Perhaps you’ve been harboring a secret desire to be a girl camper but you just don’t know enough about it to make a commitment? Me and thousands of other women love it so here’s what I know about getting started.


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Nothing-Winslow, AZ 104

I have some close friends who decided to name their first child Sedona. People tend to ask why they named her after a city in Arizona — albeit one of the more breathtaking spots in the country, as evidenced by this photo. Our friends reply that no, actually, the city is named after a woman. Her name was Sedona Miller Schnebly. It’s a beautiful first name (a heckuva lot better than Schnebly).

But this gets me thinking: Do folks in Sedona even know where the name came from? Do the denizens of Charles Town, West Virginia, know that they live in a place named for George Washington’s younger brother? Do Tyringham residents realize they live in the only town in Massachusetts named after a woman (first name: Jane)?

Every time we used to watch Johnny Carson “live from Burbank, California,” was any of us aware that David Burbank was a local dentist? Thomaston, Connecticut? Seth Thomas was a clockmaker. Ebensburg, Pennsylvania? It’s named after a little boy, Eben Lloyd, who died in childhood. Marysville, California? Mary Murphy Covillaud was one of the few survivors of the ill-fated Donner party.

A trip through the origins of place names is a fascinating excursion, and there can be poetry in the genesis of such places. Literally. There are towns in New York, Homer and Virgil, named for the Greek and Roman poets of yore. And Orinda, California, is named for a poet named Katherine Philips. Confused? Well, her nickname was “Matchless Orinda.”

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September is here, school is back in session, and the long hot days are slowly cooling down.  The wild exuberance of summer may be behind us, but that’s no reason for the fun to stop.  Fall is a time of harvest festivals, foliage tours, and football tailgating.  Family trips may have to revolve around the school year, but the weekends are waiting for you to hit the road.


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9/11 AND ONE


Nearly every year on this date, I try to examine the tragedy of September 11th from a different angle. In fact, I wrote a book about a decade ago that essentially did just that. Part of what I attempted in my American travel memoir, Small World, was to explore the reactions to the horrors of 9/11 from various points of view. And I came to realize that, actually, the view was much the same everywhere. I found that, no matter where people lived—from Prague (Nebraska) to Vienna (South Dakota), from Congo (Ohio) to Calcutta (West Virginia) — they felt a kinship with victims of that day, whether they knew them or not.

I’d say this is evident in the myriad 9/11 memorials that now populate the landscape. Solemn remembrances (often in the form of remnants of the World Trade Center) can be found in Austin (Texas), Lansing (Michigan), Carmel (California), Windermere (Florida), Havelock (North Carolina) South Bend (Indiana), Parsippany (New Jersey), Dodge City (Kansas)—and literally hundreds more places.

But about 12 months ago, I discovered a place where you can get that regional perspective of a national tragedy simply by visiting one place — the Newseum in Washington, D.C. For me, the most riveting exhibit in this remarkable museum was the 9/11 Gallery. Its centerpiece was a mangled communications antenna that once topped the North Tower. There was a damaged piece of the Pentagon, too. And, this being a museum about the First Amendment and the press, the exhibit told the story of the only photojournalist killed in the attacks.

But it was the wall of front pages that took my breath away. There were, I believe, 136 of them — from all over the country. Indeed, all over the world. They were all from September 12th. Every one of them, in probably the boldest headlines since Pearl Harbor, offered a regional take on the tragedy. What photo did the editors choose? What headline? The choices convey perspective, emotion, shock.

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Who are the girl campers, glampers, and women who are filling Pinterest with pictures of their tricked out trailers and girlfriend adventures? Well, they are a new generation of campers, many of whom are finding the RV lifestyle for the first time. They are a new demographic of small trailer owners and park hoppers who have reached a point in life where they are going places and doing things and having the time of their lives. Pssst…they are also doing it in high style!

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