Video: 'Dometic RV Door Awnings' by Mark Polk of RV Education 101



Enjoy this 2:20 video on "Dometic RV Door Awnings" by Mark Polk of RV Education 101.

Here's what Mark had to say about his video:
In this informative RV video Mark Polk with RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/ demonstrates how to add some curb appeal to your RV entryway, along with added protection from the elements with the Dometic Oasis RV door awning. http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/...

RV Education 101 e-book series
As I've said many times, Mark Polk is my favorite RV expert. I'm pleased he and his wife, Dawn, have allowed me to sell his RV e-book series. E-books (electronic books) are immediately downloaded to your computer after you make the purchase. The RV Education 101 e-book series includes:
  • "The Original Checklist for RVers"
  • "The RV Book"
  • "RV Campground Basics"
  • "101 Tips for RVers"
  • "RV Care and Maintenance"
  • "Insiders Guide to Buying an RV"
  • "Winterizing & Storing your RV"
  • "RV Awning Use & Care"
  • "Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance"
  • "RV Buyers Survival Guide"
  • "Complete Guide To: RV Towing, Weights, Hitch Work & Backing"
  • "Pop-Up Basics 101"
  • "Dinghy Towing"

Forest Fire Experiment Station staff builds on firefighting history to better protect Michigan

Gerald Leray, welder at the Department of Natural Resources’
Forest Fire Experiment Station, completes a repair on a piece
of equipment. (DNR photos)
What do you do when you need a tool or piece of equipment to complete a task but can’t find an appropriate model on the market? If you’re the Department of Natural Resources’ Forest Resources Division, you make it yourself.

That’s been the practice of the Forest Resources Division for more than eight decades, when Michigan’s Forest Fire Experiment Station (FFES) near Roscommon was founded in 1929.

The Forest Fire Experiment Station started as a cooperative venture between the Michigan Department of Conservation and the USDA Forest Service, one of the first such facilities in the nation. Because of the state’s history of disastrous forest fires – including an 1871 fire that killed more than 200 people and reduced eight towns to ash – the facility was established to assist the Forest Resources Division’s efforts to find new and better ways to help manage forest fires.

The facility maintains a full-scale fabricating shop that builds everything from fireline plows to wildland fire engines that suit the state’s needs but are unavailable for purchase.

The FFES recently completed building a new wildland fire engine, beginning with a commercially available truck chassis. The vehicle is ready to be put in the field as the upcoming fire season approaches. The truck was designed and built by DNR personnel at the station – a staff that includes an engineer, machinist, welder, mechanic, draftsman and a secretary. The station enlists the help of local fire officers during the winter months, too.

Joel Money, fire officer, refurbishes
a coulter disc for a fireline plow. 
“We can typically build one or two vehicles a year,” explained Dan Munn, acting manager at the Forest Fire Experiment Station. “It takes about nine months from the receipt of the vehicle to build it. It’s quite a process.”

Starting with the bare chassis, the crew installs the necessary electrical and hydraulic systems to make the vehicle suitable for fighting fires. The truck is heavily armored around the fuel tank, the wheel wells and windshield so it can be safely taken off-road through the woods. The shop also builds a custom, heavy-duty bumper.

“Most larger wildland fire engines that the FFES produces could be used to push over small trees in an emergency situation,” Munn said.

The frame is typically extended several feet – front and back – to make room for equipment, such as a hydraulic winch on the front and a pumping unit and hose reels on the rear. Then, after the frame rails have been lined with wood to help cushion them from the shock and friction that will be caused by having an 800-gallon water tank riding on them, the staff installs the tank, which has been built from scratch by the staff using the shop’s fabricating equipment.

The result is a wildland fire engine that can handle fighting a fire while protecting the fire officers – and other DNR staff trained in fire suppression – from danger, which can appear in many forms as the trucks lumber over uneven terrain into a burning forest.

DNR heavy equipment mechanic Mike Pickler completes
electrical circuits for a fire engine that will be used
in wildfire suppression efforts.
“You can’t design for every contingency,” Munn said. “But the design of these vehicles does a good job of capturing what our fire officers and other trained staff need in the field.”

Besides building the trucks, another of the shop’s main products is the Michigan Fireline Plow. The fireline plow is built and installed on each of the 125 or so crawler-tractors that the Forest Resources Division has stationed around the state.

The half-ton plow, which is designed to be hydraulically operated behind a truck or tractor to cut fire lines, produces a 6-foot-wide “firebreak” – an area free of combustible materials that prevents ground fire from spreading. In the case of large fires, the operators may create additional lines in concentric circles around the perimeter, creating an even wider firebreak.

If something breaks on a plow – or on one of the wildland fire engines’ water packages – the FFES produces replacement parts and fixes the damage. The staff also continuously upgrades existing vehicles with the latest safety equipment, such as fire curtains for the crawler tractors, which can help shield operators from radiant heat.

All of the work done at the FFES requires a lot of space, and that’s something the building has been lacking for years, Munn said.

Forest Fire Experiment Station engineer Dan Munn
works on a cone tumbler 3D model. 
The DNR has broken ground on a new FFES building. The new facility will be larger so it can handle the bigger vehicles that are being used to build wildland fire engines. In fact, some of the chassis used are so large the staff has to let the air out of the tires in order to get the vehicles into the building. The new space will facilitate the assembly process and create a smoother work flow.

Michigan’s forest fire simulation team will also be housed in the new energy- efficient building. The team helps train new fire officers and other DNR staff and also helps enhance the skills of experienced fire staff by allowing them to experience virtual firefighting situations using video clips from actual forest fires as well as created scenarios.

The new FFES building is currently under construction. The building is expected to be complete by early fall.

“We’re pretty excited about what this new building will mean to our ability to better prepare for fighting fires in Michigan,” said Munn. “The DNR has a long, proud history of battling blazes in order to protect people, property and natural resources. This improved facility will be a very important part of helping us continue to get that job done.”

For more information about the DNR's fire management program, visit www.michigan.gov/firemanagement.

Guest Post: Biking, Climbing, Kayaking and Hiking Lake Tahoe This Summer Based From a Deluxe, Catered Camp

This summer vacationers can put their own price tag on Bonvoy Adventure Travel’s six-day, all-inclusive wilderness and multi-sport catered camping adventure in and around Lake Tahoe, CA.

A purpose-driven itinerary introduces adventurers to lake kayaking, rock climbing, hiking and mountain biking on portions of the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail looping around what may well be the most beautiful lake in America, ranked the 10th deepest lake in the world (with water clarity of 70 feet).
 
“This region in the Sierra Nevadas is home to the iconic rocky outcroppings you imagine when you think of the great American West,” says Sean Jackson, Bonvoy Adventure Travel founder and CEO.  “We’ll be getting to know the land intimately as we rock climb and mountain bike up and across some incredible terrain. The lake itself is a gorgeous thing to behold. To celebrate the aquatic goodness we’ll be kayaking into Emerald Bay, a premier little hideaway, as well as hiking around the water’s edge.”

A full day of mountain biking brings guests to the top of steep cliffs for expansive views. After climbing instruction and getting rigged out in high-performance gear, guests learn how to ascend one of Lake Tahoe’s premier climbing walls, the granite face called Lover’s Leap. Kayaking across Lake Tahoe’s coastline includes a visit to the Scandinavian-style Vikingsholm (a Scandinavian-themed castle built nearly 100 years ago). On mountain bikes guests explore the Flume Trail for 14 miles one way along the lake’s rim, hundreds of feet above and just a few feet away from the cliff’s edge. Hiking the Tahoe Rim trail showcases lush forest and wildflower-strewn, high-alpine meadows.
 
“Bonvoy is targeting a new generation of traveler who is less intimidated by extreme sports and comfy camping,” notes Jackson, “We provide an environment that doesn’t feel like a group tour but rather like an outing with friends.”

Bonvoy Adventure Travel offers flexible pricing on a suggested per person rate of $1,551 for exploring this world-class wilderness icon. Departures for up to 10 guests each are, in July, 8-13, 15-20 and 22-27; and in August 5-10, 12-17 and 19-24. The rate includes roundtrip ground transportation from Reno International Airport (RNO) to the campsite and all transportation during the trip; all camping gear and camp set up and breakdown; gourmet meals; instructors and guides and equipment for all adventure activities. No prior experience for any of the activities is required.
 
Setting a new precedent in group travel, Bonvoy Adventure Travel is asking clients to decide what they’re willing to pay for their journey into the wild. This is the first and only travel company offering Flex Pricing that lets travelers name their own prices on select domestic trips. With more control over travel costs, Jackson hopes people can find wiggle room in their budgets for much needed getaways this year.
 
On the company’s all-inclusive, week-long domestic, guests relax into camp as staff handle the details of living comfortably in the wilderness, including making sure that the beer and wine are well stocked. In addition to detail-oriented staff, the company partners with ICEDot an emergency notification service to provide an extra level of safety during each trip. International trips at set prices are two weeks or longer and usually include inns and lodges at night. Not included are gratuities to guides and airfare. Domestic trips are normally camping itineraries (except in winter when lodging is utilized) for groups of up to 10 participants with two guides.

About Bonvoy Adventure Travel
Bonvoy Adventure Travel since 2010 has delivered inspiring and exhilarating all-inclusive experiences for small groups of inquisitive travelers to the world’s top adventure destinations, along the way providing opportunities to acquire outdoor adventure skills while being immersed in local history and culture. Founder/owner Sean Jackson has developed a style for his company’s domestic camping and adventure/multisport programs that is casual and flexible, loosely following set itineraries but with opportunities for personalization and spontaneity.  International programs of two week duration and longer take guests deep into a destination’s beauty and culture with exclusive experiences not possible to the independent traveler. Highly trained guides and personally vetted programs bear the stamp of a Bonvoy Adventure. This is the first and only travel company to promote flex pricing that lets a client name the price he/she wishes to pay for a domestic trip.
 
For 2014 information and trip reservations please call 1-212-542-0735, or visit http://www.bonvoyadventuretravel.com/.

Registration for Michigan DNR’s popular Becoming an Outdoors-Woman summer program now open

Women seeking to improve their outdoor skills can now register for the Michigan DNR's 17th annual Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) summer program, held the weekend of May 30 to June 1 at Bay Cliff Health Camp, in Big Bay, located approximately 30 miles north of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula.

Sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, this BOW program offers instruction in more than two dozen types of outdoor activities, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, wilderness first aid and survival, lake and fly-fishing, fly-tying, geocaching, shooting sports, boating, mountain biking and much more.

Volunteer BOW instructors provide basic and advanced instruction that is uniquely tailored to each participant's individual ability, helping the participants learn the basics in a short amount of time.

The $185 registration fee includes all food and lodging, as well as most equipment and supplies. Participants will be housed in a universally-accessible dorm-style facility with numerous amenities, including a pool, sauna, tennis courts, hiking and biking trails and easy access to Lake Superior. The BOW summer program also includes special evening programs, such as hikes, group bonfires and more.

Class information and registration materials are available online at www.michigan.gov/bow, and registration can be paid online at www.michigan.gov/estore. The summer program typically fills quickly, so early registration is encouraged. The deadline for registration is Monday, May 12.

A limited number of BOW Scholarships are available to help low-income participants with the cost of registration, with an application deadline of Friday, April 25.

For more information about the summer BOW program, contact Sharon Pitz at 906-228-6561 or e-mail pitzs@michigan.gov.

BOW is a noncompetitive program in which each individual is encouraged to learn at her own pace. The emphasis is on the enjoyment, fun and camaraderie of outdoor activities, and sharing in the success of one another. To learn more about the DNR’s BOW program, visit www.michigan.gov/bow.

Two videos from RV Geeks on replacing incandescent, halogen and flourescent bulbs with LEDs



I have been toying with the idea of replacing our bulbs with the more energy efficient LEDs for a while now. These two videos certainly help make up my mind on which type to get. Plus, not only are LEDs more energy efficient, they are cool to the touch and I've heard they don't attract mosquitoes (has anyone else heard this?).

Enjoy these two videos from RV geeks on replacing your incandescent, halogen and florescent bulbs with LED bulbs.

Here's what RV Geeks had to say about their videos:
The process of converting our RV's lights to LEDs has been a bit frustrating... until now. These videos explain what's been happening.

If you've seen our video about converting our RV's fluorescent lights to LEDs (if not, you can view it here: http://youtu.be/SAMPQrAu0aI), you may have noticed that it's been a while since we've shared any more tips about switching to LEDs. The reason for that is because we've been experimenting with converting our RV's other lights (halogen, incandescent and even other fluorescent light options). But it's been a bit frustrating, since options for LED color and brightness can be confusing, and many suppliers don't accurately convey the information you need to choose the color temperature and brightness you want.

Then we heard about a company on the iRV2 discussion forums called M4 Products. The information on their website was really thorough, and the owner's fast, detailed response to our questions made us confident that his lights would be the right color and brightness.

After so much trial & error, buying from M4 was the best experience we've had so far. Since we were heading toward southern California, where M4 is located, we made an appointment to stop by to see about upgrading more of our lights.

Being a fellow RVer, Steve, M4's owner, was incredibly knowledgeable about LED applications for RVs, and the quality of his products was obvious. We've looked at, and tried, our fair share of LED bulbs, and Steve's are the best quality and best value we've found so far.

M4 Products, our new favorite LED light supplier, is also offering a special discount for RVgeeks viewers. Visit their website at http://M4Products.com and enter the discount code "rvgeeks5" at checkout to receive a 5% discount on your entire order!

The first video about converting our RV lights to LEDs generated a lot of interest and some questions. As a follow-up, here are the details about the exact lights we used, where we show the difference in color among Warm White, Natural White and Cool White LEDs.

Here are the details: We replaced the wedge-base peanut bulbs (921-size incandescent) from over our dining room table with M4's 24-light Main Line 921-24-5050-WW Warm White. We also showed the Elite series as an option, which puts out the equivalent amount of brightness from only 17-lights. That's the 921-17-5630-WW Warm White.

For our halogen replacements, we used the Natural White Elite series: G4-6-5630-SIDE-NW. These bulbs put out the same amount of light as the halogens they replaced, while fitting into the housing without having to remove the reflector. Lights are available in three color choices: Warm White (the warmest), Natural White (whiter than "Warm" and more like daylight), and Cool White, which we did not use anywhere on board as we feel the color is too blue for our taste.

Hope this all helps!

If you order from M4 Products, don't forget to use the "rvgeeks5" coupon code at checkout to get 5% off your entire order!

Click here to visit M4 Products: http://M4Products.com

Video: 'Tips on buying the Perfect RV' by Mark Polk of RV Education 101



Enjoy this 3:13 video on "Tips on Buying the Perfect RV" by Mark Polk of RV Education 101.

Here's what Mark had to say about his video:
In this premiere RV101.TV video Mark Polk offers some helpful RV tips and hints on how buy the perfect RV based on your particular needs.

Happy RV Learning,
Mark Polk

RV Education 101® http://rveducation101.com/
RV Consumer http://rvconsumer.com/
Follow us on FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/rveducation101
Sign up for our online RV Consumer E-News Magazine It's FREE! http://rveducation101.com/email/

RV Education 101 e-book series
As I've said many times, Mark Polk is my favorite RV expert. I'm pleased he and his wife, Dawn, have allowed me to sell his RV e-book series. E-books (electronic books) are immediately downloaded to your computer after you make the purchase. The RV Education 101 e-book series includes:
  • "The Original Checklist for RVers"
  • "The RV Book"
  • "RV Campground Basics"
  • "101 Tips for RVers"
  • "RV Care and Maintenance"
  • "Insiders Guide to Buying an RV"
  • "Winterizing & Storing your RV"
  • "RV Awning Use & Care"
  • "Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance"
  • "RV Buyers Survival Guide"
  • "Complete Guide To: RV Towing, Weights, Hitch Work & Backing"
  • "Pop-Up Basics 101"
  • "Dinghy Towing"

Guest post: Utah’s Moab Adventure Center Lassos ‘em in with Discount, New Eateries, Glamping and Trails

Moab Adventure Center, the one-stop shop for active Moab vacations, is attracting visitors with a stay-and-play 10 percent discount on combination packages of three or more single, full- or half-day adventures. And new for 2014, Moab, UT is wining, dining, and lodging adventure enthusiasts with a number of brand-new offerings.

“Sure you can breathe our air for a day but why not gulp it for several days in one of the most scenic natural playgrounds in the world,” says Jamie Pearce, Moab Adventure Center manager. “This world-class vacation destination for adventure sports just keeps getting better and better.”

In the new-for-2014 restaurant category is Aristo's Mediterranean Restaurant serving flavors of Turkey and Greece for lunch and dinner. The chef is from Istanbul. A preview of recently opened Los Jilbertos recommends it for giant burritos and huevos rancheros. Plus it’s open for a taco fix 24 hours a day.

Three new trails have opened up: Intrepid Trail 2 at Dead Horse State Park; Hymasa, part of the Amasa Back Trail System; and Prospector Hiking Trail that starts north of the Rock Shop. There are also new trails that are still works in progress by Gemini Bridges. Stop by the Moab Adventure Center for directions.

Moab Gear Trader is a new consignment store offering free Wifi and a library of guide books and maps. Staff can also provide tips on where to go explore next. Warm-weather consignment and/or items for purchase include gear for biking, climbing, boating, hiking and such sporting goods as bats and balls. There’s also an impressive selection for kids.

New accommodations are Comfort Suites opening July 29; Marriott-Fairfield Inn & Suites opening in November; and ready now is the area's first-ever "glamping" destination, Moab Under Canvas. Located on 40 acres seven miles north of Moab and a step away from the entrance to both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park the site features luxurious tents that represent glamorous camping (or “glamping”) at its finest http://www.moabundercanvas.com/index.html. For convenience, this experience can also be booked through Moab Adventure Center.

To date, the Moab events calendar showcases:

  • May 17th Back of Beyond SUP Race
  • May 24-25 Moab Arts Festival including a Beer and Wine Event
  • May 29-30 Moab Wild West MOABA (most outstanding annual bike adventure)
  • July 5 Canyonlands Whitewater Music Festival
  • Aug. 28 Utah state H.O.G. rally
  • Set. 11-13 Canyonlands turns 50 

Moab Adventure Center suggests and offers, among others, mountain biking in this mountain biking capital of the world, stand up paddleboarding on the Colorado River, a sunset Hummer safari, jet boating, whitewater rafting, flightseeing and even hot air ballooning as diverse ways to explore a region of the world that has, over millennia, become a geological masterpiece. Bordering Moab to the north and west, Utah’s red rock fantasylands, Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park, offer time-challenged visitors an immersion course in geology and ancient cultures when they fling themselves into activities showcasing the region’s beauty and diversity.

About Moab Adventure Center
Moab Adventure Center is a division of Western River Expeditions, an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. The company is the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT. Its programs are available from March through October.
 
The Moab Adventure Center is located at 225 South Main Street, Moab, Utah 84532. For information and reservations please call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163 or send an email from http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/contact/. The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear and clothing as well as souvenirs.

Five Michigan vacation packages a sure thing for summer fun

If you like to your vacations all planned out for you, then the Michigan Recreation & Parks Association has five options that look to be a sure thing for summer fun. Each one offers discounted rates and tremendous amenities.

The Spring Fling
May 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 2014
Flowers begin to bloom, horses arrive back on the island, and Grand Hotel once again opens her doors for another season! Join this special time of the year! Prices for these Spring dates are per couple and include a daily breakfast and a five-course dinner. Rates are subject to 6% Michigan Sales Tax, a 2% Mackinac Island Assessment, and a one-time charge of $8.00 per person baggage handling fee. Start your summer season in style - join us for ANY or ALL of the Spring Fling 2014 dates and remember, the more nights you stay, the greater the savings!

Trek, Taste, and Tour
Various Dates Beginning May 17, 2014
2014 is your year for adventure! Do you like to bike, kayak, or sight-see? Do you enjoy fine dining, local wine and beer? Then you're sure to find a trip to suit your tastes with the Trek Taste and Tour adventures. There are four unique trips throughout 2014 - Traverse City, Detroit, Port Austin, or Mackinac Island -  choose one, or choose them all!

Late Summer Holiday
August 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 2014
Did summer fly by without you escaping for a little rest and relaxation? There is still a little summer left! Plan to join us at Grand Hotel for the Late Summer Holiday the last week in August. Enjoy the sights of Mackinac and the elegance of Grand Hotel at a reduced rate. Breakfast, five-course dinner, and specials on recreational activities are included. Sign up for ANY or ALL of the dates for the Late Summer Holiday 2014 - the more nights you stay, the greater the savings!

The Grand Experience
Various Dates Beginning September 22, 2014
Since 1967 the Michigan Recreation and Park Association has offered travelers ages 50 and over a unique opportunity to stay at the famous Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island at a significantly reduced rate. The all inclusive trip provides guests with a wide variety of programs and activities such as tournaments, crafts, dancing and carriage tours that will make your stay at this world class destination a truly Grand Experience.

Video: Spring weather has bears and other wildlife on the move



Author's note: Although this comes from the Michigan DNR, the information applies to all of the Great Lakes.

Although some areas of the state may still have several feet of snow on the ground, Michigan's wildlife knows the spring season - with an increase in daylight hours - is here. Animals are beginning to wake up from winter hibernation; bears are among those starting to emerge from their dens.

Food and mating are the two drivers behind the increase in wildlife that Michigan residents may be seeing lately. Since bears typically mate in June or July, food is the primary cause for the increase in bear activity during the spring.

"At this time of year, bears are looking for food," said Michigan Department of Natural Resources bear and furbearer specialist Adam Bump. "They are hungry after spending months in their dens. While we might not think of bird feeders and trash cans as food sources, a hungry bear certainly may."

Each spring, as bears leave their winter dens and resume daily activity, wildlife officials begin receiving calls about bear sightings and even the occasional bear damaging bird feeders, trash cans and grills.

Birdseed, because of its high fat content and easy accessibility, is especially attractive to bears. Once bird feeders are discovered, bears will keep coming back until the seed is gone or the feeders have been removed.

"The majority of complaints we receive about nuisance bears in the spring involve a food source. The easiest thing people can do to avoid creating a problem is to take in their bird feeders and store other attractants, like grills, trash cans and pet food, in a garage or storage shed," Bump said. "Once the woods green up, bears tend to move on to find more natural sources of food, as long as they haven't become habituated to the birdseed or garbage cans."

Bears that are rewarded with food each time they visit a yard can become habituated to these food sources unintentionally provided by people. This can create an unsafe situation for the bear and become a nuisance for landowners if a bear continuously visits their yard during the day and repeatedly destroys private property in search of food.

DNR Wildlife Division staff members are unable to respond directly to each nuisance bear complaint and instead ask that landowners do their part to help reduce potential food sources in their yards before calling for further assistance. The trapping of nuisance bears is only authorized by DNR wildlife officials in cases of significant property damage or threats to human safety when other techniques have failed.

Anyone who is experiencing problems with nuisance bears and has taken the appropriate action to remove food sources for a period of two to three weeks, but has not seen results, should contact the nearest DNR office and speak with a wildlife biologist or technician for further assistance.

For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/bear.

Holiday River Expeditions offers advice on choosing, enjoying and treasuring a multi-generations rafting trip

This season marks the 48th year Holiday River Expeditions has run the wild rivers of Utah, Colorado and Idaho. It began as a family business and today, three generations of Holladays are still actively involved in the company.

“As a multi-generational company we understand better than anyone the importance and value of how carving out uninterrupted time to be together in a wilderness setting strengthens family bonds,” explains President John Wood, son-in-law of the founders Dee and Sue Holladay.

A recent guest who brought her extended family along for a trip had this to say about the experience, “In four days, we spent more time together than we have in years together in the summers,” explains Tricia Paisley, who celebrated her mother’s 70th birthday on the San Juan River with her large family. “The setting equalized the playing field, everyone wasn’t going separate directions. We were all involved in the same activity and experiencing the novelty of this trip together.” Quite a feat when you consider the range of abilities and fact that there were a gaggle of cousins ranging in age from 6 on up to 18.

As active river vacations that include extended family continue to grow in popularity it is important to know how to qualify and select the best outfitter for your clan, what you can do while on the trip to maximize enjoyment and how to best cherish and remember the experience long after it ends.  The family travel experts of Holiday River Expeditions offer these tried and true suggestions:

Before You Go - Choosing a trip, vetting an outfitter: 

  • Have your entire family powwow to discuss what each person wants to do on the river and make sure the oldest and youngest voices are heard.  River choices, time of year, class of rapids, type of craft, off-river attractions all factor into a raft trip experience.
  • Check what activities are offered, ability to easily cater to different age groups and interests on a single trip, safety record, guide experience, references, etc.
  • Be clear in questioning the outfitter; will we be pampered or do we rough it? Be clear about what you want; type of boats and inflatable’s used on the river, level of luxury, if there’s a kid’s counselor along, food, temperatures, anything and everything that matters.
  • Make sure activities offered include a chance for family members to have a little break from one another, too. Parents can go on the optional hike while grandparents stay with the kids in camp to swim, fish, or play a game of bocce. 


On the Trip - How to maximize family enjoyment: 

  • Try planning a theme for each night of the trip and dress accordingly (pirates, black tie formal night, groovy 70’s, cross-dress night, etc.
  • Play "Christmas on the River” and ask that everyone bring a gift to an evening gathering. Gifts could be made by hand on the trip (perhaps a necklace made from shoe laces adorned with leaves from a cottonwood tree), found along the way (a perfectly smooth, multi-colored river stone), or brought from home. Then do a white elephant gift exchange and get ready for the laughs.
  • Buy sarongs for everyone, (they are practical to cover up when the sun beats down) but also see how many creative ways you can use them! Toga party? Head wrap, Dress, camp or boat flag, etc. 


After the Trip - How to best reminisce and treasure those great memories: 

  • Get a photo book made from everyone’s pictures. Holiday has a "Shutterfly Page" for guests to upload their photos and make their own book or slideshow.
  • Come up with a plan before the trip starts. Instruct each family member to keep a mini journal and jot down the best thing that happened each day. One volunteer compiles all the memories into keepsake journals (digital or print) for everyone.
  • Over the holidays or next big family gathering, present a slideshow or custom video of the trip, complete with music, narration, and/or captions.
  • Social share your trip photos and post to Holiday's online "Photo Contests". You just might win another trip!


Here are Holiday Expeditions' top three rafting trips for multi-generational family groups.

Idaho - Lower Salmon River Canyons (5 yo and up) - Possibly the best family rafting trip in the West; playful rapids (perfect for inflatable kayaking) and huge sandy beach camps for frisbee, bocce ball and volleyball, beautiful alpine wilderness setting. Four day trips in July, August and September.

Utah - Green River through Desolation Canyon (5 yo and up) – This is the country, where Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch hid from the law. A river trip here means large sandy beaches, beginner level whitewater with rolling wave trains, kid friendly hiking and exploring, wildlife and outlaw remnants. The trip begins with a flight over the canyon to the put-in. Five and six day trips in May, June, July, and August.

Utah - Green River through Lodore Canyon (8 yo and up) - In the heart of Dinosaur National Monument, dramatic scenery with deep narrow canyons and colorful rock formations. Highlights include bighorn sheep, birds of prey, waterfalls, rock art, caves and intermediate level whitewater. Four day trips depart two to three times a week in May, June, July, August and September.

About Holiday River Expeditions 
Holiday River Expeditions (http://www.bikeraft.com/) began in 1966, when Dee Holladay and his wife Sue took the plunge to become river outfitters. Due to its respect for the lands, rivers, guests and employees, the family-owned-and-operated company has grown exponentially. Each of its guides is professionally trained in first aid and river safety, and with over 47 years of experience, the company provides guests the opportunity to explore the nation’s wild lands safely and securely. Holiday River Expeditions has a philosophy to protect the environment through education and conservation, and as such, uses oar-powered and paddle rafts exclusively.

Video: 'RV Sewer Hose Tips & Tricks' by RV Education 101



Enjoy this 2:46 video from Mark Polk of RV Education 101 on "RV Sewer Hose Tips & Tricks." 

Here's what Mark had to say about hi video: In this premier RV101.TV video Mark Polk with RV Education 101 offers some helpful tips and tricks for RV sewer hoses and accessories. If it is your job to empty the RV holding tanks, and hook-up, disconnect and store the RV sewer hose when it's time to leave the campground you won't want to miss this video.

RV Education 101 e-book series
As I've said many times, Mark Polk is my favorite RV expert. I'm pleased he and his wife, Dawn, have allowed me to sell his RV e-book series. E-books (electronic books) are immediately downloaded to your computer after you make the purchase. The RV Education 101 e-book series includes:
  • "The Original Checklist for RVers"
  • "The RV Book"
  • "RV Campground Basics"
  • "101 Tips for RVers"
  • "RV Care and Maintenance"
  • "Insiders Guide to Buying an RV"
  • "Winterizing & Storing your RV"
  • "RV Awning Use & Care"
  • "Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance"
  • "RV Buyers Survival Guide"
  • "Complete Guide To: RV Towing, Weights, Hitch Work & Backing"
  • "Pop-Up Basics 101"
  • "Dinghy Towing"

Ohio rich in new travel experiences for 2014

The Beach Waterpark
From Playhouse Square to space shuttle exploration and from African lions to a holiday movie museum, Ohio offers dozens of new travel experiences in 2014. Visitors can sample some of Ohio's unique food and wine creations, or experience first-hand the modern lodging and revitalization of historic spaces leading to the renaissance of Ohio's city centers. Thrill seekers will enjoy numerous new rides at Ohio's top amusement parks, while those who enjoy cultural pursuits can explore world-renowned art exhibits throughout the state.
 
Following are just some of the new experiences awaiting Ohio visitors this year. Check DiscoverOhio.com today for more great Ohio travel ideas, discounts, festivals and events and the 2014 Ohio Travel Guide. Additional information, photos and videos can be accessed with the free "Official Ohio Travel Guide by TourismOhio" iPad app available in the Apple App Store.

Arts and Culture
Playhouse Square, Cleveland
Cleveland's Playhouse Square, the largest theater district in the nation outside of New York City, is undergoing a $16 million makeover. The centerpiece of the makeover is the 20-foot-tall "GE Chandelier," the world's largest permanent outdoor chandelier. Adorned with more than 4,200 crystals, the fixture will be suspended 44 feet above the intersection of E. 14th Street and Euclid Avenue. The chandelier, retro 1920s-style gateway signage, marquees and more will be unveiled May 2.

Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati
The iconic Diana, A Celebration exhibit opened at the Cincinnati Museum Center in February and will run through August 17, marking its final U.S. stop on a more-than-10-year world tour. Nine galleries contain 150 treasures including the princess's royal wedding gown, designer dresses, home movies and family keepsakes on loan from the Spencer family.

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo
Through May 11, the Toledo Museum of Art is hosting The Art of the Louvre's Tuileries Garden, a collection of more than 100 works of sculpture, paintings, photographs and drawings exploring the design and evolution of Paris' famed Tuileries Garden. A majority of the works have never been seen outside of Paris and are on loan from the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, the Musee Carnavalet and other collections.
 
The Pizzuti Collection, Columbus
The Pizzuti Collection art gallery opened recently in a historic building located in Columbus' Short North Arts District. It presents temporary exhibits from the collection of Ron and Ann Pizzuti, who have amassed a private art collection ranked in the top 200 in the world. In addition to a beautiful array of modern art, visitors can enjoy outdoor sculptures, lectures and educational projects.

Thrills and Chills
Kings Island, Mason
Kings Island amusement park will unveil Banshee, the world's longest inverted roller coaster, April 18. Banshee will send riders screaming through more than 4,000 feet of track and seven inversions at speeds up to 68 mph!

Cedar Point, Sandusky
Cedar Point will unveil two new family rides when it opens May 10. The 302-foot-long Pipe Scream is billed as the best of a roller coaster and a flat ride in one. Lake Erie Eagles, a modern version of the classic "swing" ride, will give riders the option to control their flight experience while suspended 28 feet in the air. Later in the summer, Cedar Point will open its new Sling Shot ride, which will launch riders in two-person capsules nearly 360 feet in the air at speeds up to 62 mph for a brief feeling of weightlessness before descending back toward the ground.

The Beach Waterpark, Mason
Visitors looking for a bit of relief from summer's warmth will enjoy two new experiences opening this year at The Beach Waterpark - a two-person zipline over the wave pool and a more than 400-foot-long, four-lane mat racer ride. The park opens for its 25th season on May 17 and will celebrate its milestone anniversary with 80s-themed activities in mid-July. For the first time, visitors will also be able to head back to The Beach after the snow starts to fall to enjoy an 8- to 10-lane snow tubing hill opening in November 2014.

Foodie (and Beer Lover) Haven
The Palace of Fermentation, Cleveland
Cleveland will welcome The Palace of Fermentation, a 43,000-square-foot space making/selling everything from beer and distilled spirits to cheeses, cured meats and pickles. All products will be made with locally sourced ingredients, including produce grown at Northeast Ohio farms and meats from heirloom breeds of animals pastured traditionally. (2014 opening date to be announced.)

Windows on Pairings, Geneva
Indulge your vintner's spirit at Windows on Pairings, a new wine and food experience opening in late June. Built on the site of the former Geneva Elementary School, Pairings features a tasting room, demonstration vineyards and gardens, an educational area, a concierge for regional wine tours and a hands-on kitchen for culinary classes.

Historical Happenings
National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force recently opened its new, one-of-a-kind Space Shuttle exhibit. Since its arrival at the museum, the NASA Space Shuttle Crew Compartment Trainer has been under construction to create a full-scale mock-up of the payload bay, engine and tail sections of a space shuttle orbiter. The finished exhibit enables visitors to look into the cockpit and mid-deck areas of a shuttle and learn how astronauts train for missions. In September, the Dawn Patrol Rendezvous will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI with original and reproduction WWI aircraft, radio-controlled models, period re-enactors and more at the museum.

Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial, Columbus
An 18-foot-tall, bronze, lighted Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial will open in April on the Statehouse grounds. Designed by Daniel Libeskind - the Polish-born designer of the new World Trade Center master plan, the Jewish Museum in Berlin and many other high-profile projects - the monument is designed to remember the victims, survivors and liberators of the Holocaust.

Lions, Tigers and Penguins
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Columbus
Jungle Jack Hanna's home base, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, will open its 43-acre Heart of Africa exhibit in May. Visitors will be immersed in a safari adventure including opportunities to feed giraffe, board a grounded 1956 airplane in the African lion area, ride a camel, observe wildebeests at the watering hole, marvel at cheetahs reaching top land speeds, spy on monkeys rifling through Jack's camp and more. A village marketplace, the sounds of African drums and a restaurant overlooking the savannah complete the Heart of Africa experience.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Cincinnati
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will open the next phase of its Africa exhibit featuring African wild dogs, meerkats and an open vista for several antelope species including gazelles, lesser kudu and large African birds. Visitors will be able to duck into a meerkat tunnel to get an up-close, ground-eye view of the always social and lively meerkats. Wild dogs and the savannah exhibits are scheduled to open June 28 with additional animal exhibits opening throughout the summer.

Toledo Zoo, Toledo
Penguin Beach, an all new penguin playground, will open in late spring to early summer adjacent to the Toledo Zoo's Aquarium. The new digs will provide a more active environment for the penguins with moving water mimicking the ocean, a waterfall and shallow stream for splashing. Visitors get enhanced viewing from three different levels - from above, at ground level and with an entire wall of underwater viewing. Penguins will begin moving from their current location in late March.

The Silver Screen
Castle Noel, Medina
Film fanatics can get their fill of both movie memorabilia and holiday tidings at Castle Noel, a recent addition to Medina. Exhibits feature props like the 10-foot-tall snowglobe that appeared in "The Santa Clause" movies and Will Ferrell's "Buddy the Elf" suit, as well as more than $2 million worth of stunning window displays from New York City stores like Saks Fifth Avenue. Fans of the classic "A Christmas Story" movie will also enjoy Santa Claus Mountain, a two-story structure that is an exact replica of the film's Santa summit and slide.

Lush Lodging
Westin Cleveland Downtown, Cleveland
The Westin Cleveland Downtown will open this spring after the completion of a $64 million renovation. Located in Cleveland's downtown financial district, the property is receiving updates to all of its public areas, event spaces and all 484 guest rooms, as well as its exterior fa├žade. Hotel designers are working to commission more than 1,000 pieces by local artists to hang throughout the hotel, along with a major sculpture above the main entrance.

To stay up-to-date on Ohio's latest opportunities, check out DiscoverOhio.com, follow TourismOhio on Twitter @DiscoverOhio, like Discover Ohio on Facebook, follow our Ohio Travel News Board on Pinterest or join the conversation on our blog at DiscoveringOhio.com.

Muskegon State Park offering free night of camping for volunteers May 3-4

Our campsite at Muskegon State Park.
Author's note: We camped at Muskegon State Park two summers ago and found it to be very nice. The location was excellent and the park itself was very nice. Our only complaint was the bath house was closed off and on due to issues with the sewer system.

Muskegon State Park is offering one free night of camping at its Lake Michigan campground for individuals who volunteer May 3 or 4 to help clean up at least two campsites.

The campground has a total of 106 campsites. Interested participants must register to camp for two nights and volunteer to help clean up at least two campsites to receive one free night of camping. Participants also are asked to bring appropriate clothing for outdoor work, such as long pants, boots and gloves, as well as rakes or leaf blowers if they have them. Safety glasses and earplugs will be provided or volunteers can furnish their own.

The park also will host a “meet and greet” at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 3, at campsite 103. This session will include free coffee and donuts and information about clean-up safety and goals.

The Lake Michigan campground is located across from the Muskegon Sports Complex on North Scenic Drive. Volunteers can book reservations as walk-ins or make advance reservations by calling 1-800-447-PARKS or online at www.midnrreservations.com. For more information about this event or Muskegon State Park, contact the park at 231-744-3480 or visit www.michigan.gov/muskegon.

Equal-i-zer Hitch & Fastway Trailer partner with Dealer Resources Group

If you are planning a camping trip with a travel trailer this summer, you are not alone. The RV industry continues to gain momentum, and recreational vehicle sales are approaching pre-recession levels. And when people buy travel trailers, they need trailer hitches. Progress Mfg. Inc., maker of the nationally-recognized brands, Equal-i-zer Hitch and Fastway Trailer, has seen tremendous growth over the last two years and anticipates a record-breaking 2014.

In order to continue providing excellent service to dealerships all over the U.S. and Canada, Progress Mfg. Inc. looked for a partner that could spend more time in dealerships, providing sales, training, product insight, and customer service.

And Dealer Resources Group was a perfect match.

“At Progress, we all love to RV, so we know how RVers think,” states Progress Mfg.’s VP of Sales, Rich Elliott. “A trailer is a big investment, and when people buy one, they want the best hitch available, so both their investment and their family will be safe.”

“With DRG assisting us with dealer sales, training, and education, customers will receive the information they need to make the best hitch decision, getting people on the road faster with confidence,” Elliott continues.

And thousands of Americans are planning to do exactly that.

According to RVIA, new RV shipments are projected to top 335,000 this year, a 6.1% increase from the projected total for 2013, and the highest in six years.

RVIA President Richard Coon told attendees at the 51st Annual RV Trade Show in Louisville, KY, “RV shipments are growing, consumer confidence is growing, credit is available, and RVs are visible, popular and even cool. This is a good time to be in the RV business.”

Progress Mfg.’s CEO, Jed Anderson confirms Coon’s statement. “It has been a great couple years for us, and this year looks to be even better. We have some strong talent at our company, and with our great team and DRG’s assistance, we look forward to seeing a lot of happy campers on the road this summer.”

Equal-i-zer Hitch and Fastway are divisions of Progress Manufacturing, a Utah company that specializes in the production and manufacturing of sway control hitches, adjustable ball mounts and trailer hitch accessories.

Video: 'How to Buy an Airstream' by Sean Michaels of Long Long Honeymoon



Enjoy this 7:43 video on "How to Buy an Airstream" from C.S. "Sean" Michael of Long, Long Honeymoon.

Sean and his wife, Kristy, are the creators, producers, actors, editors, gaffers for their popular series Long Long Honeymoon. If you haven't yet, check out their website and enjoy their travels with them!

Top Destination Parks for 2014 named by the Good Sam RV Travel Guide



The Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory announced its list of Top Destination RV Parks for 2014. These RV parks stand out for their proximity to top tourism attractions, from national forests to amusement parks.

While welcoming travelers to some of North America's most popular destinations, these parks often help guests arrange tours and provide information to points of interest.

San Diego RV Resort-Sunland
Highlights from the List

  • Many parks on the list serve as virtual jumping-off points to nearby attractions. Memphis Graceland RV Park and Campground, for example, is situated just two minutes from Elvis Presley's legendary home and is linked to the "official site of the King of rock 'n' roll."
  • Several destination RV parks are directly affiliated with an attraction like Camping at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which offers camping in the infield of the South Carolina raceway.
  • Some parks enhance the customer experience by facilitating visits to nearby destinations. For example, the staff at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario, provide tour packages for guests seeking spectacular views of the nearby falls.


Garden of the Gods RV Resort (Colorado)
Facts about Destination RV Travel

  • The most popular travel destination in the United States is Las Vegas, Nevada, followed by New York City and Orlando, Florida, according to Business Insider magazine.
  • The most popular destinations to visit in Canada are Vancouver, British Columbia, followed by Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Montreal, Quebec.
  • Not surprisingly, RV parks can be found in high concentrations in or around popular destination, while others parks are found the travel corridors leading to popular destinations.


Choosing the Parks
The editors and consultants of the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory chose the list of Top Destination RV Parks from the annual publication’s database of 8,000 private parks.

Each month, a new list of Top Parks will be featured in press releases and articles released by the Good Sam RV Travel Guide. Click here for a roundup of Top Parks by month.

In addition to in-depth listings of RV parks and campgrounds across North America, the Good Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory features travel itineraries, helpful maps and informative tips that RVers need for a journey anywhere in North America.

Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort (Massachusetts)
Top Destination RV Parks
Arizona 
Grand Canyon Railway RV Park, Williams

Arkansas 
Tom Sawyer's RV Park, West Memphis

California 
Orangeland RV Park, Orange
San Diego RV Resort-Sunland, La Mesa
The Lakes RV & Golf Resort, Chowchilla

Colorado 
Garden of The Gods RV Resort, Colorado Springs

Florida 
Bay Bayou RV Resort, Tampa
Club Naples RV Resort, Naples

Georgia
Lake Pines RV Park & Campground, Columbus

Kentucky 
Duck Creek RV Park, Paducah

Louisiana 
Hidden Ponds RV Park, Lake Charles

Massachusetts 
Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort, Foxboro



Michigan 
Little River Casino RV Park, Manistee
Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping, Mackinaw City
Traverse Bay RV Resort, Traverse City

Nevada 
Lakeside Casino & RV Resort, Pahrump
LVM Resort, Las Vegas

North Carolina
Camping at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte

Ohio 
Evergreen Park RV Resort, Mount Eaton

Oklahoma
Winstar RV Park, Thackerville

Pennsylvania 
Artillery Ridge Camping Resort, Gettysburg
Drummer Boy Camping Resort, Gettysburg
Gettysburg Campground, Gettysburg
Lake-In-Wood Resort, Narvon
Round Top Campground, Gettysburg
Twin Grove RV Resort & Cottages, Pine Grove

South Carolina 
Pirateland Family Camping Resort, Myrtle Beach

South Dakota 
Chris' Camp, Spearfish
Hart Ranch Camping Resort Club, Rapid City



Tennessee
Best Holiday Trav-L-Park, Chattanooga
Memphis Graceland RV Park & Campground, Memphis
Pine Mountain RV Park, Pigeon Forge

Texas 
Blazing Star Luxury RV Resort, San Antonio
Hill Country RV Resort, New Braunfels
Treetops Carefree RV Resort, Arlington

Virginia 
Lake Ridge RV Resort, Hillsville

Washington 
Maple Grove RV Resort, Everett

CANADA
Ontario 
Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort, Niagara Falls

Be safe when burning during spring wildfire season

Author's note: This message from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is applicable to us all. Let's make this a safe camping season everyone!

Ohioans are reminded to be aware of the state’s outdoor burning regulations and take necessary precautions if they are planning to burn debris this spring, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). 

Ohio law states outdoor debris burning is prohibited from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during April and May. Burning is limited in the spring due to the abundance of dry fuel on the ground before small, grassy fuels green up with moisture. Winds can make a seemingly safe fire burn more intensely and escape control. 

“After the long winter, many residents will be spring cleaning and burning their unwanted home and yard debris,” said Robert Boyles, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “It’s critical that people take the appropriate precautions to contain these fires in order to protect their lives and property as well as the lives and property of their neighbors.” 

If a fire escapes control, people should immediately contact the local fire department. An escaped wildfire, even one burning in grass or weeds, is dangerous. Violators of Ohio’s burning regulations are subject to citations and fines. Residents should also check the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations and consult with local fire officials about burning conditions. 

The ODNR Division of Forestry offers these safety tips for burning debris outdoors: 
  • Consider using a 55-gallon drum with a weighted screen lid to provide an enclosed incinerator.
  • Know current and future weather conditions, have tools on hand and never leave a debris burn unattended. 
  • Be informed about state and local burning regulations. 
  • Consult the local fire department for additional information and safety considerations. 
  • Visit ohiodnr.gov/forestry and firewise.org for more information and tips on protecting a home and community. 
  • Remember: “Don’t burn during the day in March, April and May.” 
The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit ohiodnr.gov/forestry. 

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

Guest Post: Western River Expeditions rafting/hiking trips in Canyonlands National Park

He who hesitates may miss the boat for a 2014 Grand Canyon raft vacation on the Colorado River as there are only a few remaining spots this summer on a handful of departures in July and August.

Western River Expeditions has guided more guests through the famous gorge over the last 53 years than any other outfitter - and the word has gotten out.  “It’s an absolutely inspiring adventure,” says Brandon Lake, CMO of Western River Expeditions.  “But, what many people don’t know is that there is another incredibly amazing canyon hidden just above the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River.”

Without the name recognition, of “Grand Canyon,” Utah’s Cataract Canyon is often overlooked.  “This hidden gem is unbelievable,” says Lake. Cataract Canyon splits through the heart of Canyonlands National Park inviting boaters to experience both whitewater thrills and eye-popping off-river jaunts.

Those choosing to raft this stretch of the Colorado River experience signature runs of world-class rapids that rival Grand Canyon counterparts. As for hiking? Canyonlands National Park offers some of the most incredible hikes in the world.  However, due to the rugged terrain and inaccessibility of much of the park’s 257,000 acres, one of the best ways to explore Canyonlands National Park is by river.

“Many people think a rafting trip involves sitting on a raft for long periods of time,” says Lake. “I like to compare it to a cruise, but with even more stops for shore excursions.  Between breakfast on the beach, possible morning and afternoon hikes, a stop for a buffet lunch and all-inclusive beach camping each night, it’s the perfect adventure. And the hikes in Cataract Canyon are fantastic!”

Instead of traversing overland mile after mile by jeep, foot or mountain bike to get to desired trails deep inside the park, departing from the river on hiking excursions minimizes the time and effort to reach preferred objectives, notes Lake. Below are his and his guides’ favored trails and off-river destinations:

Lathrop Granaries is a short hike revealing petroglyphs (images etched into the sandstone) and pictographs (images painted on the sandstone). A wide delta at the mouth of a side canyon provided an open area where early inhabitants planted grains, beans and squash. Adobe structures known as “granaries,” that stored grains for later consumption and spring planting, are visited on this hike.

Indian Creek originates in the Abajo Mountains, flows through the Park and eventually into the Colorado River. On early season trips, this is a popular stop for a hike up the creek to a beautiful waterfall and a refreshing swim. More granaries are found where Indian Creek joins the Colorado.

The Loop Hike is short but strenuous with a world-class view as the pay off. At this point, the Colorado River bends in a giant, three-mile-long loop. The River circles back on itself and at the point where the river channel flowing one direction is exactly parallel with the channel flowing back the other direction, there is a notch or saddle in the sandstone cliffs. A trail leads to the top of the saddle and back down the other side to the river where boats that have circled around the loop pick up hikers on the other side.

The Doll House, or The Sentinels, is a garden of rock pinnacles towering along the top of the cliff wall just a few miles downriver from the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers. It is common to camp near the Doll House on the second night of a four-day Cataract Canyon trip. This allows plenty of time to complete what is the most strenuous hike of the trip. The trail is steep, climbing over 1,000 feet from the river to the top of the canyon, but certainly beats the 7.5 hour drive from Moab to get to this location.

Dark Canyon features a creek that flows through the canyon and into the Colorado. Guides lead hikers about a mile through the bottom of a side canyon to an area of deep pools and small waterfalls. This can be a real oasis in the warm summer months.

For the past 5 decades, whitewater rafting experts, Western River Expeditions have navigated the West’s wildest rivers, enroute recognizing that guests enjoy varying the pace between the rapids and terra firma. On the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon the company offers two and four-day rafting programs inclusive of catered camping and guided hiking explorations.

Just south of Moab where the Colorado River and Green River meet in a majestic setting called “The Confluence,” Cataract Canyon begins. Bolstered by the Green River, the Colorado River doubles its force and carves a deep 100-mile-long chasm through the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Here is where four and two-day rafting trips are staged.

Both two and four-day expeditions include rafting, optional hiking, catered camping (cots, tents, sleeping bags, chairs and water-resistant bag), all meals between departure and return, transfers from Moab to the river and return transportation (four-day expedition by Cessna and two-day expedition by shuttle). Guests may hike to, among others, ancient Indian ruins, pictographs and a magnificent outlook high above the mighty Colorado.  On river, is a thrilling 100-mile ride through stunning scenery, over 30 class III-V whitewater rapids including the notorious “Big Drops,” where a raft plunges 30 feet in a matter of minutes, matching the whitewater of the Grand Canyon in power and difficulty.

Expeditions depart weekly from late may through late August for Cataract Canyon 4 Day - http://www.westernriver.com/trips/cataract/  programs. Open to ages 10 and up, the per person price is $1,365 for adults and $1,025 for youth 10-15. Guests camp for three nights along the river.

The price for the Cataract Canyon 2-Day Express is $674 for ages 12 and up. Expeditions depart weekly from early May through the July 4 weekend. The trip begins and ends in Moab, with the return transfer by ground shuttle. Guests camp for one night along the river. See: http://www.westernriver.com/trips/canyonlands/

Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center (http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/).

Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah rafting, and Idaho rafting trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the "Best of State" award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for nine consecutive years.  For 2014 season reservations call toll-free: 866-904-1160 or 801-942-6669.

Spring birding tours at Michigan’s Wetland Wonders

Red-Winged Blackbird (wikipedia)
Nothing says spring like the “conk-a-ree” call of a red-winged blackbird or the raucous sounds of a sandhill crane. Celebrate spring and explore Michigan’s Wetland Wonders with a birding tour at one of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' seven managed waterfowl areas in April and May.

Highlights of the birding tours may include diving and dabbling ducks in full breeding plumage, trumpeter and tundra swans, osprey, bald eagles, sandhill cranes and much more. The tours, led by DNR wildlife biologists and technicians, will include a "sneak peek" driving tour into refuge areas that are normally closed.

Michigan’s Wetland Wonders are the seven premier managed waterfowl areas in southern Michigan: Fennville Farm Unit at Allegan State Game Area, Fish Point State Wildlife Area, St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area on Harsens Island, Muskegon County Wastewater Facility, Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area, Pointe Mouillee State Game Area and Shiawassee River State Game Area.

Birding tours are scheduled on the following dates:

  • April 12 at 9 a.m. - St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area, 1803 Krispin Road, Harsens Island; 810-748-9504 
  • April 12 at 9 a.m. - Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, 37025 Mouillee Road, Rockwood; 734-379-9692
  • April 12 at 10 a.m. - Muskegon County Wastewater Facility, 7600 E. Messinger Road, Twin Lake; 231-788-5055
  • April 12 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. - Fish Point State Game Area, 7750 Ringle Road, Unionville; 989-674-2511
  • April 27 at 9 a.m. - Fennville Farm Unit of Allegan State Game Area, 6013 118th Ave., Fennville; 269-673-2430
  • May 3 at 8 a.m. - Shiawassee River State Game Area, 225 East Spruce St., St. Charles; 989-865-6211
  • May 10 at 9 a.m. - Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area, 1570 Tower Beach Road, Pinconning; 989-697-5101

For questions about bird tours, please contact the office of the appropriate managed waterfowl area at the phone number listed above.

All tours will meet at the area’s headquarters building. Please dress for the weather and bring binoculars. Spotting scopes are also helpful for long-range viewing. The ground may be quite muddy and wet, so plan to wear boots.

These birding tours are part of the Michigan Waterfowl Legacy (MWL), a 10-year, cooperative partnership to restore, conserve and celebrate Michigan's waterfowl, wetland and waterfowl hunting community. The initiative is a "call to action" to honor yesterday, engage today and build for tomorrow.

To learn more about Michigan’s Wetland Wonders, visit www.michigan.gov/wetlandwonders.

Volunteer at Whitewater State Park in Minnesota this spring/summer!

Picturesque limestone bluffs and deep ravines make Whitewater State Park in Minnesota a very popular southeastern state park. Enjoy the view and take part in one of the following volunteer opportunities offered here:

Tree Planting Project during the Week of Earth Day, April 21 – 26, 2014: Assist with planting 500 small tree seedlings around the park.  Work at your own pace and plant as many trees as you feel comfortable doing.  No tree planting experience necessary as training will be provided. Volunteers must be able to bend, lift 5 gallon buckets of water, and use tree spades and shovels to dig. Up to 10 volunteers are needed.  This would be a great project for scouting groups or other groups looking for volunteer service hours.

Prairie Butterfly Garden Maintenance:  Work with other park volunteers to maintain the butterfly garden in front of the visitor center. Assist with weeding, mulching, watering and labeling plants.  There may also be opportunities for seed collecting. The time commitment is flexible, but all volunteers must attend a volunteer training for this project on Saturday, April 26 from 1 – 4 PM.  Up to 20 volunteers are needed.

2nd Annual Parsnip Pull, Saturday June 21: Work with a group of volunteers to pull wild parsnip from heavy use areas of the park.  This is a service project combined with a fun social atmosphere as lunch is provided. This year there will be activities and entertainment focused on invasive species. No experience is necessary, but volunteers must be able to bend over and carry spades, shovels or other tools necessary for removing parsnips.  An unlimited number of volunteers can be involved, so invite your friends and bring a group!

For more information contact Sara Grover, Lead Interpretive Naturalist, Whitewater State Park, 19041 Hwy 74, Altura MN 55910 at 507-932-3007 ext 226 or email Sara.grover@state.mn.us

Video: 'Trim Line Screen Room for Pop Ups, by Dometic' by Mark Polk of RV Education 101



Enjoy this 1:49 video on "Trim Line Screen Room for Pop Ups, by Dometic" by Mark Polk of RV Education 101. There's been more than a few times I've thought about adding this to our camper. Especially when the mosquitos are out (which is pretty much all the time).

Here's what Mark had to say about his video:
In this RV video, Mark Polk with RV Education 101 demonstrates the features and benefits of the Dometic Trim Line screen room. If you have a Trim Line patio awning on your pop up, truck camper or vintage trailer you can turn your awning into a screened in patio in just minutes at an affordable price. Get it here: http://goo.gl/1bkVNi

RV Education 101 e-book series
As I've said many times, Mark Polk is my favorite RV expert. I'm pleased he and his wife, Dawn, have allowed me to sell his RV e-book series. E-books (electronic books) are immediately downloaded to your computer after you make the purchase. The RV Education 101 e-book series includes:
  • "The Original Checklist for RVers"
  • "The RV Book"
  • "RV Campground Basics"
  • "101 Tips for RVers"
  • "RV Care and Maintenance"
  • "Insiders Guide to Buying an RV"
  • "Winterizing & Storing your RV"
  • "RV Awning Use & Care"
  • "Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance"
  • "RV Buyers Survival Guide"
  • "Complete Guide To: RV Towing, Weights, Hitch Work & Backing"
  • "Pop-Up Basics 101"
  • "Dinghy Towing"