THE RALLY IS BACK IN PHOENIX! | RV REVIEW: TIFFIN’S ALLEGRO BREEZE | RESORT UPDATES
TO Phoenix VALLEY OF THE SUN
TO Historic Natchez Trace Parkway MEANDER A MISSISSIPPI ROADWAY
STAY & PLAY Briarcliffe RV Resort
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Cascade Meadows RV Resort La Pine, Oregon Yuma Lakes Resort Yuma, Arizona
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CONTENTS TRAVEL 8 Yesteryear’s Superhighway GOOD SAM AND CAMPING WORLD CHAIRMAN AND CEO MARCUS LEMONIS marcusvip@GoodSamFamily.com
COAST TO COAST PRESIDENT BRUCE HOSTER bhoster@GoodSamFamily.com MEMBER SERVICES 64 Inverness Drive E. Englewood, Colorado 80112 800-368-5721 writetous@Coast-Coast.com COAST TO COAST WEBSITE CoastResorts.com
Take a step back in time while taking a slow drive on Mississippi’s Natchez Parkway. BY RICHARD VARR 14 A walk on the wild side The metropolis of Phoenix, Arizona, has miles of trails and acres of natural preserves. BY EMILY FAGAN
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR DEE REED ART DIRECTOR NICK NYFFELER
Volume 33, Number 4. Coast to Coast (ISSN 1093-3581) is published quarterly for $14 per year as part of annual membership fees, by Coast to Coast Resorts, 64 Inverness Drive E., Englewood, Colorado 80112. Periodical postage paid at Englewood, Colorado, and additional mailing offices. Registration Number 558028. Publications Mail Agreement Number 40012332. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to P.O. Box 875, Station A, Windsor, Ontario N92 6P2. U.S. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Coast to Coast Resorts, P.O. Box 7028, Englewood, CO 80155-7028. Coast to Coast Resorts assumes no responsibility for unsolic- ited manuscripts or artwork. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any method without prior written consent of the publisher. Copyright © 2014 by Coast to Coast Resorts. PRINTED IN THE USA. cover photo : Fiery sunset in Phoenix by Mark Fagan
DEPARTMENTS 4 From the President
RESORTS 5 Briarcliffe RV Resort
5 Member Matters 7 Resort Updates
MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA
6 Yuma Lakes Resort YUMA, ARIZONA 22 Cascade Meadows RV Resort LA PINE, OREGON
19 2015 Rally 20 RV Review
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FROM THE PRESIDENT Ready, Set, Travel! What Travel Memories Are You Creating This Year?
M y wife and I are in the pro- cess of planning a two-week
trip to Europe that we have had to postpone for four years for a number of reasons. To say we’re excited would be an understate- ment. We plan to visit Amster- dam, Bruges in Belgium, and then Paris. We’ll be taking day trips from each city including a D-Day tour in Normandy, which is something I have wanted to do all my life. At a travel convention I attended a while back, a travel industry expert talked about the need to travel. Based on studies, he stated that people get more benefit from a vaca- tion in the time leading up to the vacation, as opposed to the time after they return from the vacation. Conventional logic says that we come back from a vacation rested and mentally refreshed. But in reality, the time leading up to a trip, while we are planning and day-dreaming of places and experiences we’ll soon enjoy, provides the most benefit to our mental health and outlook. The same speaker went on to say that the majority of people say their favorite part of the trip is when they have the car packed and they’re just driving away to start the trip. I think we can all relate to that. There’s nothing like the feeling that we’re embarking on a new adventure, with a world of new experiences, new sites, and new acquain- tances awaiting us. If you’re ready to make plans for that next vacation, Coast to Coast can help turn your dream vacations into reality. If your desire is to RV across the U.S., you can use our Tripsetter reservation system to book stays at our affili- ated resorts and Good Neighbor Parks literally “from coast to coast.” If travel involving hotel stays or maybe a cruise is more to your liking, then Coast Travel Services, powered by our friends at Montrose Travel, is ready to provide expert advice and the latest travel deals. And if a condo vacation getaway at one of hundreds of resorts worldwide is next on your bucket list, then Coast Deluxe and Premier members have access to discounted condo stays through our partners at Hopaway Holiday. Whatever your travel dreams, Coast to Coast has you covered. Your Coast membership is a powerful tool that can unlock literally a world of vacation and travel possibilities. So if you’re ready to book your next travel escape, and get the benefit of all that comes with the anticipation of an ex- citing new adventure, put your Coast membership to work. Just log onto our website at www.CoastResorts.com, or give our Coast Member Service team a call at 800-368-5721.
PUTTING MEMBERS FIRST
We can set you on your way to creating some great new travel memories. Make sure you’re taking maximum advantage of all the powerful travel and money-saving benefits that are a part of your Coast membership. And if you have questions, we’re here to help.
MARCUS LEMONIS Chairman and CEO
BRUCE HOSTER President Coast to Coast Resorts bhoster@GoodSamFamily.com
Good Sam and Camping World marcusvip@GoodSamFamily.com
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A South Carolina Deluxe resort that includes sun, sand, and nearby golf. Briarcliffe RV Resort
through the resort’s gated entrance on paved lighted streets and parking in your large site complete with concrete pad with patio and picnic table. Meet your friends or make new ones at the beautiful clubhouse in the large rec- reation hall. Other amenities include a large outdoor swimming pool over- looking the Intracoastal Waterway with cool deck and lounges. Swim or just relax in the sun. Shuffleboard, basketball, horseshoes, and a play- ground round out ways to stay active. Try your skill at the 18-hole min- iature golf course or take your clubs to one of the nearby golf courses— nearly 100. Some are considered the best golf courses in the South. Spend time in one of the golf course sand traps, or head east and enjoy the sand and water along the 60 miles of wide, soft sandy beaches. If you’ve already visited Briarcliffe RV Resort, on your next visit, you’ll
notice improvements such as wider and longer concrete pads. “Every win- ter we work on our concrete campsites and make them wider and longer,” says Kelly. “We do 20 sites a year. We also added a shade structure at the pool.” At Briarcliffe, you can leave your tow vehicle at your site and tool around on your golf cart, or rent a cart from one of the nearby rental places. “You can get your cart permitted to drive on the street,” says Kelly. If you choose to leave the resort, you won’t have to travel far to find en- tertainment and attractions for every- one: endless shopping at outlet malls, specialty boutiques, flea markets and specialty stores; exquisite dining; and thrilling water sports. Schedule time for freshwater, ocean and deep-sea salt- water fishing, and discovering the Inter- coastal Waterway, which is a 3,000-mile inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States.
F or 16 years, Kelly Hammond’s been the resort manager at Briarcliffe RV Resort. When asked why she’s been there so long, Kelly answers “because I love my job and I love the members.” Is there a better reason for choosing to stay at Briarcliffe RV Resort? Well, there’s also the friendly staff. There may not be a better reason, but there are plenty of additional rea- sons to head your RV to South Caro- lina’s Myrtle Beach. Imagine driving RESORT TYPE: Coast Deluxe LOCATION: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina SEASON: Open year-round WEBSITE: briarcliffervresort.com
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Come for the sun. Stay for the fun. Yuma Lakes Resort
fall, winter and spring. October average temperature is 89.9, 77.7 in November, 68.3 in December, 69.6 in January, and 73.8 in February. March averages 79.9 degrees with April coming in at 86.4 degrees. If those temperatures sound ideal, this is your winter home. In addition to fabulous low humidity weather, the resort has many ameni- ties. Camp among shade trees or fish for bass in the resort’s stocked lake—so pack your fishing gear. Nearby tennis, off-roading, hunting, water sports, hik- ing, spectacular scenery, sightseeing and more set Yuma Lakes Resort in a class of its own. Ride your ATV over and around the famous sand dunes. Enjoy the spacious clubhouse, slip into the heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi, or just lounge around the pool. Meet new friends while playing shuffleboard and bocce ball. Off-site, you’ll have an opportunity to use your golf clubs at one or more of
the nearby 13 challenging golf courses. Just a short trip away is the country of Mexico where you can take day trips for shopping and sightseeing or join the weekly caravan from the Yuma Lakes Resort to El Golfo Beach Resort on the Sea of Cortes, Mexico. There are many reasons to visit Yuma Lakes Resort. According to Randy Wright, director of research and development at Colorado River Adven- tures, “Snow birds come for the prox- imity to the border—it’s a safe place to cross into Mexico. There are also many winter activities including food func- tions, RV shows and a wide variety of other planned activities.” Because Yuma was the safest spot to cross the Colorado River, all roads led to Yuma for travelers from Span- ish explorers to Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl. You, too, can take advantage of the proximity to the river, using Yuma Lakes Resort as a jumping off place.
RESORT TYPE: Coast Deluxe LOCATION: Yuma, Arizona
SEASON: Open September 15-May 14 WEBSITE: coloradoriveradventures.com
Y uma Lakes Resort may well be the best thing that ever happened to snow birds. The sun shines for about 90 percent of the time in Yuma, making it the sunniest place on Earth. The city experiences an average of 4,015 hours of sunshine per year, and 11.0 hours of sunshine per day. To enjoy all that weather, head your rig to Yuma Lakes RV resort in the southwest corner of Arizona. You prob- ably don’t want to visit during the hot summer, but schedule your visit in the
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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 Trip Plus Discounts Did you know that your Coast Trip Plus benefit includes discounts on tickets to Walt Disney World? And savings at nearly 100 restaurants in the same area as the Walt Disney World property in Orlando? Whether you’re traveling or at home, Trip Plus can save you money on meals, shopping, recreation, and entertainment. To start saving money today, visit www.coastresorts.com and click on Trip Plus-Discounts and Coupons or download a mobile app and start using mobile coupons on your smartphone. Search by town or zip code to see discount offers near you. Snowbird Season Reminder If you’re heading south during the winter, here are a few helpful reminders. First, check your Trip Point balance in our Coast Tripsetter Reservation System. Also, book winter stays in the Sun Belt as early as possible so that you can reserve the location and dates that fit your travel plans. At the beginning of this year, Coast added dozens of new Sun Belt Good Neighbor Parks with the affiliation of the Sun RV Re- sort properties. These are all high-end resort campgrounds that are the perfect place to spend your time in the sun. To check availability, visit www.coastresorts.com and click on Resort Directory to make your snowbird plans. No-Shows Just a reminder that all Coast members (Classic, Deluxe, and Premier) are financially responsible when they “no show” for a reservation. In all cases, Coast will honor the no-show policy of the resort or Good Neighbor Park and deduct the number of Trip Points in the member’s account equal to the resort’s or park’s no-show policy. If a member does not have enough Trip Points in their account to cover the no-show expense, then the member will be notified to purchase suf- ficient Trip Points to cover the no-show expense. If the member does not make arrangements to pay for the no- show expense, then the member’s Coast membership will be suspended until the expense is paid. This is the same policy enforced by others in the hospitality industry including every hotel. So please be considerate of our affiliated parks and resorts, and honor all your reservations. If you need to cancel a reservation, you have until 6:00 p.m. (resort’s time zone) the day prior to your scheduled arrival date to cancel your reservation.
RESORT UPDATES ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE 2014 DIRECTORIES The 2014 Coast to Coast Resort Directory and the Good Neighbor Park Directory are packed with everything you need to navigate the network of Coast to Coast Resorts and Good Neighbor Parks. To keep members up-to-date, each issue of the magazine includes resort updates, noted with page numbers for easy reference. COAST TO COAST RESORTS COAST DELUXE UPDATES GEORGIA Yonah Mountain Camping Resort, Cleveland (page 106) GPS: 34.3851 / -83.449 TEXAS Sun Country LLC, Whitney (page 157) Directions from Dallas: I-35 to Hillsboro, Highway 22 W 12 miles to Whitney. Right on FM 933, north 3.3 miles to resort and lighted entrance on left (going north). ALBERTA Bridgeview RV Resort – Holiday Trails Resorts, (page 180) GPS: 49.71111 / -112.87118 COAST DELUXE TERMINATIONS GEORGIA Tallulah River Walk, Lakemont (page 108) TEXAS Summit Vacation Resort, New Braunfels (page 154) COAST CLASSIC ADDITIONS MISSOURI Compton Ridge Campground and Lodge - Ocean Canyon Properties, Branson, 65616 COAST CLASSIC TERMINATIONS TENNESSEE Mill Creek Resort Club, Pigeon Forge (page 150) GOOD NEIGHBOR PARKS GOOD NEIGHBOR ADDITIONS TENNESSEE Smokey Mountain Premier RV Resort, Cosby, 37722 GOOD NEIGHBOR PARK UPDATES ARIZONA High Chaparral RV Park, Casa Grande Zip: 85293. Directions: From Junction of I-10 and Exit 200 (Sunland Gin Road) S 5.3 miles on Sunland Gin Road. Left on Bataglia Road east 1.2 miles. Ho Ho Kam Mobile Village/RV Park, Chandler City: Coolidge Zip: 80128 NEW MEXICO Kiva RV Park & Horse Motel, Bernardo GPS: 34.2357 / -106.5035
GOOD NEIGHBOR PARK TERMINATIONS NEWFOUNDLAND Gateway To The North RV Park, Deer Lake
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Sunbeams glisten through the leaves, illuminating the touch of morning fog. We’re driving through Mississippi’s gently rolling forests—tinted by fall foliage—on what might look like any country road. But this scenic two-lane roadway with its swerving turns and straight-arrow stretches was in fact a superhighway of yesteryear. Our pace is leisurely; the speed limit is only 50 miles per hour. Horn- blowing 18 wheelers are nowhere in sight. It’s my first time on the Natchez Trace Parkway, one of America’s most historic roadways. Story and Photography by Richard Varr Driving the Natchez Trace Parkway Mississippi
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Along the parkway’s 444 miles are dense forests, green pastures, treed swamps and gentle cityscapes highlighting slices of history dating back to antiquity. This once natural earthen corridor was walked on by native Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians followed by settlers, trappers, traders, and eventually modern-day adventurers after Natchez Trace became part of the National Park System in 1938. Our drive takes us to Native American burial grounds, Civil War battlefields, and antebellum homes. “It’s a nice crossroads—like a green swath. You’re on this lovely road with trees on both sides and no com- mercial vehicles,” says Leslie Bruning, a tour guide from Natchez, the starting point of the Trace. “You’re not going to find a filling station but will have to leave the parkway to find one. It’s a very beautiful drive all the way up to Nashville.” We begin our journey with a visit to Natchez, once a cotton capital where history comes alive today with its antebellum mansions and southern traditions. The city center sits upon 200-foot-high bluffs along the Missis- sippi River from where wealthy homeowners had dra- matic views of the plantations below—farmland replenished with soil carried by the mighty river when flooding its shores.
We visit a few of the old mansions including the Greek Revival Stanton Hall with its Corinthian columns, grand chandeliers, and Italian marble mantels. Dunleith Plantation, now an inn, has 14-foot ceilings and a res- taurant in a restored 1790’s carriage house. My favorite is Longwood, the country’s largest octagonal house. A six- story structure with a central rotunda, the original own- ers lived on the bottom floor since upper-floor construc- tion inside was never completed. “The family didn’t have the money after the Civil War to finish it,” says Bruner. King’s Tavern, dating back to 1769, is Natchez’s old- est building. Upon looking at its worn wooden façade, it doesn’t surprise me to hear tales of its resident ghost named Madeline. As the story goes, the original owner took on a young server as a mistress. “His wife had her murdered and the two men that did it vanished as well,” says bar manager Ricky Woolfolk. “During remodeling in the 1930s, part of the fireplace wall collapsed and they found the skeletal remains of all three and a Spanish dagger.” Upon leaving Natchez, we hop on the parkway and drive about 10 miles to Emerald Mound, the second largest temple mound in the U.S. The grassy hill atop eight acres of pastureland was used as a burial area from 1300 to 1600 by ancestors of the Natchez Indians, who
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also built temples and other ceremonial structures here. At milepost 41, I walk the pathways of Sunken Trace, indented below ground level like a dry creek bed. The eroded Sunken Trace is part of the original path trodden through the centuries by Native Americans and then set- tlers using the trail on their way to Texas and beyond. We drive for about an hour to Jackson, the state capi- tal, and stop for lunch at the iconic Brent’s Drug & Soda Fountain. Brent’s is no longer a drug store—the former prescription area is now the kitchen of this 1950s-style soda fountain serving milkshakes, ice cream floats, hamburgers, and fries. Scenes from the restaurant were included in the 2011 Academy Award nominated movie “The Help,” set in Jackson. I snap photos of the Mississippi State Capitol, but a better tourist attraction is the Old Capitol Museum, the statehouse from 1839 through 1903. The Old Capitol was the site of the 1861 Secession Convention and where famous nineteenth-century political giants like Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and Jefferson Davis once spoke. “That’s where Mississippi seceded from the Union and where it was allowed back into the Union after a very painful and long reconstruction period,” explains Jackson tour guide Mary Current.
Props help illustrate the history of the rooms and halls, including the old governor’s office, the Supreme Chancery Court with its three-judge bench, and the House and Senate chambers. Under a domed Senate chamber is a circular and columned debate floor, where mannequins showcase what an 1870’s debate might have looked like. Nearby are the construction sites for the Mississippi History and Civil Rights museums, expected to open in 2017. “You have to understand that Mississippi has always been considered the most racist state in the Union and that we’d never ever come around,” explains Current. “Now we’re the first state in the Union to fund a new civil rights museum. They’re going to be attached so visitors will know about Mississippi’s past, hopefully its present, and maybe even get a look at its future.” Back on Natchez Trace, our next stop is Reservoir Overlook at milepost 105. We behold an expansive view of the 50-square-mile Ross R. Barnett Reservoir just north of Jackson that parallels the Trace for eight miles. What I find most interesting, however, is at the tip of the reservoir. At milepost 122, I walk the boardwalks over the Cypress Swamp, where the trunks of water tupelo and bald cypress
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trees sit submerged in what looks like green muck. We detour off the parkway for several miles to Court- house Square in Canton, popular for its Christmas lights and festivals. It’s centered by the mid-nineteenth-century Greek Revival domed courthouse, but the square’s most notable attraction is the Canton Film Museum, a corner red-brick building with a second-story New Orleans- style railing balcony. The museum features the actual sets of the 1995 John Grisham movie, “A Time to Kill,” starring Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Samuel L. Jackson. The first floor was made to look like a Mississippi diner, while the second floor houses the dark-walled office with brown leather chairs used by McConaughey’s char- acter, a lawyer. “In it you’ll see his diploma from The University of Mississippi School of Law—they issued him one for the movie,” explains Jo Ann Gordon, Executive Director of the Canton Convention & Visitors Bureau & Film Office. “The upstairs, where you can look out over the courthouse green, is what really sold the production designer on making the movie in this building.” A few doors down, the My Dog Skip Museum has photos, clippings, a desk and chairs, and
even a stuffed stand-in prop of “Skip” used in Willie Morris’ “My Dog Skip,” another movie filmed in Canton. Back on the Trace, we stop briefly at the Jeff Busby camping area at milepost 193. At 603 feet above sea level, it’s one of the highest points in Mississippi and the highest on the parkway. We drive on to Tupelo, the birthplace and a childhood home of Elvis Presley. Oppo- site the domed City Hall building, a bronze statue of the king of rock ‘n’ roll—singing with his hand extended— duplicates his stance in a famous 1956 photograph shot at a Tupelo homecoming performance. Along Main Street is the Tupelo Hardware Company where Elvis bought his first guitar in 1945. The 10-year- old Elvis and his mother Gladys actually entered the store to buy a bicycle. “They came in through the same front door you came through and they stood on the very floor you’re standing on right now,” explains store employee Howard Hite. “Elvis walked past the bicycles and stopped in front of this counter because he spotted a .22 rifle hanging on the wall, and he decided he wanted the rifle instead of the bicycle. His mother said absolutely no.” Hite says an upset Elvis was eventually calmed down by a longtime store employee and friend of the fam- ily who suggested a guitar instead. “So he reached over
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Slow down and tour the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson
there and pulled out a guitar from this same counter right here. Nothing has changed,” adds Hite. “Elvis plucked on it, banged on it. He told his mother he’ll take the guitar. We like to think that musical history was made right in front of this counter.” Nearby is the Elvis Presley Birthplace, Museum, and Church. Elvis was born in 1935 and lived for three years in the whitewashed, two-room shack built by his father. Simple era furniture fills the wallpapered rooms. The museum has artifacts that highlight the singer’s life from the personal collection of Janelle McComb, a close family friend. Also on the grounds is the actual church building where the Presleys attended services with sing- ing and music that influenced a young Elvis. “The church is really what made him who he was. He loved the gospel music he learned in the little church here,” says Blair Hill, Janelle McComb’s grandson. “His life was hard. The Great Depression was going on and the family struggled to make ends meet, but they made it and were always together. Elvis was very humble—he always remembered his roots.” Nearby Civil War landmarks include the Tupelo Na- tional Battlefield at milepost 260, where the 1864 battle forced the Confederate army to retreat. The graves of 13
unknown Confederate soldiers lie at milepost 269. From Tupelo, the parkway slices through the north- east tip of Alabama and into the foothills of Tennessee, stopping just south of Nashville. Highlights and detours include the birthplace of Helen Keller in Tuscumbia, Alabama; the gravesite and monument to explorer Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark at milepost 386 in Tennessee; and the expansive Double Arch Bridge west of Franklin, just before the parkway’s ending point. Another interesting detour is the Vicksburg National Military Park southwest of Jackson. Monuments pay tribute to the Civil War’s 46-day siege of Confederate- held Vicksburg in 1863, which resulted in Union con- trol of the Mississippi River. I end my drive along Natchez Trace in Tupelo, opting to save the remaining part for another trip. I leave the Trace better understanding travel before superhighways and cheap airfares. “Its beauty is that it’s like a step back in time at a slower pace,” says Jennie Bradford Curlee of the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau. “These days you travel the highways and you see gas stations and
billboards. Instead, the Trace is so simple. You see trees, pastures and historical stops where you can learn something all along the way.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT: www.nps.gov/natr
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Idyllic sunset fishing on the Salt River
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a walk on the wild side Visit Phoenix, the Valley of the Sun Story and Photography by Emily and Mark Fagan
Phoenix, Arizona, is a huge, sprawling city. Although there’s a “downtown” hub filled with the skyscrapers one would expect of the sixth largest city in the United States, most of it spreads out into the surrounding Sonoran Desert in a wide mass of suburbia that is more than 50 miles from north to south and the same from east to west.
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It’s hard to imagine that a sin- gle square foot of nature could be found in this concrete jungle. However, this is a city that was built with outdoor recreation in mind. Phoenix sits on a flat des- ert floor with pyramid-shaped mountains jutting up all around town, giving it the nickname “The Valley of the Sun.” The mountain faces are steep, and the land is not easy to build on, so these mountains have been set aside for outdoor fun and to give residents a place to im- merse themselves in the wild. Hiking the stunning mountain trails is a passionate pastime for many city-dwelling Phoe- nicians. When we lived there before we started full-timing in our RV, we often did the most popular lunch-time and after-work hikes up Camelback Mountain, Pinnacle Peak, and Piestewa Peak. The scenery along the trails was rugged and stunning, and the views from the top were spectacular. We recently visited Phoenix with our fifth-wheel trailer and had a chance to explore some of the lesser-known natural areas on the outer edges of the city. Just a few weeks before our arrival, a brand new hiking trail was added to the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve system. Situ- ated in North Phoenix on the new East Sonoran Desert Drive, between Cave Creek Road and Interstate 17, this section of the preserve covers several square miles and is ideal for road cycling, mountain biking, and hiking. The trails are easy, and we were enchanted to hear the haunting cries of the Gambel’s quails and the insistent calls of the cactus wrens all around us as we walked up the Apache Wash trail. Although they are small in stature, those little cactus wrens sound for all the world like stubborn engines
trying to start! Moving up the trail, we saw lots of giant sa- guaro cactus standing tall and proud, arms stretched high in the air. Their distant cousins, the squatty barrel cactus, sat grouped around them in many
elevation gain on this hike—not to mention having to crane our necks when someone pointed out where the hike ended. This is a steady uphill hike for a mile and a half and a steady down- hill on the return. Starting in the
Views while mountain biking in the Sonoran Desert
spots, like students seated at the foot of a teacher. As the trail wound higher and higher around both the front and back sides of the moun- tain, we were astonished that despite being in the middle of a very busy part of the city, this preserve is so large that the only evidence of civilization was far in the distance on the hori- zon, several miles from where we stood. Houses were mere white specks, barely visible to the naked eye, and the only sounds we could hear were the chirps and calls of the desert birds. Another exhilarating hike is the Wind Cave Trail at Usery Mountain. We knew we were in for a good hard work out when we saw the profile of the
morning, the entire trail was shaded and the crisp cool air felt really good on our rapidly heating bodies as we huffed and puffed between the craggy rocks and boulders. In no time the views began to take shape below us. At the top we were greeted by a crew of savvy chipmunks that are very wise to the things hikers bring in their packs. These guys had grown fat and happy on granola bars and sandwich bread pieces, and they made no bones about coming right up to us to say hello and see what we had brought to share with them. The trail gets its name from the rock overhang that shelters a large area at the top of the
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snakes in and out of the most beautiful Sonoran desert land- scapes I have seen. The bright yellow brittlebush flowers were in bloom when we visited, and the humble little hedgehog cac- tus were resplendent as they
cans first arrived in this area, they saw the evidence of these canals and of these ancient people, and they began to build their own canals for the same purposes. Recognizing that they were building a modern city
mountain, and this “wind cave” offers a welcome cool breeze to all the hikers that stop for a snack before heading down. It’s the return trip that really made our heads spin, however. The trail runs alongside a huge
In addition to fishing off a pier on the Salt River, the region offers scenic drives and opportunities to add to your birding life list
showed off their vivid magenta flowers. This trail is so little used that hikers and bikers mix hap- pily. We saw only one other person on the trail each time we went and, because we al- ways had our cameras in tow, each hike or bike ride quickly turned into a photo shoot! The Sonoran Desert around Phoenix isn’t strictly about cactus and craggy mountain peaks, however. The most stun- ning urban oases—which are true desert oases—lie along the waterways and lakes that are sprinkled around town. Phoenix was originally settled by early peoples who took clever advan- tage of the natural rivers in the area to build irrigation canals to water their crops. When Ameri-
on top of an ancient one, they named the city “Phoenix” after the mythical phoenix bird that regenerated itself by rising out of the ashes of its predecessor. These rivers still flow today, and there are many access points where you can slip away from the urban chaos to watch the long-legged water birds standing by the water’s edge, or cast a fishing line, or simply admire the sunrises and sunsets as they reflect in the water at the base of the mountains. We visited the Verde River while riding our bikes in the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation and again at the Eagle View RV Resort, which backs up to the river. Lots of RVers gather beside their rigs to watch the
wall of jagged cliffs that are covered from top to bottom in lichen. Lichen is a living organ- ism that comes in all colors of the rainbow and, on this par- ticular trail, once the sun moved high enough in the sky, the li- chen lights up in brilliant shades of yellow and orange. The towering walls of rock came alive. Making our way down the trail, we often looked over our shoulder at those vibrant cliffs, watching the colors change in the sunlight. On the other side of Usery Mountain, heading north from Mesa on the Bush Highway, we discovered the magical Wild Horse Trail. This is a wonderful mountain biking and hiking trail that winds up and down and
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through sweeping turns that carve their way through lush Sonoran Desert landscapes. If you travel from north to south during the golden hour of the setting sun, the massive wall of cliffs by the Blue Point viewing
bald eagles soaring in the af- ternoons and to enjoy happy hour gatherings just above the riverbanks. Snowy egrets and great egrets flock to these riv- ers, too. We watched them fly- ing up and downstream every morning and evening as they commuted between their roost- ing trees near the mountains and their dining areas along the riverbanks. One evening, as we set up our cameras on tripods to capture the beautiful river scene at sunset, we heard the loud crashing and crunching sounds of tree limbs snapping and tall grasses being mowed down on the opposite side of the stream. Friends had told us they had seen wild horses in this exact spot a few nights earlier and we were really ex- cited at the prospect. Surely the heavy footprints we were hearing on the riverbank across from us were those of a wild horse. We swung our cameras around, waiting for the horse to step out of the tall reeds, when the grasses parted and a huge brown cow emerged. We chuckled as we watched it lower its head for a drink. We got lucky with the horses the next day, however. Stop- ping at the Blue Point Overlook along the Bush Highway to admire the lofty cliffs tower- ing above the river, we looked down at the glassy water below us and saw two horses stand- ing side by side at the river’s edge. No one knows the exact origin of these wild horses, but it is thought that their ancestors were owned by residents of the Indian reservation many gener- ations ago. Now there are three herds that roam unimpeded through the National Forest, through the Indian reservation and wherever else they can find open space on the eastern fringes of Phoenix.
They are small horses, per- haps with some mustang blood in their heritage, and we watched them contentedly grazing in the grasses and roll- ing and scratching their backs in the gravel by the riverbank.
A desert marina on the Saguaro Lake, inquisitive chipmunks, and happy horseback riders share the region
area light up in brilliant shades of orange. This drive winds past Sa- guaro Lake, one of the prettiest lakes in greater Phoenix. Driving down to the lake’s main access point from the highway, our jaws dropped as we took in the view of the sparkling blue water backed by distant purple cliffs. Water skiers zoomed across the lake, a kayaker paddled slowly close to shore, and all the boats in the little marina twinkled in the sun. We walked along the shoreline, admiring the views, and then stopped for a bite to eat on the patio of the Lakeshore Restaurant overlook- ing the lake. Boaters came and went on the docks below us, and the Desert Belle paddleboat
As we watched that first pair, a few more horses wandered out of the tall grasses. Two of the adults had very young foals with them. After admiring these wild horses from a distance, what a contrast it was to re- turn to the parking lot and see a group of horse-back riders, dressed in cowboy hats and western garb, coming up the dusty trail from a ride in the desert. Those tall, refined horses seemed as contented as their wild counterparts while their handlers brushed them down after their ride. The Bush Highway is one of the most awe-inspiring drives in the Phoenix area, and we made a point of driving its length sev- eral times. It climbs and dives
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welcomed passengers aboard for its cruise around the lake and upriver through the canyon. After lunch we meandered further out along the shore to a gravel beach and boat launch. Tall cottonwood trees spread
A saguaro and ocotillo cactus in silhouette
their limbs wide, offering wel- come shade at the picnic tables. A party boat motored into the cove and anchored briefly. As we listened to the laughter of the kids in the boat and the splashing of a man wading out into the water with his fishing rod, it didn’t seem possible that this watery world was in the middle of the desert. Phoenix will always be home for us. But when we returned as visitors in our RV after years of exploring other places on the road, we were surprised to discover so many special spots where nature abounds. Even though Phoenix is a big, crowded city, it’s a great place to take a walk on the wild side.
The Rally’s Back What’s better than being in Phoenix in March? Being in Phoenix in March at the Camping World/Good Sam Rally, March 19-22, 2015. There are more reasons to attend than great weather. Where else can you rub shoulders with thousands of RVers, meet and greet old and new friends, and learn from experts in all fields having to do with the RV lifestyle. See you at The Rally held on the Phoenix International Raceway for a weekend of nonstop activities, including huge RV displays, a wide array of exhibit booths, educational seminars and unforgettable entertainment. Highlights include a veteran’s salute sponsored by Coast to Coast, a rally golf tournament, and an opportunity to renew your wedding vows while trying to break the record of 1,087 couples. REGISTRATION INCLUDES:
• 4 days of camping • 4 days of festivities • Evening entertainment
To register, call 800-701-1399. To stay up-to-date on all that’s The Rally, visit www.therally.com.
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A wonderful way to see the country 2014 Tiffin Allegro Breeze 32 BR
T he trends for the coming year include a resurgence of travel trailers. This follows several years of very strong fifth-wheel trailer model introductions. In other words, there is always something new—and often what’s new is simply a re-imagined version of what was recently old. However, when it comes to motorhomes, well they have and continue to inhabit a niche in the market that seems to always hover in the 10 percent range of total sales. Curious—other segments have fluctuated wildly, yet these hotels on wheels hold their beachhead tenaciously. Why? A decade or more ago when fifth-wheel units really took off, I seem to remember suggesting (thinking it anyway) that motorhomes were doomed. Why have an engine and chas- sis support your RV and then still tow a car or truck when you could have your tagalong grocery-getter tow your RV to destination and then drop it. Seemed so obvious to me. Yet that 10 percent of market continues to be inhabited by motorhomes. Granted that within that number is a range that runs from $100,000 to a million or so dollars. But past the look-at-how-much-money-I-have crowd, there has to be more to it than that.
These are the types of musings I have while testing—in- cluding during my recent test of Tiffin’s Allegro Breeze. It’s been a year or more since I drove a motorhome and the first thing that resurfaced for me was how much I like the drive itself. I’ve said before that it’s much like driving a living room window. Apart from a funny image, it really is a road experi- ence that frames the scenery making the simple act of driving a joy. Tiffin Motor Homes of Red Bay, Alabama, has been build- ing motorhomes for more than 40 years and, like any special- ist should, they are hyper aware of trends and culture. In the case of the Breeze I tested, this shows immediately in two as- pects. First, the length of this Class A. At 32-feet it’s relatively small. Second, the bus chassis and MaxxForce diesel engine combine for a smooth, confident, powerful ride. Size-wise, inside, with twin opposing slides, the coach seems large and really is. Yet, I noted that even closed, the builder has gone to great lengths to ensure that you can still navigate the whole unit. Nothing is blocked in when the slides are secured. Having borrowed this unit from a dealer in the heart of farm
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country Ontario, I was having fits trying to find a backdrop for photos that didn’t look like a postcard of Siberia. I finally decided to drive into the small town of Harriston and look for suitable scenery. This matters because I spent two hours driving around tiny snowbank-choked side streets. I parallel parked on the main street and backed into the city hall parking lot and squeezed by gravel dump trucks stopped at the local coffee shop. What made this easy was a set-back front steering axle that makes the Breeze turning circle nice and tight. Also the transmission is pushbutton accessed on the driver’s left armrest. Simple, just push D, N, or R. Air brakes grab like tax collectors and when parked hold on any grade. Independent front suspension and air ride front and rear pro- vide the soft confident ride feel. Power steering is light but precise and a really nice feature is the center stack-mounted video screen that shows a camera view of the whole back of the coach when the shifter goes into reverse. However, this screen also displays the right and left sides of the coach through cameras mounted near the front shooting back- wards. A button toggles between the views. Also neat is a distance grid on the rear camera that shows accurately how far you are from an object in feet. The driver’s position is supremely comfortable and the builder has thought of all the travellers’ long-distance needs in HVAC controls, easy-to-read gauges and toggles, fans, powered sun screens, heated mirrors and accessories stor- age and plug-ins. A last observation of the driving environment—it’s quiet. This is a result of building standards and a superior chas- sis. There are no squeaks, rattles, grinds, groans or whistles during transit. Inside, the main salon is wide open when the opposing slides are out. Because the driver and passenger seats spin 180 degrees to face into the cabin, the floor space seems that much larger as well. All the seating is aimed at the mid-ships wall- mounted TV, and ceiling-mounted surround-sound speakers ensure even vibrant sound whether frommovies or the radio. The kitchen and eating area dominates the center of the unit with the counter and stove on the right and the wood-fronted double-door fridge and U-shaped dinette on the left. The stove is only a two-burner unit, but it is big enough and also has a flip-up glass cover that increases counter space. Meanwhile Tiffin didn’t skimp on sink space—there is a double.
A nice feature in the dinette is the telescoping single leg that lets the oval table drop to form a double sleeping space. And the couch across the aisle is also a fold-out. Potentially there is overnight accommodation for six in this unit. Cabinetry throughout the coach is top-notch with com- plex raised hardwood designed doors. Above everything the wooden crown moldings offset the seamless roof that fea- tures flush opaque light covers. In keeping with a luxury theme, the bathroom design is large and slick. The half-tub shower has a glass door and an integrated seat inside as well as a skylight above. The toilet and sink, however, are across the hall and have a separate solid door. Pocket doors from the salon and from the bed- room also close off this section of aisle to make for a large pri- vate dressing space. To that end there is a built-in linen closet as well in there. Of course, the double pocket doors also allow for privacy for both front and rear overnight occupants. In the master bedroom a clever use of space is the raised queen bed that has built-in drawers beneath it. The bed is also raised on pneumatic lifters to access a large storage space under it as well. Decor in this bedroom carries over from the main coach area and is elegant and upscale. A nice feature here and forward is the wall and ceiling-mounted light fix- tures. In the ceiling, above the bed, is a fold down flat-screen TV. For a smaller room, this is the best solution for place- ment—slightly up and dead-center. Another benefit of a bus-style coach chassis is the full basement below the unit. While there is considerable space in the drawers and cupboards inside the Breeze, it is a smaller unit. Extra space under the coach, front to rear, will be help- ful on longer trips. As for the towed vehicles that this type of motorhome in- variably has, The Breeze will easily tow 4,500 pounds and has all the necessary hookups installed standard. While I only got to spend a day in the Breeze, I can easily see the fantasy of making every road trip into a sight-seeing tour. There is just something about a motorhome.
—Howard J. Elmer
2014 TIFFIN ALLEGRO BREEZE 32 BR GVWR: 22,000 pounds TRAILER HITCH: 4,500 pounds LENGTH: 33 feet, 2 inches WIDTH: 95 inches
HEIGHT W ROOF AIR: 11 feet 2 inches FRESHWATER: 70 gallons GRAY WATER: 50 gallons BLACK WATER: 30 gallons LP GAS: 20 pounds BASE PRICE: $195,750 tiffinmotorhomes.com/allegro-breeze
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RESORT REPORT CHECKING IN AT ONE OF OUR FAVORITE RESORT AFFILIATES
Nestled within Central Oregon’s Cascade Mountain Range Cascade Meadows RV Resort
the resort. Take in the views of Mount Bachelor and the Three Sisters Moun- tain Range. Enjoy the luxurious pool and spa, comfortable clubhouse, horse- shoes and playground area, free Wi-Fi, showers, rest rooms, and laundry facili- ties. And something that’s hard to expe- rience at many resorts—fresh mountain air at 4,200 feet. Improvements at the resort are an ongoing process, says Kyle. “We just finished pouring a new concrete pad for basketball and pickle ball. And this win- ter we plan on redoing the pool area. The cabin has been refurbished with new appliances and we’ll continue to add more cabins. We’ll eventually build a new clubhouse.” You can plan to stay at the resort and luxuriate in the ambiance, or you can travel to one of the many nearby attractions. Bring your fishing gear to take advantage of the more than 150 crystal clear fishing lakes. The Big and
Little Deschutes rivers yield prize steel- head and trout. Paulina Lake and East Lake, which are only 13 miles from the resort, offer great fishing and boating. Hike or bike or go horseback riding on the many trails of the Paulina Range and Deschutes National Forest. You can also take a drive on one of the three designated National Scenic Byways in the Deschutes National Forest. These include Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, and Outback Scenic Byway. The lovely city of Bend is 22 miles north. Fifty miles north is the town of Sisters, which is a must-see experi- ence. Sisters hosts several major special events including Sisters Rodeo and Sisters outdoor Quilt Show. Sisters Folk Festival and Sisters Starry Nights con- cert series draw top rated talent from around the country. Take a chairlift ride to the 7,775-foot summit of Mount Bachelor Ski Resort—28 miles away.
RESORT TYPE: Coast Deluxe LOCATION: La Pine, Oregon SEASON: April 15-October 31 WEBSITE: cascademeadowsrvresort.com V isitors to Cascade Meadows RV Re- sort are impressed by many things when passing through the gates, but there’s one thing that is most impres- sive. “We get the most comments about the size of the sites,” says Vice President Kyle McLeod. “The sites are bigger than most other RV resorts anywhere. There are picnic tables and big grassy areas.” Not only that, but all the sites are pull- throughs—an average 70 feet in length and 30-feet wide. But there are more reasons to stay at
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