ALL POSTS IN [Road Trips]

Alaska Day: Annual flag raising ceremony in Sitka, AK (Photo: Sitka CVB/William Greer)

Hooray for Alaska Day! All the talk of American exceptionalism may have taken a little hit lately, especially from our friends in Russia, but today there’s something to cheer about: In commemoration of the official transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States in 1867, a special ceremony will take place in the southeastern Alaskan town of Sitka. Down goes the Russian flag and up goes Old Glory at Castle Hill, one of the most historically important sites in Alaska, once occupied by the Tlingit, an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast, and later by the Russians.

A Little Russia … in Alaska
No word on whether Putin will be on-hand for all the Alaska Day festivities. But hundreds of locals will be — receptions, auctions, barn dances, kayak races and a whole lot more are all planned, capping off a month-long series of events that have already included a hat tip to our Russian counterparts, like a Russian food festival (check out our own Russian food tour), as well as performances of traditional Russian folk dances and a tea break at the Russian Bishop’s House, one of the few surviving examples of Russian colonial architecture in the US.

But let’s be real: You didn’t come to Alaska to see Russia … not primarily, anyway. A trip to the Last Frontier State is probably on any outdoor lover’s bucket list. But just in case you can’t take advantage of all the Alaska travel discounts that typically accompany October, fear not — this is a good time to start planning a trip to America’s 49th state over the coming months. Here’s a primer of the best times to visit Alaska and special anniversaries ahead:

Winter Travel: November to April
November is a great time to see Alaska’s northern lights and share in the excitement of the Trail Sled Dog Race (the “Last Great Race on Earth,” from Anchorage to Nome). Plus, you can watch the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks (Alaska’s “Golden Heart City”). This season is also a great time to enjoy outdoor Alaskan activities such as heli-skiing in Alaska, as well as snowmobiling, snowshoeing and dog mushing.

Peak Season: Mid-May to Mid-September
You’ll be among the many visitors to Alaska during peak season, but for good reason: The days are at their longest, and the temperatures their warmest, affording plenty of opportunity for hiking, river-rafting, camping, fishing and flightseeing, as well as a chance to take an Alaska road trip.

Alaska’s Marine Highway System turned 50 this year. (Photo: State of Alaska/Reinhard Pantke)

Alaska Marine Highway System: Turns 50
Explore 31 ports of call in Alaska, courtesy of the Alaska Marine Highway System. Spanning an amazing 3,100 miles, this ferry service, which turns 50 this year, operates along Alaska’s south-central coast. Upon arrival in ports, offers visitors a variety of activities, such as authentic native culture (totem carvings, dances, traditional music and more), as well as day cruises with local tour operators, fishing charters and more.

Under-the-Radar National Parks
Sure, Denali is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. But don’t forget Alaska’s other national parks, especially in 2014, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the 1964 federal law that protects nearly 110 million acres of wilderness in states throughout the US and is now considered one of America’s greatest conservation achievements. About 32 million of those acres can be found in Alaska — more than anywhere else in the country. Check out under-the-radar national parks like Gates of the Arctic, Lake Clark and Wrangell-St. Elias.

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When we announced our Travel’s Best Fall Foliage Road Trips for 2013, we wanted to hear from our fans. We asked you what we missed on our list and for you to tell us your favorite fall foliage road trip. It was a landslide – The Great Smoky Mountains won out! Behind the Smoky Mountains, fans picked the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Virginia and North Carolina, as another popular spot for a leaf-peeping drive.

Unfortunately, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closed due to the government shutdown, but you can’t let that stop you. Hop in your car and take in the scenery as you drive around Gatlinburg, a picturesque mountain town nestled in the scenic Smokies. Now is the perfect time — fall colors peak here in mid-October.

Gatlinburg offers more than just a spectacular autumn show. See what else there is to do in this boot-stomping town … other than ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the foliage, of course.

 

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What’s not to love about fall? Crisp cool air, beautiful fall foliage, spooky sites and pumpkin-flavored food galore. There’s no shortage of ways to celebrate fall, but we whittled down our list to 7 of our favorite fall to-dos.

1.     Eat pumpkin … everything.

Ah, America’s favorite gourd — pumpkin! It’s everywhere and in everything this fall — pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin fro-yo, the list is endless. If you’re gaga for this gourd, plan a day for picking your own pumpkins. Perhaps a 1,000-lbs. pumpkin will provide enough filling for your dishes this fall?

2.     Get lost in a corn maze.

Ever just want to get away … in a massive field of cornstalks? Now’s your chance to get lost in the coolest and creepiest corn mazes in the US. Can you make it all the way through 45 acres of twists and turns in the world’s largest corn maze? Just call us if you get lost.

3.     Get spooked at a vampire haunt.

The zombie fad may be passé this year, but the undead superstar that will never lose its appeal? Vampires. Sink your teeth into these vampire haunts around the world or follow the trail of literature’s greatest bloodsuckers with a vampire vacation.

4.     Take a leaf-peeping drive.

Nothing says fall more than leaf peeping, and what’s the best way to take in Mother Nature’s spectacular autumn show? On a road trip, of course. Get inspired with our favorite fall foliage drives and don’t forget to check the peak times before you go.

5.     Raise your steins for Oktoberfest.

Can’t make it to Germany for this annual beer-fueled fall festival? Get your brews and bratwurst at these Oktoberfest celebrations in the US or raise your steins at beer gardens around the world.

6.     Go apple picking.

If you gorged yourself on pumpkin and are craving another harvest favorite, head to these apple-picking farms.  Fun for the whole family, apple picking lets you enjoy the fruits of your labor at home with fall treats like apple pie, apple butter, cider and more.

7.     Make a campfire.

Instead of spending your nights staring at the TV (Breaking Bad is over after all this Sunday), take in a campfire. Fall is a perfect time for camping with its crisp, cool weather. Tell ghost stories and toast pumpkin s’mores over a raging fire (that you will safely put out before you go to bed, of course).

Tell Us: What’s on your fall to-do list?

 

Photography by Chad Ehlers / Stock Connection

Tangerine, rose, ruby and gold are just some of the colors that carpet the tree tops of New England in autumn. More »

Photography by JOBY

The open road can throw some unexpected obstacles your way. Pack up your car with these ultimate road trip gadgets to ensure you’re ready for anything. Whether your goal is to escape into nature, experience new towns or get adventurous, we’ve got you covered.

Wine Suitcase

If your road trip is taking you on a vineyard tour, make sure your newly coveted wine collection makes the journey back home with you. Spare your clothes from a broken bottle catastrophe, and pack your bottles in a special wine suitcase like Brookstone’s The Wine Check Luggage Set, which safely carries 12 bottles for $69.99.

Worldwide Travel Adapter

Don’t worry about blowing a fuse or destroying your MacBook or iPad with the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit. While it might not be up there with James Bond-level gadgets, don’t be surprised if it turns out to be your most cherished travel accessory. From $39.

International GPS

Road scholars know nothing puts a dent in a great trip like constantly getting lost. Luckily, we live in the era of the GPS, making traveling unknown roads — even internationally — a breeze. With Garmin, owners can download thousands of international maps from their website straight onto their device, or make their own. Suddenly journeying off into the unknown isn’t so intimidating anymore. Prices start at $99.

Pocket Camera

Capturing any moment is easy with the 18-megapixel point-and-shoot Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300.This ultra-lightweight camera easily stashes away and will appeal to serious photographers and amateurs alike with its negligible shutter lag, sharp photos and simultaneous video and still capture. From $299.

Folding Bike

Every savvy packer knows, roll your sweaters and … fold your bike? Coming in at 20 to 28 pounds (depending on the model and configuration) packing a collapsible Brompton bike is a brilliant possibility. The P6R Brompton is perfect for a globetrotting cyclist — its P Type’s handlebars were designed with the touring cyclist in mind. And after your ride, simply collapse it down, pack it up and take off for your next destination. Starting at $1,600.

For more cool cycling gizmos, check out our Bike Gear Guide.

Flexible Tripod

With flexible legs that can attach to nearly any surface, Joby’s Gorillapod ensures you never miss a shot. Whether taking a timed self-portrait or steadying your lens to your car’s hood, this portable tripod is a must-have on any savvy traveler’s packing list. Universal screw attaches to most cameras. From $19.95.

For more road trip gadgets, check out our Road Trips Gear Guide.

– by Ashley Hardaway

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Still in the market for a remodeled and rocked-out custom RV, complete with flat-screen TVs, gaming stations and top-of-the-line finishes? Our mega-transformed RV blows all other vehicles off the road, and it could be yours!

There’s only one week left in Travel Channel’s Epic RV Giveaway, so you’ll need to act fast. Submit a short video to Travel Channel’s Rock My RV contest page by July 15 at noon (EST), explaining to Bret Michaels why you deserve to win this rocked-out RV! If you win, you’ll also be given the opportunity to appear on television during the one-hour season finale this September.

Jake, Bodie and Bret have been working hard for the last 8 weeks designing the Epic RV just for you. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity!

Ready for a road trip, but don’t know where to go? Buckle up with our picks for road trips that include ocean views, seasonal dishes, wine tasting, heart-pounding adventures and more.

1.    Food-Themed Road Trips

Have far will you travel for food? Summer is the perfect time to head to the mid-Atlantic for Old Bay-seasoned blue crabs. Plan a food-themed road trip to other delicious destinations in the US that are well worth the drive.

 2.    Pacific Coast Highway

Dreaming of ocean views? Take a road trip along California’s Pacific Coast Highway for spectacular sea panoramas. For those afraid of dizzying heights, stick to flatter roads driving through America’s Heartland.

3.    RV Stylin’

Is a vintage “Silver Bullet” Airstream more your style than a high-tech trailer? See how styles and comforts evolved over time with our look back at RVs through the years.

4.    Road Trip Gear Guide

Cook dinner, charge your phone and feel good about your carbon footprint on the road! It’s possible with this eco-friendly BioLite Campstove. See what else to pack for a stress-free road trip.

5.    Napa Valley Road Trip

The best way to take in California’s wine country is to sample the goods along the way. Drive through the scenic countryside in Napa Valley and Sonoma, and stop to enjoy a glass of cabernet or take a winery tour while you stretch your legs.

6.    Grand Canyon Adventure

For the ultimate US road trip, explore Grand Canyon National Park. Experience the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon with heart-pounding adventures like hiking, white-water-rafting  … or trying to catch your breath on the Skywalk’s 800-foot vertical-drop overlook.

Don’t forget music! Set the mood with our road trippin’ playlist.

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A Hug For the World: British runner Kate Treleaven, co-founder of the One Run For Boston cross-country charity relay, stretches out in St. Louis.

The “Stink Mobile” never stops. Barring any unexpected detours, it will have trekked 3,300 miles when it welcomes hundreds of runners Sunday night finishing One Run For Boston — a cross-country relay to raise money for Boston Marathon bombing victims. Event co-founders Kate Treleaven and Danny Bent, friends from England, are taking turns sleeping in their donated 2013 grey Ford Escape, a logistical support vehicle that doubles as a motel.

One Run began in Los Angeles on June 7 and will end on June 30 at Boston Common, a few steps from the Boston Marathon Finish Line. Taking a scenic backroads tour of America, the route meanders through 14 states and is being tracked with a GPS baton along with a 24/7 Live Photo Gallery.

The purpose is to raise money for The One Fund Boston but also to showcase acts of human kindness and generosity in the wake of the April 15 terrorism attacks. Runners also passed through tornado-ravaged parts of Oklahoma and are earmarking that state’s donations to help families who lost their homes.

“This is a much deeper experience than a road trip,” says Bent, a triathlete and author who previously bicycled from England to India to raise money for child poverty. “We’re experiencing America from the inside out. People are inviting us into their homes. Every one hour and forty minutes, we meet a new person. It’s a like a spike of adrenaline.”

Runners from around the country are flying into Boston to join the ceremonial last 8 mile leg of the journey. Strangers have been donating frequent flier miles to each other after meeting on the One Run Facebook page.  Bent and Treleaven, who sometimes run alongside supporters, recently logged a 16-mile stretch to replace a Pennsylvania runner whose father had just died. Their tribute memorial run was coincidentally on the same day as the funeral.

Along with the inevitable tear-jerking moments, the One Run founders are also sharing plenty of lighthearted memories as they stumble across silly roadside attractions and truck stop oddities.

On June 16, the runners passed through Amarillo, Texas, home of Cadillac Ranch, a public sculpture garden where graffiti-covered junk cars are planted nose down into the earth. Bent and Treleaven painted “One Run For Boston” on one of the steel (yes, cars were not always made of plastic) canvases.

Road trippers Danny Bent (left) and Kate Treleaven pretend to spray paint each other at Cadillac Ranch on Route 66 in Texas.

“Every British person dreams about driving across America and seeing all the different landscapes. You can drive across Britain in just a few hours,” says Treleaven. “But we’re not going to the usual tourist places. We actually drove straight past the Grand Canyon!”

“This trip is about meeting people we would otherwise never have a chance to meet,” she adds. “We’re getting under the skin of America and loving every moment of it.”

**

(For more information on donating to One Run For Boston or joining the runners in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts anytime from June 28-30, click here).

– written by Darren Garnick

 

 

Enter Travel Channel’s Epic RV Giveaway for a chance to win a custom RV “rocked-out” by Bret Michaels.

Looking for a rock star to throw you the ultimate party? How about a rock star that’ll give you the ultimate party … on wheels?

Bret and his uber-talented band of designers and builders plan to do just that for the Mendonsa family. The Mendonsas have been looking for a way to create a tribute to their late son, Zack, and they’ve asked Bret for his help. Bret and his team come up with a plan to turn their RV, the “Scum Wagon,” into the ultimate family-entertainment vehicle, complete with a rooftop lounge, an exterior projection TV and much more.

Will Bret and his team be able to transform the Mendonsas beat up, 20-year-old RV into a rolling tribute to their son and the ultimate party bus? Find out on an all-new episode, tonight at 9|8c.

Until then, download the SNAPS! App to “pose” in a picture with your favorite rock star, Bret Michaels! Hang out with him at a ball game, by the pool, on the beach – you name it. Just take a photo and insert one of many Rock My RV-themed graphics and you’ll have all your friends fooled!

Here are a few quick steps to help you along the way:

1.      Download the SNAPS! App in the app store.

2.      Sign in through your Facebook account and select “Discover.”

3.      Go to the Rock My RV Snaps and upload or take a photo “with Bret.”

Everyone wants a free RV … but can you tell us why you think you deserve one?

The Epic Contest Giveaway is finally here — and so is your chance to win the ultimate RV. Rock My RV host and legendary rocker Bret Michaels and his handpicked, insanely talented design/build team, consisting of Bodie Stroud and Jake Scott, have been working tirelessly, rocking out 1 very special RV just for you.

Submit a short video, between Monday, June 3, and Monday, July 15, telling Bret why you deserve to win this luxury RV. The winner will be revealed during a 1-hour special on Sunday, Sept. 1.

Here are a few tips to help you “rock” your video submission:

* Don’t be shy! Let us see your personality.

* Music is always a great addition — just make sure it’s an original song.

* Get the whole family involved, even the dog. The more the merrier!

* Go all out! Don’t be afraid to use props and costumes.

Plus, come back each week to see an exclusive video of Jake and Bodie adding more and more spectacular amenities to your RV.

RV for the contest provided by Camping World. Visit Camping World for all of your RV and outdoor needs!

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