Up Front With Martin B. Deutsch



August 1, 1962 -- Led by an enthusiastic forecast from the American Automobile Association, reports are pouring in from all sides that 1962 will shatter the records for vacation travel on the domestic front. The AAA's prediction that twelve to fifteen percent more Americans will join the traffic stream in search of pleasure this year than in 1961 is echoes in varying degrees by the airlines, the railroads, the bus companies and the car-rental companies. Just a casual glance at the heavy highway traffic (much of it with out-of-state license plates) and the crowded terminals will convince you that this year's travel flow will live up to advance expectations.

In view of this mushrooming interest in events, resorts and attractions from coast to coast, we've decided to take another look at a random selection of vacation destinations, hoping around the map from Nevada and Arizona out west, to Wisconsin in the Midwest, then down south to Florida, and finally up north to New England. We've rolled the dice and they always seem to come up "Las Vegas," so that's where we'll get underway.

Often referred to as the "come-as-you-are" city, this amazing desert resort is endowed with year-round vacation appeal for the man on the loose, the husband-and-wife team or the entire family. Blessed with constant sunshine, an annual temperature average near seventy degrees and humidity under twenty percent, Las Vegas is informal, relaxing and ideal for sportswear. (We would like to point out, however, that recommended evening wear at the better hotels is a suit or a sports coat with tie for the men, cocktail dresses for the women.) Swimming weather runs from April through September, and while the other months are mild, it's wise to take along a topcoat for the evenings.

There are plenty of places to hang your hat(s) in Las Vegas, so to speak. At any one time, the city can put up you and your family, along with 26,000 other visitors, in 13,000 air-conditioned rooms at twelve resort hotels, thirty-five commercial hotels and 250 motels. Among the best-known resorts along the city's famous "Strip" are the Desert Inn, Stardust, Hacienda, Tropicana, Dunes, Flamingo, Sands, New Frontier, Riviera, Thunderbird, El Rancho Vegas and Sahara. The best-known hotels "downtown" are the Fremont, Elwell, Showboat and El Cortez. The area's excellent motels are too numerous to list. Rates are moderate, with a room for two at one of the Strip's glittering dozen available for as little as $14 per day, without meals. The food both at the hotels and the many fine restaurants is easy on the palate and also on the pocketbook. Many of the resort hotels serve a generous buffet in the evening (either at the bar or in the casino) without charge, and chuck-wagon snacks are served after midnight, free or at a very low rate.

In many cases, the cost of a meal (or just a drink) includes some of the top entertainment or floor shows in the world. Frequent headliners include such personalities as Frank Sinatra, Tony Martin, Dean Martin, Milton Berle, Victor Borge, George Gobel, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jayne Mansfield and Mitzi Gaynor. The Strip resorts usually schedule a dinner show at seven p.m., a later show at eleven. (Reservations should be made in advance.)

Of special interest to the head of the household is the following communiqué from Las Vegas designed to set his doubts (if he had any) at rest: "While the seminudity in some of the production has been given a degree of publicity, not all of the dining rooms have the "Adults Only" sign outside. Many of the shows are designed to provide family entertainment, and one of the lavish productions does not uncover its bosoms until the late show, allowing family groups to enjoy the more modest performance with dinner." (Okay?)

There's also plenty to do, for all, during the day. Just about every resort hotel and motel comes with a swimming pool, tennis courts abound, and in the last twelve months, three new eighteen-hole golf courses have been opened, bringing the area's total to six. There are also seven driving ranges and a nine-hole pitch-and-putt layout.

A number of guest ranches in the area offer horseback riding. Thirty minutes to the south, at Hoover Dam, lies Lake Mead, with 550 miles of shore line, with beaches, boat docks, camping and trailer sites and year-round fishing for largemouth bass, trout, crappie and bluegill. Costs for family bloating and fishing are moderate. Forty minutes by car to the north of Vegas lies Mt. Charleston, where winter-sports buffs will find skiing, skating and camping. The summer visitor will enjoy picnics in the verdant surroundings.

The city is also within easy driving distance of the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Death Valley and the Valley of Fire. (Four major state highways converge on Las Vegas, making it easily accessible from all directions.)

Las Vegas also offers a year-round program of events to please you and your family. For example, some of the highlights scheduled for the rest of this year include: El Cortez Hunting Contest (August 25 to December 31); Lake Mead National Ski Races (Sept 8-9); Sahara Fall Trapshooting Tournament (September 19-22); Las Vegas Community Fair (October 15-21); Stardust Ladies national PGA Golf Tournament (October 18-21), and Sahara Miss Rodeo American Pageant (November 25-29). As another indication of the growing importance of Las Vegas in the vacation world, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) will hold its annual convention there (October 22-27).

Aside from the city's easy access by auto, Las Vegas is also convenient by air, rail and bus. Seven airlines fly daily from all parts of the country to McCarran Field. These airlines include Bonanza, Delta, National, Pacific, TWA, United and Western. The major rail carrier into Las Vegas is Union Pacific; the two main bus lines, Greyhound and Trailways.

Since Las Vegas became a city in 1905, gambling has played a major role there. You'll find the casinos tastefully furnished, the personnel pleasant and the pressure for you to play nonexistent. If you never feed a single dime into a slot machine, you'll still be welcome to enjoy an exciting and reasonably priced vacation in this attractive Nevada resort.

Just about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas, via U.S. Highway 93, lies a relatively little-known but fast-growing vacation area, the community of Kingman Hub of Arizona's Mohave Country. Kingman has Lake Mead to the north, Lake Mohave to the west and Lake Havasu to the south. To further pinpoint the area, Kingman sits on U.S. 66, a major east-west highway. Phoenix is situated 187 fast miles to the southeast, on U.S. 93.

Enveloped in a dry, desert-like climate, Kingman's temperature averages in the sixties, with a summer high of ninety-five, a winter low of thirty-one. The town has a permanent population of 6,000, thirty-seven motels, three hotels and five trailer parks. Just fourteen miles away lies Hualapai Mountain Recreation Park, 6,000 to 8,000 feet up, noted for camping facilities, picnic areas and nominally priced cabins in the summer and skiing in the winter. The three lakes we've already mentioned offer superb fishing, boating and water sports the year around.

In Mohave County's 13,000 square miles, you'll also find the hunting favorable for elk, wild turkey, antelope, bighorn sheep, deer, waterfowl, quail and cottontail. The sightseeing in the country, using Kingman as headquarters, is both varied and absorbing. Among the highlights are the Grand Canyon, the Giant Joshua Forest, Fort Mohave Indian Reservation, Havasu Lake National Wildlife Refuge, White-Hills Ghost Town, Kaibab National Forest and Pie Spring National Monument, to mention just a few. And the three dams that form major lakes--Hoover, Davis and Parker--are worth seeing.

Besides its prominent location on major highways, Kingman is also served by major bus lines, the Santa Fe Railroad and by Bonanza Airlines, flying several times a day to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Mention the State of Wisconsin and the chances are you'll immediately think of cows and cheese, lakes and fish--and undoubtedly beer. These ingredients all contribute to something else for which this state is famous--vacations. To whet your appetite (or refresh your memory if you've already been there), let us just cite some statistics. Wisconsin has nearly 9,000 lakes, 3,514 miles of stream and 3,262 camp sites for tent and trailer travelers. Before we describe the contents of some of these lakes and streams, let's take a quick look at some of the state's other attractions.

Most of the southern tier, the access way for visitors by car, is dominated by vast pastures for millions of Holstein, Jersey and Guernsey cows. The milk produced by these herds eventually turns up on grocery shelves as Swiss, Cheddar brick, cottage, Edam, Gouda, blue, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella and many other kinds of popular cheeses. The landscape in this dairy country is clean-cut, pastoral and eye-filling.

Driving east, the visitor can stop over in Milwaukee, nucleus of an urban complex with more than 1,000,000 people, plus a profusion of museums, theaters, zoo, parks, breweries, professional baseball and football and a State Forest recreation area. Milwaukee has also become an international seaport since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Long a major harbor for the large ships that ply the Great Lakes, the city now plays host to such exotic visitors as tramp steamers from the Mediterranean, freighters from Scandinavia and tankers from East Coast ports. The airport, Mitchell Field, sends jets to major cities in North America, as well as to Japan, the Orient, Mexico and Hawaii.

Just twenty minutes outside the city, the Kettle Moraine State Forest offers camp sites, beaches, trails, woods. Also found in the counties outside of Milwaukee are golf courses, fishing lakes and duck marshes.

Madison, the state capital, embraces one of the nation's largest state universities, five lakes for fishing, parks and beaches and the Wisconsin River. This busy stream is fragmented by twenty-six dams, all of which create lakes for fishing, boating and hunting. A short distance north along the river nestle the famous Wisconsin Dells, with boat trips through the cliff-lined gorge, the Cypress Garden Water Ski Show, the Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial Dances, and other attractions that combine to make the Dells a "must" for the visitor.

Farther north stretches an almost unbroken vacationland of lakes, forests and trout streams to lure hunters and fishermen throughout the year, sun seekers and water-sports fans in the summer, and skiers in the winter. The lakes (9,000) feature muskies, walleyes and bass. The numerous streams are noted for the scrappy small-mouth bass. The 3,262 camp sites are scattered across the state, but their number naturally increases as you head north. (The state also has many fine hotels, motels and cottages for those who prefer more conventional facilities.) In order to improve its state parks and camp grounds, Wisconsin now charges two dollars for a sticker, issued to residents and nonresidents who visit the recreational sites. The sticker is valid for one full season.

Folders, camp-site lists, maps, hunting and fishing guides and other materials may be obtained without charge from the Wisconsin Conservation Department, Box 540, Madison 1, Wisconsin.

The New England region is especially appealing in late summer and autumn, when the turning foliage provides an unending display of nature at her best. In a recent "Travel Travails" column, we discussed the merits of touring New England by car, so this month, we'll say a few words about another pleasant and inexpensive way to visit these Northeast states--by motorcoach.

Most of the New England motorcoach tours begin and end in New York City, and they usually take a full week. For example, Casser Tours offers a seven-day package that covers all the states, sightseeing highlights, such as Desert of Maine, Lake Winnepesaukee and the Shaker Museum, as well as the cities of Boston, Lexington and Concord. Departures are scheduled for every Sunday through September sixteenth. The tour costs $118.75 (plus tax) and includes travel by air-conditioned motorcoach, first-class hotel rooms, guided sightseeing, admission fees, baggage tips, and some meals.

Another New York-based company, Tauck Tours, provides seven-day New England trips every Sunday through September ninth, featuring the Berkshire Hills, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Crawford and Franconia Notches, Maine's lakes, Portland, the New England cost, Boston, Lexington, Concord and Cape Cod. A similar one-week program, "Autumn in New England and Colonial New York State," is available Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, September ninth through October twenty-second. The latter tour also includes New York's Lake George region. Both the summer and fall packages cost $179 (plus $2.40 tax), meals included.

A scenic tour by motorcoach is a relaxing way to travel. You can get a much better look at the countryside because someone else is doing the driving, all the other details and arrangements are taken care of for you, and the chances are that you'll meet some compatible companions.

Additional information and brochures are available from your travel agent, or from Casser Tours, 203 West 41st Street, New York 36, New York, and from Tauck Tours, 475 Fifth Avenue, New York 17, New York.

Down Florida way, one of the car-rental firms has come up with a program to encourage low-cost family vacations. Dixie Rent-A-Car of Miami and Fort Lauderdale has acquired a fleet of Volkswagen "Campers," new station wagons for "living aboard," with accommodations for two adults and one or two youngsters. Besides overcoming any "no-vacancy" problems, you might occasionally encounter, the "Camper" allows you to vary your itinerary according to your whims, and also permits access to many beaches, lakes, fishing and boating areas that only someone with private transportation and a place to stay, can enjoy.

The "Camper" features a tent, curtains on all windows, cabinets for drinks and glasses, folding chair, icebox, linen closet, cabinet for toilet articles, with wash basin, mirror and shelves, folded-down dining table, electric lighting with 6V outlet for shaver, skylight and roof rack. Rental rate is nine dollars a day or forty-four weekly, plus ten cents a mile. This includes all gas, oil, maintenance and insurance. Information is available from Dixie Rent-A-Car, P.O. Box 59-2263, Miami, Florida.

TRAVEL TIPS: Still in the car-rental field, the Hertz Corporation has introduced a three-month vacation rate that lowers costs by about one-third in many cities coast-to-coast. You've probably already seen the slogan, "Just Add Hertz and Steer," that dominates nationwide Hertz advertising in conjunction with the new program. Under the reduced vacation rate, travelers have a choice of sedans, compacts, convertibles, station wagons and sports cars. The three-month rate for a fully-equipped sedan is $650, including 3,000 miles of driving. Beyond this figure, there is a reduced charge of six cents a mile. With regular rates, the three-month cost would be much higher-about $1,200 minimum. The new vacation rate includes insurance, maintenance and a full tank of gasoline. You supply your own gas thereafter. As part of the program, Hertz provides, free of charge, eight full-color travel guides covering all major sightseeing areas in the United States. Detailed tour maps and photographs are included. Information and tour guides are available from your travel agent, or from Hertz, 660 Madison Avenue, New York 21, New York.

This column originally appeared in Argosy magazine.

Copyright © 1962-2010 by Martin B. Deutsch. All rights reserved.