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What better way to spend your summer vacation … or retirement … than to eat your way across America. An article I posted on RVShortStops.com lists seven great Cheese Trail destinations to consider for your next RV journey.

Here is just one: The Finger Lakes Cheese Trail.  This is a group of working, family farms in Upstate New York that create a variety of artisanal cheeses.

One of those amazing destinations is the Sunset View Creamery in Odessa, NY. (Pictured above.) They specialize in Plain and Flavored Jacks, Cheese Curds, and Aged Cheddars. Heritage: Italian-style cheese.

And, for nearby public campgrounds, look for links to the State Parks at the end of each posting.

Julianne G. Crane

Photo courtesy of Sunset View Creamery in Odessa, NY.

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One organization always looking for (and appreciating) RV volunteers is Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit, ecumenical housing ministry. HFH’s vision is: “A world where everyone has a decent place to live.” Its mission is: “Seeking to put God’s love into action Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”

RV Care-A-Vanners are individuals who travel in their own recreation vehicles, covering their personal expenses, to Habitat affiliates across the United States and Canada, to help build houses with Habitat families. Each caravan usually lasts two weeks and includes eight to 10 RV units.

Local affiliates that are always looking for traveling volunteers include:

“Lake County, California, will need rebuilds following the California fires, and hopefully those will start in July 2018. Watch the build list. These builds will be open to all Care–A–Vanners.

“Jackson, Wyoming, has posted builds in June, July and September. Although the RV sites are not cheap by Care–A–Vanner standards, they are very reasonable for the area, and it’s a beautiful area to spend a couple of weeks.

“North Platte, Nebraska, has a build for June 24. This is a great little affiliate with terrific partner family participation. The local volunteers are very welcoming to Care–A–Vanners.

“Lansing, Michigan’s event Rock the Block is July 8 and Sept. 9 this year. The RV Care-A-Vanners received good reviews from those that participated last year.

“The build in Adrian, Michigan, on Sept. 2 needs some sign–ups. This has been a great build in the past.”

If these builds are not convenient … there are dozens of other affiliates hosting RV Care-A-Vanners, click here for the current list of active Habitat builds. View ongoing builds by clicking here.

Contact the program at rvinfodesk@habitat.org or 1-800-422-4828, ext. 7534 or 229-410-7534.

For other RVWheelLife posts about the Habitat RV Care-A-Vanners, click here.

Julianne G. Crane

To learn a little more about the RV Care-A-Vanners click on the video below.

Habitat for Humanity RV Care-A-Vanners - YouTube

Photo: HFH RV Care-A-Vanners.

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There is still time to register for the 21th annual RV Owners Lifestyle Seminar,  June 22-25, 2018, on the Okanagan College campus in Kelowna, sitting in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in south central region of British Columbia.

Each year about 100 RVers crowd into college classrooms to learn more about life on the road. Click here for the three day agenda.

Sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of BC, this gathering offers a variety of workshops, ranging from the more carefree RV travel touring to the fairly technical.

Master RV technician Al Cohoe of Kelowna, BC, returns to share more than four decades of information. In addition there are 22 other RV professionals ready to present 40 information-packed seminars. Just click here to register.

— Julianne G. Crane

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This campground guide is always within arm’s reach for quick and frequent reference. I can’t tell you how much money this book has saved us. Thousands, at least.

I know there are many Wifi Apps that provide similar information, however, we frequently travel places where there is no reception. Therefore a paper resource is very important.

What we like about “Don Wright’s Guide to Free and Low-Cost Campgrounds” is the fact that many of the campgrounds listed are in remote locations operated by state fishing agencies and state parks, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Corps of Engineers, regional and local utility companies, and small county and parks.

If you are “camping on a shoestring,” Don Wright’s guide is worth a very close look. This edition contains more than 12,000 USA campgrounds where RVers can stay for free or under $12.

GPS coordinates are provided for nearly every campground in the book, including off-the-beaten-path camping areas. (Must say that my GPS does not always lock into the listed GPS coordinates … so always have your trusty paper atlas nearby.)

Just checked Amazon and the current price has been slashed from $21.95 to $14.92. (click here)

Julianne G. Crane

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Memorial Day, celebrated the last Monday in May, is the holiday set aside to pay tribute to those who died serving in the military.

Our family also acknowledges those who died later as a result of their military service-related injuries or illnesses.

For all the men and women who have served our country in the military–a profound thank you.

We are grateful for your service and your family’s sacrifices.

Julianne G. Crane

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If you are one of the lucky RVers traveling along the Oregon Coast this summer, consider a slight diversion from the aquatic wildlife and ocean views, to take in the relaxing Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area just three miles inland on Hwy. 38 from Reedsport, on Oregon Coast Hwy. 101.

To read more about this free, RV Short Stop and Rest Area, click here.

BTW, if you want to camp at any of the fabulous Oregon State Parks along the Pacific Coast Highway, strongly suggest you make reservations. Sites will be at a premium all season.

Photo: Jimmy Smith traveling in a 1999 Rialta at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area (Julianne G. Crane)

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Like many new RV retirees, Darrell Gilmore wanted to travel.

In January 2017, the former corporate executive and long-time Habitat for Humanity volunteer from Bloomington, Indiana, hitched up his 23-foot Jay Feather travel trailer by Jayco for a year-long journey of volunteering with Habitat in all 50 states.

His goal was three-fold: “Spend a year doing something really significant, play a round of golf in every state and visit unusual tourist attractions,” recalled Gilmore in an article written on Habitat.org.

Gilmore has worked on five builds with Habitat’s RV Care-A-Vanners the first four months of 2018, and he plans to volunteer at the 2018 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in St. Joseph County, Indiana.

“My new goal is to volunteer with Habitat on every continent. I don’t know if there is a local Habitat in Antarctica, but if they create one, I will probably go,” Gilmore predicted.

Click here to read the full article on the Habitat for Humanity Website.

RV Care-A-Vanners is a Habitat volunteer program that invites “anyone who travels by recreational vehicle to make Habitat part of your journey, or even your destination.”

There are many ways to volunteer as an RV Care-A-Vanner, whether you are a full-timer RVer or just want to spend your two-week vacation working on a build.

Julianne G. Crane

Photos: Courtesy of Darrell Gilmore’s Twitter account @H4HNomad.

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Recently Jimmy and I were visiting family in western Pennsylvania. On our last day there, our brother-in-law, Lou, asked us where we would like to eat lunch. I requested, “Someplace funky with local interest and good food.”

He treated us to the historic Harmony Inn that entices visitors with 30-some craft brews and tales of ‘a little girl in a white dress roaming the upstairs.’ The 160-year old inn sits in historic Harmony Borough designated a National Landmark District and is located about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh where early Native American trails crossed.

It is written that in 1753, a young George Washington and wilderness guide Christopher Gist camped on the north bank of the small Connoquenessing Creek near a Delaware Indian village (site of Harmony). Washington’s mission is said to have help sparked the French and Indian War. “Nearby, the war’s first shot was fired at Washington by a ‘French Indian’.”

For lunch at the Harmony Inn, Lou chose the Reuben with “thin-shaved corned beef, IPA kraut, melted baby Swiss mopped with Russian dressing on toasted marbled rye.”  I selected the Chicken Pot Pie Strudel and Jimmy opted for a burger. All lunches are served and a ‘side car option.’

‘Harmony’ got its name from the Harmony Society of German Lutheran Separatists who settled in the area seeking religious freedom in 1804. They quickly became 19th century America’s most successful communal group. This quaint settlement of brick and log buildings retains the old world architectural character of an German village and includes more than 50 structures in the National Landmark District.

Click on “Haunted Harmony Inn” for more pictures and to learn more about the haunting history of the Inn itself.

Click here for a map to Harmony

— Text and photos by Julianne G. Crane

Photos: (Top) Harmony Inn restaurant and saloon. (Next) RVer Jimmy Smith of Oregon (center) and brother-in-law, Lou, having lunch in one of the beautifully renovated Harmony Inn downstairs rooms. (Right) Classic Ruben Sandwich. (Bottom) Information sign in Harmony Borough, Pennsylvania.

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According to an email from the folks at our National Parks, “Everyone can find a unique way to celebrate our incredible national parks this April during National Park Week.”

April 21 through April 29, “the parks will be aglow with special programs and events across the country. From a fee-free day to National Park Rx Day and everything in between, there’s no shortage of ways to join in on the festivities. This year’s theme is ‘Park Stars’ — so be sure to find an event near you and check out these suggestions for how to achieve “Park-loving Superstar” status.”

Julianne G. Crane

Photo source: National Parks

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Anything that combines seeing America, RVing and art, I love, love, love.

That’s what ‘EZ66 Guide for Travelers’ by Jerry McClanahan offers.

“Eighty percent of the original Route 66 is still easily drivable, but often not on ordinary maps & signage. The EZ66 GUIDE is the answer to finding the route, most of it suitable for RVs. This is the ultimate guide for exploring the Mother Road whether you’re driving west or east. Its maps & directions are comprehensive yet easy to follow. Highly rated.” Convenient 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″, 216 page, paperback format. Available on Amazon for around $25.

Noted Route 66 author, artist and historian, Jerry McClanahan has been mapping Route 66 since his family vacations during the 1960s, when he sat in the back seat of the family Ford, trying to draw his own crude map of the road, according to his website, McJerry66.com

Born in Oklahoma in 1957, Jerry s family moved out to sunny Southern California in 1959 (sadly, they did NOT take Route 66). Then there followed a decade of wonderful journeys down the ‘Mother Road,’ from California thru Oklahoma City.

Jerry rediscovered Route 66 in 1981, when he and his father made a trip out west, stopping at everything this time. Since then, almost every year has found Jerry making numerous expeditions along the route, mapping, photographing and collecting information. Much of that information is found in ‘EZ66 Guide for Travelers.’

In 2008, Jerry moved to Chandler, Oklahoma, where he welcomes visitors to his art gallery, just a stone’s throw off Route 66. Read more about McJerry’s Route 66 Gallery on RVShortStops.com

Julianne G. Crane

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