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North Dakota has one of the lowest population densities in the continental United States. According to Wikipedia (which is never ever wrong) North Dakota sits at #47 out of the 50 states with just Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska having a lower number of folks per square mile. Being sort of out-of-the-way contributes I reckon because North Dakota is right up there slightly to the left of middle on the Canadian border. I-94 runs east/west from Fargo on the east side towards Miles City Montana on the west side…and I-29 runs north/south through Fargo paralleling the eastern border up towards Winnepeg in Canada.
BUT, isolation aside, there is plenty to see and do in North Dakota. Teddy Roosevelt National Park is a glorious natural wonderland where the bison still roam. The park is separated into two entities, north and south, and as a matter of fact, Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch is located right between them. The southern park is the busier of the two, so if getting away is your thing head to the northern unit.
Over in Williston, ND you will find the Fort Union Trading Post which is a National HIstoric Site. Fort Union is a reconstructed outpost on the North Dakota/Montana border right on the Missouri River. I believe it was one of the first ever registered National Historic Landmarks because of it’s role in the fur trade from the early years of America’s westward expansion in the late 1820’s all the way to the end of the 1860’s. Today it hosts historical reenactments, Archaeological exploration, and is a wealth of information about the trade between settlers and Indians tribes.
If you’re traveling with kids and dinos are their thing, then stop in at the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismark. There are plenty of dinosaur fossils put together in full displays to make the dino lover in your kids or grandkids mighty happy! And remember before you hit that trail for that far off land, hit us up at the website for all your parts and accessories!
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I remember a summer visit to Phoenix one year. When the friend I was visiting asked me wanted I wanted to do most I said, “Find 73 degrees!” And you know what? We did! We took a day trip up to Flagstaff, AZ and rode the ski lift up to the top of Humphreys Peak at the Arizona Snow Bowl and it was awesomely amazing. The view, the peaceful quiet trip up the mountain at treetop height. It was so serene and beautiful. And no 120 degrees like the ol’ Valley of The Sun there down in Maricopa County!! So here’s my suggestion for all you Texans sweltering in the heat this summer, when making your travel plans, why not include a stop where there’s a ski lift? New Mexico is a day away and has more than a couple you can ride during the summertime!
The closest to us here in Texas (I think) is Sandia Peak in Albuquerque, NM. Albuquerque of course is that famous place Bugs Bunny should have turned left and is located on I-40 in north/central NM. The ski lifts at Sandia Peak can be reached either by taking the tram, which is an awesome very steep cable car ride with stations at the ski resort above and the tram station below, or you can drive up to the ski area. The tram ride is a beautiful scenic trip, and about $25 for an incredibly unique view, but if you prefer your own wheels or have a thing about heights, then the drive is just as scenic…but at a different angle. Round trip lift tickets to the top and back are only $12 and it’s a great feeling.
Also available in New Mexico are the chair lifts at the ski areas around the Taos area, ie Red River, Angel Fire, Taos Ski Valley, etc. These are located north of Santa Fe and are located in and around Highway 64. Remember to pack a jacket!!
www.pplmotorhomes.com for all you parts and accessories
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As a Texan, there are just some states you don’t hear about much down here. Vermont is one of those. Nothing against you Vermonters, but we could fit your entire state onto I-35 between Austin and Dallas, and you guys are a looong way away. BUT, it is summertime and folks head north to chase that cooler weather, so I thought today we could talk about heading up to Vermont, and some of the things you can see and do there.
Prior to doing some research on this article, the only thing I really knew about Vermont was that Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream is from up thataway. Here are a few more completely AWESOME things I found out about Vermont:
- 80% of the state is covered in forest
- there are no billboards on the highways, and that is state law
- it looks and feels like a Norman Rockwell painting
If that isn’t enough to make you want to head up north, their average high during July is only 81! Lakes, streams, hiking, biking, hills, mountains, and all of it at a reasonable temperature…sign me up.
If you’re an interstate highway user, you can traverse the entire state on the east side on Interstate 91, or east to west on Interstate 89. The Green Mountains run through the middle of the state on a north/south line. However, most roads are the smaller state highways which are not traffic heavy and occasionally blocked by cattle moving from pasture to pasture. Life seem to moves slower there, the way it used to down here before hustle and bustle became our reality.
If skiing is your thing, head to Stowe. This tiny little town seems to be the epicenter of the skiing world in Vermont, so in summertime you can ride the ski lifts up to the top for incredible views, and alpine style hiking. If you like nature, and green things, and fall-like temps…head to Vermont!
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Fort Sumner is located in eastern New Mexico at the junction of Hwy 60 and 84. You can reach it easily by coming north out of Roswell, west from Clovis, or turning south in Santa Rosa off of I-40. The original fort was built in the 1860’s to help contain Navajo and Apache Indians but after the end of the Civil War the fort and it’s buildings were sold to private citizens and the town began springing up.
If you’re a fan of the Old West, then Fort Sumner is definitely a place you’ll want to visit. Once of the first true cattle drive trails (The Loving-Goodnight Trail) ended at Ft Sumner when the cattlemen drove beef there to feed the Navajos who’d been moved there by Kit Carson, thus being right at the beginning of the cowboy era of the American West.
Needless to say though, Fort Sumner’s main claim to fame is as the sight of the death of Billy The Kid. Pat Garret surprised Billy The Kid at night while Billy was cutting a piece of meat for a snack. Billy famously asked, “Quien es?” (Who is it?) before being gunned down by Garret. Naturally, the legend was born in that moment as well. Many people are divided on whether or not Garret gunned down the right man that evening, or if Billy survived and lived to a ripe old age in Texas. If you think Billy died in Pete Maxwell’s place, his gravestone is nearby and can be visited.
Another interesting fact about Fort Sumner is that the Air Corps had a training base there during WWII which was used post-war by NASA as a launching spot for their high altitude balloon program. If you traveled to Fort Sumner through Roswell, you may recognize the significance of the balloons in the story of the UFO landing in Roswell back in 1947.
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Like it or not, Texas has had a long and storied relationship with professional wrestling. Mom may not have liked it, but you have to admit…watching professional wrestling is a guilty pleasure for a lot of us. Whether you’re throwing popcorn at the TV or laughing at the horrible acting during the promos…wrestling is thoroughly entertaining. Even the “Doubting Thomas” super-skeptics get into watching as close as possible to spot the “fake” hits and falls.
Needless to say, it doesn’t matter what generation you belong to…Texas has represented itself in the highest tier of professional wrestling going back 50 years. From Stone Cold Steve Austin to Eddie Guerrero to The Undertaker to name some of the most famous modern day wrestlers, to The legendary Von Erich family, the Funks, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Dusty Rhodes who were some of Texas’ most famous wrestlers from the 70’s and 80’s, all the way back to the classic era of the 60’s with the likes of Ivan Putski, Texans have been the creme of the crop.
All of this is celebrated in Wichita Falls at the Professional Wrestling Museum and Hall of Fame. If you’re headed east or west across the Red River edge of Texas, you’re more than likely going to pass through Wichita Falls. It’s located on highway 287 and is the southern terminus of I-44 coming out of Oklahoma. The Professional Wrestling Museum is full of exhibits and paraphernalia associated with Texas wrestling past. Also, since the Hall of Fame is located there and there are numerous gatherings throughout the year with autograph signings and get-togethers.
So if your husband has dutifully walked quietly behind you at the quilting supply stores or art galleries or antiques stores and participated in all those things you like to do, give him an hour or so to wander through the wrestling museum. You may not like the road conversation for the next hour or two, but I bet he’s smiling and chuckling.
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Roanoke Island in North Carolina is, believe it or not, one of the oldest continually occupied settlements in North America. Originally settled in 1585 under the organization of Sir Walter Raleigh, Roanoke saw the first birth of an American settler named Virginia Dare. Oddly enough that first colony soon gave rise to one of America’s oldest unsolved mysteries as well when the colony and everyone in it vanished by 1590 leaving no trace of what happened to them. Archaeologists and historians are still working to solve that mystery.
Fast forward 450 years or so and it’s 2016 and Roanoke Island is a charming destination between mainland North Carolina and the famous Outer Banks. To get there simply take Highway 64 off of I-95 towards the Atlantic and you’ll cross Croatan Sound from Mann’s Harbor over to Roanoke Island where the main towns are Fort Raleigh City on the north end, and Manteo and Wanchese just south of there.
There is a beautiful campground in Wanchese called The Refuge which is on 345. They have almost 60 sites, 44 of which are available for year long leases, the rest are day use and are located right on the water. From here you can easily visit Nag’s Head, Cape Hatteras, or the birthplace of aviation…Kill Devil Hills.
This is a beautiful part of the United States, and very unique as well. If you like history, there are the light houses, Fort Raleigh, and all the old houses. If you like outdoor activities, well…this area is slopping over with just that! From all the water-borne stuff like boating, skiing, canoeing, swimming, and fishing, to the land-based stuff like hiking, photography, horseback riding, and just plain old sitting…Roanoke Island has you covered. Just outside the campground at The Refuge is the Roanoke Island Nature Reserve where you can wander to your heart’s content.
Remember folks, please come visit us at the website before you hit the road…we’re glad to help get you squared away!
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Some folks navigate by BBQ joints. Some folks navigate by hamburgers. Some folks navigate by Tex Mex restaurants. Well it’s summer out there people. It’s a hot and humid Texas summer now, so maybe it’s time to navigate based on ice cream shops!
If you’re headed down to the beach in Galveston, you’ve got to hit La King’s Confectionery. It’s located down near the Strand on the corner of Mechanic St and 24th. They’re actually an old fashioned candy maker but they also feature ice cream in their 1920’s style soda fountain. The ice cream they serve is made right on the location and is the oldest ice cream company in Texas!
If you’re headed through Austin, you’ve gotta go to Amy’s. Amy’s is an institution and they now have locations all over town. It’s summertime in Austin though, so expect traffic and long lines. Their ice cream is worth the wait though!
If you’re headed up through Dallas, stop in Denton, TX for an ice cream at Beth Marie’s. The original location is right on the square, and Beth Marie’s is another of those old-school soda fountains. They feature over a hundred different flavors, all made by themselves…and they even sell some of their ice cream at Central Markets in TX. So if you can’t make it to Dallas, swing by a Central Market for a taste.
If you’re coming through Houston, you’ve got to hit the Fat Cat Creamery. They’re located on N Shepherd between 19th and 20th streets in the Heights. They call themselves a small batch ice cream maker and all their ingredients are locally sourced. This place is amazing!
So if just reading this has given you cavities, or spiked your blood sugar, then my work here is done. You’ve probably heard more than one person say, “It’s the journey, not the destination that matters” well…while you’re journeying, stop for an ice cream and that will sure make the destination matter just a little less for a while.
Come say howdy to us over at the website.
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Happy Summer everybody! The heat and the humidity have truly rolled in to stay. I mean it’s been so darn humid I’ve been thinking about bringing a change of clothes with me to work. So naturally one’s mind drifts to less humid areas…and one of my favorite in Texas is Alpine!
Alpine, TX is the county seat of Brewster county which I delight in reminding people is 500 square miles BIGGER than Connecticut. It’s so big you could fit Delaware in there three times over. Matter of fact I reckon you could have a fire the size of Delaware in Brewster county and never even see the smoke. Ha! But back to Alpine.
Alpine is a wonderful place to use as your home base for exploring the Texas Big Bend country. It has a population of around 6000 (which is almost half the entire population of Brewster County) which means it has all the amenities you’ll require. From Alpine you can head south into the Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park (which naturally is bigger than the National Park), the “ghost town” of Terlingua, Lajitas, and on into Mexico if that’s your thing.
Or you can head north up to Ft Davis and see the old cavalry fort, eat some absolutely deeeeeeeeeee-licious Tex Mex, or visit the McDonald Observatory. If west is more your thing, why then Marfa is your place! You can check out the quirky art scene it’s got happening, there’s a permanent fake Prada shoe store out in the middle of the desert for example. Kind of like a shoe version of Cadillac Ranch. And of course there are the famous Marfa Lights. Head out there some evening and see if you can spot them. There is a dedicated viewing area right there on the highway.
This portion of West Texas is particularly beautiful this year because of all the rain, so if you think of desiccated, dusty, and dirty when you think of W TX…you’re occasionally right. But not this year. The creeks and rivers are running, the vegetation is beautiful. AND IT’S NOT HUMID.
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The Gulf Coast is often portrayed as the ugly step sister to the Pacific Coast and the Atlantic Coast, but I’m here to tell you…it just ain’s so. Every Coast in America has miles of ugly and beauty, and today we’re going to talk Gulf Coast Beauty Spots. So since beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say, what makes a beautiful part of a coast? Clear water? Isolation? Hotels and amenities? To each their own, but for the purposes of today, we’re going to talk beautiful water.
Here in the Lone Star, I’ve got to lead off with Port Aransas. This is that point on the gulf coast where the river silt finally starts fading out and the water becomes a clear sparkly blue/green. All the usual amenities are located here from deep sea fishing to hotels and great seafood. Boat rides over to Saint Jo Island are available as well if you’d prefer a more isolated beach experience.
Grand Isle is the place to be. It’s about a two hour drive south from New Orleans. The fishing is world renowned, the birds are incredible, and for a barrier island next to the mouth of the mighty Mississippi, the beaches are great!
Gulf Shores, AL is probably the most well known beach in this thin strip of coast that Mississipp and Alabama occupy. This portion of the coast is more along the typical spring breaker idea of a great beach with abundant hotels and entertainments,
St George Island is one neat spot y’all. It’s a barrier island off the coast off Florida near Apalachicola. It features over 9 miles of undeveloped beach so if you’re looking for a spot more natural in Florida, this is your place! Lots of fishing and charter boat tours, as well as the usual seaside diversions.
Don’t forget to hit our website before you hit the road, we’ve got everything you’ll need!
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Pow-Wows are an great opportunity to see and experience Native American culture. Singing, dancing, cooking, and just good old socializing is what Pow-Wows are all about. They are also very educational and exciting too. Needless to say there are Pow-Wows all over the country throughout the summer, so if you find yourself on a summer driving trip, finding a pow wow near your destination is a perfect way to present some American history to the kids and grandkids. If you’re in Texas and aren’t traveling too far this summer, there are a couple good ones nearby.
Bandera, TX – Circle Of Life Pow-Wow
Bandera is located in the heart of the hill country and can be reached best from I-10 by either taking 173 south out of Kerrville, or 46 south out of Boerne until it intersects 16 and you turn west. The Circle Of Life Pow-Wow is not limited to any one tribe, and features a few spiritual ceremonies you can view.
Kinder, LA – Coushatta Pow-Wow
For those of yall who don’t want to wait until the end of the summer, nearby Kinder, LA hosts the 21st Annual Coushatta Pow-Wow the weekend of June 11. The Coushattas in Louisiana are a fairly small tribe now, and estimated 400 people still live on the reservation, but they are rich in heritage as you can see at the Pow-Wow.
East Falmouth MA – Mashpee Wampanoag 95th Annual Pow-Wow
If you’re headed up to the east coast, this is an amazing pow wow to see. It’s help 4th of July weekend, and is one of the oldest continuous P0w-Wows held east of the Mississippi. The Mashpee Wampanoag are a federation of tribes who came in contact with European settlers as far back as the 1600’s and have still maintained their identity. If you’re in New England this summer, check them out!
And as always, please wing by the website and we’ll be only too glad to get you squared away before you hit the trail this summer!