In honor of Veterans Day, celebrated annually on November 11, we’ve found some great destinations that are steeped in military history
Veterans Day, first celebrated in 1919 under the
proclamation of Woodrow Wilson, Veterans Day was originally called Armistice
Day and was in honor of the end of hostilities at the end of World War I (which
formally ended in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918). The
holiday changed to its modern form in 1954.
Some of the best places to visit for a sense of what a
veteran has experienced are museum ships. You can visit the Midway in San
Diego, California; the Lexington in Corpus Christi, Texas; the Yorktown in
Charleston, South Carolina; the Hornet in Alameda, California; the Intrepid in
New York, New York; USS Alabama in Mobile, Alabama; and USS Constitution (Old
Ironside) in Boston, Massachusetts.
On January 17, 1781, the Americans won a decisive battle against the better-trained British Army. The Battle of Cowpens (South Carolina) was over in less than an hour. This battle was the event which started British General Cornwallis on his march north to his eventual surrender at Yorktown just nine months later.
It was one of those special moments in time when destiny is
forever changed. The march to Yorktown had begun.
The first significant American military victory during the
Revolution, the Battles of Saratoga ranks among the fifteen most decisive
battles in world history. Here in the autumn of 1777 American forces met,
defeated, and forced a major British army to surrender. This crucial American
victory in the Battle of Saratoga renewed patriots’ hopes for independence,
secured essential foreign recognition and support, and forever changed the face
of the world.
The Battles of Saratoga (September 19 and October
7, 1777) marked the climax of the Saratoga campaign giving the
Americans a decisive victory over the British forces. British General John
Burgoyne led a large invasion army up the Champlain Valley from Canada,
hoping to meet a similar force marching northward from New York City; the
southern force never arrived, and Burgoyne was surrounded by American forces in
upstate New York.
Though all the survivors from the Civil War are now gone, it’s still a great way to honor veterans and learn some history at the same time. Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania, is perhaps the epitome of Civil War battlefields. It was the largest, bloodiest battle of the Civil War with 50,000 casualties. Though the conflict took place more than 150 years ago, it’s still a powerful reminder of the sacrifice and strife that took place and that almost tore apart the nation.
Fought over the first three days of July 1863, the Battles
of Gettysburg was one of the most crucial battles of the Civil War. The
fate of the nation literally hung in the balance that summer of 1863 when
General Robert E. Lee, commanding the “Army of Northern Virginia”, led his army
north into Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg resulted not
only in Lee’s retreat to Virginia, but an end to the hopes of the Confederate
States of America for independence.
The Appomattox Court House National Historic Park
commemorates the heroic acts which took place in April of 1865 in this, the
original village, to bring about the end of the Civil War.
Walk the old country lanes where Robert E. Lee, Commanding
General of the Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered his men to Ulysses Grant,
General-in-Chief of all United States forces, on April 9, 1865. Imagine the
events that signaled the end of the Southern States’ attempt to create a
The nation’s capital is teeming with monuments dedicated to
the brave men and women who fought in wars both present and past. Some honor
those who fell and some honor those who fought. Regardless, there are plenty of
stunning monuments to see and places to visit. If you can, it’s a wonderful
place to spend Veterans Day.
Thank you veterans!
While only one day of the year is dedicated solely to
honoring our veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of
our fellow countrymen have made to defend our country and protect our freedoms.
Exploring the popular north-to-south Snowbird RV travel routes
Snowbirds escape winter at home by migrating southward each year.
Selecting a balmy snowbird roost is when all the fun begins.
Choice is in rich supply.
Many snowbirds are north-south creatures, meaning those from the American Northwest and Western Canada tend to settle in Arizona, Nevada, and California; those from the Midwest and Central Canada flock to Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana; and those from the Northeast and Eastern Canada head for Florida.
Are you planning on heading directly south from your home
location? Or will you cut across the country in a diagonal direction, exploring
a whole new longitude?
Choice of route is also subject to your own inclinations. Do
you want to sightsee along the way, or—as might be the case in mid-winter—do
you prefer to go hell-bent-for- leather to the Sunbelt?
A successful—and stress free—trip requires a little homework
before you leave. Regardless of your journey, factor in the drive times and
While you’re at it, be sure to account for the changing
weather conditions you’ll encounter on your travels. If you haven’t given
yourself enough time to avoid the first winter storm, plan accordingly. Allow
yourself sufficient time for cold-weather driving, and bring ample warm-weather
clothes to get you through the journey.
Since the Interstate highways in America are generally
well-maintained and have priority for snow clearing and sanding, they’re a good
bet for safe winter travel.
With many Interstate highways, the price you pay for fast
speed convenience is a lack of variation in the scenery along the route.
North-south Interstates are different, partly because they are north-south
routes and therefore pass through varying climatic conditions and elevation
Interstates 95 and 75 are the two preferred north-south
travel routes from the northeast to Florida because they are direct and provide
a wide range of service facilities.
“Along Interstate-95” and “Along Interstate-75” are two
popular spiral-bound mile-by-mile guidebooks with practical information on
these two major north-south routes.
I-95 is the longest north-south interstate in the US,
traveling through 15 states. It is the main highway on the East Coast of the U.
S., paralleling the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Florida and serving some of
the best-known cities in the country including Boston, New York City,
Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Miami.
Every year, I-75 leads millions of snowbirds from Canada and
the U.S. Midwest to the warmer South.
I-75 is a perfect sample of America. It starts right at the Canadian border in Sault Ste. Marie, then down to Detroit and into the heart of the Midwest through Michigan and Ohio. From there, it makes its way through Kentucky and Tennessee, stopping near and in cities like Lexington, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, before entering Georgia. I-75 is a main route to Atlanta, and from Atlanta, it continues into Florida.
As you cruise the route past Tampa, take some time to enjoy the brief East-West stretch through the Everglades that’s known as Alligator Alley before ending just north of Miami. Whether you’re looking for the fastest route from the Midwest to Florida, or you happen to be enjoying the ride between some of America’s coolest cities, I-75 is loaded with plenty to see and do along the way.
Along I-75, you can see Civil War, American Indian, and
civil rights history. You can sample Southern BBQ and peach cobbler. You pass
through crowded cities and shaded valleys, miles of tacky billboards, and
pristine horse country.
Kentucky is best known for two things: horse-racing and
bourbon. I-75 passes near some distilleries, but if you don’t have the time to
spend fully exploring the Bourbon Trail, you can get some classic Kentucky
vibes at the Kentucky Horse Park. A ticket gets you access to two super
thoroughbred museums (including the Smithsonian’s International Museum of the
Horse) and admission to their horse shows throughout the day, some of which
feature retired racehorses. You can go for a horseback ride, tour the barns,
and visit various halls of fame. Or, just stop in to enjoy the atmosphere and
check out the statues of Man O’ War and other famous horses and jockeys.
The Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park protects the land that saw some of the bloodiest, hardest-fought battles that turned the tide of the Civil War. In 1863, the Union and the Confederacy were fighting for control of Chattanooga, a railroad center that was known as the Gateway to the South. The Union Army suffered devastating losses at Chickamauga in Georgia, but ultimately defeated the Confederates and seized control of Chattanooga shortly after.
This is the location of the Chickamauga battlefield (all of the battlefields in the area are operated as various units in one park by the National Park Service). The visitor center is at the north end of the battlefield and contains the bookstore, museum exhibits, films, and visitor info that will guide you during your visit.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
Petite Sirah (aka. Durif, Petite Syrah) I Love You!
Developed in the 1870s in France’s Rhône region where it is
known as Durif or Petite Syrah, this grape variety is more
commonly known by its slightly anglicized synonym, Petite Sirah—particularly in
California. The “petite” refers to the size of its berries and
leaves that look like its namesake.
Dr. Francois Durif, a grape botanist and grape breeder at
the University of Montpellier in Southern France, released this new variety
that he named after himself. The result of a cross between the
noble Syrah and a relatively minor Rhône variety, Peloursin, Durif
was developed to resist mildew, to which Syrah is susceptible. Although
mildew-resistant, the tightly-bunched variety never really caught on because of
gray rot or root rot in the humid Rhône region .
However, the grape has adapted well to the more arid climates of California and Australia (Victoria State). Petite Syrah has, in fact, succeeded better abroad than in its south of France birthplace, where it is now almost never grown.
The combination of Peloursin and Syrah results in fruit with saturated color and very dense fruit clusters. Its small berries, and consequently high skin-to-juice ratio, allow Petite Sirah to produce wines with high tannin levels, surprisingly high acidity, and thus the ability to age. Characteristically, these wines have dense blackberry fruit character, mixed with black pepper notes.
The grape’s similarity to parent Syrah became confusing for
early planters in California. Starting in the 1880s, some of the original Durif
vines were confused for a clone of Syrah and subsequently named Petite
Sirah. DNA fingerprinting has shown that the majority of Petite Sirah
plantings in California are actually Durif.
Until the push for varietal-labeled wines came to the fore
in the 1960s and ’70s, little thought was given to the actual name of this
variety in California. It was often added to provide color and body to
California’s bulk wine production, or used to add richness to North Coast
Zinfandel and Barbera.
There is nothing “petite” about this wine. This is one
of the few wines that can often be identified by just looking at its beautiful
deep black/purple color often described as inky. Petite Sirah is one of
the dark grapes that are often referred to as “black grapes.” This is largely
due to the dark skin of the grape itself. After you uncorked a bottle you can
see exactly how inky and dark the end of the cork is. If you are not careful,
you can stain a countertop, your clothes, or your hands.
Wines are relatively acidic, with firm texture and mouth
feel. Vintners will sometimes introduce a small amount of white wine into
Petite Sirah to calm the intensity with little effect on color. The bouquet has
herbal and black pepper overtones, and typically offers flavors of blue fruit
especially blueberries, black fruit, plums. Petite Sirah wines that are very
tannic have aging ability that can exceed 20 years.
When purchasing a bottle from the winery, ask the tasting
room staff for the winemaker’s recommendation on bottle aging.
Petite Sirah can sometimes be rather “short,” that
is, the flavor does not linger in the mouth; hence, the benefit of blending
with another grape which may lack mid-palate depth will add length and elegance
like a Zinfandel.
Acreage for the grape has had its ups and downs over the
years, reaching its heyday during the 1970s before plummeting to its lowest
point of about 1,750 acres statewide in 1995. These days, almost 10,000 acres
are planted to the variety, which is great news for fans of big, rich, hearty
The first Petite Sirah plantings in California date back to
1884 in Alameda County. But we have Concannon Vineyard in Livermore Valley to
thank for Petite Sirah’s popularity. The winery was the first in the U.S. to
call out Petite Sirah on the label—in 1964. Now it’s Concannon’s rock star
Wines made from the Petite Sirah are not subtle, and provide
a generous mouthful of juicy black fruit and grippy tannins. Some of the producers
that are currently creating great Petite Sirah include David Bruce, Girard, and
Michael David with their Earthquake series—one of our personal favorites.
Pick up a bottle and find out why, despite the label, this
wine is anything but “petite.”
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, I’m finding enjoyment
in things that stop time. Just the simple act of tasting a glass of wine is its
We know a bit about the people who built the Hovenweep Towers but much of their history remains unknown
In the high desert country which straddles the border
between southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado, the Hovenweep ruins with
their mysterious towers induce a strange silence, something you cannot quite
Walk in ancient footsteps. Soak in the silence. Marvel at a
night sky overflowing with stars. Hear a lone coyote’s howl. Experience the
past at Hovenweep National Monument.
In our experience at Hovenweep (a Ute word meaning
“deserted valley”), you hear nothing at all for long periods. When
you see the occasional visitors, they seem to walk along the trails and among
the ruins in deliberate quietness. They seem to speak with hushed voices, as
though they were exploring the sanctuaries of the great old European
cathedrals, many constructed at about the same time the early Pueblo people
called Anasazi built the Hovenweep villages.
Hovenweep preserves six villages once inhabited by the ancestors
of today’s Pueblo people. The six Hovenweep site groups are located within a 20-mile
drive of each other along the Utah-Colorado border.
These units vary greatly in size, the largest of which is
the 400-acre Square Tower Group. Both this group, where the Ranger Station
is located, and Cajon Ruins are located in Utah. The Colorado sites
are Holly Ruins, Hackberry Canyon, Cutthroat Castle, and Goodman Point.
Altogether, Hovenweep National Monument encompasses 785 acres.
The visitor center contains exhibits and educational
information for visitors. There is a small sales area with books specializing
on the cultural and natural history of the area.
These structures evoke an ancient time—one filled with the
sights and sounds of a vibrant and dynamic culture. Family groups built their
homes at the heads of canyons, surrounding life-giving seep springs that
provided water, cooler temperatures, and shade from the cottonwood and
hackberry trees that grew there.
Perched on the canyon rims, these villages have weathered
the centuries, owing to their solid foundations and careful construction. The
towers and rooms of Hovenweep are unique in the style and quality of their
masonry. Stones are carefully shaped and small rocks and mortar fill the gaps
between, keeping out sun, cold, wind, and any small creatures.
These structures at Hovenweep are numerous and varied. Some
are square, some D-shaped, some round, some almost four stories tall. The exact
purpose of the towers is uncertain, but possibilities include celestial
observatories, defensive structures, storage facilities, civil buildings,
communications towers, and ceremonial buildings. Only limited archeological
work has been done at Hovenweep. None of the structures have been rebuilt and
remain standing after 700 years.
The Hovenweep people built increasingly larger and taller
towers over time, an indication of the increasing importance of the structures.
They built them (in cross section) in D-shaped, square, rectangular, circular,
or irregular outlines. They located them, often with perilous entryways, on
canyon ledges, canyon bottoms, even atop large boulders.
In some of them, they built viewing ports, suggesting
lookout or, possibly, defensive structures. In some, they left ceramic vessels,
stone tools, stone grinding basins, and food plant traces, suggesting living,
working, and storage areas. In some, they incorporated wall openings which
admitted shafts of sun at summer solstice, suggesting solar calendars. For
some, they constructed tunnels which led from the towers to kivas, suggesting a
Why did the Hovenweep people, unlike other Anasazi,
concentrate on building increasingly large towering structures with various
cross-sectional shapes, in differing (even dangerous) locations, for apparently
diverse functions? Why did they hold the towers in such importance? No one can
say for sure.
The towers remain one of the enduring mysteries of
I hope you dance because…
Time is a wheel.
Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along.
Tell me, who wants to look back on their years and wonder
where their years have gone.
—Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, I Hope You Dance
Here are the essentials for an extended RV trip including snowbird travel
Over the course of 22 years of our snowbird RV lifestyle, we have learned what we really need to pack and what we can do without. Our list of “essentials” has changed over the years based on changing needs and available storage space.
Before leaving on our snowbird journey we go through the RV to determine the items needed and those no longer required.
Following is a list of the items we currently pack into our RV for our snowbird travels to the U.S. Sunbelt. It should be noted that the majority of these items are never removed from the RV.
Hopefully, if you are new to the snowbird lifestyle the following list will provide some assistance on the essentials required when planning an extended RV trip.
Laptop computer, printer, camera, lens, and camera bag
Manuals for the motorhome and toad
Atlases and maps
Campground directories (Good Sam and Big Rigs)
Place setting for four people
Coffee mugs and assorted glassware
Small, medium, and large pots w/lids
Electric fry pan
Air tight plastic containers of various sizes for food storage
Spare oil, hydraulic fluid, transmission fluid for motorhome
Portable collapsible ladder
Heavy duty clippers with extendable handles
4 fire extinguishers—bedroom, entrance, storage, and toad
Emergency road side reflective triangles
First aid kit
Spare batteries for LED flashlights, CO, smoke, and LP gas detectors
Battery jumper cables
Wow! When I actually sat down and listed our stuff and it
sure adds up. It’s hard to believe it all fits in our rig, but it does. Fortunately,
our Dutch Star diesel pusher’s ample storage space and a decent amount of extra
cargo weight capacity.
Along with the reliability of Newmar motorhomes and the quality service provided by our dealer—Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia—the ample cargo carrying capacity was one of the reasons we chose it. Something to think about if you’re buying a rig for extended RV trips.
No matter where we go in our motorhome, that sense of
independence is satisfying. We have our own facilities, from comfortable bed to
a fridge full of our favorite foods. We set the thermostat the way we like it
and go to bed and get up in our usual routine.
Today’s barn decorating revival became
popular with a woman named Donna Sue Groves, from Adams
County, Ohio. She wanted to honor her mother by hanging a
colorful painted quilt square on her barn.
From the start, the mother of the quilt-barn movement
envisioned mile after mile of quilt trails throughout Appalachia, but the
folksy phenomenon has exceeded her expectations.
“We’re celebrating quilting as an art form. We’re
celebrating our agricultural heritage and supporting entrepreneurial
opportunities,” Groves says.
The history of barn decoration dates back to the mid
1800s. Painting symbols on barns originated from traditional folk art
passed along from the German and Swiss immigrants who settled the Pennsylvania
Dutch region in southeastern Pennsylvania. Once these groups including
Lutherans, Moravians, and Mennonites built their family farms and
communities, they would paint small patterns on their barns to celebrate their
heritage. Originally these patterns were simple stars, compass roses, or
stylized birds from traditional folk art.
In 2000, when Donna Sue Groves set out to fulfill her
promise to paint a quilt square on her mother’s tobacco barn, she decided to
expand her folk art idea beyond their farm. As an Ohio Arts Council employee,
she had a hunch that quilt squares painted on the sides of barns throughout
Adams County would provide work for local artists and encourage
visitors to travel through the countryside.
Groves organized volunteers for the Adams County Quilt Barn
Sampler committee as they established guidelines for the 8-foot-by-8-foot
painted wooden squares called “barn quilts.” Her mother Maxine stitched a
sampler quilt with 20 traditional patterns chosen by the group and in October
2001, they unveiled their first painted quilt square—an Ohio Star—on a barn
during the Lewis Mountain Olde Thyme Herb Fair in Manchester, Ohio.
From the beginning tourists roamed the back roads of the
county in search of the colorful quilt patterns, taking photographs, and
visiting with barn owners.
As the folk art spread across the countryside, Donna Sue’s
gift to her mother became a gift to rural America.
This was the start of the first quilt trail in America.
Quilt trails have now being organized all across the
country. Barn quilts are displayed around communities and then
mapped out for tourists to follow these amazing works of art. They promote
tourism and help draw visitors into rural communities.
Traditional stars and various quilt patterns are now being
displayed on barns, homes, sheds, and sides of buildings. They
are also put on posts and displayed in yards and parks.
Today, more than 4,000 quilt squares adorn barns and other
buildings in 34 states, most situated along more than 120 designated barn-quilt
“The trails are very localized. What’s going on is local
pride,” says Suzi Parron, author of Barn
Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement, published in 2012.
Parron, an English teacher from Stone Mountain, Georgia,
became smitten with the folk art phenomenon after seeing a Flying Geese quilt
square on a barn in Cadiz, Kentucky.
The quilt squares are painted by farm families, professional
artists, high school art students, quilt guilds, 4-H groups, and other
Each community organizes its own trail. Many groups seek art
and tourism grants and donations to pay for paint, wood, and brochures. Local
utility companies, fire departments, and building contractors often provide
manpower and trucks with lifts to hang the wooden blocks. Sometimes, barn
owners pay a few hundred dollars for their own barn quilts.
In Morgan County, Colorado, quilting enthusiast Nancy Lauck
has painted nearly 200 barn quilts since 2007 because she treasures the barns
built by pioneering farmers.
Another barn preservationist, Marcella Epperson in Johnson
City, Tennessee, enjoys meeting visitors and sharing stories about her
wooden-pegged barn built in 1898 by her grandfather. A combination of two quilt
patterns—a LeMoyne Star set inside Swallows in the Window—decorates the barn.
Barn quilts remind people of their agricultural roots, as
Donna Sue Groves intended, and bring attention to the endangered status of
The mesas, thin buttes, and the tall spires rising above the valley, and the contrasting orange sand, makes Monument Valley the most impressive landscape in the southwest
One of the most iconic and enduring landmarks of the American Wild West, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park has isolated sandstone mesas, buttes, and a sandy desert that has been photographed and filmed countless times.
Monument Valley boasts crimson mesas, surreal sandstone towers which range in height from 400 to 1,000 feet. Made of de Chelly sandstone, which is 215 million years old, the towers are the remnants of mesas, or flat-topped mountains. Mesas erode first into buttes like the Elephant, which typically are as high as they are wide, then into slender spires like the Three Sisters.
The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations,
providing scenery that is simply spellbinding.
It is one of those sights that takes your breath away and
makes you speechless—what the Western writer Zane Grey once described as “a
strange world of colossal shafts and buttes of rock, magnificently sculptored,
standing isolated and aloof, dark, weird, lonely.”
Known as Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii (or Valley of the Rocks) to the
Navajo, they believe it is a gift from their creator and each unique formation
has a story.
Entering Monument Valley is to enter a world of mystery,
incredible beauty, and age-old tradition.
The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by
its size. The fragile pinnacles of rock are surrounded by miles of mesas and
buttes, shrubs, trees, and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent
colors of the valley. All of this harmoniously combines to make Monument Valley
a truly wondrous experience.
Our first stop was the legendary Goulding’s Trading Post located
just north of the Arizona-Utah border, six miles from the Monument Valley
Navajo Tribal Park.
After arriving Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in
mid-afternoon and obtaining information about available options for exploring this
wonderland of rocks, we departed the Visitor Center at Lookout Point and
started the Valley Drive, a 17-mile self-guided dirt road. The road winds past
the valley’s best red rock buttes and spires, with 11 stops for photos.
This is considered one of the world’s premier spots for
landscape photography. The best stops for photographing the towers are the
Mittens and Merrick Butte, Elephant Butte, Three Sisters, John Ford’s Point,
Camel Butte, The Hub, the Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei, Sand Springs, Artist’s
Point, North Window, and The Thumb. The best times for photography are early
mornings and late afternoons when the shadows lengthen and the sun brings out
the reds and oranges in the buttes.
Allow at least two to three hours at the posted 10 mph. Expect
to eat the valley’ orange dust, because other vehicles will kick up thick
clouds of it during the dry weather that you’ll find in this high desert most
of the year.
In a swirl of red dust we dropped down into the valley rim
in our four-wheel-drive dinghy with guide map in hand.
The road is dusty, steep in a couple of places and rather
uneven, but does not need a four-wheel-drive—the journey is suitable for the
majority of family cars, and small to medium sized RVs, though the surface is
perhaps not improved too much in order to increase business for the many Navajo
guides and 4WD Jeep rental outfits, which wait expectantly by the visitor
Though rough in many spots and probably impassable in wet
weather, the road was easily travel on this day.
We wound our way past the Mittens, Elephant Butte, the Three
Sisters, and to John Ford’s Point—named for the famous director who made movies
in Monument Valley, many of them starring John Wayne.
The weather was perfect—sunny and warm—as we continued on past Camel Butte, the Hub, and to the Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei. The changing light and shifting shadows created an never-ending stream of views. Continuing on around Raingod Mesa and Artist Point, we timed our drive to return to the
After photographing the amazing sunset we drove our toad
east to our camping site at Cottonwood RV Park in Bluff, Utah, a round day trip
of 119 miles.
Here are some things you can do to help protect your home while you head for warmer weather.
If you’re planning for snowbird travel or other long-term RV adventure, you need to prepare your home to be unoccupied for months at a time. A key aspect of this preparation is making sure your home appears occupied.
Stop the Mail and
The mail is often a never-ending cascade of advertising and
other solicitations—with bills and an occasional letter or card
in-between. Left unchecked, mail will likely accumulate beyond your mail
box capacity and potentially announce your absence. Thank you, junk mail.
Thankfully, stopping the mail is as easy as going onto USPS.com and
requesting your mail to be held or forwarded. For $1 you can have your mail
forwarded for as short as fifteen days or as long as one year. After the
first six months, you can extend for another six months. Even better, you
can adjust the amount of time your mail is forwarded online. You can
shortened or extended mail forwarding based on changing road plans.
Canadians have a similar mail forwarding system but pay a
minimum of $52.95 for four months of mail forwarding within their province,
$65.95 within Canada, and $152.95 to the U.S. For more information about mail
forwarding in Canada visit CanadaPost.ca.
For many, there’s nothing better than reading a physical
newspaper or magazine. Be sure to pause those newspaper drops while you’re
away, or they may give your absence away.
Even if you have your newspapers stopped, circulars and
phone books may be dropped at your house. Again, ask your neighbor to
check for these. There is nothing that says, “no one at home” like an
accumulation of newspapers on your front step or at the end of your
Arrange with a neighbor, relative, or commercial service for
snow removal. Depending on the season of your absence, and your home climate,
it may also be necessary to have someone help with lawn maintenance, weed
control, leaf raking and removal, and lawn and shrub watering.
Those with house plants should also make arrangements to
have their plants watered and cared for.
Consider a Web Camera
With high-speed internet and a high quality camera, it’s possible
to see a live video feed of your house and property from almost anywhere. That’s
right, you can watch your house yourself when you’re away.
Many of the internet and security system companies now sell
and install web camera systems for a monthly fee. On the other hand, there
are companies that sell do-it-yourself kits including the web cameras, digital
hubs, and software that allows you to install, set-up, and use such a system. Be
aware that these web camera kits are not for the technologically challenged,
and likely require running wire and cables throughout your attic and crawl
Never Post Travel
Plans or Events on Social Media
It’s common sense that you don’t run around telling everyone
that you’ll be away and your house will be unoccupied, but that’s exactly what
you do by posting your trip plans and adventure to social media: Facebook,
Twitter, YouTube, etc. It’s also not a good idea to change your answering
machine message to anything implying your absence.
Naturally you might think taking pictures is what you do
once you’re on the road and exploring new places. While this is certainly
true, you also should take pictures of your home and possessions prior to
leaving. In case of a fire, flood, or other disaster, these photographs
will prove what you had, and in what overall condition it was in.
You may also consider photocopying your passport, credit
cards, drivers license, and other important documents. Hopefully you will not
need these images but having evidence of this information can make or break
travel plans in case of an emergency.
The best part of the above recommendations is the peace of
mind they’ll give you if you’re away from home.
We have chosen to be reasonably warm year-round, so we are
snowbirds. Every year when I hear the honks of the Canada geese overhead,
something in my genes starts pulling my inner-compass to the South. And an
inner voice whispers: “Surely you’re as smart as a goose.” Feeling that I am at
least as smart as a silly goose, I line up the motorhome with that compass
pointer and head for the Sun Belt.
The eleventh month of each year brings beautiful fall foliage, a pre-holiday calm, and tons of things to give thanks for—especially when it comes to RV travel
November may seem like an inconvenient time to vacation due to Thanksgiving at the end of the month, but there are benefits for RV travel during this shoulder season. Crowds at popular destinations are a thing of the past.
From cool fall breezes to pre-holiday calm, November offers
plenty of reasons to give thanks while RVing.
With these five November travel ideas, you’ll be plenty
relaxed before all the holiday hoopla.
And be sure to catch up on all our recommendations for the best places to visit in August, September, or October.
Civil War Battlefield
Though all the survivors from the Civil War are now gone, it’s still a great way to honor veterans and learn some history at the same time. Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania, is perhaps the epitome of Civil War battlefields. It was the largest, bloodiest battle of the Civil War with 50,000 casualties.
Though the conflict took place more than 150 years ago, it’s
still a powerful reminder of the sacrifice and strife that took place and that
almost tore apart the nation.
Sometimes referred to as Florida’s inland sea, Lake Okeechobee is central to a region
of Florida historically known for its agriculture, but in recent times also
equated with superior fishing, boating, and trails. Waterways on either side
run into the “Big O,” as the lake is called, making it part of
a152-mile boating passage way through the middle of the state known as the
Clewiston, on the 750 square-mile lake’s southern shore, has
the most to offer travelers, especially those intent on hooking into the lake’s
legendary largemouth bass and speckled perch. Fishing guides and resorts help
out with that goal. Blue gills, Okeechobee catfish, and black crappies are
other local catches.
Clewiston is also known as “America’s Sweetest
Town,” so be sure to do the Sugarland
Express tour of a local farm and mill (you even get to chew on some
sugarcane) and a three-hour boat cruise that explains the lake’s historic and
Battlefield, South Carolina
On Jan. 17, 1781, the Americans won a decisive battle
against the better-trained British Army. The battle was over in less than an
hour. This victory gave the Patriots the moral support needed to continue
fighting and win the Revolution just nine months later. Featured at the
battlefield are a walking trail and marked road tour, picnic grounds, and a
visitor center with exhibits, memorabilia, and a multi-image presentation.
The British sustained one of the worst disasters of their Southern campaign, and the Patriots finally defeated “Bloody” Tarleton. General Daniel Morgan displayed brilliant tactics in the disposition of his forces, making effective use of both militia and Continental troops to envelop and rout the British. Most of Tarleton’s army were killed or captured, and the rest fled. The Battle of Cowpens was the event which started Cornwallis on his road to Yorktown.
Bosque del Apache National
Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
Bosque del Apache stands out as one of the country’s most accessible and popular national wildlife preserves—for wildlife and human visitors alike—providing a seasonal home, November through March, for up to 12,000 sandhill cranes, 32,000 snow geese, and nearly 40,000 ducks.
Many thousands of bird watchers, photographers, and nature lovers from around the nation and beyond follow them here. And there’s no better time or way to appreciate all that the 57,000-acre refuge has to offer than attending the annual Festival of the Cranes, the week before Thanksgiving.
Imagine a place where unusual creatures swim through
mirror-top waters and exotic plants sprout from floating islands—a place where
thousands of creatures serenade the setting of the sun each day.
The Okefenokee offers so much, one could spend a lifetime
and still not see and do everything. Spanish moss-laced trees reflect off the
black swamp waters, while cypress knees rise upward from the glass-like
surface. Here, paddlers and photographers enjoy breathtaking scenery and
The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.
A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired
Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.
What is a recall?
When a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.
NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.
The number of RV recalls has increased significantly in
recent years: 169 recalls were issued during 2016, 203 recalls during 2017, and
230 for 2018.
It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.
NHTSA announced 13 recall notices during October 2019. These
recalls involved 8 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Jayco (4 recalls), Forest
River (2 recalls), Keystone RV Company (2 recalls), Airstream (1 recall), Heartland
Recreational Vehicles (1 recall), Cruiser RV (1 recall), Pleasure Way (1
recall), and Starcraft RV (1 recall).
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Jay
Feather X19H travel trailers. The handles for the emergency exit windows may
not allow the windows to open sufficiently for them to be used as an emergency
Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will replace the
emergency window handles, free of charge. The recall began October 11, 2019.
Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for
this recall is 9901441.
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Redhawk
SE motorhomes. The seatbelt-unfastened warning light will not illuminate for
approximately five seconds after the ignition is moved to the “on” or
“start” position. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the
requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208,
“Occupant Crash Protection.”
GM will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the
instrument panel cluster, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin
October 16, 2019. Owners may contact GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782 or
Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137.
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019 Eagle HT and
Eagle recreational trailers. The gas range does not vent outside.
Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will install a range
hood vent out the sidewall of the trailer, free of charge. The recall is
expected to begin November 20, 2019. Owners may contact Jayco customer service
at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901438.
Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2014-2018 Precept
motorhomes built on Ford F53 chassis. The hydraulic lines may have been
incorrectly routed too close to the exhaust without a heat shield.
Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and correct
the hydraulic line routing as necessary and install a heat shield, free of
charge. The recall is expected to begin November 15, 2019. Owners may contact
Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is
Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain
2019-2020 Sabre trailers, models SRF261RK-C, SRF270RL-C and SRF301BH-C. The
rotating pin box may come into contact with the 7-way junction box/wiring and
cause an electrical short circuit.
Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will relocate
the 7-way and junction box to a location that allows movement when the pin box
is pivoting, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 30, 2019.
Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-2100. Forest
River’s number for this recall is 62-1085.
Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020
Cherokee trailers, models CKT16BF-D, CKT16BFH-D, CKT16GR-D and CKT16GRH-D. The
protective paneling may not have been installed around the distribution panel,
allowing the distribution panel wiring to be exposed in a storage compartment,
which can lead to damage to the panel and wiring.
Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will install a
divider in the storage compartment to ensure the distribution panel wiring is
protected, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 30, 2019.
Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-260-499-2100. Forest
River’s number for this recall is 17D-1089.
Keystone RV Company
Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020
Cougar 30RKD trailers. The 60″x29″ emergency exit windows over the
dinette table in the cabin are missing a red handle and “EXIT” label.
Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will replace the
existing black exit handles with red handles and add an “EXIT” label,
free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 5, 2019. Owners may
contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this
recall is 19-360.
Keystone RV Company
Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020
Cougar fifth wheels and travel trailers, models 22RBS, 23MLS, 25RES, 26RBS,
26RKS, 27RES, 27SAB, 27SGS, 29BHS, 29FKD, 29RLD, 30RKD, 31MBS, 32RDB, 32RLI and
34TSB. The wiring for the solar preparation kit may have been incorrectly wired
to the wrong side of the 12V breaker, potentially allowing an electrical short
circuit in the event of damage to the wiring.
Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and
correct the installation of the solar preparation wiring, as necessary, free of
charge. The recall is expected to begin November 11, 2019. Owners may contact
Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall
Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2016-2017
International Serenity, 2016 International Signature, and Flying Cloud trailers
that are 19 feet long. The vertically-mounted inverter may contact the
floor-mounted inverter fuse.
Airstream will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the
location of the inverter and inverter fuse. If the inverter and inverter fuse
are not mounted on the same surface, the inverter fuse will be relocated, and
secured to the same surface as the inverter. In addition, a protective cover
will be installed on the inverter fuse bar, free of charge. The recall is
expected to begin November 15, 2019. Owners may contact Airstream customer
service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111 extension 7401 or 7411.
Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is
recalling certain 2020 Milestone recreational trailers. The wood backers for
bunk supports were not installed on the slide out bunk end walls during
manufacturing, possibly allowing the upper bunk bed to fall.
Heartland dealers will install wood backers to secure the
bunk bed, free of charge, all affected vehicles were on dealer lots. The recall
began on September 20, 2019. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at
Cruiser RV (Cruiser) is recalling certain 2020 Southfork
recreational trailers. The wood backers for bunk supports were not installed on
the slide out bunk end walls during manufacturing, possibly allowing the upper
bunk bed to fall.
Cruiser will notify owners, and dealers will install wood
backers to secure the bunk bed, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin
November 15, 2019. Owners may contact Cruiser customer service at
Pleasure Way Industries Ltd. (Pleasure Way) is recalling
certain 2018-2020 Plateau, Plateau XL, Ascent and Lexor motorhomes equipped
with a Fiamma F45 Eagle or Fiamma F65 Eagle awning. The awning drive mechanism
may fail causing the awning to extend unexpectedly without input from the user.
Pleasure Way will notify owners, and dealers will install
straps to keep the awning closed, as a temporary solution, free of charge.
Fiamma will provide a permanent solution. Pleasure Way issued owners an interim
notification on October 7, 2019. Owners may contact Pleasure Way customer
service at 1-800-364-0189.
Starcraft RV (Starcraft) is recalling certain 2018 Comet
Mini, 2018-2019 GPS, Autumn Ridge Outfitter, Launch Ultra Lite, Launch
Outfitter 7, Autumn Ridge, Launch Outfitter, Satellite and Avalon and 2019
Mossy Oak and Mossy Oak Lite travel trailers. The fuse/circuit breaker wiring
between the battery and the converter may have bypassed the 30amp fuse,
creating an unprotected circuit.
Starcraft will notify owners, and dealers will install a
fuse harness assembly to protect the circuit, free of charge. The recall is
expected to begin November 22, 2019. Owners may contact Starcraft customer
service at 1-800-945-4787. Starcraft’s number for this recall is 9902439.
Note: Owners may
also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety
Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
Please Note: This
is the ninth in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls
It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you