Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The "Tops" Continued...

Now we continue with more of our "tops" from our second year of RV'ing. (Click on the yellow title for a link to an earlier blog post about that subject.)

Top 10 Coolest Small Towns

Seaside and the nearby towns of Grayton, Seagrove, Rosemary Beach, and Seacrest Beach have always been tops on our list of beach towns.  The warm Florida salt air and sugar white sands pave the way to a great vacation.  Chain restaurants are replaced with Air Stream food trucks and a beach cruiser bicycle is the preferred mode of transportation.

Cedar Key, Florida

Cedar Key is a funky little coast town in a forgotten part of Florida that is a mix of artists and fishermen.  It is the largest producer of farm raised clams and the best clam chowder to prove it.  It was also one of the largest producers of pencils made from the abundance of cedar trees.

Gruene is a town that dates back to the 1840's and has one prominent business that has remained open through the ups and downs - a dance hall and saloon.  What does that tell you about this town?  The dance hall is the oldest in Texas and a who's-who of country music has graced her stage.

We quickly fell in love with Breckenridge and the nearby town of Frisco.  The town is charming, clean, dog-friendly, and bustling with summer outdoor activities.  There are gorgeous hiking trails in the surrounding mountains and a free gondola and chair lift to take you up the ski slopes for gorgeous views. 
Telluride came highly recommended from friends and did not disappoint   We caught the fall colors just right and marveled at the bright yellow glow of the aspen leaves.  
Basalt was never meant to be a destination for us, instead we stumbled upon it on our way to Aspen.  Turns out we liked it so much more than Aspen!  In contrast to Aspen, Basalt runs at a slower pace that is much more livable.

Our friends Melinda and Dick introduced us to Ouray which is a charming town set beautifully along the Million Dollar Highway in the Colorado mountains.  The town is nicknamed "Little Switzerland" because of how it sits in the valley flanked by the mountains.

This town is known for its Danish pastries and other goodies and is proud of
its nickname of "Little Denmark".
Ennis, Montana

Ennis likes to claim it is a little town with a big fishing problem.  The town is a fly fishing destination and is dominated by fly shops and guide services.  But downtown has managed to squeeze in nice shops and galleries and a great soda fountain.
Cody, Wyoming is recognized as the home of Buffalo Bill.  But when you look closer you soon learn that Cody has a great small town atmosphere with street parades, nightly rodeos, a first-class museum, and many years of  interesting history.

Top 5 Kayaking Spots

If we had to pick a favorite kayaking spot, this would be it - underneath the beautiful Teton mountains in Grand Teton National Park.

Kayaking in such a wonderful place like Yellowstone was awesome and catching Yellowstone cutthroat made it even better.
This little lake north of Steamboat, Colorado was recommended to us by a guy in a local fly shop.  Our guy did not steer us wrong - the lake was beautiful and over a dozen rainbow trout ended up on my fly.

Western Lake along the Florida panhandle is one of our all time favorite kayaking spots.  The lake is surrounded by white sand dunes, tall pines, and golden marsh.  
While we did not catch any fish in this lake, we had a great time paddling around looking at the glorious aspens.

Top 10 Surprises (These are things that we did and were surprised at how much we enjoyed them)

LBJ Ranch (Fredericksburg, Texas)

Lyndon Baines Johnson's house in the Texas Hill Country is affectionately known as the "The Texas White House."  Tours take you through the house and the sprawling cattle ranch to give you an inside look at his life outside of Washington.  We thought the tour of the house was great and there is also an audio tour of the grounds that is well worth listening to.

Smoke Jumpers Visitor Center (Missoula, Montana)

When a wildfire breaks out in remote and inaccessible areas of the western wilderness,  the smokejumpers load into a plane with 80 pounds of gear and parachute into the forest to put it out.  The Missoula Smokejumpers have a visitor center at their base and offer tours that give you an up close and personal look at what these elite firefighters do.   

Rocky Mountain Elk Visitor Center (Missoula, Montana)

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is known for their conservation work that ensures the enduring legacy of a wildlife symbol of the west.  We found the visitor center very entertaining and engaging and taught us a lot about elk.   

Mule Fest (Hamilton, Montana)

The annual Mule Days Festival in Hamilton, Montana was truly delightful and more fun than we expected.  It is great family fun, in a beautiful setting, with plenty of adorable "long ears."  

Don King Saddlery and Museum (Sheridan, Wyoming)

This museum was a great find.  Don King is well-known in the world of saddle and rope making.  The museum displays his personal collection of over 500 saddles and countless other saddle making items.  

Heart Mountain Internment Camp (Cody, Wyoming)

Heart Mountain Internment Camp is a wonderful museum that tells the painful story of the "imprisonment" of many Japanese-Americans during World War II.   We discovered this museum while spending a week in Cody and highly recommend it for anyone visiting the area.

Palm Springs Art Museum (Palm Springs)

The Palm Springs Art Museum has a wonderful collection of art and sculpture and is free on Thursday evenings in the winter.  While we are not great lovers of art museums, this one surprised us with some really interesting modern art.  After perusing the museum, head out into the main drag for the lively Villagefest where there is food, music, arts and crafts and plenty of excitement to keep you entertained for a few hours. 

1 comment:

  1. love this post. makes me want to go to all of these places...


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