Mark's RV Garage

I hope everyone had a chance to enjoy the 17 episodes of Mark's RV Garage. I posted each episode for the first 17 days of February, with each episode roughly a half hour long.

Don't worry if you didn't get a chance. Bookmark this page because at the bottom I've linked to each episode. This way it will be easier for you to "find" each episode on the Gr8LakesCamper blog.

Mark's RV Garage chronicles the restoration of a vintage Yellowstone camper Mark Polk - of RV Education 101 fame - and his son Tyler, found and bought for $300. Throughout the series, the two dismantle the camper down to the studs, then carefully rebuild the camper, often using parts and materials donated by Mark's RV friends - it pays to have connections!

Other segments of the 30-minute show include: featured KOA destinations such as Myrtle Beach, Jackson Hole and Las Vegas; RV Product Spotlights; RV Maintenance Tips; Viewer Mail and quite a bit more.

What I liked about Mark's RV Garage series was that I felt much more knowledgeable about my RV after having watched Mark restore the "Old Yellowstone." When restoring the "Old Yellowstone" Mark also taught me how RV systems - electrical, LP gas, plumbing - and products, appliances and other parts all work separately and together. It was especially informative to see the camper with the skin off so you could see how much wiring and plumbing snakes through the skeletal framework.

On the final episode Mark hints at another season of "webisodes" - coming in spring of 2012. I for one certainly hopes he's able to find the time!

Here's the links to each episode:
Episode #1
Episode #2
Episode #3
Episode #4
Episode #5
Episode #6
Episode #7
Episode #8
Episode #9
Episode #10
Episode #11
Episode #12
Episode #13
Episode #14
Episode #15
Episode #16
Episode #17

VIDEO: Michigan Travel Ideas by Pure Michigan


Pure Michigan just released another video, this one in support of their 2012 Michigan Travel Ideas magazine.
The people who publish Midwest Living magazine are the ones who create the Michigan Travel Ideas magazine, so you know it's full of amazing photography, informative and entertaining articles and superb travel destinations - both the traditional favorites and those places waiting to become your favorites. You can request a free Michigan Travel Ideas magazine, or you can read the electronic edition on your computer.

Get to Know Your State Parks in the Month of March by Volunteering to Protect Habitat!

Join in the effort to protect critical dune, prairie and forest habitats stretching from Berrien to Muskegon counties. State recreation officials today announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship activities for the month of March as a part of the new Volunteer Steward program in southwestern Michigan state parks and recreation areas.

Volunteers, ranging from youngsters to adults, have been having a big impact by removing invasive, non-native shrubs in natural areas within state parks and recreation areas. Removing these plants from the landscape will help to protect and restore the unique habitats by improving conditions for native species and restoring ecosystem function.

Targeted invasive species include: honeysuckle, autumn olive, Japanese barberry and Lombardy poplar. Volunteers will benefit many species, some of which are threatened or endangered, while also learning about invasive species and management hands-on.

Volunteers in need of service credit, such as Conservation Stewards, Master Gardeners, scouts, service clubs and school groups, as well as others interested in conservation, are welcome to attend – no experience is necessary. Volunteering for these workdays is a great way to GO-Get Outdoors in many of our cherished state parks, breathe some fresh air, have fun and get a bit of exercise while enjoying beautiful scenery and precious landscapes.

Dates, times and locations of the workdays are as follows:
  • Saturday, March 3 Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Sunday, March 4 Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 10 Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Sunday, March 11 Ionia Recreation Area (Ionia County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Saturday, March 17 Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Sunday, March 18 Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Saturday, March 24 P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Sunday, March 25 Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants, boots and gloves. In addition, they should bring drinking water. Don’t forget to bring your hiking boots to enjoy the many trails that traverse through forests, dunes, prairies, fen and the other unique natural areas protected by our state park system. Upcoming April through June workdays will focus on removing garlic mustard to protect forest systems.

The Volunteer Steward program is part of the Parks and Recreation Division, Stewardship Unit’s mission to “preserve, protect and restore the natural and cultural resources present within Michigan State Parks for this and future generations.” For information about the activities at each workday, find directions or park information and to check the Volunteer Steward calendar of events, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the “Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.” All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the website. Please contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext. 147 or freih@michigan.gov for registration or questions about the Volunteer Steward program in southwest Michigan.

VIDEO Montana #3582 Fifth Wheel


The folks at RVChannel.com just uploaded a video on the Montana Fifth Wheel to their YouTube Channel. This particular model is the 3582 floor plan, and among its highlights are cabinets in the kitchen that you don't need a step ladder to reach, and a bathroom with an oversized shower.

The Montana made a splash a few years back with its living room up front model, and with this latest floor plan they obviously aim to keep their status as the No. 1 selling fifth wheel.

Volunteers Needed for Stewardship Workdays in Southeastern Michigan

State recreation officials today announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship workdays to be held throughout March in southeast Michigan state parks and recreation areas.

Volunteers are needed to cut invasive shrubs in natural areas within state parks and recreation areas. This activity will help protect and restore the unique natural areas in these southeast Michigan state parks, and March is the last opportunity to remove shrubs before spring. Volunteering for these workdays is a great way to get outdoors, breathe some fresh air, and keep active.

Dates, times and locations of the workdays are as follows:
  • Saturday, March 3 Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Sunday, March 4 Algonac State Park (St. Clair County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Saturday, March 10 Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County), 9 a.m. to noon 
  • Saturday, March 17 Waterloo Recreation Area (Washtenaw County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Sunday, March 18 Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Saturday, March 24 Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County), 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
  • Saturday, March 24 Brighton Recreation Area (Livingston County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Sunday, March 25 Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Volunteers should bring appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants, boots, gloves and drinking water. Waterproof boots, either knee-high rubber boots or hip waders, are recommended for some sites, especially fen and other wetland sites. A limited number of waterproof boots are available to borrow, upon request.

For information about the specific tasks at each workday and to obtain directions, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays. All volunteers are asked to register using the form available on the website or via email. Any questions should be directed to Laurel Malvitz-Draper at 248-359-9057 or malvitzl@michigan.gov.

Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Licenses will be available March 1

COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio’s 2012-13 fishing, hunting and trapping licenses and permits will be on sale starting March 1, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.

“Ohio’s new license sales system performed very well in its inaugural year,” said Scott Zody, chief of the Division of Wildlife. “Customer identification (ID) numbers should be used whenever possible to help streamline the license purchasing process. People can find the number at the top of last year’s license.”

Licenses purchased online or at retail outlets will be printed on paper that can be folded down to credit card size, but will not be waterproof and must be protected. Licenses and permits will be printed along with additional information relevant to the license or permit purchased.

Each license buyer must have a Social Security Number (SSN) recorded in the system. People who purchased licenses last year can now use their customer ID number and will not have to supply their SSN again.

SSNs are required to purchase a recreational license, regardless of age, for the purpose of child support collection enforcement under Federal Statute 42. As a recreational license provider, the Division of Wildlife is obligated to comply with this law and cannot issue a license or permit without the SSN of the purchaser. The division will see that a proper security system is in place to protect SSNs and any databases that contain them.

The license will be valid March 1 through Feb. 28, 2013. The 2011-12 licenses will expire on Feb. 29. Licenses and permits can be purchased online at wildohio.com and at hundreds of agent outlets throughout the state. A complete list of participating license sales agents can be found at wildohio.com.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at www.ohiodnr.com.

Rockport becomes the Newest Michigan State Park; expected to develop a campground

Long term plans include developing a campground around the old quarry

State recreation officials have recently announced that the “Rockport Property,” previously managed as part of the state forest system, was transferred to the Parks and Recreation Division to become the newest state park in Michigan.

This action was strongly endorsed and promoted through Negwegon State Park, Rockport State Park, and Thompson’s Harbor State Park (NRTH) Advisory Committee, a citizen-focused group established to work with the Department of Natural Resources on planning and management issues related to NRTH. With input and close collaboration of the NRTH Advisory Committee, the Department has developed management plans for all three parks. The Phase 1 and Phase 2 plans for these parks can be viewed at www.michigan.gov/parkmanagementplans under the heading of “Completed Plans.”

The establishment of the NRTH Advisory Committee, and subsequent planning actions, were a recommendation of the Michigan State Park Advisory Committee (MSPAC), which serves as a subcommittee of the Natural Resources Commission. Establishment of Rockport as a State Park was also strongly endorsed by the MSPAC.

Rockport State Park offers many unique and special features. With 4,237 acres of land located on the shores of Lake Huron, north of Alpena, the property includes a deep-water protected harbor, an old limestone quarry of approximately 300 acres, a unique series of sinkholes, a dedicated Natural Area (Besser Natural Area), and a broad range of land types, vegetative cover, cultural resources and recreation opportunities. At the harbor, the Department has a boat launch facility, and there is a small park developed by Alpena Township on land leased from the State.

Future actions regarding Rockport State Park will be guided by the management plans for the park and with ongoing input from the NRTH Advisory Committee, which is currently engaged in forming a “Friends Group” for this park. Administration of the park will be handled by Harrisville State Park, and questions regarding its management can be directed to 989-724-5126.

According to the DNR's Long Term Plan for the new state park, camping will be a service the park will offer. "Camping. The highly modified quarry area, in general, may offer opportunities for more extensive development with low resource impacts. The quarry also offers other recreational opportunities and any camping development would be respectful of other uses. Designated rustic camping has potential in the Natural Resource Recreation zone."

The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural resources for current and future generations. For more information go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Nominations Being Accepted for Governor John B. Swainson Award

The Michigan Historical Commission is soliciting nominations for the Governor John B. Swainson Award.

The prestigious Swainson Award is given annually by the Michigan Historical Commission to state, county or municipal employees who have gone above and beyond their official job duties to help preserve Michigan’s history. To recognize these contributions, in 1996 the Michigan Historical Commission instituted the Governor John B. Swainson Award in honor of the legislator, governor and judge whose commitment to history continues to inspire.

“Our historic resources are among Michigan’s greatest treasures, and the Swainson Award helps us pay tribute to those who serve as stewards of our state’s rich heritage,” said Edward Surovell, Michigan Historical Commission president.

Presentation of a plaque and certificate will be made during a special ceremony in the spring of 2012. For those who have or know of such employees, nomination forms with complete rules can be accessed at www.michigan.gov/mhcommission. The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2012.

The Michigan Historical Commission advises the Department of Natural Resources on the work of the Michigan Historical Center. The Commission is dedicated to enriching quality of life and strengthening the economy by providing access to information, and preserving and promoting Michigan's heritage. The Michigan Historical Center is the principal state agency that builds programs and alliances that preserve and interpret Michigan's past and help people discover, enjoy, and find inspiration in their heritage.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area Trail Closed for Nesting Eagles





OAK HARBOR, OH – One loop of the walking trail at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area has been closed to protect a newly established bald eagle nest, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.

A pair of bald eagles has built a nest behind the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. The trail will be closed until further notice in order to eliminate human activity near the nest and provide the birds with a good chance of producing a successful nest. There will be signs and barricades posted at the trailheads. The other loop of the walking trail will remain open from the Bird Center to the observation blind.

Currently there is an eagle nest at Magee Marsh near Turtle Creek. Several years ago another pair attempted to nest at Magee Marsh near the boardwalk, but the pair was unsuccessful. Bald eagle eggs take more than a month to hatch, and this pair at the Migration Bird Center has not laid eggs yet. The nest will be monitored to determine when the walking trail will be reopened to the public.

The Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center is open during the winter Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The trails are open during daylight hours.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at www.ohiodnr.com.


Celebrating the 'West Michigan Pike'

An early touring car follows the West Michigan Pike along East Grand Traverse
Bay in this hand-tinted Traverse City postcard. (History Center of Traverse City)
Guest Post by MIKE NORTON 

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Today, this bustling resort community on the shores of Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay is a four-season tourist magnet visited by more than two million people a year.

Looking at the town’s modern-day influx of tourist traffic, it’s hard to imagine that there were no dependable roads into Traverse City until well into the 20th century. Visitors could reach this part of Michigan by steamship or railroad, but motorists were warned to prepare for a major adventure along “cow paths, dirt trails, and twin ruts through dune sand.”

That all changed in 1913, when civic leaders from the coastal communities along the Lake Michigan shoreline began agitating for a new highway that would carry tourists from Chicago all the way up the coast to Mackinaw City, at the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The West Michigan Pike (as it was eventually christened) opened Traverse City to an entirely new clientele, making it suddenly affordable for young working-class families to enjoy an “Up North” vacation.

Historians Christine Byron and Tom Wilson, authors of "Vintage Views Along the West Michigan Pike", say the new road transformed the economy of northern Michigan, which had been devastated by the decline of the lumber industry and had lost much of its population.

“The automobile made it possible for more people to become involved as tourists, and the Pike was really the first road that brought them into northern Michigan,” says Wilson. “It was a true grass-roots initiative -- which is exactly the opposite of the way we do highways today.”

The 400-mile route, now known as U.S. 31, begins at the Michigan-Indiana state line and wanders through a litany of storied beach towns -- New Buffalo, Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Ludington, Manistee, Frankfort, Traverse City, Charlevoix and Petoskey – to its terminus at Mackinaw. This year, communities up and down the shore are preparing to celebrate the 2013 centennial of the Pike with parties, tours and ceremonies – exactly the same kind of observances that were held when it first opened.

Sometimes called the “Route 66 of Michigan,” the Pike was first conceived by William Antisdale of Muskegon, who called a 1913 meeting that included two passionate advocates from the North: Traverse City’s Frank Hamilton and D.H. Day of Glen Haven. They drew up potential routes – including a long “scenic loop” around the Leelanau Peninsula that skirted the edge of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and campaigned for state funding to make it a reality. Determined to stay as close as possible to the water’s edge, their slogan was “Lakeshore All the Way.”

It didn’t happen overnight. As late as 1919, young Ernest Hemingway was urging Chicago pals to drive up to his family cottage at Horton Bay, assuring them that it would take them “less than three days” to make the trip. But by 1922 the graveled road was completed, and excited boosters announced that it was now possible to drive up the coast as fast as 35 mph. They promoted the new road with annual group excursions, published detailed guidebooks and set up the state’s first highway visitor center.

It would be years before the road was actually paved – the pavement didn’t reach Traverse City until 1926 – but its mere existence created a galaxy of gas stations, rest stops, tourist courts, state parks, campgrounds, restaurants and roadside stands. Some of them can still be found along the road’s quieter stretches.

Although the official centennial of the Pike isn’t until 2013, plans are already taking shape for a number of early-bird events. A coalition of “beach towns” along the southwestern Michigan shore are creating a traditional publicity tour of the highway, aimed primarily at travel writers and other members of the media. And in Traverse City, more than 100 classic automobiles will drive a portion of the Pike on June 23 on the first leg of The Great Race, a nine-day international road rally through Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio that will end in Henry Ford’s hometown of Dearborn on July 1.

Local car aficionados and officials of Hagerty Insurance (the world’s largest insurer of collector cars and boats) are preparing a wide array of events and celebrations to mark the start of the rally. Hagerty is a major sponsor of the event. Participating autos must have been built between 1911 and 1969, and most are prewar vintage. (The 2011 winner was the first 100-year-old car to enter the race – a 1911 Velie owned by Howard Sharp of Fairport, NY).

For information about other goings-on in Traverse City, and for assistance with lodging and dining options, contact the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-TRAVERSE or online at www.traversecity.com.

20th Anniversary Michigan Travel Ideas magazine now available

Author's note: I picked up a copy of the 2012 "Michigan Travel Ideas" magazine at the recent Detroit Camper & RV Show. It is something my wife and I look forward to every year, and this year proved to be one of the best. It's published by the same people who create the "Midwest Living" monthly magazine, another publication I highly recommend.

The 20th anniversary issue of Michigan Travel Ideas, the official state travel guide, is being released today. Michigan Travel Ideas is free of charge, and has long been one of the state’s top trip-planning resources.

New this year, the 120-page full color publication will also be offered in a free digital edition, which will allow users to access it from their desktop and laptop computers, as well as smartphones and e-readers.

“With insider tips, event listings and trip ideas that range from weekend visits to extended vacations – all alongside informative stories and stunning photography – Michigan Travel Ideas is a terrific resource for first-time visitors and repeat travelers alike,” said George Zimmermann, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “With the new digital edition it is easier than ever to plan your Pure Michigan vacation.”

One million copies of Michigan Travel Ideas 2012 will be distributed throughout the year, including 650,000 that will be sent out with the March/April issue of Midwest Living. Individuals can request a copy of Michigan Travel Ideas 2012 at michigan.org or by calling toll-free (888) 784-7328. Michigan Travel Ideas 2012 will also be available at the 14 Michigan Welcomes Centers across the state.

The travel guide and magazine highlights interesting things to see and places to go in Michigan throughout the year. Featured this year are Michigan Moments – a collection of memorable moments made across Michigan, submitted by Pure Michigan Facebook fans and contributing writers.

Several of the feature articles in Michigan Travel Ideas highlight the state as a four-season destination. Summer Bliss uncovers unforgettable vacation moments along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, while Natural Color explores the spectacular scenery of autumn in Michigan. Unwrap Winter showcases 20 cold-weather activities to enjoy when snow falls in Michigan and transforms the landscape into a whole new playground.

Others, including Adventure Land, Ultimate Taste Trips and Golf Stars, highlight the wide variety of activities Michigan has to offer. For those seeking a more relaxing pace, Island Time and Small-Town Secrets offer insight into locations that are big on scenery with a laid back atmosphere.

The publication also includes a guide to Michigan state parks and campgrounds and a listing of convention and visitor bureaus and regional tourism associations.

Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, is the State of Michigan’s official agency for the promotion of tourism. Travel Michigan markets the state’s tourism industry and provides valuable visitor information services. For Michigan travel news and updates, go to michigan.org.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources February Newsbits

Camping Reservations: Now’s the time to make campsite and shelter reservations for many IDNR sites online through the ReserveAmerica website at www.reserveamerica.com using a Visa or MasterCard. For more information, check the IDNR website at http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/programs/camping/camprsvp.htm


2012 Illinois Licenses Now Available: Illinois fishing, hunting and sportsman’s combination licenses for 2012 are available from DNR Direct license and permit vendors, online through the IDNR website www.dnr.illinois.gov/online/Pages/default.aspx or by calling 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648). The system is available 24 hours a day. The 2012 licenses purchased beginning Jan. 16 will be valid through Mar. 31, 2013 unless otherwise noted.

Hunter and Boating Safety Education: Now’s the time to begin planning for spending time outdoors in 2012 by checking the schedule and registering for Hunter Safety Education and Boating Safety Education courses from the IDNR. There are plenty of classes scheduled, and since classes fill up quickly, check the IDNR website today for class dates and locations. Class schedules are updated frequently. The website link for all IDNR Safety Education course information is www.dnr.illinois.gov/safety

Pere Marquette Bald Eagle Programs: Enjoy watching bald eagles on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers near Pere Marquette State Park this winter by participating one of the park’s upcoming Bald Eagle Days tours. The site interpreter at Pere Marquette presents informative programs about bald eagles on select dates through early March. All programs begin at the Pere Marquette Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 618/786-3323. Upcoming programs will be held on the following dates: Feb. 8, 21, 22, 25, 26, 28, and 29 and Mar. 6. For more information, go to the Pere Marquette Bald Eagle Days webpage at http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R4/Bald_Eagle_Days.htm

Wildlife Preservation Fund: The IDNR has awarded grants for 29 wildlife enhancement projects for 2012 which are funded by donations to the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund (WPF). The WPF is a voluntary contribution check-off option on the Illinois state income tax form. In the 27 years of the program, a combined total of more than 1,150 large and small projects benefitting wildlife throughout Illinois have been funded through check-off donations totaling more than $5.4 million. The funds have been used to support projects ranging from habitat enhancements to species restoration. The Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund Advisory Committee approved more than $152,000 in funding for 29 projects this year. They include eight projects with funding ranging from $2,000 to $34,000 and 20 other projects with funding of $2,000 or less for each. The projects are to be conducted by a variety of organizations, groups, institutions and individuals throughout the state. Donations to the WPF are tax deductible and may be made on Schedule G, line 1a of the IL-1040 form. Donations to the fund may also be addressed to the IDNR Division of Natural Heritage, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271. For a complete list of Wildlife Preservation Fund grants for 2012, click this link: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/news/Documents/WPF-2012ProjectsAwarded-Feb2012.pdf

WPF Grant Applications: Applications are now being accepted for the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund grant programs, which are administered through the IDNR Division of Natural Heritage. These programs are funded through a voluntary check-off designation to the Wildlife Preservation Fund on the state income tax form. Each of the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund Grant Program packets for Fiscal Year 2013 includes a program explanation, instructions for completing the application form and an application form. The application packet can be found on the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/grants. The packet is also available by request by calling 217/782-2602 or by e-mail at DNR.SPECIALFUNDS@illinois.gov. The deadline for accepting applications is 5 p.m. on April 1, 2012.

OutdoorIllinois: For the latest news about Illinois' natural resources, pick up the February 2012 issue of OutdoorIllinois, the IDNR monthly magazine. Featured on the cover is a snowy landscape taken by Best of Show winner Virginia Kickle of Mt. Zion. Her winning entry of a downy woodpecker against a fall backdrop appears on page 7 of the magazine. The February issue of OutdoorIllinois is the eighth annual full-photographic issue, featuring 13 pages filled with stunning, winning entries in the 2011 OutdoorIllinois photo contest. Photo contest guidelines require that submitted images meet one of several categories, including aquatic organisms, herps, birds, mammals, invertebrates, scenic/landscape, flora, natural resource recreational activities, children in nature and young shutterbugs (same categories but taken by persons 12 years of age or younger). Information on the 2012 photography contest will be published in the May issue of OutdoorIllinois, and posted at www.dnr.illinois.gov/OI by May 1. For a summary of feature magazine articles, listen in on monthly podcasts at www.dnr.state.il.us/OI. OutdoorIllinois is a great tool for learning about Illinois' natural, cultural and recreational resources and a bargain at only $15 for a one-year, 12-issue magazine subscription that includes an information-packed annual calendar in the December issue. Visit dnr.state.il.us/OI or call 1-800-720-3249 to subscribe. VISA and MasterCard are accepted. For information on advertising in OutdoorIllinois, call 217/785-8610 or e-mail michelle.silver@illinois.gov.

Earth Day in the Parks: There is still time for Illinois school teachers to apply for this spring’s Earth Day in the Parks program from the IDNR. Applications will be accepted thru Feb. 28. Earth Day in the Parks is a natural resources stewardship event for students held at Illinois state parks. The application form is online at http://dnr.state.il.us/education/CLASSRM/EDITPinstruct.htm. Grants from the Illinois Conservation Foundation and Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund help to fund Earth Day in the Parks.

History of the Blues: The Illinois State Museum, in collaboration with the Illinois Central Blues Club, will present the “History of the Blues” on Sun., Feb. 19 from 2-4 p.m. at the museum in Springfield. Fernando Jones will present the history of the blues genre in narration and musically with his group, My Band. The program is free and open to the public. For more information: www.museum.state.il.us/events

Celebrate Cultural Diversity: Families are invited to celebrate cultural diversity on Sat., Feb. 25 at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. The free family event is from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Learn about the heritage and traditions of various world cultures through hands-on crafts, international displays, live performances, and more. For more information, phone 217/782-5993 or check online at www.museum.state.il.us/events.

Becoming an Outdoors Woman: Registration opens March 12 for the IDNR ‘Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop’ on June 8-10 at the Lorado Taft Field Campus in Oregon, Illinois. Classes are offered in more than 25 different outdoor-related activities and skills. In addition to core classes on topics such as canoeing, archery, wild edibles, fishing, and firearm safety, there are several new classes offered at this workshop including advanced shotgun wingshooting, nature sketching, river kayaking, deer hunting and birding. Experienced and knowledgeable instructors provide a non-competitive and non-threatening environment for learning. The cost of $210 per person includes housing, meals, four classes, use of equipment, transportation during the event, and much more. Registration will begin March 12 online at www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/bow.

Follow the IDNR: Keep up to date with events and information on outdoor recreation and natural resources in Illinois through IDNR postings on Facebook and Twitter. Find us at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/about/Pages/SocialNetworking.aspx

Experience the Life of a Victorian-Era Lighthouse Keeper

Tawas Point State Park Lighthouse
Author's Note: A few years ago we camped at Tawas Point State Park, one of Michigan's best and most scenic state parks. The lighthouse there is wonderful and would be a terrific place to stay as part of this program.

A willingness to set aside the computer, video games and other electronic gadgetry for a week or two could lead to a unique Michigan vacation opportunity. Those who have longed to experience the slow pace and the romance of the Victorian era can try their hand at being the lighthouse keeper at one of Michigan’s state parks this season.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers to spend a week or two between March 4 and December 23 acting as lighthouse keepers for the Tawas Point Lighthouse during the 2012 Lighthouse Keeper season. The lighthouse is located on the grounds of Tawas Point State Park along the shores of Lake Huron in East Tawas.

Volunteers eager to read up on the lighthouse’s rich maritime history in order to lead visitor tours, work in the museum’s gift shop or perform other miscellaneous duties can stay in the newly renovated keeper’s quarters for a cost of $250 per person, per week. The living quarters include two bedrooms and a modern kitchen and bath.

“The lighthouse has been in operation since 1876 and is one of only nine lighthouses on the Great Lakes with a working Fresnel lens and still an active aid to navigation,” said Chuck Allen, recreation supervisor at the Tawas Point State Park.

The chance to enjoy spectacular views and the unique lodging has enticed many vacationers to seek out the experience during the first three years of the program. According to Allen, volunteer lighthouse keepers stayed in the lighthouse from April through Christmas in 2011.

The lighthouse keeper program is open to singles and couples 18 years and older. Allen suggests that volunteers should be physically able to lead tours through the lighthouse and tower and perform housekeeping duties such as minor maintenance or lawn care. Applications can be obtained at www.michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse. Dates and prices are effective through 2012. For details, call (989) 362-5658.

Cottage & Lakefront Living Show coming Feb. 23-26 to Novi, MI

Cottage, lakefront property and vacation homeowners or those looking to buy, build or rent will find everything they need on display at the pre-season fifth annual Cottage & Lakefront Living Show Feb. 23- 26.

“You’ll find us at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi,” said Mike Wilbraham, show producer of ShowSpan, Inc. “We’ve gathered exhibitors under one roof for the convenience of showgoers to showcase their latest and greatest on every aspect of cottage and lakefront living.”

Here is a preview of what can be discovered at the show:

Vacation and retirement lakefront custom homebuilder will showcase different types of log home and timber-framing construction. Architects will exhibit their custom residential architectural services and explain how the home’s function is considered during the planning process along with aesthetics, environment and state and local regulations. The Log and Timber Frame Showcase will include how a cabin is put together, floor plans, profiles, roof options, log species, cedar siding, full logs, post and beam and do-it-yourself or contractor built home packages. Builders, contractors and architects will be available for scheduled private consultations through the show’s website.

Mexican thatch and bamboo Tiki bars and décor that are for sale or rent will be displayed. The Tiki bars setup and breakdown in minutes for winter storage and range in size from four-person pub table to seating for 12.

Enclosed and sit-on-top kayaks, aluminum rolling, floating and stationary docks with vinyl decking, polyethylene floating docks and swim rafts, aluminum hydraulic boat and pontoon lifts, roll-in, floating and portable docks, paddleboats, rafts, water toys and aluminum vinyl, steel, wood, boulder, sheet piling and bulkhead materials for seawalls, along with easy-to-use weed removal rollers and tools to create a sandy beach and remove the weeds from the lake shorelines and bottoms and natural shoreline restoration will be displayed.

Tropical and traditional color patio furniture made from recycled milk jugs that can be left outside year-round and warranted to resist fading, cracking or mildew; permanent, energy efficient metal roofing systems in a variety of designs and colors; radiant barrier flake insulation; walk-in Jacuzzi tubs designed for seniors; pergolas, sunrooms, solariums and screened rooms will be displayed.

Handcrafted building techniques of a stand up paddleboard will be demonstrated and other handcrafted lightweight, high performance wood-covered fiberglass custom boats will be exhibited.

Decorative and functional accessories will be available for purchase at the Lakefront Marketplace from aerial photographs of over 1,500 Michigan lakes to Northern Michigan cherry products, spice dips, chocolate candy, fudge, peanut brittle, roasted nuts, pasta sauces, salsas and other food items.

Michigan artists at the Cottage Fine Art Show will present wildlife photography, Great Lakes and Michigan inland lakes steel silhouettes, Petoskey stone art, jewelry and custom woodcarvings for sale.

Also featured will be Petoskey stone inlaid rustic night stands and various table furniture made from American chestnut, walnut, oak and ash wood and finished with elm wood legs, desk items from clocks to business card holders, lamps, household items and carved animals. Custom chainsaw/carved oak and white pine wood mantels, coffee tables, cigar store Indian, bald and American eagles, sport memorabilia, boat slip signs, TV surround and other wood products will be exhibited.

Sharing and keeping the cottage in the family for use currently and for future generations will be one of the seminars offered by experts at the Cottage Living Stage. Challenges and opportunities of “Waterfront Design,” “Buying & Selling Waterfront Property in Michigan,” “Nature Photography at Your Cottage.” and “Birds of Prey: What You ProbablyDidn’t Know about Your Neighbors” will be among the other Cottage Living Stage seminars.

Cottage Living Center will provide the opportunity to relax and work on a community puzzle, put a pin in an oversized Michigan map to show where cottages are located or read a book selected from the 2012 Essential Cottage Reading List provided by Horizon Books of Traverse City. Patrons are able to post a cottage for sale or rent on the Community Cottage Available Board.

Ideas to increase your outdoor living space are incorporated in the landscape displays that include wooden cabins, fireplaces, cooking options, patios, decks and gardening products. Other exhibits include log, timber frame and cedar homes, cottage rental, architects, cottage furnishings, lakefront homebuilders and realtors, lakeshore maintenance, boats and docks, outdoor recreational equipment, non-profit environmental organizations, government agencies, financing and other products and services. Experts throughout the show will provide tips, advice and knowledge on purchasing, planning, maintaining, financing and landscaping for spring, summer and year-round cottages and lakefront living.

Suburban Collection Showplace (formerly Rock Financial Showplace) is located at 46100 Grand River Ave. between Novi and Beck Road in Novi. Show hours are from 2 – 9:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10; $4 for children 6-14 and children 5 and under admitted free. Discount coupons for $2 off Thursday or Friday adult admission are available at show’s website and participating Wendy’s restaurants. Free crossover admission from the Cottage & Lakefront Living Show to Outdoorama. On site parking is available for a fee. Social networkers can follow the show on Twitter http://twitter.com/novicottageshow or become a fan on Facebook http://NoviCottageShow.com/Facebook. For more information, visit www.NoviCottageShow.com or call (800) 328-6550.

VIDEO: Mark Polk's RV Garage (Episode #17; Season Finale)


About Episode #17 (Season One Finale)
After 16 bi-monthly episodes the highly anticipated season finale is released, revealing the completed vintage trailer restoration for the very first time.

Season finale highlights:
  • The Old Yellowstone trailer gets a fresh coat of paint.
  • Polk installs a new 3,500 pound Dexter axle.
  • The electric brakes are converted to disc brakes with the addition of new brake rotors, calipers, and a Actulink electric/hydraulic brake actuator. To complete the new braking system Polk adds a DirecLink Network Enhanced brake controller.
  • Before the trailer can hit the road for the first time Polk installs an Equalizer hitch.
  • Mark Polk reflects back on season one through a series of Q&A.

About the "Mark's RV Garage" Series
Mark Polk of RV Education 101 gives you an inside look into RVs, RV products, product installations, RV upgrades, KOA RV destinations and much more. On each episode of "Mark's RV Garage" you will have fun, while learning more about your RV. "Mark's RV Garage" show is also available for viewing at the Ultimate RV Education website- RVConsumer.com http://rvconsumer.com/

 
RV Education 101 ebooks
Want to learn more about RVing? Mark Polk has written a handful of RV Education 101 ebooks on a variety of topics, including RV Checklists; The RV Book; RV Campground Basics; RV Care & Maintenance; Winterizing & Storing your RV and many more. Plus, the convenience of an ebook means it's downloaded instantly to your computer after you complete your transaction. Click here to be taken to the RV Education 101 ebooks page.

VIDEO: Luminous Field at Millennium Park

Awesome video of the Luminous Field at Millennium Park. If you've ever been, this will make you want to go back.

VIDEO: Mark Polk's RV Garage (Episode #16)


About Episode #16
On this episode of Mark's RV Garage:
  • Mark installs stabilizer jacks on the rear of the trailer and an electric tongue jack on the front.
  • The trailer gets new LP gas cylinders and the LP gas system gets checked for leaks and the proper operating pressure.
  • For added safety Mark installs a combination LP gas and Carbon Monoxide detector.
  • For entertainment purposes the trailer gets a 24 inch 12 volt LCD TV
  • The trailer gets prepped for paint

About the "Mark's RV Garage" Series
Mark Polk of RV Education 101 gives you an inside look into RVs, RV products, product installations, RV upgrades, KOA RV destinations and much more. On each episode of "Mark's RV Garage" you will have fun, while learning more about your RV. "Mark's RV Garage" show is also available for viewing at the Ultimate RV Education website- RVConsumer.com http://rvconsumer.com/

 
RV Education 101 ebooks
Want to learn more about RVing? Mark Polk has written a handful of RV Education 101 ebooks on a variety of topics, including RV Checklists; The RV Book; RV Campground Basics; RV Care & Maintenance; Winterizing & Storing your RV and many more. Plus, the convenience of an ebook means it's downloaded instantly to your computer after you complete your transaction. Click here to be taken to the RV Education 101 ebooks page.

A Northwest Ohio RV Excursion from Sauder Village

Author's Note: This is a guest post from Joe Laing of El Monte RV Rentals. If you would like to submit a guest post for consideration, send me an email to gr8lakescamper@gmail.com.

In the modern world of instant access, constant contact and tuned-in technology, an RV excursion into the past may seem a bit old-fashioned. But when your destination is filled with more than just dusty rooms and glass-encased artifacts - when it actually brings a bygone era into the present - the past can pave the way to an awesome learning experience for the entire family.

You'll find just such a place tucked into the northwest corner of Ohio, a few miles south of the Ohio Turnpike outside quaint Archbold. Here, the state's largest living history village, Sauder Village, brings to life the farming culture of a century ago. Through traditional artisans, costumed interpreters and interactive exhibits that demonstrate the essential skills of the 19th and early 20th centuries, young and old alike come to understand just how far we've come as a country - and just how near a time that was in our relative history. And if 100 years isn't all that long ago, then May 1, 2012 - opening day for the village's annual season - is gonna come fast! Here's what you'll need to know to get rolling:

Destination
Photo by David Guion
In 1976, longtime local Erie J. Sauder, a pioneer in his own right who developed ready-to-assemble wooden furniture, established the nonprofit museum dedicated to the original pioneers of the Great Black Swamp region. He arranged to have dozens of century-old hand-constructed buildings collected from around the state onto a living history farm and craft village. Devised to illustrate the story of the area's earliest European settlers, Sauder Village tells how these brave men and women toiled to transform the vast wilderness into fruitful fields and towns. (Learn more about the man behind this mission at the welcome center's Greenburg Gallery.)

Photo by Dustin M. Ramsey
From Sauder Village, travelers can also follow Township Road E a short stretch west to Goll Woods State Nature Preserve, which encompasses 300-plus acres of old-growth woods showcasing the swamp forest habitat that once defined this region.

Digs
Since its founding 35 years ago, Sauder Village has expanded to include a 350-seat restaurant, a bakery, a 98-room country inn, a performance center, and a lush lakeside campground that makes an ideal place to hook up your vacation time machine. With 47 sites adjacent to the Historic Village, as well as play spaces for children and adults (think volleyball, fishing, shuffleboard and horseshoes, a playground, a pool, and a walking path), you'll be able to park amidst much modern-day action while allowing plenty of time to explore the expansive site.

With all of that excitement, you'll surely develop an appetite; fill up on homestyle supper and other simple meals at the Village's Barn Restaurant, plus soups and sammies from the Village Café and made-from-scratch goods at the Doughbox Bakery. In nearby Archbold, you'll also find a handful of restaurants downtown along North Defiance Street. Try the Home Restaurant for breakfast all day or cozy Carol Ann's City Café for a gourmet cuppa joe and baked oatmeal, Samuel Mancino's Italian Eatery just down the block for pizza and grinders, and the upscale Stella Blue for salty jazz and spicy ribs.

Discover
Throughout the Historic Village, staff donning period costumes play the residents of a rural turn-of-the-century town, from farmers and printers to cooks and craftsmen. On any given day, visitors can help churn butter, hear traditional hymns, duck inside a wigwam, or milk a replica cow. In addition to the welcome center, circle of shops selling everything from baskets to herbs, museum, and quilt shop, there are many distinct areas to discover; each one is chockfull of demonstrations, exhibits, and activities, so allow yourself at least two or three days to work through the entire site. (For a good overview of what's offered, climb aboard the Erie Express train, which chugs "through time" around the village perimeter.)
Photo by Sauder Village

Working your way from the town center - past a train depot, church, doctor's office, schoolhouse, sweet shop, grist mill, and more - you'll arrive in the "Natives and Newcomers" area and be transported back to 1803, when Native Americans lived off this land and the early fur trade was being established. Fast-forward to the mid-1800s at the award-winning "Pioneer Settlement," where you'll hear stories of Amish-Mennonite immigrants, tour log homes, and listen to criminal tales at the two-room jail. For the small fries, the "Little Pioneers Homestead" provides hands-on learning with toys and games, a pretend cabin, farm animals, flower and vegetable gardens, and a child-size farm wagon. Then make your way to the "1910 Homestead" to see how a turn-of-the-century family lived and worked. Finally, a cluster of craft buildings and artisan studios brings you back towards the middle of town. Watch potter Mark Nafziger throw stoneware creations inside a timber-frame studio and marvel at Mark Matthews's intricate glass marbles.

Dates
In May, the Historic Village opens for the season, and the site's special events calendar kicks off with three fabulous affairs worth gearing up for. First up, the popular annual Quilt Show (May 1-6), which pieces together our country's rich quilting traditions into a beautiful show featuring more than 400 displays, as well as demos, workshops, shopping, and music. Then, Spring on the Farm (May 12) awakens your Sauder experience with folk music performances; old-fashioned games; planting, rope-making, and sheep-shearing demonstrations; and loads of hands-on fun. And one week later, Sauder Village welcomes more than 100 vintage automobiles for the Antique Car Gathering (May 19). Take a drive into yesteryear with demonstrations of and rides in cars from as far back as the early 1900s.

Spring is only a few short months away; now's the time to start planning your own "covered wagon" adventure!

About the Author
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals. You can see more great RV vacation ideas in their Monty's Musings RV Travel Blog and be sure to check out their RV Camping Pictures.

VIDEO: Mark Polk's RV Garage (Episode #15)


About Episode #15
On this episode of Mark's RV Garage:
  • Show host Mark Polk tests the water system on the restoration project for leaks using the water pump and city water pressure.
  • Polk installs the exterior metal and windows in the vintage trailer restoration project.
    Watch the installation of a Voyager Digital Wireless Observation System with WiSight technology
  • Find out what Polk considers to be RV Maintenance Mishaps and see what you can do to avoid them.

About the "Mark's RV Garage" Series
Mark Polk of RV Education 101 gives you an inside look into RVs, RV products, product installations, RV upgrades, KOA RV destinations and much more. On each episode of "Mark's RV Garage" you will have fun, while learning more about your RV. "Mark's RV Garage" show is also available for viewing at the Ultimate RV Education website- RVConsumer.com http://rvconsumer.com/

 
RV Education 101 ebooks
Want to learn more about RVing? Mark Polk has written a handful of RV Education 101 ebooks on a variety of topics, including RV Checklists; The RV Book; RV Campground Basics; RV Care & Maintenance; Winterizing & Storing your RV and many more. Plus, the convenience of an ebook means it's downloaded instantly to your computer after you complete your transaction. Click here to be taken to the RV Education 101 ebooks page.

Volunteers Invited to Take Part in Habitat Restoration at State Parks and Recreation Areas in Southwest Michigan

Author's Note: Anyone with extra time who wants to take advantage of this winter's mild weather might want to participate in this rewarding, worthwhile cause.

Join in the effort to Go Get Outdoors and protect critical dune, prairie and forest habitats stretching from Berrien to Muskegon Counties! State recreation officials announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship activities for the month of February as part of the new Volunteer Steward program in Southwestern Michigan state parks and recreation areas. Volunteering for these workdays is a great way to GO-Get Outdoors in many of our cherished state parks, breathe some fresh air, have fun and get a bit of exercise while enjoying beautiful scenery and precious landscapes.

Volunteers can make a big impact by removing invasive, non-native shrubs in natural areas within state parks and recreation areas. Targeted invasive species include: honeysuckle, autumn olive, barberry and Lombardy poplar. Removing them from the landscape will help to protect and restore the unique habitats by improving conditions for native species and restoring ecosystem function. In doing so, volunteers will be benefiting many species, some of which are threatened or endangered, while also learning about invasive species and management hands-on.

Volunteers in need of service credit, such as Conservation Stewards, Master Gardeners, scouts, service clubs and school groups, as well as others interested in conservation are welcome to attend.

Dates, times and locations of the remaining workdays are as follows:
  • Saturday, Feb. 18; P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon Co.), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Sunday, Feb. 19; Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry Co.), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Saturday, Feb. 25; Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien Co.), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Sunday, Feb. 26; Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan Co.), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants, boots, gloves and drinking water. Don’t forget to bring your hiking boots to enjoy the many trails that traverse through forests, dunes, prairies, fen and the other unique natural areas protected by our state park system.

The Volunteer Steward program is part of the Parks and Recreation Division, Stewardship Unit’s mission to “preserve, protect and restore the natural and cultural resources present within Michigan State Parks for this and future generations.” For information about the activities at each workday, find directions or park information and to check the Volunteer Steward calendar of events, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the “Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.” All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the website.

Please contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext. 147 or freih@michigan.gov for registration or questions about the Volunteer Steward program in Southwest Michigan.

VIDEO: Mark Polk's RV Garage (Episode #14)


About Episode #14
On this episode of Mark's RV Garage:
  • Mark installs a RV 500 tankless water heater by Precision Temp and tests the electrical system in the vintage trailer restoration project.
  • Discover a product that will keep the front wheels of your motorhome pointing straight, even when there is a blowout.
  • Get some tips on the correct way to check the tire pressure on your tow vehicle or RV.

About the "Mark's RV Garage" Series
Mark Polk of RV Education 101 gives you an inside look into RVs, RV products, product installations, RV upgrades, KOA RV destinations and much more. On each episode of "Mark's RV Garage" you will have fun, while learning more about your RV. "Mark's RV Garage" show is also available for viewing at the Ultimate RV Education website- RVConsumer.com http://rvconsumer.com/

 
RV Education 101 ebooks
Want to learn more about RVing? Mark Polk has written a handful of RV Education 101 ebooks on a variety of topics, including RV Checklists; The RV Book; RV Campground Basics; RV Care & Maintenance; Winterizing & Storing your RV and many more. Plus, the convenience of an ebook means it's downloaded instantly to your computer after you complete your transaction. Click here to be taken to the RV Education 101 ebooks page.

VIDEO Detroit RV Show: 2012 Airstream Interstate Touring Coach

Norm Wells, manager of National RV Detroit, wanted me to make sure I got a chance to see the 2012 Insterstate Touring Coach by Airstream.

They're unlike any other Airstream, he said, in part because they've teamed up with Mercedes Benz.

Mercedes Benz? What do they have to offer the legendary manufacturer of iconic travel trailers?

Well, for one thing. We're not talking about a travel trailer.

The Interstate Touring Coach is a van conversion on steroids. Actually, Wells was insistent that the Interstate is NOT a van conversion.

Built on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter 3500 chassis, the Interstate features a Mercedes-Benz CDI V6 Turbo Diesel that offers up to 18 mpg and a 6,400-pound towing capacity. A low center of gravity helps deliver outstanding handling so that "getting there" is truly half the fun.

And once you're "there," the interior appointments is the best combination Airstream and Mercedes-Benz has to offer. The softest leather chairs and sofas, exquisite cabinetry, upscale appliances, electronics and fixtures - everything you need so that you never have to want.

In short, every part of the Interstate Touring Coach is exceptional in every sense of the word.

Dan Jasten of National RV Detroit provided us with a short tour of the Interstate Touring Coach during the Detroit Camper & RV Show. Enjoy!

VIDEO: Mark Polk's RV Garage (Episode #13)


About Episode #13
On this episode of Mark's RV Garage:
  • Mark installs a brand new Dometic refrigerator and finishes the wiring with some GFCI outlets.
  • Mark installs a Hamilton Beach microwave provided by ASA Electronics
  • Discover how to keep your RV battery topped off with a Sunforce solar battery charger.
  • Get some preventive maintenance tips on how to increase the life of your tow vehicle or motorhome engine

About the "Mark's RV Garage" Series
Mark Polk of RV Education 101 gives you an inside look into RVs, RV products, product installations, RV upgrades, KOA RV destinations and much more. On each episode of "Mark's RV Garage" you will have fun, while learning more about your RV. "Mark's RV Garage" show is also available for viewing at the Ultimate RV Education website- RVConsumer.com http://rvconsumer.com/

 
RV Education 101 ebooks
Want to learn more about RVing? Mark Polk has written a handful of RV Education 101 ebooks on a variety of topics, including RV Checklists; The RV Book; RV Campground Basics; RV Care & Maintenance; Winterizing & Storing your RV and many more. Plus, the convenience of an ebook means it's downloaded instantly to your computer after you complete your transaction. Click here to be taken to the RV Education 101 ebooks page.

VIDEO Detroit RV Show: Rockwood Ultra Lite Murphy Bed feature

At every RV Show I go to - like most people, I assume - I'm always on the lookout for the latest and greatest innovation the RV manufacturers have come up with.

The Detroit Camper & RV Show is no different. But I wasn't really able to see any new innovation that I hadn't seen before. Maybe variations or improvements on a recent innovation, but nothing that I haven't seen before.

The Rockwood Ultra Lite that is in this video is an example of that. Its main feature is the Murphy Bed - the bed that folds up and out of the way when in transit or you want to use the sofa  underneath, but folds down to for a nice queen-sized bed when it's time for sleep. Of course, the Murphy Bed has been around years and years, but Larry Andree of A&S RV Center in Auburn Hills said that it's making a comeback as RV manufacturers look to maximize space and minimize weight.

Larry pointed out this feature at the Rockwood 2304S he had on display at the Detroit RV Show. The video doesn't show the rest of the camper, which is full of the quality construction, comfortable amenities and outstanding value that Rockwood is known for.

This particular model is the Rockwood Ultra Lite 2304S, which is the shortest Ultra Lite at 23 feet, 9 inches. The Murphy Bed is found in two other Ultra Lite models, including the 27-foot, 5-inch long 2501SS and the 29-foot, 5-inch 2601S. All three models feature a street-side slideout housing either a dinette booth (2304S and 2601S or a dinette booth and bunk bed unit (2501SS).

Once again, I've talked for far too long. Enjoy the video.


Rockwood Ultra Lite 2304S Specifications
Dry Hitch Weight - 678 lb.
Dry Ship Weight - 4,688 lb.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating - 6,594 lb.
Cargo Carrying Capacity - 1,833 lb.
Exterior Length - 23 ft. 9 in.
Exterior Height - 9 ft. 7 in.
Exterior Width - 96 in.
Fresh Water Capacity - 37 gal.
Gray Water Capacity - 36 gal.
Black Water Capacity - 37 gal.
Awning Size - 15 ft.

Follow the Michigan DNR on Twitter for Daily Passport Perks Discounts

Michigan residents can now enjoy their morning coffee with a side of savings, courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources. The DNR is featuring “Morning Perks” – daily discount alerts on Twitter, showcasing the wide variety of savings available in the department’s Passport Perks program.

The DNR’s Twitter feed now features two Passport Perks discount deals every morning, promoting Michigan businesses that offer special discounts through the Perks program. The tweets can be accessed by following the DNR Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/michiganDNR, searching Twitter for keyword #PassportPerks or viewing the compiled Morning Perk tweets at www.michigan.gov/passportperks.

“The deals featured on Morning Perks are a daily reminder that people can enjoy great savings just by purchasing the Recreation Passport at a Secretary of State venue,” said Erik Thornbury, marketing and hospitality coordinator for the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “With more than 800 discounts offered statewide, the $10 cost of a Recreation Passport can easily be recouped through discount savings, and then some.”

Passport Perks, the largest discount program of its kind in the state, offers deals on merchandise and services from participating Michigan businesses – 800 so far, and that number is steadily growing.

Discount deals are not limited to outdoor or sporting goods stores. Discounts are available on everything from tax preparation, auto repair and beauty salon services to pizza, ice cream and movie rentals. Businesses participating in the Perks program range from local mom-and-pop shops to statewide and national chains, making it easy to find a participating location in just about any region of the state.

“We are particularly proud of the Passport Perks program because it’s such an easy way to drive customers to Michigan businesses in nearly every category,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “For shoppers, it’s a pretty great deal, too. For $10, you get the Recreation Passport plus a year full of savings on the products and services most appealing to you.”

Passport Perks discounts are available to Michigan residents who check “YES” for the $10 Recreation Passport when renewing their license plates at a Secretary of State venue (including branch offices, kiosks and online at www.michigan.gov/sos). The Recreation Passport provides a year’s worth of entry to all Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boat launches, while also supporting other state and local recreation programs.

Once the Passport is purchased, residents simply need to show their vehicle registration (displaying the text “Recreation Passport”) at participating businesses to take advantage of savings at participating restaurants, stores and service companies.

For more details on how to take advantage of the Passport Perks program or to view the current roster of Passport Perks providers, visit www.michigan.gov/passportperks.

VIDEO: Mark Polk's RV Garage (Episode #12)


About Episode #12
On this episode of Mark's RV Garage, Mark installs:
  • A Winegard motorized TV antenna
  • A 13,500 BTU roof mounted air conditioner by ASA Electronics
  • Maxx Air II vent covers 
  • A Jensen stereo system by ASA Electronics
  • And some new LP gas lines
  • KOA: Cool RV Destination

About the "Mark's RV Garage" Series
Mark Polk of RV Education 101 gives you an inside look into RVs, RV products, product installations, RV upgrades, KOA RV destinations and much more. On each episode of "Mark's RV Garage" you will have fun, while learning more about your RV. "Mark's RV Garage" show is also available for viewing at the Ultimate RV Education website- RVConsumer.com http://rvconsumer.com/

 
RV Education 101 ebooks
Want to learn more about RVing? Mark Polk has written a handful of RV Education 101 ebooks on a variety of topics, including RV Checklists; The RV Book; RV Campground Basics; RV Care & Maintenance; Winterizing & Storing your RV and many more. Plus, the convenience of an ebook means it's downloaded instantly to your computer after you complete your transaction. Click here to be taken to the RV Education 101 ebooks page.

Volunteers needed for summer campground hosts at Michigan State Parks

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Recreation Division is offering free camping this summer for outdoor lovers who volunteer as campground hosts at Michigan state parks, recreation areas or state forest campgrounds. The Volunteer Campground Host Program allows individuals to camp in a state park or state forest campground at no charge in return for providing visitor assistance in the campground.

Campground hosts direct visitors to their campsites, answer questions about the park or state forest, arrange campground activities and perform light maintenance duties and other services, depending on the hosts’ talents and interests. They can be individuals or teams. Retired couples, teachers and students, as well as families, are just some of the volunteers who have enjoyed spending their time as campground hosts.

Campground hosts must be at least 18 years old, provide services five days/30 hours per week (including weekends and holidays), serve a minimum of four consecutive weeks and furnish their own camping unit, equipment and personal items.

State park hosts must attend a two-day training session the end of April, 2012 at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon. This training is not required of state forest campground hosts.

Campground hosts are chosen by park and forest managers who may require an interview or request additional information. Selection is based on the individual's familiarity with the state park or state forest system, his or her camping experience, special skills, availability, knowledge of the area and the needs of the specific park or forest campground.

Hosts are particularly needed during the busy camping season, which can begin as early as April in state parks in southern Michigan. Many of last year's campground hosts will be returning this year; however, vacancies still exist at park and forest campground locations throughout Michigan.

Information and applications are available from the DNR's website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers. Those interested in being a campground host at a state park should apply directly to the park of their choice.

For more information on campground host positions in state parks and recreation areas contact Pam Ames at 517-467-7401; for state forest campgrounds, please contact Ada Takacs at 989-275-5151, ext. 2049.