chambers and tourist
It’s been ten years since a study has been done on the economic
impact of winter visitors in Arizona, but at that time it was estimated that RV
snowbirds injected more than $600 million into Arizona’s economy.
In the eyes of many year-round residents, snowbirds are
somewhat akin to houseguests: Good to see them arrive, good to see them depart.
Snowbird season means greater traffic volume, more crowded supermarket aisles,
endless waits to snag a table at a favorite dining spot.
Although year-round residents occasionally whine about more-congested roads, most will agree: Snowbirds inject vitality and dollars into the region. Local businesses will enjoy the economic boost until late March when things really start to heat up in the Sunbelt states and snowbirds start the trek back to their northern homes.
And, snowbirds don’t just play and pay in paradise: Many volunteer. Opportunities for volunteering are available at hospitals and nursing homes, amusement and theme parks, museums and art galleries, visitor information and welcome centers, and other outdoor recreation facilities and attractions. Numerous nonprofit agencies rely on snowbirds to play an important role during the winter months.
For snowbirds that love recreational activities and enjoy
interacting with other people, volunteering offers numerous opportunities for
giving back to society.
If you choose to work while you play, enjoy your experience.
As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:
“Spread your tiny wings and fly away
And take the snow back with you
Where it came from on that day…
So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go
To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters
Public beaches are often crowded, noisy places. But less popular areas can be incredibly peaceful.
Are you ready to hit the beach without the crowds? Where you
can find a piece of the coast to call your own?
Epoch Times recently named Cumberland Island as one of the
top three off the beaten path and secluded beaches in the world. That’s high
praise when you’re only bested by Hawaii and Spain.
Published in 21 languages in 35 countries across five
continents, Epoch Times said, “Roughly the size of Manhattan, Cumberland Island
is Georgia’s southern-most island and a place where you can truly get away from
the modern world. With no bridge to come to Cumberland island the travelers
have to use ferry or private boat to get to this beautiful place which is
manage by the national park service. “
Cumberland Island also appears on lists as one of America’s
Most Beautiful Beaches and Best Wilderness Beach in the Southeast.
In naming Cumberland Island one of America’s best wild
beaches, the Wilderness Society stated, “Glistening white beaches with
sand dunes, freshwater lakes and saltwater marshes fill this 16-mile-long
island, the northern portion of which is designated Wilderness. Visitors can
access the beach at designated dune crossings. Wildlife include alligators,
loggerhead turtles and pelicans, as well as many fish that make this a prime
place for surf fishing.”
Although Georgia’s Atlantic coastline is only about 100
miles long, the Peach State is home to 30 percent of the barrier islands along
the Atlantic Seaboard. And Cumberland is the largest and fairest of them all
with the longest expanse of pristine seashore—18 glorious miles of deserted sand.
Truly, this is a bucket list destination.
Before the National Park Service acquired most of the island for a national seashore, 90 percent of it was the private domain of Lucy and Thomas Carnegie (brother of Andrew) and their descendants. The Carnegies bought the island in the 1880s and built five mansions on it during the next two decades. The most superb house was the opulent 59-room, Queen Anne-style Dungeness on the island’s south end.
Dungeness burned nearly to the ground in 1959 from a fire suspected as arson, but its ruins are a must-see for visitors.
We stopped during our visit to the island in early December
2007 to gaze at the tall chimneys, solid brick walls, and other stark remains
of the old mansion.
After pausing at an old cemetery where war hero, “Light
Horse” Harry Lee (father of Robert E. Lee) was interred following his death on
the island in 1818, we further explored the island. Continuing the 3 ½-mile
Dungeness Trail as it loops around the island’s southern tip, we walked the
raised boardwalk over the dunes to the wide, secluded beach, alive with crabs
and shorebirds including the American Oystercatcher and Least Tern.
On several occasions we encountered many of the 250 feral
horses that roam the island, descendants of steeds the Carnegies released
during their heyday. Beloved by visitors, they are perhaps the most popular
feature to the island.
We saw in Cumberland what the Native American inhabitants
glimpsed thousands of years ago, as they roamed the densely wooded,
18-mile-long isle of land hunting and fishing.
We saw what enchanted Spanish missionaries saw in 1566. And
what endeared the British, who built forts in the early 1700s to protect their
fledgling Georgia colony. And what captivated industrialist Thomas Carnegie and
his wife, Lucy, who purchased large swaths of the island in the 1880s and built
lavish winter retreats.
And what bewitched John F. Kennedy Jr., who married Carolyn
Bessette at a tiny African-American church near the island’s north end. He had
personally painted and worked on the chapel himself through the years when
visiting friend Gogo Ferguson, a Carnegie descendant, and swore he’d wed there
one day. And so he did.
After meandering lazily along the wide, sandy, shell-flecked
beach, we slowly made our way to Sea Camp dock where we re-boarded the
passenger ferry for a sunset cruise back to the mainland (St. Marys, Georgia).
Don’t be late for that last ferry or you’ll have to spend
the night on the porch of the visitors’ center.
Summer is high season, both for tourists and insects, so be
sure to reserve your spot on the ferry and the tour well in advance. There are
refreshments on the ferry, but nothing on the island, so be prepared!