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Archive for the ‘road trip!’ Category

happy traveler rv, palm springs

I polled everyone with the question, “where should I camp in Palm Springs?” Okay, I asked three people. But all three, without hesitation, immediately said “Happy Traveler”.

All then followed that recommendation with “you’ll need reservations, and it’s probably full.” Ralph, responsible for the destinations and tactics of our southwest road trip, called Happy Traveler RV Park well in advance…and conscientiously booked a reservation for the wrong nights.

We discovered the error on our way there when Ralph called to confirm our arrival, days later than he reserved. “Don’t worry, we’ll figure something out,” said Mike, the manager.

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manzanar

The Manzanar War Relocation Center, where we briefly stopped during our southwest road trip. At the base of a starkly beautiful range of hills stand two of the grim barracks, out of the former hundreds, reconstructed for historical reflection.

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the ethnic markets of reno

I’ve been to Reno many times and I’m always surprised to see how it morphs. Suddenly there’s a mega mall where an empty lot just was (and vice versa), and long-standing businesses fade away. One particular megacasino has changed hands six times since 1974. And always opening and closing are an assortment of ethnic markets.

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paisley

Why would one visit an area infested with so many mosquitos that the town holds an annual Mosquito Festival?

Because heading south, Paisley—a modest oasis of civilization in the Oregon Outback—is on the way to California liquor stores in Alturas, and beyond that, Reno. And beyond that, during that magical time of year, Burning Man.

It’s basically an agreeable bend in Highway 31; a nice quiet place with wide streets to pull your Airstream over and use the public restroom.

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grand canyon (nee dinosaur) caverns

I listed 27 dinosaur and fossil attractions in the “Dig This!” article featured in the Winter 14 issue of Airstream Life, but I’m sad to say that Dinosaur Caverns—renamed “Grand Canyon” Caverns in 1962—didn’t make the cut.

While I loved every minute of my visit there, the dinosaurs were just too…plastic.

The veneer of fifties kitsch still clings to the historic site on Route 66, where gigantic, green, cheesy cartoon dinos greet visitors.

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harvest hosts

Ask any RVing oenophile and they’ll concur: Harvest Hosts a fun and fabulous way to camp for “free”.

My southwest journey was a trip of firsts. My first look at the Grand Canyon. The first time my tires touched Route 66 (and what better place to emerge onto the historic highway than Kingman, Arizona). And, near Kingman, my first experience with the Harvest Hosts program.

The uncomplicated concept is thus: forty dollars a year buys you access to a super-secret map of wineries and vineyards where, for one night, you may camp at no cost.

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the gift of gabbs, nevada

My quest to research the lesser-known fossil sites of the far west led me to Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park, in The Middle of Nowhere, Nevada.

“So this is where it ends,” I said to myself when I pulled up to the entrance. When, after fifty minutes I passed no one on godforsaken, rural highway 361—and then observed that I was the only visitor at the desolate campground—I fully expected to be ax murdered shortly after nightfall.

Imagine my relief to be greeted by jocular Ranger Robin.

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armstrong air and space museum

If your coach is in hock at the Airstream factory for repair (as described in the prior post), you’re aware that there’s nothing—I mean, nothing—to do in the village of Jackson Center, population 1450 (unless you’re there during Alumapalooza week).

Panic not. You’re near an area known as “The Greater Grand Lake St. Marys Region of Auglaize and Mercer Counties”. And a pretty neat space museum, only twenty miles from Airstream, Inc.

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bicycle museum of america

Pee Wee Herman’s bike isn’t in the basement of the Alamo.

Equally unlikely: it’s in New Bremen, Ohio.

I obtained this knowledge in a roundabout way. On my highway journey to Alumapalooza, a speeding semi-trailer in an adjacent lane kicked up a rock which shot under my Airstream and took out various appararti in the undercarriage and shredded the banana wrap.

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of steinbeck and salinas

You know you’re in for an underwhelming museum experience when the docent at the entrance greets you with “We don’t have a lot of exhibits right now.”

There’s a lot to read and very little to see at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, where Nobel Prize-winning novelist John Steinbeck…I dunno. Was born? Grew up? Went to school? I was unable to differentiate, assimilate and process what I wanted from the barrage of words and pictures and plastic dioramas that make up the permanent collection, all competing for attention.

Since the exhibit hall is essentially set up for children to enjoy, this should be easier.

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