Friday, October 31, 2014

Thor Motor Coach diesel models a big splash at Pomona RV Show


The California RV show in Pomona hosted one of the best retailing shows for the Tuscany, Tuscany XTE and Palazzo lines of diesel motorhomes from Thor Motor Coach (TMC).

“From every perspective, our diesel motorhomes were the buzz in Pomona.  I think the retail public has really seen the advances we have made in the overall function and design of our motorhomes. From top to bottom, the Thor Motor Coach line-up is the best in the business,” claimed Chris Carter, Product Manager for Thor Motor Coach.

The Palazzo was well received in the Mike Thompson’s RV display. TMC’s Palazzo motorhomes will satisfy first-time diesel buyers or seasoned veterans looking for livable luxury.  The newest 36.2 floor plan had people talking, with its innovative laundry room. This new 36-foot model is powered by a Cummins® ISB diesel engine, providing 340-hp.  The shorter models, 33.2 and 33.3, are perfect choices for those needing smaller size with big amenities.

In the Giant RV display, the Tuscany 40DX made its California debut featuring fully-reclining theater seating and retractable 60-inch LED Smart HDTV.

“We’re finding that owners want smaller Class A diesels with all the luxuries found in the larger tag-axle models,” said Adam Gudger, National Sales Manager for Class A Diesels. “The new 40DX is our answer. We implemented feedback from current owners into this new floor plan and we’re excited to get it out to the public.”

The elegant high-gloss cabinetry in the Tuscany XTE has it looking better than motorhomes that cost twice the price.  With a color combination to satisfy the most critical tastes, the new Milan Cherry and Resort Cherry cabinets are all solid hardwood.  Other residential features that have consumers talking are the LG Hi-Macs® solid surface countertops, porcelain tile floors, Whirlpool® appliances and Sony® electronics.

For more details on the complete diesel motorhome line, visit ThorMotorCoach.com.

About Thor Motor Coach
Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is the only “Made to Fit” motorhome brand in North America. TMC’s diverse product lineup includes many of the world’s most recognized Class A and Class C motorhomes. As the industry leader in innovative design, TMC builds a variety of unique styles, sizes and floor plans that feel custom-made – at a truly competitive price. For more information, visit ThorMotorCoach.com or call 800-860-5658.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

B&W Trailer Hitches 'Quietly' Unveils New Patriot 16K Rail-Mounted Fifth Wheel Slider Hitch

Precision engineering techniques and tight manufacturing tolerances allow B&W Trailer Hitches’ new Patriot 16K fifth wheel slider to deliver a quieter, more stress-free towing experience.

B&W Trailer Hitches, a leading U.S.-based manufacturer of heavy-duty, engineered trailer hitches and aftermarket truck/trailer accessories, announced that it will introduce its new 16,000-pound Patriot rail-mounted fifth wheel slider hitch at the 2014 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The innovative Patriot 16K RVK3270 hitch will be shown to the industry for the first time in B&W’s booth (30171) in the Upper South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The versatile new 16,000-pound Patriot rail-mounted slider complements B&W’s full line of hitches and is built to exacting specifications for smooth, flawless and virtually inaudible operation. Unlocking the slider hitch is made effortless, even on irregular terrain, via the locking mechanism’s gear-reduced cam ratio design, which gives the user mechanical advantage.

The Patriot’s two, solid one-inch tubular steel carriage rails are designed with sturdy center supports that prevent the rails from deforming or binding as a result of flexing under load. Hourglass-shaped rollers convey the carriage mechanism with fluid motion, regardless of topography. Once unlocked, the hitch is free to slide back into its maneuvering position and afterward, it glides up to its locked position just in front of the rear axle.

“Traditional slider hitches are known to make a bit of noise, and this can be disconcerting to some operators,” Don Collins, president, DC’s RV Centers, said. “With its precise fittings and smooth, quiet operation, B&W’s Patriot 16K slider will enhance the end-user’s towing experience.”

B&W’s new Patriot 16K slider hitch accommodates 12 inches of slide and is perfect for popular short-bed pickup trucks that allow less travel distance to the cab. Vertical adjustments can be made from 17 inches to 19 inches, allowing ample clearance for taller truck-bed walls. The Patriot 16K slider will fit on all industry standard mounting rails.

The Patriot 16K slider makes it easy to engage and disengage a trailer, as well. Thanks to its cam-lock design and three-quarter-inch-thick wrap-around jaws, an operator can couple or uncouple any trailer, regardless of the lay of the land. Pivot arms feature tough polyurethane bushings that allow the engaged coupler head to pivot smoothly, and the fully articulating head is cushioned by an integrated leaf spring.

“The Patriot 16K rail-mounted fifth wheel slider hitch is an American-made alternative to the offshore-manufactured slider hitches that have proliferated in recent years,” Travis McCall, product engineer for B&W Trailer Hitches, said. “Our hitch is engineered to operate as a finely tuned system, and we think users will be very impressed with the fit, finish, operation and overall ergonomics of our newest hitch design.”

B&W’s new Patriot rail-mounted slider is made of top-quality, American AISI 1018 steel and is powder coated for a tough, durable finish.

The 16K Patriot RVK3270 rail-mounted fifth wheel slider hitch has been tested and meets or exceeds the J2638 standard for a 16,000-pound vehicle tow rating (VTR). As in any towing scenario, B&W strongly recommends that users never exceed the Patriot 16K slider’s VTR.

B&W Trailer Hitches specializes in designing and engineering trailer hitches and aftermarket truck/trailer accessories, and is proud of its reputation as an exceptional U.S.-based manufacturer and innovator. The company’s workforce makes all of its products entirely in Humboldt, Kan.

The Patriot 16K RVK3270 rail-mounted fifth wheel slider hitch can be purchased through members of B&W’s extensive dealer network and a dealer locator is available at: http://www.Turnoverball.com/find-a-dealer

About B&W Trailer Hitches
Based in Humboldt, Kan., B&W Trailer Hitches engineers and manufactures trailer hitches and aftermarket truck/trailer accessories. B&W offers a broad selection of products designed to seamlessly integrate with and enhance the use of trucks and the vehicles and equipment they tow. All B&W products are proudly manufactured in the USA, in a state-of-the-art facility that houses a skilled workforce of craftsmen and the most technologically advanced equipment available. B&W is recognized as an innovator and invented the Turnoverball gooseneck hitch, which revolutionized the industry in 1992. To learn more about B&W Trailer Hitches, please visit: http://www.Turnoverball.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Showerhouse season extended at Missouri State Park campgrounds

Campers looking to plan another adventure in Missouri State Parks before cooler temperatures set in will be able to enjoy an extended showerhouse season.  All state park campgrounds with showerhouses will keep at least one open through Nov. 2. All forty state parks and historic sites with camping have campsites available year-round, but water and shower are usually only available from April 1 through Oct. 31.

Some parks have showerhouses that will remain open beyond Nov.  2.  These include the following parks, which will keep a showerhouse available until:

Nov. 9, 2014

  • Hawn State Park
  • Robertsville State Park
  • Lake of the Ozarks State Park


Nov. 16, 2014

  • Stockton State Park
  • Sam A. Baker State Park 


Nov. 23, 2014

  • Long Branch State Park
  • Lake Wappapello State Park
  • Mark Twain State Park


Nov. 30, 2014

  • Onondaga Cave State Park
  • Knob Noster State Park
  • Pomme de Terre State Park (Pittsburg campground)
  • Harry S Truman State Park


Jan. 1, 2015

  • Roaring River State Park


The following parks have at least one showerhouse open year-round:

  • Bennett Spring State Park
  • Table Rock State Park
  • Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park


Dates are weather dependent, so guests should remember to check the park website before planning a camping trip. For full details of amenities available at campgrounds in these parks, visit mostateparks.com.

To make a camping reservation or find out more about Missouri State Parks, visit mostateparks.com. Camping reservations can also be made by calling toll free 877-ICampMO (877-422-6766). Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Yosemite National Park proposes entrance fee and campground fee increase



Yosemite National Park is proposing to increase entrance fees and camping fees at the park.

A 30-day public engagement period on the proposed fee increase began Oct. 20, 2014 and ends Nov. 20, 2014. Feedback will be accepted via email and via U.S. Mail at: Superintendent Attention Proposed Fee Increase P.O. Box 577 Yosemite, CA 95389. The public is also invited to an open house in the Yosemite Valley Auditorium, located behind the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., which will include public engagement.

Below are Frequently Asked Questions released by Yosemite National Park to better explain its proposal.

What are the proposed entrance fees?
Historical Yosemite images courtesy
of National Park Service
For a seven day  pass, the vehicle entrance rate would be $30, a motorcycle entrance rate would be $25, and an individual person rate would be $15. Yosemite National Park is proposing to raise the cost of an annual park pass to $60. All Interagency Passes will remain at the current rates: Annual ($80) Senior ($10), Access ($0), and Military ($0).

Why is Yosemite National Park raising the entrance fee?
This fee increase is part of a larger National Park Service initiative to standardize fees in similar parks across the country. Yosemite National Park was classified with parks of comparable size and visitation and given the corresponding fee schedule. Yosemite’s current entrance fees have been in place since 1997, when a seven day pass was increased from $5 to $20 per vehicle.

How are entrance fees calculated?
The NPS fee structure is a tiered approach that classifies Yosemite National Park with parks of comparable size and visitation. The NPS analysis of fees is based on relevant academic studies, private and public sector benchmarks, and existing NPS data, and seeks to provide fair, equitable and consistent fees to the public across the National Park System. Yosemite is part of Group 4, which generally includes larger parks with higher operating costs due to high levels of visitation and infrastructure, such as Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yellowstone.

What do the current fees pay for?
The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) of 2005  authorized 100% of the revenue generated by charging fees to be returned to the National Park Service, with 80% remaining at the site where it is collected and 20% to be used servicewide to fund programs and parks that don’t collect fees. These funds are to be used in the park for projects that directly benefit visitors. Funds generated by the fees are used to accomplish projects the park has been unable to fund through annual Congressional allocations. Examples of recent park projects funded with fee revenue include projects to reconfigure Yosemite’s South Entrance Station, upgrade the water system that serves the Crane Flat Campground, and to improve accessibility by providing an American Sign Language interpreter and converting campsites into accessible sites.

What will the new fee revenues be used for?
Forecasted revenue from proposed entrance fee increases is approximately $4–5 million annually. The new revenue from the fee increases will be used to provide enhanced visitor services including repair and maintenance of facilities, capital improvements, enhanced amenities, resource protection and additional visitor programs and services.  There will be an emphasis on park improvements prior to the NPS centennial anniversary in 2016.

Additional revenue will be used to implement traffic management solutions in Yosemite Valley that will alleviate traffic congestion and improve the visitor experience. Yosemite National Park has historically been challenged with major transportation, circulation, and traffic congestion issues. Park visitation has increased steadily over the past five years to extremely high levels, exceeding 4 million visitors in recent years, much of which is concentrated between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Transportation-related impacts are significant during these periods, resulting in traffic congestion and parking shortages. These impacts cause visitor frustration, resource impacts, and safety concerns. Proposed traffic management solutions include removing administrative facilities to reconfigure and expand the main visitor day-use parking area, updating road infrastructure to enhance traffic circulation, and providing visitors real-time traffic information using an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). Fee revenue will also be used to provide enhanced public transportation/transit services, both inside the park and from adjacent communities.

How does this fee compare to other national park sites?
Yosemite currently charges a $20 per vehicle entrance rate. Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Yellowstone/Grand Teton all currently collect $25. The servicewide proposal includes increasing the vehicle entrance rate for all these parks to $30. Parks that have raised entrance fees in the last 20 years, such as Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone/Grand Teton, did not find that their visitation decreased when they raised fees.

What are the proposed changes to campground rates?
The park is proposing to raise camping fees by 20%. The proposed fee changes are as follows:

Campsite type - Current Rate - Proposed Rate
Reservation Family site - $20 - $24
Reservation Stock camps - $25 - $30
Reservation Double sites - $30 - $36
Reservation Group sites - $40 - $48
Non-reservation drive-in site - $14 - $17
Primitive drive-in site - $10 - $12
Walk-in and Backpackers sites - $5 - $6

How are campground fees calculated?
Campground fees are set based on comparability studies. For the current study, park staff identified over 50 campgrounds with a level of service, size, and amenities matching Yosemite campgrounds including walk-in, primitive, non-reservation/unstaffed drive-in, staffed reservation drive-in, stock and group sites. Staff also chose campgrounds nearby that represent multiple agencies, including USDA Forest Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Land Management, as well as state, county, and privately owned facilities.

Why is the park raising campground fees?
The current campground rates have been in place since 2001 for group and stock sites and 2006 for all other campsites. The cumulative rate of inflation since last raising campground rates is 18% and the cost of managing the campgrounds has increased 3.4% in the last three years.

What do the current campground fees pay for?
Campground fees pay for reservation services and operational costs.

What will the additional campground fee revenues be used for?
The additional income from a rate increase for campgrounds would continue to be used to cover reservation services and operational costs. Revenue from campgrounds has remained flat since 2006 while the cost to operate campgrounds has increased.  The cumulative rate of inflation since last raising campground rates is 18% and the cost of managing the campgrounds has increased 3.4% in the last three years.

How do these campground fees compare to other national park sites?
The recent comparability study revealed that Yosemite National Park is currently charging less than other campgrounds in our surrounding area and in other national parks. Even with the proposed increase, camping in Yosemite would remain one of the least expensive and greatest experiences that visitors in our area can enjoy.

When was the last time the park raised the campground fee?
The current campground rates have been in place since 2001 for group and stock sites and 2006 for all other campsites.

When would these fee changes be implemented?
If approved, the new fees could potentially be implemented as early as January 2015.

What are the next steps?
The National Park Service is soliciting public feedback on the proposal to increase the entrance fee and campground rates. A 30-day public engagement period will begin on October 20, 2014. Comments may be sent to yose_planning@nps.gov or by mail to: Superintendent, Yosemite National Park, Attn: Proposed Fee Increase, PO Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389.

An open house will be held in the Yosemite Valley Auditorium on Nov. 12, 2014, from 2:00–4:00 PM.

Monday, October 27, 2014

New Minnesota travel and tourism site NorthShoreExperiences.com launches

LakeOne, LLC,  a Minneapolis, MN based digital strategy and marketing company, today announces the launch of NorthShoreExperiences.com.

NorthShoreExperiences.com is a new travel and tourism site dedicated to curating and sharing the best experiences that Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior has to offer.

Dubbed "the online and social guide to the North Shore", offers visitors original content from Minnesota Journalists and Travelers while also encouraging and developing an online community around sharing the best experiences, events and venues along the North Shore so others can find things based on "been there, done that" reviews.

From hiking and fishing to dining and lodging, the site shares insider reviews and feedback as well as media rich content to help travelers discover the north shore, plan their trip, find something new on a return visit or stay connected after returning home.

For North Shore Businesses, the site offers a chance to connect with travelers as they plan their trip to the north shore by partnering with the digital marketing experts at LakeOne, LLC, the company behind the site.

"We're excited to create an experience that's not just about ads, says Lake One founder, Ryan Ruud."


"We want to create a valuable experience for readers and our business partners, that's why we work with our partners to create content solutions that inform readers but create value for the businesses of the North Shore as well, says Ruud"

The site launched with core information about the region and has plans to add additional trip planning functional in coming months.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Showcasing the Michigan DNR: Over the river and through the woods: ORV club gets senior citizens on the trail

Paul Bush and Barbara Voltz took in the western Upper
Peninsula’s spectacular fall color from their vantage point in a
side-by-side driven by a volunteer from MI-TRALE. (DNR photos)
A change in America’s taste in off-road vehicles – namely, the increasing popularity of side-by-side ORVs – has opened up the world of off-roading to whole new set of participants: senior citizens.

That much was abundantly clear during a recent event held in the western Upper Peninsula that offered a chance for seniors to try ORVing for the first time.

The seventh annual Senior Fall Color Tour traveled a 19-mile route from Greenland to Twin Lakes State Park in Ontonagon County. Nearly 100 senior citizens occupied the passenger seats of two-, four- and six-person ORVs, traversing a forest trail that crossed state, federal and private land.

The ride, which is always held the third Thursday of September, coincided with this year’s Michigan Trails Week, a celebration of the 12,000-plus miles of hiking, biking, equine and motorized trails in Michigan – a system that allows citizens countless opportunities to get off the pavement and into the woods anywhere in the state.

Volunteers from MI-TRALE help coordinate the Senior Fall
Color Tour each September to introduce seniors to the many
miles of quality ORV trails found in Michigan.
ORV ride 4“We take about 100 seniors on the ORV tour each year – 50 participants go one way in the morning, the other 50 take the return trip in the afternoon,” said Don Helsel, president of Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment (MI-TRALE). “We’ll get calls, starting already tomorrow, about next year’s ride.”

The ride takes about 90 minutes, transporting folks over a variety of terrain through hardwood forests, and across three trestles that span river gorges and offer spectacular views of the woods in full Technicolor glory. This year’s ride – held on a warm, dry, partly sunny day – closely coincided with peak fall color, Helsel said.

“The riders lucked out this year. There’s a lot more reds in the trees and they’re more brilliant than usual,” he said.

MI-TRALE is a western Upper Peninsula club that plays a role in maintaining and caring for an estimated 500 miles of trails in five counties. The club relies entirely on volunteers to organize and host the senior ride, with assistance in staging the event from the Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service and local business and sporting clubs.

Krupp’s Mini Market at Twin Lakes donated 200 pasties to provide lunch for the participants and Rich Pirhonen, a park ranger at Twin Lakes State Park, enlisted his wife to bake enough cookies so everyone had dessert.

The state park is one of only four in Michigan where visitors may use ORVs to get from parking areas or campsites to trailheads, making it a perfect location for an ORV-centric event.

“This is the park’s biggest event in the fall,” Pirhonen said. “We have wonderful weather this time of year and the colors are perfect. This is great thing for the seniors.”
The tour participants stop to take in the view from the
Firesteel River trestle bridge on the Bill Nicholls ORV route.
The participants, both riders and drivers, would agree.

“I loved the ride,” said Sylvia Heikkinen, a retired farmer from Baraga, who was attending her first event. “I heard about it on the radio, called a friend, and we signed up.”

Rechel Keranin, from Baraga, was on her second ride, having participated last year.

“I had to come back,” she said. “The colors were so gorgeous. You don’t go by yourself to look at fall colors. You want to enjoy it with others. This is wonderful; it’s really appreciated.”

To help attract new riders to the ORV community and meet the requests of customers, the DNR is investing heavily in Michigan’s ORV trail system to make improvements and create more routes that connect to communities and other trails.

Steve Kubisiak, the DNR’s ORV program manager, said the state has recently approved a new 28-mile ORV route in the Upper Peninsula and a 38-mile expansion of trails in the northern Lower Peninsula that will connect six communities.

Lowell and Miriam Rickland enjoyed the recent Senior Fall
Color Tour hosted by Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance
of Land and the Environment in Ontonagon County.
Additionally, in recognition and support of the hands-on work local ORV clubs take on to help maintain the trails, the DNR provided approximately $2.7 million for trail improvement and damage restoration grants to ORV clubs and organizations in 2014.

“The grants and additional miles of trails have been made possible thanks to a recent increase in ORV license fees, including the addition of a new $10 ORV trail permit,” Kubisiak said. “These changes are expected to raise $6.1 million in new revenue for the trail system on an annual basis, which will allow us to keep making the improvements our customers are asking for.”

MI-TRALE is one of the clubs that participates in the DNR’s grant program.

“We maintain 250 miles of DNR-designated trails,” Helsel said. “We use the grant money mostly for signage; much of the other work is done and paid for by volunteers.”

Volunteers and donations are also key to the success of the annual senior ride.

MI-TRALE’s 19-mile fall color tour attracted 100 senior citizens,
many of whom were riding an off-road vehicle for the very first time.
Local power sports retailers donated vehicles for the ride to make sure there were enough to handle the crowd. And two emergency medical technicians accompanied the riders on the transfer bus (provided by Ewen-Trout Creek schools) and on the trail “just in case,” Helsel said.

MI-TRALE’s sergeant-at-arms Kim Sims organized the event for the second time, after helping out for the previous five years.

Putting the entire event together and keeping all the balls in the air is quite the production, Sims said as she rode a quad alongside the side-by-sides and maintained order at road crossings. “It takes a lot of coordinating between the communities and agencies to get it done, but the appreciation we hear from the participants makes it all worth it.”

No one was checking IDs, of course, but John Turpeinin, who drove his ATV during the event for the second year in a row, claimed to be the oldest participant at 85 years young.

“I love it,” he said. “I had a quad for years but I moved up to a side-by-side. It’s easier getting into that machine than throwing my leg over the side.”

Turpeinin – who said he still goes dancing every week – said he’s likely to be back driving again next year.

The ORV tour took 50 participants from Greenland to
Twin Lakes State Park in Ontonagon County, a 19-mile journey,
and then took another 50 riders back to Greenland.
And although many of the participants had been eagerly awaiting the annual event, some were accidental tourists.

Paul Bush, a 71-year-old full-time motor-homer who winters in southern Texas, happened to be in the Upper Peninsula visiting friends and was invited along for the ride.

“I’ll probably try to make it back next year and do it again,” Bush said. “It was a fantastic trip.”

For information about next year’s senior ORV ride, visit www.mi-trale.org.

To learn more about riding ORVs in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/orvtrails.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

AutoTrader Editors Name Must-Shop SUVs for Towing

ATLANTA -- As the leaves change and winter weather approaches, consumers across the country are gearing up to pull their boats out of the water, haul large items home for yard projects and transport tailgate essentials to and from stadium parking lots. For car shoppers looking for a vehicle that can tow serious weight, there are many options beyond the typical list of pick-up trucks.

"Pick-up trucks might get the most attention when it comes to towing heavy loads, but there are a number of SUVs that can handle the job just as well," says Brian Moody, AutoTrader.com site editor. "As gas prices continue to fall, traffic on our site shows that consideration for SUVs is on the rise. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is now the fifth most popular model on AutoTrader.com, up from the ninth spot in August. We've seen significant spikes in search for SUVs like these as consumers hunt for a vehicle that offers both utility and comfort."

AutoTrader.com editors say these SUVs present the perfect combination of towing ability and interior luxury:

  • Cadillac Escalade
  • Chevrolet Tahoe / Suburban
  • Dodge Durango
  • Ford Expedition
  • GMC Yukon
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Toyota Sequoia

Moody reminds consumers that while towing, safety should be the driver's top priority.

"Before you hit the road, make sure your SUV is equipped to tow large loads, and that includes checking your brakes," says Moody. "Take a test run with your trailer or camper to get a sense of how the vehicle will handle with the extra weight. Don't forget to adjust your mirrors and determine your blind spots before you're in motion."

For more car shopping advice and to search more than 4 million new, CPO and used cars for sale, visit AutoTrader.com.

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"