what’s new in old homosassa, florida | second to none: top-rated good neighbor parks
TO big sur coast highway utah’s scenic byway 12 columbia river highway Roads ALL-AMERICAN Spring 2014 acadia byway natchez trace las vegas strip overseas highway blue ridge parkway
Red-Carpet Resorts marina village • texas
beachwood • washington roaring Run • pennsylvania
good sam and camping world chairman and Ceo Marcus Lemonis email@example.com coast to Coast president Bruce Hoster firstname.lastname@example.org Member Services 64 Inverness Drive E. Englewood, Colorado 80112 800-368-5721 email@example.com
travel 9 The Real Florida
Unspoiled by high-rises, gated communities and four-lane boulevards, Homosassa is as authentically Old Florida as it gets. It’s also one of the only places you can see manatees up close every day of the year. By ron and eva stob 12 All-American Roads The crème de la crème of federally recognized scenic routes, All-American Roads are genuinely the best of the best. Tag along as we visit eight of these must-drive motorways, from the Blue Ridge to Big Sur. By dave G. houser departments 3 From the President
coast to coast WEBSITE coastresorts.com Editorial director Valerie Law firstname.lastname@example.org
art director Nick nyffeler
Volume 33, Number 2. 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 © 2014 by Coast to Coast Resorts. PRINTED IN THE USA cover photo : Red Canyon, gateway to Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park, by Dave G. Houser CTC29818 0114
destinations 4 Lake in Wood Camping Resort 5 Mill Creek Ranch Resort 5 Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort 6 Marina Village Resort
4 Member Matters 8 Resort Updates 8 You’re the Experts 20 RV Review 22 Resort Report
7 Beachwood Resort 22 Roaring Run Resort
COAST TO COAST spring 2014
Adventure Capitalists Coast to Coast can turn your travel dreams into reality
FROM THE President
G o West, young man! That simple phrase, attributed to Hor- ace Greeley, captured the outlook of most North Ameri- cans in the mid-1800s. It was a time when both Americans and Canadians were spreading westward across the continent to create the countries we know today. First the fur trappers and traders, later the prospectors and finally the homesteaders made their trek from East to West, from the familiar to the un- known, seeking their fortunes and a better life. It is a North American attribute, seemingly part of our DNA, that we’ve always been on the move. There’s a restless- ness in our culture, born of two countries created largely by people who sailed to our eastern shores from other lands and then kept right on moving. Our love of the automobile is another manifestation of this attribute, one more attempt to scratch that itch that we all possess to travel and to explore.
tors for that wonderful curiosity they passed on to you, that desire to travel and explore that led you to become a modern-day RVer. Maybe all this talk of new adventures has you psyched to take a road trip down some All-American Roads,
putting members first
featured on page 12. Whenever you’re ready to take your RV and journey beyond your home resort, whether to explore this continent or more distant shores, Coast to Coast is ready to help. Our network of 200 membership resorts and more than 200 Good Neighbor Parks stands ready to welcome you when you visit. I sincerely believe that there’s no more economical way to travel this continent, all the while staying at upscale parks and resorts, than a Coast to Coast membership. With resort night stays at only $10 per night and Good Neighbor Park stays at either $15 per night or a special Coast to Coast discounted rate (typically 20 to 25 percent off the nightly rate), the Coast to Coast network enables you to travel first-class while paying economy-class rates. You can stretch your budget even further by using your Trip Plus benefit, both at home and on the road, to save money every day on dining, shopping, entertainment and recreation. When you’re primed for traveling without the RV, Coast to Coast has you covered there as well. All members have access to Coast Travel Services, a full-service travel agency that can help you with everything from hotels, airline tick- ets and cruises to complete vacation packages. In addition, Coast Deluxe and Coast Premier members have unlimited access to condo vacation getaways at hundreds of exciting destinations at home and abroad. And these benefits extend to your family and friends as well. Coast to Coast is here to help turn your dreams into reality when you’re ready to scratch that travel itch. To get started, log onto our website at coastresorts.com or call our helpful member service team at 800-368-5721. Let this be the year that you give yourself and your family the greatest gift of all: travel memories that you’ll treasure for a lifetime. Coast to Coast can take you there.
Utah's Scenic Byway 12: On the road in North America.
Today’s RVs, with all their creature comforts, remind me in many ways of the Conestoga wagons and other more primitive modes of transportation that our ancestors used to traverse this broad land. Today we pile the family and our be- longings into the RV instead of the covered wagon and bring our pets rather than our livestock, but we share the same ex- citement at the prospect of a new and great adventure. I like to think that when we’re behind the wheel of an RV, pointed down the road to some new place or new ad- venture, we’re repeating the cycle of exploration that was responsible for the creation of our great countries. In that sense, there’s nothing more quintessentially North Ameri- can than RVing, as the urge to travel and explore has been integral to our culture since the beginning. Being largely a land of immigrants, we share with our ancestors a deep-rooted need to move and to be moved, to explore and expand our world and to grow as individu- als through new experiences. So the next time you find yourself cruising down the road in your RV, consider that you’re repeating a ritual that began when the first Euro- pean settlers sailed to this New World. Thank your ances-
Marcus lemonis Chairman and CEO
Bruce Hoster President Coast to Coast Resorts email@example.com
Good Sam and Camping World firstname.lastname@example.org
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mem ber matt ers 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
Lake in Wood Camping Resort Narvon, Pennsylvania
One of 34 Sun RV Resorts that joined the GNP network this year, Lake in Wood earned a perfect rating for its world-class facilities. The park’s location in Pennsylvania Dutch Country is a bonus, with proximity to seasonal festivals, farmer’s markets, museums and antiques shops. Start your visit with a tractor-drawn hayride or a tour on the antique trolley, or rent a vehicle from the park’s impressive fleet of self-propelled two-, three- and four- wheelers and motorized golf carts. You can drink in the scenery from the adults-only terrace and warm up by the stone fireplace at the pavilion overlooking the lake. Indoors, there’s a full-size swimming pool, a kiddie pool and a hot tub, all heated by solar panels that also power the shower and laundry facilities. The recently updated laundry room features top-of-the-line appli- ances and offers an outdoor porch with rocking chairs so you can relax while your clothes take a spin. The tile-floor restrooms are kept scrupulously clean, helping Lake in Wood score its 10/10 H /10 rating. Everything’s top-notch at the Good Neighbor Park, from the 50-amp pull-through campsites with free Wi-Fi to the beautifully furnished cabins, including a pint-size rental just for the kids. Activities run the gamut from ceramics classes and scrapbooking to water aerobics, game nights and minigolf tournaments. Be sure to grab a bite at the charming Gnome Café, open seven days a week in the summer and on spring and fall weekends.
Second toNone I n our 2014 Resort Directory, we congratulated two Coast to Coast Resorts that achieved perfect 10/10 H /10 ratings this year—British Columbia’s Holiday Park Resort and California’s the Lakes RV and Golf Resort—along with eight other Coast to Coast Resorts that received cumulative scores above 28. 2014 has likewise been a banner year for Coast to Coast’s Good Neighbor Park program, with the addition of 54 GNPs in 15 states. Three of these open-to-the-public parks earned flawless Good Sam scores this year, including a pair of Sun RV Resorts that recently joined the GNP ranks. Get to know these top-rated destinations, then pack your RV and hit the road for Arizona, Texas and Pennsylvania. Three GNPs reach the pinnacle
Beginning this year Good Neighbor Parks have the option of charging Coast to Coast members either 1,500 Trip Points per night or offering a special discounted rate that’s typically 20 to 25 percent below the regular nightly fee. When you book online reservations for a Good Neighbor Park, you’ll see that park’s discounted rates, which may vary by season. Members who don’t have access to the Internet can inquire about Good Neighbor Park rates when making reservations by phone through the Coast to Coast member services center.
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Mill Creek Ranch Resort Canton, Texas
Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort Casa Grande, Arizona
Deep in the heart of East Texas stands 10/10 H /10-rated Mill Creek Ranch Resort, with first-class amenities and flawless hospitality. This 200-acre Good Neighbor Park merits its perfect score with such upscale services as a concierge that not only helps guests plan their visits but also escorts you to your RV campsite. The property is just across the street from Canton’s First Monday Trade Days, America’s largest and oldest continu- ally operating flea market. Thousands of vendors converge here during the four days preceding the first Monday of the month to sell one-of-a-kind collectibles, furniture and furnishings, arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry and more. After a day of browsing the booths, you can wind down in the pair of designer swimming pools and give your pets a break in the off-leash dog area. On Friday nights, the stage in the aptly named Grand Lodge hosts live entertain- ment, complete with food and a full bar. Mill Creek Ranch earns a star for cleanliness with spot- less restrooms, sparkling laundry facilities and daily trash pickup at the RV sites. Each campsite has room for extend- ing slide-outs and awnings and features pull-through access, cable TV and Wi-Fi. If you're traveling with friends or family, take advantage of the comfortable rental cabins. Despite the posh treatment, there’s a real get-back-to- nature feel at this former cattle ranch, speckled with half a dozen ponds stocked with bass, crappie and catfish—no fishing license required.
Affectionately known as Disneyland for Adults, central Arizona’a Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort schedules more than 165 activities each week, from lapidary classes to line dancing. It’s easy to get in the game at this 10/10 H /10-rated Good Neighbor Park with the gung-ho activities director leading the way. Golfers can warm up on the Palm Creek putting green and hit the fairways on the resort's 18-hole, par-54 course, all under the Southwestern sun. You’ll find shuffleboard, billiards, horseshoes, softball, tennis, pickleball and a weight room at the top-rated park, along with yoga, Pilates and water exercise classes. Palm Creek is a paradise for hobbyists, hosting work- shops in pottery, painting, quilting, woodcarving, stained glass and silversmithing, plus an assortment of computer classes. Evening activities range from dances to live enter- tainment, and there’s always a game going on, from bridge to Monday night bingo. Grab a front-row seat at the Palm Creek Playhouse when residents take the spotlight to entertain you. Another of the new Good Neighbor Parks in the Sun RV Resorts network, Palm Creek is situated 40 minutes south of Phoenix and an hour north of Tucson. To make the most of the region’s scenic and historic attractions, you’ll want to tag along on the group sightseeing outings. After a busy day’s activities, recharge your batteries at the pool and refuel at the bistro.
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Make a splash on the second largest lake in Texas Marina Village Resort
T hirty-nine miles long and 7 miles across at its widest, Lake Livings- ton is not only the second largest in- land lake in Texas, it’s a colossal water- sports playground. At the reservoir’s northern end, Marina Village Resort welcomes Coast to Coast members to 70 acres on the shores of White Rock Basin, with access to all sorts of aquatic endeavors. The resort’s full-service marina, bait shop and boat launch make it easy to get out on the water in pursuit of trophy-size bass, crappie and catfish. You can try your luck on water skis or a water scooter, then make waves in the pair of swimming pools, the hot tub and the wading pool. There’s more fun to be had on solid ground, shooting baskets, tossing
horseshoes and playing shuffleboard, miniature golf and beach volleyball. Kids make new friends at the play- ground, and families gather at the community center for fun activities. From the gated security to the laundry room, country store and clean, climate-controlled restrooms, Marina Village is a safe and conve- nient vacation retreat. Hundreds of roomy campsites with paved pads and full hookups invite RVers to spend the night tucked beneath tall pines and hardwoods. Tent campers can plant stakes here too, just a stone’s throw from Lake Livingston. Beyond the resort gates, you can hike the 10-mile Phelps Trail in Sam Houston National Forest and play a round on the 18-hole golf course
Resort Type: Coast Deluxe Location: Trinity, Texas Season: Year-round Website: marina-village.com
at Westwood Shores Country Club, which grants admission to Marina Village guests. As the day comes to a close, pull out your camp chair and drink in the view of another breath- taking Lake Livingston sunset. Just 20 miles northeast of Hunts- ville and 90 miles from Houston, Marina Village is an easy-to-reach destination for East Texans and those traveling through the forested region known as the Piney Woods.
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Renew your spirit on Washington’s sublime Birch Bay Beachwood Resort
C lose to the Canadian border and just a short walk to the sea, Beachwood Resort is an emerald in the crown of its parent company, Sound Pacific Re- sources of Washington. Beachwood’s 80 forested acres snuggle up to lovely Birch Bay, a saltwater half moon that’s one of the best places for catching crabs and digging for clams, not to mention kayaking, kite-flying, beachcombing and building sand castles. The Pacific Northwest has some of North America’s most magnificent scenery, and it’s displayed in all its glory at Beachwood. Climb to the top of the resort’s observation tower, and you’ll be amazed at the 360-degree view of the Coastal and Cascade ranges, including perennially white-capped Mount Baker. Two clubhouses host adult and
youth activities, and you’re welcome to join the frequent potlucks, poolside ka- raoke sessions and nighttime bonfires, among other scheduled events. When its time to relax, slip into your swimsuit and take your pick from three hot tubs and three heated pools, including one open year-round. Beachwood’s 250 full-hookup camp- sites encourage you to relax outside your RV in the shade of towering co- nifers. The resort’s neighborhood of rental lodgings is in the process of being updated, and the newest cabin on the block features a large wraparound deck with stellar views of the bay. With an on-site general store, laundry room and Wi-Fi, Beachwood has all the comforts of home and then some. Members have been coming here
Resort Type: Coast Classic Location: Birch Bay, Washington Season: Year-round Website: mybeachwoodresort.com Good Sam rating: 7/7/6.5
for generations, and it’s easy to see why. The friendly staff and round-the-clock security mean families can feel safe let- ting the kids ride bikes or walk to the game room to play air hockey and ping- pong. Meanwhile, the rest of the clan can take advantage of the fitness room, the golf driving cage and the lighted basketball and tennis courts or just relax and enjoy this beautiful corner of the world.
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you’re the experts put a lid on it There are many ways to secure outdoor carpets at an RV campsite, from big rocks to planters, picnic tables, grills and lawn chairs. We like to use steel pegs, but they can be dif- ficult to remove from the
resort updates additions and Changes to the 2014 resort directory The 2014 Coast to Coast Resort Directory is packed with every- thing you need to navigate the network of Coast to Coast Re- sorts and Good Neighbor Parks. To keep members current, each issue of the magazine includes
hard ground. To make it easier, we now lay down a canning lid and nail the peg through it. The lids add leverage when removing the pegs. bonnie and vance clegg Breckenridge Lake Resort Tennessee
updates to the directory’s resort and park listings. For easy reference, these changes are noted below with page numbers from the directory.
Coast to coast resorts COAST DELUXE CHANGES SOUTH CAROLINA
stepping out Too many of our friends have fallen and gotten in- jured leaving RVs at night. I decided a simple fix to our entrance steps would end these accidents. Using
Briarcliffe RV Resort, Myrtle Beach. Additional charges: $3 for 50-amp hookups per night. Additional vehicles other than RV and tow vehicle: $2 per night per site. Tax: 12 percent. Guest parking, when space is available: $2 per night. Utility trailers must use off-site storage. Call resort for additional details (page 148). TEXAS The Preserve RV Resort, Cleveland. Main phone and reserva- tions: 281-592-9168 (page 152). COAST CLASSIC CHANGES CALIFORNIA Pilot Knob RV Resort–Sunbelt Corporation, Winterhaven. Reservations: 760-572-0875 (page 101). ALBERTA Wilderness Village at Crimson Lake, Rocky Mountain House. Email: email@example.com (page 180). good neighbor parks GOOD NEIGHBOR park CHANGES ARIZONA Colorado River Oasis, Ehrenberg. Name change: Colorado River RV Resort (page 189). VIRGINIA Gwynn’s Island RV Resort–Sun RV Resorts, Gwynn. All sites have water and electric service, and a dump station is available (page 216). As you travel to Coast to Coast Resorts and Good Neighbor Parks, if you discover any inaccuracies in the 2014 Resort Directory, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
¾-inch white vinyl tape (electrical grade), I taped the forward edge of each step for improved visibility. Jim deorio Bass Lake Resort–East Coast Resorts of America, New York
TRASH CAN TALK In the Fall 2013 issue, there’s a tip about a trash can turkey cooker. My son does this all the time. Please inform the reader- ship not to use a galvanized trash can. Use a steel 15-gallon oil drum that has been burned out and washed. Matt Staack, Leisure Point Resort, Delaware I've never seen a metal trash can that is not either painted or galvanized. In the first instance, putting a fire in a painted trash can will not only expose anyone in the vicinity to the fumes from burning paint, there is the danger of the paint actually igniting. In the second case, galvanizing is the process of coating metal with zinc, a deadly heavy metal. Overheating the galvanizing ex- poses anyone in the vicinity to heavy metal poisoning. BOB PRICE, K/M Resorts, Washington 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 email@example.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.
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Illustrations by Wayne Shipp
Breaking new ground in Old Homosassa
- Story and Photography by Ron and Eva Stob -
F or many years we whizzed past the Nature Coast of west-central Florida on our annual trek south in the winter. What could possibly lure RVers there, we wondered, when further south are glorious Venice and Fort Myers and the Keys? More than you might think, we discovered. The Nature Coast, also dubbed the Big Bend, is old Florida, unspoiled by high-rises, gated communities and four- lane boulevards. This is the Florida of two-lane roads, where lichens drape oak trees and the water table is at your feet. Water touches everything, and backwater personalities lend color and authenticity. We got off coastal Highway 19 in
tive staff members and ready access to everything amusing in and around Ho- mosassa and Old Homosassa. We were surprised when we saw a group of women with golf putters in their hands walking the streets of the Good Sam Park, then we watched them putt their way down the roads, aiming for recessed cups along the gutter. The “golf course” designers (probably the maintenance guys) obligingly pitched the terrain toward the cups so that, even if you were blind or lame, you’d be as good as the next person. There was a lively spirit of competition, and we guessed the winner probably won a plate of cookies.
Homosassa is one of the only places you can see manatees up close 365 days a year.
Homosassa and settled into Homosassa River Carefree RV Resort, a Good Sam Park that gives Coast to Coast members a 10 percent discount when they present their Good Sam Club membership card. Turtle Creek runs through the camp- ground, and many sites are situated on the water; the rest are among towering trees. It’s a full-hookup, full-service kind of place with an active social life, atten-
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A good reason for visiting this part of the country is Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, dedicated to sheltering and rehabilitating native wildlife including the West Indian mana- tee. Schiller was director of the Felburn Foundation, and through her efforts the foundation contributed to the park’s new black bear exhibit, roseate spoonbill avi- ary, red wolf habitat and improvements to the exhibition of Florida panthers, birds of prey, foxes and otters. This is one of the only places you can see manatees up close 365 days a year. The floating fishbowl observatory is the center of attention with underwater viewing directly over the wellhead of the springs that gives the park—and the
On the right of the boat ramp is Homosassa Riverside Resort, site of the Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat, our reason for being in the area at the end of January and beginning of Febru- ary. The resort is large enough to hold a big party and includes the Riverside Crab House, Monkey Bar and Yardarm Lounge, all of which provide great views of Monkey Island. Monkey Island was unwittingly cre- ated when property owner G.A. Fur-
drooling over the recollection of our skewered shrimp stuffed with crabmeat. Behind the resort is Riversport Kayaks where you can rent kayaks or board a boat for a guided tour and a swim with the manatees. Snorkel gear and wet suits are provided. To the left of the ramp at the end of Cherokee Drive is MacRae’s of Homo- sassa, a motel and biker hangout, circa 1914. The Shed, MacRae’s riverfront tiki bar, is the place for events such as the
gason had a dragline o p e r a t o r add dirt to a pile of rocks in the middle of the channel
Red, White and Blue Beer Belly Contest. If it’s noisy, lively and amus- ing, it’s happening here. MacRae’s also rents
boats and has live bait for those who want to fish. We heard about the Freezer bar and restaurant from various folks as a good place to eat. A freezer? To eat? But the scuttlebutt con-
town—its name. From this submarine viewing
area, you can see manatees and a variety of saltwater and freshwater fish that wave lazily in the springs’ 72-degree water. Paved walkways wander through the 210-acre park with various staging areas for interpretive talks by naturalists. There are several ways to enter the Wildlife Park. From the main visitor center on Highway 19 in Homosassa Springs, take the pontoon boat ride down Pepper Creek and disembark at the west entrance to the park on Fish- bowl Drive. The alternatives are to walk the waterside trail or drive to the west entrance and pay your admission there. Bicycling to town from the camp- ground is a 10-minute ride along two- lane roads with sidewalks. We wheeled through historic Old Homosassa, circa 1835, which begins where Fishbowl joins Yulee Drive, turns past the elemen- tary school, then becomes Cherokee Drive and runs smack into the water via a boat ramp. The Gulf of Mexico is 8 miles away through a slough of water- ways down the Homosassa River.
that was c h ew i n g up boats’ out-drives.
A naturalist friend had New World mon- keys nearby that were breaking out and creating mayhem, so “Furgy” designed a sort of Alcatraz that keeps the spider and squirrel monkeys out of trouble. Today this prehensile-tailed group is fed twice a day and examined regularly by a primate veterinarian. Nautical buildings, including a lighthouse, and playground equipment, keep Ralph, the alpha male, Sassy and child Ebony, and Eve and Emily busy, and likewise amuse the boaters that stream by and the stool- warmers at the Riverside Crab House and Yardarm Lounge. Homosassa Riverside Resort offers river tours, dinner cruises, and pontoon and jon boat rentals. The Riverside Crab House serves excellent blue crab platters, crab and artichoke fondue and portabello mushrooms stuffed with lump crabmeat. We can hardly write about this without
tinued, so we cycled over to the Cedar Key Fish House and entered the Freezer through a plastic curtain. At 5 p.m. the place was packed with people on stools, all hoisting a cool one and raising the noise level to a friendly riot. We retreated and came back on a less crowded weekday night, and were pleasantly surprised. Buckets of buttered shrimp arrived with beer, homemade bread and tossed salad. It was terrific, and as we filled up, boats arrived with fresh fish. There was little doubt we were eat- ing the day’s catch. So why would you whiz past Homo- sassa when there’s an excellent place to park the RV, wonderful restaurants waiting to be sampled and so much to see and do? (See “What’s Happening in Homosassa” on page 11.) We’ll be back next year for January’s Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat. Join us.
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What’s Happening in Homosassa
Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins David Levy Yulee was born on St. Thomas in 1810, educated in Florida, married a Kentucky girl and bought a 5,100-acre plantation called Margarita near the Homosassa River. By 1851 Yulee’s sugar mill had more than 150 slaves. During the Civil War, Union troops burned the place, and the stone mill fell into ruin. See it along Yulee Drive. The ruins of his house are near MacRae’s. Yulee built one of Florida’s first railroads, running from nearby Cedar Key to Florida’s east coast. Old Mill Tavern Next to the Sugar Mill Ruins is another watering hole with an extended happy hour and lots of edibles that require a cold beer: wings and shrimp in a mul- titude of flavors, all served with nachos and veggies, salsa and ranch or blue cheese dressing. If you choose the Sui- cide Hot items, you must sign a waiver. Eat indoors or out. Be friendly; every- one else is. Entertainment provided by Flashpoint Neal on Saturday, Big Dave on Sunday. Printing Museum Across the street from the Sugar Mill Ruins is the Olde Mill House Gallery and Printing Museum. Curiosity got us in the door. As you wander through the
Neon Leon’s Zydeco Steakhouse Named for Leon Wilkeson, bass guitar- ist for Lynyrd Skynard, and run by his family, the restaurant maintains the live zydeco music and culinary flavors of southern Louisiana including Creole and Cajun food. Many from the RV park come here regularly—it’s a hoot. It’s a bit of the bawdy, hilarious, ridiculous and delicious. Old Homosassa Smokehouse Another place we frequented more than once was the Old Homosassa Smokehouse, a seafood market that has great smoked fish and various dips. We called ahead for take-out to carry back to the campground to eat with wine and crackers. for more information Florida Tourism, visitflorida.com Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, homosassasprings.org The Sunshine State has a couple of Coast Deluxe Resorts and 61 Good Neighbor Parks, including Crystal Isle, an Encore RV Resort near Homosassa in the town of Crystal River. Florida also has 202 Good Sam Parks, among them Homosassa River Carefree RV Resort, the Homosassa home base for the authors and their fifth-wheel trailer.
artifacts, you come to a courtyard that’s the venue for summer evening blues concerts. Every Saturday night they have an opening act followed by their featured performer. Become a member of Nature Coast Friends of the Blues for five bucks. With your fee you get discounts in the café and around town. There’s also a café here where you can grab a Cuban sand- wich platter for lunch. River Safaris and Gulf Charters Come here for boat rentals, airboat rides, gift shops stocked with the wares of local artisans and a big live alligator. The historic marker outside indicates the existence of the Homosassa train station in the early 1900s. Running between here and Ocala, the train transported tour- ists in and smoked mullet, crabs, cedar, spring water and Spanish moss out. The train ran down what’s now Fishbowl Drive and through Homosassa Wildlife Park, stopping at the springs. Art Shops of Old Homosassa What a fine and expensive experience we had ogling, then owning fine works of pottery, jewelry and glass. Up front is Pepper Creek Pottery, and in the back is the Glass Garage. All the art is created on the premises, so you can see the artisans at work. A must-stop.
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must-drive motorways from Acadia National Park to the Columbia Gorge
Story and Photography by Dave G. Houser
What do the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Las Vegas Strip have in common? Obviously, not much at all, but one important thing they do share is a listing among the most preeminent thorough- fares: All-American Roads. While dissim- ilar in nearly every respect, the bucolic parkway and glitzy strip possess some common characteristics that elevate them to elite status among the 150 National Scenic Byways. A National Scenic Byway is a road rec- ognized by the United States Department of Transportation for having at least one of six intrinsic qualities: archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic. The byway program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1991 to preserve the nation’s most distinc-
tive but often less-traveled roads and to promote tourism and economic develop- ment. The most unique and outstanding of the byways, which must meet two or more of the essential qualities, are des- ignated All-American Roads. There are currently 31 of them, scattered across 28 states from coast to coast. “All-American Roads are simply the best of the best among the remarkable system of Scenic Byways,” says Neil Gaffney, public affairs specialist with the Federal Highway Administration. “They lead to the heart and soul of this great country of ours and they are all accessible by RV, plus most of them offer camping facilities where you can tie up your rig and stay awhile,” he adds. Whatever it is you and your travel
mates might be seeking—historical or cultural enlightenment, outdoor recre- ation or simply viewing spectacular land- scapes—these All-American Roads will meet your expectations and more. Except in some northern climes, most are open year-round, and, as Gaffney points out, all can be traversed in an RV. In case you’re wondering how 5 miles of glitzy neon could qualify as an All- American Road, we’ll get to that later. In fact, we’re going to take you for a spin down Las Vegas Boulevard, the Blue Ridge Parkway and six other All- American Roads to learn how and why these most iconic of motorways gained their lofty status. We’ll begin with four routes in the East and then make our way West.
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Top of the world: The Blue Ridge Parkway’s Arnold Overlook and, left, Acadia’s Beech Cliff Trail.
Acadia All-American Road winds south on Route 3 from Trenton, Maine, onto Mount Desert Island, where most of the byway’s 40 miles meander along a 27-mile loop through Acadia National Park. The loop road leads to coastal Maine’s most mindboggling scenery— craggy granite peaks and outcroppings, lush old-growth forests and crashing waves—attracting some 2.5 million visi- tors annually to the only national park in America’s Northeast. With more than 120 miles of hiking trails and a 54-mile network of carriage roads that are closed to vehicular traffic— a big hit with walkers, hikers and bik- ers—Acadia poses ample opportunity for recreation within the park. Rock climbers come to belay the jagged 110-foot-high sea cliffs at Otter Point, while fit and motivated hikers can scale 1,532-foot Cadillac Mountain. Be sure to visit Bar Harbor on the Route 3 byway extension, just a few miles east of the park loop. This tony resort vil- lage, which blossomed in the early 1900s as a summer haven for wealthy families such as the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Vanderbilts, is home to dining and enter- tainment options galore. Need we suggest a freshly trapped lobster for dinner? Those aforementioned magnates were important figures in the park’s history because it was they who donated the land upon which it was established. It was John D. Rockefeller Jr., in fact, who built the park’s network of carriage roads.
The loop road closes seasonally, usu- ally from December through mid-May, and some visitor facilities are shuttered during the winter, so check ahead on closures at nps.gov/acad. The Blue Ridge Parkway rides the Blue Ridge Mountains for 469 miles, connect- ing Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, and is often cited as America’s Favorite Drive. No won- der, as the byway offers endless mountain and valley vistas, an extraordinary variety of flora and fauna, numerous visitor cen- ters, historical and cultural attractions and ample opportunity for recreation. “We’ve driven the parkway many times,” says Lynn Seldon, a native Virginian and longtime North Carolina resident. “It’s the scenery above all else, but also the history and the amazing seasonal variations, that keep us coming back time and again.” The parkway is particularly popular during late spring, when rhododendrons and azaleas burst into full color, and from mid- to late October when foliage reaches its peak vibrancy. While there are no RV restrictions on the parkway, there’s at least one tunnel with clearance of less than 11 feet, so due diligence is suggested. Highlights on the northern section of the parkway include Virginia’s Explore Park where you can fish from the banks of the Roanoke River or loosen your limbs with a hike along the trails. At
Rocky Knob Visitor Center (mile 169), stroll through apple orchards and rem- nants of dwellings left behind by pioneer settlers. An adjacent campground has RV spaces but no hookups. Nearby Mabry Mill (mile 176) offers another glimpse of early pioneer life with its restored sawmill, blacksmith shop and water-powered gristmill. Enjoy the mill’s famous buckwheat pancakes, served all day. Tap your fingers and toes to the lively notes of old-time mountain tunes and learn about the roots of American music at the Blue Ridge Music Center (mile 213). Must-see features and attractions along the North Carolina segment of the park- way include Blowing Rock (mile 292), named for the strong northwest wind that blows up from the rock—actually a cliff that hangs 3,000 feet above Johns River Gorge. Linville Falls (mile 316.3) is a spectacular three-tiered waterfall that cascades into Linville Gorge, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians. Chimney Rock State Park (mile 384.7) was a filming location for The Last of the Mohicans and offers amazing views of Lake Lure from the top of the mountain. Five hiking trails range from leisurely to challenging. Wrap up your drive at the parkway’s southern gateway in Cherokee with a visit to Oconaluftee Indian Village (mile 469) where you’ll learn about Cherokee culture through a memorable living his- tory experience.
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The Florida Keys Scenic Highway is like no other highway in America. A marvel of engineering completed in 1938, it ventures across a water wonderland of tropical turquoise, spanning 42 bridges to connect a 107-mile-long string of keys linking mainland Florida and Key West. Popularly known as the Overseas Highway and officially designated U.S. Route 1, the motorway largely overlies oil and rail magnate Henry Flagler’s ill- fated Overseas Railroad, destroyed by a hurricane in 1935. It was designated an All-American Road in 2009. Be forewarned that this heavily trav- eled two-laner often moves like molasses, and passing opportunities are few and far between. So go slowly and do as Carol Shaughnessy, director of the Florida Keys and Key West Visitors Bureau, suggests: “Take pleasure in the ever-changing land and seascapes.” Emerging from the mainland, you’ll first come upon Key Largo, largest of the Florida Keys, and home to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The
park was the first underwater preserve in the country and boasts the only coral reef in the continental United States. Visitors can join glass-bottomed boat tours or go snorkeling and diving. If you are at all eco-oriented, drop by the Turtle Hospital in Marathon where they care for ill and injured sea turtles, or just up the highway stop at the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key, where experts study and train Atlantic bottle- nose dolphins. For a small fee, you can engage in some up-close interaction with the cavorting creatures. Just beyond Marathon on tiny Pigeon Key, you’ll find one of the Keys’ most notable historical sites, a well-preserved work camp built by the Florida East Coast Railway in the early 1900s to house hun- dreds of men engaged in bridge construc- tion. Nearby you’ll see the remains of their major project, the old Seven Mile Bridge, which still stands beside the impressive new highway bridge and is open to the public for fishing and strolling. Bahia Honda State Park is next and,
as home to the best beaches anywhere along the highway, it merits a stop. It’s an exceptional park where you can fish, kayak, snorkel or just lie on the beach. Amenities include boating facilities, a food concession, rental cabins and tent and RV camping. Key West is the highway’s termi- nus and its star attraction. As America’s southernmost city, Key West is steeped in the colorful cultures and customs of nearby neighbors Cuba and the Bahamas and, like the highway leading to it, it’s one-of-a-kind. While Key West might be best known for its funkiness, carnival- like sunset celebrations and boisterous nightlife, its cobbled streets are lined with chic shops, fine restaurants and classy B&Bs. Hedonism finds balance too in the town’s many cultural and historical attractions, including the John Audubon House, Ernest Hemingway House and Harry S. Truman Little White House. Some have dubbed it KeyWeird; locals call it Paradise. No doubt, the truth lies somewhere in between.
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Engineering marvels bridge the gaps on the Natchez Trace Parkway and, left, the Overseas Highway.
The Natchez Trace Parkway could right- fully lay claim to the title of most historic of the 31 All-American Roads. Extending 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, the two-lane park- way dates back some 8,000 to 10,000 years when it served as a migratory path for American bison and other wildlife. Native Americans, following “traces” of bison and other game, further devel- oped the route as a walking trail, conve- nient for foot-borne commerce between major villages located in the middle Mississippi region and central Tennessee. Following treaties with the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians in 1801, and well before steamships, farmers and boatmen from the Ohio Valley used the trace to return north after delivering goods to Southern ports via the Mississippi River. With the advent of the automobile, it seemed only natural that the old path- way would evolve into a motorway, but it wasn’t until President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation to create the parkway in 1938 that the Civilian
Conservation Corps finally built it. Although two gaps in Mississippi weren’t completed until 2005, the trace was des- ignated an All-American Road in 1996. No commercial traffic or enterprise is permitted on the parkway, nor are RVs exceeding 55 feet in length or 14 feet, 6 inches in height. This is a beautiful route and far less demanding than its curvy Blue Ridge cousin. You do, however, have to be on the lookout for wildlife and cyclists. The trace makes for a comfy two-day drive, with your progress—and key attrac- tions—marked by simple brown road- side mileposts. Highlights early on the route include Emerald Mound (mile 10), second larg- est ceremonial mound in the U.S. The 8-acre hill-like mound was built between 1300 and 1600 by the Mississippian culture, ancestors of the Natchez tribe. Mount Locust Inn (mile 15.5) is a restored example of an 18th century “stand” or inn, one of many along the trace that provided accommodations and
provisions for weary travelers. Don’t miss Cypress Swamp (mile 122), a surrealistic water tupelo and bald cypress swamp where a long boardwalk puts you just inches above the water as you stroll among towering trees, always on the lookout for those slinky alligators. Scenery along the parkway changes rather dramatically as the route crosses northeastern Alabama and begins ascend- ing the rocky hills of southern Tennessee. A bridge spans the broad Tennessee River at mile 327, where a ferry operated in the early 1800s. The present day site, known as Colbert’s Landing, is an ideal spot for a rest or picnic lunch. Approaching Nashville and the north- ern terminus of the parkway, you’ll pass over Natchez Trace Parkway Arches. The 1,572-foot-long white concrete bridge soars 155 feet above a wooded valley. You’ll want to pause at the viewing area just north of the bridge to reflect on this marvelous engineering accomplishment. It is a fitting salute to one of America’s most historic and remarkable roadways.
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Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 is hands-down the most colorful of the nation’s 31 All- American Roads. Recently heralded by Fox News as one of the world’s 10 most beautiful highways, the route spans 124 miles through some of the most diverse and ruggedly scenic landscapes anywhere. It winds past red-rock cliffs and through slickrock canyons, pine and aspen forests, national and state parks, a national monument and a number of quaint rural towns. You won’t need a Jeep to drive it—it’s paved all the way— although it took four decades to build. The byway begins at U.S. Highway 89 about halfway between the towns of Panguitch and Hatch and immediately bisects the dazzling red-rock formations of Dixie National Forest’s Red Canyon. Continuing east, the route rolls across Paunsaugunt Plateau into Bryce Canyon City. This bustling commercial enclave is the gateway to Bryce Canyon National Park and serves as an ideal base of opera- tions for travels in the region. From here the route enters Bryce
Canyon National Park, but to witness the grandeur of its famous chasms you must steer off the byway onto the park’s 18-mile scenic drive with its 14 easy-to- reach overlooks. By all means, do it. Continuing east through Bryce Valley, the byway passes through the rural com- munities of Tropic, Cannonville and Henrieville, where you’ll definitely want to stop for a hike into Kodachrome Basin State Park, originally dubbed Chimney Rock State Park. Best known for its towering sand-pipe formations, the park has a well-deserved reputation as a pho- tographer’s paradise. The name change came about after National Geographic Society photographers, inspired by the colorful landscape, nicknamed the area Kodachrome Basin after Kodak’s icon- ic brand of film. The company wisely responded by giving Utah permission to use the name. Turning abruptly north, the byway traverses a vast expanse of slickrock canyon country encompassing Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument.
Crisscrossed by trails, this area affords some of the most spectacular hiking opportunities in the Southwest. Boulder, the largest and most remote community along the route, appears as a mirage with its stores, restaurants and gas stations. You can fill ’er up here and grab a bite to eat, but don’t overlook the town’s main attraction, Anasazi Indian Village State Park. The site preserves one of the largest Anasazi communities west of the Colorado River, believed to have been occupied from A.D. 1050 to 1200. There are some excavations on view, and a collection of artifacts is displayed in the park’s newly remodeled museum. A small RV campground near the park has a few full-service sites. Scenic Byway 12 continues north past Boulder Mountain to its terminus at Capitol Reef National Park. If your eye- balls can stand it, press on for a look at the majestic monoliths, domes and sandstone spires of Capitol Reef, yet another of Utah’s amazing collection of 17 national park units.
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Like night and day: Las Vegas Boulevard and, left, Utah's Scenic Byway 12.
The Las Vegas Strip predictably brings some folks to ask how this gaudy, gridlocked thoroughfare could possibly be glorified as an All-American Road. Sorry, but we take our hats off to the government for recognizing the excitement, fantasy and ultimately the compelling cultural signifi- cance embodied in the brightest, boldest, most expensive and expressive 5 miles of roadway anywhere in America. Quite unlike the canyons typical of the Southwest, this one is lined in con- crete, steel and glass and decorated to the hilt with more than 15,000 miles of neon tubing. That, of course, makes the strip the only byway more scenic at night. While purposely engaging in gridlock might not seem fun at all, in this instance intermittent periods of inertia serve a purpose as we climb aboard the RV for a nighttime surveillance run. Our nocturnal mission begins at Mandalay Bay on the south end of the byway. The first sight to grab our eyes is New York–New York, fronted by a rep- lica of the Statue of Liberty, rising before
a massive make-believe skyline of the Big Apple. Greenwich Village is inside there somewhere, and the whole thing looks like a movie set just waiting for the next King Kong sequel. On the right is Planet Hollywood, heavy on the LED screens, and across from us is Bellagio with its dancing water fountains performing a mesmerizing bal- let. Back to the right, who could miss the Eiffel Tower rising 50 stories above Paris
Las Vegas Hotel and Casino? Oh, look left! It’s a volcano, and it’s erupting! Quite a spectacle it is out front of the Mirage. Once again on our right, that’s the Campanile de San Marco and the Doge’s Palace, courtesy of the $1.5 billion Venetian Resort. To the left, folks are lining up at Treasure Island, so it must be time for another battle between the pirate ship Hispanolia and Her Majesty’s frigate Britannia . Rising in front of us now like Seattle’s landmark Space Needle is the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino. At 1,149 feet, it’s the tallest freestanding observa- tion tower in the country, and atop it are several of the world’s highest thrill rides, including Insanity–the Ride, which sends you spinning at g-force speeds while sus- pended by a mechanical arm more than 900 feet above the city. Insanity could well describe the Las Vegas Strip in general, but the fact remains that there’s no highway, byway or boulevard like it anywhere in the world.
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The Big Sur Coast Highway on Cali- fornia’s Route 1 is the country’s quintes- sential coastal drive, a twisting, turn- ing, cliff-topping 72 miles of unrelenting beauty and elemental power. It is the northern segment of California’s two- part All-American Road and adjoins the 57-mile San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway at Ragged Point Vista, just north of San Simeon and the fabled Hearst Castle. Both byways are spectacular, and many visitors combine them. Heading north from Ragged Point Vista, you’ll meander across broad grassy bluffs where cattle graze lands originally deeded by Spanish grants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Entering the Ventana Wilderness, curves tighten, shoulders narrow and drop-offs become more precipitous. This is a tough and trying drive, especially tricky for RVs, and demands your full attention. So save any serious gawking for the scenic overlooks. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers your first real opportunity to park and
do some leg stretching. This little park, which also poses your first and only chance to witness a California waterfall tumble into the Pacific, is not to be con- fused with the larger and better know Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, 10 miles to the north. The Pfeiffers behind the naming of these parks, Julia and John, were sibling descendants of a German immigrant who developed a ranch here in 1869. Follow a trail along McWay Creek through a tunnel beneath the byway to an overlook where you can observe slender McWay Falls tumbling a hundred feet from a granite cliff into McWay Cove. Straddling a clifftop just across the road is Nepenthe, Big Sur’s restaurant of renown, a striking complex built in the 1940s by Orson Wells as a retreat for himself and his young bride Rita Hayworth. Today it’s an eclectic hodge- podge of bar, restaurant and art gallery. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is tucked away in a valley formed by the Big Sur River and boasts an impressive stand of redwoods. Hike a fern-filled canyon to
Pfeiffer Falls or hook up at the trailhead here for a longer trek into the Ventana Wilderness. The park has a rustic lodge and restaurant, grocery store, cottages and a campground with sites for self-con- tained RVs, but only for one-night stays. You’ll find one of Big Sur’s best and most accessible beaches a little more than a mile from the park. Follow Sycamore Canyon Road 2 miles down to Pfeiffer Beach, an idyllic strand bisected by a bubbling brook and embraced by giant boulders and sea stacks. The next park you’ll encounter is Andrew Molera State Park, which offers a pleasant picnic area in a grove of alders, 4 miles of beachfront and 16 miles of hiking trails. As you approach the byway terminus in Carmel, don’t pass by Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This is a marvel- ous conservancy, occupying a pristine 1,225-acre peninsula. The cliffs, coves and meadows of Point Lobos are home to nearly 300 species of plants and almost as many kinds of birds and animals, includ- ing seals, sea otters and sea lions.
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