AAA Members-Look Skyward! 2017 Eclipse RV Travel Savings

You may have noticed our earlier discussion about the singular celestial event that’s coming to America in 2017. To refresh your memories, we’ll be enjoying a total solar eclipse over America on August 21, 2017. A special reason we’re highlighting this opportunity for RV travel again is that AAA members can save big when renting an RV to view the solar eclipse.

AAA members always enjoy RV rental discounts through El Monte RV Rental & Sales as part of their active membership. For this year’s total solar eclipse experience, the nationwide auto club is encouraging members to hit the road in an RV to find the optimal eclipse viewing sites.

This article on the 2017 eclipse in AAA’s April member newsletter offers information on where, when and how to view the eclipse. If you aren’t currently a AAA member, this link offers you the opportunity to join so you can take advantage of the RV rental discounts.  

Solar eclipse

Solar eclipse

Haven’t started making plans to see the moon’s shadow completely block the sun from Earthly viewers? Here are the details you’ll need to plan your 2017 total solar eclipse RV vacation:

When Will the Eclipse Occur?

The shadow of the moon will align to blot out the sun from our view for approximately two minutes at 10:15 a.m. PDT on the Pacific Coast near Newport, Oregon. That will be the North American debut of the 2017 solar eclipse. The moon’s shadow will then block the sun from sight in an arc across the US, moving back over the Atlantic off the South Carolina coast at 2:48 pm EDT.

Where Will the Total Eclipse be Visible?

This excellent map of the eclipse trajectory shows the fourteen states (from Oregon to South Carolina) crossed by the “path of totality”. On that path, there’s a sixty-mile band of optimum viewing of the entire eclipse event. Outside that band, you won’t be able to see the total eclipse and will have to settle for partial eclipse memories.

To help you plan your eclipse-viewing RV vacation, here are some of the cities within the path of totality:

Oregon: Newport, Corvallis, Madras, Salem

Idaho: Stanley, McKay, Idaho Falls

Montana: No cities within optimum viewing band, eight miles of remote mountain terrain only

Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park, Casper, Thermopolis

Nebraska: Scott’s Bluff, Hastings, Grand Island

Kansas: Troy, Atchison, Leavenworth

Missouri: St. Joseph, Columbia

Illinois: Carbondale, Chester

Kentucky: Bowling Green, Hopkinsville

Tennessee: Nashville, Gallatin, Clarksville

Georgia: Blairsville, Clayton

North Carolina: Andrews, Clingmans Dome area of Great Smoky Mountain NP

South Carolina: Anderson, Orangeburg, Columbia

Why Rent an RV to View the Eclipse?

As any experienced RV traveler can tell you, weather changes occur when you least expect them. Viewing the eclipse in all its glory will require staying ahead of cloud cover or storms. Two planning steps can help you win the race:

  •         Watch local forecasts for the area where you plan to view the eclipse. If heavy cloud cover or storms are predicted, have a Plan B viewing location in mind.
  •         Traveling by RV allows you to change plans quickly. The flexibility to move to a better location as the event approaches may make the difference between awesome eclipse viewing memories and traveling home disappointed.

AAA and El Monte RV Rental & Sales can help you plan the perfect eclipse viewing RV vacation, but you’ll need to act fast. Campgrounds are filling rapidly, so don’t delay any longer making your plans.

Where will you be when the sun goes dark on August 21, 2017?

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Travel the Byways of Kansas for a Great Spring RV Excursion

A spring vacation in Kansas offers more than you may think. In fact, any time from spring through to fall is the ideal time to visit these Midwestern plains. Historical sites and lovely vistas await you as well as numerous festivals throughout the summer. You should also allow time to explore the area’s many museums.

Shunganunga Boulder and Lawrence, Kansas City Hall

Shunganunga Boulder and Lawrence, Kansas City Hall

For this trip, start out in Lawrence, Kansas. RV camping is plentiful. If you have kids, you may want to try Kansas City Jellystone Park, with Yogi the Bear in fine form. Adults only may prefer RV camping in Clinton State Park, with plenty of campsites with electrical hookups and up to 50 amps. Once you are settled in, you can begin to explore the sights in Lawrence before moving along our route to Topeka.

The KU Natural History Museum is nationally recognized with many exhibits showing the diversity of the Great Plains. Folks of all ages enjoy the living exhibits, with a fabulous working beehive and the snakes and fish from around the state. If you love bugs, you’ll love “Bugtown” with its interactive exhibits. If you don’t love bugs, you may like this special display anyway.

Following up the Natural History Museum you will want to go for the real thing. At Prairie Park Nature Center you can walk the trails to see the real live birds and other wildlife so abundant here. Perhaps you will spot a beaver gnawing on a tree or building his dam. You may spot a bobcat or a deer wandering in the woodlands. You have 80 acres to enjoy of forested lands, prairie and wetlands. You can also fish on Mary’s Lake.

Another great park to visit in Lawrence is Clinton State Park. Drive the park roadways to view the wildlife and feel the grace of the prairie grasses bending softly in the breeze. Spring is the ideal time to see the wildflowers blooming, too. Listen for the quiet cries of the waterfowl and the musical notes of the songbirds. A wonderful place for an escape from the big city.

Lawrence Parks & Trails offer a wide variety of recreation. For instance, at Broken Arrow Park in town you can play traditional horseshoes at the horseshoe courts. Neighborhood parks include Water Tower Park, Chaparral Park, Deerfield Park and Parnell Park. There are many others. As well, there are preserve areas which give you a real taste of pure nature, and other spots where you can relax such as Japanese Friendship Garden or Sesquicentennial Point.

Take Highway 24 towards Topeka but detour four miles north on Highway 237 to Perry State Park where hiking and biking is at its best. Ride on horseback over twenty-five miles of trails. The rolling hills make for exciting exploration of the upland forest. Then there is Lake Perry where you can cast a line and hook some channel catfish. RV camping here is also great! All the sites are first-come, first-served.

You will finally reach Topeka, Kansas after a wonderful drive. With so many attractions here, you won’t have a lack of anything to do. You may choose as your first stop the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site where southern and national history was made. Admission is free and you will get the opportunity to see how legal segregation was finally ended in public schools and the role this Supreme Court decision had in the Civil Rights Movement. This historic event was more than some parents suing to get their daughter into an all-white school. Learn all about it.

Whether kids are along for your spring RV vacation or not, you will want to visit the Gage Park Mini-Train & Carousel on Gage Blvd. in Topeka. The carousel was built in 1908 and is a beauty to behold. The mini-train will take you on a mile-long scenic ride through the park which thrills young and old alike.

Before you even think about leaving and heading home, be sure to stop at Heartland Park Topeka for some exciting motor sports racing. One of the best in the nation, this race track boasts many races throughout the year with happy crowds yelling with joy as the winners come down the track to the finish line.

This Kansas getaway will be one of the top on your RV vacation list. So many different sights and so many friendly people! The whole family will be talking about it for years to come.

Picture credits: The picture of the Shunganunga Boulder and Lawrence, Kansas City Hall is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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RV Trip to the Heartland – Blacktop Nationals in Wichita, KS

RV camping fans who also love cars should plan to be in Wichita, Kansas August 26-29! That’s where they’re revving up for the Blacktop Nationals, a four-day car and motorcycle event in America’s Heartland. With plenty of campgrounds within easy driving distance, this auto extravaganza promises to become a major RV camping destination.

Why an RV Trip to the Blacktop Nationals?
Wichita’s history of innovation (it’s home to Coleman, Pizza Hut, Cessna, Big Dog Motorcycles, LearJet and Beechcraft, just to name a few) make it a natural birthplace for a new kind of vehicle exhibition. Local hotrodders put an innovative spin on a perennial American favorite, the custom car show, and created four days of events that promise to draw tens of thousands of car and motorcycle fans.

So much more than a regional car show, the Blacktop Nationals, thanks to the generosity of sponsors like Ford, Valvoline, Coors and MillerLite, offers custom car and motorcycle owners the chance to compete for $100,000 in prizes in fifteen classes. And that’s just the first turn of the wrench – attendees will also have a chance to see exotics at the concourse show, motorcycle flat track racing and dozens of other attractions over four days.

Planners for this mega-event expect to attract more than sixty-five hundred custom and muscle cars and ten thousand motorcycles, giving RV travelers the rare chance to see all their favorite machines in one place. What makes this a must-do for car and bike lovers is that it’s also going to raise money for scholarships for a unique car restoration program at a local college as well as the Kansas Aviation Museum.

Here are some of the events scheduled for the Blacktop Nationals:

  • Collector Car Auction – Spanky Assiter of Barrett-Jackson Auction fame will be on-hand to auction classic cars, trucks and motorcycles.
  • Street Car AutoCross Shootout – Watch dozens of street legal muscle cars and street rods make timed runs that test not only the car but the driver’s street creds!
  • DriftCup Drifting Exhibition – The Drift Cup Association will display drifting skills at more than one hundred miles per hour.
  • Concourse Exhibition – Rare and exotic vehicles from all over America will be on display.
  • Custom Car, Muscle Car and Motorcycle Show – this massive competition will take place throughout the streets of downtown Wichita, where nationally-known designers like Darryl Starbird and Rob Holzman once made hotrod history.
  • Motorcycle Events-Make plans to enjoy the bike slow drags, vintage flattop racing, Fallen Hero Ride and Bikers for Babies Poker Run (not to mention seeing thousands of hot bikes in the same place!)
  • Cruise Nights-Remember American Graffiti? Wichita’s time-honored tradition of “Dragging Douglas Street” on weekend nights will be reborn in a parade of classic cars and bikes cruising on a closed route through the heart of the city.

Combine these events with art and vendor exhibitions, concerts and special drive-in movie cruises, and you’ve got an idea of what the Blacktop Nationals have to offer.

RV Camping in Wichita, KS
Good news! There are hundreds of RV campsites within thirty minutes of the Blacktop Nationals action. Here’s a list of RV campgrounds in the Wichita area:

How to get to Wichita? That part’s simple, thanks to easy access via two major interstates. I-70 makes a stop in Salina, KS, then it’s south ninety miles to Wichita on I-135. I-35 runs right through the heart of the city, also making it a straight shot from Oklahoma City, Kansas City and Dallas.

If cruising classic car shows on a summer weekend gets your motor running, make plans to be in Wichita, Kansas in August. With affordable RV camping just minutes away and thousands of cars, motorcycles and trucks to enjoy, this could be the highlight of your car-loving family’s summer!

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