Celebrating Independence Day during the Pandemic

Happy Birthday, USA! Like all birthdays this summer, celebration will probably look a little different than usual.

2020 is shaping up to be the summer—maybe even the year—of the road trip. Pent up demand to get out of town is ramping up with millions of Americans planning to hit the highway for Fourth of July.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After months of staying home, many Americans are itching to get away during the Fourth of July holiday bringing a bump up in travel, particularly short trips by car or recreational vehicle. But many vacationers also appear to be making last-minute decisions as they navigate travel restrictions, canceled fireworks, and uncertainty amid rising coronavirus cases across much of the country.

Road trip along the Blue Ridge Highway in North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A recent story in the Detroit News indicated that sales of bikes, kayaks, and other outdoor gear is at an all-time high, and in fact, some major outdoor retailers are completely sold out of these items. The owner of a bike store in the region stated that he has had his two best months of bike-related accessories and bike repair in over 20 years of business.

Hiking in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Recent studies have shown that people are beginning to return to travel, but they are looking for unique outdoor experiences, as is being proven by their outdoor equipment purchasing habits. Also, people can travel and enjoy the outdoors in such a manner that allows for social distancing. The trend coincides with the most significant increase in Google “camping” searches in nearly a decade.

Canoeing in Stephen Foster State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Having all you need at your fingertips including kitchen, bedroom, toilet and shower, and entertainment center coupled with the ability to easily change course adds to a sense of freedom following COVID-19’s lengthy lockdown.

Fishing at Lynx Lake near Prescott, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not everyone is venturing out to cure cabin fever. Only 18 percent of Americans have taken an overnight trip since March, according to a survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. A majority said they have no plans to travel for the rest of 2020.

Utah Scenic Byway 12, an All-American Road © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the latest projections from the AAA, Americans will take more than 700 million trips this summer but that number is down nearly 15 percent or 120 million trips from last July through September. It’s the first decline in summer travel since 2009 when cash-strapped Americans were trying to climb out of the recession. Airline travel is expected to see a nosedive of 74 percent due to coronavirus fears while cruises, buses, and train travel will be further sunk by about 86 percent.

Fishing at Port Aransas, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That’s where the good old American road trip comes in. Nationally, road-tripping will only decrease by 3 percent with 683 million summer road trips still taking place. Awareness of crowds, self-contained travel, and lower fuel prices are changing the name of the travel game. The spirit of the open road and freedom that comes with departing your driveway has been a staple of travel for generations.

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

Popular destinations and even some states may raise or lower their restrictions at the drop of a hat. But driving gives people a chance to change their travel plans at the last minute.

Camping at Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With all due respect, summer 2020 is probably not the best time to live out your Jack Kerouac fantasy. Planning in advance is essential, and that includes a pandemic-specific packing list.

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AAA lists masks, Lysol wipes, toilet paper, gloves, sanitizer, health insurance cards, and thermometer as the new road trip essentials. Make sure to stock up your COVID kit before departure: These items are in high demand and may be out of stock.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are requiring travelers from states with outbreaks to self-quarantine for 14 days. Other states have varying policies and recommendations. Before you head out to camp for the July 4th weekend, or any weekend, be sure to CALL FIRST.

Although we all need to maintain social distancing and follow CDC guidelines for avoiding the COVID-19 virus, your family can still enjoy the July 4th celebration.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Go camping – Camping is a) perfect for social distancing b) surrounded by natural air filters and c) an excellent excuse to go offline. As we’ve been saying, camping and the outdoors are the safest ways to enjoy nature and have fun.

Saguaro Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Picnic with your family – Grill those favorites…burgers, hot dogs, potatoes, and make s’mores over your campfire. 

Worth Pondering…

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

―Marie Curie

Mount St. Helens: On the Eruption 40 Years Ago & Future Eruptions

Before Mount St. Helens blew its top it was a beautifully symmetric rounded snow-capped mountain that stood between two jagged peaks, Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams

Mount St. Helens, located in southwestern Washington, is one of several lofty volcanic peaks that dominate the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest; the range extends from Mount Garibaldi in British Columbia to Lassen Peak in northern California. Geologists call Mount St. Helens a composite volcano (or stratovolcano), a term for steepsided, often symmetrical cones constructed of alternating layers of lava flows, ash, and other volcanic debris.

Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forty years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted, killing 57 people and leveling the surrounding region. At 8:32 a.m. that fateful day, a 5.1 earthquake rattled the volcano, triggering an explosion of fluid. The north face of the volcano collapsed altogether. The eruption of Mount St. Helens caused the largest landslide in recorded history sweeping through the Toutle River Valley and removing 1,306 feet from the top of the volcano.

Mount St. Helens from Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The powerful lava flow, savage winds, and deadly heat destroyed much of the previous landscape. What the mountain left behind is the history of a violent eruption that shook the surrounding region and left many with stories of that tumultuous day on May 18, 1980.

Mount St. Helens from Hoffstadt Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Four visitor centers tell the story of the mountain and the people living in the region surrounding it. The awesome views from each of the centers bring you face to face with a monumental natural event. 

People remember the thick, dark plumes of clouds that day, the choking ash and lightning bolts that catapulted across the skies. That terrifying, apocalyptic scene is forever seared in the memory of so many.

Mount St. Helens from Lowitt Viewpoint © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since that natural disaster, scientists have made considerable progress in tracking volcanic activity, but more still needs to be done. Seismologist and former University of Washington professor Dr. Steve Malone was one of many experts who had been tracking warning signs of the eventual eruption for months in advance. He said there’s a real threat for another eruption in the decades ahead.

Mount St. Helens from Lowitt Viewpoint © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While he says Mount St. Helens is the most likely to erupt next, Mt. Rainier is considered the most dangerous volcano of the Cascades, largely because it’s surrounded by communities that are heavily populated.

There are five major volcanoes in the Washington Cascades, including Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and of course, Mount Saint Helens. Mt. Hood in Oregon also poses a threat.

On the road to Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“The one we think is sort of the most frightening in many respects are what are called lahars or volcanic mudflows, that can travel down valleys and be totally devastating to anything within that valley,” Malone said.

While scientists can’t predict volcanic explosions with any precision, there can be warning signs up to a week in advance of an eruption.

On the road to Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“I think Mount St. Helens triggered that awareness, that says ‘hey, we really need to pay more attention to these’ and there’s not just Mount St. Helens, but the other cascade volcanoes as well,” Malone said.

Seismologists say scientists will likely never be able to predict future volcanic eruptions with a great level of accuracy and precision, better monitoring stations on the volcanoes can help. While there’s an adequate number of volcano monitoring stations at Mount St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, more are needed on other Washington volcanoes like Glacier Peak.

On the road to Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) says we cannot forget the message that Mount St. Helens communicated all those years ago. The mountains are beautiful, but they also have the potential to create these hazardous eruptions.

On the road to Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Congress has authorized $55 million to better track volcanoes across the country, but they have yet to invest that money. Even still, the PNSN says it’s working on plans to implement those monitoring devices for once those funds are appropriated and any permits have been granted.

Mount St. Helens Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Each volcano is an independent machine—nay, each vent and monticule is for the time being engaged in its own peculiar business, cooking as it were its special dish, which in due time is to be separately served.

—Clarence Edward Dutton, American geologist (1841-1912)

June 2020 RV Manufacturer Recalls

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.

Hidden Valley RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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 26 recall notices during June 2020. These recalls involved 10 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (9 recalls), Keystone RV Company (4 recalls), Thor Motor Coach (4 recalls), Jayco (3 recalls), KZRV (1 recall), Triple E (1 recall), Highland Ridge RV (1 recall), Airstream (1 recall), Grand Design (1 recall), and Newell (1 recall).

Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Surveyor Travel Trailers, model SVT296QBLE. The safety chains are insufficient for the trailer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and may break in the event of the trailer coming unhitched.

Forest River will notify owners, and a dealer or service center will replace the safety chains, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 1, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-3112. Forest River’s number for this recall is 37-1170.

Tri-Mountain RV Park, Ridgefield, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Coachmen Mirada and Pursuit Class A motorhomes. The gasoline-powered generator fuel supply hose may leak.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the fuel hose, replacing it if necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 6, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-825-8212. Forest River’s number for this recall is 310-1168.

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

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Haulin, US Cargo, and US Cargo Trail N Sport cargo trailers. The safety chains are insufficient for the trailer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and may break if the trailer comes unhitched.

Forest River will notify owners, and a dealer or service center will replace the safety chains, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 8, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-848-1335. Forest River’s number for this recall is 24-1167.

Buccaneer State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021 Prime Time Avenger travel trailers. The safety chains that help prevent a total trailer separation may have been incorrectly attached to the trailer.

Forest River will notify owners, and a dealer or service center will install the missing safety chain attaching hardware, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 15, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-862-1025. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-1163.

A+ Motel & RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021 FR3 recreational vehicles built on a Ford chassis with a V8 engine. The wiring harness may have an incorrect wire connected to the parking brake, allowing the leveling jacks to deploy inadvertently while the vehicle is in motion.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will correct the wiring harness, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 29, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-206-7600. Forest River’s number for this recall is 68-1178.

Terre Haute KOA, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021 Cherokee Wolf Pack toyhaulers, model CKF325PACK13. The propane gas line may be routed around sharp edges which may cause a propane leak.

Forest River will notify owners and dealers will reroute the propane line and/or replace it if necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin August 5, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-260-499-2100. Forest River’s number for this recall is 73-1182.

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

Forest River

Forest River Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Coachmen Galleria, Dynamax Isata, and Forest River Battisti Coach, Forester, and Sunseeker motorhomes, built on 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. The rear part of the front fender liner may contact and chafe the brake hose, possibly resulting in a loss of brake fluid.

Forest River will notify owners, and Mercedes-Benz or Freightliner Sprinter dealers will inspect and replace the brake hoses, as necessary. Additionally, the fender liners will be modified. All services will be performed free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 29, 2020. Owners may contact DVUSA customer service at 1-877-762-8267. DVUSA’s number for this recall is VS3BRADVER. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-1177.

Eagel’s Landing RV Park, Holt, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020 Surveyor recreational trailers equipped with a specific 30K BTU furnace. The furnace may not have been properly secured inside the furnace cabinet, allowing it to move freely inside the cabinet.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will secure the furnace and verify the exhaust vent connections, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 29th, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-3119 Option 2. Forest River’s number for this recall is 47-1175.

West Creek Casino RV Park, Atmore, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Coachmen Galleria and PRISM, Forest River Forester, Battisti and Sunseeker and Dynamax Isata recreational vehicles built on Sprinter chassis with automatic transmission. The operator’s manual does not correctly specify certain conditions under which the automatic parking function (“Auto-P”) operates.

Forest River will notify owners, and Mercedes-Benz dealers will provide the correct description of the Auto-P function for the Operator’s Manual, free of charge. The manufacturer has not provided a notification schedule for this recall. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-800-348-7440 or Sprinter service at 1-877-762-8267. The booklet with correct information is also available online through Mercedes-Benz, free of charge.

Cochise Terrace RV Resort, Benson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Cougar travel trailers, model 24RDS, equipped with a Furrion range cook top. The interior range cooktop is installed in a cabinet that may not be entirely sealed from the furnace cavity. As a result, during furnace operation, the interior range cooktop burner flame may invert.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the interior range cooktop with the furnace running, installing a plywood panel to seal it as necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 17, 2020. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 20-377.

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020 Springdale trailers, model 295BHWE. The Federal Identification Tag incorrectly indicates the tire load range and size as ST255/75R15E with 80 psi; however, the correct load range and tire size is ST255/75R15D with 65 psi. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.”

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will replace the Federal Identification Tag. This recall is expected to begin July 27, 2020. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 20-378.

12 Tribes Casino RV Park, Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020 Springdale trailers, model 335BHWE. The affected trailers incorrectly have 4400 pound axles and ST255/75R15D tires and rims, instead of the correct 5200 pound axles and ST255/75R15E tires and rims as specified on the Federal Identification Tag.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will replace the 4400 pound axles, ST225/75R15D tires, and rims with 5200 pound axles, ST225/75R15E tires, and rims. This recall is expected to begin July 27, 2020. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 20-379.

Eagle’s Landing RV Park, Auburn, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020 Alpine, Avalanche, Fuzion, Laredo, Montana, Raptor, Crossroads Redwood, and Dutchmen Voltage trailers. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal frame of the frameless windows may fail which can allow the glass to detach while moving.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 29, 2020. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 20-375.

Leaf Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Quantum, Chateau and Four Winds, and 2020 Vegas and Axis motorhomes built on a Ford E-series chassis. A wire harness in the rear of the vehicle may contact the vehicle frame, resulting in damage to the circuits that support the fuel pump and the anti-lock braking system (ABS).

TMC will notify owners, and Ford dealers will inspect the wire harness for damage. If no damage is found, dealers will apply anti-abrasion tape over the area and ensure clearance to surrounding components. If damage is found, dealers will splice in new wire and apply anti-abrasion tape over the area and ensure clearance to surrounding components. All services will be performed free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 27, 2020. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000189.

Sunrise RV Park, Texarkana, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2020 Daybreak, Four Winds, Delano, Gemini, Quantum, Tiburon, Chateau Citation, Compass, Chateau, Siesta, Freedom Elite, and Synergy motorhomes built on Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis [platform 907 (VS30)] equipped with automatic transmissions. The owner’s manual does not correctly specify the certain conditions under which the automatic parking function (Auto-P) operates.

TMC will notify owners, and a Mercedes Benz dealer will supplement the Operator’s Manual with a correct description of the Auto-P function equipped in the vehicle. This recall is expected to begin July 26, 2020. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000190.

Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2020 Daybreak, Four Winds, Delano, Gemini, Quantum, Tiburon, Chateau Citation, Compass, Chateau, Siesta, Freedom Elite, and Synergy motorhomes built on Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis [platform 907 (VS30)]. The rear part of the fender liner on the front axle may contact and chafe the brake hose, possibly resulting in a loss of brake fluid.

TMC will notify owners, and an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer will inspect the brake hoses for chafing and replacement if necessary. The fender liner will also be altered to permit more clearance. All repairs will be performed free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 27, 2020. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000191.

Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2020-2021 ACE, 2021 Four Winds and 2020 Gemini, Axis, Compass, Delano, Windsport, Hurricane, Outlaw, and Vegas motorhomes. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal hinge frame of the frameless windows may fail which would then allow the glass to detach and fall out.

TMC will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the frameless windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 5, 2020. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000192.

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

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Entegra Qwest and 2019-2021 Jayco Melbourne and Melbourne Prestige Class C motorhomes built on Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. The Operator’s Manual may not contain the correct information about how the automatic parking function (“Auto-P”) operates.

Jayco will notify owners, and Mercedes-Benz or Freightliner Sprinter dealers will provide the correct description of the Auto-P function for the Operator’s Manual, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin June 12, 2020. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137 or Sprinter service at 1-877-762-8267. The booklet with correct information is also available online, free of charge.

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

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2020 Towable Eagle, Eagle HT, JayFlight, NorthPoint, Octane, Pinnacle, Seismic, and Talon recreational vehicles. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal hinge frame of the frameless crank out vent and egress windows may fail which would then allow the glass to detach and fall out.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the frameless windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin June 15, 2020. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901508.

River Run RV Resort, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2020 Motorized Alante, Greyhawk, Melbourne, Precept, Redhawk, Seneca, Accolade, Emblem, Esteem, Odyssey, Qwest, and Vision recreational vehicles. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal hinge frame of the frameless crank out vent and egress windows may fail which would then allow the glass to detach and fall out.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the frameless windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin June 15, 2020. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901508.

Harvest Moon RV Park, Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

KZRV

KZRV, L.P. (KZRV) is recalling certain 2018 Escape recreational trailers. The Federal Identification Tag and Tire Inflation Pressure Label indicates an incorrect Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR), and an incorrect tire and rim size with incorrect tire inflation pressure, which can result in the tires being overinflated. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

KZRV will mail corrected labels to owners with instructions for their application, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin June 30, 2020. Owners may contact KZRV customer service at 1-800-768-4016, extension 154 or 153. KZRV’s number for this recall is KZ-2020-02.

JGW RV Park, Redding, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Triple E

Triple E Recreational Vehicles (Triple E) is recalling certain 2020 Unity travel trailers, model U24RL. The utility compartment’s inner latch mechanism may rotate due to vehicle motion, becoming locked.

Triple E will notify owners, and dealers will repair the utility compartment latch mechanism, free of charge. This recall began June 2, 2020. Owners may contact Triple E customer service at 1-877-992-9906. Triple E’s number for this recall is CA#9681-1.

Flag City RV Resort, Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highland Ridge RV

Highland Ridge RV (Highland Ridge) is recalling certain 2020 Ridge, Open Range, and Silverstar recreational trailers. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal hinge frame of the frameless crank out vent and egress windows may fail which would then allow the glass to detach and fall out.

Highland RV will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the frameless windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary, free of charge. This recall began June 15, 2020. Owners may contact Highland RV customer service at 1-260-768-7771. Highland RV’s number for this recall is 9901508.

Pleasant Harbor RV Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2017-2018 Basecamp travel trailers. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal frame of the entry door window may fail, allowing the glass to separate while the trailer is moving.

Airstream will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary and installing updated adhesive strips to all windows, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin August 11, 2020. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111, extension 7401 or 7411.

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

Grand Design

Grand Design RV, LLC (Grand Design) is recalling certain 2016-2018 Reflection trailers. A wiring connector in the vehicle underbody may not be properly secured, allowing water intrusion into the wiring connector, possibly resulting in an electrical short circuit.

Grand Design will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and secure the wiring connectors up to prevent water intrusion, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 27, 2020. Owners may contact Grand Design’s customer service at 1-574-825-9679. Grand Design’s number for this recall is 910020.

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

Newell

Newell Coach Corp. (Newell) is recalling certain 2020-2021 P50 motor coaches. The decorative cover for the center console column may be knocked loose by the driver’s foot, allowing the piece to become lodged under the brake pedal.

Newell will notify owners and request the owners remove and discard the decorative cover. Dealers will install a replacement apron cover, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 13, 2020. Owners may contact Newell customer service at 1-888-363-9355. Newell’s number for this recall is 124.

Please Note: This is the 17th in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

Best Places for RV Travel this July

Fill up the tires, top off the tank, and pile in the RV for the best summer road trip of your life

July is the birth month of Julius Caesar and that’s why the month was named after him. July is also the first month on the traditional calendar that isn’t named after a god or goddess of Roman or Greek origins, but is named after a real person.

Black Hills of South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With the Fourth of July this week, there is an extra emphasis on outdoor activities in the age of COVID-19—due to the open air as well as the ability to easily social distance. As such, a number of national and state parks around the country are open while others plan to do so just in time for the holiday. This is a very good social-distancing type of vacation. It’s just you and your family and your RV out there in the great outdoors.

Eleven Mile Range in Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s also a chance to catch North Dakota in a rare moment of warmth. Or just crash out on the beach. The sun is strong and temperatures soar far and wide—South Dakota, New Hampshire, even North Dakota, for god’s sake. Enjoy.

Due to changing advisories, please check local travel guidelines before visiting.

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

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out our monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in April, May, and June. Also check out our recommendations from July 2019.

Needles Highway in the Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

South Dakota

Road-trippers are too often guilty of blowing through South Dakota with a soda stop at Wall Drug and a quick gawk at Mount Rushmore, then back to I-90 and onward. Well, ease off the gas a bit. SoDak has a lot going on. The Black Hills would hold their own as a national park replete with winding scenic drives, deep forests (the “black” in Black Hills), sparkling lakes, world-class caverns, and the tallest mountain east of the Rockies. Even the farm-and-prairie country to the east, bisected by the Missouri River, is sprinkled with gems, particularly if you’re drawn to lakes and rivers.

New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is heavily forested and riddled with rocky crags and more than 1,300 lakes. The steep, rugged White Mountains are a collection of 4,000-foot peaks that dominate the northern portion of the state. Move south looking for mellower terrain and there’s barely enough time for those mountains to transition to hills before you’re at the coast which is almost as thrilling as the peaks on the other end of the state. The 18 miles of coastline are known for cold surf, rocky beaches, and jagged islands popping up from the Atlantic.

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Step aboard the Cog Railway and climb to the Northeast’s highest summit, Mount Washington. The train travels the steepest railroad tracks in North America, passing through several climate zones before reaching the summit. With 93 state parks offering everything from surf breaks to mountain peaks, New Hampshire is a state built for adventure.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

For wildlife spotting opportunities away from the crowds head west to the littler-known Theodore Roosevelt National Park which sees just 749,000 annual visitors. Twenty-nine American bison were reintroduced here in 1956 with herd numbers today totaling several hundred between the park’s north and south units. For the best chance of seeing bison, make your way around the Scenic Loop Drive in the south unit but be sure to maintain a respectable distance from the massive creatures. Fortunately, bison prefer to graze the nutritious grasslands surrounding prairie dog communities, and thus, you may spot both species.

Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Beyond the park’s critters, there is an abundance of scenic views and impressive rock formations to enjoy. Visiting at sunrise or sunset is an ideal time to appreciate the multitude of colors emanating from bands of minerals in the rugged rock face.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston

There are few better places to be for the Fourth of July than Boston, the birthplace of the American Revolution. This richly historic, seafront state capital come alive with celebrations. Packed with museums and galleries, Boston was once hailed the Athens of America. Bostonians are proud of their food culture with classics like clam chowder and lobster rolls.

Forest Center, Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Everyone loves a two-for-one, especially when it comes to national parks. As Yosemite’s southern neighbors, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are often overlooked. Although Sequoia and Kings Canyon’s natural beauty rival its northerly neighbor, it only received 1.2 million visitors in 2018 compared to Yosemite’s four million. But as the famed naturalist John Muir once penned, “…southward of the famous Yosemite Valley, there is a grander valley of the same kind.” And we have to agree.

Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.”

—Walter Winchell

Celebrating Canada Day during the Pandemic

COVID-19 means it’s time for a road trip

With Canada Day rapidly approaching, this year will be totally different. There will be few, if any, Canada Day parades, festivals, or big July 1st parties.

Along the Icefields Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summer is the best time for a road trip and Canada is filled with some of the world’s most scenic drives. After months of staying indoors, Canadians are more than ready for a change of scenery. This will be the summer of the road trip—the kind of vacation many of us recall from childhood. With ultra-low fuel prices, a road trip is an inexpensive and easy way to get away.

Along the Icefields Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you simply hop in a car or hit the open road in a recreational vehicle, the Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in Canada—or most anywhere else.

This 232-kilometre (144-mile) stretch of road between Jasper and Lake Louise (also known as Highway 93) was built along the backbone of the North American continent.

Along the Icefields Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The road is dotted with more than 100 glaciers, rugged mountains, waterfalls, stunning blue lakes, and vast sweeping valleys. It has been described as one of the world’s most awe-inspiring road trips by National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, and numerous other publications.

Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The drive can be done in three hours but you’ll want to budget a full day or more. The Columbia Icefields for which the road is named is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies and a stop at Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre is a must. Here, you’ll travel on a massive Ice Explorer to a place where you can walk on the Athabasca Glacier. Then, take a jaw-dropping walk along the glass-floored Glacial Skywalk at the cliff’s edge. With reduced occupancy these tours fill quickly.

Columbia Icefields © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Peyto Lake and Bow Summit, Bow Lake, Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, Parker Ridge, Weeping Wall, and Mistaya Canyon are just a few of the other amazing stops that can be made along the way. You’ll find many more amazing natural wonders on either end of the Icefields Parkway in Jasper, Lake Louise, and Banff.

Glacial Skywalk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another way to celebrate and have fun with a Canadian theme is to enjoy some tasty Canadian wine. In all, British Columbia now has 370 wineries, most of them in the Okanagan. The statistics are a testament to the strength and rapid growth of the wine industry in the province.

In the South Okanagan, rainfall is scarce and the soils are sandy. The resulting thickly tannic wines favor Syrah, Merlot, and other Bordeaux reds, along with hot-climate whites such as Viognier.

Black Hills Estate Winery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here, Black Hills Estate Winery is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first release of their iconic Bordeaux style red, Nota Bene. Normally they celebrate the release with a big party but this year the winery is taking its party online on July 17th.

Black Hills Estate Winery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Customers who purchase 12 bottles of the 2018 Nota Bene ($59.90 each) will receive access to the online party featuring recording artist Steven Page joined by Jason Priestley, Erin Cebula, Prevail, and 2018 Olympic winner, Kelsey Serwa. Black Hills’ Winemaker and Master of Wine, Ross Wise kicks off the celebration with a guided tasting of his 2018 Nota Bene. Customers also receive a VIP Cabana Tasting at the winery and free shipping.

Black Hills Estate Winery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The South Okanagan Valley icon is located on the famed Black Sage Bench, 13 kilometres (8 miles) north of Osoyoos and 10 kilometres (6 miles) south of Oliver. This places Black Hills Estate in the Okanagan Valley appellation centered in the middle of Canada’s only official desert. The resulting microclimate leaves Black Hills with one of the hottest, driest, and sunniest sites in the country. In fact, this northern latitude attracts more sunlight hours than Napa Valley in the key growing months of June through August.

Black Hills Estate Winery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While in the Okanagan, nothing quite says summer than a refreshing float down Penticton’s river channel. The man-made waterway, also known as the Okanagan River Channel, was first created in the 1950s to control flooding and water flow from the Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake.

Okanagan River Channel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The seven-kilometre (4-mile) river float has since changed into a beloved community staple that draws people from across the valley for an up-to three hour river float. Coyote Cruises which offers shuttle and inner-tubes said that due to the current water flow, the float only takes an hour and fifteen minutes from start to finish.

Okanagan River Channel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Recently a long list of COVID-19 procedures for health and safety were posted on its website and included insights into how social distancing will be maintained. Among the things listed, the shuttle bus will only be 2/3 full. Personal inflation services will not be provided and staff will not be helping guests in and out of the channel.

Okanagan Lake at Penticton © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So Happy 153rd Birthday, Canada. And here’s to the delicious wines of the Okanagan! May both continue to grow and prosper!

Worth Pondering…

Think I’ll go out to Alberta

Weather’s good there in the fall

Got some friends there I can go to.

—sung by Ian Tyson

Red Rock Scenic Byway: All-American Road

Red Rock Scenic Byway winds through Sedona’s Red Rock Country, often called a “museum without walls”

The fifteen-mile stretch of State Route 179 from Interstate 17 (Exit 298) is the primary route that millions of tourists use to visit Sedona, a premier world tourist destination. Visitors winding their way along this route are treated to one of the more incredible scenic drives in America. 

The Red Rock Scenic Byway is a tourist attraction onto itself. Many will claim that the natural beauty along this winding road is unparalleled anywhere else in the nation.

Forest Service Red Rock Ranger Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The National Forest/Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center

Your first must-stop is the beautiful Forest Service Red Rock Ranger Visitor Center, located just south of the Village of Oak Creek on SR 179. Get maps and tons of Red Rock Country “fun things to do” information, as well as your Red Rock Pass for trailhead parking. Learn all the stories and history of this amazing area, like how the rocks and mesas were formed and named.

Red Rock Crossing © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Rock Crossing on Oak Creek

As you leave the Visitors Center driveway, turn north (left) on SR 179 and you’ll see a major intersection with a stoplight. Turn west (left) onto Verde Valley School Road and drive 4.7 miles where the road dead-ends at the Red Rock Crossing parking lot. Do not park anywhere but the parking lot. This road travels through residential areas so be aware of the 30-35 mph speed limit; also, for the last 1.2 miles, the road is unpaved as well as curvy, hilly, and subject to flooding after excessive rains.

Oak Creek near Red Rock Crossing © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From the parking lot, it is a very short walk to the pathway that will lead you down to the unique red rock banks of Oak Creek. Don’t forget your camera, because you’re at one of the most photographed sites in the country as well as one of the most naturally beautiful settings in Sedona.

Cathedral Rock near Red Rock Crossing © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If it’s a Saturday, chances are there’s a small wedding taking place at the north end of the crossing. Most days there will be artists painting or photographers setting up their shots or people just soaking up the inspiring view.

If the creek water’s low enough, step across the red rock stepping stones which is the crossing to Crescent Moon Ranch State Park situated on the other side.

Bell Rock Vista © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bell Rock Vista and Pathway Southern Trailhead

Turn east (right) out of the Red Rock Crossing parking lot and take Verde Valley School Road 4.7 miles back to its stoplight intersection with SR 179, where you will turn north (left).

Bell Rock Vista © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Proceed through the Village of Oak Creek and just past the next stoplight on your right hand side will be the entrance to the Bell Rock Vista and Pathway parking lot. Here’s where you’ll discover the size and power of the red rocks; this is a travelers up close experience with mystical Bell Rock and mammoth Courthouse Butte. Feel the red rock energy and enjoy the views.

There are many pathways to choose from all going to or near Bell Rock that can be done in a half hour or as long as you feel like walking.

Hiking along the Red Rock Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Little Horse Trail and Bell Rock Pathway Northern Trailhead

Turn north (or right) out of the parking lot onto SR 179; proceed straight and be on the lookout for signs that say “Little Horse Trail” and “Bell Rock Pathway”; entrance to this stop’s parking lot will come up fairly quickly, on your right.

Red Rock Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Discover a little serenity among the glorious hiking and biking trails that meander to hidden washes and breathtaking red rock panoramas. Little Horse Trail is a local favorite, rated moderate, and 6.5 miles if you do the full round trip. Remember the rules of the trail, and have fun!

Also at this stop, view the “Three Nuns” with the renowned Chapel of the Holy Cross perched below.

Chapel of the Holy Cross © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Officially, the scenic road ends just beyond this point so after your hike, and before resuming your drive, take a moment to look west and gaze upon famous Cathedral Rock, a huge rock formation with multiple red rock spires. Whether it is silhouetted against a glowing sunset or shining in the midday sun, it is considered one of the most beautiful of all the red rock formations in the Sedona area, and surely a fitting way to end your day of Red Rock Splendor.

Red Rock Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

There are only two places in the world

I want to live—Sedona and Paris.

—Max Ernst, Surrealist painter

10 Luxurious RV Resorts for Summer Travel

While the coronavirus has prompted many to cancel their travel plans, some families are turning to RVs to travel safely this summer

Many RV resorts around the country are destinations unto themselves offering numerous amenities and activities that appeal to adults, children, and four-legged friends alike. Whether they have amazing sports facilities, on-site spas, casinos, or even a swim-up bar, these RV parks offer fantastic amenities.

While traveling by RV is low risk because it’s self-contained and you’re exposing yourself to fewer people, the risk does increase when you go to a resort. It is important to adhere to local guidelines when traveling and to check with the resort to see what will be closed for safety. 

Here are the top 10 luxury RV parks you should visit to this summer

Jackson Rancheria RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jackson Rancheria RV Resort, Jackson, California

New in 2008, Jackson Rancheria RV Resort is part of a casino complex. Big rig friendly 50/30-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV are centrally located. Wide, paved interior roads with wide concrete sites. Back-in sites over 55 feet with pull-through sites in the 70-75 foot range. We would return in a heartbeat. Reservations over a weekend are required well in advance. Jackson Rancheria is conveniently located in the heart of Gold Country.

Bella Terra RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bella Terra RV Resort, Foley, Alabama

Expect to find an upscale Class A motorhome ownership resort. Daily, weekly, and monthly stays welcome. Lot sizes range from 3,500 to 4,500 square feet with paved pads approximately 16 feet x 75 feet and a paved patio. Select from pull-in, pull-through, or back-in sites. Paved streets. Cable TV, Wi-Fi, telephone, and 200 amp service capability.

Bella Terra RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once settled in, consider the “Grand” clubhouse and zero entry infinity pool with Jacuzzi and dry sauna and various patios overlooking the lake. Inside you will discover the great room with large screen TV, movie theater room, fitness center, dry sauna, pedicure/massage room, and lounge/bar area. Other amenities include a fenced-in dog park.

Two Rivers Landing RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Two Rivers Landing RV Resort, Sevierville, Tennessee

Two Rivers Landing is a luxury RV Resort nestled along the banks of the beautiful French Broad River. A 5-star resort with 25 river front (drive-in sites) and 30 river view (back-in sites), Two Rivers Landing offers 30/50-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV (65 channels) conveniently located centrally. Interior roads are paved; individual sites are concrete, 70 feet in length and 22 feet wide. All sites surrounded by beautiful landscaping. Our drive-in site faced the river. Wi-Fi worked well. A beautiful sunset looking out our front window. This is resort living at its best.

Durango RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California

Big-rig friendly, Durango is located on the Sacramento River. Most sites are pull-through, 70-90 feet in length, and 30-35 feet wide. In addition there are 11 riverfront sites and 21 water-feature spaces (fountains); these sites have utilities on both sides of the concrete pads enabling fifth wheels and travel trailer to back onto the sites and motorhomes to drive forward maximizing the view and water features. In addition, there are a number of buddy sites.

Buckhorn Lake RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas

This upscale resort makes for a perfect home base to explore the Texas Hill Country. All sites are paved, have a paved patio and offer satellite TV, Wi-Fi, and instant-on phone. Relax around the two heated swimming pools/spas. Tennis courts. Adult fitness center overlooking the creek. While staying in the park, make it a point to see the “Club” section, a unique approach to the RV lifestyle. You’ll definitely want to make this resort a repeat stop on your RVing agenda.

Cajun Palms RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana

New in 2009 with paved streets, Cajun Palms offers long pull-through sites that range in length from 55 to 75 feet. Not to be ignored are the back-ins to the lake in the 55-60 foot range. Pull through and back-in sites have 20 feet of space between each concrete pad.

Cajun Palms RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A full service resort, Cajun Palms features numerous traditional as well as high tech amenities. Accommodations consist of over 300 deluxe RV sites and 25 cabins. RV sites have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp, 70+ channels of digital cable, and on-site water and sewer. Easy-on, easy off Interstate 10 (Exit 115) at Henderson (near Breaux Bridge).

Columbia Sun RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington

Big-rig friendly, Columbia Sun RV Resort is a new 5-star resort that opened in 2013. Spacious sites, manicured grass on both sides, wide paved streets, and a perfect 10/10*/10 Good Sam rating. Washington’s’s Tri-Cities area—Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland—is a great area to visit to explore the outdoors while still being close to shopping, dining, and wineries. The Columbia Sun Resort has a heated swimming pool, hot tub, fitness room, game room, dog runs, sports court, and a playground.

Ambassador RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho

Ambassador RV Resort is a 5-star resort that is easy-on, easy off (I-84 at Exit 29) with 188 full-service sites, pool, spa, sauna, and 5,000 square foot recreation hall. Features 30-foot x 85-foot short term pull-through sites, 35-foot x 75-foot long term pull through sites, 45-foot x 60-foot back-in sites, and wide-paved streets. Pets are welcome if friendly and owner is well trained.

Reunion Lake RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Reunion Lake RV Resort, Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Reunion Lake RV Resort is a gated resort with top-rated facilities and service and all-concrete roadways. Built around a scenic lake the park offers an adult pool with swim-up bar, poolside cabanas, a lazy river with tiki bar, giant hot tub, fitness center, family pool, basketball and pickleball courts, fenced-in dog park. Our Premium pull-through site will accommodate any size rig.

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

Vista Del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona

This area has needed a new 5-star RV resort and in November 2015 a new Roberts resort opened with paved streets. The 88 wide concrete sites are terraced both back-ins and pull-in in the 65 foot range with paved sites and patios. One of 14 pull-in sites, our site (#6) faced to the west northwest with views of the hills and mountains as well as Bullhead City, Laughlin, and the Colorado River.

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

50/30/20-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV are conveniently located. Resort services include Wi-Fi, two pools, one spa, fitness room, billiards/game room, daily activities, Doggie Park, gated entry, and clubhouse with commercial kitchen and serving area for groups. Within this gated 55+ community one can also purchase a 400 sq. ft. model home or a manufactured home in varied sizes.

RVing with Rex selected this list of 5 star RV resorts from parks personally visited.

Worth Pondering…

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.

—John Ruskin

Experience the Past in the Present along the Amish Country Byway

Traveling the Amish Country Byway is quiet, clean, and refreshes the soul

Due to changing advisories, please check local travel guidelines before visiting.

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On a map, routes 39, 62, 515, and 60 form a sort of “eyeglasses” shape throughout Holmes County in Ohio. That’s fitting, because exploring these four roads are a great way to explore Amish Country. These routes make up the Amish Country Scenic Byway, designated in June 2002 as a National Scenic Byway. These 72 miles of roadway are recognized for their unique cultural and historic significance.

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along these roadways, you will be treated to the typical, yet breathtaking sights of Amish Country: teams of huge, blonde Belgians pulling wagons of hay, farmers working in the fields and of course, beautiful views of lush, green farmland, large white houses, and red barns. In the fall, the vistas become even more awe-inspiring, as nature puts on its finest show—the reds, oranges, yellows, and browns of the trees amid a backdrop of that bluest sky that only fall can produce.

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Amish have established themselves in the Holmes County area, and it is estimated that one in every six Amish in the world live in this area. The Amish choose to live a simple way of life, which is clearly evident by the presence of horses and buggies, handmade quilts, and lack of electricity in Amish homes. Entrepreneurial businesses owned by the Amish add to the friendly atmosphere along the byway while creating a welcome distance from the superstores of commercial America.

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Agriculture is the economic heart of Amish Country and visitors to the area are likely to see rows of haystacks or fields being plowed. Holmes County boasts the second largest dairy production in the state, the largest local produce auction during the growing season, and weekly livestock auctions in the communities along the byway. The Swiss and German heritage of the early settlers in the county is evident in the many specialty cheese and meat products and delicious Swiss/Amish restaurants.

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apart from the beautiful scenery, these routes have numerous special attractions that shouldn’t be missed along the way. U.S. Rt. 62, for example, winds down into the heart of Holmes County from Wilmot, passing such Amish Country mainstays as the Amish Door Restaurant and Wendell August Forge before leading you into Berlin, the area’s ultimate shopping destination.

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before you get to Berlin, however, you’ll pass through the cute village of Winesburg. There’s enough here to keep you busy at least an afternoon, with several unique shops, antiques, art, and sculptures for sale, and an old-fashioned corner restaurant.

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just outside Winesburg, you can turn off 62 onto State Rt. 515, a hilly, winding road that takes you through Trail, home of the famous Troyer’s Trail Bologna, and past Yoder’s Amish Farm, where you can tour two Amish houses, a barn full of animals, a schoolhouse, and even take a buggy ride. Rt. 515 ends up in Walnut Creek, intersecting with another part of the byway, State Rt. 39.

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rt. 39 offers a wealth of things to see and do, especially in the eastern portion of Holmes County. The road passes through Millersburg, Berlin, and Walnut Creek before heading to the village of Sugarcreek.

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travelling east toward Berlin, Rt. 39 merges with Rt. 62 for a time, and you’ll pass numerous shops and restaurants. In Berlin, go through the light (stay on 39) and immediately turn left, for you’ve found yourself at the Berlin Village Gift Barn, one of the best places around to find just the right accessory for your RV. You’ll also discover Country Gatherings, a new off-shoot of the gift barn, featuring primitives and floral designs.

“Must-stops” in Walnut Creek include the shops at Walnut Creek Cheese and Coblentz Chocolates, both easily accessible from Rt. 39.

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’ll leave the Amish Country Byway feeling much the same as the traveler who said, “Traveling to Amish Country is a great getaway from our day-to-day routines. It’s quiet, clean, and refreshes the soul. When you get away from the telephone ringing, from the traffic on the roads, it’s a gift, a refuge from the everyday noise of your life.”

Along the Amish Country Byway in Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Growing up around Amish farmland, I enjoyed the opportunity to witness firsthand their love of family, of the domestic arts—sewing, quilting, cooking, baking—as well as seeing them live out their tradition of faith in such a unique way.

―Beverly Lewis

What’s in Your RV Emergency Kit?

Preparing for an emergency is something all RVers need to think about

We all know about car emergency kits. But an RV is much different than a car. A car, for instance doesn’t travel with a tank of fresh water. And a car is also less likely to be stranded at an alpine lake due to a freak snow storm. Most people also wouldn’t drive their car 30 miles into BLM-managed public lands with the intention of living out of it for a week or more.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When considering your RV emergency kit, keep in mind the kinds of emergency situations you might face during your RV travels. We’ll discuss safety items and accessories to pack in your recreational vehicle’s first aid kit and tool box.

Utah Scenic Byway 279 near Moab © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV First Aid Kit

A first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, most drugstores, or assemble your own.

Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Julian, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source for first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

If you travel with pets, pet first aid manuals are also available.

Traveling with pets © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Tool Box

Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut.

To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped tool box in the RV (always store on curb side).

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

Contents should include Phillips and Robertson head and flat bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, Gorilla tape and glue, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, spare fuses, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set (standard and metric), small drill bit set and cordless drill with spare battery, and digital voltmeter.

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue, and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

Other Considerations

Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other considerations, supplies, and equipment include fire extinguishers (one in the galley, one in the bedroom, and one outside of the RV in a basement compartment, plus one in the toad/tow vehicle), NOAA weather radio, LED flashlights, heavy-duty whistles, emergency waterproof matches, jumper cables, ice/snow window scrapers, work gloves, and blue tarp.

McKinney Falls State Park near Austin, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

Visual Marvels: America’s Seven Natural Wonders

The Seven Natural Wonders of America are a list of the most astonishing natural attractions

Ever since the list of the Seven Wonders of the World was first inked by either Antipater of Sidon (second half of the 2nd century BC), Philo of Byzantium (c. 280–220 BC, Herodotus (c. 484–425 BC), or Callimachus of Cyrene (c. 305–240 BC)—depending upon which ancient historian you believe—all manner of “Seven Wonders” lists pop up from time to time including the New Seven Wonders of the World, of the Natural World, of the Modern World, of the Architectural World. Well, this could go on for a while.

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But it is that original collection of wonders, now referred to as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—the Great Pyramids of Giza (the only one that still exists), the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus, the Temple of Artemis (at Ephesus near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey), the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (in present-day Turkey), the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandra—that sparks the imagination, stirs the soul, and stokes the curiosity. These are the finest creations of the ancient world and at the very least inspire wonder in their sheer archaeological greatness.

Bryce Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That much can be said of any wonder, whether natural or manmade, and then add into the mix the almost obsessive need for the world to categorize and break down everything into parts. That’s how these types of lists came to be in the first place. Often for reasons to promote tourism, numerous countries have tallied their own wonders as have almost all the United States.

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Canyon

One of the world’s great natural wonders, the Grand Canyon is a true marvel of nature. John Wesley Powell said it best, “The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself.” A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A deep gorge carved by the Colorado River about seventeen million years ago, the Grand Canyon stretches for more than 250 miles and is up to 18 miles in width and more than a mile deep in some areas. Just about everywhere you look the views are amazing and the sheer size of it can be overwhelming. One look over the edge and it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

Great Smoky Mountains © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park.

Great Smoky Mountains © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This exceptionally beautiful park is home to more than 3,500 plant species, including almost as many trees (130 natural species) as in all of Europe. The park is of exceptional natural beauty with scenic vistas of characteristic mist-shrouded (“smoky”) mountains, vast stretches of virgin timber, and clear running streams.

Bryce Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bryce Canyon National Park

The horseshoe-shaped, russet rock hoodoo formations of Bryce Canyon National Park are a true sight to behold. This is one of the world’s highest concentrations of hoodoos and their colors alternate between shades of purple, red, orange, and white.

Bryce Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Sunset, Sunrise, Inspiration and Bryce viewpoints are the spots to hit for the best views in the shortest amount of time. There are several easy trails located near the rim of Bryce Canyon to hike as well as ranger programs that take you on guided hikes through the park.

Okefenokee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Okefenokee Swamp

The Okefenokee, whose name means “Land of the Trembling Earth” in the Creek language, is now part national wildlife refuge, part privately-owned park (Okefenokee Swamp Park) that is widely known for harboring an incredible cache of biological and ecological wonders. The swamp’s dark, coffee-colored tannic water is the base for a living jumble of pine, cypress, swamp, palmetto, peat bog, marsh, island, and sand ridge.

Okefenokee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A hodgepodge of animal and bird life, among the hundreds of species are black bear, alligators galore, snakes galore, deer, anhinga, osprey, and sandhill crane call the swamp home.

Arches © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arches

Arches contains the world’s largest concentration of, yes, sandstone arches. There are more than 2,000, all of which took millions of years to form via erosion. And the arches are just one of an infinite number of absolutely jaw-dropping formations within the 120-square-mile park—Devil’s Garden, Balanced Rock, Fiery Furnace, Landscape Rock, The Windows, it goes on.

Arches © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arches is one of the most distinctive, alien-looking landscapes in America, and you should take advantage of the hiking trails like Devil’s Garden to really get the full experience.

Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Black Hills

Driving through the Black Hills takes you through some of the most rugged, distinctive, and beautiful land in America. It’s hard to stick to the main road in this rugged land of canyons, cliffs, and caves.

Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Black Hills are home to some of the most majestic scenery you can imagine from the winding Spearfish Canyon to the mountain lakes that surround Mount Rushmore—rivers, mountains, caves, and more make it ideal for hikers and climbers and everybody in between.

Carlsbad Caverns © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carlsbad Caverns

The Chihuahuan Desert, studded with spiky plants and lizards, offers little hint that what Will Rogers called the “Grand Canyon with a roof on it” waits underground. Yet, at this desert’s northern reaches lies one of the deepest, largest, and most ornate caverns ever found.

Carlsbad Caverns © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hidden beneath the surface are more than 119 limestone caves that are outstanding in the profusion, diversity, and beauty of their formations. Most of the formations—or speleothems—found inside Carlsbad Cavern today were active and growing during the last ice age when instead of a desert above the cave, there were pine forests.

Worth Pondering…

We carry within us the wonders we seek without us.

—Thomas Browne