Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My favorite campfire ghost story that's appropriate for all ages

A (Not So) Scary Ghost Story to Tell Around the Campfire


Editor's note: This is my favorite ghost story to tell around the campfire because you can tell it to kids. It's rather long here, but that's because I got carried away when writing it. You can certainly shorten it up. But make sure you set the scene! Also, I’d suggest inserting names of people you know (especially “Eddie”). Read all the way to the end!

The Creekmore Creature

Johhny and his younger sister Sally were walking home from the library late one night. The two were walking briskly down Main Street, but were still four blocks from home. The sun had set, and the street lamps had come on.

“Mom’s gonna kill us!” Johnny said aloud to no one in particular.

“It’s not our fault! We didn’t know it was so late!” Sally tried to help.

The wind was beginning to pick up, causing the jack o’lanterns on porches lining the street to flicker in laughter. It was the week of Halloween, and every house in town was decorated. Ghosts swayed from tree branches, witches peeked out from windows and giant spiders stood guard on front lawns.

“C’mon Sally, keep up!” Johnny demanded, as his sister trailed behind.

“You’re going too fast,” Sally whined.

They turned a corner and the wind picked up even harder, only now it was blowing directly at them. They buried their heads and trudged on.

Just then, a flash of lightning in the distance startled them. Johnny looked up just in time to see more lightning, off into the distance and high in the sky. Each burst of light illuminated a menacing thunderstorm that was blowing into town.

“We’d better hurry,” Johnny said, quickening their pace.

They heard the raindrops before they felt them, as the wind swept the stinging rain down the street and into their faces.

“Johnny, it’s hurting my face. I can’t keep my eyes open. Johnny. Johnny! Do something!” complained Sally.

Johnny looked around. It was one thing to be late, but it was another to be soaking wet. They were still three blocks away from home. If he was one street over, he could cut through backyards and they’d be home in no time.

They needed shelter, but there was none to be found. To their right was the Black River, and to their left, the direction of their home, was Creekmore Cemetery. It was encircled by a rusty wrought iron fence, with aged tombstones poking out from the grounds at odd angles.

If it was daytime Johnny might have chanced running through the cemetery, for it would be a brilliant shortcut. But not now; not at night. Strange sounds came from the cemetery at night, and no one in their right mind ever went into Creekmore Cemetery when the moon was out. Some people say they see someone, or something, moving about the graveyard at night. They say the spooky sounds come from it.

They call it the “Creekmore Creature.”

Suddenly, Johnny heard a loud clang. Looking up ahead, he saw the cemetery’s gate flinging back and forth in the wind. Another clang rung out as it struck the fence again. He looked to the left, down the path that led from the gate, and saw a dark stone building with a covered front porch. Shelter!

Setting his fears aside, Johnny had an idea.

“C’mon Sally. Let’s get under that porch and wait for the rain to stop,” Johnny said, hugging his sister close.

The two raced the rest of the way, bounded up the porch steps and came to a sliding stop in front of the front door.  Only the rain was still falling on them. They looked at each other incredulously, and then together looked up to see the porch roof was no longer there. Soaked to the bone, Johnny looked at Sally and saw her teeth chattering and tears gathering at the bottom of her eyes. He had to get her out of the rain.

“Let’s see if we can get inside,” he said, reaching out to the front doorknob. Slowly, he turned it, checking to see if it was unlocked. It was! He pushed the door, and it creaked loudly, but it swung open.

They stepped inside. It was dark. Only the flash of lightning shining through the windows allowed them short glimpses of, cobwebs, dust and furniture covered in sheets. Paintings on the wall showed unsmiling faces of elderly people, each seemingly casting stern looks of displeasure that children were trespassing in their home.

Johnny looked at Sally then and saw that besides her teeth chattering, she was also shivering. A short ways away, in what must have been the front parlor, he saw a large sheet that must have been draped over a sofa. Two sheets draped over what were undoubtedly chairs were on either side of it.

“C’mon,” he said to Sally, walking her over the couch. He sat her down, sending a plume of dust into the air. Johnny then grabbed the sheets off the two chairs, sat down beside Sally, wrapped themselves in the two sheets, and held her tight.

Outside the storm continued to rage. Lightning came more frequently, the wind was howling and the rain so fierce they couldn’t see more than a few feet out the windows.

“What are we gonna do?” Sally asked.

“It’ll be okay,” he said. “We’ll just wait for the storm to pass and then we’ll go home. Mom and Dad will understand.”

Johnny held her tighter. Slowly, they were able to warm a bit. They were wet, cold and tired, and he didn’t like being in Creekmore Cemetery at night, especially with the Creekmore Creature around. But at least they were under shelter. They would wait for the storm to pass, and then go home. It shouldn’t take long, he thought. But it did. The storm was relentless. He lost track of time. After a while, Sally fell asleep. Soon Johnny, too, fell asleep.

Johnny woke with a start. For a second, he forgot where he was. But then it came back to him. He looked around. The storm had passed and the full moon outside cast light inside.

Then he realized: Sally was gone.

And then he heard the faint sound of what he thought was someone moaning. Or maybe it was chanting. Whatever it was, it was coming from near the fireplace. He stood up and crept over to where the large stone fireplace. A sinister looking bear’s head loomed above the mantle.

He heard it again, only this time a little more clear. It definitely sounded like a person, or a something, that was chanting. A low, moaning sort of chanting. And it was coming from the floor! He took a few more steps, knelt down and found himself looking down at an iron grate in the floor. And then he heard the chanting again.

“Noooowwww I got youuuu wheeeerrre I waaaant yoouuu noowww I’m goooooonnnnna eeeaaat yooooouuu!”

It was the Creekmore Creature!

Johnny leaped to his feet and ran toward the door. He was nearly onto the front porch when he realized Sally was still inside. Then he thought Sally might be what the Creekmore Creature was going to eat! She could be tied up, sacred out of her mind while the Creekmore Creature was getting ready to eat her!

“Oh no!” he cried. He was tempted to run for help, but he knew there was not enough time. He turned on his heels and raced deeper into the home.

The sound came from the floor grate, he reminded himself. He remembered the time his dad was working on the furnace in the basement at their house, and he could hear him all the way up in his bedroom on the second floor. So that chanting he heard must have come from the basement, and that’s where Sally might be. With the Creekmore Creature about to eat her.

Through the front parlor was a long hallway, with several doors on either side. He crept cautiously, every now and then passing a floor grate. At each one he knelt down, and each time he would hear the Creekmore Creature chant again.

“Noooowwww I got youuuu wheeeerrre I waaaant yoouuu noowww I’m goooooonnnnna eeeaaat yooooouuu!”

As quietly as he could, Johnny opened each door, hoping to find steps leading to the basement. But each door only led into another room. The last door remaining was at the end of the hallway, and Johnny slowly, cautiously turned the knob and inched the door open. It moaned at his touch, and Johnny winced at the thought of being heard.

He poked his head through the open crack and looked down the steps, which led to another door. He could barely make it out, but Johnny saw the faint glimmer of light coming from the edges of the second door. And then he heard the Creekmore Creature chant again.

“Noooowwww I got youuuu wheeeerrre I waaaant yoouuu noowww I’m goooooonnnnna eeeaaat yooooouuu!”

It was louder than before, so loud he was convinced the Creekmore Creature – and Sally – was right behind the door.

As quietly as he could, Johnny walked down the steps. The wood groaned with each step, and Johnny was sure he would be heard and the Creekmore Creature would come bursting through the door.
But he made it all the way down and was now crouched behind the door. He put his hand on the knob and pressed his ear to the door.

“Noooowwww I got youuuu wheeeerrre I waaaant yoouuu noowww I’m goooooonnnnna eeeaaat yooooouuu!”

This is it, thought Johnny, Sally was about to be eaten! Without thinking, he threw open the door and stood ready to confront the Creekmore Creature.

The first thing he saw was Sally on the far side of the room. She was sitting in a chair, and staring with wide eyes at something behind a pillar, which could only be the Creekmore Creature. Johnny could make out glimpses of the Creature whenever he moved, and he realized he was big. Bigger than him.

“Noooowwww I got youuuu wheeeerrre I waaaant yoouuu noowww I’m goooooonnnnna eeeaaat yooooouuu!”

And then he heard Sally scream!

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Johnny drew himself into a crouch and raced along the edge of the room so he could get a better view of the Creekmore Creature. With his back to the wall, he sidestepped inch by agonizing inch, never taking his eyes off the Creature.

The Creature kept turning, always keeping his back to Johnny. That back. He was grotesque. He was massive, bulging and pocked with bulbous sores with long black hairs poking out. The Creature had no shirt, but his pants were a dirty brown with stains on them. They ended just past his knees in tattered shreds. He had no socks and no shoes, and his feet were just as reviling as his back, with clumps of black hair on their tops and the long stringy toes ending with long yellow toenails.

Eventually Johnny reached the end of the wall and was wedged into the corner. Sally, who continued to be mesmerized by the Creature, was now to his right. And to his left was the Creature. A tiny lightbulb hung between the two, dangling from the ceiling rafters.

The Creature, his back still to Johnny, was fumbling with something out of sight. The sounds he made were grotesque. His head kept bobbing up and down, side to side, and his shoulders heaved as his arms were moving in deliberate motion. What the Creature doing Johnny could only guess at. Was he sharpening his carving knife? Was he preparing a side dish of varmint entrails? Was he pouring blood into a goblet, the better to wash down his meal of Sally?

Just then the Creature’s head motioned as if he had struck upon an idea, and he stopped moving. He slowly turned toward Sally, which also brought his face into view of Johnny for the first time.
His hideous scalp shown through its patchy, stringy dark hair. The one ear Johnny could see had a chunk taken out of it. His face was blotched with dark pimples and a wisp of whiskers. His eyes, tinged with yellow, seemed crazed, as its one eye darted uncontrollably. His huge nose ended with a large wart, out of which sprung a curly black hair.

And shoved up inside his nose was one of his long, gnarly fingers.

The Creature drew closer to Sally, who drew her head back instinctively.

He smiled viciously and slowly pulled his finger, joint by joint, out of his nose.

Finally free of the nose, the Creature held out his finger, its tip just inches in front of Sally.

And at the end of the Creature’s finger was the biggest, grossest, gooiest booger Johnny had ever seen. It was green and brown and red and yellow snot oozed from it, running down the his finger.

The Creature pulled his finger with the booger on it back to him. It was now inches from his own face. He turned his finger so he could get a better look at the booger, causing it to flop from one side to the other.

“Noooowwww I got youuuu wheeeerrre I waaaant yoouuu noowww I’m goooooonnnnna eeeaaat yooooouuu!”

And with that, the Creature stuck his booger finger into his mouth and slurped it clean.

It turns out the Creekmore Creature was really Eddie, the cemetery’s caretaker. He was a simple man with government plastic in his head and mostly harmless. He lived in the basement and only did his work at night, when people couldn’t see him and make fun of how he looked. He liked to hum while working. It was that sound people heard and, as people tend to do, which created the legend of the Creekmore Creature.

The moral of the story: Never shake Eddie’s hand.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bicycle Adventures Livens up Death Valley On October / November Four-Day Tours

Guest Post: Death Valley National Park via Las Vegas is an adventurous way to escape for a long weekend or a midweek getaway while extending warm weather – sans rain – on bicycles this fall.

Bicycle Adventures, a Pacific Northwest-based active travel company specializing in two-wheel tours in North America, Hawaii’s Big Island and New Zealand, announces a series of four-day October and November departures into the largest (5,219 square miles) National Park in America’s Lower 48.

The dates for Death Valley ‘1984’ departures at $1,984 per person are Oct 12, 27; Nov 1, 6, 11. Two Death Valley Classic departures at $2,250 per person are Oct 16 and 23. (The Classic offers upgraded lodging for an additional $266 per person.) The trip starts and finishes in Las Vegas with pick up / drop off at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Las Vegas South and the Bellagio. (The rates are per person double occupancy and all inclusive except for one dinner.)

Death Valley National Park protects the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert, spanning the border of California and Nevada, and Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level - the lowest point in North America. The region receives two inches or less of rain annually. Late fall temperatures range from the 70s to 90s. The region is home to more than 1,000 species of plants found only here (more than 50 are endemic). Unrivaled diversity of terrain includes 200 miles of eerie salt flats, velvety-looking sand dunes, crazy-stripe badlands, deep canyons and snow-tipped mountains. Guests cycle on average 30 miles a day, sometimes past abandoned mines, and they may fit in a round of golf at the world's lowest elevation course, go horseback riding or just sit in the sun by the pool at Furnace Creek Resort.
 
“My first time to Death Valley, I was surprised by the variety of things to see and do and just how great the cycling was. The area has historical and geological significance, which means great climbs, flat terrain, rolling hills, smooth roads – and very little traffic. This all comes with a really relaxed atmosphere,” said Todd Starnes, owner of Bicycle Adventures.

Starnes’ head bike guide and guru, Matt Paul, still dreams about the descent on Daylight Pass – six months later. “Epic view, easy corners, smooth roads, 20 miles of descending! This was the most amazing way to begin four days of perfect cycling.  On the fourth day, when finishing the climb to Dante’s View, I could just about see all of the places I had ridden since entering the valley. That includes 80 miles northwest to Ubehebe Crater, 60 miles north to Daylight, 5500 feet straight down to Badwater Basin and 25 miles to Furnace Creek with Zabriskie Point in between. What a way to finish off the trip. And I still had the 25 mile descent back to the lush Furnace Creek in front of me!”
 
For more information, 2014 and 2015 availability and reservations contact Bicycle Adventures by phone: 800.443.6060, email: office@bicycleadventures.com or visit online at: http://bicycleadventures.com/.

About Bicycle Adventures
Scenic byways, four and five-star accommodations and local dining and visits to National Parks are trademarks Bicycle Adventures, founded in 1984.  Types of tours include Classic (25-50 miles a day), Classic Plus (50-60 miles a day) and Epic (70+ miles a day with the most demanding terrain). Value-driven Casual category trips offer budget-conscious lodging and meals, van support and shorter itineraries.
 
Pre-set and custom tours embrace the Pacific Northwest into Canada, California and the Southwest, as well as Colorado, South Dakota, New York, Hawaii and New Zealand. Excelling in its own backyard the Issaquah, WA-based company conducts tours of Washington State’s wine country and includes an immersion into the craft beer industry in California, Oregon and Washington.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Video: Rollin' On TV visits Jayco



Rollin' On TV Show #2014-21
In this episode Rollin' On TV visits Jayco, one of the largest RV manufacturers in the country.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Videos: Dominator & Viper RV Sewer Hose Kits by Valterra Products





In these RV videos host Mark Polk, with RV Education 101 , demonstrates the features and benefits of the Dominator and Viper lines of RV sewer hose kits by Valterra Products.

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"

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Videos: Fitted RV Sheets for RV Beds, by Lippert Components Inc. & EZ Coupler RV Sewer Hose Kits by RV Education 101



Mark Polk, with RV Education 101, talks with Lippert Components sale representative about fitted RV sheets and mattresses at America's Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa.



In this RV video Mark Polk, with RV Education 101, demonstrates the features and benefits of the EZ Coupler RV sewer hose kits and extension hoses by Valterra Products. EZ Coupler RV sewer hose are easy to use and stand up to the test of time, watch to see why.

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, October 17, 2014

Videos: 2015 Winnebago Brave Retro Motorhome & 2015 Landmark 365 Luxury 5th Wheel by Heartland RV by RV Education 101



Mark Polk, with RV Education 101, talks with Winnebago District Sales Manager about the 2015 retro-style Winnebago Brave at America's Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa.



Mark Polk, with RV Education 101, talks with Heartland RVs Jim Beletti about the brand new 2015 Landmark 365 Newport luxury 5th wheel at America's Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa.

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"

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Video: Agencies unite to combat invasive species in Lake Erie



In total, staff from 10 federal, state and provincial agencies jumped at the chance to gather in early September in Monroe, Mich., to conduct the Michigan/Ohio Lake Erie Field Exercise, a three-day effort designed to test the capability to respond to the threat of invasive bighead and silver carp and other aquatic invasive species, while providing the chance to learn more about these species and how they behave.

According to Nick Popoff, manager of the Michigan DNR’s Aquatic Species and Regulatory Affairs Unit, it was no easy task uniting that many agencies. But with previous experience gained by holding a similar exercise on the St. Joseph River last year, the DNR’s Fisheries Division was up for the challenge.

Minnesota DNR fisheries biologist Nick Frohnauer (left) holds a
freshwater drum caught in a gill net deployed on Lake Erie, while
Michigan DNR fisheries biologist Chuck Payment (right)
brings in the net. (DNR photos)
“That previous exercise allowed us to develop a command structure for use during actual response activities and training drills like this one on Lake Erie,” said Popoff, who serves as the event’s logistics officer. “Implementing and testing a unified command system was a big priority for us to accomplish with this exercise.”

“With so many employees from various agencies on the ground during the Lake Erie training, the Incident Command Structure brought a military-type precision to our work, which led to an efficient and successful training opportunity.”

Another priority for the Michigan and Ohio DNRs was complying with the Mutual Aid Agreement developed by the Great Lakes governors and premiers this past spring to combat invasive species, including Asian carp.

Signed in April 2014 by members of the Council of Great Lakes Governors and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the Mutual Aid Agreement directs agencies in those jurisdictions to share expertise and staff if invasive species posed a serious threat to a particular region.

Minnesota DNR fisheries biologist Nick Frohnauer brings in a
gill net, deployed on Lake Erie in an attempt to capture grass
carp during a multi-agency invasive species field exercise.
Just a few short months later, representatives from the Michigan and Ohio DNRs started coordinating the Lake Erie Field Exercise, with the focus being on Asian carp – particularly grass carp.

Grass carp were first imported from Asia in 1963 as a biological control tool for aquatic vegetation; since 1984, the species has been reported in Lake Erie by commercial fishers. By way of the field exercise, the Michigan and Ohio DNRs hoped to increase scientific knowledge about grass carp abundance, demographics and distribution in western Lake Erie.

“It’s important to note that although grass carp are considered Asian carp, they are not at the same level of concern as bighead carp and silver carp. Currently there are no known bighead or silver carp populations in Michigan’s waters of the Great Lakes,” said Popoff. “But just the same, grass carp are a prohibited species in both Michigan and Ohio and the exercise allowed us to see what their populations really look like in the waters of Lake Erie.”

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 9, boat crews from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Minnesota DNRs; New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Geological Survey; Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources; and Fisheries & Oceans Canada deployed electroshocking, gillnetting and commercial seining to catch as many grass carp as possible.

Michigan DNR fisheries staff perform minor
surgery on a captured grass carp to implant a
tracking device. Use of tracking devices tells
 fisheries biologists more about fish movement
and spawning patterns.
All grass carp caught would be implanted with transmitters for a behavior study that would monitor their movements over time to see where they congregate and/or spawn.carp surgery.

Although implementation of the exercise was textbook, the outcome did not entirely meet agency expectations.

“Unfortunately, only two grass carp were caught during the three-day effort and one died following the surgery required to implant the transmitters while the other never even made it to the operating table,” Popoff said.

According to Cleyo Harris, acting Fisheries Biologist out of Waterford and the co-lead on the grass carp behavior research project, work will continue post-exercise in an effort to collect enough grass carp to monitor their movements.

“Together with Ohio DNR we will work with Lake Erie’s commercial fishers to tag any grass carp found,” he said. “Hopefully as we get into the fall and the water temperatures cool off we will be able to find more fish and continue on with our plans.”

Popoff is quick to point out it’s not necessarily a problem the exercise didn’t capture an abundance of grass carp.

“Although we would have liked to catch more grass carp for the purposes of the transmitter study, it’s slightly comforting that with more than 60 folks out on the water in 17 boats we only caught two fish,” he explains. “That might tell us that grass carp aren’t nearly as prevalent as we might have thought.”

Staff from 10 federal, state and provincial agencies used a combination of
electroshocking boats, gill nets and commercial seines to capture fish
during the Lake Erie Field Exercise. 
Despite the lack of grass carp, the field exercise provided copious amounts of information about working together with a variety of agencies to reach a common goal, and allowed staff to test mechanical response capabilities in vast stretched of public waters, Popoff said.

Both the Michigan and Ohio DNRs remain focused on what they identify as a critical activity: preparing for a potential Asian carp invasion.

“We learned so many things from this exercise,” said Popoff. “We hit all of our objectives and experienced great coordination among the agencies involved. We couldn’t have asked for a smoother process.”

Conducting a field response exercise in Lake Erie waters was a requirement of the 2014 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Grant. The GLRI is awarded to the states by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Environmental Protection Agency.

To learn more about the Lake Erie Field Exercise, watch a video interview with Popoff, found on the DNR’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/MichiganDNR.

For more information about Asian carp, visit www.michigan.gov/asiancarp.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Moab Adventure Center provides advice, gear and guides for taking on Moab’s New Mountain Bike Trails

MOAB, UT – The Moab Adventure Center has been gearing up to outfit the demand for mountain bike trail riding thanks to Moab’s new mountain bike trail building boom. Nearly 30 new trails or extensions of existing routes have been blazed over the past 18 months.

“We've seen a steady increase in riders this year, partly due to the news getting out that a number of new trails have been established around Moab,” explains Jamie Pearce, Manager of Moab Adventure Center. “We’re here to help with suggestions, logistics, gear and outfitting as needed. We can also take riders on guided small group mountain bike adventures.”

Claiming that it takes more than a week to ride all of the trails here, Trail Mix, the organization behind the commitment to increasing excitement levels for mountain bikers, says there are now trails for all levels so the whole family can enjoy a two-wheel vacation based in Moab.

Trail Mix is an advisory committee to Grand County, Utah, that builds and maintains trails, mostly on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The name comes from "The Mix" of non motorized trail users: hiking, biking, equestrian and skiing, explained Sandy Freethey, Grand County Trail Mix Chair.

Typically the organization builds about 25 miles of new trail annually after a three-to-12-month BLM approval process. On average, a mile of trail is built in up to two weeks. It may take longer when grip hoists to move large rocks or bench cutting are involved. Trail Mix prides itself on building trails quickly and for less money than in other areas. The work is done with two paid workers and two or more regular volunteers.

“We get a lot of trail built utilizing volunteers who come to town in the spring and fall from various colleges, youth groups, Outward Bound and Boy Scouts.  These groups help us build for a day and are gone.  But with 10-15 hands the trail building moves forward quickly,” said Freethey. “The International Mountain Bicycling Association (locally the newly formed Moab Mt. Bike Association) was active this summer involving local bikers in work party weekends building new trails in the LaSal Mts. working with the Forest Service.  They had a great turn out of 25- 30 people for those weekend builds.”

Freethey lists some of the major the new mountain bike trails created in 2013-2014 in and around Moab:

Dead Horse Point West Side Trails: Crossroads, Whiptail, Prickly Pair, Twisted Tree. In 2013 the trail system was doubled in length. Dead Horse Point State Park now has 17 miles of singletrack. The Park is located approximately 30 miles from Moab.

Amasa Back Area: Captain Ahab and HyMasa. The Amasa Back Trail is a jeep trail that climbs about 1,000 feet to a mesa top overlooking the Colorado River and the Kane Creek Anticline. A short bike ride from town, this trail is challenging and fun for experienced mountain bikers.

Klondike additions: Alaska, Homer, Nome, Jurrasic, Inside Passage, Chilkoot Pass, Miner's Loop, Dino Flow N. Extension. The Klondike Bluffs Trail represents a step up in terms of exertion and skills required, but is still enjoyable for fit novice mountain bikers. The route follows a jeep trail across Moab Member slickrock imprinted with fossilized dinosaur tracks. The jeep trail terminates at the boundary of Arches National Park, where a short hike leads to the top of the bluffs and an impressive viewpoint.

Moab Brands: Sidewinder, Escape, couple of short spur connector trails. Take U.S. 191 North about 8 miles to the Bar-M Chuckwagon; turn right to enter the Bar-M private parking lot. Choose from a variety of family and novice-friendly trails over varied terrain. There are some moderately difficult single track and slickrock sections as well.

Navajo Rocks: This is off Hwy 313; the first 7 miles are complete; another 9 miles are planned, all providing an intermediate ride with aerobic climbs, heart-skipping descents and moderately smooth cross-country travel. An average grade is about 6% with 5 or 6 stretches exceeding 15%.

Klonzo II: South Unit:  Roller Coaster, The Red Hot, Midway, Hot Dog, Houdini, Zoltar, Top Spin, Carousel, Wizard, Gypsy, Magician, (and coming soon the new Gravitron Trail off of Wahoo).  The trailhead for the Klonzo Trails is on the Willow Springs Road approximately 12 miles north of Moab. This trail system currently has 7 trails mostly for intermediate skill level.

Gold Bar Rim - aka Blue Dot:  The BLM has this trail to build. There will be some changes and short re-routes around an archaeology site and one re route for a better line to the old Blue Dot, hopefully done by the end of the year.  Technically it’s not legal to ride yet with a surface all slickrock along shallow drainages.

Moab, Utah has become the undisputed hub for mountain bike enthusiasts by virtue of its beautiful red rock terrain, views that go on forever and trails that range from beginner to advanced and suit all riding abilities. The Moab Adventure Center offers professionally guided Moab mountain biking tours on all of Moab's classic rides.

Recommended for those new to mountain biking or mountain biking in the Moab area is the Courthouse Loop ride or the Canyonlands Sunrise ride. For a more intermediate experience, check out the Klondike Bluffs or Deadhorse Point Intrepid Trail rides. http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/trips/biking/

Through the Moab Adventure Center visitors may combine half, full and multiple-day activities in the Moab region. There’s a 10 percent discount when combining three or more full- or half-day activities in a package. Moab Adventure Center can also arrange a variety of basic-to-luxury lodging options and suggest dining venues.

About Moab Adventure Center
Moab Adventure Center is a division of Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/), an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. The company is the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT. Its programs are available from March through October.

The Moab Adventure Center is located at 225 South Main Street, Moab, Utah 84532. For information and reservations please call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163. The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear and clothing as well as souvenirs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Video: RV Water System Tips & Tricks by RV Education 101


Enjoy this video by Mark Polk of RV Education 101 on "RV Water System Tips & Tricks."

Here's what Mark had to say about his video:

In this RV how to video host Mark Polk with RV Education 101 demonstrates how using a water regulator and water filter while making your RV water connections at the KOA campground can help protect you and your RV water system.

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"

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rollin' On TV Show takes a look at Peterson Industries and the Excel fifth-wheels and trailers



Enjoy this epiode of Rollin' On TV.

Here's what they hjad to say about their video:
This week we revisit Peterson Industries the company that make Excel 5th wheels and trailers. We talk with Bryan Tillett, President and CEO and learn about the company and its product lines.
Wheel bearing maintenance, it's simple and can save you a lot of aggravation and money if you have a problem on the road.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Michigan DNR conservation officers put to the test with 18-week field training

New conservation officer Saykham Keophalychanh working a patrol
on Hardy Pond near Whitecloud as part of his 18-week field training.
(DNR photos)
New conservation officers put to the test with 18-week field training

Standing high on a bluff overlooking the Muskegon River in late August, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers Jeff Ginn and Saykham Keophalychanh spotted an angler on the river below. Without saying a word, Keophalychanh immediately began making his way down the path to the river bank, hoping to make contact with the angler.New officer Keo with his field training officer Ginn

One of 23 graduates from the Department of Natural Resources’ most recent law enforcement academy, Keophalychanh is currently working under the supervision of Ginn, his field training officer (FTO). Like his classmates, Keophalychanh will spend 18 weeks afield with veteran conservation officers to learn the ropes before reporting to his assigned county.

“I want him to have a lot of contacts during the field training,” said Ginn, a CO in Newaygo County. “The more people he talks to that aren’t suspicious, the more someone who is suspicious will stand out to him.”

Saykham Keophalychanh
Keophalychanh, who is halfway through his second of three six-week sessions with an FTO, said he’s already learned 10 times as much about the job as he did at the academy.

“It’s kind of like doing lab work in a science class, to use an analogy,” Keophalychanh said. “Sometimes five minutes in the lab can teach you as much as five hours with a book. What we learned in the academy is 20 miles wide, but only an inch deep. The FTO process fine-tunes you, reinforces what you learned in the academy."

Ginn, an eight-year veteran of the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division, said his job as a FTO is to make sure Keophalychanh understands what’s expected of him and to teach by example.

“The academy provides a great foundation for our officers,” he said, “but when they get in the field, that’s when they put their skills to the test.”

Keophalychanh said Ginn has really helped him learn what he should focus on in the field.

“I was a clean slate coming in,” Keophalychanh said. “It’s good to have direction. Just being able to see how it’s done is a good experience for me.”

Getting these 23 new officers through the training is crucial to the DNR’s mission to protect, manage and conserve Michigan’s natural resources. Prior to the academy this year, the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division was operating at an all-time low for the number of conservation officers in the field, with some counties not having the full-time presence of a CO.

The field training portion of a new officer’s overall training is an integral part of what prepares the officer for the job, said Sgt. Jay Person, commander of the DNR’s conservation officer recruit school.

Officers administer first aid“The field training is segmented so that the new officer moves from an observational role to an active role over the course of 18 weeks,” Person said. “When completed, the new officer has a very good idea what the job is really like, and pairing them with different FTOs throughout the field training maximizes their exposure to highly trained, experienced conservation officers who have a lot of knowledge to share about the job and the area where the new officer is assigned.”

Officers Saykham Keophalychanh and Angie
Greenway provide first aid to an injured swimmer at
the annual “Hardigras” gathering on Hardy Pond near
Whitecloud. Keophalychanh is a recent graduate
from the DNR’s conservation officer academy.
During the first six weeks of field training, the new officers were paired with a more experienced officer in or near their assigned county. In the second six-week segment, the new officers were moved to another region of Michigan, sometimes to an area completely different than their assigned county, allowing the new officers to be exposed to different areas of the state and the different activities encountered – an officer assigned to a more rural county may spend the next six weeks in a more urban area and vice versa.

In between the first and second sessions, there was a one-week training session at the DNR’s Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center at Higgins Lake that focused on marine operations, boat handling and tribal awareness.

After the second six-week segment, another one-week training period focusing on waterfowl training and enforcement will be held just prior to the opening of most waterfowl hunting seasons in Michigan.

In the first six weeks, the new officers spend more time observing the more experienced officer handling contacts or assignments. In the second week, the new officers take the lead more on contacts. In the final segment, the new officers fully take the lead on contacts and investigations.

“The field training gradually ramps up as it moves along,” said Person. “At the end, the new officers will be completely ready to perform their duties as assigned.”

Keophalychanh’s view of the field training experience is echoed by his classmates.

Tim Rosochacki
“It’s an awesome way to learn,” said Tim Rosochacki, a 26-year-old former DNR park ranger who is a newly minted CO. “They’ve got a lot of tips and tricks that they’ve learned and they know what a fresh officer is going through.

“My training officers have been great – they’ve let me learn on my own, but they’ve also added to it. They’ll tell you their own experiences and that gives you a better mental picture of the routes or avenues you can take. Now you’re getting to put all the stuff you learned in the academy to use. You’re getting to see firsthand how it all fits together.

“They get you thinking one way and then you get out in the field and you begin to see why you were trained that way.”

As Ginn and Keophalychanh continue their patrol, they cruise past a launch ramp on Hardy Pond and spot another angler fishing in a boat not far from shore. Keophalychanh asks Ginn if they should wave him in to check him. Ginn’s response?

“Let’s talk about that a minute,” Ginn said. “Let’s say we see him catching fish hand-over-fist and then when you contact him, he just motors off. What are we going to do? What options are available to us?”

Keophalychanh said the first thing he would do is look for the boat’s registration numbers. He puts his field glasses to his eyes, notes the vessel’s MC numbers, and gets on the radio. Minutes later, he learns the boat is registered to someone who has a senior citizens’ fishing license. That seems to jibe with what Keophalychanh has seen.

As Ginn put it, the pair found out what they needed to know without disrupting the angler’s recreation.

“There are countless ways to do this job,” Ginn said. “It doesn’t matter which approach you take if you get the right outcome. After we have an interaction, we often talk about how we might have done it differently. I like to tell him about things I think I’ve done wrong. There are times when I say, ‘I should have done it this way …’”

Richard Cardenas
Richard Cardenas, a 26-year-old recent academy graduate from Ionia County said working with an established CO has really helped him understand how to interact with the public.

“You’re working with a fellow officer who helps you get in your groove and develop your own style,” Cardenas said. “Each community is different and the academy can’t teach you that – how to interact with different cultures, different age groups, different types of sportsmen. The scenarios they give you at the academy are just that – scenarios. This is real life.”

Cardenas, who spent his first six-week session with an officer in Livingston County, said he spent a lot of time at Belle Isle, a far different atmosphere than rural Ionia County. He’s found a supportive community in Detroit.

“Most of the people we encounter are very happy we’re there,” he said. “They support what we’re doing and are enjoying the new atmosphere at Belle Isle.”

The new COs will begin their third six-week session of field training shortly. Then they’ll be hitting the ground on their own just when things really get busy for conservation officers – right before the firearms deer season. By all accounts, the officers can hardly wait.

“The job is what I thought it would be and then some,” Rosochacki said. “Every day I’m amazed at what I get to do and what I experience. You’re on the lake one day and the next day you’re out in the woods. The dynamics of the job and the variety are awesome.”

Ginn said his stint as an FTO has been a learning experience for him, too.

“I’ve learned things from Keo,” he said. “We’re both in the same boat. I’ve been in his shoes and I’m falling back on my experiences to learn what kind of an FTO I want to be. This is a new chapter in my career, too.”

For his part, Keophalychanh is looking forward to getting out on his own.

“It’s a point of pride to earn your badge and begin putting everything you’ve learned into action,” he said. “It’s exciting to know that day is just around the corner.”

To learn more about the DNR’s conservation officer academy and the recruitment process, visit www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Video: The 2015 Palazzo Class A Diesel Pushers by Thor Motor Coach

Here's what Thor had to say about its video:

Here's a Video Review of the Palazzo line of Class A Diesel Motorhomes (http://PalazzoRV.com), which started the affordable diesel pusher phenomena, continues to impress with the new 35.1. The 35.1 includes luxurious amenities such as a retractable 48-inch LED TV in the living room; a buffet dinette that seats four and a king size bed in the master bedroom. Under the hood, the 35.1 and 36.1 models have an upgraded engine, producing 340-horsepower and 700-lb.-ft. torque. The 36.1 is the Palazzo’s bath and a half model, which works out perfectly for entertaining and hosting the occasional overnight guests.

The 33.3 bunkhouse model continues to be a favorite among families because of the bunk beds on the driver’s side. And let’s not leave out the 33.2 featuring an oversized dinette, euro recliner and sofa helping it to become an entertainers delight.

All Palazzo motorhomes have abundant basement storage, pet-friendly leatherette furniture, residential appliances, HDMI video distribution capability, and energy efficient LED lighting.

Learn More At http://PalazzoRV.com

Friday, October 10, 2014

Video: The 2015 Tuscany by Thor Motor Coach



Here's what Thor had to say about the Tuscany:

Video Review of the all new 2015 Tuscany Luxury Class A Diesel Motorhomes (http://TuscanyRV.com/tag) from Thor Motor Coach, North America's Top selling Motorhome brand.

Submerge yourself in the life of luxury with one of the Tuscany's floor plans. Think of it as your own private villa that was made to fit you. With breathtaking high-gloss glazed cabinetry, elegant UltraLeather™ furniture, and all the amenities you would find in a 5-star resort, the Tuscany is the beginning of a long list of memorable luxury vacations.

On September 10th, 2014 at the 2014 Hershey RV Show the Tuscany 40DX makes its public debut. This new single rear-axle model is fully equipped with all the goodies like fully-reclining theater seating across from a retractable 60-inch LED Smart HDTV , a master-style rear bathroom with oversized shower, a 32-inch LED TV in the bedroom and a buffet dinette that seats four comfortably.

You can also check out the new Tuscany 42HQ,featuring a large wrap-around countertop with wine rack as well as a wine cooler and residential refrigerator. The residential J-lounge, large bay window in the living area and fully retractable 60-inch LED HDTV come together to create a charming and cozy environment.

Don’t forget to feast your eyes on the 40KQ featuring a freestanding wine cooler and a 60-inch LED Smart HDTV; the 44MT with 1-1/2 bathrooms and fireplace; and the 45AT which features his-and-her sinks in the master bathroom.

Compare the entire 2015 lineup of new diesel pusher motorhomes at http://thormotorcoach.com/

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Minnesota DNR seeks comments on Whitewater State Park campground project

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments from Sept. 29 to Oct. 29 on an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) prepared for the Whitewater State Park campground development project, 20 miles west of Winona in southeastern Minnesota.

The DNR is proposing to develop a new campground in the park with 45 to 50 campsites with electric service, four camper cabins, three redesigned group camps with picnic shelters, and two new sanitation buildings.

The EAW is available online starting Sept. 29. Additional copies may be requested by calling 651-259-5157.

A copy of the EAW is available for public review at:
  • DNR Library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.
  • DNR Central Region Office, 1200 Warner Road, St. Paul, MN 55106.
  • Hennepin County – Minneapolis Central Library, Government documents, 2nd floor, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1992.
  • Rochester Public Library, Reference dept., 101 Second St. SE, Rochester, MN 55904.
  • St. Charles Public Library, 125 W. 11th St., St. Charles, MN 55972.
  • Plainview Public Library, 345 1st Ave. NW, Plainview, MN 55964.
The EAW notice will be published in the Sept. 29 EQB Monitor. Written comments on the EAW must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 29 to the attention of Ronald Wieland, EAW project manager, Environmental Policy and Review Unit, Ecological and Water Resources Division, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.

Electronic or email comments may be sent to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us with “Whitewater EAW” in the subject line. If submitting comments electronically, include name and mailing address. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 651-296-1811.