Sunday, April 26, 2015

Excessive snow delays Michigan State Park campground openings in Upper Peninsula

The campground opening dates for two Michigan State Parks in the Upper Peninsula have been delayed this season due to excessive snow, according to a release issued by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Friday (April 24).

Brimley State Park’s modern campground was supposed to open Friday and Van Riper State Park’s campground had been scheduled to open Monday, May 4.

Delaying the opening date of the campgrounds allows extra time for snow to melt and sites to dry out. These parks received plenty of snow over the winter and well into spring, and there is still snow remaining on the ground and large snow drifts on some campsites. While the modern campground opening dates for these two parks were delayed, the day-use areas remain open for recreation.

For any questions contact Brimley State Park Supervisor Scott Slavin at 906-248-3422 or Van Riper State Park Supervisor Doug Barry at 906-339-4461. For camping availability and reservations at any of Michigan’s 102 state parks, visit www.midnrreservations.com or call 1-800-44-PARKS (1-800-447-2757).

Brimley State Park in Chippewa County provides recreational opportunities along Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay. One of the oldest state parks in the Upper Peninsula, Brimley features hunting, fishing, boating, camping and hiking. The modern campground at Brimley State Park features 237 campsites with both 50-amp and 20/30-amp sites. Also available for rent is a mini-cabin.

Van Riper State Park in Marquette County is located in the scenic western U.P. on Lake Michigamme, offering activities such as hunting, hiking, fishing, swimming and snowmobiling, and also offers Wi-Fi. The campground features 147 modern sites, 40 rustic sites, a camper cabin and a rustic cabin.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rollin' On TV video: Deco-Liner, padlock system and a secluded destiantion



In this episode (#2015-5R), Rollin' on TV takes another look at the Deco-Liner, one of the most creative, one-of-a-kind custom built RVs. Also, a new padlock system that does away with a chain full of keys and a great, secluded RV destination.

About Rollin' on TV
Now in its fourth year of production, Rollin’ On TV has become a leading RV, lifestyle television program reaching over 30 million homes on both cable and satellite TV. The weekly program is also available online. For additional information and for times and days the show airs, visit  www.rollinontv.com

Friday, April 24, 2015

Gone with the Wynns video: Harvest Hosts - Unique Camping at Farms and Wineries



Enjoy this video from Gone with the Wynns, a popular RV blogging couple.

About Gone with the Wynns
Jason and Nikki Wynn are a couple of perpetual travelers, RVers and modern day documentarians. Their RV is the home of their discoveries and adventures, all depicting the unscripted tale of the quirky couple who traded in everyday life to satisfy their wear-out-your-shoes sense of adventure. Visit their website.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide's Top-Rated RV Parks for 2015



The 2015 Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide, North America’s most reliable source of RV park and campground information, today released its list of perfectly rated RV parks. Earning flawless 10/10*/10 ratings based on Good Sam’s in-person inspection system, these parks offer unsurpassed customer experiences for RV travelers hitting the road each year.

 The 137 perfect RV parks on the list were selected out of the more than 7,000 private RV parks listed in the guide; each was personally inspected by one of Good Sam’s 36 Review Teams. These parks have risen to the challenge of meeting or exceeding Good Sam’s standards in cleanliness, environment and facilities.

 The 2015 Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide is packed with lifestyle tips, travel articles and money-saving offers. These include more than $1,000 worth of Camping World coupons and up to $500 in dining, shopping and travel savings powered by Entertainment. Good Sam Club members enjoy a 10 percent savings at the 2,100-plus Good Sam Parks listed in the book. Throughout the book, non-members can learn about the dozens of discounts, benefits and products available only through Good Sam, the world’s largest RV organization at 1.5 million members.

 The 2015 Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide is available at the 100-plus Camping World SuperCenters located throughout the United States and on CampingWorld.com. The 2015 Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide is published by Good Sam Enterprises, parent company to both the Good Sam Club and Camping World. For more information, visit GoodSamCamping.com, GoodSamClub.com and CampingWorld.com.

Top-Rated RV Parks 

Alabama
Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta
Sugar Sands RV Resort, Gulf Shores
Windemere Cove RV Resort, Langston 
Heritage Motorcoach Resort & Marina, Orange Beach

Shenango Valley RV Park, Sharon
Arizona
Superstition Lookout RV Resort, Apache Junction 
Superstition Sunrise RV Resort, Apache Junction
Black Canyon Ranch RV Resort, Black Canyon City
Moon River RV Resort, Bullhead City
Distant Drums RV Resort, Camp Verde
Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort, Casa Grande
Sundance 1 RV Resort, Casa Grande Pueblo
El Mirage Golf & RV Resort, El Mirage
Gold Canyon RV & Golf Resort, Gold Canyon
The Refuge Golf & Country Club, Lake Havasu City
Mesa Spirit RV Resort, Mesa
Desert Shadows RV Resort, Phoenix
Desert's Edge RV-The Purple Park, Phoenix
Far Horizons Tucson Village RV Resort, Tucson
Rincon Country East RV Resort, Tucson
Rincon Country West RV Resort, Tucson
Del Pueblo RV Park And Tennis Resort, Yuma
Shangri-La RV Resort, Yuma
Westwind RV & Golf Resort, Yuma

Arkansas
Ozarks RV Resort On Table Rock Lake, Blue Eye
Catherine's Landing At Hot Springs, Hot Springs

California
The Californian RV Resort, Acton
The Springs At Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course, Borrego Springs
Outdoor Resort Palm Springs, Cathedral City
The Lakes RV & Golf Resort, Chowchilla
Indian Waters RV Resort & Cottages, Indio
Motorcoach Country Club, Indio
Outdoor Resort Indio, Indio
Jackson Rancheria RV Park, Jackson
Redding Premier RV Resort, Redding
Coyote Valley RV Resort, San Jose

Colorado
Tiger Run RV Resort, Breckenridge
Pueblo South/Colorado City KOA, Colorado City
Mesa Verde RV Resort, Mancos

Connecticut
Aces High RV Park, East Lyme

Petoskey RV Resort, Petoskey
Florida
Cross Creek RV Resort, Arcadia
Outdoor Resorts/Chokoloskee Island, Chokoloskee
Cypress Trail RV Resort, Fort Myers
Gulf Waters RV Resort, Fort Myers Beach
Treasure Coast RV Resort, Fort Pierce
Riverbend Motorcoach Resort, La Belle
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Lake Buena Vista
Crystal Lake RV Resort, Naples
Naples Motorcoach Resort, Naples
Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort, Panama City Beach
The Great Outdoors RV, Nature & Golf Resort, Titusville
Vacation Inn Resort Of The Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach
Williston Crossings RV Resort, Williston

Kansas
Deer Creek Valley RV Park LLC, Topeka

Louisiana
Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson
Red Shoes Park At Coushatta Casino Resort, Kinder
A+ Motel & RV Park, Lake Charles
Paragon Casino RV Resort, Marksville

Maryland
Castaways RV Resort & Campground, Ocean City

Massachusetts
Cape Cod Campresort & Cabins, East Falmouth
Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort, Foxboro
Pine Acres Family Camping Resort, Oakham
Beach Rose RV Park, Salisbury Beach

Hearthside Grove Motorcoach Resort, Petoskey
Michigan
Vacation Station RV Resort, Ludington
Little River Casino RV Park, Manistee
Silver Creek RV Resort, Mears
Harbortown RV Resort, Monroe
Soaring Eagle Hideaway RV Park, Mount Pleasant
Hearthside Grove Motorcoach Resort, Petoskey
Petoskey KOA RV & Cabin Resort, Petoskey
Petoskey RV Resort, Petoskey
South Haven Sunny Brook RV Resort, South Haven
Traverse Bay RV Resort, Traverse City

Minnesota
Prairie View RV Park & Campground, Granite Falls
Grand Casino Hinckley RV Resort, Hinckley

Missouri
Mark Twain Landing, Monroe City
Polson Motorcoach & RV Resort, Polson

Nevada
Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas
LVM Resort, Las Vegas
Lakeside Casino & RV Resort, Pahrump
Nevada Treasure RV Resort, Pahrump
Wine Ridge RV Resort & Cottages, Pahrump
Sparks Marina RV Park, Sparks

Skyway Camping Resort, Ellenville
New York
Chautauqua Lake KOA, DeWittville
Skyway Camping Resort Inc, Ellenville
Lake George RV Park, Lake George
The Villages At Turning Stone, Verona
Watkins Glen/Corning KOA Camping Resort, Watkins Glen

North Carolina
Raleigh Oaks RV Resort & Cottages, Four Oaks
The Great Outdoors RV Resort, Franklin
Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort, Lake Toxaway
Fayetteville RV Resort & Cottages, Wade

Evergreen Park RV Resort, Mount Eaton
Ohio
Cross Creek Camping Resort, Columbus
Evergreen Park RV Resort, Mount Eaton

Oklahoma
Choctaw Casino Resort KOA, Durant
Winstar RV Park, Thackerville

Oregon
Seven Feathers RV Resort, Canyonville
Olde Stone Village RV Park, Mcminnville
Pacific Shores Motorcoach Resort, Newport
Bend/Sisters Garden RV Resort, Sisters
Casey's Riverside RV Park, Westfir
Pheasant Ridge RV Resort, Wilsonville

Pennsylvania
Lake-In-Wood Resort, Narvon
Shenango Valley RV Park, Sharon

South Carolina
Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort/Outdoor Resorts Hilton Head Island, Hilton Head
Hilton Head Harbor RV Resort & Marina, Hilton Head Island
Willowtree RV Resort & Campground, Longs
Cypress Camping Resort, Myrtle Beach
Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach
Hart Ranch Camping Resort Club, Rapid City

Tennessee
Anchor Down RV Resort, Dandridge
Smoky Bear Campground, Gatlinburg
Twin Creek RV Resort, Gatlinburg

Texas
K.E. Bushman's Camp, Bullard
Mill Creek Ranch Resort, Canton
Alsatian Resort & Golf Club, Castroville
Jamaica Beach RV Park, Galveston
Shallow Creek RV Resort, Gladewater
San Jacinto Riverfront RV Park, Highlands
Advanced RV Resort, Houston
Buckhorn Lake Resort, Kerrville
Johnson Creek RV Resort & Park, Kerrville
Fernbrook Park, Longview
Llano Grande Lake Park Resort & Country Club MHP, Mercedes
Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort, Mission
Forest Retreat RV Park, New Caney
Northshore RV Resort, Onalaska
Rayford Crossing RV Resort, The Woodlands
Oak Creek RV Park, Weatherford

Utah
Mountain Valley RV Resort, Heber City

Virginia
American Heritage RV Park, Williamsburg
Williamsburg KOA, Williamsburg

Washington
Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick

Canada
Ontario
Fisherman's Cove Tent & Trailer Park, Kincardine
Bissell's Hideaway Resort, Pelham
Woodland Park, Sauble Beach

Quebec
Camping Alouette (Parkbridge), Saint-Mathieu-De-Beloeil
Camping La Cle Des Champs RV Resort, Saint-Philippe

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lippert videos: All About Axles



Here's what Lippert had to say about its videos:
Lippert components axles always take you farther. Every one of our recreational vehicle and trailer axles boasts an impressive list of standard features and is assembled in the United States. Our state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and experienced axle professionals ensure that every component meets our high standards and your custom specifications.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Michigan DNR Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program set for June 5-7 in the Upper Peninsula

Women seeking to improve their outdoor skills can now register for the 18th annual Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) summer program, offered the weekend of June 5-7 at Bay Cliff Health Camp, in Big Bay, located approximately 30 miles north of Marquette, Michigan.

Sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, this BOW program offers instruction in more than two dozen types of outdoor activities, including kayaking, wilderness first aid and survival, lake and fly-fishing, fly-tying, geocaching, shooting sports, boating and mountain biking – to name just a few.

“Volunteer instructors provide basic and advanced instruction that is uniquely tailored to each participant's individual ability, helping all Becoming an Outdoors-Woman participants learn the basics in a short amount of time,” said BOW coordinator Sharon Pitz.

Participants will be housed in a universally accessible, dorm-style facility with numerous amenities, including a pool, sauna, tennis courts, hiking and biking trails and easy access to Lake Superior, Pitz said. The BOW summer program also includes special evening programs, such as hikes, group bonfires and more.

The $185 registration fee includes all food and lodging, as well as most equipment and supplies.

Class information and registration materials are available online at www.michigan.gov/bow, and registration can be paid online at www.michigan.gov/estore. The summer program typically fills quickly – in fact, as of today half of the spots already are filled – so early registration is encouraged. The deadline for registration is May 15. A limited number of BOW scholarships are available to help low-income participants with the cost of registration; the scholarship deadline is May 1.

Pitz said that Becoming an Outdoors-Woman is a noncompetitive program that encourages each individual to learn at her own pace.

“The emphasis is on the enjoyment, fun and camaraderie of outdoor activities,” she said. “Everyone shares in each other’s successes and supports each other in efforts to master skills. Having these life-changing and empowering experiences in Michigan’s beautiful woods and water is just icing on the cake.”

For more information about this or other BOW programs offered in Michigan, go online to www.michigan.gov/bow or contact Sharon Pitz at 906-228-6561 or e-mail pitzs@michigan.gov.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Winnebago Dealer Days 2015: The BIG Story



Here's a wrap-up of Winnebago's 2015 Dealer Days meeting in Las Vegas from April 7-10. The video highlights several new product introductions and the expansion of Winnebago's product lines offering more choices for different mobile lifestyles.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cabela's to celebrate Pennsylvania camping

The Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association is teaming up with Cabela’s in Hamburg, Penn. and Christiana, Del. this year to promote the camping lifestyle. “Discover Your Outdoor Moments” is the theme that the association has chosen to use for its promotion. 

The date for Christiana, Del. is April 18th and the dates for Hamburg, Penn. are May 2-3.

Members of the association will be on hand to greet the guests and give them a 2015 Campground Directory of privately owned parks. They will experience what camping is really like by tasting s’mores and singing a few campfire songs. Coloring books will be given to the children and there will be photo opportunities on hand. Expert outfitters from Cabela’s will be demonstrating the newest camping products available and helping campers gear up for their next trip.

“Camping is not only the most affordable vacation around, it also is fun and memorable. In Pennsylvania you have over 235 campgrounds to choose from to make that memory,” said Beverly Gruber, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association. “Camping is a great family activity. At the Cabela’s event, young families will be encouraged to take their children camping this year.”

She adds, “Time spent camping or RVing allows you to slow down and gives you the flexibility to pursue what you want and where you want to be. It gives you a chance to rediscover your family and lets you choose the activities your family enjoys. So stop in at Cabela’s, get acquainted with camping and RVing and Discover Your Outdoor Moments.”

For more information on Pennsylvania Campgrounds, please contact Beverly Gruber at 610-767-5026 and visit www.pacamping.com.

Friday, April 17, 2015

New hiking guidebook focuses on Northeast Minnesota

A new hiking guidebook details more than 200 day hiking trails in Minnesota’s North Shore, Arrowhead and St. Croix River regions.

“Headin’ to the Cabin: Day Hiking Trails of Northeast Minnesota,” by Rob Bignell, marks the second book in the “Headin’ to the Cabin” series. It was released Monday, April 13.

“Day Hiking Trails of Northeast Minnesota” covers trails covers trails in or near Chisago, Pine, Carlton, St. Louis, Lake, and Cook counties. It includes Voyageurs and Isle Royale national parks, the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area, and each state park in the region.

“Northeast Minnesota is a hiker’s Shangri-La,” Bignell said. “From rocky beaches along Lake Superior to waterfalls surrounded by luxuriant pine forests, from a mine 52 stories below ground to a hill nearly half-a-mile above sea level, from nearly 2-billion-year-old lava rock to lakes formed just a few thousand years ago, northeast Minnesota offers an incredible number of sights for day hikers to enjoy.”

The books provide a plethora of information about each featured trail, including:

  • Driving directions to the trail
  • Where to park and find the trailhead
  • Course the trail takes
  • Scenic points to look for on the trail
  • Wildlife and flora you might spot
  • Interesting tidbits about the area’s geology and history
  • Trailside amenities such as water fountains and bathrooms
  • Best times to hike the trail

Following each featured trail are brief descriptions of other nearby day hiking trails.

“These trails are perfect for families with children or anyone who wants to spend just a couple of hours outdoors enjoying and discovering nature,” Bignell said. The trails run from a third of a mile to 6 miles in length, with most only a mile to three miles long.

“Headin’ to the Cabin’ is the latest in several bestselling hiking guidebooks Bignell has authored. Last year, “Day Hiking the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway” reached No. 1 on Amazon.com’s bestsellers list for Travel>Midwest books. “Day Hiking Trails of Northwest Wisconsin,” the first book in the Headin’ to the Cabin series, was a bestselling travel ebook on Amazon.com two years ago.

An avid backpacker, long-time editor, and Wisconsin native, Bignell is uniquely qualified to write about hiking, especially for families. Bignell has served in the Army National Guard and taught middle school students in New Mexico and Wisconsin. His newspaper work has won several journalism awards, from editorial writing to sports reporting. In 2001, The Prescott Journal, which he served as managing editor of, was named Wisconsin’s Weekly Newspaper of the Year.

This is Bignell’s 15th hiking guidebook, almost all of which focus on Wisconsin and Minnesota. He now lives with his son in western Wisconsin.

Book specs:

  • “Headin’ to the Cabin: Day Hiking Trails of Northeast Minnesota”
  • Publish date: April 13, 2015
  • Publisher: Atiswinic Press
  • ISBN: 978-0-9896723-5-1
  • Price: $11.95 (paperback), $1.99 (ebook)
  • Pages: 164 (paperback)
  • Cover: Paper (paperback)
  • Trim Size: 5.5 x 8.5 (paperback)
  • Website: http://hikeswithtykes.com/headintothecabin_northeastminnesota.html


Thursday, April 16, 2015

GenTent Canopy keeps portable generators operating safely in inclement weather



Editor's note: Once again, another press release that crossed my desk that I thought people would be interested in.

GenTent Canopy Keeps Portable Generators Operating Safely in Hurricanes, Blizzards and Other Inclement Weather

NOTTINGHAM, N.H. -- In a company announcement, GenTent Safety Canopies -- makers of easy-to-install weatherproof covers for safe operations of portable generators in virtually any wet weather conditions -- said its GenTent Stormbracer has been tested by 360° Product Testing to withstand 70 MPH winds and 18 inches of snow load, while preserving the cooling ability of the generator, using materials resistant to potential auto-ignition.

Additionally, GenTent Safety Canopies have been awarded a U.S. Patent titled Canopy For Portable Electrical Device.

The news specifically addresses a primary portable generator conundrum: the inability to safely operate outdoors in inclement weather. GenTent Stormbracer solves this issue by enabling the continued and safe operation of portable generators during storms -- in lieu of sheltering these devices indoors and exposing individuals to CO poisoning.

As tested by 360° Product Testing, the GenTent operates in forecast winds of 70 MPH, supports 55.5 lbs of load, remains watertight in the equivalent of 24 inches of rain per hour, does not change the cooling profile or modify air intake of the tested portable generator in any way, and product materials will not auto-ignite even when exposed to high temperature surfaces typical of a hot muffler.

With an initial product launch in March of 2012, GenTent began operations with one primary goal: develop a method to safely keep portable generators operating during the worst weather conditions. GenTents have protected families in the hardest hit areas of Superstorm Sandy and every major U.S. storm since. Today, GenTent has a safe, inclement weather operating solution for 98% of the portable generator market, is 100% manufactured in the U.S., and has sold more than 5,000 units worldwide.

GenTent products are engineered to be more affordable and convenient than stationary, steel generator enclosures, retrofit plastic sheds or DIY dog-houses.

GenTents keep portable generators:

  • Safe while running in wet weather by protecting the Electrical Panels, from any angle, including Blizzard and Hurricane force precipitation.
  • Portable and easily movable -- with easy access for refueling and maintenance.
  • Naturally cool -- unlike generator dog-houses or other full canvas enclosures, cooling air is not blocked.
  • Able to naturally expel exhaust gasses so no buildup of poisoning gasses occurs.


"You need an easy to use product that protects your portable generator for use in inclement weather, and GenTent is the best option. I've used my GenTent safety canopy since 2012, including for three consecutive days during Superstorm Sandy in rural New Jersey and it kept my generator perfectly dry," said Thomas A. D'Angelo, of ECO Systems Environmental Consulting. "I use my GenTent canopy for power outages year-round and in every type of weather. It slips on and off in minutes and their customer support and dedication to offering a durable product is phenomenal. I would recommend GenTent to any portable generator owner."

GenTent Safety Canopies now holds U.S. Patent 8,997,769 titled Canopy For Portable Electrical Device. More specifically, the patent was awarded for GenTent's method of deflection of water from portable electrical equipment, comprising: affixing a plurality of mounting brackets to a frame of said portable electrical equipment; inserting support rods into said brackets as to create a support frame; extending a waterproof cover over said support frame while allowing ventilation of said portable electrical equipment.

"We are proud that GenTent Safety Canopies now holds the industry's first U.S. Patent in the portable generator, weather protection space," said Inventor and GenTent CEO, Mark Carpenter. "It's our intent to share our innovated offering via OEM branded GenTents, with other companies, thereby enabling them to extend our safety product to a greater market base."

GenTent Safety Canopies are available for ordering online, or by contacting the company via email: customercare@gentent.com or phone: 781-33G-TENT (781-334-8368). Pricing starts at $199.00.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

'Big Crazy Family Adventure' premieres on Travel Channel



Editor's note: This hardly has anything to do with camping in the Great Lakes. But I'm a sucker for these types of television shows. 

Travel Channel's New Series 'Big Crazy Family Adventure' Follows the Kirkby Family on Their Incredible, Awe-Inspiring Journey to a Remote Region in the Himalaya - All Via Surface - Premieres Sunday, June 21 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT

Travel Channel's 13,000-mile "Big Crazy Family Adventure"
CHEVY CHASE, Md. -- Trekking through the Himalaya (with a short stop at Mt. Everest's base camp), sailing the Ganges River, crossing the North Pacific Ocean on a container ship, meditating with monks in a Tibetan monastery – these are not the typical activities you might expect during a family vacation with two young children.

But the Kirkby family is on an extraordinary adventure halfway around the globe – and inviting everyone to come along. Travel Channel's mesmerizing and cinematic new series, "Big Crazy Family Adventure," premiering Sunday, June 21 with back-to-back episodes at 9:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, follows wilderness guide, writer and award-winning photographer Bruce Kirkby throughout this epic trip – from his home in Kimberley, British Columbia, to a remote monastery in the Himalaya – with his wife, Christine Pitkanen, and their two young boys: Bodi, 7 and Taj, 3.

There's just one catch: on their 13,000-mile adventure they won't be taking ANY airplanes. To fully experience the life-changing and serendipitous moments that exploring the world provides, they'll get to their final destination through surface travel only – canoe, container ship, ferry, high-speed train, river boat, tuk tuk, pony, their own eight feet and more. The series is comprised of nine, hour-long episodes.

Lifelong adventurers Bruce and Christine did not give up their passion for exploration once they had children; and they've been traveling with both kids since they were infants. The couple saw this opportunity, their biggest journey yet, as an unforgettable learning experience, but also as a chance to unplug from technology and expose their boys to some of life's simple wonders.

The 96-day expedition ends at Karsha Gompa – a secluded cliff-side monastery in Ladakh, India, where they'll live and work for three months with Buddhist monks. Each episode travels alongside the family as they experience four Wonders of the World and make their way through expansive landscapes, challenging climates and unique communities in some of the most remote areas of the northern hemisphere.

Bodi sits down with local Tibetan Monks in Lhasa to make
an offering. They couldn't resist taking a few photos with
their new friend! (Leg 4)
A complex journey, there are challenges at every corner – from altitude acclimatization and unfamiliar foods, to meltdowns and missed trains. Yet each challenge reaps even bigger rewards and unexpected transformations, especially for eldest son Bodi. On the autism spectrum, a once shy and introverted Bodi matures during the journey in ways his parents never expect. He gains confidence bargaining with sellers in the crowded Asian markets, discovers meditation and overcomes his fear of animals. In three long months on the road, "Tiny T" (Taj) grows from a toddler into an active and curious little boy.

"Travel returns each of us to a state of childhood," says Bruce. "For a moment we look upon the world, crowded with the unrecognizable and incomprehensible, with the same eyes as our kids. And in doing so, the distance between us shrinks, just a bit. These shared experiences, with all their uncertainties, challenges and enchantments, are like fertilizer for family bonds."

Highlights from "Big Crazy Family Adventure":

Leg 1: The first leg of the Kirkby family's 13,000-mile journey involves canoes, camping, a luxury train and taking a container ship to South Korea. Storms, life vests and a run-in with Russian Border Patrol create challenges. Location highlights: Kimberly, B.C.; Canadian Rocky Mountains; Vancouver, B.C.; Nakhodka, Russia; Busan, South Korea

Leg 2: In South Korea, the family takes their first-ever bullet train, chow on butterfly larvae snacks and sail the Yellow Sea. Bruce gets up close at the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea, while Christine and the boys take a cable car up to the Seoul Tower for an amazing view of the city. Location highlights: Busan, South Korea; The Seoul Tower; DMZ (Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea); Qingdao, China; Beijing

Leg 3: The family climbs a remote section of the Great Wall of China, known as the "Wild Wall." A 21-hour train ride from Beijing across China brings them to the start of a five-day acclimatization mission where they'll slowly elevate up to 10,500 feet. But when Taj doesn't respond well to the altitude, his health and their Tibetan permits are up in the air. Location highlights: Beijing; the Great Wall of China; Xining, China; Qinghai Lake

Leg 4: A 27-hour ride on the highest railway in the world brings the family into Tibet where Bodi shows a curiosity in Buddhism and learns to meditate. They make their way to the North Base Camp of Mount Everest, at 16,800 feet elevation, for a breathtaking view and unforgettable moment for Bruce. But time is ticking as they race to reach the Nepal border before their Tibetan visas expire. Location highlights: Xining, China; Lhasa, Tibet; Xigaze; Friendship Highway; Mt. Everest base camp; Nepal/Tibet border

When Christine discovers a leech on her foot after bathing the
elephants in Chitwan National Park, Bruce teaches Taj and
Bodi how to properly inspect for and remove them (Leg 5)
Leg 5: In Nepal, the Kirkby family meets a Hindu goddess, Bodi exhibits excellent bargaining skills and the family rides elephants in the jungle. Bruce photographs rhinos in Nepal's first national park – a dream come true – while Christine spends her birthday on the trail of the elusive Bengal Tiger. Location highlights: Nepal/Tibet border; Kathmandu; Chitwan National Park; Nepal/India border

Leg 6: India brings scorching heat, spicy food, a private boat ride on the holy Ganges River, a special lesson in lassi-making, snake charmers and the burning ghats. But the family finds themselves in a race against time to make a train to the Taj Majal. Location highlights: India/Nepal border; Allahabad; Varanasi; the Ganges (the Holy River); Taj Mahal; Agra

Christine, Bodi and Taj stop for traditional henna
tattoos at the Dilli Haat market in Delhi, India (Leg 7)
Leg 7: The Kirkby family explores the renowned Taj Mahal, where youngest son Taj learns about his iconic namesake. The kids learn about poverty and take a Bollywood dance class while Christine cooks an authentic Indian dinner for her family. Later, they explore a rock and water-filled adventure park. Location highlights: Taj Mahal; Agra; New Delhi; Old Delhi; Chandigarh

Leg 8: Moving deeper into the Indian Himalaya, they board a narrow gauge "toy" train, encounter monkeys at Jakhu Temple and Bruce digs into his family history in the town of Shimla. But when Taj becomes feverish, they must call in a doctor to see if their trip can stay on track. Location highlights: Chandigarh; Shimla; Leh Manali Highway; Manali; Rohtang Pass; Palamo

Leg 9: To get to their final stop in Ladakh, the family must trek 100 miles of rugged terrain to elevations of 16,700 feet. Along the way they deliver school supplies to children in remote villages, make their way across winding narrow paths with drop offs of several hundred feet and Bodi overcomes another fear as he rides a pony for the first time. Their arrival at the stunning cliff-side monastery, Karsha Gompa, is an emotional milestone. Location highlights: Palamo; Zanskar Sumdo; Chumik Napko; Shingo La Pass; Kargyak River; Testa; Tangzay; Karsha Gompa Monastery

"Big Crazy Family Adventure" is produced by WDE and Generate Entertainment, Inc. for Travel Channel. For WDE, the executive producer is Wes Dening. For Generate Entertainment, the executive producer is Assaf Blecher. For Travel Channel, the executive producer is Dale Roy Robinson.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Volunteers lend essential support to Michigan State Parks' effort to eliminate invasive plant species

Laurel Malvitz-Draper coordinates the DNR’s stewardship
volunteer program in southeastern Michigan. Here, she prepares
the herbicide and colored die mixture that will be swabbed over
cut glossy buckthorn stumps at Brighton Recreation Area.
(DNR photos)
On a cold and windy Sunday afternoon, Laurel Malvitz-Draper leads a crew of a dozen volunteers carrying hand saws and pruning shears on a half-mile trek through the woods at Brighton Recreation Area to a large opening where they’ll go to work. The opening is a fen – a rather unique wetland – that has an unwanted, exotic shrub establishing itself in what is otherwise a habitat of grasses, sedges and wildflowers.

Glossy buckthorn, the uninvited guest, is originally from Eurasia, but was brought to this continent generations ago by European settlers who planted it in rows in their yards. Spread by birds that ingested its seeds, the tall glossy buckthorn works at cross purposes to the native plants in the ecosystem, which are typically short, sun-loving species.

“Glossy buckthorn will dry out the ground ahead of it,” Malvitz-Draper explained. “It will move more water out of the soil than the plants that are typically there. It’s reached that critical point here where it takes active management to stay ahead of it.”

The assignment this day was simple: cut down the buckthorn and treat the stumps with an herbicide that will be transported into the plants’ roots and kill it, allowing the native species to prosper.

Malvitz-Draper runs the Department of Natural Resources’ stewardship volunteer program in southeastern Michigan. The program is designed to preserve and restore the ecological balance to the natural areas in the state’s parks and recreation areas.

Fens, like this one, are rare habitats in the United States, found mostly in the glaciated areas of the Upper Midwest. They are similar to the better-known bogs – also grass- and sedge-dominated wetlands – with one significant difference: Fens are fed by ground water while bogs are renewed by rainwater. While bogs are slightly acidic habitats (with a pH of less than 7), fens are slightly basic.

Volunteer Tom Zerona stacks cut glossy buckthorn
stems in a brush pile that will be burned at a later date.
“People have heard of bogs,” said Malvitz-Draper, who developed the stewardship program. “They’re less familiar with fens. Fens are found in the lower three or four tiers of counties in Michigan, a combination of the glacial past and the soils and sediments they left behind. They’re worth protecting.

“Both bogs and fens are nutrient-poor systems,” she continued. “That’s why you find carnivorous plants there – pitcher plants and sundews. They’re handling the fact that it’s nutrient-poor by being able to digest insects.”

The area the crew concentrated on has a slightly higher elevation than the surrounding area, creating an island that allowed the unwanted buckthorns to get a foothold. Volunteer Donna Bozgan didn’t like that.

“I have problems with invasive species on a personal level,” said Donna Bozgan, a master gardener in training from Meridian Township, who was participating in her second DNR stewardship in as many days.  “I’m originally from Wayne County and I’ve seen what emerald ash borer has done. We lost trees in our backyard, but it’s just everywhere.”

Bozgan, who’d worked at Ionia Recreation Area the day before she went to the Brighton site, said she’d be back out removing invasive plants the next weekend.

Over the course of a three-hour shift, the volunteers remove almost all of the glossy buckthorn, while leaving the native plants on the island – tamaracks, hazelnuts and poison sumac among them – to stand.

At Brighton Recreation Area, volunteers cut down the buckthorn
and treat the stumps with an herbicide that will be transported
into the plants’ roots and kill it, allowing native species to prosper.
“The native things that are there are naturally occurring,” Malvitz-Draper said. “They should be there. But we made great progress. We’re getting rid of that buckthorn in big chunks at a time.”

The accomplishment, however, is only temporary, Malvitz-Draper said. The glossy buckthorn will be back. And so will the volunteers.

“This is an ongoing effort,” she said. “It’s never finished.”

Brighton Recreation Area is one of nine state parks where Malvitz uses volunteer crews to maintain and preserve the natural habitat. Most have regular monthly stewardship days, though the work varies with the season.

“In the spring, we pull invasive, garlic mustard and in summer it’ll be spotted knapweed,” Malvitz-Draper said. “In the fall we collect seeds from native plants. Usually summer and winter are our big shrub removal times. There’s sort of a season for everything.”

And volunteers for every assignment.

“We welcome anyone who has an interest in or wants to learn a little more about ecology,” Malvitz-Draper added. “But all of the volunteers have their own reasons for participating.”

The volunteers were as varied as the landscape.

Rodney Beckwith, the scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 395 in Hamburg, brought four Scouts, including his two sons, Zachary and Alex, to the event. It’s part of the troop’s commitment to spend a day a month doing community service. Though this was the first time his Scouts participated in a DNR stewardship event, it fit in well with the Scouts’ ethic of helping maintain the environment, Beckwith said.

Working within a fen, volunteers at a Brighton Recreation Area
stewardship workday cut and remove glossy buckthorn from an
area where the invasive plant found favorable conditions to thrive.
Tom Zerona, an engineer from White Lake Township, made the half-hour drive with his 14-year-old son Luke to help out. Luke’s committed to doing volunteer work as part of his school program, Tom said, and “we thought it would be a good thing to come out and help the environment.”

Sean Zera, a herpetologist (that’s a reptile and amphibian enthusiast) from Ann Arbor, said he’s been participating in DNR stewardship days for quite a while.

“It’s one of those things that’s hard to explain,” he said. “But it gives me an excuse to get out, especially in the middle of winter, when I’m not likely to get out otherwise. And it gives me an excuse to visit these areas and check them out. I’ll probably come back in the summer and check out the flowers.”

In contrast, volunteer Dan Hawley of Milford had no problem explaining why he came. He’s a hunter who has an appreciation for habitat, he said, and he first became aware of the problem of invasive species when he found a patch of garlic mustard that was threatening to overtake one his best morel mushroom spots.

Volunteer Zachary Beckwith joined members of his Boy Scout
troop to help remove glossy buckthorn at Brighton Recreation
Area during a recent stewardship workday.
He went online to learn more about garlic mustard, stumbled onto the DNR stewardship program, and volunteered to help pull garlic mustard at a state recreation area. He’s since begun coming to other events to help remove other invasive species.

“It’s a good way to get out in the winter get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors,” he said.

The DNR holds volunteer stewardship events almost every weekend at parks and recreation areas across southern Michigan.

For more information, check out the department’s Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays, available on the DNR website www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Gone with the Wynns video: Fantastic, Free Camping in Florida



Enjoy this video from Gone with the Wynns, a popular RV blogging couple.

Here's what the Wynns had to say about their video:
There are loads of free Wild Camping spots throughout Florida!

Visit the post on their website for more information and pictures about Free Camping in Florida.

See all our Filming and Editing gear here: http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/hd-video-secrets

About Gone with the Wynns
Jason and Nikki Wynn are a couple of perpetual travelers, RVers and modern day documentarians. Their RV is the home of their discoveries and adventures, all depicting the unscripted tale of the quirky couple who traded in everyday life to satisfy their wear-out-your-shoes sense of adventure. Visit their website.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Camping Checklist from IcyBreeze



Note: The press release from IcyBreeze (their video is above) passed my way and I thought it'd be good to share. I'm a big proponent of checklists, especially when I left the supportpoles at home one trip (we have an expandable camper). The list below is comprehensive and no camper is big enough to stow all the gear listed. You'll want to customize it to suit you. Take a look at it, but you'll probably want to click the link to download the list in an MS Word file or in Evernote.

The camping season is heating up, and soon friends and family will hit the road to relax and explore nature. Preparation for a successful and enjoyable camping trip is key. A missing item when it comes time to cook the meal or pitch the tent can lead to frustration for all.

Hoping to curb this problem, the outdoor enthusiasts at IcyBreeze have prepared an extensive and practical camping checklist. The camping checklist helps users save time by providing a thorough list of camping items that can be edited down for each trip. IcyBreeze has provided an online version for simple use within a browser on desktop or mobile device. The camping checklist is also available for editing in two popular and user-friendly platforms. The list can be downloaded to Microsoft Word or opened in Evernote, so it can be pared down, added to, and taken to the store or the garage as items are gathered for the trip.

The camping checklist includes over 400 items broken down into the following categories: Campsite Gear, Clothing & Personal Gear, Toiletries & Personal Care Items, Cooking & Kitchen Items, Food & Drinks, Safety & Preparedness, Recreation & Fun, and Miscellaneous Items. It also includes an Essentials Camping Shortlist for a quick list of gear that should be considered essential for any short camping trip. Visit the IcyBreeze website to download the complete camping checklist.

The IcyBreeze is an innovative cooler that doubles as a portable air conditioner. Battery-powered, the IcyBreeze keeps drinks cold, while keeping the tent cool.


ESSENTIALS CAMPING SHORTLIST

For a quick camping trip that does not require a lot of preparation... The Essentials Camping Shortlist includes items essential to pack for your trip. The shortlist should be considered a bare minimum for a comfortable camping trip. Add detailed items to it, to round out a complete a packing list of specifics you want to take with you.
  • IcyBreeze Cooler Air Conditioner 
  • Tent & rain fly 
  • Tent stakes 
  • Ground tarp 
  • Sleeping bags 
  • Folding chairs 
  • Duct tape 
  • Charcoal 
  • Lighter fluid 
  • Lighter 
  • Matches 
  • Lantern 
  • Lantern fuel 
  • Flashlights 
  • Pocket knife or multi-tool 
  • Hammer or mallet 
  • Fire starter or newspaper 
  • Utility cord / rope 
  • Zip lock bags (large & small) 
  • Firewood 
  • Clothing 
  • Shoes 
  • Towels 
  • Washcloths 
  • Shampoo & conditioner 
  • Bodywash 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Aloe vera gel 
  • Insect repellent 
  • Wet wipes 
  • Personal toiletries 
  • Grill brush 
  • Grill utensils kit 
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil 
  • Paper towels 
  • Cooking pot 
  • Skillet 
  • Can opener 
  • Cooking utensils 
  • Sharp knife 
  • Dishes 
  • Drinking cups 
  • Eating utensils 
  • Dish soap 
  • Dish scrubber 
  • Dish towel 
  • Trash bags 
  • Food 
  • S’mores supplies 
  • Seasonings & spices 
  • Ice 
  • Bottled water 
  • First aid kit 
  • Extra car keys 
  • Spare cash 
  • Printout of campsite reservation 
  • Cell phone charger 

COMPLETE CAMPING CHECKLIST

The list below is broken down into sections. In general, the more necessary items are near the top with extras or luxury camping items near the bottom. This is a general rule of thumb only, as every trip will vary based on location, season, and planned activities. Have fun planning your next trip!

CAMPSITE GEAR

  • IcyBreeze Cooler Air Conditioner
  • Tent & rain fly
  • Tent stakes
  • Ground tarp
  • Sleeping bags
  • Folding chairs
  • Duct tape
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter fluid
  • Lighter
  • Matches
  • Lantern
  • Lantern fuel
  • Flashlights
  • Cooler
  • Pocket knife or multi-tool
  • Hammer or mallet
  • Fire starter or newspaper
  • Utility cord / rope
  • Zip lock bags (large & small)
  • Firewood
  • Tablecloths
  • Tablecloth clips
  • Lantern hanger / pole
  • Citronella candles
  • Tent entrance mat (rug or outdoor carpet)
  • Pillows
  • Sleeping pads
  • Air mattresses
  • Pump for air mattresses
  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Hatchet
  • Saw (bow or folding)
  • Charcoal chimney starter
  • Camp shovel
  • Bungee cords
  • Clothesline
  • Clothes pins
  • Camp towel drying rack
  • Folding table
  • Tarp shade shelter
  • Cots
  • Hammocks
  • Bug nets
  • Small broom & dust pan
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Camp holiday lights
  • Tiki torches
  • Tiki torch fuel
  • Pop-up shelter

CLOTHING & PERSONAL GEAR

  • T-shirts
  • Jeans / pants
  • Shorts
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Bras
  • Flip-flops or sandals
  • Tennis shoes
  • Light jacket
  • Sleepwear
  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Hats
  • Lounge pants
  • Long-sleeve shirts
  • Pocket knife
  • Small flashlight
  • Swimsuit
  • Boots
  • Slip-on shoes
  • Water shoes
  • Running shoes
  • Bandanas
  • Headlamp
  • Wrist watch
  • Backpack
  • Daypack / fanny pack
  • Hydration backpack
  • Water bottle / canteen
  • Compass
  • Trekking poles
  • Quick-dry shirts
  • Quick-dry underwear
  • Quick-dry pants
  • Quick-dry shorts
  • Long underwear
  • Hand warmers
  • Insulated jacket
  • Insulated pants
  • Insulated gloves
  • Insulated caps
  • Lanyard
  • Work gloves
  • Rain gear
  • Note pad & pen
  • Survival knife
  • Pocket shovel
  • Machete
  • Survival saw

TOILETRIES & PERSONAL CARE ITEMS

  • Body wash
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Bar soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Mouth wash
  • Deodorant
  • Insect repellent
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Feminine products
  • Comb / brush
  • Sunglasses
  • Eyewear retainers
  • Glasses case
  • Toilet paper
  • Drawstring bag
  • Wet wipes
  • Facial tissues
  • Nail clippers
  • Chapstick / lip balm
  • Anti-chafing powder
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Spare eyeglasses
  • Eyeglass cleaner
  • Contact lenses
  • Contact lens cleaner
  • Razor
  • Shaving gel / cream
  • Pain / headache medication
  • Prescription medications
  • Children’s medications
  • Personal toiletries
  • Cosmetics
  • Hand mirror
  • Solar shower
  • Clothing detergent

COOKING & KITCHEN ITEMS

  • Grill brush
  • Grill utensils kit
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Paper towels
  • Cooking grate / grill rack
  • Frying pan or skillet with lid
  • Stock pot with lid
  • Sauce pans
  • Cook pots
  • Hot pads or oven mitts
  • Dish soap
  • Dish scrubbers
  • Pan scrubbers
  • Bottle opener
  • Can opener
  • Clothes pins / bag clips
  • Recipes
  • Roasting sticks for marshmallows & hot dogs
  • Food storage containers
  • Zip lock bags (large & small)
  • Trash bags
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Mixing bowls
  • Coffee mugs
  • Insulated cups
  • Drinking cups
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Skewers
  • Cooking utensils
  • Eating utensils
  • Napkins
  • Paring knife
  • Sharp knives
  • Knife sharpener
  • Cutting board
  • Scissors
  • Potato peeler
  • Pie irons
  • Griddle
  • Dutch oven
  • Dutch oven tripod
  • Dutch oven lid lifter
  • French press
  • Camp coffee maker
  • Camp cooking stove
  • Stove windscreen
  • Cooking stove fuel
  • Fuel funnel
  • Tongs
  • Spatula
  • Wire whisk
  • Toothpicks
  • Cheese grater
  • Sealed totes for storage
  • Plastic wrap
  • Freezer paper
  • Wax paper
  • Collapsible water containers
  • Shallow dishwashing tub
  • Dish towels
  • Dish drying rack
  • Insulated bottles
  • Funnel
  • Thermos
  • Camp popcorn popper
  • Tea kettle
  • Corkscrew
  • Disposable wine glasses
  • Small portable grill
  • Personal (small) cooler
  • Camp kitchen

FOOD & DRINKS

  • Ice
  • Bottled water
  • Marshmallows
  • Graham crackers
  • Chocolate bars
  • Coffee
  • Creamer
  • Cereal
  • Eggs
  • Seasonings & spices
  • Breakfast bars
  • Pancake mix
  • Seasoned batter mix
  • Syrup
  • Butter / margarine
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly / jam
  • Bread
  • Meats
  • Soups
  • Cooking oil
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Sauces
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Tea
  • Milk
  • Hot chocolate
  • Drink mixes
  • Sport drinks
  • Cold beverages
  • Granola / snack bars
  • Protein bars
  • Dried snacks / trail mix
  • Beef jerky
  • Energy gels
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Cheese
  • Snack foods
  • Sugar
  • Popcorn
  • Freeze-dried meals

SAFETY & PREPAREDNESS

  • Extra car keys
  • First aid kit
  • Snake bite kit
  • Bee sting kit
  • Antiseptic cleaners
  • Safety pins
  • Safety whistle
  • Lantern batteries
  • Lantern bulb spares
  • Lantern mantles
  • Flashlight batteries
  • Flashlight bulb spares
  • Tent repair kit
  • Tent pole repair kit
  • Elastic shock cord
  • Sleeping pad repair kit
  • Air mattress repair kit
  • Sewing kit
  • Tool kit
  • Utility wire
  • Waterproof matches
  • Pocket sharpener
  • Carabiners
  • Water filter
  • Water treatment tablets
  • First-aid manual
  • Emergency fire starter
  • Emergency flares
  • Compact fishing kit
  • Bear spray

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

  • Spare cash
  • Printout of campsite reservation
  • Cell phone
  • Cell phone charger
  • Electronics chargers
  • Camera
  • Video camera
  • Memory cards
  • Camera film
  • Camera lenses / gear
  • Tripod
  • Binoculars
  • Minocular
  • Maps
  • Guidebooks
  • Field guide books (birds, flowers, insects)
  • Star chart / map
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Sketchbook & pencils / charcoal
  • Radio or MP3 player & headphones
  • Two-way radios
  • Handheld GPS
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Umbrella
  • Pet leash
  • Pet tent
  • Pet kennel / bed
  • Pet food
  • Pet toys

RECREATION & FUN

  • Playing cards
  • Frisbee
  • Football
  • Kickball set
  • Glow sticks
  • Fishing poles
  • Fishing license
  • Tackle box
  • Fishing bait
  • Play-pen
  • Baby shade blankets
  • Child carrier
  • Stroller
  • Jogging stroller
  • Bicycles
  • Skateboards / longboards
  • Helmets
  • Hacky sack / footbag
  • Kites
  • Geocaching materials
  • Bocce ball
  • Croquet set
  • Crosswords / Sudoku puzzles
  • Board games
  • Water guns
  • Water balloons and filling nozzle
  • Electronic toys
  • Boomerang
  • Guitar
  • Ukulele
  • Harmonica
  • Inflatable boat with paddles
  • Canoeing / kayaking gear
  • Rock climbing gear