NEW YORK - Sushi, fine wine, table linens - and a tent.
Welcome to the world of luxury camping.
The July issue of Outside magazine profiles a trend in which some campers opt for five-star cuisine served tentside. They want to sleep in a tent under the stars in the woods - but they'd rather not deal with the hassles of building a fire and eating canned food.
Among the companies listed by Outside that offer camping experiences with fine food and other amenities are the Chattooga River Resort - www.sockemdog.com - in Long Creek, S.C.; Buck's on the Brazos - www.buckbrazos.com - in Fort Worth, Texas; El Capitan Canyon - www.elcapitancanyon.com - Santa Barbara, Calif.; On the Loose Expeditions - www.otloose.com - in Vermont's Green Mountains; and Sky Camp - www.whistleroutbackadventures.com - near British Columbia's Crystal Lake.
CARSON CITY, Nev. - When the Nevada State Railroad Museum opened in 1980, backers hoped it would become a popular attraction where people could learn the history of railroads in the Silver State and provide a place for locomotives and rail cars to be restored.
Twenty-five years and nearly a million visitors later, officials say it has done all that and more.
"The museum is an essential part of the community," said director Peter Barton.
In a recent survey conducted by the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, the rail museum was listed by visitors as one of the capital city's top attractions, according to the agency's executive director, Candy Duncan.
Community leaders, railroad buffs and state officials collaborated to get the museum opened in 1980 on a 13-acre, state-owned site at South Carson Street and Fairview Drive. The grounds consisted of five tracks for storage of equipment and a small restoration shop.
Later, a main exhibit space was built, and the museum acquired old locomotives and equipment for restoration. The museum's interpretive center, built in 1990, features restored railroad equipment.
HAYDEN, Idaho - Mark and Dawn Altman are bound to hear, "Are we there yet?" a bit more than most parents this summer.
The Altmans set off May 30 with four children, ages 10 to 14, on a cycling trip across the United States. But unlike others who have made the trek in a bid to raise money or awareness for some cause, the Altmans are just doing it for fun.
"We're just trying to spend more time together. I can't imagine a more worthy thing to do," said Mark Altman.
The family started in Portland, Ore., and hopes to end the trip in Portland, Maine. The trek is more than 4,400 miles and was expected to take about 80 days.
The trip will cost about $25,000, the Altmans said, but several local businesses sponsored the family by purchasing the recumbent tricycles they are riding, which cost about $2,000 each. The Altmans will haul their gear in three single-wheel trailers.
The family will camp for much of the trip, and they are posting journal entries, photos and updates online at www.cdapress.com/altman/, a Web site hosted by the Coeur d'Alene Press.
CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A summer exhibit at the Museum Center at Five Points explores the roles of women as decision-makers, landowners and clan leaders in old Cherokee society.
More than 300 pieces of contemporary Cherokee artwork and crafts from the private collection of R. Michael Abram are included in the "Cherokee Women in Legend and Daily Life" display through Aug. 31.
Clanship in the tribe was inherited through women and women had a right to vote on certain matters.
Thousands of Cherokees perished on the Trail of Tears during the tribe's 800-mile forced march to Oklahoma in 1838-39.
For more information about the exhibit, call (423) 339-5745.
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - In its heyday 50 years ago, Route 66 brought people from every corner of the world into this small ranching town in northern Arizona. On Aug. 19-20, the Cool Country Cruise-In and Route 66 Festival recreates the era of sock hops, Elvis and the historic road that's at the center of 1950s nostalgia.
"The festival celebrates Route 66 as the 'Mother Road,'" said Dave Pouquette, 63, a Williams native and sponsor of the festival since its inception. "The trip down Route 66 was fun. You could see the alligator farms and buffalo farms, mom-and-pop shops, snake pits, all kinds of crazy things to get people to pull off that road and spend money."
In its ninth year, the festival will feature customized hot rods from the 1950s and '60s, a sock hop, hula hoop contests and a battle of 1950s rock 'n' roll bands.
While the festival harkens back to 1950s culture, it also celebrates the history of the road that carried countless visitors toward Los Angeles. Many stopped in Williams along the way.
In 1984, however, Interstate 40 bypassed the historic road in Williams, a blow to small nearby communities that depended on tourism. Williams was also struggling until the Grand Canyon Railway opened in 1989, Pouquette said.
The festival usually draws about 1,000 people, but Arizona doesn't have a monopoly on the idea. Similar Route 66 festivals are also held across the country, Pouquette said. Events are scheduled in California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois.
HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - If it weren't for a faint tinge of pink, you'd never know a famous rock outcropping at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park was vandalized with red paint a few months ago.
Park officials spent about 80 hours removing the paint from the rock's many crevices, finishing the work in mid-May.
The remaining discoloration should eventually be washed away by rain, according to Harpers Ferry Center conservator Greg Byrne.
The shale outcropping atop Jefferson Rock offers visitors a full view of where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet. The rock is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
Before being elected the nation's third president, Thomas Jefferson said the vista was "worth the voyage across the Atlantic."
The red paint was slopped on the rock by two Jefferson County brothers in December, Robert and Steven Hopkins, who pleaded guilty to federal charges of defacing the tourist attraction.
NEW YORK - A book on hiking in the desert and another on hiking Arizona can help you find ways to enjoy time outdoors even in the hottest climates.
"Desert Sense: Camping, Hiking & Biking in Hot, Dry Climates" by Bruce Grubbs (Mountaineers Books, $16.95) offers practical advice, such as how to avoid being pricked by cacti and bitten by snakes. (Rule No. 1: Watch where you place your hands and feet.)
For summer hikes, head for the hills, where temperatures will be cooler, including Telescope Peak in California's Death Valley; Wheeler Peak in Nevada's Great Basin National Park; and Mogollon Crest Trail, in New Mexico's Mogollon Mountains.
Another book from Grubbs, "Best Loop Hikes: Arizona," describes 75 trails that end up where you started.
Summary charts classify hikes as easy, moderate or difficult; day trips or overnight; and desert or forest. The best months for each hike are also listed. Now through October, for example, check out Webb Peak in the Coronado National Forest and Kachina Loop in Coconino National Forest.
Reno art festival
RENO, Nev. - In July, Reno becomes "Artown" - featuring 300 arts events, exhibits and performances over 31 days.
Admission to many of the programs is free, and they appeal to a wide range of tastes. The scheduled events include Hawaiian dance, the Irish group The Chieftains, art gallery exhibits, children's art workshops, string quartets, jazz bands, Shakespeare for kids and "Peter and the Wolf."
There's even a lecture scheduled about Reno's history as a place where unhappy couples used to come to get divorced.
Visit www.renoisartown.com for a complete list of events.
KEY WEST, Fla. - If you'd like to visit the Florida Keys this summer, but you have concerns about hurricane season, check out the "Hurricane Info" provided on the local tourism bureau's Web site, www.fla-keys.com.
You'll learn about everything from evacuation policies to getting refunds from hotels, should your trip be disrupted by a storm.
Four hurricanes struck Florida last summer, and the Keys were evacuated several times, but the chain of islands actually was never impacted by hurricane-force winds.
If you make it to the Keys this year, check out the Summer Food & Wine Festival, held July 30 to Aug. 8; the Underwater Music Festival on July 9 in Big Pine Key, where music is broadcast over underwater speakers to divers and snorkelers; and the annual Hemingway Days festival, July 19 to 24.
Events honoring the late author Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Key West for 11 years, include an exhibit called "Fishing, Friends and Family: Hemingway in Key West, 1928-1939" at the Key West Museum of Art & History; a marlin tournament; a one-man play about Hemingway's life at Waterfront Playhouse; and, of course, the famous Hemingway Look-alike Contest.
There will also be readings, parties and a reception for the winner of the Hemingway Short Story Competition, as well as a family boatbuilding workshop, a sunset run and an art show.
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