10 Amazing Places to RV in December 2022

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

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

—Proverbs 17:22, KJV Bible

This analogy from the Bible’s Book of Proverbs points out the link between emotional and physical well-being: Joy is a powerful emotion as beneficial for an ailing soul as medical treatments are for a sick or injured body. This passage from Proverbs 17:22 suggests that if we possess good cheer, our confidence, laughter, and trust are likely to radiate to those we encounter. Sharing kindness—be it through gifts, singing, rituals, or visiting loved ones—is a worthy and healthy practice this holiday season, and beyond.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in October and November. Also, check out my recommendations from December 2021 and January 2022.

The Barrio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Barrio Viejo

Barrio Viejo, meaning old neighborhood in Spanish, is an area near downtown Tucson that is an important, historical part of the community. This picturesque destination just south of the Tucson Convention Center lies between I-10 and Stone Avenue with Meyer and Main Avenues passing through the center.

The original Barrio neighborhood built between 1880 and 1920 was home to a diverse working class including Spanish, Mexican, Asian, and Hispanic. Using traditional Mexican Village architecture, houses were built of thick-walled adobe with a flat roof, wood beams, and ocotillo, or saguaro cactus ribs, coverings.

The Barrio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Begin your tour of Barrio Veijo at Five Points, the corner of Stone and 18th Streets. Over many decades the houses have been painted bold bright colors with doors/windows becoming works of art. Public buildings also have been treated with the same effect. The Barrio has become a major tourist attraction constantly drawing photographers, artists, and tour groups. In 1978, the Barrio was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Langley, British Columbia

Go for a festive stroll through this charming village in the Township of Langley to experience the best the holiday season has to offer. The picturesque village is often used as a backdrop for many Hallmark Christmas movies, so you’ll definitely feel like you’re a part of one. With twinkling lights brightening up the historic village, it’s like it was made specifically for the small screen.

Hoover Dam © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An Art Deco World Wonder

Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the border between Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named in honor of President Herbert Hoover.

Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since about 1900, the Black Canyon and nearby Boulder Canyon had been investigated for their potential to support a dam that would control floods, provide irrigation water, and produce hydroelectric power. In 1928, Congress authorized the project. The winning bid to build the dam was submitted by a consortium called Six Companies, Inc. which began construction on the dam in early 1931. Such a large concrete structure had never been built before and some of the techniques were unproven. The torrid summer weather and the lack of facilities near the site also presented difficulties. Nevertheless, Six Companies turned over the dam to the federal government on March 1, 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule.

Hoover Dam © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead and is located near Boulder City, Nevada, a municipality originally constructed for workers on the construction project about 25 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction with nearly a million people touring the dam each year. Heavily travelled U.S. 93 ran along the dam’s crest until October 2010 when the Hoover Dam Bypass opened. 

Goose Island State Park

Christmas in the Park

Experience Christmas on the Texas Gulf Coast at Goose Island State Park! See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and CAMP FOR FREE when you decorate your campsite.

Visitors are invited to enjoy a FREE drive through the Live Oak forest to see campsites decorated in lights and join the park rangers at Santa’s Village at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Goose Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campers who agree to decorate their campsite will CAMP FOR FREE! Reservations for participating sites are available only by contacting the park via email at GooseIslandSP@tpwd.texas.gov. Participating campers may begin arriving on December 16 and are eligible for waived fees on December 16 and 17. Community groups are encouraged to decorate a dark spot.

The Peachoid © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A Peach of a Water Tower

The Peachoid is a 135 feet tall water tower in Gaffney that resembles a peach. The water tower holds one million gallons of water and is located off Peachoid Road by Interstate 85 between exits 90 and 92 (near the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway). Usually referred to by locals as The Peach and by passing motorists as Mr. Peach or The Moon over Gaffney, the water tank is visible for several miles around these exits. An example of novelty architecture, the Peachoid is one of the most recognizable landmarks for travelers along I-85 between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.

The Peachoid © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to official literature, the Peachoid boldly “sets the record straight about which state is the biggest peach producer in the South. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT Georgia.” Without a doubt, the best-known, most photographed water tank in America. It is painted to match the kind of peaches grown in the area using 20 colors and 50 gallons of paint.

San Antonio River Walk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Heart and Soul of San Antonio

The San Antonio River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, is a public park, open 365 days a year. It is a network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River one story beneath approximately 15 miles of downtown San Antonio. Explore by foot along the river’s walking path or jump aboard a river barge for a ride and guided tour. Lined by bars, shops, and restaurants the River Walk is an important part of the city’s urban fabric and a tourist attraction in its own right.

San Antonio River Walk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The River Walk winds and loops under bridges as two parallel sidewalks, lined with restaurants, shops, hotels, and more. It connects the major tourist draws from the Alamo to Rivercenter Mall, Arneson River Theatre and La Villita, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Pearl Brewery.

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Or, shop local favorites along the river’s Museum Reach at the historic Pearl. While at Pearl, dine and drink al fresco at The Food Hall at Bottling Department. Further south, immerse yourself in history at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park along the Mission Reach.

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Holiday Fun and Festivities at Bernheim

At 15,625 acres, Bernheim boasts the largest protected natural area in Kentucky. Bernheim contains a 600-acre arboretum with over 8,000 unique varieties of trees.

With the holidays just around the corner, the Bernheim calendar is full of events to celebrate with nature this December. Except for Christmas Day, Bernheim is open the entire month with activities for every age.

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bernheim’s Holiday Open House takes place on Saturday, December 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Visitor Center. Enjoy a festive day shopping in the forest. Browse the selection of gifts, locally-made crafts, Kentucky Proud and Giants merchandise, and other unique gifts for the nature lover in your life. Get in the holiday spirit with hot mulled cider and refreshments, hourly door prize drawings, holiday specials, and a 30 percent discount for Bernheim members.

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gnomes are known the world over. Legend has it they travel and live in the forest freely, seldom seen by humans. Add some seasonal magic to your home this season by joining the Bernheim staff at one of two Forest Gnome Workshops to create this mythical forest character on Saturday, December 4 from 9:30 to 11 a.m., or from 1 to 2:30 p.m. while enjoying some hot cider, treats, and hot chocolate. Make this a family activity and enjoy building your gnome together. Children 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heaven on Earth

When it comes to standing in awe of nature’s magnificence, it’s hard to beat the Grand Circle Tour—especially the northern arc that carves across southern Utah and encompasses Zion National Park at the western edge and Arches National Park to the east. Of them all, it is Zion that offers outdoor enthusiasts the most varied, seemingly otherworldly terrain. At just under 230 square miles, Zion is relatively small by national park standards, and the park’s most memorable features are found in easily accessible Zion Canyon.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion was carved out of the Markagunt Plateau by the Virgin River which carved down a half-mile into the sandstone as it rushed to meet up with the Colorado River exposing rock layers from the middle periods of the earth’s geological history. 

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is accessible by shuttle bus only from March 15 to October 25 and on weekends in November. Take time to drive the beautiful Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. This 10-mile length of scenic highway sports a series of switchbacks and the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel en route to Checkerboard Mesa and the park’s eastern entrance.

Besh Ba Gowah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Besh Ba Gowah Festival of Lights

The City of Globe, Arizona’s Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum presents the 34th Annual Festival of Lights celebration on Saturday, December 3, from 5 to 9 p.m. The festival delights visitors with a beautiful scene, a festive combination of the Southwest holiday tradition of the luminaria lighting combined with the artistry of American Indian cultural presentations.

Besh Ba Gowah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This year’s festival will feature 4,000 real candle luminarias illuminating the archaeological park’s partly reconstructed 800-year-old Salado culture ruins. Guests are encouraged to walk among the luminarias and experience the magic of the season. The warm glow of the luminarias creates a dramatic backdrop for cultural presentations by the internationally renowned Yellow Bird Productions.

Yellow Bird is a family dance group under the direction of Ken Duncan, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The group specializes in cultural presentations that celebrate the unique spirit of American Indians. Presentations will run periodically throughout the night until the festival concludes at 9 p.m.

Besh Ba Gowah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Besh Ba Gowah Museum will be open to visitors for the duration of the event and guests are welcome to view the exhibits and browse the unique items available in the gift store.

The event will also have food trucks offering a variety of delicious treats and local specialty merchandise vendors.

Admission to the event has always been free although non-perishable food donations are encouraged in support of the Gila Community Food Bank.

Globe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since parking for the event fills up fast a free shuttle service is available. The shuttle will run every 15 minutes from 4 p.m. until the last call at 9 p.m. Shuttle parking is located at Globe High School, 437 S. High Street.

Make it a fun-filled weekend by also attending Historic Downtown Globe’s First Friday, December 2. Globe’s First Fridays, from 3 to 7 p.m., have become a hugely popular monthly event that showcases local businesses, restaurants, artists, musicians, makers, bakers and more!

La Grande © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Schmeckenfest 2022

Schmeckenfest is a wassail tasting and Christmas extravaganza in La Grande, Texas. Celebrate 16 years of Schmeckenfest on Thursday, December 1 from 5-8 p.m. A true community event, it also attracts visitors to the Square to sample many different types of wassail (hot cider) made by various business owners and community leaders in which participants hope to win the coveted honor of being named Schmeckenmeister.

La Grande © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This small-town Christmas festival also includes music, delicious treats sold by local nonprofit organizations, a Christmas parade, the lighting of the County Christmas tree on the Courthouse lawn, children’s activities, and a visit from Santa. There are numerous Christmas card-worthy photo opportunities around the Square as well as pictures with Santa.

Worth Pondering…

Always maintain a kind of summer, even in the middle of winter.

—Henry David Thoreau

Winter RV Camping: What You Need to Know

The winter camping season is upon us and it’s time to get prepared for the freezing cold temperatures

Winter RV camping is more accessible than ever with improvements in RV technology. That’s why more people are seeking out winter destinations for RV getaways and living in RVs full-time during all four seasons. 

If you camp in the cold you’ll need to prepare for it. If you plan on camping in cold temperatures this winter here’s what you need to know to keep your RV and yourself healthy and happy.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Getting water for winter RV camping

Maintaining the health of your RV’s water system is arguably the most important factor of winter RV camping. When outside temperatures drop below freezing, water can freeze in your pipes and your freshwater hose. Frozen water expands and that alone can cause your pipes to burst. Even if your pipes don’t freeze over a frozen section of pipe can increase water pressure enough to stress pipes joints to the point of bursting.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hooking up to city water

If you’re hooking up to city water you’ll need a heated hose that plugs into an AC outlet at your campsite pedestal. A heated hose keeps water from freezing at the source and while it’s flowing into your RV. Some people add additional insulation to their heated hoses if they expect extreme temperatures. This can be done by wrapping the entire length of the hose in foil wrap insulation tape. Be sure to check the recommendations and read through the entire manual that came with your heated hose before attempting to add additional insulation. 

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Filling your freshwater tank

If you don’t have a heated hose you can also fill your freshwater tank instead of connecting to city water. Most modern RVs designed for winter camping feature heated holding tank compartments to prevent water from freezing in the tanks. As a rule of thumb only connect your water hose when you need to fill your freshwater tank. Disconnect it when you’re finished and drain all water out of the hose before storing it. This will prolong the life of the hose while preventing potential freezing.

Heated water hose and faucet protector© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keeping you (and your RV) warm

Winter RV camping should be enjoyable but we all know that’s tough if you are perpetually cold. The following tips will help you keep your living space warm and cozy throughout the winter. 

Insulating the Floor

The laws of thermodynamics state that warm air rises and cold air sinks which means that your floor will often feel extra chilly, especially first thing in the morning. There are several ways to insulate under your feet including area rugs and runners.

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Windows and doors

The next two obvious places for heat loss are your RV windows and doors. An RV with dual-pane windows is the best for winter camping but there are numerous ways you can insulate single-pane windows. Whether your RV has single or dual-pane windows you can add foil insulation to select windows and doors to reduce heat loss. If you don’t like the appearance of foil insulation, you can also upgrade to thicker window shades. 

If you’re unable to find window and door covers and a front window reflective sunshade that fit the exact dimensions you may need to cut an insulation roll to the desired dimensions for each application. You don’t want to cover ALL of the RV windows so that you can still get some natural light and heat from the sun throughout the winter. 

In addition to adding insulation check the weather stripping around your RV doors. If it’s partially detached or missing altogether, replace it to keep cold and moisture out of your rig. 

Roof vents

You can also lose considerable heat through the RV roof vents. You can insulate your roof vent openings with vent cushions to reduce heat loss. Vent cushions can also be used during the warmer months to trap the cool air from your AC inside your RV. The good news about these cushions is that they can be installed or removed in seconds. 

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heat sources

As for an actual heat source, there are five heater options to consider.

Furnace: The first is your RV propane furnace. Before your winter camping trip take the time to make sure your furnace is in good working order and check to see if it’s time to replace your furnace filter (if applicable). Use compressed air and a soft brush to remove any dirt, dust, and debris from the furnace. Make sure all vents are clean and unblocked.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hydronic heat: As an alternative to the propane furnace, hydronic heat comes standard in many luxury coaches and is offered as an upgrade in several others. These systems use a boiler to circulate hot antifreeze through a series of heat exchangers found throughout the motorhome. The advanced technology nearly eliminates the fumes normally associated with propane or diesel use and is quiet, as well. The system evenly heats your coach’s interior with multiple heat zones. As the temperature of a zone drops below your thermostat setting, a heat exchanger begins circulating heat not only from the floor to the ceiling, but also side to side. Plus, it acts as the hot water heater as well. In fact, water pumped through the boiler is instantly heated meaning that you won’t run out of hot water until you actually run out of water.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electric space heater: Your second option is a portable electric space heater. Ceramic convection heaters are the most popular type of portable space heaters for good reason. Not only are they affordable (you can get a good one for under $50) but they are also efficient and quickly take the chill out of the air. Ceramic heaters work by heating the air and circulating it around the room.

Infrared radiant heater: Infrared radiant heaters produce mild consistent heat to maintain the temperature of a room. They are designed to heat the objects around them (including you) rather than heating the air. Infrared radiant heaters are optimal in areas where you are sitting close to them rather than moving around the room. They are also best used to maintain the temperature of a room rather than providing a quick blast of heat.

Propane space heaters: Portable space heaters that run on propane are great for those situations when you don’t have access to electric power. If you enjoy boondocking or dry camping but still want a source of heat this is the perfect solution. Just check to make sure the unit is safe for indoor use and stock up on extra propane tanks if you want this to be a reliable heat source for winter camping. 

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Protect your RV exterior

Winter camping also takes a toll on the exterior of your RV. From getting snow off the roof to ensuring your stabilizing jacks don’t freeze to the ground there are some important steps you’ll need to take to protect your RV’s exterior on winter adventures. 

Underneath your RV

Since I just mentioned stabilizing jacks, let’s start there. To keep them from freezing to the ground use stabilizing jack pads beneath them. If you store any recreation items underneath your RV place them on a tarp or in a sealed bin to avoid water damage. 

Using an RV skirt is another way to keep cold air from getting underneath your RV. An added benefit of skirting around the base of your RV is protected exterior storage. If you have kayaks or bikes that don’t have anywhere else to go you can slide them under your RV before skirting to keep them out of the elements and protected from critters seeking a warm winter home. 

Exterior steps © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Exterior steps

Exterior steps can quickly turn into a slippery hazard when you encounter freezing and snowy conditions. You can add grip to your RV steps by installing a wrap-around step rug. You can also consider installing an external step with a handrail if you’re looking for something with a little more safety and stability for winter RV camping. 

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roof, AC, slideouts, and awnings

If you have slides, you may need to clear snow and ice regularly. Avoid snow and ice accumulation on top of your RV. If possible push the snow off after each storm. Use care not to damage your roof or awnings. Climbing up your RV ladder can be the most dangerous part of this effort. Shoes with soft rubber soles are best for handling slippery surfaces. It’s also a good idea to apply sprayable antifreeze to slide components if you plan on moving them in and out throughout the winter.

It is best to leave your RV awning closed when winter RV camping. Weight from snow and ice as well as the potential for high winds makes the risk for awning damage high in the winter. 

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conclusion

Camping in the winter can be an exciting adventure and allow you the chance to enjoy all the fun that snowy destinations have to offer. If you take the time to prepare as you should, you and your RV should have no trouble weathering those frosty winter storms.

Other articles you may want to read:

Worth Pondering…

My parents live in the part of the United States that is Canada. It is so far north that Minnesota lies in the same direction as Miami. They have four distinct seasons: Winter, More Winter, Still More Winter, and That One Day of Summer.

—W. Bruce Cameron

Meet the American who told us About the First Thanksgiving—Here Is His Amazing Story

Young Mayflower passenger shaped image of Pilgrims and offered only contemporary account of the first Thanksgiving

Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow was the only Pilgrim to record the settlers’ first year in the New World—including an account of the very first Thanksgiving. It is the first and greatest American adventure story. 

A small band of Christian devotees persecuted in their homeland sought refuge in a forbidden wilderness across the vast ocean aboard a leaky ship in the autumn of 1620. Against all odds following near death at sea amid disease and frightening loss of life, they planted the seeds of a daring new society. 

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Within a few generations, their descendants brazenly challenged the world monarchial order with the revolutionary statement that all men are created equal and fought to establish the first great constitutional republic. It became a haven for people just like them: the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Most everything we know about their first year in what’s now Plymouth, Massachusetts comes from one man. His name is Edward Winslow. He’s a major figure in the Pilgrim story and had the foresight to write down their story and share it with others.

Winslow wrote a lengthy letter to a friend back in England that has gone down in history as Mourt’s Relation.

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is the only account written as it happened of the Pilgrims’ first year in Plymouth. It is still in print, available on Amazon or at your local bookstore. Mourt’s Relation includes Winslow’s brief, undated description of a three-day celebration in the autumn of 1621 after “our harvest being gotten in” during which the English settlers and a much larger group of Wampanoag friends feast on fowl and deer.

It is the first Thanksgiving. Winslow’s account is the only version of the origin story of America’s national holiday written by Somebody Who Was There.

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winslow made many other contributions to the Pilgrim narrative. He signed the Mayflower Compact, the first self-governing covenant among New World settlers as the ship floated in Cape Cod Bay on November 11, 1620. He was the first Pilgrim to meet Wampanoag chief Ousamequin, better known in history as Massasoit. 

“Winslow informed Massasoit that his people desired to have peace with him and engage in trading,” James and Patricia Scott Deetz wrote in their 2000 history, The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love and Death in Plymouth Colony. The two men bridged a cross-cultural relationship that benefited both sides for several decades before the outbreak of King Phillip’s War in 1675.

Winslow also gives us our only look at the face of an actual Pilgrim.

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

He sat for a portrait in London in 1651 after returning to England to serve its government under Protestant Parliamentarian Oliver Cromwell following the English Civil War. 

“History records no nobler venture for faith and freedom than that of this Pilgrim band,” reads the tomb on a hill overlooking Plymouth Harbor today. It’s the site where the settlers buried their many dead that first winter in the New World.

Edward Winslow was born on October 18, 1595 to Edward Sr. and Magdalene (Oliver) Winslow in Droitwich Spa, a town in western England that traces its history to Roman settlement. He moved to Leiden, Holland, in 1617 to live among the English separatist colony that produced the Pilgrims. He worked as a printer. 

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

He was just 24 when he departed Plymouth, England aboard the Mayflower with his wife Elizabeth (Barker) and younger brother Gilbert on September 16, 1620. After a harrowing trip across the ocean and a month spent exploring Cape Cod, the Pilgrims anchored in Plymouth Harbor in late December. They began the seemingly impossible work of carving a new society out of the frozen earth.

Winter on the New England coast is dark, windy, and unforgiving even today with the benefit of modern clothing, home heating systems, electricity, and indoor plumbing. Yet the Pilgrims landed in the middle of what’s known as The Little Ice Age—a 500-year period of unusually cold weather.

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

England and Holland are north of Plymouth but also far more temperate. The Pilgrims had never experienced anything as cold as a New England winter. Death soon gripped the colony. 

“They were probably suffering from scurvy and pneumonia caused by a lack of shelter in the cold, wet weather,” writes Plimoth Patuxet Museums. “As many as two or three people died each day during their first two months on land.”

Only 52 of 102 people survived the first year in Plymouth. The Mayflower sailed back to England with only half its crew alive in April 1621. Elizabeth Winslow was among the first winter’s victims. She died on March 24 at age 27 or 28. Pilgrim Susanna White lost her husband, William, in February.

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But new life, activity, and hope emerged in the spring. Edward and Susanna married on May 12, the first wedding in the Plymouth Colony. They began having children the following year. 

The Pilgrims in March met English-speaking Wampanoags Samoset and Squanto who had learned the language from fishing boat captains seeking cod off the New England coast. Through Squanto, Winslow met chief Ousamequin. The Pilgrims began planting spring crops with the help of the Natives. They enjoyed an abundant harvest that autumn. The relationship appeared to blossom.

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We have found the Indians very faithful in their covenant of peace with us,” reports Mourt’s Relation. “We often go with them and they come to us; some of us have been 50 miles by land in the country with them … We entertain them familiarly in our houses and they as friendly bestowing their venison on us.”

The Natives were also overcoming shocking tragedy, notes Begley. Plague was unknowingly carried upon the ships of European explorers. The people of the Americas had no immunity. Up to 90 percent of the Native population of southern New England, according to expert estimates, was wiped out by disease from 1616 to 1619—an apocalyptic tragedy. The Wampanoags were likely seeking hope and a reason to give thanks for their survival, too, in the autumn of 1621.

The two sides cemented their friendly relations with a grand feast after the autumn harvest. Winslow described the first Thanksgiving in just 115 words of an extended sentence. 

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winslow wrote, “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after have a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl as with a little help beside served the company almost a week at which time amongst other recreations we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit with some ninety men whom for three days we entertained and feasted and they went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor and upon the captain and others.”

The celebrants ate fowl—plentiful in the area—and venison. The harvest certainly included corn among other fruits and vegetables. 

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We learn of Pilgrims eating turkey—later on—only from William Bradford’s history, Of Plymouth Plantation. The first governor of Plymouth began writing his history in 1630. Hidden away for more than two centuries, Bradford’s account was not published until 1856. He does not mention the feast. 

The entire Thanksgiving origin story comes from the one passage in Mourt’s Relation. Winslow’s account indicates that the Wampanoags vastly outnumbered the Pilgrims. Massasoit brought 90 men and, historians assume, perhaps an equal number of women and children. There were barely more than 50 English settlers in Plymouth at the time.

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winslow, most prophetically, offers the passage that turns the harvest feast into a celebration of Thanksgiving.

“And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

The Pilgrims had gone from the brink of perishing to an abundance far from want in one growing season. It must have felt like a miracle. 

“The first Thanksgiving marked the conclusion of a remarkable year,” writes historian Nathaniel Philbrick in his 2006 book, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War. “By all rights, none of the Pilgrims should have emerged from the first winter alive.”

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Edward Winslow lived a life of more adventure after settling Plymouth and recording its dramatic story for posterity. He died at sea in the Caribbean reportedly of yellow fever, on May 7, 1655. Oliver Cromwell, the victorious Parliamentarian of the English Civil War, reportedly intended to have Winslow serve as governor of the colony in Jamaica.

Before his death, Winslow gifted the American people with the miraculous story of the first Thanksgiving. The survival of the story is itself something of a miracle. 

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The letter that became Mourt’s Relation was sent by the ship Fortune back to England in December 1621. 

It was captured on the open sea by French pirates who brought the ship to a prison island. The local governor confiscated anything of value on board including the clothing of the passengers, “not leaving some of them a hat to their heads nor a shoe to their feet,” according to an account of the drama in the Public Records Office in London.

He also “sent for all their letters; opened and kept what he pleased.” He did not please, apparently, of Winslow’s account of the first year in Plymouth. It made its way to London and was printed as Mourt’s Relation in 1622.

Giving thanks for an abundant harvest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mayflower 400, an organization convened to celebrate the quadricentennial of the Pilgrim journey, paid homage to Winslow in 2020: “He died a God-fearing Pilgrim at heart and with him went a very special set of skills that built friendships, won negotiations, and established a new way of life in a new land.”

Worth Pondering…

Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.

—Catherine Pulsifer

Plan an RV Trip to a Museum: How to Save with Reciprocal Memberships

Reciprocal museum memberships allow you to visit other participating museums which grant free or heavily discounted entry to members

Did you know that museum memberships at one museum could get you into hundreds of others for free? Museums, zoos, aquariums, science and technology centers, and more participate in reciprocity programs that let you do just that.

So what is reciprocity? Basically, it’s an exchange of benefits between two locations such as two zoos or two art museums. Except that the program participants are more than just a couple of locations but span hundreds to thousands of locations nationwide and in Canada.

Following is more information about these programs, where you can buy them, what benefits they provide, and how to use them.

Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay Exploration Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Benefits of buying museum memberships

Paying for visits to museums, zoos, and science centers individually gets expensive fast so this is a great way to save money. Reciprocity programs give you access to many more places to visit as you travel in your RV. And also a great way to supplement the learning programs of homeschoolers and road schoolers.

Museum reciprocity organizations

Texas State Aquarium © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is an organization of zoos and aquariums and dedicated to conservation, education, science, and recreation.

In reciprocity programs including the AZA, you can get free or discounted admission to participating parks. The list of participating zoos and aquariums indicates which locations are participating and what their reciprocity is (50 percent discount in most cases). The list of zoos and aquariums participating in the network may change so please call the museum you plan to visit ahead of time to verify their participation in the AZA Reciprocal Network.

Texas State Aquarium © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Current participating zoos and aquariums include:

  • Birmingham Zoo
  • Phoenix Zoo
  • The Living Desert (Palm Desert, California)
  • Mote Aquarium (Sarasota, Florida)
  • San Antonio Zoo
  • Gladys Porter Zoo (Brownsville, Texas)
  • Texas State Aquarium (Corpus Christi, Texas)
  • Memphis Zoo
The Corning Museum of Glass © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)

The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) is an organization of science and technology centers and museums that fosters understanding and engagement in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

In reciprocity programs including the ASTC, you can get free entry into ASTC locations that participate in the ASTC Travel Passport Program. The list of science and technology centers participating in the network may change so please call the museum you plan to visit ahead of time to verify their participation in the ASTC Reciprocal Network.

Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay Exploration Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Current participants include:

  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center (Huntsville, Alabama)
  • Turtle Bay Exploration Park (Redding, California)
  • Saint Louis Science Center, Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, Montana)
  • Fleishmann Planterium and Science Center (Reno, Nevada)
  • The Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, New York)
  • Space Center Houston
  • Witte Museum (San Antonio, Texas)
The Corning Museum of Glass © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) is an organization of museums specifically geared towards children and their learning through play and exploration.

The ACM Reciprocal Network is a voluntary group of ACM member museums open across the U.S. and Canada that reciprocate discounted admission to each other’s members. Two hundred museums participate in the network and reciprocate 50 percent off general admission for up to six people. The list of museums participating in the network may change so please call the museum you plan to visit ahead of time to verify their participation in the ACM Reciprocal Network.

Armstrong Air & Space Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Current participanting children’s museums include:

  • Miami Children’s Museum
  • Boston Children’s Museum
  • I.D.E.A. Museum (Tempe, Arizona)
  • Creative Discovery Museum (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
  • The Children’s Museum of Cleveland
  • Children’s Science Center Lab (Fairfax, Virginia)
  • Sacramento Science Center
  • Children’s Museum of Pittsburg
Sharlot Hall Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM)

The North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM) is a mosaic of 1,244 art museums and galleries, historical museums and societies, botanical gardens, children’s museums, and zoos.

In reciprocity programs including the NARM, you can get free entry into participating locations. It is always best to contact the institutions before your visit to confirm all the reciprocal benefits you will receive.

Sharlot Hall Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Current participants include:

  • Sharlot Hall Museum (Prescott, Arizona)
  • The Dali Museum (St. Petersburg, Florida)
  • Auburn Cord Dusenberg Automobile Museum (Auburn, Indiana)
  • National Corvette Museum (Bowling Green, Kentucky)
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
  • Will Rogers Memorial Museum (Claremore, Oklahoma)
  • Bullock Texas State History Museum (Austin, Texas)
  • Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Alberta)
Armstrong Air & Space Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Time Travelers

Time Travelers is a free reciprocal membership network for historical museums, sites, and societies throughout the United States.

Currently, the Time Travelers program includes 472 organizations in more than 45 states. Members of these organizations can receive a variety of exclusive benefits and privileges such as free admission and gift shop discounts. It is always best to contact the institutions before your visit to confirm all the reciprocal benefits you will receive.

National Museum of the Pacific War © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Current participating locations include:

  • Edison & Ford Winter Estates (Fort Myers, Florida)
  • World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum (St. Augustine, Florida)
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, Illinois)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio (Oak Park, Illinois)
  • Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  • Studebaker National Museum (South Bend, Indiana)
  • Living History Farms (Urbandale, Iowa)
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home (Abeline, Kansas)
  • Armstrong Air & Space Museum (Wapakoneta, Ohio)
  • National Museum of the Pacific War (Fredericksburg, Texas)
Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

American Horticultural Society (AHS)

The American Horticultural Society (AHS) is a national gardening organization providing gardening and horticultural information. A current membership card from the American Horticultural Society or a garden participating in their Reciprocal Admissions Program (RAP) entitles you to special admission privileges and discounts at 345+ gardens throughout North America.

Some gardens have exclusions for special events or exhibits. Each garden has its own distinct admissions policies and hours of operation which is also why it’s best to check ahead of time to get the most up-to-date information.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Current participants include:

  • Tohono Chul (Tucson, Arizona)
  • United States Botanical Garden (Washington, D.C.)
  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Sarasota, Florida)
  • Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest (Clermont, Kentucky)
  • Frekerik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
  • Hoyt Arboretum (Portland, Oregon)
  • Magnolia Plantation and Gardens (Charleston, South Carolina)
  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Austin, Texas)
Kentucky Artisan Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC)

The Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) is an association of museums focused on the Southeastern United States including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Southeastern Reciprocal Membership Program (SERM) is a way for museums to offer their members an opportunity to visit participating museums in the Southeastern region. Reciprocity is for general admission only. A participating museum membership card with “Southeastern Reciprocal” or acronym, “SERM” must be shown to receive admission.

Kentucky Artisan Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Current participants include:

  • The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota, Florida)
  • Andrew Lowe House (Savannah, Georgia)
  • Tubman Museum (Macon, Georgia)
  • Kentucky Artisan Center (Berea, Kentucky)
  • Cheekwood Estate & Gardens (Nashville, Tennessee)
  • Burritt on the Mountain (Birmingham, Alabama)
  • Beauregard-Keys House (New Orleans, Louisiana
Kentucky Artisan Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Museum Alliance Reciprocal Program (MARP)

The Museum Alliance Reciprocal Program (MARP) is similar to NARM, mentioned above but with fewer participants.

Participating institutions include:

  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art (Fort Worth, Texas)
  • Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • The Bruce Museum (Greenwich, Connecticut)
  • The Norton Museum of Art (West Palm Beach, Florida)
  • National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)
  • Vancouver Art Gallery (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Ladybird Johnson Wildlife Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums (ROAM)

The Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums (ROAM) program includes art and history museums, gardens, and various other types of museums. Reciprocal membership with ROAM provides free admission to participating ROAM locations as well as other benefits determined by each location individually. ROAM was created in February 2013 and currently has 447 participating museums.

National Museum of the Pacific War © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Participating institutions include:

  • Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West (Scottsdale, Arizona)
  • Charles Schultz Museum (Santa Rosa, California)
  • Rosemount Museum (Pueblo, Colorado)
  • Oldest House Museum and Garden (Key West, Florida)
  • Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
  • Henry Ford Estate (Dearborn, Michigan)
  • Georgia O’Keefe Museum (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
  • McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, Texas)
  • Museum of Glass (Tacoma, Washington)
  • Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Cody, Wyoming)
  • Tom Thompson Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario)
  • Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton, Alberta)

Museum memberships

Various museum memberships will get you reciprocity at locations in one or more of the above organizations. Once you know the type of reciprocal membership you’d like, look for museum memberships that offer those specific programs and provide the best price. There are lots of options.

Ladybird Johnson Wildlife Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Things to know about museum memberships

Reciprocity percentage

In addition to the benefits offered and the price, there are a few things of note as you’re picking out your museum memberships for reciprocity benefits. For AZA benefits, you want your membership to be from a place that offers 100 percent/50 percent reciprocity. You will then receive 100 percent discounted admission to other zoos and aquariums listed at 100 percent/50 percent in the reciprocity program list and 50 percent off of those listed as 50 percent. If your home museum is listed only as 50 percent you will only receive a 50 percent discount regardless.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Location

Also, consider the location of the place you are buying a membership from. This is not only for the ability to visit that location but because it affects which other locations you can get into for free or a discount. They may check your ID and your membership and may refuse admission if you are trying to use it somewhere that is either within 90 miles (as the crow flies) from your home address or your membership institution.

Number of people covered

Check the type of membership you desire based on the number of adults and children you want covered. The options can include single, dual, or family memberships up to a certain number of children/grandchildren for example, or family plus for additional guests among other potential options.

Texas State Aquarium © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep up to date

Before you go, double-check the most current participant lists for the membership and museum you are hoping to get reciprocal admission to. These are updated and published periodically and there can be changes. Consider calling to double-check as well as not all locations participate in these reciprocal admission programs.

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Things to bring

Bring your driver’s license or another form of ID to confirm you are the membership holder and if they ask to confirm your address. Bring your membership card as well. You can use an app in which to load your virtual membership card. Use the eMembership Card app to download your membership cards and reduce one more plastic/paper card you have to carry. Features of the app are that you can quickly look up your membership card to show, see your benefits, how many people are covered, and when the membership expires. Additionally, you can find nearby institutions you may want to visit and read some information about them.

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just a few visits will make up for the cost of the museum memberships outlined above. You’ll have access to all sorts of fun for yourself and your family. So if you’re looking for fun things to do, ways to save some money, and great learning opportunities for your kids, consider these memberships. And whether you choose one of the memberships listed above or are looking into another, make sure to see what reciprocal benefits are included and make sure you use them.

Worth Pondering…

A visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth, and meaning in our lives. Go to museums as often as you can.

—Maira Kalman

49 Million Americans Will Road Trip This Thanksgiving, 15 Million by RV

With Thanksgiving being less than a week away, it’s important to figure out your travel plans soon. If you’re traveling by car or RV, you’ll want to start gathering everything you need to hit the road.

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.
—Erma Bombeck 

Thanksgiving 2022 falls on Thursday, November 24 this year. When planning your travel schedule, give yourself ample time to get to your destination during this historically busy travel time, and keep in mind any harsh weather that could potentially delay your plans. 

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Packing an emergency kit can come in handy in case you encounter an unscheduled stop in traffic or need to pull over because of car or RV problems. Items to pack include:

  • Extra bottled water
  • Snack foods
  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • Blankets
  • Warm clothing
  • First aid kit
15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drivers and passengers also should remember prescription medications and items such as a cellphone charger in case of unexpected travel delays.

Getting adequate rest, buckling up, obeying speed limits, and never driving while impaired is behaviors that promote improved highway safety. Eighteen people were killed last year in a total of 15 fatal crashes on all Arizona roads including local streets over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Drivers also should check their vehicle before traveling, including tire pressure, engine belts and hoses, fluid levels and the condition of windshield wipers.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This Thanksgiving holiday, 54.6 million Americans are planning to travel 50 miles or more away from their homes, according to AAA. The amount is 1.5 percent more than travelers during last year’s Thanksgiving festivities and 98 percent of pre-pandemic volumes. AAA is predicting 2022 will be the third busiest year for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000.

“Families and friends are eager to spend time together this Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” said Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel. “Plan ahead and pack your patience, whether driving or flying.”

AAA finds that most travelers will reach their destinations by car (or RV), similar to last year. Nearly 49 million people are expected to drive and while Thanksgiving road trips have increased slightly—up 0.4 percent from 2021—road travel remains 2.5 percent below 2019 levels.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

INRIX expects severe congestion in several U.S. metro areas with some drivers experiencing more than double normal delays. Highways in and around Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles will be the busiest. To avoid the most hectic times, INRIX recommends traveling early in the morning on Wednesday or before 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and avoiding travel between 4 and 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Air travel is up nearly 8 percent over 2021 with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. That’s an increase of more than 330,000 travelers and nearly 99 percent of the 2019 volume.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Americans are also ramping up travel by other modes of transportation. More than 1.4 million travelers are going out of town for Thanksgiving by bus, train, or cruise ship. That’s an increase of 23 percent from 2021 and 96 percent of the 2019 volume. “With travel restrictions lifted and more people comfortable taking public transportation again, it’s no surprise buses, trains, and cruises are coming back in a big way,” Twidale adds. “Regardless of the mode of transportation you have chosen, expect crowds during your trip and at your destination. If your schedule is flexible, consider off-peak travel times during the holiday rush.”

Related article: Top 8 Tips for Planning a Road Trip this Thanksgiving and throughout the Holiday Season

A new survey of leisure travelers conducted by the RV Industry Association finds that 15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s this year. This represents 12 percent of the total number of leisure travelers intending to spend the holidays away from home and the impact of these RVers continues to be felt in the economies of the locations they visit.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Increased spending on outdoor recreation—of which the RV industry is a centerpiece—was reaffirmed last week when the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) report revealing that the sector contributed a record $862 billion to the U.S. economy and employed 4.5 million Americans in 2021. This represents an increase of 31 percent in gross output and 13 percent in jobs over 2020.

“These two studies demonstrate that the RV industry and its customers are vital contributors to America’s economy and all indications are that they will continue to be so,” said RV Industry Association Executive Vice President James Ashurst. “Growth in the industry is being increasingly driven by younger and more diverse RV buyers whose purchases are largely motivated by the desire to experience the great outdoors.”

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the RV Industry Association’s travel intention study, 29 percent of Millennials and 20 percent of GenZ leisure travelers plan on staying in an RV over the holidays. Some of these will be driving to warm-weather campgrounds or mountain ski resorts while others will be parked outside their extended families’ homes over the holidays.

Related article: Thanksgiving Road Trip: See the Best of Arizona in these 8 Places

“Spending time with friends and family is an integral part of the holidays and we know that whether RVing together for a holiday vacation or traveling in your RV for a holiday visit, spending time with friends and family is a primary reason people are going RVing this holiday season,” said Ashurst.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The survey also showed that finances are a driving reason for people’s plans to take an upcoming RV trip. With RV vacations costing 50 percent less than comparable hotel and plane ride trips and a third less than hotel and car ride trips, RVing is an attractive option for people looking for the freedom to travel while also controlling their travel expenses.

AAA recently revealed the top 10 domestic travel destinations for the Thanksgiving holiday. Two theme-park destinations top the list this year—Orlando and Anaheim—as they did in 2019 and 2021 while Chicago and Charlotte are new additions to the top 10.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Thanksgiving is all about spending time with family and friends so it’s no surprise that theme park destinations top the list with entertainment and meals accessible within a resort,” said Twidale. “Chicago and Charlotte join Atlanta as hub cities for the three largest airlines—American, Delta, and United—and will see lots of activity this holiday season as airline routes and direct flights are limited, and staff shortage still exists.”

Average hotel booking costs are up 8 percent compared to 2021 but hotel prices in some cities like Las Vegas and Denver are lower this year.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The top 10 destinations are:

  • Orlando
  • Anaheim
  • Las Vegas
  • New York City
  • Atlanta
  • Phoenix
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Denver
  • Chicago
  • Charlotte 
15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to IRI, big Thanksgiving celebrations are back this year with 76 percent of consumers reporting they plan to celebrate the holiday as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic. The average number of people at the Thanksgiving table will be close to eight and that number jumps to 9.8 for Gen Z and younger millennials (those under 32). The oldest consumers, seniors, and retirees anticipate six people at their tables.

Related article: Turkey Talk At Thanksgiving

While people are hosting larger meals, inflation is a top concern for consumers and 38 percent expect to pay more for groceries this year but intend to buy the same amount of food. IRI reports that traditional Thanksgiving meal items are estimated to cost 13.5 percent more than they did a year ago.

In response to high inflation, retailers are discounting holiday meal items including Pilot Flying J and Love’s Travel Stops.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Overall, food and beverage costs were up 13.3 percent year over year in October. Additionally, this year could become the worst year ever of avian flu outbreaks for poultry, skyrocketing turkey prices. Wholesale turkey prices are at $1.79 a pound in October which is 40 cents higher than last year’s peak. (Walmart is keeping whole turkeys at $1 a pound.) IRI research shows pies and side dishes are up 19.6 percent and 18.8 percent, respectively.

Related article: Thanksgiving & Staying Safe

Worth Pondering…

Only in America do people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.

—Anon

Why the Saying Should Be As American as Pumpkin Pie, Not Apple

I think we should be saying as American as pumpkin pie

When life gives you pumpkins, make pie.

—a play on Elbert Hubbard’s words

Pie is revered in the modern American household. Juicy apples mixed with sugar and cinnamon make much-anticipated appearances in the kitchen throughout fall and winter. Rich, creamy spiced pumpkin and sweet potato pies are delivered on Thanksgiving. Deep burgundy red cherry pies are served on Christmas.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We’ve all heard the phrase countless times before: As American as apple pie. Many people never question it. Apple pie is on the menu at most American diners and Normal Rockwell featured the dessert in several of his illustrations. It’s unmistakably American—and yet that well-worn cliche isn’t historically accurate. When you dig into the history of the earliest days of the American colonies you’ll find that the pie most connected to this country’s roots is pumpkin, not apple.

Pumpkin © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pumpkins are native to North America. Columbus wrote about pumpkins he saw from his voyages and brought some back as did subsequent explorers so people in Europe were familiar with them as early as 1492. Pumpkins and other squash were some of the first crops colonists planted when settlers arrived in America in 1621.

And then there’s pie. There’s been a love for pie in North America from the very first settlers to their present-day ancestors. Early settlers cut up pretty much anything that could grow, baked it between two pieces of crust, and called it a pie. Culinary tastes of the era meant that almost all vegetables grown in the colony were baked in a pastry crust.

Pie generally meant something a little more savory. Tarts were dishes where they added lots of sugar. That was the difference between a pie and a tart in the 17th century.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A matter of fillings

Pumpkin, not an apple, was the dominant pie filling in the early American colonies as apple orchards hadn’t been planted yet. New England without apples is difficult to picture but the first decade of the Plymouth colony was mostly appleless.

Related article: How as American as Apple Pie Came to Be

William Blaxton planted the first apple seedlings trees soon after he arrived in Weymouth, Massachusetts just south of present-day Boston in 1623.

Pumpkin patch © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once apples were abundant in the colonies, pie recipes popped up that combined sliced apples and pumpkins with butter and a little spice. These original pies, however, were more vegetable-heavy. They used sliced pieces of pumpkin or squash mixed with spices and butter and then baked in a pastry crust. Pumpkin pies with a whipped, fluffy texture became widespread after the advent of Libby’s canned pumpkin puree in the early 20th century.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How pumpkin pie was traditionally served

Pumpkin pie in the 21st century is relegated to dessert—a savory and sweet cap to an already decadent meal. Thanksgiving seems incomplete without it.

But pies weren’t reserved for special occasions in the pilgrim household. Meals were served family style and pies were set out with the rest of the main courses rather than being presented at the end of the meal. Once the family sat down to eat the pies weren’t sliced, either.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you served a pie in the 17th century you’d cut the top crust off, scoop out the filling, and then you’d take little bits of crust to go with it. So pie acted like a container to hold the rest of the filling in.

About that crust: There seems to be some confusion about the uses of early pie crust. New England’s early settlers called pie crust pastry or paste and typically the ingredients were simple: hot or cold water depending on the type of pie, butter, and flour. These crusts, sometimes known as the coffyn became rock hard during the baking process leading to the misconception that the crusts were tossed into the garbage once the filling had been consumed. America’s settlers, however, were much more industrious and recycled the pastry for future use.

Pumpkin patch © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You would eat the pastry with the next meal with broth to soften the pastry. You didn’t throw it away. Because when people go through all the trouble to grow food like wheat or rye or other grains and harvest it by hand and thresh it and grind it, they aren’t going to throw it away. They might not feed it to the lord of the manor but somebody is going to eat it.

Related article: Julian Is World Famous For Apple Pies

The term coffin might sound off-putting when applied to your dinner but it simply described the pie as a basket or box. This dining method proved popular throughout medieval Europe. For one, it required no additional dishes and could be eaten by hand, no utensils needed. And that’s not the coffin pie’s only practical purpose.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Janet Clarkson’s book, Pie: A Global History, she writes that this hefty pastry case served as a container similar to a lunch box. It was a way for people to both transport their food and preserve it (especially important before refrigeration when people needed a way to make their food last). Sometimes, the baker carved a hole in the top of the crust and poured melted fat into the hole to act as a seal against intruding air thus keeping it fresh for an extended period.

Pastry crust didn’t catch on in America until the 1640s, however, when the settlers began growing wheat and rye in the colonies. Maize, the corn favored by the Native American people already living on the land the pilgrims had colonized made soggy pastry that fell apart. So, for the first 15 years, the colonies operated there was no crust made in New England—and therefore very few pies.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, there was one exception: When the long-serving governor of the Plymouth Colony William Bradford married in 1623, rye from England was used to make 12 venison pies.

Even before pie crust became commonplace what the pilgrims did not do was bake pumpkin pies inside a hollowed-out pumpkin. This cooking method is a widespread myth, plain and simple.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This misconception might stem from a 16th-century source who wrote that pumpkins the size of an acorn squash were hollowed out then sliced bits of pumpkin and apple were added and baked together. The real dish would have looked and tasted more like an acorn squash side dish, not a sweetened pumpkin pie. But even so, there is no record of that dish even being cooked in the colonies, only in 17th century England.

Related article: 8 Creative Ways to See Some Fall Color

That’s very different than taking this giant field pumpkin and hollowing it and pouring in four quarts of cream and a pound of sugar and baking that forever and a day.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As American as pumpkin pie

Pies were undoubtedly a major part of the cuisine in the New England colonies. Until Amelia Simmons published her cookbook in 1796—the first cookbook written in America by an American—reprints of cookbooks from England where pies had long been a staple dish circulated in the colonies. The pilgrims ate plenty of pies, just not apple pie.

Related article: Top 8 Tips for Planning a Road Trip this Thanksgiving and throughout the Holiday Season

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It would take a little more than 20 years after the first successful colonies before apples appeared in pies or anything else. America’s earliest settlers filled their pies with what grew most abundantly in their backyards and that was a pumpkin. So next time you’re thinking about celebrating America, pull out the pumpkin pie recipe you’d usually save for Thanksgiving. 

Related article: Thanksgiving & Staying Safe

Worth Pondering…

The pumpkin lies yellow beneath the cold skies, it’s luscious and mellow and ready for pies.

—Walt Mason, The Pumpkin

O’ pumpkin pie, your time has come ’round again and I am autumnrifically happy!

—Terri Guillemets

But see in our open clearings how golden the melons lie; enrich them with sweets and spices and give us the pumpkin-pie!

— Margaret Junkin Preston

I picture pumpkins at a farmer’s market piled happy and high awaiting a new home where children will carve them into scary faces or mothers will bake them into pie or stew.

—Jenny Gardiner, Slim to None

The pumpkin is a uniquely American plant, widely regarded as one of the most magical plants in all the world.

—Seth Adam Smith, Rip Van Winkle and the Pumpkin Lantern

Advice from a pumpkin: be well-rounded, get plenty of sunshine, give thanks for life’s bounty, have thick skin, keep growing, be outstanding in your field, think big.

— Unknown

More Campsites Coming

The physics of the camping industry dictates that it takes a lot longer to build a new campsite than it does the RV that’s waiting to fill it

The past winter saw the construction of more than 50 new campgrounds and RV parks offering more than 15,000 new RV sites. At the same time work continued coast to coast on the expansion of many existing parks.

An estimated 81,000 new outdoor recreation sites could be constructed within the next year. That’s according to the 2022 Industry Trends and Insights Report released by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
It’s all a result of record recreational vehicle sales which gained a big boost from the pandemic-sparked drive to spend less time indoors and more in the great outdoors. Increased interest in the recreational vehicle lifestyle has also flowed from the ability of many to leave offices in the rearview mirror and work remotely from their RVs.

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

Why are so many RV parks opening and expanding?

The pandemic changed many things. It ignited record sales of RVs as people sought to spend more time outdoors while enjoying all the comforts of home.

In 2021, it seemed everyone wanted to buy an RV of some type and go exploring. Also, the phenomenon of working remotely became the norm for many workers. When you work remotely it doesn’t matter where you are as long as there is a good Wi-Fi signal. RV parks can be as good as anywhere else for working remotely. Many remote workers found RV living to be ideal for work and play.

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

As more people got into RVing, campgrounds struggled to keep up with the unprecedented demand for campsites. In 2021, campsite shortages became a real challenge for many RVers. RV parks responded by expanding existing facilities to have more RV sites available. Landowners realized that developing their land into RV parks and resorts would meet a market need and could be very lucrative.

Related: Campgrounds and RV Resorts Can’t-Wait To Go Back To

Another thing that RV campgrounds started doing was adding unique or luxury accommodations for those who want to get away but didn’t own an RV. Many RV owners want to vacation at parks with family and friends who don’t own their recreational vehicles.

Rain Spirit RV Resort, Cottonwood, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Non-RV camping at RV parks ranges from site-built cabins to furnished glamping tents, covered wagons, treehouses, and a wide range of other distinctive lodging options. Among the newer twists is the offer of yurts, also known as gears, which are circular structures that are both lightweight and portable and are held up without center supports. The ability of parks to offer lodging aside from RV sites can help businesses claim distinct competitive advantages.

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

Florida on track to add more than 5,000 campsites by next year

By early next year, RVers will have thousands of new campsite options in Florida. Florida will see an additional 5,300 campsites by 2023. That will come as the result of the opening of 15 new RV resorts and the expansion of 13 already existing parks.

“It’s all to meet the needs of the ever-expanding interest in outdoor recreation,” said Bobby Cornwell, Executive Director and CEO of the Florida RV Park and Campground Association.

Related: 10 Luxurious RV Resorts for Summer Travel

That organization hosts CampFlorida.com, a travel-planning website that features more than 400 campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts, totaling more than 120,000 campsites.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Snowbirds have been spending their winters in Florida for decades but now it’s not just retirees who are coming here but working people with mobile jobs who are discovering they don’t have to wait until they’re retired to enjoy the winter in Florida,” Cornwell added.

The additional campsites don’t even include the addition of 2,100 RV sites that took place between 2017 and 2020. That’s when 14 other parks expanded and seven new parks were added. Several RV parks are also making significant improvements to their sites as well.

Sonoran Desert RV Park, Gila Bend, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New RV parks opened in 2022

Camp Margaritaville, Auburndale, Florida: Camp Margaritaville is a new RV resort (opened January 2022) in Auburndale, Florida where you can choose to stay in your RV in a well-appointed RV site or in a Margaritaville cabin. Camp Margaritaville has 400 RV sites plus 75 cabins. Amenities include full hookups, 110/30/50-amp breakers, free Wi-Fi and cable, picnic table, outdoor kitchen, outdoor TV, Adirondack chairs and hammocks. The 66-acre, island-themed resort also offers a pool complex with a waterslide, a pawsome dog park, a dog grooming station, a golf course, and even a pizzeria.

Related: 6 Casino RV Resorts Where You Can Stay and Play

Pala Casino RV Resort, Pala, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pine Mountain RV Resort, Pine Mountain, Georgia: Located in Pine Mountain, Georgia, Pine Mountain RV Resort boasts 225 RV sites plus cabins and glamping tents. The park just opened in January 2022 and has already earned many positive reviews from guests. Amenities include a swimming pool, a playground, and a dog park for the furry glampers. The owners of Pine Mountain RV Resort are RVC Outdoor Destinations, a well-known name in the luxury RV resort business with RV parks in 10 states.

The MotorCoach Resort, Chandler, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Coach Resort, Toney, Alabama: Located 15 minutes northwest of Huntsville, Alabama, Red Coach Resort opened in early 2022. At the outset, the park has 47 sites that include 17 full-hookup RV sites and 30 “primitive” sites. At full buildout, the 60-acre RV park in Toney is destined to have 177 sites. Another 20 acres will be reserved for a horse farm accommodating those who travel with horses. The park stretches along a half mile of riverfront where park visitors will be able to swim, raft, and kayak. Additional acres being maintained as a nature preserve overlooking the river may within the next couple years host glamping cabins.

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona

Gulf Shores RV Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama: Opened this summer Gulf Shores RV Resort’s first 175 RV-level full hook-up sites encircle a quartet of stocked fishing ponds. Five rental cottages that can sleep up to six guests also came online in Phase I. In addition to amenities considered standard at upscale resorts, Gulf Shores RV Resort will feature a pool and hot tub as well as fishing ponds, bike rentals, hiking paths, a dog park, and a pair of pickleball courts. Developed by Memphis-based RVC Outdoor Destinations, this Alabama park has the capacity to be expanded by as many as 500 sites.

Creek Fire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

River Ridge Retreat, Gunterville, Alabama: Unveiled last fall, River Ridge Retreat sits on over 670 acres of beautiful property that boasts both mountainside views and over a mile of waterfront on Guntersville Lake, Alabama’s largest lake. Miles of hiking and bike riding are available on the property. You can enjoy fishing from their banks or large pier. The property is home to abundant wildlife such as whitetail deer and bald eagles. The park currently offers 12 modern tiny house cabins and 54 full hookup 30/50 amp RV sites as well as a unique wedding chapel. All sites include a grill and fire ring, RV sites include a picnic table as well. The next developmental stages include a swimming pool, boat ramp/docks, and more RV sites.

Related: Highly Rated Snowbird Resorts, According To RVers

Katy Lake RV Resort, Katy, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Wilds in Ohio, Cumberland, Ohio: Construction of a new 59-acre RV park has begun in The Wilds in Ohio. This park will connect visitors with the great outdoors and provide a unique camping experience. The Wilds is a safari park and conservation center that is spread across more than 9,000 acres. It includes multiple conservation areas and is managed by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The park was opened in 1984, and it has continued to evolve and grow over the years. The upcoming park doesn’t currently have a name, but some details and plans for future amenities have been released. It will span across 59 acres and include 46 RV sites and 27 tent sites. A majority of this campground space will be devoted to the preservation of natural areas.

Worth Pondering…

Shoot for the moon, Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.

—Les Brown

Winter RV Camping Must-Have: Heated Water Hose

The winter camping season is upon us and it’s time to get prepared for the freezing cold temperatures. One of the best things you can invest in for winter camping adventures is a heated RV water hose.

I hate that first hard freeze of winter. If I’m lucky enough to get a warning, I fill my freshwater tank and disconnect from the RV park water connection. It’s such a hassle! But I can avoid it and stay warm inside with a heated RV water hose. This is a winter RV camping must-have for any RVer.

A heated RV water hose will give you safe drinking water even when temperatures dip below freezing. These hoses cost over $100 depending mostly on length but will save you a lot in frozen pipes and related issues.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A heated water hose has a heat strip along the side of the hose that heats up when plugged into a 110-volt electrical connection. Made with food-grade materials, a heated RV water hose comes in several lengths. Rated for use in temperatures down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit, plug it into a 110-volt outlet at the utility pedestal. It stays on to prevent a frozen water hose. The material remains flexible down to -20 degrees, making it easy to coil and store. A 25-foot hose typically uses about 2.5 kWh of electricity daily and will cost about 25¢ daily to keep water flowing to your RV in the coldest of temperatures.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How heated RV water hoses work

Heated water hoses have long heat strips that run along their length. These prevent water from freezing when it travels through the tube. These hoses need to be plugged into electrical outlets to function and they have a variety of sizes and energy requirements.

Heated water hoses are an essential piece of gear for anyone who plans to use their RV in cold areas. You always need to be sure that your sinks, showers, and toilets are working when you’re living in an RV.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Important things to know about heated water hoses

When you’re looking at buying a heated hose for your RV there are a few things you should know. Overall these hoses are pretty simple pieces of equipment but there are a couple of little quirks and tips you should know before you look into getting one for yourself.

Before I get to anything else, it’s important to recognize that these hoses aren’t an unnecessary product or something that only luxury rigs need. Frozen hoses and pipes can cause serious damage to RVs that can affect them in the long and short term.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Certainly, it’s won’t be fun if your water supply freezes. You won’t be able to use water for the kitchen or bathroom and you can forget about having a hot shower. But much worse damage can happen if you don’t have the right equipment and properly maintain it.

If the pipes, holding tanks, or hoses in your RV freeze with water inside them, the ice can expand and cause permanent damage to the infrastructure of your RV. Burst pipes, flooding, and leaking are nothing to take lightly and they are not easy to fix.

But if you’re careful and choose a quality heated water hose you can prevent these problems before they start. Let’s look at some of the requirements for heated hoses and what you can do to keep them in good shape.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make outlets available

First of all, you will need an electrical outlet to use a heated water hose. They run on electricity after all, so they won’t be able to do their jobs if they’re not connected to a power source. There is a range of different heated water hoses but they require access to a standard-issue 110-volt electrical connection.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose the appropriate hose length

I mentioned earlier that heated hoses come in a variety of lengths. This range of options can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the camping areas you visit. A hose that’s too long can be awkward to set up and maneuver. They’re also more likely to get tangled in knots or get in the way at your campsite.

On the other hand, hoses that are too short can be dangerous to mess with. If you have to stretch your hose out to reach the water outlet, you’ll be putting a strain on it that can damage the hose material and heat strips. Leaks are much more likely to pop up if you’re using a hose that’s too short. Further, your water hose may not reach the utility box, period.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To resolve this, it’s sometimes best to buy more than one length of heated hose. Having a couple of options will help you choose the best one for your situation plus you’ll have a backup if one of them becomes non-functional. If you are winter camping in one site for the entire season it may be best to delay the purchase of a heated hose until you arrive at your camping site. This way you will be certain of the hose length you require.

Be aware that having a heated hose does not ensure that the rest of your water system will be safe from subzero temperatures. You may need to take additional precautions to prevent freezing and damage in the other parts of your water system.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The water tap and metal connections on either end of the water hose are often vulnerable as are the holding tanks for your freshwater and wastewater. If the RV has an enclosed underbelly with a heating system, that will prevent freezing in most cases. You can also apply heat tape to the vulnerable areas to keep them protected and warm.

Your entire water system has to stay in a liquid form to do its job. Heated hoses are great but they still can’t do everything. Help them out by adding protection to all the pieces of your winter waterworks.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Store your heated hose when not in use

Heated hoses are vital parts of the winter kit in your RV. As such, you need to keep them in good condition and maintain them throughout the year. So when the weather starts to warm up, don’t just pitch the hose into a storage bay.

Most heated hoses come with packaging and storage cases for when they’re not in use. Carefully coil the hose when spring arrives and store it in its case. If you take good care of your heated water hose you’ll be able to use it for many more winters.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other articles you may want to read:

Worth Pondering…

My parents live in the part of the United States that is Canada. It is so far north that Minnesota lies in the same direction as Miami. They have four distinct seasons: Winter, More Winter, Still More Winter, and That One Day of Summer.

—W. Bruce Cameron

Fountain of Youth: The Restorative Power of RVing

Here are the top 10 health benefits you can expect from RV travel

The Fountain of Youth possesses the power to restore the youth of anyone who drinks from or bathes in its waters… or at least that’s what legend would have you believe. Is there any truth to it? Perhaps, if you travel in an RV!

But one thing’s for sure: For thousands of years, people have searched in vain for a way to recapture their glory days.

Fountain Hills, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Although ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote about mythical restorative water in Ethiopia in the 5th century B.C., the modern legend of the Fountain of Youth stems from stories told by the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean about the mythical land of Bimini. According to these old stories, the waters in Bimini had magical restorative powers. Some believe it was Bimini and the Fountain of Youth that Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León was searching for when he made his way to what is now Florida in 1513.

Even though Ponce de León was one of the first Europeans to set foot in what would become America, he never did find the Fountain of Youth. Nevertheless, modern-day St. Augustine, Florida—where some believe Ponce de León came ashore—is the home of the Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park.

Lake County, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visitors to the park regularly drink the water that flows from the natural spring located there but there is no evidence that it has any restorative effects.

Today, Florida is known as a popular retirement spot for seniors. Many Florida retirees experience a rejuvenation of sorts when they RV to Florida although their newfound energy is most likely the result of less stress, more rest, and good weather—not magic water.

St. Marys, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Health benefits of RV travel

RVing is more than just something you do—it’s a lifestyle. RVing is a lifestyle that benefits your health and well-being in many ways. RVers are out on the open road, often in nature, and checking off things on their bucket list. Together, these acts contribute to overall happiness which also positively impacts your health.

Related article: 7 Simple Tips to Live Longer and Healthier

RV travel not only provides great memories but provides great health benefits as well. While all kinds of travel can benefit your well-being there are specific perks that come from traveling in an RV. Here are 10 health benefits you can expect from RV travel.

Bourbon Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. RV travel lowers your stress levels

Chronic stress makes you irritable, and anxious and decreases your decision-making abilities. RV travel distracts you from real-life stresses. Visiting new places helps you switch off from the daily stresses. It allows you to focus on your new travel experiences and the challenges that go with travel— instead of the things in your life stressing you out. There’s nothing sweeter than RV travel for taking a break from the daily grind.

A whopping 80 percent of vacationing people report they felt a significant reduction of stress after just two days of vacation. Vacation time is linked to happiness and general well-being.

Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Park, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re hitting the open road on your timeline and schedule for a vacation, you’re cutting some of those additional, travel-related stressors out entirely. You aren’t rushing to make a flight and in an RV have everything you need.

Traveling in an RV can be a cost-saving experience that helps reduce finance-related stress. For a fraction of the cost of plane tickets, hotels, and destination prices, you can vacation wherever you go with your RV.

Hyannis Harbor Cruise, Massachusetts © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. RV travel beats flying

Everyone should experience traveling the country in an RV. There is no other way of travel that compares. You can enjoy the scenic wonders of nature without compromising on comfort no matter where you travel.

There’s no way around it—traveling by air takes a lot out of you, especially long-haul flights. Planes are cramped and uncomfortable and sitting for hours while traveling across multiple time zones can leave you feeling lethargic for days afterward.

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

You never look back on your RV trip and say “oh yeah I remember when we were stuck waiting to take off for three and a half hours.”

Getting out the door before you leave in your RV can certainly feel stressful. You worry about whether you’ve packed everything you need or if you’ve unplugged all your small appliances. It’s tempting to think that travel increases stress. In fact, it does just the opposite.

In today’s modern life, it is too easy to become caught up in the minute details. RV travel helps you leave those stressors behind. It encourages your mind to settle and refocus to be in the present.

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. RV travel boosts your immune system

RV travel works to keep you healthy by boosting your immune system. By visiting new places you’ll be exposing yourself to new germs. While this can make you want to reach for your hand sanitizer, it’s a great way to help your body build antibodies.

Related article: Camping Benefits Mind and Body…Here Is How

This introduction to new bacteria gets your antibody factory fired up protecting your body from future illness. When you travel, you’re frequently taking in the natural sites and spending time outdoors in nature. It also turns out that fresh air is great for your health, aiding in digestion and improving blood pressure and heart rate.

Waterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. RV travel helps encourage healthy choices

Our four simple rules: No Interstates, no amusement parks, no five-star accommodations, and no franchise food (two words which do not belong in the same sentence!)

—Loren Eyrich, editor/publisher Two-Lane Roads

Whether you head out for an occasional road trip or you’re a snowbird or full-timer, RV travel has some particular perks when it comes to staying healthy. What you eat and how you sleep top the list.

When you’re constantly on the go it’s easy to get stuck eating fast food and calorie-rich junk food. Traveling by RV helps you stay healthy by eliminating that need. You can stock your kitchen and reach for healthy foods and fresh produce when you’re hungry. You can even maintain a garden of fresh herbs and produce in your recreational vehicle.

Sleeping in your own bed each night © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A healthy diet works to keep your overall health on track. A meta-analysis of studies following 469,551 participants found that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease with an average reduction in risk of 4 percent for each additional serving per day of fruit and vegetables.  Although all fruits and vegetables contributed to this benefit, green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens were most strongly associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition to your travel diet, RV travel allows you to sleep in your own bed every night even as you’re traveling the country. Sleep is a key to good health.

Sleeping in your own bed can help you get the sleep your body needs. You’ll be able to choose your own mattress, your own pillows, and linens that you love. This keeps you comfortable and promotes good-quality sleep. When you travel in your RV, you’ll also be able to stick to your own sleep schedule which can help you get consistent, good-quality sleep.

Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. RV travel boosts confidence

RVing isn’t always easy despite the pretty pictures you see on Instagram. You’re taking a rolling home on wheels to places unknown hopeful that the weather, campground neighbors, and the RV itself cooperates. The prize for triumphing over the obstacles the road throws your way—because trust me, it will—is boosted confidence and a greater belief in yourself and your capabilities. As you take more trips your confidence grows. That increased confidence from RVing carries over into other aspects of your life and you feel better able to tackle other challenges that come your way.

Utah Scenic Byway 24 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. RV travel inspires self discovery

Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.

—Emma Chase

Our capacity for learning more about ourselves is limitless. You can glean lessons from everywhere in life especially when you’re on the road and outside your familiar territory or routines. RV travel immerses you in a variety of new experiences. You’ll discover things you never knew you liked. Being exposed to so many new and unfamiliar situations teaches you more about your strengths and weaknesses, too. When you’re on an RV trip you’re opened up to situations that might highlight your fears and insecurities or perhaps bring about a sense of joy and gratitude. RV travel will shape you, shift your perspective, and help you discover the real you.

Port Aransas, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. RV travel helps combat depression

People suffering from depression often avoid things that can bring pleasure which only makes depression worse. RV travel is a form of behavioral activation—a behavior therapy strategy where you increase your engagement in rewarding activities especially when you are feeling depressed. RV travel offers a change of pace and place that can leave a positive long-lasting effect on your psyche. While curing severe depression is no easy road, getting out and enjoying RV adventures can play a transformative role in helping ease depression.

Related article: Unplug & Recharge

Smoky Mountains, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. RV travel can lead to a longer life

You’re in charge of your destiny when it comes to traveling in your RV. See a roadside attraction that’s off your planned route? Go ahead and take that detour.

Having a strong sense of control over your circumstances reduces the risk of dying by 13 percent, according to a study reported by The Atlantic.

Life on the road can be everything and anything you want it to be.

Custer State Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. RV travel helps you reinvent yourself

A long stretch of road can teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet.

—Patrick Rothfuss

RV travel can help you re-evaluate and reinvent your life. Travel has the ability to expand your mind in a way you never realized was possible.

Moreover, the valuable lessons that you learn along the way broaden your perspective making you more aware and open to new ideas. Different is not better or worse, it’s just different. But being confronted with these differences helps to re-evaluate your own principles and values and, sometimes, change them.

Related article: The Power of Mindfulness

RV travel and interacting with the world around you, I found a new passion for life.

Frances Beidler Forest, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. RV travel offers undeniable health benefits

A wealth of health benefits can be found in embracing the RV lifestyle. RV travel does more than allow you to see the country; it allows you to live a longer and healthier life.

Worth Pondering…

I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.

—Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel

Show Me the Weird

Say goodbye to boring road trips

One of the reasons people travel in RVs is to see things. They see epic places like The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and the Black Hills of South Dakota. On the way to the big stuff, there are plenty of small sites that capture the public’s attention, too, like the World’s Largest Roadrunner, historical markers, and that corny attraction in Mitchell, South Dakota.

With wanderlust and weirdness in mind, we road-tripped across the country and found the oddest, most wonderful, and most puzzling roadside attractions where we least expected. Better stock up on boudin and pork cracklins, kolache and doughnuts, and other snack foods: there are going to be many, many detours in your future.

Roswell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Basically Everything in Roswell

Is it fair to call an entire town a roadside attraction? Probably not! But the sheer number of alien-related stuff populating the streets of Roswell makes it unavoidable. There are makeshift spaceships you can tour. Straight-up UFO “museums.” A fake-ass alien autopsy site. Gift shops galore. If there are actual aliens tucked away in Roswell, they pulled the ingenious move of hiding in plain sight, surrounded by every kind of gaudy, over-the-top kitsch as possible. Well played Martians.

Wall Drug © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mother of All Tourist Traps

One of (if not the) the most prominent tourist traps has to be Wall Drug. You can’t miss it: Not only because it’s massive, but because you’ll see hundreds of hand-painted signs across multiple states, luring tourists in with the promise of free ice water and $.05 coffee (the ice water’s great, the coffee not so much).

Related article: 10 Unusual Roadside Attractions to Stop For

Wall Drug © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And even if you wish to avoid it, you kind of can’t: At the intersection of East and West, North and South, it’s one of the last places to get gas for a while, regardless of where you’re going. Just grab a “where the heck is Wall Drug” bumper sticker, eat a donut, and soak in the Americana.

Prehistoric sculpture © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Monsters in the Desert

Something prehistoric. Something mythical. Something otherworldly. Here, in the middle of the desert, is a magical array of free-standing sculptures that will astound you. Imagine driving along Borrego Springs Road and something catches your attention—a dark form in the desert landscape. You spy a horse as it rears off to the side of the road. You look again and it is big, but it doesn’t seem to be moving. Then you look again and you realize it is a huge sculpture that has captured your attention.

Prehistoric sculptors © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Then, rising out of the flat desert landscape, an elephant appears. Alarmingly close by, a T-Rex bears its maw chasing a saber-tooth tiger. From the corners of your eyes, these large structures can be deceptively realistic. This is not a mirage but the gifts of visionary benefactor Dennis Avery (now deceased) and the craft of artist/welder Ricardo Breceda.

Related article: 12 Must-See Roadside Attractions for the Perfect Road Trip

Hole N” The Rock © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hole N” The Rock

You’re driving down US Highway 191 south of Moab, thinking vaguely of finding a place to pull over and stretch, maybe get some snacks, when you see, in the distance: a massive red rock face with blazing white detailing. You drive closer. “HOLE N” THE ROCK”.

Hole N” The Rock © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Is it … literally a hole in the rock? It is, kinda, yes. Hole N” The Rock is a 5,000-square-foot home carved into the rock where you’ll also find a trading post, general store, art collection, and petting zoo—camels, zebras, albino raccoons. You are wondering whether you can feed them, yes you can.

“WE ARE NOT YOUR DESTINATION:” explains/yells the Hole N” The Rock website, “WE ARE AN AMAZING STOP ALONG THE WAY.”

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

Nestled in the scenic hills of Desert Hot Springs, a Hopi-inspired pueblo sits against a hillside. Not just any pueblo but one built with natural materials collected throughout the desert. Yerxa’s pueblo is a four-story, 5,000-square-foot structure. It has 160 windows, 65 doors, 30 rooflines, and 35 rooms. When homesteader Yerxa Cabot settled in Desert Hot Springs, he used re-purposed materials and a little ingenuity to build a home so unique it remains a preserved museum to this day.

Mitchell Corn Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

World’s Only Corn Palace

This corn crazed prairie town in South Dakota is home to the high school sports teams the Kernels, local radio station KORN, and the “architectural showplace of the world” known as the Mitchell Corn Palace. Its czarist-Russia exterior and intricate murals are made entirely out of local corn and grains (it’s refurbished annually), and the onion domes and minarets make it the world’s only corn palace, but would the world really need more than one of these?

Related article: Blow Your Mind at the Weirdest Roadside Attractions across America

World’s Largest Pistachio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One Really Big Nut

One of the largest pistachio tree grooves in New Mexico, PistachioLand is a destination that can be enjoyed by all ages. Located in the Tularosa Basin outside of Alamogordo it’s an easy day trips from Las Cruces and can be combined with a visit to White Sands National Park.

PistachioLand is the home of the World’s Largest Pistachio, Pistachio Tree Ranch, McGinn’s Country Store, and Arena Blanca Winery.

Superstition Mountain Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Lost Dutchman

Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum is the keeper and purveyor of the colorful tales of bygone days, both true and mythical. Located on the Apache Trail (Arizona Highway 88), the museum is comprised of numerous outdoor structures including the Apacheland Barn and the Elvis Chapel, the last surviving structures from Apacheland Movie Ranch, a huge working 20-stamp gold mill, a historical model railroad, Western storefronts, an exhibit hall and gift shop/bookstore, and nature trail.

World’s Largest Roadrunner © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An Encounter with the World’s Largest Roadrunner

The Roadrunner is the official state bird of New Mexico. A giant recycled roadrunner—20 feet tall and 40 feet long—has been an icon of Las Cruces ever since artist Olin Calk built it in 1993. It was made exclusively of items salvaged from the landfill.

Related article: Wacky and Fun Roadside Attractions across America

In early 2001, Olin stripped off the old junk, replaced it with new junk, and moved the roadrunner to a rest stop along Interstate 10, just west of the city. Signs around the sculpture warned of rattlesnakes, but when we stopped by to visit people were blissfully trudging out to the big bird anyway, to pose for snapshots or examine the junk (We did, too).

Worth Pondering…

Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.

—Emma Chase