Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Showcasing the Michigan DNR: Michigan state parks focus on visitor safety by becoming ‘StormReady’

Hazardous weather and wind storms can mean downed trees
in park campgrounds. With the StormReady program, park
staff communicate early and often with campers and help
them identify nearby storm shelters. (DNR photos)
DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division named a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador

When a severe thunderstorm capable of producing damaging hail and 60-mph winds rolled through Yankee Springs State Recreation Area on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon in late July, park rangers were faced with a daunting task: ensuring the safety of the hundreds of visitors enjoying the park’s campgrounds, picnic areas and lakes.

After a flurry of activity – directing visitors to storm shelters, checking on the welfare of campers, avoiding trees that were toppled by the wind, and assessing other damage to the park – the weather eventually calmed and it became clear to the rangers that their mission had been accomplished.

Everyone was safe and sound, and the park’s rangers could point to their diligent planning and preparations throughout the day as central to the success of their efforts.

According to the park’s manager, the happy ending can be partly attributed to the National Weather Service’s “StormReady” program – a voluntary initiative that helps emergency managers and community leaders strengthen local safety and preparedness measures by ensuring they have the latest technology and communication tools (such as weather radios, emergency sirens and PA systems) in place to deal with sudden severe weather events.

As part of the StormReady program, park staff
are prepared to assist campers with evacuations
to avoid injuries from falling trees and other hazards.
“We are in the process of applying to be certified as a StormReady facility, so we had the action plan and equipment in place that helped our staff handle the weather event in an organized manner,” said park manager Andru Jevicks.

“Before the storm hit, our rangers got out into the campgrounds, picnic and beach areas, and boat launches, letting people know where they could take cover should a warning be issued, and it all went very smoothly,” Jevicks added. “This is not something you do on the fly. Being StormReady helps a lot.”

In Michigan, 17 state parks are certified by the NWS as StormReady, with Yankee Springs expecting to soon join the ranks. Nationwide, more than 2,000 facilities have received the designation since the program began in 1999.

“With millions of visitors coming to our parks each summer, we decided to take a proactive approach to weather safety and developed a partnership with the National Weather Service,” said Michael Evanoff, safety officer with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division.

“Through commitment and dedication to visitor safety, our employees have made this program a great success and the DNR is working toward making all of our state parks and recreation areas StormReady,” Evanoff said.

According to the NWS, StormReady communities are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness.

“Michigan weather can be calm and tranquil, just perfect for enjoying our many state parks, but it can also become severe and dangerous rather quickly,” said Richard Pollman, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Detroit/Pontiac office.

“Being prepared is key,” Pollman added, “and Michigan state parks have taken significant steps toward preparedness through this partnership with the National Weather Service."

Advance warning of impending severe weather
gives campers a chance to batten down the
hatches and take shelter before a storm hits.
To be recognized as StormReady, parks must have a system in place to monitor the weather, receive weather alerts, and alert employees and visitors. Michigan’s StormReady state parks have also developed formal hazardous weather plans, which include training staff as weather spotters and holding emergency practice exercises.

StormReady parks display road signs at the entrances to inform visitors of the program. When visitors see these signs, they can be confident that the park’s staff has put significant time and concerted effort into preparing for severe weather events.

“I know for a fact that our visitors feel more comfortable knowing they’ll be notified in the case of severe weather,” said Interlochen State Park manager Chris Stark. “Even in the absence of severe weather, they’ve mentioned that they notice and appreciate the signs.”

While receiving StormReady certification does not mean a facility is storm proof, trained staff undoubtedly have an advantage when it comes to helping visitors safely weather the storm when severe weather strikes.

Visitors to StormReady parks are encouraged to stay alert to weather conditions and their surroundings, should they need to seek shelter while out hiking, boating or otherwise enjoying the outdoors. One step campers and other park visitors can take to stay informed is carrying a NOAA weather radio, which are available in portable, battery-operated models.

“Modern technology is a wonderful thing,” said Tim Anderson, who volunteers as a campground host at Bay City State Recreation Area -- the first Michigan state park to attain StormReady status and only the third certified park in the nation.

“I use weather apps on my cell phone to keep informed of changing weather conditions. With a push of a button, I can access current weather forecasts as well as radar,” Anderson said. “It provides me with real-time data to help plan visitor activities and warn visitors of approaching storms.”
An emergency siren is installed at Muskallonge
Lake State Park as part of the StormReady program.
Sirens have been used at the park to warn campers
of wind storms and other severe weather
approaching off Lake Superior.
In recognition of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division’s commitment to attaining StormReady certification for individual parks, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently named the Division a “Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador” – an initiative that formally recognizes organizations that have partnered with NOAA to strengthen national resilience against extreme weather, through such efforts as becoming StormReady.

“On any given day during the summer months, thousands of visitors may be in a state park,” said Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson. “If a severe storm develops, we want to be able to communicate the danger efficiently and potentially save lives. The Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador designation recognizes that we have one of the best warning systems in place.

“The efforts of our state park managers, rangers and other staff to protect visitors during severe weather events are just another example of the DNR’s commitment to providing the best state park experience in the country, and I commend our staff for their dedication to making safety the priority.”

To learn more about the StormReady and Weather-Ready Nation programs, visit and

Emergency sirens and PA systems are important
StormReady components that keep park visitors
informed and safe during severe weather events.
Michigan’s StormReady state parks include:
  • Bay City
  • Fort Custer
  • Harrisville
  • Holland
  • Interlochen
  • Leelanau
  • Ludington
  • Charles Mears
  • Metamora-Hadley
  • Orchard Beach
  • Otsego Lake
  • Port Austin Harbor
  • Silver Lake
  • Sleeper
  • Tippy Dam
  • Traverse City
  • William Mitchell State Park. 
The DNR’s Grawn Field Office is also StormReady certified; Yankee Springs is in the process of becoming certified.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Oatmeal Creme Pies and RV Road Trips – the Perfect Match!

Winnebago partners with Little Debbie 

Winnebago Industries, Inc. and Little Debbie, America’s leading snack cake brand, have partnered on the Oatmeal Creme Pie Road Trip Giveaway – combining two of America’s most recognized brands.

“We are excited to partner with Little Debbie on the Oatmeal Creme Pie Road Trip Giveaway,” said Winnebago’s Director of Marketing Chad Reece. “This promotion features two of America’s greats – the most recognized name in RVs and a leader in the snack food industry.”

The back panel of Oatmeal Creme Pie cartons provides details about the Road Trip Giveaway, featuring a Winnebago Minnie Winnie as the grand prize.  The promotion, which runs through November 30, awards the grand prize winner a two-week use of a new Winnebago Minnie Winnie.  A classic icon of road trips, the Minnie Winnie is a true family favorite offering sleeping flexibility, a comfortable living area, fully equipped galley and plenty of storage – both inside and out.  The grand prize winner will also receive a copy of Jamie Jenson’s best-selling book “Road Trip USA,” as well as the Road Trip board game that challenges player’s road trip knowledge, vocabulary and geography.

Monthly, first prize winners will be awarded a copy of the Road Trip board game; with second prize winners receiving the “Road Trip USA” book.  In addition, 100 winners will receive Winnebago coolers – perfect for any road trip!

For more information on the Road Trip Giveaway, or to enter the sweepstakes, visit

About Winnebago
Winnebago, The Most Recognized Name In Motorhomes, is a leading U.S. manufacturer of recreation vehicles, which are used primarily in leisure travel and outdoor recreation activities. The Company and its subsidiary build quality motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheel products under the Winnebago, Itasca, Era and SunnyBrook brand names. Winnebago Industries has received the Quality Circle Award from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association every year since the award's inception in 1996. The Company's common stock is listed on the New York and Chicago Stock Exchanges and traded under the symbol WGO. Options for the Company's common stock are traded on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. For access to Winnebago Industries' investor relations material or to add your name to an automatic email list for Company news releases, visit,

About McKee Foods and Little Debbie
McKee Foods Corporation, a privately held, family-run company based in Collegedale, Tennessee, has sold more than 157 billion Little Debbie® snacks since the brand became available in stores in 1960. The top-selling Little Debbie varieties are Oatmeal Creme Pies, Swiss Cake Rolls and Nutty Bars® Wafer Bars. McKee Foods sells over 200 million cartons of these three products every year. Sales of Little Debbie snacks represent a third of the snack cake market, making Little Debbie® the No. 1 brand of snack cakes.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monaco Coach launches revamped website, with video of The 2015 Monaco Dynasty

Monaco Coach is pleased to announce the launch of an all-new website:!

Its new site offers a number of new and improved features, including:

  • "Build Your Own" configurator
  • All-new 2015 vehicles
  • Large high-resolution gallery images of new products
  • Tablet optimized

Whether you are a current Monaco owner, or you're thinking about becoming one, the new site has something for everyone. Monaco encourages us to visit the website now and in the future to see for ourselves at

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Magellan GPS takes Android for an RV adventure

Magellan unveiled an Android-based navigation tablet for RVs with a 7-inch, 800 x 480 touchscreen, WiFi and Bluetooth, and real-time traffic updates.

The RoadMate RV9490T-LMB appears to be Magellan’s first Android-based automotive GPS, and it’s specifically aimed at recreational vehicle owners. Magellan still uses Windows Mobile in many of its navigation devices.

Magellan RoadMate RV9490T-LMB
The 7-inch, dashboard mountable RoadMate RV9490T-LMB tablet starts at $380. The after-market device combines Magellan’s real-time smartphone- and cloud-connected navigation platform with additional RV-friendly functions. Yet, it can switch from RV mode to car mode when you’re not in the mood for a gas-guzzling, lane straddling behemoth.

The Magellan RoadMate RV9490T-LMB runs Android on an unnamed Cortex-A9 processor. No RAM stats were mentioned, but the device is said to include 4GB of flash storage plus a microSD slot. The 7-inch, 800 x 480 capacitive touchscreen is augmented with a speaker and microphone. WiFi and Bluetooth is built in, letting you pair Android and iOS smartphones, both of which are supported with Magellan apps.

The tablet’s GPS offers 3-5 meter accuracy and geotag navigation, says Magellan. Other features include a micro-USB port, an audio jack and an “A/V input.”

RV-specific features include customizable RV routes based on vehicle type, dimensions, and driving preferences, helping you avoid low and narrow bridges and unpaved roads. There are also RV-specific Points of Interest (POIs), including:

  • Good Sam RV travel guide and campground directory
  • Sani-Dump station POIs
  • Walmart location POIs
  • Fuel station POIs with price and brand preference prioritization

The Magellan RoadMate RV9490T-LMB device also includes the latest, cloud-updated Magellan features like turn-by-turn directions, a dedicated virtual dashboard, driving alerts, Yelp integration, and real-time weather overlays. There’s also support for backup assist displays, lane assists, and more (see spec list for a longer list). Maps are updated via WiFi or via a smartphone Bluetooth connection when no WiFi connection is available.

Specifications listed for the Magellan RoadMate RV9490T-LMB include:

  • Processor — ARM Cortex-A9
  • Storage — 4GB flash; microSD slot
  • Display — 7-inch, 800 x 480 capacitive touchscreen
  • GPS — High-sensitivity GPS with 3-5 meter accuracy; multidirectional patch antenna
  • Wireless — WiFi; Bluetooth
  • Other I/O — Micro-USB 2.0 port; stereo audio jack; A/V input
  • Other hardware features — Mic; speakers
  • Navigation features (partial):
  • Preloaded maps of U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico
  • Turn-by-turn, multi-destination routing
  • 9 million POIs, with branded POIs and POIs along route
  • Lifetime traffic alerts and map updates
  • Highway lane assist support
  • Favorites, bookmarks
  • City search, detour and speed limit support, pedestrian mode
  • Yelp integration
  • Landmark guidance
  • Real-time weather map with graphic overlays
  • Gas prices, traffic camera alert, grade and elevation stats
  • Good Sam/Trailer Life Directory
  • RV/truck route guide, dump station support
  • Operating temperature — -10 to 70°C (14 to 158°F)
  • Battery — 1100mAh Li-Ion with 30-minute duration
  • Weight — 363 g (0.8 lbs)
  • Dimensions — 194 x 120 x 15mm (7.6 x 4.7 x 0.6 in.)
  • Operating system — Android

Further information
The Magellan RoadMate RV9490T-LMB is available for $380 (MSRP) at online and brick-and-mortar locations including Camping World and More information may be found at the RoadMate RV9490T-LMB product page.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bluegrass on the River: Bill Dvorak’s Raft-Kayak-Fishing Expeditions Announces First Annual ‘Green River Roustabout’

Enjoy this guest post as I pack for our annual camping trip to Albert E. Sleeper State Park and the Cheeseburger in Caseville Festival.

Yes, that’s banjo strumming drifting down the river but this isn’t the infamous Cahulawassee River in Georgia. It’s Utah’s wild and scenic Green River and the deliverance into fantasy comes by way of Bill Dvorak’s Rafting Expeditions and live bluegrass music performed by The Hayward Strangers.

A fifth generation cousin of the famous composer, Anton Dvorak, Bill Dvorak has been running rivers commercially longer than anyone else in Colorado (he owns the first rafting outfitter license issued by the state of Colorado).  With a personal penchant for bluegrass music and an acoustically outstanding natural setting to perform in, the 2014 ‘Green River Roustabout’ was born.

“The Hayward Strangers will blend with the sweet chorus of birds, rippling sounds of the river and the drum roll of the rapids,” Dvorak muses. “Guests will join one of Colorado’s hottest bluegrass bands on a six day journey as they perform daily concerts under natural canyon walls and amphitheaters and along broad sandy beaches.”

Dvorak has also planned for ample leisure time allowing down moments to just soak up the sun, read, float along the river and listen to some impromptu jam sessions. In addition to rafting and music, there are side excursions to ancient Fremont Indian ruins, petroglyphs, and wildlife viewing. “You can play with stand-up paddle boards, inflatable kayaks, have a Bocce ball tournament, swim, fish, and wear out your camera battery taking spectacular photos!”

The trip is scheduled Sept. 13-18, 2014 and departs from Grand Junction, CO or Green River, UT.  The adult rate is $1,498 per person (for youth under 12 $1,350) plus additional shuttle flight to the put-in ($190 per person), taxes and government fees. Trip cost will include all meals, rafting and safety equipment, professional guides and staff.

Dvorak has also planned for ample leisure time allowing down moments to just soak up the sun, read, float along the river and listen to some impromptu jam sessions. In addition to rafting and music, there are side excursions to ancient Fremont Indian ruins, petroglyphs, and wildlife viewing. “You can play with stand-up paddle boards, inflatable kayaks, have a Bocce ball tournament, swim, fish, and wear out your camera battery taking spectacular photos!”

The trip is scheduled Sept. 13-18, 2014 and departs from Grand Junction, CO or Green River, UT.  The adult rate is $1,498 per person (for youth under 12 $1,350) plus additional shuttle flight to the put-in ($190 per person), taxes and government fees. Trip cost will include all meals, rafting and safety equipment, professional guides and staff.

This concert journey is also a fundraiser for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Dvorak and The Hayward Strangers are donating 15 percent of the fee to the national conservation nonprofit for its work in protecting and preserving wildlife habitat.

To book a space, call US/Canada Toll Free: 1-800-824-3795 or visit

“The idea for the bluegrass journey first emerged following a conversation I had with Phil Hanceford (mandolin player) at a NWF conservation event,” explains Dvorak. “One year later, six members of the band agreed to sign on and the first such music adventure of its kind is happening.”

Each night guests and performers will mingle over campfire conversation, laughter and singing enjoying a variety of guide/chef-prepared dinners such as blackened salmon, charbroiled steaks, organic salads, garden vegetables and Dutch oven desserts such as Black Forest cake and strawberry shortcake, accompanied by hors d'oeuvres and vintage wines.  Special diets and allergies can be accommodated)

About the Hayward Strangers
It was late summer of 2009 when a weekly open music night was established on a back porch of a small house on Hayward Place in Northwest Denver, CO. Soon thereafter, the weekly musical release turned into a savory blend of complimenting sounds and personalities and a band was born. See:

The Strangers are Keenan Copple (banjo, resonator guitar), T.J. Brown (guitar & harmonica), Phil Hanceford (mandolin), Josh Hicks (drums), John Murret (guitar), and Scott Powers on bass. They are a creative, rowdy group of folks with roots from North Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee, Louisiana, Maryland, and Montana who play high energy acoustic Americana.

About Bill Dvorak Kayak and Rafting Expeditions
Bill and Jaci Dvorak have been operating Dvorak Raft, Kayak and Fishing Expeditions since 1979. As one of the early pioneers of white water river rafting in the Rocky Mountains, the Dvoraks own the first outfitter license issued by the state of Colorado. Their river trips, white water skills camp and swift water training programs are world renowned and have been featured in National Geographic, the Chicago Tribune and seen on ESPN and various television specials. Bill Dvorak recently received the conservation award from American Rivers as the “River Champion of the West”.  Website: Phone: 719 539.6851 or 800 824.3795. Email:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Video: 'Do-It-Yourself RV Air Conditioner Checks' by RV Education 101

Enjoy this video from KOA and Mark Polk of RV Education 101 on "Do-It-Yourself RV Air Conditioner Checks"

Here's what KOA and Mark Polk had to say about their video:
When it’s hot outside and you are planning an RV trip to your favorite KOA the last thing you want is a problem with your RV air conditioner. In this informative RV DIY video presented by KOA, RV DIY Channel host Mark Polk demonstrates how to test your RV air conditioner cooling performance before leaving on your trip.

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"

Sunday, August 10, 2014

After 70 years, Smokey Bear still plays vital role in fire prevention

When the typical American thinks of wildfire prevention, the first image that comes to mind is surely that of the iconic Smokey Bear.

Since the days of Smokey’s first words in 1944 – “Smokey says - care will prevent nine out of 10 forest fires.” – his likeness and slogans have been invaluable to federal, state and local agencies responsible for wildfire prevention and management.

For the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Smokey was not only instrumental in establishing the importance of fire prevention education throughout the state, but also became one of the pillars upon which the DNR’s highly regarded fire program was built.

The Smokey Bear campaign has served a vital role
in educating the public about the importance of fire
prevention. More than 90 percent of American adults
and 77 percent of children recognize Smokey Bear
and his famous slogan, “Only YOU can prevent
wildfires.” (DNR images)
In recognition, the DNR will join the rest of the nation Saturday, Aug. 9, in celebrating Smokey Bear’s 70th birthday and all that this character has done to bring fire prevention to the forefront in Michigan.

The DNR’s fire program first began using Smokey Bear as a de facto spokesman for the cause in the 1960s, and today credits widespread public awareness about wildfire prevention to Smokey’s broad appeal.

Through the years, Smokey has appeared at countless community events and educational programs on behalf of the DNR, and the bear’s image and famous sayings have graced many DNR fire prevention promotional and educational materials.

“Every DNR Forest Resources Division (FRD) field office uses Smokey Bear at parades, fairs, school programs – anywhere we are trying to spread the fire prevention message,” said Paul Kollmeyer, manager of FRD’s Resources Protection and Cooperatives Programs section.

“Smokey is the catalyst that gets people’s interest, especially the young people,” Kollmeyer said. “When you’re delivering an educational program to second graders, you couldn’t ask for a more engaging teacher than Smokey. He really leaves an impression.”

Created by an art critic as part of an advertising campaign to educate the public about each individual’s role in preventing wildfires, Smokey made his official debut on a poster on Aug. 9, 1944. Wearing a pair of dungarees and a ranger hat, he is depicted pouring a bucket of water on a campfire.

Three years later, his slogan was modified to the long-lasting and well-known version, “Remember, Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires,” which stuck for another five decades before it was slightly updated to today’s version: “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.”

Although Smokey was originally a fictional product of the World War II-era campaign, geared at shifting the public’s focus to fire prevention rather than suppression (since many citizens who would normally help fight fires were deployed overseas), his real-life counterpart was found six years later, clinging to a tree at the scene of a wildfire in New Mexico.

The bear cub had suffered burns to his paws and hind legs and was flown to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he lived for 26 years, becoming an integral part of the Smokey campaign.

In 1952, Smokey became the subject of a song, “Smokey the Bear,” and that same year, his image was legally protected under the federal Smokey Bear Act, which established three administrators of the image: the U.S. Forest Service, National Association of State Foresters, and Ad Council.

Now 70 years old, the Smokey Bear wildfire prevention campaign is a bit of an anomaly in how popular it remains, still striking a chord with audiences of all ages after seven decades of heavy rotation.

With the help of DNR fire program staff and volunteers,
national fire prevention icon Smokey Bear appears at more than
100 wildfire prevention events each year in Michigan. This year
marks 70 years since the first Smokey Bear campaign poster appeared.
According to the national non-profit Ad Council, Smokey and his message are recognized today by 95 percent of adults and 77 percent of children.

“What’s so unique about Smokey is the multi-generational appeal. People and kids of all ages can relate to each other over Smokey Bear,” said Gwinn Unit fire supervisor Pete Glover. “One of my favorite parts about our Smokey Bear appearances is seeing a grandparent who is just as excited about having their picture taken with Smokey as their grandchild is.”

With the busy and complicated lives parents lead today, Glover said he recognizes that Smokey’s presence is vital to the positive reception of the many educational programs fire officers give each year.

"It would be difficult to get parents to come to an evening or weekend program if their kids weren’t interested in attending as well,” he said. “Smokey holds the attention of the younger audience members, giving us time to really drive the wildfire prevention message home to the parents and other adults in the audience.”

With the help of DNR fire officers and volunteers around the state, Smokey Bear makes more than 100 public appearances annually, including National Night Out public safety events, where he is typically swarmed with visitors hoping to get a hug, high-five and photo with Smokey.

And when they leave an event, Smokey’s fans don’t only have smiles on their faces – they also leave with their hands full of educational “Smokey swag” promoting the fire prevention message.

Smokey Bear’s slogans have changed slightly throughout
the years, but have always focused on each individual’s
responsibility for preventing wildfires. This is the
very first Smokey Bear poster to appear in 1944.
“Smokey is the linchpin that made fire prevention popular nationwide and in Michigan,” Kollmeyer said. “Without our use of his image, slogans, voice and presence, I am not sure we would have such an educated public when it comes to wildfire awareness and prevention.”

“I hope in 70 years, fire programs around the country will be celebrating Smokey Bear’s 140th birthday.”

Those interested in helping to celebrate Smokey’s 70th birthday this weekend can join the DNR at Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee or Van Riper State Park in Marquette County for cake and festivities (for event details, visit

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission will also recognize Smokey’s milestone birthday with a special presentation at its Thursday, Aug. 14, meeting in Munising.

For more information about Smokey Bear and to see campaign posters and other images from the past 70 years, visit

To learn more about the DNR’s fire program and fire prevention in Michigan, visit; to request Smokey’s presence at a community or school event, contact the DNR fire officer in your area.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Secrets of the Wisconsin Lake Michigan Shoreline

Dive Door County Dark Side Charters LLC (Travel Wisconsin)
From Travel Wisconsin

Not only is Wisconsin home to more than 15,000 freshwater lakes that provide year-round recreational fun, but the shoreline with one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, Lake Michigan, provides unique opportunities only this astounding natural resource can offer. Don’t jet off to the east or the west coast for experiences normally reserved for an ocean shoreline. Here are some ways to have fun in Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Andy’s Silver Strike Charter – Baileys Harbor
Think that you have to set sail into crashing waves off one of the oceanic coasts to be a fisherman on the high seas for a day? Think again. The Silver Strike is available seven days a week from May through October for fishing excursion charters. Whether you’re an expert fisherman or you’ve never been in a boat, this fishing expedition for a variety of trout and salmon is not one you’ll soon forget.

EOS Surf Shop – Sheboygan
Dubbed “The Malibu of the Midwest,” Sheboygan is your Midwest surfing destination. When the wind speeds pick up to 20-25 mph from the northeast or west southwest, Sheboygan’s five mile stretch of coastline has waves that are rideable by surfboard beginning in late August. EOS Surf Shop offers the equipment rental and lessons you need to catch a wave right here in Wisconsin.

Dive Door County Dark Side Charters, LLC - Sister Bay
Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shoreline is rich with maritime history. With the shipping traffic that used to traverse the unpredictable Lake Michigan waters came the inevitable disasters at sea. Dive Door County Dark Side Charters, LLC offers the opportunity for certified scuba divers to explore the final resting places of some of these shipwrecks. The 26 foot Intrepid Dark Side takes divers to both the bayside and the lakeside of Door County to explore shipwrecks located in depths ranging from 15 to 120 feet below the surface.

Lakeshore Adventures – Baileys Harbor
Interested in Lake Michigan’s shipwrecks but not a certified scuba diver? Lakeshore Adventures has you covered! Their guided and narrated clear bottom kayak tours of some shallow water Lake Michigan shipwrecks offer the opportunity to explore the wreckage and learn about the history while remaining at the water’s surface. Watch your window into the world of all the fish that call Lake Michigan home swim beneath you, see a variety of species of waterfowl, and access a secluded basin only reachable by kayak.

Wisconsin Water Wings – Ephraim
Have you been to a coastal city and seen the bright parachute of someone parasailing behind a boat and rising high into the sky? Perhaps on a beach in Mexico, the Caribbean or Florida? You can enjoy this one of a kind view of spectacular Door County with Wisconsin Water Wings! This breathtaking experience launches from their 37-foot custom built boat, gently lifting you into the air where you will have the opportunity to take pictures and enjoy the spectacular sights from this one-of-a-kind vantage point. After the ride is over, you’ll be lowered back onto the platform of the boat without ever needing to enter the water. Fly hundreds of feet in the air right here in Wisconsin!

Friday, August 8, 2014

'Up North Trails' website provides one-stop-shop for northern Lower Peninsula trail maps and information

Hikers, bicyclists, off-road vehicle users, horseback riders, and other trail enthusiasts can now more easily locate and enjoy the vast network of trails and other points of interest in northern Michigan by using the interactive website, recently launched by the Up North Trails Collaborative.

The collaborative, a partnership of more than 50 organizations and agencies led by the Northwest and Northeast Michigan Councils of Governments and Department of Natural Resources, designed the new website to connect the public with more than 5,300 miles of motorized and non-motorized trails in the northern Lower Peninsula.

The Up North Trails website allows users to search for trails based on type of use and/or location, and also serves as a source of information on trail systems throughout the state.

“There are more miles of trails in the northern Lower Peninsula than the distance from Anchorage to Miami,” said Kerry Wieber, DNR liaison to the Up North Trails Collaborative. “The website will help customers find information on all of these trails in one place, regardless of whether it is a state trail or managed by another organization or local unit of government.”

The user-friendly features of include:

  • An interactive trails map that can be filtered for type of use and location
  • Detailed information about each individual trail, including any changes in type of use for specific segments of trail
  • Trailhead locations and points of interest near each trail
  • A mobile-friendly design, which is fully functional on tablets, mobile phones and other devices

“We wanted to give users a one-stop-shop for information about our trail systems,” said Denise Cline, GIS specialist for the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments. “Up North Trails is a valuable new tool for everyone looking to get outside in northern Michigan.”

The goal of the Up North Trails Collaborative in creating the new website was to promote northern Michigan’s abundance of trails to all user groups, driving recreational and economic activity in the region.

“Up North Trails is the first website of its kind in Michigan, providing information about all trail systems in the region, whether you are a bicyclist, snowmobiler, hiker or horseback rider,” said Matt McCauley, Director of Regional Planning and Community Development for the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. “We hope it will provide a fun, engaging, and useful way for residents and visitors to locate new outdoor adventures.”

Up North Trails Collaborative member groups include the DNR, NEMCOG, NWMCOG, Top of Michigan Trails Council, Land Information Access Association (LIAA), Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails (TART Trails), Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and Cheboygan County. The collaborative is supported financially by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Rotary Charities, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information about the Up North Trails Collaborative, visit and click on “About”.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rollin' On TV checks out Class B motorhomes and visits Australia

Enjoy the latest episode of Rollin' On TV.

Here's what thye had to say about this episode:
This week we learn all about the fast growing Class B motorhome market. And.,we check out the new PleasureWay Plateau XL Wide Body clas B. Also, Evanne continues her RV travels across Australia and this week she's in Ballarat ,Victoria.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 lists Great Camping & Attractions on the Great Lakes

One of North America’s most interesting and varied travel destinations is Great Lakes, the largest grouping of freshwater lakes in the world, writes Jeff Crider for

Spanning more than 750 miles from east to west and offering more than 10,000 miles of coastline, Crider writes that Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Ontario and Erie offer scenic coastal villages, waterfront towns, lighthouses and military forts, beautiful waterfalls, dense forests and numerous lakes and rivers that are perfect for fishing as well as canoeing and kayaking.

Crider then provides a closer look at each of the Great Lakes, then suggests places to camp and nearby attractions.

For Lake Superior, Crider suggests camping at Buffalo Valley Camping in Duluth, Minn. for exploring the west end attractions. Wildwood Campground in Iron River, Wis. is a terrific base camp for visiting Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Lake Michigan has five regions to explore including Door County, Green Bay and Milwaukee in Wisconsin, Chicago, Illinois and Traverse City, Michigan.

Door County offers several campgrounds, and Crider suggests Door County Camping Resort (Egg Harbor), Egg Harbor Campground & RV Resort (Egg Harbor), Fish Creek Campground (Fish Creek), Harbour Village Resort (Sturgeon Bay) and Tranquil Timbers Camping Resort (Sturgeon Bay).

In Milwaukee, Crider points campers in the direction of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Caledonia.

One of America’s largest cities, Chicago also has several campground options including Fish Lake Beach Resort (Volo, Ill.), Fossil Rock Recreation Area (Wilmington, Ill.), Hide-A-Way Lakes (Yorkville, Ill.) and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park (Portage, Ind.).

Likewise, Crider says Traverse City has many camping options including Holiday Park Campground (Traverse City), Leelanau Pines Campground (Cedar), Timber Ridge RV & Recreation Resort (Traverse City) and Traverse Bay RV Resort (Acme).

For Lake Huron, Crider suggests six campgrounds to explore Mackinac Island as well as Frankenmuth, Michigan: Cedarville R.V. Park & Campground (Mackinaw City), Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping (Mackinaw City), Mackinaw City/Mackinac Island KOA (Mackinaw City), Ber-Wa-Ga-Na Campground (Vasser), Frankenmuth Jellystone Park (Frankenmuth) and Genesee Otter Lake Campground (Otter Lake).

Sara's Campground (Eri, Penn.)
Crider writes that Lake Erie’s many lighthouses and islands can best be explored by staying at the following campgrounds: Presque Isle Passage RV Park & Cabin Rentals (Fairview, Penn.), Sara’s Campground (Erie, Penn.), West Haven at Lake Erie RV Park and Family Campground (Fairview, Penn.), Hejamada Campground & RV Park (Port Byron, N.Y.) and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park (Mexico, N.Y.).

Finally, for Lake Ontario, Crider writes that visitors exploring Niagara Falls should stay at Branches of Niagara Campground & Resort (Grand Island, N.Y.), Niagara Falls KOA, Grand Island, N.Y.) and Jellystone Niagara Falls, (Niagara Falls, Ont.).

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