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From motorhome.com

Top Green RV Parks chosen by the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory

Despite the stereotype of RVs as gas-guzzling, carbon-spewing behemoths, RVing is actually an environmentally friendly way to travel. RV trips require drastically less fuel than air travel, and RV parks use far fewer resources than hotels or resorts.

Some RV parks have upped the green ante by adopting earth-friendly practices ranging from recycling policies to solar panels, energy-efficient lighting and environmentally sound landscaping.

To help recreational vehicle enthusiasts find RV parks that follow environmentally friendly practices, the editors and consultants of the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory have compiled a list of the top Green RV Parks. Boasting RV parks from across North America, the list is tailored for RV travelers seeking campgrounds that adhere to an ecologically sound philosophy without sacrificing the comforts and conveniences RVers have come to expect in their travels.

The Good Sam RV Travel Guide’s top green RV parks are:

Going Green
Over the past decade, RV parks across the country have taken great strides in terms of energy usage. Grand Canyon Railway RV Park, for example, relies on a large array of solar panels for electricity. San Diego RV Resort in La Mesa, California, likewise embraces environmental initiatives that make it popular among guests.
Good Sam Guide
RV travelers can find more information about more green RV parks in the 2013 Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory, which combines two of the RV industry’s most popular and respected brands—the Trailer Life Directory and Woodall’s Campground Directory—into one comprehensive volume. The guide contains detailed information more than 8,000 private RV parks across North America; each campground is personally inspected and rated by the Good Sam’s consultant teams.

The guide also includes lifestyle features, regional trip guides and essential travel facts. Readers can get vital tech tips, learn about must-see points of interest in all of North America’s states and provinces, follow a meal and fitness planner and get Road Ready with a special products section. Also included are guides to RV-related state laws and information needed for trouble-free trips into Canada and Mexico.

For more information about the 2013 Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory, click on www.goodsamcamping.com

Guest Post: Should you purchase an RV?

Authors note: Today's guest post is written by Hannah Eneix of Kirklands RV Sales.


To begin, an RV is any enclosed vehicle used for camping that is more extensive than a truck or regular car. There are three types of RV’s: towable, truck camper, and motorized motor home. Sixty-six percent of regular campers still use tents, but the number of people using RVs is continually growing. In 2011, 8.9 million households in the US owned and used RV’s, and, currently, an average of 2,000 RVs are being sold yearly. Many people decide to buy an RV because it is more convenient to use than a tent. Here are some of those conveniences. 
  • You can haul more equipment.
  • There is less setup for camp. 
  • Comfortable living quarters
  • A close bathroom.
  • More storage options.

However, even though some things are more convenient when camping with an RV, there are still some downsides as well..
  • It costs more to use an RV.
  • RVs do not get good gas mileage, so be ready to stop for gas more.
  • RVs could require significant upkeep. 

If you do decide to purchase an RV, there are some things you should consider. 

First of all, you should decide on how big of an RV you want, how much you want to spend on it, and what options you want it to have. Some things you should decide on are: the floorplan, storage options, fuel economy, sleeping space, and cooking options (microwave, stove, ecc..). Once you have decided on all these factors, you are ready to begin looking for an RV that you would like to purchase.

Once you have found the RV you would like to purchase, rent it! Take some time to go on a camping trip and experience it first hand. Then you will find out if you like living in it, enjoy how it drives, and like working on it. This way, you will know if you are making the right choice.

After you have done all of this research, conducted your test/ trial camping trip, and had your technician take a look at the RV, you are officially ready to make your purchase.

Also, when you do buy your future RV, don’t be shy about asking for a price that fits your budget.. RV’s do not have a firm asking price, so you may be able to save money by just inquiring.

Post Purchase

After you have purchased your RV and are getting ready to take off, make sure and use these pre-trip inspection tips to keep trips as safe as possible.

Check your tires and inflate them before every trip.
One of the problems that will most likely happen on your trip is that one of your tires will blowout. Make sure to avoid that by taking care of your tires before every trip.

Balance the load in your RV.
An unbalanced RV can cause breakdowns, restrict driving and steering, and cause blowouts. Be sure to balance the load in your RV.

Measure the height of your RV.
Knowing the height of your RV will ensure that there are no uncertainties when going under overpasses or bridges, and you can avoid damage to your RV.

Let other people drive. 
If you are taking a long road trip, share the driving! Falling asleep at the wheel is dangerous and can be solved easily by letting someone else drive while you take a nap and get refreshed.



Michigan's new reservation system lets you view photos of state park campsites beforehand

Beginning Nov. 3, state park campers who make reservations on the new, improved central reservation system (CRS) website, administered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), can view one or more photos of each campsite prior to making their reservations.

“With the existing reservation system website, customers read descriptive text about the campsite to determine if it’s sunny, shady, flat or elevated,” said Christa Sturtevant-Good, DNR central reservation system liaison. “While text descriptions will remain, altered slightly to an easier-to-read format, campers can also look at between one to three photos of every site, and then visually decide if that campsite has all the features they’re looking for.”

The photos will be shown as smaller thumbnail images which, when clicked on, open to a larger size in a new window.

“In this way, viewers can see the site up close,” said Anna Sylvester, DNR Parks and Recreation field operations chief for northern Michigan. “Often campers wonder where the fire pit or electrical box is located on the site, but they can’t tell this just by reading text. These features are shown in most photos, allowing campers to determine if the location of campsite elements will meet their camping needs.”

The addition of campsite and lodging photos is a customer-driven enhancement made available through the new CRS provider, Camis USA, Inc., which has a call center in Ann Arbor, Mich., and servers in Southfield, Mich. The new reservation system becomes active in early November, with important transitions taking place as the activation approaches.

During the transition phase to the new CRS, customers can continue to make reservations through Oct. 30 using the call center. The phone number, 1-800-44-PARKS, will remain unchanged. Reservations through the website, www.midnrreservations.com, will be possible until Oct. 22 at 8 p.m., when the website will taken down to begin the transition process to the new website. The address will not change.

Important transition dates include:
  • Oct. 22-31: Website reservations cannot be made. The call center will remain active through Oct. 30, taking reservations for dates through Oct. 31, 2013.
  • Oct. 25: The new reservation website goes live. Although reservations cannot yet be made on the website, customer profiles can be created and viewers can navigate the site to create familiarity.
  • Oct. 31: Reservations cannot be made. State parks can register walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Nov. 1: The new CRS system, both the website and the call center, opens to state park lodging, which typically has a one-year reservation window (camper cabins, mini-cabins, rustic cabins, yurts and modern lodges). Reservations for these facilities can now be made for dates after Oct. 31, 2013. From Nov. 1-2, campsites and slips are not reservable. During this time, campsites and slips are available at the facility on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Nov. 3: The system opens to facilities with a six-month reservation window. These include campsites at state parks and select state forest campgrounds and harbor slips. 
During the transition phase, updates and CRS-related press releases are available by visiting the DNR website www.michigan.gov/stateparks and clicking on A New and Improved Campground Reservation System is Launching on November 1st

Travel Michigan heading to Asia with an extra $4 million

News from Travel Michigan Vice President George Zimmerman

As you are probably aware, we received a funding increase for FY 2014, which started on October 1st, from $25 million to $29 million, with that increase provided to boost our international marketing efforts. With this additional funding, there are five primary components to our international marketing program in 2014. First, we are adding Toronto as a primary market for spring/summer advertising. We have advertised in the smaller Canadian markets south of Toronto for a number of years, but never had the dollars to include Toronto. That changes starting next spring. In addition, we will be offering our advertising partners an opportunity to buy into the Toronto market with us.

Second, we are beefing up promotion programs in the UK and Germany. We partner with the other Great Lakes states in those markets – through Great Lakes USA – and starting in 2014, we will be adding Michigan-specific promotions to raise awareness of Michigan as a destination for European travelers to the U.S.

Third, we are entering Asian markets for the first time. In September, Governor Snyder and I announced our entry into the Chinese market at travel and tourism events in Shanghai, Beijing and Chongqing during the Governor’s trade mission.

Fourth, we are increasing the Michigan presence at IPW (formerly Pow Wow) 2014 in Chicago in early April. IPW is the primary international travel and tourism marketplace held in the United States each year, where tour operators and media from around the world meet with U.S. destinations. We will have a significant Pure Michigan branding presence at the event, and we expect the largest delegation of Michigan destinations ever to attend IPW and participate with us. In addition, we have been granted two of the eight official post-IPW FAM tours to host international tour operators and media in Michigan right after IPW.

Finally, we are engaging in many of the activities detailed above in partnership with Brand USA, the public-private partnership created to market the U.S. as a tourism destination globally. Many of the opportunities for buy-in with Brand USA are being managed by Miles Media. These include everything from in-country publications and native-language videos about U.S. destinations to expanded content on the discoveramerica.com web site.

We are holding a tourism industry international information session with John Deleva, a representative from Miles, on Wednesday, December 4th, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., at the Kellogg Center, 219 S Harrison Rd, East Lansing. During this session, we will review our international program for 2014, including opportunities for tourism industry participation, as well as the complete offerings from Brand USA. There is no charge to attend, but you do need to RSVP to Regina McCloud at McCloudR@michigan.org.

The latest Michigan hotel data from Smith Travel Research shows continued strength in the Michigan tourism industry. Although the state’s hotel occupancy rate slipped from 62.9% in September of 2012 to 62.1% in September, 2013, the average daily rate (ADR) at Michigan hotels jumped 4.3% and the revenue per available hotel room (RevPAR) was up 2.9% over September 2012. Year to date, occupancy, ADR and RevPAR in 2013 are all pacing ahead of 2012.

Safe travels always,
George

Nostalgia Magazine takes on 'Road Trip America: Offbeat Attractions & Quirky Must-See Stops' to close out the summer

As summer comes to a close, there’s still time for one more road trip! Gather the family, pack your bags, and hit the road for a little slice of Americana. To help you select a dream destination, Reminisce—North America’s top-selling nostalgia magazine—explores some of America’s most unique off-road attractions.

Check out some fun facts on America’s local treasures here:

The Blue Whale of Route 66 (Catoosa, Oklahoma): Lifelong Catoosa resident Hugh Davis built this aquatic oddity in 1972 as an anniversary gift to his wife, Zelta. Before the 80-foot-long structure even got its first coast of paint, curious travelers began stopping to take a swim.




Graceland (Memphis, Tennessee): Walk in the footsteps of rock ‘n’ roll royalty on a guided tour of the King’s 14-acre estate, which includes a final stop in the Meditation Garden where Elvis is buried.





Antique Shell Station (Winston-Salem, North Carolina): In the 1930s, the Quality Oil Co. built eight clamshell-shaped stations. This is the only one still standing, now protected as a state landmark. Come with a full tank – the pumps are now dry – and don’t forget your camera!





Paul Bunyon & Babe the Blue Ox (Bemidji, Minnesota): The duo attracts thousands of visitors a year to the city that calls itself the real birthplace of Paul Bunyon. The 18-foot-tall, 2.5-ton lumberjack and his 5-ton companion were both constructed in 1937.





The Shady Dell (Bisbee, Arizona): Nine vintage aluminum trailers transport guests back to the 1950s at this RV resort. The interiors have been furnished in high midcentury modern style, from leopard carpets and breakfast booths to a hand-carved tiki bar.




Weeki Wachee Springs (Spring Hill, Florida): Mermaids have been putting on shows since 1947 in this crystalline natural spring, where the water’s a consistent 72 degrees.






The UFO Museum & Research Center (Roswell, New Mexico): In July 1947, a crash landing put Roswell on the map. UFO or no? The debate continues here, where the curious flock for answers. Do your own research at the museum, then buy an inflatable alien in the gift shop.




The World’s Largest Ball of Twine (Cawker City, Kansas): The world’s largest ball of sisal twine is more than 50 years old and still growing. Frank Stoeber got the ball rolling in 1953. Now the attraction weighs 9 tons, with close to 8 million feet of twine. Stop by to add more!





To check out even more wacky highway sideshows, check out the full article here: http://www.reminisce.com/1950s/road-trip-america-offbeat-attractions/.

Michigan DNR: Site-specific state campground reservations will soon be available in 'shoulder season'

Summer campers at Michigan’s state parks have long enjoyed the advantages of site-specific campground reservations, meaning they can reserve a specific campsite at a park and be guaranteed that campsite during their visit. Soon, campers during the "shoulder season" - mid-September to late May - will also enjoy the benefit. 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently transitioning to a new, improved central reservation system (CRS) with many customer-driven improvements and features, including the addition of site-specific campground reservation capabilities for shoulder season guests. The new system provides parks with the equipment necessary to make site-specific reservations a reality.

“This is an important improvement for the many fall and winter campers who would prefer to select a specific campsite before arriving at the campground,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “We not only listened to what our guests had to say, we acted on their suggestions and now, beginning next month when the new system is implemented, this opportunity will become available.”

The registration station, made available near the campground office, makes the shoulder season site-specific reservations possible by providing assistance to campers during a time of year when park staff may be limited due to reduced staffing levels, seasonal maintenance and other operational needs. The registration station includes a yellow phone that automatically contacts the CRS call center, located in Ann Arbor, when the receiver is lifted. Campers can then work with the call center to conveniently register for any available campsite, and then continue on to their site. This is also an important feature because - after the transition to the new CRS - site-standard reservations (reserving a spot at a park but not a specific site) will no longer be available.

“With implementation of site-specific reservations during the shoulder season, it’s now very important that guests without reservations utilize the registration station prior to setting up camp,” said Jason Fleming, DNR parks and recreation operations unit manager. “Although campsites may be unoccupied at the time, they may already be reserved for that night. Registering first at the station will prevent unfortunate situations requiring unregistered campers to move sites because a particular site is already taken.”

During the transition phase to the new CRS, customers can continue to make reservations through Oct. 30 using the call center. The phone number, 1-800-44-PARKS, will remain unchanged. Reservations through the website, www.midnrreservations.com, will be possible until Oct. 22 at 8 p.m., when the website will be taken down to begin the transition process to the new website. The website address will not change.

Additional important transition dates include:
  • Oct. 22-31: Website reservations cannot be made. The call center will remain active through Oct. 30, taking reservations for dates through Oct. 31, 2013.
  • Oct. 25: The new reservation website goes live. Although reservations cannot yet be made on the website, customer profiles can be created and viewers can navigate the site to create familiarity.
  • Oct. 31: Reservations cannot be made. State parks can register walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Nov. 1: The new CRS (both the website and the call center) opens to state park lodging, which typically has a one-year reservation window (camper cabins, mini-cabins, rustic cabins, yurts and modern lodges). Reservations for these facilities can now be made for dates after Oct. 31, 2013. From Nov. 1-2, campsites and slips are not reservable. During this time, campsites and slips are available at the facility on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Nov. 3: The system opens to facilities with a six-month reservation window. These include campsites at state parks and select state forest campgrounds and harbor slips. 

During the transition phase, updates and CRS-related press releases are available by visiting the DNR website http://michigan.gov/stateparks and clicking on A New and Improved Campground Reservation System is Launching on November 1st.

VIDEO: 'Family Fall-o-Weekends in Santa Claus' by Visit Indiana



Enjoy this 1:58 video from Visit Indiana on "Family Fall-o-Weekends in Santa Claus."

Here's what Visit Indiana had to say about its video:
Indiana State Tourism Blogger, Carrie Lambert, her daughter and some friends headed to Spencer County in Southern Indiana to take full advantage of their fall weekends. Between Lake Rudolph, Holiday World, Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and St. Meinrad their visit went by way too quickly. Too learn more about all there is to do in Spencer County this fall, be sure and check out www.SantaClausInd.org/FallOWeekends.

Michigan family wins weekend getaway from Michigan DNR, General RV

White Lake McDonald’s Store Manager,
Jamie Jenema (back right), stands
with Discover Michigan Together RV Tour
grand prize winners and frequent customers,
Don Farmer (back left) and Seth, Leslie
and Ben Farmer (front left to right) at
the 9615 Highland Rd. McDonald’s.
The Farmer family from White Lake win a weekend getaway from the Michigan DNR and General RV through the Discover Michigan Together RV Tour

Leslie and Don Farmer of White Lake are the second winners to receive a weekend getaway courtesy of General RV and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) through McDonald’s Discover Michigan Together RV Tour. 

The couple has three children – Ben and Seth Farmer and Lena Chisek – who they plan to take with them on their RV trip. The prize includes a weekend trip in an RV to one of four Michigan state parks: Interlochen, Indian Lake, North Higgins Lake or Port Huron Hoeft.

“We’re very, very thankful to have won this great trip,” said Don Farmer. “It’s going to be a wild time with all of us in the RV, and I’m sure we’ll have a blast at whichever state park we choose."

A traveling 34 foot RV is the flagship of the Discover Michigan Together RV Tour, a partnership between McDonald’s, General RV and the MDNR to promote an active, healthy lifestyle and participation in the Michigan Recreation Passport program. The tour has visited more than 35 public events and state parks this summer, and at each stop visitors were able to sign up to win a weekend RV rental and campsite giveaway. General RV and the MDNR will give away three more weekend trips before the end of September.

“It’s great to see one of our loyal local customers win a weekend of RV camping in a state park as part of our Discover Michigan Together RV Tour,” said Mark Pfau, owner/operator, White Lake McDonald’s.

Michigan DNR Fisheries Division prepares for potential Asian carp invasion

Department of Natural Resources fisheries workers prepare
to electro-fish below the upper fish barrier on the St. Joseph
River. Their work was part of a two-day Asian carp response
exercise put together by the DNR Fisheries Division.
If – or when – Asian carp make their way into Great Lakes waters, will state fisheries management agencies be ready to deal with them? The Michigan Department of Natural Resources certainly intends to be - so much so, that its Fisheries Division recently staged a two-day exercise on the St. Joseph River to run though how it will react in the event silver or bighead carp show up there.

The agency chose the St. Joseph River for its run-through, as it is the first major waterway up the state’s Lake Michigan coastline from Chicago. Most fisheries biologists believe that Asian carp – which are already found in the Chicago Area Waterway System – are likely to enter the Great Lakes via Lake Michigan and, if they do, it’s a coin flip whether they turn left or right as they head up the lake.

Asian carp breed in rivers. It’s a safe bet that if they do hit Lake Michigan, they’ll wind up in the St. Joe.

“The St. Joe has optimal habitat for these fish to spawn and potentially establish a population,” said Tom Goniea, the DNR fisheries biologist who oversees aquatic invasive species and designed the exercise. “These fish thrive in highly productive streams like the St. Joe.”

The two-day event involved 27 fisheries technicians – all but two of the field techs in the state – and a handful of biologists. The DNR brought 14 boats – 12 for fisheries workers, one for conservation officers and a spare (which was pressed into duty). The crews roped off a 2-mile stretch of river several miles below the dam at Berrien Springs and strung nets across the river to prevent fish from heading up or downstream during the exercise.

In order to study the effectiveness of their gear, Department
of Natural Resources' Fisheries Division workers set gillnets in the St. Joseph River.
The crews began the exercise by electro-fishing, collecting common carp, tagging them, and returning them to the water as part of a mark-and-recapture study to see how effective various techniques were at catching the fish.

The common carp were “surrogates for silver and bighead carp,” Goniea said. “They’re roughly the same size and same body shape and you’re going to catch them in the same places of the river. That gives us a known quantity of fish in that closed section of the river.”

After the fish had been tagged, the fisheries crews deployed stretches of large-mesh gillnet through the river.

“One of the techniques used to catch silver and bighead carp is to electro-fish and chase them into vertical walls of gillnet,” Goniea explained. “Then on the second day, we’ll attempt to recapture those fish with no nets in place and we can compare how effective our techniques are at capturing the fish.

“Fisheries Division has never done anything like this on any of the state’s river systems.”

The exercise took on the air of a military operation. Ed Pierce, a DNR fisheries technician supervisor out of Plainwell and a detail-oriented type, assumed command.

“There’s a lot going on here,” Pierce said. “Lots of logistics – boats, meals, motel rooms, portable toilets, a dumpster. We even contacted the local food bank as a contingency in case we wind up catching salmon or steelhead in the nets.”

 Common carp, like this, were caught, tagged and released
into the St. Joseph River for a Department of Natural Resources
study of how effective an intervention might be if Asian carp
wind up in Michigan waters.
The exercise went smoothly. The crews tagged a lot of fish and recovered many of them over the next two half-days. The first afternoon session included several thousand feet of gillnet set systematically so the most effective sets could be evaluated. The following morning, the electro-fishing crews went back at it without the accompanying gillnets.

As a result, biologists are formulating a strategy for what they’ll do if the real deal – live silver or bighead carp – shows up in a Michigan stream.

“Everything pretty much went according to plan,” Goniea said. “The ideas we had for netting worked. The nets were deployable and stayed in place where we put them in the river. How effective they were, that analysis hasn’t been completed, but just the fact that they worked in that habitat was a significant positive.

“Upon further review, I believe this exercise will provide us with several options.”

In addition to the common carp caught in the exercise, the crew captured a single grass carp, another invasive species that is on the prohibited list in Michigan, but has been found on rare occasions in the St. Joseph River.

“We knew they were in this river in extremely low numbers,” Goniea said. “We’re pleased that our efforts resulted in the removal of one of these elusive fish.”

 Department of Natural Resources fisheries workers collect
carp for a tag-and-recapture study on the St. Joseph River.
Tammy Newcomb, the DNR’s senior water policy advisor and fisheries research biologist who coordinates the state’s Asian carp strategy, said the exercise was a necessary step in preparing for dealing with the invaders.

“We need to be prepared to make a prudent response if we get reports of bighead or silver carp in our waters,” she said. “Those fish are so good at evading typical gear that we set up this experiment to see how we can best respond.

“Early on in an invasion is when we have the ability to contain and eradicate them and we will,” Newcomb said. “We’re trying to demonstrate some leadership on this front.”

For more information on Asian carp - including how to identify and report them; actions taken to prevent their spread; and frequently asked questions - visit the DNR website www.michigan.gov/asiancarp.

Partners, Michigan DNR instructors help make ORV safety a priority

Michigan is a hot destination for off-road vehicle (ORV) enthusiasts, offering nearly 3,700 miles of designated ORV trails and routes, as well as designated ORV scramble areas and the most unique ORV state park east of the Mississippi River – the 450-acre ORV scramble area within Silver Lake State Park in Oceana County.

As the popularity of ORV riding in Michigan increases, so, too, does the demand for quality, comprehensive safety education. That’s where the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR)and its many partners enter the picture.
The DNR’s Law Enforcement Division has a Recreational Safety Section that heads up the state’s ORV safety education program. The section consults with involved users, ORV organizations and existing ORV instructors to continually improve this program. 

According to Lt. Andrew Turner, who oversees the DNR’s recreational safety programs, everyone’s working to ensure that all ORV opportunities offered in the state are covered in the safety education program content.

“DNR volunteer instructors are required to be well-versed in all disciplines of ORV equipment,” said Lt. Turner. “To ensure these instructors possess the required skills to provide competent, consistent delivery of the state’s ORV safety education program, the DNR and its volunteer instructors have developed a free, comprehensive, three-day ORV Instructor Academy for all new ORV instructor applicants. Once instructors successfully complete the academy course, they’re equipped to go into their own communities and teach ORV safety education.”

Lt. Turner said that anyone seeking certification as a DNR ORV safety education Instructor must meet the following requirements:
  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Be a high school graduate or possess a graduate equivalency diploma (GED).
  • Have no felony convictions.
  • Have no misdemeanor convictions within the past three years.
  • Have no convictions that resulted in the revocation of ORV operation privileges within the last five years. (Other convictions of natural resource law violations are subject to review and may result in the rejection of any application.)
  • Maintain a high moral, ethical and mental character.
Although the DNR aims to offer three academies each year in different regions of the state, Lt. Turner said there have been logistical challenges with locating appropriate training facilities (which must have classroom accommodations, cafeteria services, lodging and a large and flat area for the hands-on, ORV range portion of the academy).

Presently, ORV instructor academies have been exclusively held in Roscommon County near Higgins Lake, though the DNR is actively searching for appropriate locations in the southern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.

“With the aid of our partners and volunteers, since 2011 we’ve been able to train 110 instructors through seven ORV instructor academies,” said Cpl. John Morey, the DNR’s ORV and snowmobile coordinator. “In order to maintain that success rate and ensure broader safety training, it’s vital that we secure quality training opportunities and locations in other parts of the state.”

Participation is limited to 24 students per academy, and applicants are educated in areas dealing with policy and procedure, state laws, industry standards, classroom management and teaching concepts. Additionally, applicants receive hands-on instruction covering off-highway motorcycles (OHMs), all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility-type vehicles (UTVs), as well as electric winches and recovery strap equipment. The hands-on portion of the academy gives participants a firsthand understanding of safe and responsible operational techniques dealing with various ORV disciplines.

The DNR’s ORV safety education effort is 100-percent user-funded. Every ORV operated in an area open to the public must display a valid DNR ORV license. One dollar from the sale of every license goes directly to the safety education program, providing the sole funding source for the program’s printed materials such as the ORV Handbook, student manuals, tests and other administrative materials. The funding also covers support equipment and administrative personnel costs.

While DNR conservation officers do teach at the academy, Cpl. Morey said the financial constraints of the program have been somewhat relieved by the interest of people outside the DNR who possess certain skills and expertise and are willing to share it.

D.J. “Buck” Niles is an experienced educator from Jackson County. Niles provides instruction at the academies, helping would-be instructors learn how to manage a classroom and grasp teaching concepts that work with students of various ages. He said that maintaining the attention of a diverse group of students certainly has its challenges, but the program works.

“This is a quality program,” Niles said. “Helping people learn the fundamentals of transferring knowledge makes it a safer sport.”

The Shiawassee County husband-and-wife team of Alan and Cheryl Nelson plays a big role in delivering off-highway motorcycle instruction for the academies. The Nelsons, who are affiliated with theCycle Conservation Club of Michigan, coach academy participants on “real world” techniques like how to properly and safely ride over and around obstacles.

Hands-on instruction begins as if each applicant is a novice ORV user. The academy teaches basic safe and responsible operational techniques. By the end of the academy, applicants have experienced a variety of ORV equipment and are aware of their own confidence level with each piece of ORV equipment.

Pat Brower is an active member of the Great Lakes Four Wheel Drive Association and United Four Wheel Drive. Brower also sits on the ORV Advisory Workgroup, which provides recommendations to the DNR regarding the entire ORV program. He has been extremely valuable in the development of the existing safety education program content – especially vehicle extraction – due to his extensive off-road experiences.

"Every vehicle extraction involves forces that can quickly turn deadly. We are proud that our program includes safe extraction techniques,” Brower said.

“While we hope students never need the information provided in this section of study, should it ever become necessary, we feel much better knowing they can perform the task in the safest manner possible,” he added.

ORV Instructor Academy participant William Cobb, from Bark River in the Upper Peninsula, recently attended a course. He said the experience was well worth the drive. "The instructors in this program are second to none and the academy was an excellent learning opportunity.”

Having adequate equipment on hand for academy participants to use and learn on is an ongoing challenge, but one that Cpl. Morey said several manufacturers and dealers have already answered.

The program requires six ATVs, six UTVs and six OHMs. Due to funding constraints, the DNR has to rely on loaned equipment for the academies. The DNR reaches out to ORV manufacturers and dealers to partner with the department to assist with the safety education equipment needs. Polaris Industries recently donated two UTVs (an RZR S and Ranger) with a retail value of roughly $21,000, and Yamaha has loaned two TTR230 motorcycles to the last four academies. Motorsports dealer Peacock Ltd. in Baldwin has also been instrumental in arranging loaner equipment.

Photos by the Michigan DNR
“We could not offer the ORV Instructor Academy without the help of our partners, and we’re hoping to work with even more manufacturers and dealers in the future,” said Cpl. Morey.

“Quality ORV safety education programming – and having the right equipment and training spaces to do it – means safer off-roading enjoyment for even more Michigan residents and visitors,” he said. “That’s a goal we can all work toward.”

Anyone with suggestions about possible training locations or who would like to contribute to the DNR’s ORV Instructor Academy may contact Cpl. Morey at 989-619-3784 or at moreyj1@michigan.gov

ORV enthusiasts who have an interest in volunteering their time to teach the DNR’s ORV safety education program in their communities can begin the application process by calling the DNR’s Marketing and Outreach Division at 517-335-3418 and request an application packet. Additional ORV Instructor Academies will be held in the future as funding and appropriate training locations permit.

Learn more about the DNR’s outdoor recreation safety courses at www.michigan.gov/recreationalsafety.


VIDEO: 'Catching the Elusive Muskie' by Pure Michigan



Enjoy this 2:06 video on "Catching the Elusive Muskie" by Pure Michigan.

Here's what Pure Michigan had to say about its video:
The good old days of muskie fishing are today. Follow Captain Steve Jones as he fishes for the elusive muskie in Michigan's Lake St. Claire, where even a slow day on the lake is a good day fishing in Pure Michigan.

Visit http://www.michigan.org/fishing/ for more muskie fishing in Pure Michigan.

VIDEO: Cool video of a GoPro Drone over the Fall 2013 Montana Owners Club Rally



Enjoy this 2:15 video of a GoPro Drone over the Fall 2013 Montana Owners Club Rally.

Here's what Keystone had to say about its video:
We fly a drone equipped with a GoPro camera over the Elkhart County Fairgrounds to give you a birds-eye view of this record-setting Montana Owners Club rally. This is the 10th anniversary rally for the club and it drew a record number of participants from all over North American and (yes) Australia. Learn more at http:www.keystonerv.com/montana

Michigan DNR set for Nov. 1 launch of enhanced, customer-driven campsite and harbor reservation system



The new, improved central reservation system (CRS) that manages state park camping, lodging and harbor reservations will launch in November with minimal customer disruptions during the system transition, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced recently.

The new system, which features customer-requested enhancements, opens Nov. 1 to state park lodging reservations (camper cabins, mini-cabins, rustic cabins, yurts and modern lodges), which typically have a one-year reservation window.

The DNR Parks and Recreation Division contracts with Camis USA, Inc., to provide the reservation system, including a call center in Ann Arbor, Mich., and servers in Southfield, Mich. The previous contractor’s term expired and Camis was selected through a bidding process.

"We are pleased to offer our outdoor customers the most up-to-date technology to make their reservations at state parks, recreation areas and harbors," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division.

On Nov. 3, the system opens to facilities with a six-month reservation window. These include campsites at state parks and select state forest campgrounds and slips at state harbors. During the short transition period, Nov. 1-2, campsites are not reservable. For stays with an arrival of Nov. 1 or 2, campsites will be available at parks on a first-come, first-served basis.

"As we approach Nov. 1, customers will be mildly affected by the system changeover," said Christa Sturtevant-Good, DNR central reservation system liaison. "There will be some down time on the reservation website for approximately a week while we’re switching to the new application, but we will keep updates available as the new system is implemented. These reservation enhancements, many of which were requested by our customers, will improve overall camper and boater experiences."

During the transition phase, system updates are available by visiting the DNR websitewww.michigan.gov/stateparks and clicking on A New and Improved Campground Reservation System is Launching on November 1st.

Customers can expect many enhancements when making reservations in November. Online improvements include the ability to search by region, check availability at more than one park at a time, view photos of each campsite prior to making a selection, and more. Customers will also navigate through fewer screens prior to making a reservation.

Seasonal availability needs are also addressed with the new system. Regardless of the season, customers can make site-specific reservations for available campsites and lodging at open parks. Convenient registration during the shoulder season (September through May) is also part of the new system.

"Park staff can be limited within the shoulder season due to reduced staffing levels, maintenance and other operational needs typically handled during this time," said Jason Fleming, DNR parks and recreation operations unit manager. "It’s also the time of year when campers are more likely to check availability right at the park rather than by making reservations. To address this customer need, we’re implementing a registration phone station right at the park."

This registration station, available by the campground office during the shoulder season, includes a “yellow phone” that automatically contacts the Ann Arbor call center when the receiver is lifted. Campers can conveniently register right there, without staff present, and then continue on to their campsite or lodging.

"We’ve spent a great deal of time listening to the many suggestions offered by our customers on ways to make our reservation system more user-friendly and practical," said Denise Gruben, DNR reservation system contact manager. "In November, many of those suggestions will be implemented, creating a quality product that will greatly enhance our customers’ experiences."

Camping and harbor reservations can currently be made for stay dates through Oct. 31. When transitioned to the new system, the reservation phone number and website address will remain the same. Call 1-800-44-PARKS or visit www.midnrreservations.com to make reservations.

Video: How to Install & Seal an RV Roof Vent, by Dicor and Mark Polk of RV Education 101


Enjoy this 5:24 video on How to Install & Seal an RV Roof Vent, by Dicor and Mark Polk of RV Education 101.

Here's what Mark had to say about his video:
In this RV how to video Mark Polk with RV Education demonstrates how to install and seal an RV roof vent, presented by Dicor as part of Rudy's RV Care and Maintenance video series. The video demonstration is on installing a roof vent, but the tips and techniques used in the video apply to almost any repair, replacement or upgrade you make on your RV roof.

New ' Operation Freedom Outdoors' partnership aims to offer veterans an array of Michigan outdoor recreation experiences

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is joining forces with several partners to create, in Jackson and Washtenaw counties, Michigan’s premier outdoor recreation experience for veterans and other citizens with health challenges. Contributing organizations and groups include Camp Liberty Inc., Zero Day, Passing Along The Heritage (PATH) Foundation, Eisenhower Center, Safari Club International Foundation, the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, and Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC).

Fittingly titled "Operation Freedom Outdoors," the initiative will connect Camp Liberty – an inclusive recreation center for veterans with disabilities that will be able to house veterans and their families as they participate in recreation activities and learn about various support programs and rehabilitation opportunities – with enhanced outdoor opportunities on the adjacent Sharonville State Game Area.

Operation Freedom Outdoors will have a five-year business plan that outlines the development of various outdoor experiences for individuals of all abilities. Through this initiative, the DNR and its partners intend to create a critical mass of outdoor recreation opportunities (including hunting, fishing, target shooting, bird watching and other wildlife-related activities) for veterans and others with health challenges.

“Natural resources provide unique therapeutic opportunities for injured veterans and others coping with ‘invisible wounds’ such as traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Russ Mason, DNR Wildlife Division chief. “It makes great sense that the DNR helps create this important outdoor experience for our national heroes, and the DNR is honored to be involved.”

Mason added that Michigan ranks 53rd in the nation in per capita spending on veterans, and that this partnership aims to be part of Gov. Rick Snyder's efforts to change that ranking.

"Veterans and other people with disabilities deserve the same opportunities as the rest of us to enjoy our natural resources,” Mason said. “Providing that opportunity is really what 'Pure Michigan' is all about."

“Combat survivors must be provided hope and purpose. Those are the two most powerful variables that define them as meaningful, contributing members of society in their minds,” said retired U.S. Air Force Major Richard V. Briggs, Jr., founder and president of Camp Liberty.

“Combat veterans seldom, if ever, raise their hand to seek help. Operation Freedom Outdoors will give them the conduit with which we can establish relationships forged in the great Michigan out-of-doors together,” said Briggs. “Our troops must get to know, like and trust us in order for them to truly open up and listen to the advocacy, awareness and treatment opportunities for them.”

Other key partners are also pitching in to support the initiative. Zero Day veterans will provide the construction and much of the habitat work on both Camp Liberty and Sharonville State Game Area, supervised and assisted by the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council and the DNR. DNR staff members and volunteers, organized by MUCC, will take on other habitat improvement projects. Other partners will lend their support by donating time, equipment and funding.

The public will have an opportunity to tour Camp Liberty, located at 13400 Austin Road in Brooklyn, Mich., during a free open house on Sunday, Sept. 22, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visit www.camp-liberty.org for more information. Those planning to attend are asking to make reservations with Rick Briggs at rvbriggsjr@yahoo.com.

Ohio DNR seeks input from Ohioans regarding outdoor recreation preferences

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) wants to hear from Ohioans about the outdoor recreational activities they enjoy the most. Ohio residents are invited to share their opinions about their favorite activities, and any new or expanded outdoor recreational opportunities they would like to see in Ohio.

Feedback from the survey will help park, nature preserve and forest managers, as well as local, state and federal officials set priorities for funding and improvements. 

The survey results will be included in the five-year Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). The SCORP provides information on recreation trends, and it serves as a reference document for state officials allocating federal and state grants among worthy projects proposed by park districts around the state.

The Ohio Outdoor Recreation survey is now available through Monday, Oct. 14, at ohiodnr.gov

MARVAC’s Fall Detroit Camper & RV Show finishes a strong 2013

With Michigan’s fall color change well underway and the weather slowly cooling down, the nearly 12,000 attendees at the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) Fall Detroit Camper & RV Show proved the camping and RV season isn’t over.

2013 has been a great year for the recreation vehicle and campground industry, with consumer show attendance, campground reservations, and unit sales on the rise. Motorhome sales through July were up 29 percent, and towable unit sales were up over 4 percent compared to 2012. 

Norm Wells, Manager of National RV in Belleville, stated, “Our sales at this Fall Camper & RV Show were the best we’ve had, and the response has been phenomenal with interest in so many different types of units. With continued consumer confidence, we are excited to see what 2014 has in store.”

Beth Horan, Manager of South Haven Sunny Brook RV Resort, has seen a significant increase in reservations for 2013, “We were completely booked from the end of June through Labor Day with families interested in our nightly, weekly and monthly stay options. Some families even chose to purchase sites to enjoy for a lifetime.” The RV industry is surpassing shipment predictions for 2013, and the expectations for 2014 are to continue this upward trend.

Michigan is lucky enough to have four seasons that boast unique colors, weather and activities. In an RV, you can experience it all, while still keeping the comforts of home. Affordability, quality time with your family, and the opportunity to encounter all that Michigan has to offer are just some of the great things about RVing! Visit www.marvac.org to find a Michigan campground or RV dealer.

The Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) is a statewide, non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging growth in the recreation vehicle and private campground industries while contributing to the quality of Michigan tourism. For more information, visit MARVAC’s website, www.marvac.org. MARVAC, 2222 Association Drive, Okemos, Mich. 48864-5978; 517-349-8881.

Traverse City Beer Week Nov. 9-15 is most definitely not just another beer festival

By MIKE NORTON
Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Organizers of the new Traverse City Beer Week say they have no intention of starting yet another beer festival in this Lake Michigan resort town.

Instead, they’re aiming at something completely different: a decentralized and fairly low-key celebration of craft brewing where the focus is on breweries and restaurants, not a music-centered social event in which the beer is simply a sideline.

“Traverse City Beer Week will help restaurants, bars, and retail locations to do what they do well even better,” says Ann Drummond, marketing and public relations with Imperial Beverage. “It’s not intended to pull consumers away from the places where craft beer is already appreciated. Instead, these events are fashioned for the sole purpose of craft beer appreciation, consumer education, and experiential learning in the breweries, brewpubs, restaurants and retail locations of Traverse City.”

Imperial Beverage, named Craft Beer Distributor of the Year in 2010, used the same model to create a successful Beer Week in Kalamazoo two years ago. The idea is not to organize a festival at all, she says, but to give local breweries and restaurants a chance to host their own events on their own premises while promoting closer relationships among brewers, chefs and retailers who sell craft beer.

For instance, a brewery or restaurant could schedule a “special release” tasting with a presentation by the brewer or a “vertical tasting” where participants can taste examples of the same beer from a series of consecutive release years. Or a restaurant could hold a workshop on how to pair beers with food, presentations on home brewing, tastings of special seasonal brews, cheese/beer pairings, and cooking demonstrations where beer is a featured ingredient in the recipe.

A small community with slightly more than 15,000 residents, Traverse City is best known as a four-season outdoor adventure destination with a lively culinary and wine scene, but more recently it has suddenly emerged as a major center of craft brewing. (Draft magazine has named it one of Americas’ three “emerging beer towns” -- along with St. Louis and Oklahoma City – and The Travel Channel listed it among the Top Seven Beer Destinations in North America.

Today the area boasts 11 microbreweries, brewpubs and craft brew taprooms – three of them added in the past year – with four more scheduled to open this fall.

And although some Traverse City area breweries are represented by Imperial Beverage, the company is inviting all craft brewers and restaurants to participate, regardless of their affiliation.

One enthusiastic participant is Short’s Brewing Company of Bellaire – recently listed as the country’s fastest-growing beverage company. Short’s will be featured during Beer Week’s opening night event: a Pub Crawl featuring six Traverse City venues. Participants in the “crawl” will receive a passport to be presented at each location; completed passports can be traded in for an official Traverse City Beer Week t-shirt.

Every event in Traverse City Beer Week – scheduled for Nov. 9-15 – must feature truly craft beer (“No wolves in sheep’s clothing!” says Drummond) and include a presentation by the host brewery or brewery representative. That’s one reason why the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau sees it as a positive move, adds Bureau president Brad Van Dommelen.

“This is a good opportunity for Traverse City to promote its growing craft beer culture, which is really at the heart of this event,” said Van Dommelen. “But we also see this as a way to create some new activity in a season that’s traditionally slow for this community.”

For updates on the schedule of Traverse City Beer Week events, go to www.traversecity.com/beerweek or check Traverse City Beer Week on Facebook. For information about other fall events and activities in the Traverse City area, and for help with lodging and dining selections, go towww.traversecity.com.

Video: VisitPA puts the spotlight on the ArtBeat WaterFire Sharon event



Enjoy this 2:34 video from VisitPA on the ArtBeat WaterFire Sharon event took place in August and featured over 50 sparkling bonfires on the Shenango River. The fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from around the world engage all the senses and emotions of those who stroll the paths of Waterplace Park.




Ohio State Parks open to enjoy fall color; with video




COLUMBUS, OH – October is the best month to see vibrant fall color in Ohio, and the state is on track to produce an excellent fall color season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“The bright sunny days and cool, but not freezing nights we enjoyed throughout September were ideal for bringing out the most vibrant reds, yellows, oranges and purples this fall,” said ODNR Fall Color Forester Casey Burdick. “The beauty of the fall is here for just a short time, and I would encourage people to start planning their fall color getaways so they do not miss this beautiful fall color season.”

Ohio State Parks and the state nature preserves are open and offering a variety of seasonal activities statewide. The burst of color at the onset of the season provides a perfect backdrop for hikers, bikers and horseback riders to make their way across the hundreds of miles of publicly accessible trails. Anglers and boaters can also get priceless perspectives of amazing fall foliage reflecting in the rippling water along miles of shoreline and waterways. To look up more details about the best places for scenic drives or the best views in Ohio, go to fallcolor.ohiodnr.gov

Ash trees are starting to turn their bright orange or dark purple colors while a few of the maples are starting to show bright red branches, especially along the roadways. Burdick expects northern Ohio leaves to reach their peak color the second week of October, central Ohio the third week and southern Ohio the fourth week.

Ohio’s deer archery season for white-tailed deer started at the end of September, and the season will run through Feb. 2, 2014. For more information, go to wildohio.com.

Check out fun events happening this weekend at Ohio State Parks:
  • Apple Butter Festival, Mt. Gilead State Park (C) - Oct. 4-6. Apple butter making, campsite decorating, costume contest, pumpkin carving, fall hikes, entertainment, ham and bean soup and much more. For more information, call 419-946-1961. 
  • Smokey Bear Fire Awareness Weekend, Shawnee State Park (SW) – Oct. 5 at the campground. Fire safety tips and equipment demonstrations by real firefighters, along with crafts and activities for kids with Smokey Bear. For further details, call 740-858-6652. 
  • Apple Butter Festival, Hueston Woods State Park (SW) – Oct. 5-6 at the pioneer farm. Arts, crafts and traditional apple butter making. To learn more, call 513-524-4250. 
  • Pioneer Craft Days, Beaver Creek State Park (NE) – Oct. 5-6. Craft displays and demonstrations of pioneer life at the pioneer village and Gaston’s Mill. For more details, call 330-385-3091. 

People interested in finding out where the most captivating leaves will be throughout the upcoming fall color season should check out fallcolor.ohiodnr.gov, ODNR’s premier guide to Ohio’s fall color season.

This website includes:
  • Weekly color updates and information to help plan a fall color adventure. 
  • Weekly videos from Burdick that will highlight color hot spots around the state and provide information about some of Ohio’s 100-plus tree species. 
  • Links for fall activities, scenic road trips and more, including unique overnight accommodations at Ohio State Parks. 
Looking for some great fall getaway ideas? TourismOhio has numerous itinerary ideas and a listing of attractions at discoverohio.com under their Autumn Adventures feature.

ODNR encourages people to take fall color photos and upload them to social media using ODNR’s hashtag, #ohiofallcolor2013. Follow @ohiodnr on Twitter and Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Facebook to see more fall color photos.

Video: RV Rubber Roof Coating System by Dicor



Enjoy this 8:12 video from Mark Polk of RV Education 101 on RV Rubber Roof Coating System by Dicor.


Here's what Mark had to say about his video:
This roof restoration system extends the life, and revives the new look of your RV rubber roof membrane by forming an excellent protective barrier with its elasticity and flexibility feature. It also provides superior resistance to harsh weather and UV light. If you have an aging EPDM (rubber) roof on your RV you won't want to miss this video.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park hosts fall color chairlift rides

A lifetime ago Iived in the Keweenaw Peninsula. That was when I first had the opportunity to visit the Porkies, as most locals call the Porcupine Mountains. They're quite stunning, and no season are they more beautiful than the fall.

That's why this offer from the state park people is so tempting.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon is again hosting fall color chairlift rides at the park’s downhill ski area in October.

The chairlift rides will be offered from noon to 7 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Oct. 5 and Sunday, Oct. 6. Additional weekends may be added dependent on weather and when fall color peaks.

Visitors will enjoy the spectacular scenery and brilliant fall foliage while riding the chairlift to the top of the ski hill, with the options of hiking back down or riding the chairlift to the base of the hill.

The top of the ski hill offers panoramic views of the forest below, with Lake Superior in the distance. For an added adventure, visitors who would like to view the fall color show from multiple vantage points can hike to East Vista to get a view of Lake Superior, or to West Vista for a view into the Big Carp River Valley.

The chairlift rides are $5 per person, with children under 12 free of charge. Light refreshments will be available at the ski hill’s chalet.

For more information, and to learn whether additional weekends have been added to the schedule, contact the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park Ski Hill at 906-885-5209. For location information and maps, visit www.michigan.gov/porkiesvc.

Top RV Parks for fishing enthusiasts from the Good Sam RV Travel Guide

From angling in a secluded stream to dropping a line from a boat on a well-stocked lake, fishing is a big part of the RV experience. Indeed, almost half of RVers cast lines when they go on their RV travels, according to a recent study by PKF Consulting. These sporting enthusiasts range from seasoned anglers with fully loaded tackle boxes to folks who rent their rods for a day. 

To help recreational vehicle enthusiasts find the best fishing spots, the editors and consultants of the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory have compiled a list of the top RV Parks for anglers. Boasting parks from across North America, the list is tailored for RV travelers seeking campgrounds with fishing on the property or located within a short distance to prime fishing sites. 

The Good Sam RV Travel Guide’s top RV parks for anglers are: 


Dropping a Line 
RVers can choose from a variety of fishing experiences when they plan their trips. At Idaho’s Red Rock RV and Camping Park in Island Park, guests can cast a line in Lake Henry, home of “trophy winning” trout. Also nearby is the Madison River, known for stellar fly fishing. 

Other parks offer a more sedate fishing experience. Follow the River RV Resort in Florence, Indiana, boasts a catch-and-release lake right on the property. No license is required for this activity, which is a great way for novice anglers to familiarize themselves with the sport. In Florida, San Carlos RV Park and Islands in Fort Myers helps guests make reservations with deep sea fishing charters at one of the most popular fishing hot-spots in the Gulf Coast. 

Good Sam Guide 
RV travelers can find more information about RV parks for anglers in the 2013 Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory, which combines two of the RV industry’s most popular and respected brands—the Trailer Life Directory and Woodall’s Campground Directory—into one comprehensive volume. The guide contains detailed information more than 14,000 RV parks across North America; each campground is personally inspected and rated by the Good Sam’s consultant teams. 

The guide also includes lifestyle features, regional trip guides and essential travel facts. Readers can get vital tech tips, learn about must-see points of interest in all of North America’s states and provinces, follow a meal and fitness planner and get Road Ready with a special products section. Also included are guides to RV-related state laws and information needed for trouble-free trips into Canada and Mexico. 

For more information about the 2013 Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory, click on www.goodsamcamping.com

VIDEO: BrakeBuddy Stealth Towed Vehicle Braking System



Enjoy this 2:14 video from Camping World on the BrakeBuddy Stealth Towed Vehicle Braking System.


VIDEO: Explore Minnesota shows us Fall Colors


Enjoy this 30-second video from Explore Minnesota on autumn in the Land of 10,000 lakes.

Michigan's new camping and harbor reservation website allows customers to set up their profiles ahead of time

In less than six weeks, outdoor enthusiasts can begin making state camping, lodging and harbor reservations for dates past Oct. 31, 2013. However, a sneak peek of the new Central Reservation System (CRS) website and the opportunity to create an online account - giving customers a leg up when that reservation window opens - will be available even sooner.

The new, improved CRS, which features customer-requested enhancements, manages state park camping, lodging and harbor reservations. From Oct. 22-24, the current CRS website,www.midnrreservations.com, will become unavailable as the new website is transitioned. The website address will remain the same.

The new website is scheduled to go live on Oct. 25. Although website reservations cannot be made until early November, guests can visit the new website on this date and experience all the updated features (including viewing photos of each individual campsite and searching for campsite by region) and create their customer profiles. Current customer account information will not be transferred to the new system. This simple, time-saving step includes entering name, address, phone number, email and other pertinent contact information.

“Customers will have a unique opportunity to become comfortable with the new website prior to reservation windows even opening,” said Christa Sturtevant-Good, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) central reservation system liaison. “Since they can quickly set up their customer profiles ahead of time, they’ll be ready when the reservation windows do open. It’s our goal to create a seamless transition for our customers, and this experience is part of the process.”

If customers would rather not wait until Oct. 25 to experience the new website, Sturtevant-Good recommended viewing the Washington State Parks reservations website. This website, she explained, was created by the same contractor that administers the new Michigan CRS website and contains much of the same structure and many similar features and navigational components. The Michigan DNR Parks and Recreation Division has contracted with Camis USA, Inc., selected through a bidding process, to provide the reservation system.

Additional important transition dates include:
  • Oct. 22-31: Website reservations cannot be made. The call center will remain active through Oct. 30, taking reservations for dates through Oct. 31, 2013. The call center phone number, 1-800-44-PARKS, will remain unchanged.
  • Oct. 31: Reservations cannot be made. State parks can register walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Nov. 1: The new CRS (both the website and the call center) opens to state park lodging, which typically has a one-year reservation window (camper cabins, mini-cabins, rustic cabins, yurts and modern lodges).
  • Nov. 3: The system opens to facilities with a six-month reservation window. These include campsites at state parks and select state forest campgrounds and harbor slips. From Nov. 1-2, campsites and slips are not reservable. During this time, campsites and slips are available at the facility on a first-come, first-served basis.

During the transition phase, updates and CRS-related press releases will be available on the DNR website www.michigan.gov/stateparks and clicking on A New and Improved Campground Reservation System is Launching on November 1st.