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Category: Holidays on the Road

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 · 2 Comments 

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...]

As the Boudin Turns

February 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As the Boudin Turns

Philadelphia might have the cheese-steak sandwich. New York may boast of its pizza, and Texas has BBQ—but Southwest Louisiana has boudin, and eating it guarantees a tingling palate and a full stomach. Boudin is one of most unique, tasty, and distinctly uncorrupted regional specialties in America. (Source: seriouseats.com) In many homes, boudin is more revered than crawfish, with recipes passed along for generations. Chances are, if you don’t live in or around Louisiana you haven’t heard of boudin. Boudin, a sausage made with pork, rice, and seasonings is generally considered the signature food of Acadiana and other rural parts of southwestern Louisiana. The pronunciation is a bit awkward. Visitors often say “boo-DIN” or “bow-DIN”. The locals say “boo-DAN”. If you’re having trouble with the pronunciation, just ask for a link. Most locals use that colloquial term, anyway. I had my first taste of boudin last winter and I am seriously hooked. History of Boudin Boudin is... [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...]

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...]

Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands: Florida Gulf Coast Paradise

January 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands: Florida Gulf Coast Paradise

Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is nestled along Florida’s Southwest Gulf Coast, between Sarasota and Naples, about 100 miles south of Tampa. Palm Island Resort marina (Source: charlotteharbortravel.com) The area covers a diverse landscape of cities and towns. Choose from four island escapes: the barrier island community of Boca Grande; Palm Island, with its serene beaches accessible by ferry; secluded Don Pedro Island; and Little Gasparilla Island. Set on Gasparilla Island, the historic village of Boca Grande offers old world charm, quaint shops and restaurants, and gorgeous beach views. Seven miles of white sandy beach and crystal clear water await you on this retreat away from the world. A car ferry to get there adds to the remote feel of this island getaway. For a small city experience, visit historic Punta Gorda, Englewood, or Port Charlotte. The city of Punta Gorda is a historic town that lies along beautiful Charlotte Harbor. Streets lined with huge royal palms,... [Read more...]

Havasu Balloon Festival Partners With Good Sam

January 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Havasu Balloon Festival Partners With Good Sam

Join Good Sam Club for high-flying fun at the fourth annual Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair, January 17-19, 2014. Good Sam members can join tens of thousands of spectators watching hot-air balloons soar high above London Bridge, the crystal-clear waters of Lake Havasu, and beautiful desert landscaping. Like Albuquerque’s renowned Balloon Fiesta, the Havasu Balloon Festival turns the Southwestern sky into an airborne parade with the world’s oldest flight technology dressed up in fanciful colors and contemporary shapes. Beyond experiencing the thrill of more than 60 thermal-powered aircraft aloft above Lake Havasu, members will get a lift knowing their camping fees support deserving charities. One of the biggest events in the region, the Havasu Balloon Festival was launched by the Lake Havasu City London Bridge Lions Club and the London Bridge Rotary Club as a way to fund local charitable groups. Four years later, that’s still the mission, with the 2014 festival operated by volunteers... [Read more...]

2014 Camping Goals

December 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

2014 Camping Goals

As some of you know, my family and I have a tradition that we engage in each New Years Eve in which each family member lists her/his accomplishments over the past year (a taking stock as it were) and then sets a number of goals for the New Year. For the past few years, I have also set specific camping and travel related goals which I have traditionally shared with our readers in my final post of the year. My husband and I initially developed this process as a way of helping ourselves to look at the progress we have made over the past year when it seemed as if there was none (i.e. transitioning from two children in diapers to only one, for example!); then involved the children in the process as they became old enough, initially writing their goals as they dictated them to us. In 2012, we made a major move from our home state of Wisconsin to our new home in New Mexico. As a result of this major transition, our camper has been parked for the second summer. Ryan celebrating atop Mt. Shavano The... [Read more...]

Fires Destroy 5 RVs, Pickup & Fatality

December 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Fires Destroy 5 RVs, Pickup & Fatality

Whether camping or just relaxing in your recreational vehicle, fire safety is essential. A build-up of propane inside a motorhome sparked an explosion at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. (Courtesy: WLOX-TV) It is critical that every member of your party know what to do in a fire or other emergency. If you are one of the millions of RV enthusiasts who love to take to the road and explore the country, ensure your family’s safety while travelling in your RV. Recent media reports detail seven separate fires involving recreational vehicles. California: Unattended Cooking Fire Destroys RV & Pickup Santacruzsentinel.com reports that a cooking fire in an RV destroyed the RV and a Chevy pickup. A man was cooking in the RV but was outside the vehicle when the fire started said Zayante Fire Chief John Stipes. The man tried to extinguish it and was burned on his hand, firefighters said. He was not transported to a hospital. The fire spread to the Chevy and briefly threatened trees and a... [Read more...]

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