Thursday, July 31, 2014

Michigan State Parks make infrastructure upgrades with Recreation Passport support

Some campsite numbers have changed; double-check before reserving

More than a dozen of Michigan’s 102 state parks have recently completed infrastructure upgrades to campgrounds and day-use areas, improving the state park experience for visitors.

Revenue from the Department of Natural Resources’ Recreation Passport entrance fee and the State Parks Endowment Fund supported the necessary updates, which ranged from overhauling outdated electrical and sewer systems to the construction of new shower facilities and ADA-compliant campsites.

For example, Bewabic State Park in Iron County recently completed upgrades throughout the campground, installing electrical pedestals at each electric campsite and providing 20- and 30-amp service sites. The park also repurposed 16 campsites to be ADA-compliant, creating a better camping experience for visitors with disabilities. This has reduced the number of sites with no electrical service in the campground.

Orchard Beach State Park (DNR images)
“Campers at the park this summer have already expressed their sincere appreciation for the upgrades,” said Bewabic State Park Supervisor Jamie Metheringham. “One thing for our regular visitors to note is that due to the upgrades, some campsite numbers have changed. We encourage campers who would like a specific site to call the park before making their reservation online.”

In addition to the improvements at Bewabic State Park, projects also were recently completed at the following state parks, thanks in part to Recreation Passport funding:

“This is part of our strategic plan to rebuild and modernize the Michigan state park system,” said Ron Olson, chief of DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “While many upgrades and improvements have been made, there still remains nearly $300 million in outdated or failing park infrastructure throughout the state. By purchasing the Recreation Passport, you are also helping to support and improve the Michigan state park system.”

Campers wishing to make reservations should visit the DNR’s Central Reservation System (CRS) at or call 800-447-2757.

For further details on improvements at specific parks, contact Dan Lord, DNR Parks and Recreation Division Development Program manager, at 517-284-6113 or click on the park names above for local contact information.

Recreation Passport
The Recreation Passport vehicle permit system was adopted by the DNR in October 2010. This new funding model was designed to provide a sustainable source of revenue for maintaining facilities managed by the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division.

Michigan motorists who purchase their Recreation Passport for $11 per year ($5 for motorcycles) gain vehicle access into all state parks and recreation areas, as well as state forest campgrounds, boat launches and non-motorized trailheads.

Purchasing the Recreation Passport is an easy way to support and preserve Michigan’s woods, waters, trails, historic and cultural sites. In addition, when Michigan residents check “yes” for the Recreation Passport during vehicle registration renewal with the Secretary of State, they gain access to thousands of discounts at Michigan retailers through the Passport Perks program.

Learn more about the many benefits of the Recreation Passport at

Nonresidents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($31 annual; $9 daily) at any state park or recreation area or (annual passes only) through the Michigan e-Store at

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New cabin at Sleepy Hollow State Park now available for reservations

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced that Sleepy Hollow State Park's newest cabin, complete with plenty of features to offer a relaxing stay at this popular mid-Michigan park, is now available for reservations. The cabin is nestled atop a hill near the beach and offers a beautiful view of Lake Ovid. 

The above video is one that I did when the Michigan DNR built two cabins at Holly State Recreation Area, which are similar to the one at Sleep Hollow State Park.

The cabin currently sleeps four people, with a full bed in each of the two bedrooms. In August, the cabin will accommodate up to six people, with a full-size bed and single bunk in each of the two bedrooms. Other amenities include a kitchen with a sink, refrigerator, microwave oven, toaster oven and coffee maker. The cabin is ADA-compliant, with an accessible bathroom and shower, as well as a picnic table, grill and fire ring outside. Guests will need to bring bedding, toiletries, towels, pots, pans and cooking utensils. There is no daily maid service and guests are asked to clean the cabin so it's ready for the next group to enjoy.

The rate for the cabin is $90 per night and there is a two-night minimum stay on weekends, which must include a Friday or Saturday night. The cabin is a smoke-free environment and pets (except service animals) are not allowed. Reservations may be made online at or by calling 1-800-44-PARKS (1-800-447-2757). Additional questions can be directed to park staff at 517-651-6217.

Sleepy Hollow State Park is located at 7835 E. Price Road, in Laingsburg.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Report: National park tourism in Michigan creates $166 million in economic benefit

Isle Royale National Park (NPS photo)
New report shows visitor spending supports 2,547 jobs in the Great Lakes State

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that the nearly 2 million visitors to Michigan’s national parks in 2013 spent $166.4 million and supported more than 2,547 jobs in the state.

“The national parks of Michigan attract millions of visitors a year from across the country and around the world,” said Patricia Trapp, acting director of NPS’s Midwest Region, which includes Michigan and 12 more states. “Whether it’s a day trip of a long family vacation, they come for a great experience -- and they end up spending a little money along the way, too. This new report confirms that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. This reality makes parks tourism an important factor in Michigan’s economy as well. It’s a result we all can support.”

Michigan’s national parks are Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and River Raisin National Battlefield Park.

The peer-reviewed NPS visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas, Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The national report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in “gateway” communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more about 237,000 jobs nationally -- 197,000 them in park gateway communities -- and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.

The 2013 national economic benefit figures differ from the 2012 results, which were reported earlier this year. In 2012, Michigan’s national parks attracted  nearly  2.2 million visitors who spent $181.7 million supporting more than 2,800 jobs in the state. The authors of the report said the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013 accounted for most of the national decline in park visitation. The economists also cited inflation adjustments for differences between visitation and visitor spending, jobs supported and overall effect on the U.S. economy.

According to the national report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.3 percent), food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), and admissions and fees (10.3 percent). Souvenirs and other expenses accounted for the remaining 10 percent. Nationally, the largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).

The 2013 Visitor Spending Effects Report can be found at

To learn more about economics within the National Park Service, please visit

To learn more about Michigan’s national parks and how the National Park Service works with communities in the state to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Showcasing the Michigan DNR: MSU researcher gives rare turtles a head start on survival

Jim Harding shows off an adult wood turtle he found on a
recent excursion on an Upper Peninsula river. (DNR photos)
To Jim Harding, spending nearly a lifetime studying wood turtles just makes sense.

“These are very long-lived animals,” Harding said. “And if you want to understand them, you have to study them over a long period of time.”

An instructor and outreach specialist with Michigan State University’s Zoology Department, Harding has been studying the wood turtle population along an Upper Peninsula river since 1969, when he was working on his master’s degree. But, he’s quick to tell you, he’s been interacting with them even longer; he has a photograph of himself and a turtle from his study site – on property owned by his grandfather – when he was five years old.

“I was always fascinated by turtles,” he said. “It wasn’t until many years later that I realized these weren’t just any turtle. They were special.”

The wood turtle is one of 10 species of turtles that live in Michigan. Of the 10, one species is considered threatened (spotted turtle) while the wood turtle joins the box turtle and Blanding’s turtle as a species of concern, explained DNR fisheries biologist Tom Goniea, who oversees reptiles and amphibians as coordinator of the state’s Scientific Collector’s Permit program.

Wood turtles join Blanding’s and box turtles in a group of turtles that are unusually long-lived, Harding said. Wood turtles have unfortunately been attractive to the pet trade, due to their ornate, ridged shells that look like carved wood; their striking, brightly colored yellow bodies; and their similarities to tortoises, which seems to lead people to believe wood turtles are more intelligent or wiser than other species of turtles.

Jim Harding removes the eggs from a wood turtle
nest so he can head-start the hatchlings.
Wood turtles are associated with moving water, from small creeks to large rivers. Although Harding finds them upland at times, “you never find them too far from the river,” he said.

The population on his study site is “just a shadow of its former self,” Harding said, something he attributes to two causes: collection by the pet trade back in past decades and a burgeoning raccoon population.

“For years we’ve had no evidence of natural reproduction at all,” said Harding, who recently spent time with several associates looking for wood turtles – and their nests – on his study site. “We don’t see any juveniles. The raccoons are getting all of their nests.”

As a result, Harding – who has the appropriate permits from the DNR – has taken to “head-starting” wood turtles: If he finds a turtle nest, he collects the eggs, incubates them, and raises the hatchlings for a year, then releases them at the study site.

By head-starting the young turtles, they are able to reach the size of a three- or four-year-old by the time Harding releases them, which he hopes will lead to better survival rates, even with some loss of adult turtles to raccoons.

Raising the hatchlings for a year is more of a chore than it sounds; the eggs are delicate and must be handled with care. The juveniles must be kept in separate holding areas as they’ll bite each other’s tails and limbs if left together.

To accommodate the hatchlings, Harding raises a few himself, has help from some fellow turtle aficionados with a couple more, and enlists the aid of John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids for help with the rest. So far, his work appears to be bearing fruit as he’s found some of his released turtles surviving in the wild.

Head-started turtles in a bucket await release by Jim Harding.
Omnivorous creatures that have developed a unique hunting technique – they thump the ground with their shells, creating vibrations that send earthworms to the surface – wood turtles are in short supply across their home range, which extends west to Minnesota, north into Canada and southeast to perhaps Virginia. In Michigan, wood turtles are found across most of the U.P and northern half of the Lower Peninsula.

“Michigan may be one of the states that is very important to their future because we have habitat,” Harding said. “They use a mosaic of forest and more open terrain. Timber harvests don’t bother them. Wood turtles do not require wilderness. All they require is that they be left alone.

“They live long lives because, even under the best of conditions, most of their eggs and young are destroyed,” he continued. “So few of them grow up, they have to lay eggs over 30 or 40 years in hopes that they can replace themselves. Every individual is valuable.”

Harding can’t tell you how long they live, but he has one specimen that he marked when the turtle was at least 20 years old and subsequently observed 45 years later, making the creature at least 65.

“I suspect they can live a lot longer than that,” he said.

Wood turtles lay five to 18 eggs with an average clutch size of around 10. The turtles nest on sand banks that are large enough that they can get above typical high-water stages so the nests are not drowned out by floods. Harding said he “used to find dozens of clutches of eggs,” but these days, if he finds five or six nests “it’s a really good year.”

“I’m happy finding any,” he said. “Some years I’ve gotten skunked.”

A young wood turtle walks across the sand.
If a hiker or paddler encounters a wood turtle, they are advised to enjoy the sighting but then to move on.

“It is illegal to collect, possess, kill or otherwise harass or harm wood turtles or any other species of special concern,” Goniea said.

Except for possibly helping one across a road, observers should keep their hands to themselves.

And that will serve wood turtles splendidly, Harding said.

“All they ask is to be left alone” he concluded.

For more information about wood turtles or the other nine species of turtles found in Michigan, visit To learn how to get involved with citizen monitoring of reptiles and amphibians in Michigan, visit

Seeking a Thrill: 7 Great Amusement Parks with Nearby Campgrounds

Cedar Point
Theme parks and campgrounds are a perfect pairing for family activities, says Sandy Muller of

Imagine spending all day speeding around in roller coasters, flying down a towering waterslide, or showing the world of Planet Snoopy to your children, then being able to keep the family bonding time going by roasting marshmallows and watching the stars above.

Muller then offers a few suggestions for you to enjoy the theme-park-campground combination.

  • Knotts Berry Farm (Buena Park, Calif.) and Anaheim Resort RV Park
  • Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio) and Sandusky KOA/Bayshore Estates
  • Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park (Wisconsin Dells, Wis.) and Mount Olympus ‘Zeus’ Village and Camp Resort
  • Schlitterbahn Waterpark (Kansas City, Mo.) and Walnut Grove RV Park
  • Hersheypark (Hershey, Pa.) and Hersheypark Camping Resort
  • Busch Gardens (Tampa, Fla.) and Lazydays RV Campground and Tampa East RV Resort.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Austin Adventures Sees Strong Trend In Last Minute Demand for Summer Vacations

Enjoy this guest post from Austin Adventures.

Travel companies must turn on a dime faster than ever these days. A leading multisport tour operator, Austin Adventures, reports that summer bookings once averaging 40 to 60 days in advance of departure are now coming in under 30 days or fewer this season.

“Because people are planning summer vacations at the 11th hour, it takes all of our skill and connections to be able to pull it off,” reports Dan Austin, president and founder. “’Where can I go next week?’ is becoming the new norm.”

Last summer, Austin reported that just six percent of all bookings took place within 30 days of departure. This year that segment of business is predicted to double to over 12 percent.

Austin thinks that this past hard winter and cool and wet spring effected how folks planned – or didn’t – for their summer vacations. Many didn’t get away in the first half of the year but he sees pent-up demand now for the annual summer escape.

“The air deals for summer are also finally here and families have sorted out their children’s complicated schedules,” he adds.

“In accommodating the demand, it doesn’t hurt to have good connections either,” added Austin. His company became part of the Xanterra Parks & Resorts family last year, a fact which also aids in accommodating last minute space requests, as Xanterra is the largest concessionaire in America’s National Parks.

“This partnership brings access to hard-to-get hotel rooms, off-the-tourist-track itineraries and access to local specialists whose expertise adds unique perspective to our national park travel experiences,” Austin notes.

“We seem to thrive when faced with a good challenge,” states Austin. “For example, just last week we had a guest call up on the Monday she returned home from our Montana Adventure and asked us to create a special “custom” Western experience for her children and their grandparents – next week!  She wanted the grandparents to experience what the family just did.  Needless to say getting rooms in Yellowstone or Jackson can be a bit tough, but we did it and the grandparents and grandkids are currently exploring Grand Teton National Park after spending the last few days in Yellowstone.”

Austin reports that this client is also booking a custom trip in Yellowstone in September for her office staff. “We are thrilled because with this much notice, September is easy!”

Word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends are still the company’s best advertising. Austin points out that 28 percent of all Austin Adventures travelers are direct referrals from past guests.

Taking the risk out of booking is another factor that helps encourage last minute reservations. Austin Adventures, throughout its history, has offered a guarantee of satisfaction which is among the industry’s best. It simply states: “If we fail to meet your expectations and are unable to resolve a matter to your satisfaction during your trip, we’ll refund up to the full amount you paid to Austin Adventures.”

Whether guests want to explore the granite spires and soaring redwoods of Yosemite, take the kids kayaking through Alaska's Kenai Peninsula or discover all of the incredible wildlife and geothermal features of Yellowstone, last minute space is still available for the following six-day/five-night vacations (and others – call 800.575.1540):

Yellowstone Family: The rate is from $2,298 per person double ($1,838 and up for children). This adventure spirits guests away from crowds into back country where elk, bison and bear freely roam. Horseback riding and rafting the Yellowstone River promise family bonding moments. Guests enjoy accommodations at four distinctive lodges.

Montana Family:  Big Sky, Yellowstone, Paradise Valley: Guests are immersed in the majesty of Montana. The per person double rate is $2,398 ($1,918 and up for children). This adventure that accommodates guests at a guest ranch, Yellowstone Lake Lodge, and Chico Hot Springs Resort features hiking, biking, horseback riding and rafting. See:

Yosemite Family:  During this immersion guests begin to understand Yosemite’s lore as they stand at the base of a tumbling 2,425’ waterfall, under a soaring 8,842’ granite dome and witness a 3,000-year-old giant sequoia.  John Muir’s experience will become theirs too: "by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.” Rappelling is a highlight of this trip. The per person double rate is $3,298 ($2,638 and up for children). Accommodations include the iconic Yosemite Lodge. See:

Alaska Family: Guests explore the Kenai Peninsula at a comfortable pace by train, small ship, sea kayak, mountain bike and on foot while enjoying the hospitality of three distinct lodges. Wild, pristine and blessed with an abundance of astounding scenery and wildlife, the wonders of Alaska amaze explorers of all ages. The rate is $3,198 per person, double ($2,558 and up for children). See:

For a comprehensive 2014 catalog, call toll-free 1.800.575.1540, or e-mail To review current trips, schedules and itineraries log onto:

About Austin Adventures 
In addition to multi-sport adventures, Austin Adventures offers family, biking and hiking tours and small ship cruising, in total spanning 35 countries on six continents.

Outside Magazine recently singled out Kasey Austin, Vice President of Operations and trip leader extraordinaire, as the world’s top Family Guide for 2014. Past recognition includes; Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Values Award for Tour Operators and Global Vision Award for its Wheels of Change bicycle empowerment initiative.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Firefly LDG Bulb promises to 'change the camping experience for good'

Here's an interesting product that claims to be a better alternative than nightlights, and promises to change the way we go camping. 

The Firefly LDG Bulb for Camping

Need to light up your campsite or tent without disturbing your neighbors? Ever feel like you are living out the tent shadow scene from Austin Powers? The Firefly LDG Bulb will soon be your new best friend! Thanks to the blue laser technology in the LDG Bulb "Destination Lighting" is sure to change the camping experience for good.

The LDG bulb is a blue laser night lamp that completely revolutionizes the way you think about lighting. After successfully raising $500,000 on Kickstarter the team has launched a new Indiegogo campaign to meet growing demands.

The Firefly is excellent for lighting the inside of tents. It lights up the tent 180 degrees and takes up very little room. Treat it the same as you would any electronic device, and protect it from humidity. To protect your Firefly simply use a clingy, kitchen plastic wrap over Firefly and use it that way. This solution will not in the display or coolng when appropriately stretched. Optionally, Firefly can be transported and stored in a resealable freezer bag. This will prevent your optics from getting moisture behind them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Michigan DNR offers mother/daughter kayaking and hiking workshop August 2 in Marquette

Class size is limited; register by July 28

The Michigan Department of Natural ResourcesBecoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program is offering a mother/daughter kayaking and hiking workshop at Marquette’s Tourist Park, Saturday, Aug. 2.

The program is designed for mothers and their daughters (10-17 years old) to learn side-by-side the outdoor sports of kayaking, hiking and backpacking.

The event will run from 9:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., with each class session lasting approximately two hours. Registration fee is $20, which includes lunch and the use of all necessary equipment. Class size is limited to 10 mother/daughter groups; registration deadline is Monday, July 28.

More information about the workshop and registration materials can be found online at, and registration can be paid online at The event will take place rain or shine. For further details, contact Sharon Pitz at 906-228-6561 or

BOW is a noncompetitive program in which each individual is encouraged to learn at her own pace. The emphasis is on the enjoyment, fun and camaraderie of outdoor activities, and sharing in the success of one another. To learn more about the DNR’s BOW program, visit

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Wisconsin state park, forest, trail events and nature programs calendar available

MADISON - People now have an easier and more convenient way to find activities, events and nature programs at Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas with a new mobile-friendly events calendar on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.

The new calendar has several user-friendly features including being able to search for events by date, property, or type of activity. The calendar shows event location information including contacts and maps and has links directly from event locations to park campsite reservation system. It also has an "add to your calendar" function that allows people to add event reminders to their personal electronic calendars.

The new calendar also includes a RSS feed so that a new Wisconsin State Parks and Forests mobile app that will be available later this summer can pull in event information directly from the DNR website.

The new calendar can be found by searching the DNR website for keyword "Get Outdoors."

Monday, July 21, 2014

Videos: French Lick, Indiana and Minnesota by Motorcycle

Enjoy this 31-second video from Visit Indiana as they take us on a Road Trip to French Lick.

Enjoy this 31-second video from Explore Minnesota asking us to "Explore Northeast Minnesota by Motorcycle."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Western River Expeditions rafting guru shares 10 curious Grand Canyon factoids

Enjoy this guest post from Western River Expeditions.

The lure of a Grand Canyon raft vacation on the Colorado River has lots to do with the lore.

One Grand Canyon guru guided on the river for some 700 days before leaving the rapids to join Western River Expeditions as website and online marketing director.
But Kamron Wixom can’t leave the lore alone. Here are 10 of his favorite facts and trivia about the world’s grandest canyon: 
  1. The first known exploration of the Grand Canyon by boat was in 1869, the John Wesley Powell Expedition. He was the first to use the name “Grand Canyon”. By 1969, fewer than 100 people had his followed by boat through the remote gorge.
  2. Outside of the occasional dust storms and forest fires, the Grand Canyon is home of the some of the cleanest air in the United States.
  3. The Kaibab Tree Squirrel, a unique species that lives only on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, was separated from its South Rim cousins millennia ago.
  4. An estimated five million people view the Grand Canyon annually from the North and South rims. Only 20,000 see it by river raft or dory. (Western River Expeditions is the leading outfitter, putting some 4,000 guests through the Canyon each year.)
  5. Grand Canyon was named America’s 17th National Park in 1919, following in the footsteps of, among others, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Glacier and Denali.
  6. Senator Bobby Kennedy took a highly publicized Grand Canyon rafting trip in 1972 and the popularity of rafting in the Grand Canyon suddenly skyrocketed.
  7. Grand Canyon still uses a scale of rapids from 1-10, a system that was grandfathered in before an international system scaled rapids from 1 to 6. A 10 is like a 5 on the international scale; a 6 on international scale cannot be navigated.
  8. Because they couldn't afford a boat, two swimmers in 1955 swam the entire length of the Grand Canyon, a distance of 288 miles.  (see:
  9. The Grand Canyon National Park has recorded more than 4,800 archeological sites and has surveyed just 5 percent of the park’s 1.2 million acres.
  10. On June 30, 1956, two planes flying from Los Angeles to Chicago, a United Airlines DC-7 and a TWA Constellation, had a mid-air collision over the Canyon and all on board perished. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was created in 1958 as a result of this accident. 
“There’s a synergy between a human being and a canyon. We get possessive of it; it’s our canyon. It’s so huge on one scale but so intimate on the other scale that it becomes our own. When people talk about their experiences in the canyon you have an instant bond with each other but at the same time you’re possessive of it. This contrast is indicative of nearly every experience you have in the Grand Canyon,” says Wixom.

After some 700 days in the Grand Canyon, what was his most satisfying moment?

“As a guide, it was the last night of the trip. I walked down the beach and saw a guest staring at the sunset with the canyon walls and river flowing through the foreground. I asked how she was doing. She turned and it took a few seconds for her to say something. Her Zen moment was happening. I was privileged to be the guide who helped her get to that moment,” he says.

Western River Expeditions has guided more guests through the famous gorge over the last 53 years than any other outfitter - and the word has gotten out.  “It’s an absolutely inspiring adventure,” says Brandon Lake, CMO of Western River Expeditions.

Annually, by the start of spring, Grand Canyon river trips for the upcoming summer season are usually sold out, notes Lake.  However this year the company has openings on a few departure dates on their signature six-day journey: July 22, 23, 24, 29, and Aug. 13, 21, 26, 27, 30, 31.

For a copy of the 2014 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669), or visit:

Western River Expeditions
Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center (

Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah rafting, and Idaho rafting trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the "Best of State" award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for nine consecutive years.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Two videos from RV Education 101 on 'Installing a Ceiling AC Unit' and 'DIY Kitchen Tile Project'

How To Install a Deluxe Free Delivery AC Ceiling Assembly

In this RV "HOW-TO" video Mark Polk, with RV Education 101, demonstrates the features & benefits & installation of a Deluxe Free Delivery AC Ceiling Assembly designed for use on most Coleman Mach RV air conditioners.

RV DIY Kitchen Tile Project

In this premier RV How-To video Mark Polk with RV Education 101 demonstrates how you can upgrade your RV kitchen at an affordable price by adding some attractive peel & stick tile. 

Adding the look of tile to your RV kitchen, bathroom or wherever you like is a fun weekend project and a simple, lightweight design solution to update the look of your RV.

RV Education 101 e-book series
As I've said many times, Mark Polk is my favorite RV expert. I'm pleased he and his wife, Dawn, have allowed me to sell his RV e-book series. E-books (electronic books) are immediately downloaded to your computer after you make the purchase. The RV Education 101 e-book series includes:
  • "The Original Checklist for RVers"
  • "The RV Book"
  • "RV Campground Basics"
  • "101 Tips for RVers"
  • "RV Care and Maintenance"
  • "Insiders Guide to Buying an RV"
  • "Winterizing & Storing your RV"
  • "RV Awning Use & Care"
  • "Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance"
  • "RV Buyers Survival Guide"
  • "Complete Guide To: RV Towing, Weights, Hitch Work & Backing"
  • "Pop-Up Basics 101"
  • "Dinghy Towing"

Friday, July 18, 2014

Missouri's Current River State Park to hold kayak clinics on Fridays, including today

Current River State Park in Missouri will be hosting a series of free kayak clinics during the months of July and August. Sponsored by Missouri State Parks, the clinics will be held on Fridays from 10 noon and will be taught on the park’s lower lake. The first clinic will be held today (July 18) and the last clinic on August 15.

Kayaks will be provided, and visitors will learn about kayak safety and skills. Topics covered include kayak equipment, basic paddle strokes and maneuvers, river safety and basic rescue techniques. Clinic instructors are certified by the American Canoe Association.

Sessions will be limited to 12 participants and advanced reservations are required. Reservations can be made in person or by calling Current River State Park at 573-858-3015.

Current River State Park is located 25 miles south of Salem or 15 miles north of Eminence on Highway 19. For more information about the clinics, call the park at 573-858-3015.  

For information on state parks and historic sites, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Two Oakland County (Mich.) Parks Campgrounds offer Wi-Fi hot spots

The waterslide at Groveland Oaks.
Campers coming to Oakland County, Michigan in Metro Detroit can now continue to reach out to the world while enjoying the great outdoors through the new Wi-Fi hot spots at Addison Oaks and Groveland Oaks county parks campgrounds.

Wireless network will be available in Section C (restroom area) at Addison Oaks and at the concession/bath house/beach area at Groveland Oaks.

“We understand that, while it is great to be able to get away from it all, sometimes you have to keep in touch,” Oakland County Parks and Recreation Executive Officer Dan Stencil said.

The hot spots will allow laptops, smart phones and any device that uses wireless connections access to the Internet.

The new service comes just in time for the Oakland Parks Foundation’s inaugural “Pics of the Parks" photo contest. Youth and adults can now submit digital photographs right from the park based on the following themes: Historical Photos, Nature Photos, Capturing the Experience, Selfies and The Park Beneath My Feet. All photos must be taken at the Oakland County Parks. The entry fee is $15/image. Individuals are limited to three submissions. The contest runs through Sept. 13 and is also sponsored by The Oakland Press. Noted performer, visual artist and humanitarian Tony Bennett will select the grand prize winner. A list of requirements to enter the contest is posted on

Both parks provide cabins, yurts, individual and group sites. The award-winning Campground Recreation program includes crafts, games, music, theme weekends, mobile recreation unit visits and live entertainment. Dogs are allowed on a leash.

The campgrounds offer recycling containers for paper, plastic and tin. Both have sandy beaches, laundromats and modern washrooms and showers. Addison Oaks has bike rentals, playgrounds and a 24-hole disc golf course. Groveland Oaks has a waterslide into the lake, boat/pedal boat rentals, an 18-hole miniature golf course and a skate park.

Call 248-858-1400 to reserve individual campsites.

For more information, visit, Facebook and Twitter @DestinationOak.