CROSSING CANADA’S BORDER | RV REVIEW: 2016 FOREST RIVER WILDWOOD | YOU’RE THE EXPERTS
REDISCOVER GASPÉ Quebec’s “fair” Peninsula
GOLD FEVER RVing North to Alaska
SPRING DESTINATIONS Hideout Resort & Golf Club Brownwood, Texas Treasure Lake Resort
Branson, Missouri Mt. Pleasant Resort Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
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TRAVEL 8 Quebec’s Gaspé
GOOD SAM AND CAMPING WORLD CHAIRMAN AND CEO Marcus Lemonis MarcusVIP@goodsamfamily.com COAST TO COAST PRESIDENT Bruce Hoster CCRPresident@coastresorts.com
Walk in the footsteps of Jacques Cartier who first explored the Gaspé Peninsula in 1534.
MEMBER SERVICES 64 Inverness Drive E. Englewood, Colorado 80112 800-368-5721 firstname.lastname@example.org COAST TO COAST WEBSITE CoastResorts.com COAST TO COAST FACEBOOK Facebook.com/CoastResorts EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Dee Whited ART DIRECTOR Nicole Wilson
STORY AND PHOTOS BY DAVE G. HOUSER 14 In Search of Gold A golden opportunity to dig into the natural riches of this northern region.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY RICHARD VARR
DEPARTMENTS 3 From the President 6 Member Matters 7 Resort Updates 7 You’re the Experts 20 RV Review
RESORTS 4 Hideout Resort & Golf Club Brownwood, Texas 5 Treasure Lake Resort Branson, Missouri 22 Mt. Pleasant Resort Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
Volume 35, 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 responsibil- ity for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any method without prior written consent of the publisher. ©2016 Camp Coast to Coast, LLC. Coast wing logo is a registered trademark of Camp Coast to Coast, LLC. The GOOD SAM ICON, and Dream. Plan. Go. are registered trademarks of Good Sam Enterprises, LLC and used with permission. Unauthorized use of Coast’s or Good Sam’s trade- marks is expressly prohibited. All rights reserved. PRINTED IN THE USA.
COVER PHOTO BY Dave G. Houser CTC46608 - 0216
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FROM THE PRESIDENT PUTTING MEMBERS FIRST
Spring Fever Ah, spring! A time when we brush off the last vestiges of winter and turn our attention from the indoors to the outdoors. Emerging from our hibernation, we enjoy longer and warmer days, and the sights and smells of the natural world coming back to life. In addition to nature’s cues that spring has arrived, there are the man-made rites of spring like opening day of baseball season and The Masters golf tournament teeing off in Augusta. In spring, like no other time of year, we are full of energy for the coming year. And as travelers, we are full of plans for places we want to visit.
This issue has two inspiring travel features for you to consider as you make your getaway plans this year. The first is an excellent piece on a journey around the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec. I admit I knew nothing about this region, but after reading this travelogue, my bucket list now contains a visit to this incredibly scenic region. Enjoy the story beginning on page 8 and see if you feel the same way about this little-known land filled with natural wonders. Our second travel feature details one of the most iconic trips for every American, an excursion to Alaska to trace the footsteps of the early gold miners. It also contains a side trip to explore the gold-mining history of neighboring Yukon Province. This feature and the accompanying photography should pique your interest in visiting this region and enjoying the breathtaking scenery of this “last frontier.” When you’re ready to “spring forward” with your travel plans, let us know how we can help. You can visit CoastResorts.com to book that dream RV trip you’ve finally decided to take, or you can call Coast Member Services at 800-368-5721 and let one of our friendly agents help you find RV sites along the way. Or if you’d rather cruise to Alaska, or fly to Quebec, we can help there as well with Coast Travel Services, our full- service member-only travel agency. Call Coast Travel Services at 800-722-1410 and let our experienced travel counselors plan the perfect trip for you. In other news, we’re proud to announce two new resorts this issue that are now open to Coast members. The first is Mt. Pleasant Resort inMt. Pleasant Michigan, the newest addition to the successful Outdoor Adventure group of resorts. Located close to Michigan’s largest casino, this resort is a great home base to enjoy the fun and entertainment of Soaring Eagle Casino as well as other area attractions such as golf, canoeing, fishing, and Native American history. See the resort profile on page 22 to learn more. The second new resort is The Hideout Resort & Golf Club in Brownwood, Texas. Southwest of Dallas, between Abilene and Austin, this resort features an 18-hole championship golf course, 11,000-square-foot clubhouse, infinity swimming pool, and other amenities of a first-class resort. Nearby Lake Brownwood is a perfect spot for boating, water sports, fishing, and hiking. Read the resort profile on page 4 and put this new Deluxe resort on your itinerary this year.
Get out there this spring and enjoy our great country—and your Coast to Coast membership.
MARCUS LEMONIS Chairman and CEO
BRUCE HOSTER President Coast to Coast Resorts email@example.com
Camping World & Good Sam firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hideout Resort & Golf Club RV and golf in the heart of Central Texas
RESORT TYPE Coast Deluxe LOCATION Brownwood, Texas SEASON Year-Round WEBSITE kingspointcove.com
You don’t have to love golf, but it helps when pulling your rig into the Hideout Resort & Golf Club in Brownwood, Texas. It’s one of the top golf destinations in the area with an 18-hole championship course, which features well placed bunkers, water features, and flawless bent grass greens. Enjoy challenging, yet relaxing golf for all skill levels. In addition to the golf course, visitors will enjoy nearby Lake Brownwood. Don’t forget to bring your fishing gear because this reservoir is home to a wide variety of fish— large-mouth bass, white bass, stripers, white crappie, yellow cat, perch, and gar. Bring your boat and enjoy skiing and a variety of water sports. Bring binoculars and add to your birding life list: wild turkey, greater roadrunner, cactus wren, canyon towhee, rufous-crowned sparrow, Mississippi kite, black-chinned hummingbird, and painted bunting, to name a few. The golf course is less than 10 years old, but the RV sites are brand-spanking new.
“The sites include 50-amp and 35-amp electricity, sewer and water,” says JR Newman, project manager. “Most will be pull-through and include a patio and picnic table. RV sites are right across the street from the golf course.” Amenities include an 11,000-square-foot lodge, a 55-foot by 95-foot swimming pool with spa, and for the little ones, a kiddy pool. Keep your galley pristine by dining at the Hideout Golf Club restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. And if you choose to travel without your rig, rent one of the six lodge rooms or one of the newly-built, fully-furnished cabins. Nearby, visit Lake Brownwood State Park and appreciate the walking trails, boating, water sports and fishing.
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Treasure Lake Resort Quiet and serenity just moments away from all the amenities
RESORT TYPE Coast Deluxe LOCATION Branson, Missouri SEASON Year-Round WEBSITE tlresort.com
Love all the action in Branson, Missouri, but feel the need to get away to nature after all the excitement? Then check in to Treasure Lake Resort. While there, park your rig in and around trees, stroll on the walking trails, and cast your line into one of the stocked ponds for catfish, blue gill, and small-mouth bass. With more than 340 acres, the resort offers plenty of space. Of course, it’s not all woodsy. Treasure Lake Resort is packed with features. Take a dip in one of the two swimming pools—indoor and outdoor. Relax in the lodge’s library and game room. See the latest DVD movies in the big screen media room. Meet new and old friends at one of the sporting sites: mini-golf, shuffleboard, Bocce ball, croquet, basketball, volleyball, and horseshoes. Keep track of friends and family through the resort’s Wi-Fi, and stay busy with one or more of the planned activities. With five bathhouses, a country store, laundry facilities,
and concession stand, you never have to leave the security of the resort. “Our secure gated resort is one of the things our guests like best,” says
Teresa Hughes, sales and deeds supervisor. “Also they like how quiet it is here. You don’t even realize you’re just moments away from busy Branson.” Seven restaurants are within walking distance. Plus you can walk to the Shoji Tabuchi Theater, Hamner Barber Theater, Pierce Arrow Theater, RFD Theater, and the IMAX Theater, which is located at the entrance to Treasure Lake and features a six-story movie screen. And if you are traveling without your rig, reserve one of the 55 rental cabins.
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North to Alaska Two entertaining and beautifully illustrated features in this magazine invite you to cross the border between Canada and the United States, and we hope you do. Border crossings can be complicated and we want you updated on the latest when traveling north. MEMBER matters MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR COAST TO COAST MEMBERSHIP
If you’re wondering about medical insurance while traveling, check out Good Sam’s Travel Medical Insurance. The insurance includes emergency hospital and medical protection, expert service assistance coordinating emergency medical care, and personal attention and support during treatment. Visit goodsamclub.com/tic
With the exception of children, all visitors arriving to Canada need a passport or passport equivalent. These stricter requirements were implemented under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). If you have a NEXUS you may choose a border crossing that offers a NEXUS lane and thereby avoid long lines. Check these items that have restrictions: Agricultural products: Many agricultural items are restricted or prohibited entry to Canada. Canadian law requires that you declare all agricultural products you bring into Canada to customs officers when you arrive. Firearms: Canada has strict laws governing the cross- border movement, possession and use of firearms. However, you may bring a non-restricted firearm such as a hunting rifle or shotgun if it is being used for in-season hunting, competition purposes, in-transit movement or as protection against wildlife in remote areas of Canada. Visitors cannot, under any circumstances, bring in prohibited firearms such as handguns and weapons, including mace and pepper spray. Pets: Dogs and cats that are at least three months old need signed and dated certificates from a veterinarian verifying that they have been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years. The certificate must clearly identify the animal.
If I’m a Classic Member, can I visit a Premier Resort? In a word, YES! We have heard from some members who believe their member type (Classic, Deluxe, or Premier) determines what type of resort (Classic, Deluxe, or Premier) they can or cannot visit. This is not true. All Coast members in good standing can visit any and all types of Coast resorts, as well as Good Neighbor Parks. So every Coast member has access to nearly 400 affiliates that make up the Coast to Coast network of resorts and Good Neighbor Parks. Your member type and the resort type will determine how frequently you can visit certain types of resorts and how long you can stay. For a complete set of rules governing frequency and length of stay, see the member benefit insert between pages 50/51 in your 2016 Coast to Coast Annual Resort Directory. Or log onto CoastResorts.com, go to the Benefits tab, click on Member Benefits, and scroll to the bottom of the page to find a helpful chart that outlines the length and frequency of stay at each resort type for your membership level.
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TEXAS Mission Gardens Resort & RV Park, Mission (page 217) Amenity fees payable in check, money order, or cashier's check. Credit cards and cash not accepted.
Raintree RV Park, Rockport (page 217) Resort phone: 361-450-0771 Email: email@example.com URL: raintreervparktx.com
GOOD NEIGHBOR PARK TERMINATIONS TEXAS
RESORT UPDATES ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE 2016 DIRECTORY The 2016 Coast to Coast Resort Directory is packed with everything you need to navigate the network of Coast to Coast Resorts and Coast Good Neighbor Parks. To keep members up-to-date, each issue of Coast magazine includes any updates that have occurred since the last issue. The Hideout Resort & Golf Club, 6284 FM 2632, King's Point Cove, Brownwood, 76801. Resort phone: 325-784-4653; fax: 325-784-8037. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. URL: king- spointcove.com. Latitude: 31.6534 / Longitude: -98.9868. The Hideout Golf Club and Resort is situated in the heart of Central Texas on Lake Brownwood. The resort offers one-of- a-kind experience for golfers, RVers and their families. An 18-hole championship golf course, new 11,000-square-foot clubhouse, and a golf pro-shop, plus fully furnished cabins are just some of the amenities. Directions: From Austin: I- 34N/US-290E/US-8 N. Keep L to I-35-N/US-81 N. TX-29W/ Exit 261 toward Burnett. L on TX-29/W University Ave. Slight R on US-183N. Slight L on US-183/US-190N to Hwy 183. L on US-84. L on Early Blvd/US-183/US-377/US-67/US-84. Straight on W. Commerce St. R at light on Belle Plain St/ TX-279. R on FM 26342. Resort on R. Check-in: 9 a.m. Check- out: 2 p.m. Max RV Length: 48 feet. Amps: 30. Trip points not accepted for rental units. COAST TO COAST RESORTS COAST DELUXE ADDITIONS TEXAS
Casa Del Valle RV Resort - Sun RV Resorts, Alamo Kenwood RV Resort - Sun RV Resorts, La Feria Snow to Sun RV Resort - Sun RV Resorts, Weslaco YOU’RE THE EXPERTS INSIDE INFORMATION FROM COAST TO COAST MEMBERS I read a recent “You’re the Experts” suggestion by K. Midge about how to keep your coach warm in cold weather and save on propane. We live in the Southern California desert region and have used a similar practice to keep the cold engine A/C in the front cabin area. Knowing that the dash air cannot keep the whole RV cool, we purchased a shower curtain and placed it on a shower rod just behind the driver/ passenger seat. It keeps the front of the cabin nice and cool while we’re traveling. Same is true when we stop because it keeps the RV cool while the sun may heat up the front windshield area. John W. Bennett Catalina Spa and RV Resort, Palm Springs, California
COAST DELUXE UPDATES IDAHO Lewis - Clark Resort, Kamiah (page 118) Email: email@example.com
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 UPDATES ARIZONA Monte Vista Village - Encore Resort, Mesa (page 194) Pets not accepted
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REDISCOVER EX Jacques Cartier’s
8 COAST TO COAST SPRING 2016 GASPÉ The fairest land that may possibly be seen
As he approached the Gaspé Peninsula of present-day Québec back in July of 1534, French explorer Jacques Cartier described the forest-clad cape as “the fairest land that may possibly be seen …” Later that day he planted a cross and claimed “la Gaspésie”—familiarly known as “the Gaspé”—for France. Some 480 years later, my brother Al and I were similarly smitten by the scene as we piled out of our Roadtrek camper van at the dramatic northeastern tip of the Gaspé. Scanning the scene—where imposing mountains plunge abruptly into the wave-lashed waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence—it was easy to imagine it all just as Cartier found it. The long drive (435 miles / 700 kilometers) from Quebec City out to the Gaspé was a delight as we followed Route 132 (Québec’s longest highway) along the mighty St. Lawrence River. We passed leisurely through two lovely regions of Québec, first Chaudière-Appalache and then Bas-Saint- Laurent, pointing the Roadtrek eastward until we reached the beginning of the Gaspésie, technically at the tiny village of Sainte-Flavie.
LORER Gaspé Peninsula
story & photos by DAVE G. HOUSER
Six bronze steles comprise this superb monument to Jacques Cartier, standing at the site on the Baie de Gaspé where he first landed in New France in July 1534.
Although France ceded control over what is today Canada to Britain a la the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the province has nevertheless remained steadfastly French through the centuries. It certainly seemed to us that we were touring France—a sense reinforced by the fact that more than 80% of Québecers speak French as their first language. They are, however, more polite and patient with language-deficient folks like us than are some of their European descendants. As a result, this journey—which evolved as a five-day circumnavigation of the broad, burly Gaspé Peninsula—was as problem-free and seamlessly pleasant as any we’ve ever undertaken. During nearly every trip, we encounter something weirdly wonderful or wonderfully weird. This time it happened at Sainte-Flavie when, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a troupe of human-like figures standing in a tidal flat beside the road. What I’d seen was eccentric sculptor Marcel Gagnon’s largest and most remarkable work, Grand Rassemblement, made up of more than 100 concrete characters arranged in various poses—sometimes in or out of the water, depending on the river’s tide—but always guaranteed to stop traffic. The popular artist and his family maintain an inn, a gift shop/gallery, and a restaurant on the site.
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park is home to a variety of wildlife, including moose, black bear, lynx, red fox, ermine, and other forest critters. Birds are bountiful, too, with 26 raptor species plus an obvious swarmof seabirds such as kittiwakes, gulls, guillemots, and cormorants. Whales can be observed from the cliffs of Forillon, especially from June to the end of September. Special care has been taken by Parcs Canada to preserve and interpret the region’s human history. Grand-Grave was a fishing port settled in the early 19th century by Anglo-Norman immigrants from the Island of Jersey. Buildings of greatest ethnological interest were restored including Magasin Hyman, a painstakingly reconstructed 1845 general store. A short walk
Surprisingly enough, the stellar attraction of our sojourn along the north shore was a garden. Very much in defiance of Gaspé’s severe climate, Jardins de Métis near Grand-Métis, stands out as one of Canada’s top display gardens. It is a horticultural wonderland, created by Elsie Reford, an heiress to the Canadian Pacific Railroad fortune, who upon inheriting a family estate in 1926 dedicated herself to developing these world-class gardens. The gardens are still managed by the Reford clan and the family’s fabulous mansion houses a museum and a stylish restaurant. It is difficult to maintain any kind of a pace along Route 132 as one rustic fishing village fades to another and one
Phare de Cap-Gaspé (lighthouse) at the tip of Cap Gaspé, in Forillon National Park.
along a seaside path leads to Maison Blanchette, a picturesque farmstead of the period, staffed by costumed interpreters who carry out their chores, often interacting with visitors. Taking advantage of our early morning start, we continued past Maison Blanchett on Les Graves Trail to undertake a 9.4- mile / 15.2-kilometer (round-trip) hike, past countless coves and pebble beaches, to the tip of the Forillon Peninsula. It was a splendid walk rewarded by mind-boggling views at the cusp of the cliff—a setting dramatically enhanced by a stately old lighthouse. For sure, we slept very soundly after our strenuous but
lighthouse to yet another … then suddenly a supernatural setting appeared as we topped a rise approaching Cap-Chat to encounter several dozen large, whirling wind turbines—sited at one of eastern Canada’s largest wind farms. Arriving at the eastern tip of the peninsula, we eased into Forillon National Park to claim our campsite at Petit-Gaspe Campground, our home for the next two nights. Filled with energy after a quiet sleep, we set out early the next morning to explore the park. It is the pride of the peninsula, featuring 92 square miles / 238 square kilometers of forests, mountains, and cliff-lined shores, all crisscrossed by hiking trails. The
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spectacular day in Forillon. The following morning, we drove into Gaspé. With a population of about 15,000, it’s the peninsula’s largest town and we took advantage of the shopping opportunities to stock up on essentials at the local supermarket along with some wonderful organicmeat, cheese, and deli items at Le Marché des Saveurs on rue de la Reine. Next we paid a visit to the Museé de la Gaspésie and Jacques Cartier National Historic Site on Route 132. A recently added exhibit takes visitors on a stunning visual journey around the Gaspé coast. Fromwest to east, from the sea to the mountains, from the past to the present, visitors explore the region and meet the men and women who shaped it. A monument
protect against potential attacks by German submarines. Our destination next morning, Percé, is the peninsula’s most famous tourist destination, with its iconic Rocher Percé (Percé Rock) posed majestically just offshore. You can’t miss “The Rock” as you drive in. At 1,420 feet long / 300 feet wide, 433 meters long / 88meters high, it is to Québec what Sugar Loaf is to Brazil. Its name translated is “pierced rock” and comes from a natural arch at its base. We chose to go by boat the following morning, joining Croisieres Julien Cloutier, one of the town’s top cruise operators, for an excursion from the village wharf to Parc National de L’Ile Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé.
A 3 kilometer trail leads from the Grand Grave Interpretive Center past cliff-lined coves to the dramatic tip of Cap-Gaspé in Forillon National Park.
Bonaventure Island is all about birds and this extraordinary 3.5-square-mile / 5.9 square-kilometer islet just offshore from Percé is home to some 224 species of avian wildlife, including one of the largest and most accessible colonies of Northern gannets in the world. Some 120,000 of these big white birds (with wingspans up to 6 feet / 1.8 meters) flap and scrap about at the edge of dizzying cliffs at the island’s southeastern rim. Cormorants, puffins, kittiwakes, guillemots, and others also flutter about, competing for nesting space along the cliffs. Following a 90-minute narrated cruise along Bonaventure Island’s sheer-sided cliffs, boats drop passengers at the
outside commemorates Cartier’s 1534 landing. Heading south again, our next stop was nearby Fort Prével, a former WorldWar II shore battery complex, redesigned in the 1990s as a tourist resort and featuring a five-room inn, cabins, a restaurant, an 18-hole golf course, and a cozy little hillside campground with 28 full-service sites—one of which would be ours for the night. Golfers love the 18-hole Fort Prével course that drapes a dramatic headland overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The panoramic views served a more serious purpose during WorldWar II when massive cannons were put in place here to
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National Park wharf. From there most folks hike one of four trails (1.7 miles / 2.8 kilometers to 3.5 miles / 5.6 kilometers) one-way across the island to view the gannet spectacle. Witnessing Bonaventure Island’s gannets at close range rates as a world-class wildlife experience and it definitely was one of the highlights of our Gaspé experience. Intent on seeking out the best seafood in town, we were directed by a number of folks to La Maison du Pécheur, on the water right next to Percé’s wharf. We were famished when one of the house favorites, the “Trident”—a trifecta of lobster, salmon, and scallops—was finally set before us. It was all very good—and a great way to top off our evening in Percé.
historic attractions, Site Historique du Banc-de-Pêche-de- Paspébiac. It’s a complex of 11 surviving buildings from the 18th-century headquarters of Jersey-based Charles Robin Company & LeBoutillier Brothers—for more than 150 years the Gaspé’s largest processor and exporter of cod and its primary shipbuilder. The complex once included more than 70 buildings and employed hundreds of men in the processing of salt-dried cod and building and repairing boats for the company’s North Atlantic fleet. Of particular interest is a large high-roofed structure once used for storing cod but now nicely refurbished to house thematic exhibits on commercial fishing and shipbuilding.
Fishing boats and sheds on the banks of the St. Lawrence.
Excursion boats bring visitors from Perce to enjoy close-up sightings of the more than 250,000 birds that nest on the cliffs at Parc National de I'lle Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Perce.
The snug and picturesque fishing harbor at Sainte-Therese-de-Gaspé.
In leafy New Carlisle, settled by American Loyalists following the Revolutionary War, we marveled at the village’s three towering Protestant churches, quite similar to those of New England. Nearby New Richmond was founded by English colonists in the 1760s. The area’s strong British presence and influence is preserved at an open-air “living museum,” the Village Gaspésien de l’Héritage Britannique. Not far down the road, the town of Bonaventure is a bastion of Acadian culture, reflecting the patchwork of French and English villages along the Baie-des-Chaleurs. The Museé Acadien du Québec, in Bonaventure, recounts the odyssey
On the return leg of our circumnavigation of the Gaspé, we followed its softer, gentler underside west along Route 132, tracing the shore of Baie-des-Chaleurs, which separates Québec from its southern neighbor, the province of New Brunswick. Fewer twists and turns and lesser grades helpedmake the going quicker but we still paused to enjoy some of the highlights along the way, including picture-perfect little fishing villages such as L’Anse-à-Beaufils and Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé. At Paspébiac we visited one of the peninsula’s most significant
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of the Acadians, French residents of present-day Nova Scotia and New Brunswick who were deported by the British when they took control of those regions in 1755. Many Acadians immigrated to Louisiana, where they became known as “Cajuns,” while others settled in Québec—before it also fell to the British in 1760 and was officially ceded in 1763. Apivotal event in the Anglo-French conflict took place in 1760 on the Baie-des-Chaleurs near the mouth of the Restigouche River where British forces destroyed a French fleet sent to help liberate New France. The story of the battle is dramatically interpreted at a fine little museum on the site. Another worthwhile museum is located in Parc National de
it climbs the blunt forested hills and plateaus of the Gaspésie’s eastern boundary. Stopping for a break in the village of Amqui, we enjoyed a snack at a flower-bedecked al fresco café overlooking a pretty bubbling stream. We arrived back on the Saint Lawrence shore that evening at Sainte-Flavie (home of the Marcel Gagnon sculpture exposition) precisely where our circumnavigation of the peninsula had begun. Luckily we came upon a colorful multi-use complex called Capitaine Homard, appropriately designated by a large billboard featuring a luscious looking lobster. The place fit our every need as we nosed the Roadtrek into a camping space overlooking the river, and adjourned to
The interior of the 1854 Magasin Hyman Store at the Grand-Grave Interpretive Area has been restored and restocked to evoke the late 19th century.
Among the notable buildings preserved at the Grand Grave Interpretive Area at Forillon National Park is Ferme Blanchette, the 19th-century farm of Xavier Blanchette.
Site Historique du Banc-de-Paspebiac preserves buildings erected from the late-18th to mid-19th century by Jersey-based cod-fishing giant Robin & LeBoutillier Companies.
the restaurant for—you guessed it—the largest pair of lobsters we could locate inCapitaine Alain Bellavance’s tank—preceded by a mouthwatering smoked salmon salad and accompanied by crispy frites as only a French-inspired chef can make them. It was our last and best meal, bringing to a satisfying close a Gaspésie adventure that ranks among our best RV road trips ever.
Miguasha, near Nouvelle, just east of Pointe-à-la-Croix. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a paleontology museum displaying marine fossils discovered in the surrounding cliffs that formed the bottomof a lagoon some 180million years ago. The southern side of the Gaspé isn’t given over entirely to museums. We saw quite a number of anglers working several rivers—the Cascapédia, Matapédia, and Bonaventure among them—that are world famous for their salmon and trout fishing. Reason enough for us to return one day. Route 132 turns inland, following the Matapedia River north as
FOR MORE INFORMATION Tourism Québec : 877-266-5678 – bonjourQuébec.com Québec Maritime : 418-724-7889 – Québecmaritime.ca
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Anchorage to Fairbanks and the Klondike Gold Rush Towns GOLD IN SEARCH OF
Story and Photos by RICHARD VARR
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Anchorage to Fairbanks Denali National Park, Alaska’s top attraction and larger than the state of New Hampshire, is the must-see highlight when on the road fromAnchorage to Fairbanks—a journey revealing just some of the state’s mountainous terrain, dense forests, and swirling rivers. An estimated 100,000 glaciers weave through mountainous valleys. Alaska has more than 50 recently active volcanoes and the country’s 10 tallest mountains topping off the landscape. No wonder many still consider Alaska to be “The Last Frontier.” And after surviving at least one arctic winter, true Alaskans and their Yukon counterparts have earned the so-called “sourdough” title, stemming from the tradition of tough gold prospectors protecting their sourdough bread starter from the cold by keeping it close to their bodies. In Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, that raw outdoor spirit comes alive in many ways through the paintings of Mount McKinley, the displays of dugout canoes, feathered spears, totem poles, and other artifacts—some Smithsonian items—in the Anchorage Museum. The downtown visitor information center is actually a log cabin accented by flowers in summertime and capped with a grassy roof. Diverse Native American cultures come together at the city’s Alaska Native Heritage Center with their dances,
Flightseeing at Denali National Park.
It’s a view of a lifetime from my window above the clouds. I’m tightly strapped in a 12-seater touring plane emerging from a drizzly haze below. We’re soon soaring amid snow- capped mountains with their craggy peaks shrouded by wispy cloud bands, getting my first look at Alaska’s colossal Denali National Park and Preserve. I see stretches of rocky valleys with what looks like a superhighway carving around the mountains. “Those lines in the glacier are actually piles of dirt, gravel, and rocks that rise to the top and form what looks like roads or strips,” explains pilot Bob Edison, his tinny voice echoing through my headset as he describes the elongated Eldridge Glacier. Before long, we’re peering out our windows to see another ice field, the 3,800-foot-deep Ruth Glacier. “That’s one thick piece of ice,” Edison says. But our mission on this flightseeing adventure is to see Alaska’s behemoth Mount McKinley; we’ll fly 200 miles roundtrip to North America’s tallest mountain peak. But will we see it or will it be smothered in clouds? I feel a cold chill, and condensation creeps up my window as we soar even higher. And then our answer comes with a burst of elation. “There it is!” shouts Edison. “The feeling is hard to describe other than to say words like awesome or spectacular, or breathtaking or bucket list.” Mount McKinley’s snow- covered, 20,310-foot South Peak glimmers above the clouds.
Artifacts at the Anchorage Museum.
storytelling, and artisans. Key to understanding such cultures is the recreated native villages outside with simple clan houses of the Eyak and Haida peoples of Southeast Alaska, or the sod-covered mound homes of Aleut and Alutiiq communities from the North Pacific Rim, to name a few. When Anchorage was founded in 1914 as a hub for the Alaska Railroad, the now modern city was mostly a construction camp with tents. The 1915 Oscar Anderson House dates back to that time, once belonging to an original resident of the early tent city. Nearby is waterside Resolution Park, named after Captain James Cook’s flagship, with a statue of the British explorer and sweeping
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whisk tourists to Mount McKinley. As we continue north along Parks Highway within Denali State Park (just south of the national park), we see splendid views of the snow-topped peaks—including Mount McKinley—of the Alaska Range. A right turn at Cantwell brings us to Alaska Route 8, known as the Denali Highway, a 134-mile, mostly gravel route with even more views of rock-filled rivers and lakes reflecting a dramatic jagged landscape. Flightseeing, whether by small plane, floatplane, or helicopter, is often the best way to capture Alaska’s vastness and raw beauty, since there are few roads and so much open country. And that’s especially true at Denali National Park. “Denali is 6 million acres with one 90-mile road—it’s wilderness,” says Ranger Bill Reynolds, who is leading my group on a hike through mountainous forests. While passing quaking aspen and white and black spruce trees, we catch a fleeting glimpse of a moose, while still hoping to see a bear or two. “It’s a chance to see wildlife and nature untrammeled and unchanged—wildlife living as they’ve lived for centuries,” says Reynolds. The park offers daylong bus tours to safely see the “Big Four”: grizzlies, caribou, moose and Dall sheep.
Chugging to Skagway on the Yukon White Pass Route Railroad.
views of Cook Inlet and, on a clear day, mounts Susitna and McKinley. Anchorage is also a hub for floatplane excursions into the piney Alaskan bush, because Lake Hood is the country’s busiest and largest floatplane base. Single- and twin-engine models sit wedged within dug-out docking areas along the shoreline like boats moored along any other lake. And nearby is the Aviation Heritage Museum with its historic planes including a 1928 Stearman, one of first to land on Mount McKinley in 1932. On the road, we head north out of Anchorage on Glenn Highway (Alaska Route 1), connecting with the George Parks Highway (Interstate A-4 and Alaska Route 3) on our way to a four-hour drive to Denali National Park. Forty miles out of Anchorage we pass Wasilla, a small town founded a century ago to supply nearby gold mining, where we start to see the dramatic views of the Talkeetna Mountains. We’re heading into the Susitna River Valley— the calm river and its rocky shoreline at times paralleling the highway. Farther along is the town of Talkeetna, once a riverboat port for the early 19th-century gold rush in the Susitna Valley, and later a hub for the Alaska Railroad. With its colorful landmark, the historic Nagley’s General Store, Talkeetna serves now as a base for hiking, fishing, and rafting excursions; for riverboats maneuvering the Talkeetna, Susitna, and Chulitna rivers; and for flightseeing tours that
Floatplanes on Lake Hood are ready for passengers.
From Denali, it’s another three hours or so to Fairbanks. Finally arriving, we stop in the heart of the city at the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitor Center along the Chena River. Across the way is Golden Heart Plaza with its central fountain featuring a sculpture depicting an Inuit family. A few blocks away, locally-carved ice sculptures remain solidly frozen at 20 degrees in the Fairbanks Ice Museum. We spend the afternoon just outside the city at Gold Dredge No. 8, a 20th-century houseboat-like vessel with massive earth-digging machinery used to extract gold from 1928-1959. The dredge harnessed 4,000 ounces of gold every two weeks, pulling 7.5 million ounces during its 31
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years of operation. Also on the grounds is a section of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline for a close-up look. Today, visitors pan for gold at water-filled tables. Tilting the dirt-filled pans at just the right angle, the same way late 19th-century prospectors did, shakes out loose gravel and soil leaving behind bits of the heavier gold. In my case, I found several tiny nuggets that when weighed were worth only $9. “When you first see that flash in the pan, it really makes people’s eyes glitter and light up and they can’t helpwanting to come back for more and more,” says dredge guide Tim Lamkin. “Gold fever is a very real phenomenon.” The drive from Fairbanks to Skagway is about 700 miles, taking approximately15 hours along Alaska Route 2, which becomes Yukon Highway 1 and then to Yukon Highway 2, the Klondike Highway, just south of Whitehorse. On the Route of the Klondike Gold Rush Our helicopter smoothly glides through a stiff wind between green-topped mountain peaks, where waterfalls trickle down like icy fingers. I’m on a half day excursion from Skagway to the Meade Glacier, which from the air looks like a superhighway of ice bands snaking through the valley below. When stepping out, however, it’s a much
Panning for gold at Gold Dredge 8 in Fairbanks.
The Meade Glacier is fed by Southeast Alaska’s enormous 1,500-square-mile Juneau Ice Field from where stems the Mendenhall Glacier and many others. Hiking the Meade is a popular side trip from Skagway, one of the Wild West towns with saloons and brothels sparked to life by the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s. Most who flocked to such towns, including Yukon’s Dawson City and Whitehorse, had dreams of getting rich. Instead, they endured extreme hardships—thieves, rugged trails, and perhaps most deadly, the minus 50-degree winter temperatures. Once the “Gateway to the Klondike,” Skagway is now a popular cruise ship port, its busy streets lined with historic gold rush-era buildings housing shops, museums, and restaurants. The 1888 Moore Cabin is the town’s oldest building; the Corrington Museum showcases ivory, whaling artifacts, and a mammoth tusk; and the Skagway Museum’s gold rush exhibit highlight the town’s notorious saloon owner and underworld boss “Soapy” Smith. The Red Onion Saloon, now a popular restaurant, still has the original floors, wallpaper, and some furniture in what was once an upstairs brothel. “A typical Saturday night in Skagway would have included a few gunfights, entertainers from all over the world, and a lot of men having a good time upstairs,” says Kelly Derrick, dressed as one Madame Ida Dunham while leading Red Onion’s brothel tour. “There was a lot of criminal activity— it was the last holdout of the Wild West.”
These deep cavernous holes in the ice are called moulins.
different view where it seems I’m walking on a frozen moonscape with the age old ice crunching under my studded boots. “We’re standing on 900 feet of ice,” says tour guide David Kramer as we grip pointed walking sticks to gain traction on the glacier. “It takes 100 feet of snowfall to create one foot of the ice that’s underneath us.” Kramer also shows us moulins—enormous holes reflecting an icy neon-blue-like tint fed by draining meltwater streams. “The water hits a crevasse creating a moulin that’s ripping down into the ice maybe a few hundred feet.” Rooted from the French word for mill, moulins can be enormous, reaching up to 30 feet wide and sometimes forming tunnels and caves.
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From Skagway we drive up the Klondike Highway (Alaska Route 98, Yukon Highway 2) that parallels the narrow mountainous trail once used by prospectors with their horses and mules. In Fraser, British Columbia, visitors can board the historic White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad. Just under a two-hour ride, the train with old-style passenger cars—one from 1883—chugs through mountain passes to Skagway and back. The elevation ranges from 2,865 feet and drops to sea level in Skagway, passing along the Coast Mountains and the Tongass National Forest. The 440-mile drive from Skagway to Dawson City— without breaks—is about 10 hours. We stop in the small town of Carcross, once known as CaribouCrossing because of the herds that passed through the land bridge skirting two lakes. Worth checking out is the Carcross Dunes and Desert, a sandy patch with hiking trails and rare plants formed from leftover silt deposits from the last ice age. Riverside Whitehorse, Yukon’s largest city and capital, was once a gold rush campground. In the center of town, a statue of a prospector and the 1900 Old Log Church Museum pay tribute to those who arrived by boat to find their fortunes in the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” But the big attraction here is the S.S. Klondike, the largest sternwheeler that ever chugged along the Upper Yukon River betweenWhitehorse and Dawson City. Built in 1929,
Dawson City street scenes include century old buildings.
One street is known as the “Writers’ Block” with two simple log cabins where writers Jack London and Robert Service once lived. Their novels and poetry capture the lifestyle of this gold rush frontier. London, for example, penned The Call of the Wild , whose central character is a dog in a land where sled dogs were in high demand for hauling supplies up narrow mountain trails. In the evening, I join a walking tour of Dawson City’s century-old buildings. Appropriately titled “Strange Things Done in the Midnight Sun,” the tour highlights the risqué and dangerous lifestyle in the Klondike. Stops include a brothel closed as late as the 1960s and the town morgue, where the mortician dug graves before the ground froze in winter. Our tour guide offered that gold fever would often get the best of people. “It’s just wanting more—going up to the hills where it’s seemingly endless, so the more you get, the more you want,” says tour guide Justin Apperley. “It drives people crazy. They were ripping up sidewalks to pan the grounds underneath. But we’re all a little bit out of our minds up here,” he concludes, “aren’t we?”
The SS Klondike Sternwheeler in Whitehorse provides relaxing trips.
the paddlewheel once hauled ore but was later refitted as a cargo and passenger vessel. It’s now a tourist attraction on the river’s edge. On the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, Dawson City is brimming with gold rush history, and its grid of dirt streets are lined with many century-old buildings. Once booming with saloons, brothels, and gambling halls, modern day Dawson City reminisces its glory days with garter-wearing showgirls at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s and tours of the old buildings. And there’s the macabre “Sourtoe Cocktail” tradition at a downtown hotel, where the lips must touch a human toe in the drink when downing shots.
FOR MORE INFORMATION Alaska Tourism : travelalaska.com Yukon Tourism : travelyukon.com
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By Howard J. Elmer
2016 Forest River Wildwood Wildwood designers offer unique camping solutions for all modern families
folks who visit unexpectedly—but when you buy a unit like this you probably didn’t want them to stay long anyway. Wildwood designers should get props for offering unique camping solutions for all modern families. I mentioned space earlier; it’s first found in the length of these units (range from 29 to 39 feet); which have up to three slide-outs and with extra inches added to areas such as around beds, extra large pot/pan drawers, and deep overhead cabinets. Storage throughout the trailer interior is extensive; however, there are also two exterior pass- through cargo spaces. At each end of my tester, passing under the queen beds, were sizable spaces each with a 20x30-inch door. These lock and have good weather seals. Speaking of weather, theWildwood is billed as a 3½-season capable trailer. That’s a new one on me, but I get that Forest River is suggesting that they’ve gone a bit further with the cold-weather proofing on these units.
Two bedrooms, each with a queen bed—not what I was expecting in a bunkhouse trailer. I’d seen the BH, or bunkhouse, in the model code and expected a normal set of bunk beds. Sometimes there are even three beds in a space set aside for kids—but two queen beds? As I investigated further, the design philosophy of the Wildwood line emerged to explain this variation in a phrase Forest River uses in its brochures—“Family Affordability”. My take on it is mid-market pricing for the largest trailer with the most options possible at that family price. This is not to say that all builders don’t want to hit this ideal, but with the Wildwood I found a particularly nice variety of floorplans to cover most every “family” dynamic. Looking at the 21 layouts (travel trailer and fifth-wheel) you’ll find sleeping arrangements for as many as ten, or as few as two. In fact, this last unit (in several versions) has just one bedroom and the rest of the trailer is a huge open living area. Yes, there is always at least one fold-out couch for the
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While the trailer is a traditional stick and tin build, it does add strength with a 5/8-inch tongue and groove plywood floor supporting it all. To fend off wet weather, the slide- outs all have triple seals, the outside walls carry 0.24-inch aluminum siding, and above it all is a one-piece seamless SuperFlex roof covering, which can be walked on. Another important feature is protection for freshwater and wastewater tanks. These are enclosed underneath the unit and those compartments are heated. For insulation the 2-inch wall construction contains R-7 fibreglass insulation throughout. For heating the trailer offers a floor-ducted 25,000 Btu forced air furnace—while cooling comes from a roof mounted 13,500 Btu air conditioner; it cools through ceiling diffusers. A neat feature on this model is a sliding-glass patio door that enters the living room right across from the single large slide-out. There is also a rear entry man-door, which accesses the back bedroom and its adjacent bathroom. Looking at the trailer from outside you can see that it would lend itself to a semi-permanent site where a deck could easily be added to below the patio door—with the large awning covering everything. This would be the main in and out with the rear door used for cutting down on traffic to the bathroom. But, this is just an option as the trailer tows well and handles nicely on the road. This is not a park model—it just could be. The dry weight on this Wildwood is 7,600 pounds and I towed it with a new2015 all aluminumFord F150 equipped with the very new 2.7L EcoBoost V6 engine. Making 325 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque it’s surprisingly strong for a motor this size. While the weight of this trailer did put the Ford to work, it felt very controlled and stable. I also noted that despite a fairly high-sided attitude, crosswinds created very minimal buffeting. The only caution I’ll offer is that with a travel trailer of this length tail-swing is a concern—but only if you forget to allow for it in turns. Inside, the decor creates a look that’s homey yet upscale. The focal point of the trailer, as I said, is that large patio door across from the couch in the slide-out. This design is not only roomy but creates a sitting area with a view— just park it somewhere nice. The other half of the slide is taken up with a good-sized dinette across from the kitchen. This kitchen will handle meals for families, big or small, starting with the residential-style refrigerator next to the three-burner high output range with oven. Above it is a microwave with carousel built-in over the range hood with its exhaust fan and light. The large deep basin sink is set at an angle to create more counter space and features a gooseneck faucet. Glass fronted cupboards are a nice touch while under-counter storage is ample. For flooring, the Wildwood offers money-saving linoleum that mimics wide-plank wood. This is found in all high-traffic areas, bathroom and bedrooms, while carpet is found only in the flat-floor slide-out.
On the side of the kitchen cupboard (just as you walk-in through the patio door) is a handy device—a command center for all the trailer systems. Also the builder has given the customer wall switch controls in key locations (for each room) that control the 12-volt overhead lights (some of them). This is a convenience feature added to very basic lighting. The bathroom in this unit does its best to offer extras with little things like a tooth brush holder and towel ring, wooden medicine cabinet with a mirrored door, and a vinyl tub surround. With doors on either side it is also private to the rear bedroom but accessible to guests from the kitchen side through another hard door. Overall it’s a little light in its amenities, but again Forest River adds a perk with a 16 gallon-per-hour quick-recovery water heater. On the other hand if you want a skylight over the shower— that’s optional. After an afternoon with the Wildwood I saw amenities and construction that worked to keep overall costs down. For instance many powered items, which many trailers carry as standards are optional on the Wildwood—leaving the choice to add cost (or not) up to the buyer. However the designers also picked items of importance and added value to those. Specifically I saw that come into play where long-term inside usage would be appreciated and outside weather protection was needed. This is a trailer that has “middle-of-the-road” pegged. But, the variety and ingenuity of the floorplans are anything but that. These deserve a look.
FOREST RIVER WILDWOOD 37BHSS2Q
FRESH WATER: 40 gallons BLACK WATER: 27 gallons GREY WATER: 30 gallons
LENGTH: 36’ 1” HEIGHT: 11’ 2” GVWR: 11,092 pounds DRY WEIGHT: 7,600 pounds
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