Sunday, January 27, 2013

Making the best of winter at Mt. Angel’s WurstFest

While Oktoberfest is considered the best of the German-heritage celebrations, Oregon’s town of Mt. Angel takes on winter with the “Wurst”—sausages, beer, oompah music, and more!

Located 18 miles northwest of Salem on Highway 214, Mt. Angel was first settled by German immigrants in the late 1800s. Like Leavenworth, Washington, it preserves its traditions and Bavarian accent in the colorful, timbered storefronts of downtown. A highlight at any time of year, the Benedictine Abbey, founded by Swiss monks in 1883 perches above the town; on clear days enjoy incredible views of the surrounding Willamette Valley and the volcanic peaks of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood. Housed inside the Abbey is an incredible collection of illuminated manuscripts.

The lively Fifth Annual Wurstfest takes place in the town’s Festhalle. Bring your appetite for the wide assortment of delicious, locally made sausages, German and domestic beers, cheeses and chocolates. And put on your dancing shoes for the irresistible tunes of traditional German music by popular bands. There are special activities for children, and craft and German souvenir vendor booths too. 


•Festival Dates: Feb. 15 & 16
•Times: 11 a.m. to  11 p.m.
•Admission:  $5 per person/$10 with a specialty stein. Kids admitted free.


RVers can hookup at the Portland-Woodbury RV Park (next to the popular Woodbury Company Store). For info and reservations, click here.

The Silver Spur RV park is offering a winter special: 50% off coupon for any night before March 15, 2013. For info and reservations, click here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

5-1-1 Idaho: State-of-the-art travel info

Idaho is cutting edge when it comes to being traveler-friendly. Its innovative combination of Smartphone-Internet-Twitter means visitors can access every kind of travel information necessary for a safe and worry-free trip—in every season.

This spectacular state, with its soaring mountains, rivers, lakes, and broad valleys, is a nature-lover’s paradise. And the public service 5-1-1 Program further confirms that “Welcome to Idaho” is not just another sign on the Interstate.

Travelers can now choose their preferred electronic medium for information ranging from general travel conditions and road closures, to up-to-the-minute images from the 130 cameras positioned along mountain passes. 

Here’s the guide:

For information by phone: Dial 511 (Options are clear and instructions simple to follow. You can even speak with a human if you wish, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For information by Smartphone: Type in the address bar and the website will automatically redirects the phone to the mobile website.

For Twitter Feeds and Texts: Go to In the upper right corner click on “New User, Start Here.” Sign up for the free account and you can put in your routes and destination and you’ll receive notifications through email, text, or Twitter. 

The website: Find all travel information here, from campgrounds and RV parks to local and statewide events, and every attraction imaginable. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Seattle RV Show Celebrates 50 Years

Fifty years and counting – that’s how long the Seattle RV show has been going! This year’s event, which runs from February 7-10, expands into an additional hall in the CenturyLink Field and Event Center. 

In addition to the 2013 RV models and RV-related accessories booths, there's a wide variety of seminars daily, beginning at noon. Topics will range from technical RV aspects to boondocking, and from family RVing to travelogues about RVing in the Northwest. Two of the event’s popular seminars will also be returning: “Ask the Technician,” and “The Essential RV Walk-Through.”

The special anniversary also features an RV giveaway sweepstakes, which involves an unusual “toss.” When you visit the Concourse level you’ll receive a voucher and number and the interesting instructions! The prize is a 2013 travel trailer from Keystone RV, valued at $18,995.


Show Hours:
Thursday & Friday:  11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Ticket Prices: 
($1 from every adult and senior ticket sale will be donated to Washington State Parks, celebrating their Centennial this year!)
Adults: $11
Seniors (62+): $10
Students (13-18) $8
Children (12 & under) Free

Purchase your tickets online and receive a FREE one-day parking pass at the Safeco Field Parking Garage (regular parking price is $10).

Click here for more information. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Forest Service showcases Accessible Northwest Sites in video series

The U.S. Forest Service website features a terrific series of videos dedicated to accessible sites, landmarks, trails, and natural sights. 

Accessible Adventures in the Northwest focuses on The Columbia River—the part of the 1,270-mile river, which forms the natural boundary between Oregon and Washington. The Forest Service maintains numerous accessible viewpoints and trails along the historic Columbia River Highway—the first planned Scenic Highway in the U.S. and a designated “All American Road.”  

The spectacular waterfalls, including Multnomah, along with the Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center are part of the video series. 

To view the Web page and select the video of your choice, click here. Be sure to watch the first video at the top of the page; it’s a great introduction to the series and the accessible sites.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Celebrate Washington State Parks Centennial!

(by Joonbug Graphic Design)
This year, 2013, marks the 100th anniversary (March 19, 1913 to be exact) of the establishment of the Washington State Parks system—one of the country’s oldest. From Birch Bay in the northwest corner to Fields Spring in the southeast, from Crawford/Gardner Cave in the northeast to Paradise Point in the southwest... the 186 magnificent, historical, peaceful, and wild spots cover the four compass points of one of America’s most beautiful states. 

To celebrate the year, many parks are offering special activities, tours, interpretive programs, concerts, and much much more. For a list of parks and special events, click here.  

Even though nearly 40 million people visit the parks each year, the system faces looming budget cuts, putting the future of 116 parks in jeopardy. Everyone involved in the State Parks Commission is scrambling to find creative ways to shore up funds and keep all the parks running. Washington Governor Christine Gregoire has recommended using $19 million from the state’s General Fund to keep things running. 

The best source of revenue for the parks has been the Discover Pass, a user fee instituted in 2011. Since it costs $10 to enter each state park individually, the $30 annual pass, good throughout the system, is a outstanding deal. And although the Discover Pass hasn’t quite matched expectations in terms of quantity purchased, the parks do receive 84 percent of the revenue, or $25.20 per pass purchased. 

Remember that the Pass makes a great gift (birthday, anniversary, wedding etc.), both for travelers to Washington State and to friends and family members who are residents who enjoy the state parks for weekend recreation. New this year is the option to pick your start date; it’s valid for one year from that date. For details and to purchase a Discover Pass, click here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Driving and Camping Mt. Rainier This Winter

For more than a century, magnificent Mt. Rainier National Park has been a sanctuary and recreation paradise every day of the year. Winter is a splendid time to visit the park and those of us with RVs have the chance to experience a snowy wonderland and great recreational opportunities. It’s important to be prepared for a winter stay in the park, from a well-equipped vehicle, including the mandatory tire chains, to proper outdoor clothing.

This winter, some new changes—reflecting budget cuts—were implemented that will continue through March. Visitors, day-tripping RVers, and overnight campers should take note:

• Nisqually (in the SW corner of the park, and gateway to Paradise) is the only point at which vehicles may access the park in winter.  

• The road between Longmire and Paradise will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays—days when the park receives its fewest number of visitors in the winter.

• While camping in the park is available at Longmire, Narada Falls, and Paradise year-round, the gate at Longmire closes at 5 p.m. for the night for plowing and road safety. If you are planning to camp overnight on a Monday, be aware that because of the road closures on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, you won’t be able to drive back to Longmire until Thursday. If the weather makes passage impossible on Thursday, the road may also be closed until the plows can maneuver the area. In other words, have enough supplies on hand to weather the weather.

• Thursdays through Mondays, the road will be plowed as early as possible (often by 7 a.m. if the conditions are good). Check radio station 610 AM for announcements.

• The Visitor Center at Longmire has moved across the street for the winter, in the historic Administration Building—another cost-saving measure. Park Rangers will be there seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 4:30. There are lots of great opportunities to hike and snowshoe with a Ranger. At Paradise, the Jackson Visitor Center is open on weekends through March. 

• Road closures for the winter: Highways 123 and 410; the Stevens Canyon, White River, and Mowich Lake Roads; and Sunrise. They all, however, remain open for recreation.  

• For up to the minute road and weather, call: 360-569-2211