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Category: Family Weekend Trips

Alabama Gulf Coast Named Top Tourism Attraction

March 4, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Alabama Gulf Coast Named Top Tourism Attraction

Alabama’s Gulf beaches and Gulf State Park are the largest tourism attractions in the state, overwhelmingly so, according to the new attendance figures released last week by the Alabama Tourism Department. Sparkling turquoise Gulf waters and stunningly white sand await the RVer on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The state’s largest stand-alone festival events, located about 20 miles apart, are also located in the Gulf Coast region. The Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival (March 14-16, in 2014) and National Shrimp Festival (October 9-12, in 2014) in Gulf Shores come in at the top two spots among event promotions staged over a single weekend. The relatively new Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival (June 13-14, in 2014), which takes place in between the other two in Foley, is also rising up the state’s annual top 10 festival list. According to the 2013 annual report, Mobile’s three-week long Mardi Gras celebration draws the largest attendance... [Read more...]

Dance For a Chicken at a Cajun Country Mardi Gras

February 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Dance For a Chicken at a Cajun Country Mardi Gras

Mark Twain once wrote that a traveler “has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans.” On horseback and in flatbed trailers, participants and musicians sing, dance, and beg for chickens. (Credit: Terri Fensel) Of the thousands of festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada, none tops Mardi Gras. Spectacular parades, unbelievable costumes, music, dancing, food, drink­—take your pick of places to indulge and enjoy. The largest celebration occurs in New Orleans, but nearly every community from Pensacola, Florida, to Galveston, Texas, has its own version of the annual party. Wherever you go, you can find the style that best suits you, including tons of family-style celebrations. From rollicking Wrecks at Pensacola Beach to catching MoonPies in Mobile, communities all along the Gulf Coast have their own way of marking Mardi Gras season. The revelry in New Orleans tends to grab the spotlight, but how about dancing for a chicken at a Cajun Country Courir... [Read more...]

Mardi Gras Defined: Speak Like a Local

February 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Mardi Gras Defined: Speak Like a Local

It’s Mardi Gras time!   Mardi Gras. Two little words with an infinitely large explanation. For different people it’s different things—an event, an idea, a day, a way of life, piece of history, state holiday, or a million parades and countless memories. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved Are you ready? There are a few terms you will hear throughout Mardi Gras. Familiarize these terms before you embark upon the revelry and you will understand everything going on around you and know how to converse like a true resident during Mardi Gras. Say What? Laissez les bon temps rouler — Let The Good Times Roll Carnivale — The carnivale season officially begins each year on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, ‘King’s Day’, with traditional balls occurring in the weeks that lead up to the big event. Mardi Gras — Fat Tuesday Lundi Gras — Fat Monday which is the day before the Mardi Gras holiday. Mardi Gras Colors — The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold.... [Read more...]

Valley of Fire State Park: Simply WOW!

February 12, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Valley of Fire State Park: Simply WOW!

The lights! The glitz! The shine! Sculpted, chiseled, and twisted red rock formations more dramatic than most others we have seen dominate the park’s 42,000 acres. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved From the bizarre to the beautiful, Las Vegas has it all: New York, NY, The Venetian, Caesars Palace, and Paris—and the Bellagio water fountain show. When the neon of Vegas becomes too much, head out to Valley of Fire, Nevada’s first state park, so designated in 1935. With its blood-red sandstone cliffs and weird rock formations, there’s an other-worldly feeling here. Valley of Fire State Park is 55 miles—and a few light-years—northeast of Las Vegas via Interstate 15 and on exit 75. Sculpted, chiseled, and twisted red rock formations more dramatic than most others we have seen dominate the park’s 42,000 acres. We felt as though we had been transported to the alien surface another planet. The Valley of Fire derives its name from red sandstone formations, formed from great... [Read more...]

Destination Gems in Lafayette, Louisiana

February 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Destination Gems in Lafayette, Louisiana

We recently spent a few days exploring Lafayette, Louisiana. We parked for four nights at Poche’s, just east of town. While this was not our first stop-over in Lafayette, it was our first time to find destinations to explore! These are some of our favorite discoveries: Vermilionville Living History Park.  Much like Williamsburg, with its period costumed re-enactors, Vermilionville is living history Cajun style!  This 32-acre, fully handicap-accessible park features numerous homes that are restored, as well as a church, schoolhouse (where we were treated to an upbeat, fun accordion concert), trapper’s cabin and blacksmith forge. The park has a lovely gift shop featuring artisan creations. There is also a great cafe’ onsite that serves Cajun style meals. There is the informative Watershed Exhibit which features the surrounding flora and fauna,  and a cooking school, where the staff gives cajun cooking lessons (check the schedule online).  My family’s favorite... [Read more...]

The GRAND Gathering at Quartzsite: World’s Largest Gathering of Grands & Great-Grands

February 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The GRAND Gathering at Quartzsite: World’s Largest Gathering of Grands & Great-Grands

The GRAND Gathering, the World’s Largest Gathering of Grand Parents and Great-Grand Parents, is planned for Quartzsite from March 6 to 9. So many Grands and Great-Grands are expected, organizers hope to set a new world record. The Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA) and Proud Neighbors of Quartzsite (PNQ) are spearheading plans for special events for this exciting four-day event. John Hendrix, of QIA, brought forth the idea to help extend the winter season. “I was just thinking, what we have most in Quartzsite are grandparents, so why not have a celebration for them?” Hendrix began sharing his idea with others and the event has grown as more people and organizations learn of the plans. The goal is for every club, organization, and charity to participate in a variety of events in early March while putting Quartzsite “back on the map in a positive light,” said Hendrix. Many Quartzsite RV Park owners/managers are offering special discounts for The Grand Gathering. Walking the... [Read more...]

Poche’s Fish n’ Camp – Louisiana Cajun Camping!

February 6, 2014 by · 5 Comments 

Poche’s Fish n’ Camp – Louisiana Cajun Camping!

While we were exploring southern Louisiana off of I-10, we spent four nights at Poche’s Fish n’ Camp. Located just a few miles east of Lafayette, in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, this RV park was the perfect place to base camp out of and to also spend a few days relaxing. Poche’s has lots of “Louisiana-flavor” and is very unique! The office is a small wooden cabin that’s decorated with all sorts of fishing paraphernalia, and there is a small store (2 shelving units) inside that features popular products like laundry soap and canned pork and beans. We were tickled with our site at Poche’s—in all, there are 88 sites that are long and level. Most are concrete pads that will easily accommodate a 40′ class A with a toad parked across the front (there are a few pull-thus, but most are back in).  Each site has a fire ring, and the sites have full hookups; both 30 and 50 amp are available.  All sites have nice grassy yards, and the grounds are obviously... [Read more...]

Czeching Out La Grange

January 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Czeching Out La Grange

We headed to the Central Texas town of La Grande to “Czech” out what might just be the “Best Little Day Trip in Texas.” Texas Quilt Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The events of La Grange’s famous Chicken Ranch inspired the stage play, movie, and the lyrics of a popular song, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Then there’s the ZZ Top song that still fuels Texas folklore. The brothel is no longer around—it was officially closed in 1973 after operating for more than 130 years. The building was sold and hauled to Dallas where, for awhile, it served as a restaurant that served—what else? Chicken. Later, the building burned to the ground. All that’s left these days is the legend and some fading memories. However, there’s still plenty to do in this town. For starters, we Czeched out the Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center. This museum gave us a feel for the culture and early days of Fayette County when thousands of Czech immigrants populated the area. The... [Read more...]

Taking it easy in Monroe, Louisiana…

January 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Taking it easy in Monroe, Louisiana…

We recently spent two weeks visiting Louisiana.  We were pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do there.  We spent a few days in Shreveport, where we stayed in a Louisiana state park, went bowling, visited a local nature center and a great science museum, and we found a yummy Cajun restaurant and even got to hold a gator! Next we took I-20 over to Monroe, where we found a few more fabulous stops! Monroe is home to the the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum. This free museum covers military history from WWI through Vietnam and specializes in covering aviation-related service members. The museum features displays on individual service members, including their story and memorabilia from their lives. The museum is small, but there is so much history packed into it! When we visited, there were two gentlemen there who acted as guides. They were very knowledgeable and had a passion for their topic! We spent about an hour and a half there but didn’t even visit all the exhibits... [Read more...]

Top 6 Birding Hotspots in Southeastern Arizona

January 27, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Top 6 Birding Hotspots in Southeastern Arizona

Southeastern Arizona is an ecological crossroads, where the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts all come together. Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is home to 260 species of birds including the vermilion flycatcher. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The abrupt rise of mountains like the Huachucas from the surrounding arid grasslands creates “sky islands” harboring rare species and communities of plants and animals. If you are a birder, Southeastern Arizona is the place to go. Birding enthusiast are attracted to this unique region with many arriving in recreational vehicles. The following are our suggestions for where to find the best birding spots. Generally, they are located along streams and rivers or in forested mountain canyons. Some will have nearby RV parks or forestry campgrounds but will require a drive in your toad/tow vehicle. 6. Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve Between the majestic Santa Rita and beautiful red Patagonia... [Read more...]

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