DON’T-MISS DESTINATIONS: EMERALD COVE | HIDEAWAY PONDS | GETTYSBURG BATTLEFIELD RESORT
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TO TO gold Heart of Spirits of the Southwest Arizona’s mystical Canyon de Chelly Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
strike it rich on a colorado road trip
Paralleling the potomac river by bike and rv
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8 Legends of the Fall
good sam and camping world chairman and Ceo Marcus Lemonis marcusvip@GoodSamFamily.com coast to Coast president Bruce Hoster bhoster@GoodSamFamily.com Member Services 64 Inverness Drive E. Englewood, Colorado 80112 800-368-5721 writetous@Coast-Coast.com
An autumn road trip from the red rocks of Colorado National Monument to the golden aspens of the San Juan Range. By emily fagan 12 Freewheeling along the C&O Canal Pack your bikes and steer your rig to central Maryland for an epic ride along a bygone waterway en route to the nation’s capital. By ron and eva stob 16 Spirits of the Southwest One of the Southwest’s scenic wonders, Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly yields spectacular vistas and an equally mesmerizing cultural legacy. By victor walsh departments 3 From the President 4 Member Matters 6 Rally 6 Resort Updates 7 You’re the Experts 20 Side Trip 21 RV Review resorts 4 Gettysburg Battlefield Resort Flip through the pages of Civil War history in the now-peaceful Pennsylvania countryside. 5 Emerald Cove Resort A shimmering gem of a Coast Deluxe Resort on the California side of the Colorado River. 22 Hideaway Ponds Resort Good times, good friends and great crawfish in the heart of Louisiana bayou country. 16
coast to coast WEBSITE CoastResorts.com Editorial director Valerie Law editor@CoastResorts.com
art director Nick nyffeler
Volume 32, Number 4. Coast to Coast (ISSN 1093-3581) is published quarterly for $14 per year as part of annual membership fees, by Coast to Coast Resorts, 64 Inverness Drive E., Englewood, Colorado 80112. Periodical postage paid at Englewood, Colorado, and additional mailing offices. Registration Number 558028. Publications Mail Agreement Number 40012332. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to P.O. Box 875, Station A, Windsor, Ontario N92 6P2. U.S. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Coast to Coast Resorts, P.O. Box 7028, Englewood, CO 80155-7028. Coast to Coast Resorts assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any method without prior written consent of the pub- lisher. Copyright © 2013 by Coast to Coast Resorts. PRINTED IN THE USA cover photo : Lizard Head Pass in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, by Emily Fagan CTC25585 0813
COAST TO COAST fall 2013
FROM THE President Another Banner Year Coast to Coast is on a roll in 2013 in more ways than one
I ’m happy to report that Coast to Coast is having a very good year in 2013, on the heels of good years in 2011 and 2012. In fact, new membership enroll- ments have increased nearly every month for the past three years. But why, you may ask, is that good news for you?
tive director, Fred Moore, was at the June Rally in Syracuse to help us pay tribute to the many veterans in attendance. The Rally’s Salute to Veterans, sponsored by Coast to Coast, was our largest to date with more than 600 veterans—six full companies of troops!—participating in the procession. It was an extremely moving event and even resulted in a few reunions of former servicemen who hadn’t seen each other in years.
putting members first
It is indeed very good news for every member of Coast to Coast. Our growth is a direct result of increasing interest in membership camping, not only by RVers who want to become members but also by resort developers who want to invest in membership camping. We get calls almost every week from either an upscale RV park that wants to become a membership resort, an existing resort that’s upgrading their resort facilities or one of our top membership camping developers who has plans to acquire more resorts to expand their—and our—network. The level of interest in membership camping is the highest it has been in my seven years working for Coast to Coast, and the interest just keeps growing. We’re see- ing some real expansion in our industry for the first time in years, which will make your membership in your home resort—and your Coast to Coast membership—even more valuable in the months and years to come. To that point, I’d like to welcome four new resorts that have joined the Coast to Coast Resort network so far this year. Two of our new resorts are located in the Pacific Northwest: Paradise Cove Resort in Rockaway Beach, Oregon, and Willow Bay Resort in Nine Miles Falls, Washington. Both come to us courtesy of a new affiliated resort developer, Advance Resorts of America. Paradise Cove Resort sits in a stunning setting on the shores of Nehalem Bay, which flows directly into the Pacific Ocean, and Willow Bay Resort is just north of Spokane, close to the Spokane River and Nine Mile Falls. A third new resort is Butch Cassidy RV Campground in Salina, Utah. Conveniently situated just off Interstate 70, the resort is centrally located between Arches and Bryce Canyon national parks and Utah’s scenic outdoor mecca, Moab. On the other side of the country is our fourth new resort, Carroll Woods Campground at Grapefull Sisters Vineyard in Tabor City, North Carolina. While not new to the Coast to Coast network, as the property has been a Good Neighbor Park for years, Carroll Woods has now converted to a member- ship resort. Just inland from North Myrtle Beach and south- west of Wilmington, North Carolina, Carroll Woods is a great location for enjoying all that the Lowcountry has to offer. In the last issue I wrote about Flags4Vets’ great work placing flags on veterans’ graves across America. The execu-
Syracuse Rally: Bruce Hoster with Flags4Vets' Fred Moore (second from left) and World War II veterans John Fink and Chuck Gilbert.
We had a special salute at the Rally for two World War II veterans in attendance, Chuck Gilbert and John Fink. I’ve gotten to know Chuck over the years, as he is a regular Rally attendee who has been a member of Coast to Coast since 1991. We’re looking forward to our next Salute to Veterans at October’s Atlanta Rally where, among other activities, we’ll have a helicopter flyover and rides aboard an authentic Viet- nam-era “Huey.” For more information about the upcom- ing Rally, turn to page 6 and check out the Rally website, TheRally.com. We hope to see you there!
Marcus lemonis Chairman and CEO
Bruce Hoster President Coast to Coast Resorts bhoster@GoodSamFamily.com
Good Sam and Camping World marcusvip@GoodSamFamily.com
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Mak i ng t he mo s t o f y our c oa s t t o c oa s t memb e r sh i p member matters
In peaceful southern Pennsylvania, stay next door to a Civil War shrine Gettysburg Battlefield Resort
visitors to step back in time to 1863. The neighboring Coast Premier property, Gettysburg Battlefield Resort, has a rich history of its own. Opened in the mid-1980s and purchased by Travel Resorts of America in 1999, the top-rated resort sits on the south- ern end of the battlefield near the Mason–Dixon Line, the historic border separating the old North and South. Within minutes, you can be walking the grounds and standing at Soldiers National Monument where Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address. Before you begin flipping through the pages of history, take some time to settle in at one of the resort’s 261 RV campsites, including pull-throughs for big rigs, and hook up to 30- or 50-amp electrical service. For those not travel- ing in an RV, the resort’s rental cabins provide a comfy place to hang your hat. The recently retiled Olympic-size pool is vast enough for swimming laps,
playing Marco Polo and peacefully floating your cares away. At the private catch-and-release lake, cast your line for bass. For more outdoor adventures, bring the kids to the playground, ex- plore the nature trails or play a rousing game of shuffleboard, horseshoes or beach volleyball. With a full schedule of activities and theme weekends, there’s always something fun going on at the resort, from bonfires to casino nights and wine-tasting events. Immaculate mod- ern bathhouses, a general store, a laun- dry room, Internet access, an RV dump station and a honey wagon ensure everyone has a comfortable stay. Gettysburg Battlefield Resort is one of five Travel Resorts of America prop- erties that open their gates for Coast to Coast members. The staff welcomes everyone with the same friendly greet- ing, from retired couples to young families to canine companions.
Resort Type: Coast Premier Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Season: Year-round
Website: travelresorts.com Good Sam rating: 9/10 H /9.5
T his year marks the 150th anniver- sary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the American Civil War. The pivotal battle inspired Abra- ham Lincoln’s most famous speech, eulogizing the 51,000 casualties and reaffirming the intentions of the coun- try’s founders. As Gettysburg National Military Park, this now-peaceful ex- panse of Pennsylvania countryside welcomes more than a million yearly
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Find your place in the sun on the California side of the Colorado River Emerald Cove Resort
Emerald Cove enjoys an arid desert climate with warm winters, hot sum- mers and near-perfect springs and autumns. Hundreds of RV campsites roll out panoramic river views, with full hookups, picnic tables and grills. If you travel with a boat or other sea- faring vessel, you’re welcome to cast off from the resort’s triple-wide launch and explore the river. If not, take advantage of the nearby rentals to get out on the water. Then join the fun on the roll- ing Colorado, whether you’re tubing, water-skiing, baiting your fishing line or simply cruising. Dogs can get in on the action at two fenced-in pet areas, including one that allows river access. Of course, the Colorado River isn’t the only place to make a splash at Em- erald Cove. You can take a refreshing dip in two covered swimming pools and a pair of hot tubs, not to mention the kid-friendly wading pool. The poolside staff serves tempting snacks and drinks.
Naturally, there are plenty of ways to spend the days away from the water. Try your luck teeing off on the nine- hole executive golf course or putting 18 holes of minigolf. Shoot some hoops on the basketball court or get in a lively game of table tennis, horseshoes, shuf- fleboard or billiards. Emerald Cove’s gated entry, round- the-clock security and well-supervised youth activities mean you can relax and thoroughly enjoy yourself. When it’s time to replenish your supplies, stop by the well-stocked convenience store. Within easy drives—or boat rides— you’ll find a couple of famous spans. Parker Dam, the world’s deepest, strad- dles the river only five minutes away, and the original London Bridge crosses the Colorado in Lake Havasu City. Need further enticement to slip away from the resort? The many diversions of the BlueWater Casino await just 6 miles away on the Arizona side.
Resort Type: Coast Premier Location: Earp, California Season: Year-round Website: coloradoriveradventures.com Good Sam rating: 8/7.5/9
O ne of seven Colorado River Adven- tures properties that give a warm welcome to Coast to Coast members, Emerald Cove Resort spans a beautiful milelong private beach on the Colorado River. An oasis of palm trees and sandy shoreline, this Coast Premier Resort is the place to play on the water, soak up the sun and rejuvenate your spirit. Right across the river from Parker, Arizona, on California’s eastern border,
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Rally Redux Wrapping up Syracuse and reuniting in Atlanta
N early 6,500 RVers rolled into the heart of New York for the North- east’s first ever Camping World/Good Sam Rally, June 13 to 16. Filling Syra- cuse’s Empire Expo Center and the sur- rounding New York State Fairgrounds, the Rally featured first-rate entertain- ment, from Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne New- ton, and the Queen of Country, Reba McEntire, to spectacular fireworks. To get into the record books, the Syr- acuse Rally set out to host the world’s largest wedding-vow renewal ceremony. Although the attempt fell short of the 1,088 couples needed, no one seemed to mind, as the crowd blissfully recited their “I do’s.” resort updates additions and changes to the 2013 directories Coast to coast resorts COAST Premier addition UTAH Butch Cassidy RV Park and Campground, 1050 S. State, Salina, 84654. Phone: 435- 529-7400. Reservations: 801-598-4833. Website: butchcassidycampground.com. Directions: From I-70, take Highway 89 exit 56 north for .7 miles to the resort,
Now the Rally organizers are gearing up for this fall’s main event at Georgia’s Atlanta Motor Speedway, October 17 to 20. Rally-goers can stroll through hundreds of exhibits of the latest RV gear, tour a vast fleet of recreational vehicles for sale and even test-drive new motorhomes around one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Atlanta’s dawn-till-dusk slate of seminars covers everything from RV maintenance to Alaska travel. The al- ways popular Rally Dog Show returns, and J.D. Platt brings his K9 Kings Fly- ing Dog Show, featuring the world’s fastest Frisbee dog. Acclaimed chef Bob Blumer is back with innovative recipes, located on the left side of the road. From Salina, take Highway 89 south 1 mile from the center of town. GPS: 38.9578/ -111.8592. Additional charge: 50 amps/ $3 per night. Open year-round. Lighthouse Marina, Restaurant and Resort, Isleton. Changed from Coast Premier Resort to Coast Deluxe Resort (page 123). COAST DELUXE changes IDAHO Lewis–Clark Resort, Kamiah. Resort fax: COAST premier Change CALIFORNIA
Trailer Life publisher Bob Livingston unlocks the mysteries of RV ownership, and Flags4Vets founder Fred Moore leads the Rally’s Salute to Veterans, sponsored by Coast to Coast Resorts. Away from the racetrack, Rally-goers can take a lap around Atlanta on a num- ber of optional sightseeing tours. When the sun sets, the surf’s up, as the Beach Boys take center stage, fronted by original band member Mike Love. Rally-goers can dance in the aisles to the familiar strains of “Surfin’ USA,” “California Girls” and “Good Vibra- tions.” Then they’ll be mesmerized by the powerful lyrics and world-class guitar playing of Vince Gill, the 20-time 800-521-6570. Reservation fax: 800-521- 6570 (page 134). TENNESSEE Big Buck Camping Resort, Hornsby. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org (page 176). TEXAS Castaways RV Park and Campground, Willis. Renamed Bishop’s Landing (page 185). COAST classic changes MINNESOTA Golden Eagle Vacationland, Perham. Renamed Golden Eagle RV Village, Perham (page 150).
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you’re the experts TRASH CAN TURKEY
Inside information from Coast to Coast members
Trash can turkey may not sound appetiz- ing, but believe us, it is! There’s a group of RV snowbirds that spends winters in Yuma and summers in Idaho, just south of McCall. We need no special holiday or reason to put together a turkey party two or three times a year, occasionally with two trash cans at a time. Materials • 10-gallon metal trash can and lid • 16- to 20-pound turkey • 10 pounds Kingsford charcoal briquettes • Heavy-duty aluminum foil • 20-inch metal stake
BRITISH COLUMBIA Woodbury Resort and Marina, Ainsworth. Phone: 250-353-7717 (page 207). COAST classic deletions ALABAMA Little Mountain Marina Camping Resort, Langston (page 108). MICHIGAN Sandy Pines Wilderness Trails, Hopkins (page 145). NEVADA Crossroads RV Park–Sunrise Resorts, Wells (page 157). To sign up for October’s Atlanta Rally, call 800-701-1399 or visit TheRallycom. Registrations start at $199, which in- cludes four days of camping and all the festivities. Make sure to ask if you qualify for free or discounted registration. Grammy winner who returns to the Rally after thrilling the Redmond, Or- egon, audience in 2011. Giving back to the host commu- nity is a Rally hallmark, and attend- ees are invited to donate handmade blankets, quilts and afghans to Project Linus, which in turn provides them to local children who are seriously ill or otherwise in need. June’s Camping World/Good Sam Rally lit up Syracuse with dazzling fireworks, RV displays and Reba McEntire’s encore performance.
Process 1. Place the trash can lid upside down, pour in the briquettes and light. 2. Lay down a layer of foil 12 to 18 inches larger than the diameter of the trash can. Lay a second layer over the first in the opposite direction. 3. Drive the stake into the middle of the foil and cover it with foil. 4. Place the turkey on the stake. 5. Put the trash can over the turkey (there should be at least 3 to 4 inches between the top of the can and the turkey). 6. When most of the briquettes have turned white, spread a layer of briquettes on top of the trash can and heap the rest on the foil around the outside bottom of the can. 7. Cook the turkey for two hours undisturbed, then use caution when removing the can from the turkey and the turkey from the stake. Enjoy! Gary and Vickie Doramus, Timber Lodge RV Resort, Texas SHARE YOUR RV KNOW-HOW You’re the experts on RV travel, and we’d like to hear from you. Please email your tips and accompanying photos or sketches to editor@CoastResorts.com. Make sure to include your name, the name of your Coast to Coast home resort and your mailing address. If your tip is selected for publication, you’ll receive $25.
good neighbor parks GOOD NEIGHBOR changes ARIZONA
Good Neighbor Park to Coast Deluxe Resort (page 34). GOOD NEIGHBOR deletion NEVADA Mountain Shadows RV Park, Wells (page 29). The 2013 Coast to Coast Resort Directory and Good Neighbor Park Directory are packed with everything you need to navi- gate the network of Coast to Coast Resorts, Good Sam Parks and Good Neighbor Parks. To keep members up-to-date, each issue of the magazine includes resort updates, noted with page numbers from the directories.
Sunflower RV Resort–Cal-Am Properties, Surprise. Email address: teresah@cal-am .com. Directions: From west of Phoenix, take Loop 303 north to El Mirage Road and exit right (page 28). MONTANA Indian Creek Campground, Deer Lodge. Email address: email@example.com (page 9). NORTH CAROLINA Carroll Woods Campground at Grapefull Sisters Vineyard, Longs. Changed from
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Illustration by Wayne Shipp
COAST TO COAST fall 2013
When autumn comes to Colorado, the western slope of the Rockies turns over a new leaf Story by Emily Fagan Photography by Emily and Mark Fagan Colorado evokes images of craggy peaks and alpine valleys, so my husband, Mark, and I were astonished to find ourselves immersed in a vast red rock canyon when we visited Colorado National Monument. Located outside Grand Junction near the Utah border, this canyon is an extension of the wonderful red rocks that dominate Utah’s landscape.
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At Colorado National Monument, every view’s a postcard on Rim Rock Drive.
A second foray into this park took us to the unique patio stones of Cold Shivers Point. The stone slabs are so wide and flat that we wanted to run across to the canyon’s edge like kids, but glancing down at our feet we noticed that all the stones had been carved with names and dates going back to the 1930s. Some etchings are just initials inside a heart, and others are names joined by a plus sign. This gorgeous viewpoint is something of a lover’s lane, an ideal place to proclaim everlasting love before one of nature’s most majes- tic chasms of red rock. Back down in the small town of Fruita, we discovered a lively farmer’s market that was filled with the bountiful har- vest of late summer. Apples have never tasted so crisp and sweet as the tiny ones we found there, and the melons were so flavorful we couldn’t help but laugh as the juice ran freely down our chins. Children played happily with the docile al- pacas that were fenced off at one end of the market where a family was offering their soft wool for sale. A band played to one side, giving the market a festive air. On the far side of Grand Junction, we spent a day in Palisade where a small wine industry thrives. We followed the wine route that wanders through the farmlands around the outskirts of town, stopping at several vintners’ estates to have a taste. We particularly enjoyed the port wine at Graystone Winery. It had a rich, deep fruity flavor. Traveling 90 miles south to Ridgway, we left the farm- lands and arrived in the heart of Colorado’s famous mountains where the jagged peaks and broad views we’d been waiting to see now filled us with awe. The San Juan Mountain Range between Ridgway, Telluride and Ouray offers some of the most stunning scenery imaginable, and during the third week of September the whole area is on fire with the spectacular yellows, oranges and reds of fall foliage. Golden aspen blan- keted the valleys, standing out dramatically against the dark evergreens, and the whole quilt of brilliant colors spread out against the raw gray mountain peaks and rich blue sky. The views are stunning from every vantage point, but some of the best drives at this time of year are along the dirt roads that run between the towns that aren’t fit for large RVs.
The park’s centerpiece is the enchanting Rim Rock Drive, a thin ribbon of road that twists and turns along the edges of the canyon’s sheer walls, offering ever-changing jaw-dropping views. When we pulled up to the park entrance, the ranger said casually, “The drive through this park takes about 45 minutes.” Four hours later, we hadn’t even made it halfway! The true magic of the park lies in the many easy hikes that take visitors off the main road. The Canyon Rim and Win- dow Rock hiking trails are effortless ambles across wide, flat, playground-sized rock slabs, and we found we could wander as close to the cliffs’ edges as we dared. Looking across the canyon, the Book Cliffs provided an inspiring view of pinnacles, towers and castles of rock that jut up from the valley floor. The erosive effects of water and wind have created these formations by weathering away the surrounding turf, leaving only the most impervious portions of rock behind. As we walked along the edges of the cliffs, marveling at the trees that tempt fate by hanging off the rim, we kept hearing voices coming up from the canyon floor. An hour later we saw tiny figures on Independence Monument, a towering spire in the middle of the canyon that has an impossibly small spot at the top to stand. We learned later that John Otto, the man responsible for persuading President Taft to set aside this land as a national monument in 1911, was the first to scale the pin- nacle. Today, rock climbers follow his route up the vertical walls and celebrate the Fourth of July by planting a huge American flag on top.
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Expect one kaleidoscopic vista after another in the San Juan Mountains, from colorful Dallas Creek Road to the pretty town of Telluride.
Our first trip into this wonderland of color was out to Owl Creek Pass. Driving between the shimmering aspen, the views changed with every switchback, growing ever more dramatic as we climbed higher. Near the top we came to a clearing with a million dollar view that would make the most ideal camping spot for a tent or truck camper (nothing larger could make it on this road!). A fellow leaf-peeper told us that this clearing was the scene of the big shootout in John Wayne’s movie True Grit . A lively conversation between us all ensued. A little further up the road, we stopped again in a spot where our newfound friend began posing for his wife as if taking a swig from a bottle while leaning against a rock. He quickly explained that John Wayne’s character in True Grit had gotten drunk right here while resting on this rock. We got in the spirit too, and I took a shot of Mark pretending to be John Wayne as well. A few days later we found a DVD of the movie. What fun it was to see all the places we’d just visited on Owl Creek Pass, including the whisky scene and the shootout. Another day we drove out on both Dallas Creek Road and West Dallas Creek Road where the sunny yellow aspen interspersed with vivid red trees. It was a true photographer’s paradise being immersed in these glorious views. For every mile we drove, we stopped at least three times to pile out of the truck and get some more pictures. At one point we turned into a clearing to find a group of RVers and tent campers. They were there for hunting season and had some rousing stories to tell of the elk herd. More fasci- nating to us, though, was the tale one hunter told of the wed- ding between Jeb Bush’s son and Ralph Lauren’s daughter that had taken place on Lauren’s estate the previous year. Lauren’s Double RL Ranch sprawls across most of the open land in this region, and the Secret Service and National Forest Service had been kept busy closing all the roads to protect the two former presidents and countless other celebrities invited to the event. Our final drive in the area took us along Last Dollar Road to a beautiful canopy of aspen that hung over the route in a lofty arch. The road was lit up in yellow under one of the densest stands of aspens we’ve ever seen. These soaring trees had an almost noble air, swaying ever so slightly in the breeze while their leaves quivered in the late afternoon light. As we con-
tinued along this road, we crested a mountain peak and then descended into Telluride, surrounded by breathtaking views at every turn. By the time we arrived in the delightful town, our mouths seemed permanently formed in the word “Wow!” Telluride, Ridgway and Ouray are unique little mountain towns that mix a slightly quirky cowboy air with the elite ambience of the cosmopolitan ultra-rich. With mining in its history, Telluride now offers boutique shopping, upscale din- ing and elegant lodging. We enjoyed an afternoon stroll along the main street where the low buildings are tucked up against a towering mountain. Our time in town didn’t allow for a ride up the ski lift to the mountaintop, but memories of that exhilarating ride from another summer a few years back were fresh in our minds as we watched the gondola carousel turn- ing at the mountain’s base. The weather at this time of year can turn quickly, and in just one day the blue skies and warm air gave way to storm clouds and brisk winds. The wind rattled our trailer all night and whipped the leaves from the trees in a relentless blow. However, an overnight shower sprinkled the mountainsides with a dusting of snow. As we left Telluride in our rearview mirror, we passed through a stunning panorama of misty mountain peaks towering over colorful valleys, showing off the last of autumn’s splendor. Although we have lived in and loved the West for a long time, we hadn’t taken our big fifth wheel to Colorado in our five years of full-time RVing because we were nervous about driving it on the narrow mountain roads. What a fantastic surprise it was to find that the driving was not difficult. The landscapes were so stunning that we will happily return without hesitation. For More Information Colorado National Monument, nps.gov/colm Colorado Department of Transportation, coloradodot.info The Colorado DOT is a great resource for finding out if roads on your itinerary are suitable for RV driving. We recommend against driving larger RVs on the portion of Route 550 between Ouray and Silverton.
Colorado has one Coast Premier Resort, one Coast Deluxe Resort, two Good Neighbor Parks and 49 Good Sam Parks.
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Hitch up your RV and bikes to roll along the Grand Old Ditch from northwestern Maryland to Washington, D.C.
Story and Photography by Ron and Eva Stob
F or years we’ve been traveling America’s canals by boat. What would it be like, we wondered, to travel along the historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal by truck and trailer and experience this heritage waterway intimately by bicycle? For those unfamiliar with the C&O Canal, the waterway was a dream of George Washington’s, who envisioned connect- ing the eastern states with the western frontier. Upon comple- tion, the 6-foot-deep, 12-foot-wide canal and adjacent towpath stretched from Georgetown in Washington, D.C., to Cumber- land, Maryland. Seven dams on the Potomac River “watered” the canal through diversion channels. The ultimate goal was to connect to the Ohio River in Pitts- burgh via the Youghiogheny and Monongahela Rivers, but that section was never completed. The B&O Railroad began its north- west thrust at the same time. In 1850 the passage of 185 miles through 75 locks pulled by mule teams took five days going day
and night to reach Cumberland; by rail, it took five hours. Even before the C&O Canal reached Cumberland, it ex- perienced a slow and inevitable decline and eventually went bankrupt. To prevent competition, the railroad then bought all rights to the waterway. In 1938 when the railroad also fell on hard times, the federal government exchanged the railroad’s tax debt for the canal. The government then owned something it didn’t really need or want: 5,288 acres of a useless canal along the unnavigable Potomac. Nicknamed the Grand Old Ditch, the canal sat abandoned for 30 years, gradually filling in. Various proposals were floated, including a highway, but in 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas envisioned a hiker’s parkway using the old towpath. To promote his idea, Douglas walked from Cumber- land to Georgetown, accompanied by a cadre of friends and a reporter from the Washington Post .
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The story raised national interest, and the government made the C&O Canal a national monument in 1961, then a national historical park 10 years later. In 1972 the National Park Service began buying additional acreage to buffer the canal. Instead of a 5,000-acre linear park, the C&O Canal became a 20,000-acre walking and cycling path, with a few canal sections watered for use by canoes and kayaks. Today it’s one of the most popular national historical parks, experienced by about 4 million visi- tors each year. Our goal was to cycle significant portions of the towpath, camping as close to it as we could. Both our fifth-wheel trailer and our truck are equipped with hitch receivers into which we insert our bicycle rack. When we leave the trailer behind at a campground, we remove the bikes, insert the rack into the truck’s receiver, place the bikes back on the rack and go. For the best sightseeing, we selected major cultural at- tributes to cycle to, including aqueducts that carry the canal over intervening streams and creeks, river dams, tunnels, locks and lockhouses, some of which now serve as overnight lodgings for travelers. Tent campgrounds dapple the 185-mile park, and a few drive-in camping areas can serve as overnight stays for small RVs. From our home in Knoxville, Tennessee, we headed to a
mountain rather than construct a canal around it, but it took 14 years (1836–1850) to build this 3,118-foot-long shortcut using picks and shovels and a ton of black powder. Eva tried walking through the tunnel without a flashlight but came back after stumbling in the dark, clinging to the iron rail until she met the light of day again. Back in the truck, we left paved Highway 51 and picked up a rough gravel road back to Little Orleans, stopping at scenic Point Lookout where we had an eagle’s view of the serpentine Potomac gnawing its way through Green Ridge State Forest and the Allegheny Mountains. Before settling in for the night, we took a peek at Bill’s Place, a notable watering hole in Little Orleans. Bill’s is a boozy place with dollar bills stuck on the ceiling, a dining area and a modicum of canned goods. Cyclists and hikers can find enough Vienna sausages, Little Debbies, beans and peanut butter to sustain them until the next provisioning stop. A low railroad bridge from Bill’s to the Fifteenmile Creek camping area precludes the passage of motorhomes and tall trailers, although the Edenic spot is a per- fect place for camper vans and pop-up trailers. The Hancock Visitor Center at mile 125 is in the 1780 Bowles House, adjacent to the towpath. We walked down the towpath to the Tonoloway Creek Aqueduct. Beyond the 1837
Cyclists starting out from Cumberland, Maryland, can pedal 185 miles southeast along the C&O towpath to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. The perch from Point Lookout, right, showcases a scenic bend in the Potomac across from 243 acres once owned by George Washington.
campground in tiny Little Orleans, Maryland, about 50 miles south of Cumberland, staying two nights. Following an orienta- tion at the national park’s Cumberland Visitor Center, we drove Highway 51 south toward Lock 75 and put the bikes on the trail. The towpath is fine gravel, but at times it’s a bit bumpy. Our medium sized tires were perfect, but mountain bikes, the rental agency’s choice, are also suitable. Our ride took us to the Paw Paw Tunnel near mile 156, lined with 6 million bricks. The builders opted to blast through a
aqueduct are Locks 51 and 52 with only the skeletal remains of the accompanying lockhouse. The canal and towpath in these parts are pastoral avenues of green velvet with long alleys of empty waterway and paral- lel path. The saplings of 1828 have become hulking trees that provide natural drapery. The Potomac is placid and serene here with geese waddling in the shallows. Running beside the tow- path is a Rails-to-Trails bicycle path from the defunct Western Maryland Railroad.
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Near the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah in Harpers Ferry, drinking in the watery views from a pedestrian bridge and, right, the rocky shallows.
W e spent the night at the campground in Fort Frederick State Park. The historic fort, circa 1756, is a peaceful place to spend the night within earshot of trains and only a stone’s throw from the river. In the morning we cycled from the fort to Locks 47 through 50 near a mule barn where weary animals passed the winter. In the 1870s about 3,000 mules worked the C&O, and the aptly named town of Four Locks had two general stores, two ware- houses, a dry dock, a post office and schools. The Miles Gibson family was lodging in Lockhouse 49 when we visited. Staying there is a bit like dry camping. There’s electricity but no running water and a chemical toilet outside. A washbasin sits in each bedroom, but you have to bring your own water. Next, we made the drive to the Williamsport Visitor Center, situated in the old Cushwa Coal and Brick Company ware- house. A large basin allowed the barges to line up, at times for 6 or 7 miles, waiting to unload coal coming from Cumberland or to take on bricks, grain and vegetables bound for the George- town market. Many of the brownstones of Georgetown origi- nated at the Cushwa brickworks. Before heading to the Antietam Creek Aqueduct section of the C&O, at mile 70, we drove through Antietam National Battlefield then stopped along a section of roadway designated an official national park camping area. We put the bikes on the path there and rode down to Lock 37, a 2.5-mile ride each way. Drive-in users with bikes cross the towpath on footbridges to tent sites with outdoor privies and water. We decided that the invitation to rest also applied to RV campers, so we paid our $10 fee, fed the cat and ourselves, pulled in the stairs and slept undisturbed. The way to Harpers Ferry, Virginia, from Antietam Creek was a tortuous two-lane road that wound through the hills, past small homes and beneath overhanging trees. We headed down
to the towpath when a yellow roadside sign popped up to warn us of a 12-foot clearance. Our trailer measures 12 feet, 8 inches. A National Park Service truck pulled alongside us, and a mustached face leaned out the window and confirmed the clearance. The way around was to backtrack, turn right, then head right again over the hills and through the woods past Grandma’s house to Highway 67. Another right turn, then a half hour later we were in Harpers Ferry. Strategically positioned at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Harpers Ferry had a federal arsenal and was the target for abolitionist John Brown and his raiders in 1859. During the Civil War, the town and its weapon-making machinery shifted from Union to Confederate possession eight times, with the C&O Canal and the Potomac River becoming the de facto scrimmage line. We toured Harpers Ferry, then walked the footbridge along- side the railroad tracks and down a circular staircase to the towpath, crowded with cyclists. One couple was sucking air and looking exhausted. They were part of a British Columbia group that had flown to Pittsburgh, rented bicycles and were close to finishing the C&O Canal towpath after first complet- ing the 149-mile Great Allegheny Passage to Cumberland. That day and the day before, they’d ridden 64 miles and spent eight hours in the saddle on rented bikes. They said they were having a good time. Ugh! The Monocacy Aqueduct at mile 42.2 has seven arches and stretches 500 feet, the giant among the 11 aqueducts along the C&O. It’s strikingly beautiful with its pink quartzite stone. Even so, the Confederate army still tried to blow it up. Great Falls Tavern, built in 1828, was a way station for travelers in the early years but is now a museum with displays and memorabilia. Walkways and outlooks show the otherwise placid Potomac as wild and savage as it cascades through steep rocks and a narrow gorge.
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W e visited family in Alexandria, Virginia, and finished our C&O tour with them, including 16-month old Elena who had a “summer home” in a screened two-wheeled trailer attached to Daddy Alan’s bike. We drove to Fletcher’s Boat House on the Potomac and joined the many residents of the D.C. area seeking water sports and cycling activities. Our group biked upstream to Lock 6, at mile 5.6, where the formal push for the C&O began in 1828. The lockhouse there has been refurbished and is open for overnight guests. A Georgetown family had checked in. This house has all the modern conveniences: running water, indoor toilet, electric stove, dishwasher, fridge, two bedrooms and rocking chairs on the side porch. The visitor center at Georgetown is located along the canal at mile 0.4 in the ground floor of a brownstone. The canal in this section is dramatic, stepping up and up through a flight of locks. In one pool floated the Georgetown , the canal boat formerly used for visitors wishing to experience a canal ride through the locks. The National Park Service can’t afford to re- store it, and private contributions aren’t sufficient to replace it. To end our journey, we walked along Rock Creek to the Tidewater Lock at Milepost 0 and the Potomac River and imagined canalers from the past unloading their wares. Years ago, Charles Kuralt called the C&O “America’s love- liest failure” in one of his On the Road TV segments on CBS. Failure or not, it is indeed lovely, a fascinating history tour and a great adventure for RV campers with bicycles.
Three generations of the authors’ family take a break near Lockhouse 6, one of the more modern canal lockhouses available for overnight stays.
For More Information Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park nps.gov/choh
Three campgrounds allow trailers and small motorhomes up to 20 feet to stay for $10 a night. Thirty-two tent campgrounds are available to hikers and cyclists for free on a first-come, first-served basis. Lockhouses may be rented at canaltrust.org/quarters.
All told, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia have two Coast Classic Resorts, five Coast Deluxe Resorts and 41 Good Sam Parks.
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From the Spider Rock Overlook on South Rim Drive, the author savors a view that rivals the Grand Canyon.
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Lying in the heart of Arizona’s Navajo Nation, Canyon de Chelly National Monument is one of the Southwest’s great scenic wonders, a labyrinth of spectacular sheer- walled canyons and deep-cut gorges. From the rim overlooks, the smooth, swirling reddish sandstone walls and spires—some dropping as much as a 1,000 feet— cast a magical panorama of shadows drifting across the tiny streams, narrow canyons and broad valley expanses far below. Meditations on Arizona’s mystical Canyon de Chelly, a breathtaking but off-the-beaten-path national monument By Victor Walsh ___________________________________
Native peoples have occupied the canyon bottoms and valleys, leaving a remarkable cultural legacy in the form of pit houses, cliff dwellings and rock art that spans nearly 5,000 years of continu- ous human existence. Encompassing close to 84,000 acres of rugged high-desert country, Canyon de Chelly (pronounced de-SHAY ) is unlike any other Indian locale I’ve visited. It’s not only a place of antiquity, a storehouse of past Indian civilizations, it’s also a place of living people, the Navajo (or Diné), who have lived along the canyons’ floor since the 1700s. To them, it is Tséyi' ( SAY-ih) , “the place deep in the rock,” a physical and spiritual homeland. Standing here with photographer Richard Miller and our guide, Irene Be- centi, in a broad wash skirting Canyon del Muerto (Canyon of the Dead), I feel the staggering presence of this ancient place. The knobby sandstone canyon wall has turned a burnished tawny brown in the clear December light. There are no caravans of tour buses, no vehicles ex- cept ours and no crowds. It is haunted by an impenetrable silence. Canyon de Chelly averages about 1,000 visitors a day during late spring and summer, but during the off-season, according to Irene, the number is fewer than 300, with most visitors driving the rim roads. Access to the canyons is lim-
ited to visitors accompanied by an autho- rized Navajo guide or park ranger. The Ancient Ones The human history of Canyon de Chelly has a living presence that endures not so much in the written record of the Spanish and other colonial powers but in the rock art carved and drawn on canyon walls, in the cliff-side community ruins of the ancient ones and in the oral traditions of their descendants, the Pueblo and Hopi. They reflect a vital, volatile period of human movement, settlement, advance- ments and struggle over resources, land and traditions. The rock art at Kokopelli Cave, our first stop, dates to the period when the ancient Puebloan people lived here. More than a 1,000 years old, it has an intrigu- ing image on it of Kokopelli, the hunch- back flute player, lying on his back. Below his feet a snake slithers across the rock face, while a human figure in a squatting position and a scattering of handprints, some painted bright white, decorate the rock on his right. “Most people interpret Kokopelli to be a fertility God,” says Irene, “but I like to look at him as Johnny Appleseed. In- stead of having a hunchback as part of his body, I think of it as a bag in which he carried beans and corn. When I was little I heard such stories from my people.
“The handprints,” she continues, “represent the healing hand. According to the ancient ones, the hand is the most important part of the body because it signifies touch, a connection to others.” The face of nearby Petroglyph Rock, a huge wind-chiseled sandstone spire, is a veritable library of images pecked into the stone during the Anasazi or Ancestral Puebloan period (A.D. 700–1300). One petroglyph, undoubtedly Navajo because the Anasazi did not have horses, shows two hunters on horseback chasing a deer. Another, to my surprise, reveals an an- thropomorphic figure with squiggly legs that represents a Hopi snake dancer. “The Hopi,” explains Irene, “came back into Canyon de Chelly around 1300. They lived on the mesas while planting corn and peaches in the canyons into the 1500s.” ruins of antiquity As we drive deeper into Canyon del Muerto, the cliff walls steadily rise, turn- ing an auburn brown in the midday light. Perched high on the ledges and in the recesses, the ruins seem nearly invis- ible, camouflaged by the sheer scale and height of the walls. Erected during the late Pueblo period (A.D. 1000–1300) and made entirely of stone masonry, the cliff dwellings were actually compact villages. They represented a major shift in the
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life of the ancestral Puebloan or Anasazi people who formerly lived along the bot- tomlands close to water, plants and game. The most likely explanation for the relocation was the need for additional farming space due to population growth and probably the fear of attack by incom- ing hostile groups. First Ruin straddles a narrow, badly eroded canyon ledge a short distance from the park’s entrance. “The ruin was rebuilt during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp,” Irene tells us. We cross the riverbed, driving south- east into Canyon de Chelly, destined for the monument’s crown jewel of pueblos, White House Ruin. The SUV bounces up and down the hilly terrain. Set back from the makeshift road, the canyon walls, some red as blood, are a testament to the land’s stark, surreal beauty. Clumps of juniper and piñon cling to their inclines. As we approach White House Ruin, the four-by-four maneuvers through a grove of gnarled cottonwoods. “The streams must flow year-round to produce trees this large,” says Richard. A canopy of branches sprawls out in all directions. The waxy golden leaves shimmer like tinsel in the soft winter light. Like the other canyon ruins, White House is not open to the public without a guide, although visitors can hike the trail to the overlook without one. It is actually
two ruins: a stone masonry structure on the canyon floor and a large cliff dwell- ing. Tree-ring dating indicates that both structures were built during the last half of the 11th century. The recovery of Navajo ceremonial artifacts honoring the supernatural being Yei-Bi-Chei and a sacrificial figurine indicate that the site was later used for NavajoandHopi rituals. The ruin is named for the front wall of the upper dwelling plastered with clay and white lime.
After a late lunch, we return to Can- yon del Muerto to visit Antelope House Ruin. It takes its name from the antelope paintings on the canyon wall that date back to the 1830s when the Navajo oc- cupied this site. During the late Pueblo period (A.D. 1100–1300), the multistory dwelling was built and continually expanded, includ- ing the addition of a tower. It was made of hand-cut sandstone block, set in mud mortar and mixed with chipped rocks.
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The flute-playing Anasazi spirit Kokopelli assured success in hunting, farming and conception.
for more information Canyon de Chelly National Monument nps.gov/cach Canyon de Chelly is located off U.S. Route 191 near Chinle, Arizona, in the Navajo Nation. It’s about three and a half hours northeast of Flagstaff, Ari- zona, four hours northwest of Albuquer- que, New Mexico, and two and a half hours northwest of Gallup, New Mexico. Permits, Fees and Tours Entrance fees aren’t charged at Can- yon de Chelly. Backcountry permits are available free of charge at the national monument visitor center. Accessing the overlooks on the park’s South and North Rim Drives and hiking the White House Trail don’t require an authorized guide or backcountry permit; visits to the backcountry canyons require both. RV and Tent Camping Near the visitor center, the Navajo Nation’s Cottonwood Campground has 93 RV campsites available for $14 per night. The privately owned Spider Rock Campground has more than 30 RV and tenting sites for $15 per night. Arizona has one Coast Premier Resort, three Coast Deluxe Resorts, eight Coast Classic Resorts, 30 Good Neighbor Parks and 140 Good Sam Parks.
The walls, like other late-Pueblo struc- tures, were plastered. “Archaeologists believe that the ruin had up to 40 rooms,” says Irene. “The site was probably used as a trading place. Ex- cavations have uncovered abalone shells, parrot feathers and pottery shards.” place of refuge Puebloan life ended here about 700 years ago. A disastrous drought (A.D. 1275– 1300), disease, conflict and possibly the allure of ideas elsewhere sparked an exo- dus of the Anasazi people. Over the next three centuries, the Hopi reentered the canyons to engage in seasonal farming and make pilgrimages. Tranquillity ended in the late 1700s as raiding and reprisals erupted between the Navajo, Utes and Spaniards over land, livestock and slaves. The Navajo used Tséyi' as a place of refuge, hiding in the more remote canyons before and after raiding their enemies. The violence is vividly recorded in rock art on the walls of Canyon del Muerto. One Navajo pictograph near the Standing Cow Ruin shows a column of Spanish cavalry armed with lances enter- ing Navajo territory, most likely in pur- suit of Navajo raiders or to capture slaves. “The Spanish, when they came into the canyons, they stole young Navajo girls herding sheep and sold them into slav-
ery,” Irene tells Richard and me. Another Navajo pictograph depicts a scene of Ute warriors on horses carrying shields and Spanish raiders attacking Navajos on foot armed with bows and arrows. After the tour, we walk back to the parking area near the ruin. Against a backdrop of golden-brown cottonwoods veiled in the afternoon’s fading winter light, Irene sings a Navajo creation story in the native tongue and then English about White Shell Woman saying good- bye to her younger sister, the goddess Changing Woman. Part of it goes like this: “More than any- thing else, I want to go back to Dibe’ Nit- saa in the San Juan Mountains. I want to dwell in the place where our people come from,” says White Shell Woman. “But you will be lonely there,” says Changing Woman. White Shell Woman listens but decides in the end that she must return to her ancestral homeland. Ultimately, she wanders over many distant lands in the West, never finding Dibe’ Nitsaa. Irene’s gentle voice, her words rising in the gray silence, was profoundly mov- ing and revealing. The history of the Ana- sazi and later the Hopi and the Navajo who sought refuge in these canyons is a tale about migration and adapting, about North America and our connections to place and community in the face of re- curring struggle.
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