Fire crews battle 70-acre wildfire in Upper Peninsula

Some of the roughly 70 acres burned by the Marquette County
Road 601 fire in Humboldt Township Thursday, July 30.
(Michigan DNR photos)
Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) firefighters and crews from four township volunteer fire departments continue to battle a roughly 70-acre wildfire in the Upper Peninsula's Marquette County, which was first reported Thursday afternoon (July 30).

According to a DNR release, the fire was 60% contained by Thursday night. The cause of the fire has not been determined. No injuries have been reported. DNR fire crews have experienced some mechanical problems with firefighting equipment, but mechanics were on the scene.

Although there are several private and state park campgrounds in the area, none are believed to have been affected.

At about 1:05 p.m. Thursday, tower personnel at Sawyer International Airport in Marquette reported seeing smoke. A short time later, a DNR pilot was able to fly over the scene, which is located alongside County Road 601 about 4 miles northeast of Republic in Humboldt Township.

Flames move through wood piles in the fire zone.
At that time, the fire had burned about 10 acres in an area where logging had occurred last winter. Loggers had just begun working over the past day or so to test a newly built road for hauling timber off the site.

“The slash, stumps, debris and stacked piles of logs made for good fuel for the fire, but made it more difficult for firefighters working to build a containment line around the fire,” said Pete Glover, incident commander on the fire for the DNR.

By around 5 p.m. the size of the fire had increased to about 30 acres and fire crews tried to keep the blaze within the footprint of the logging operation. High temperatures and strong winds had helped fuel the fire.

Thursday afternoon, the temperature on the fire scene was 76 degrees, with a relative humidity of 36 percent and winds from the west at 16 mph, gusting to 23.

By 7:24 p.m., the fire had blackened more acreage and had reached the trees beyond the logged area. Crews from the Humboldt, Champion, Ishpeming and Republic townships volunteer fire departments were also on the scene.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Gwinn Fire
Supervisor Pete Glover gets an update on conditions
Thursday evening in Humboldt Township.
At least 40 firefighters were working on the fire, working in two divisions.

“The fire remains 'uncontained' and at last report was 70 acres,” DNR Resource Protection Section Manager Paul Kollmeyer said. “We have seven dozers and six engines working through heavy fuels and rough rocky terrain. Structures are not immediately threatened and are being protected by the local volunteer fire departments.”

Kollmeyer called in some units from Wisconsin to help backfill positions for local DNR firefighters who had been called to the blaze.

Joe Derocha of the Humboldt Township Fire Department — who was coordinating efforts for Glover between the township fire departments — said there was “outstanding cooperation” between the DNR and the local firefighting crews.

Derocha said the Lundin Mining Corp. had allowed use of the water supply from the Humboldt Mill to aid firefighters in battling the blaze.

Firefighters from the Champion Township Fire Department
pour water on a burning deck of logs.
Glover said once the fire had hit a mix of hardwoods and in another area nearby, a spruce and balsam stand, the fire began to slow its spread. Crews then began to gain a better handle on containing the blaze.

“The changing fuel type, that’s what slowed it down the most,” Glover said.

Crews were expected to be taken off the fire around midnight because of the inherent danger of trying to fight the fire in the dark. The blaze would continue to be monitored overnight by firefighters.

A briefing for early this morning (July 31) has been scheduled before crews return to the fire line. At that session, firefighters will have a better assessment of Thursday’s progress in containing and controlling the blaze. They will also plan for Friday’s efforts.

Township firemen dump water into a container to help battle
the County Road 601 fire Thursday evening in Humboldt Township.
David Holli of Holli Forest Products in Ishpeming, Mich., owned the logs. He estimated the loss of timber was $150,000 at a minimum. He expected to have a better calculation of the loss today.

DNR officials continue to urge extreme caution with fire as weather is expected to remain conducive to spreading wildfires over the next few days.

Honey Maid, Hershey's and Jet-Puffed Celebrate a S'mores Day in New Video



In advance of National S'mores Day on Aug. 10, the makers of Honey Maid, Hershey's and Jet-Puffed today (July 21) launched a new video, "#ShareSmore - First S'more," celebrating summer's most iconic snack.

While many people only associate s'mores with an open campfire, these three classic brands have teamed up to remind everyone that a s'more is a simple, delicious treat that can be enjoyed all summer long, with or without a campfire, turning any-day moments into memories.

According to a release, the new short-film features five city-dwelling families enjoying a s'more for the first time. To capture the joy of a family's first s'more, Honey Maid, Hershey's and Jet-Puffed created an urban oasis at Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, NY. With limited access to parks or large outdoor spaces like a campground, it is likely that many families living in cities and suburbs have not experienced a campfire or the classic tradition of roasting a s'more. These families were not only able to share a s'more for the first time, but also learn how to prepare the classic snack without a campfire.

The "#ShareSmore - First S'more" film is part of a larger partnership between Honey Maid, Hershey's and Jet-Puffed celebrating s'mores this summer. As the only ingredients in the classic s'more, these three brands are working together to pass on s'mores love and show the many ways the gooey snack can be prepared. From the microwave to the oven or even on a grill, s'mores are delicious no matter how you make them, especially when you have Honey Maid graham crackers, Hershey's Milk Chocolate and Jet-Puffed marshmallows as the core ingredients.

Starting today through Friday (July 24), viewers are encouraged to share the video on Twitter with #ShareSmore and #PickMe, and describe their first s'more experience. As a thank you for spreading s'more love, Honey Maid, Hershey's and Jet-Puffed will send s'mores kits to 100 participants so they can enjoy a s'more at home.

New rustic cabin now available for rent at Sleepy Hollow State Park

An ADA-accessible rustic cabin now is available for rent year-round at Sleepy Hollow State Park in Clinton County, Mich., the state's Department of Natural Resources announced recently.

According to a release, the cabin, with a scenic view of 410-acre Lake Ovid, sleeps five people. The lighting is solar-powered and a propane wall heater provides warmth during cold months. Drinking water is available near the cabin, as well as a vault-style toilet. The bedroom includes a full-size bed with a single bunk above, and a full-size futon located in the adjoining room.

Those renting the cabin must bring their own bedding and cooking supplies. A private outdoor grill, fire ring and picnic table are located adjacent to the cabin.

“In addition to swimming, boating and fishing opportunities within walking distance, there is easy access to over 23 miles of hiking, bicycle and equestrian trails,” said Tim Machowicz, park supervisor.

Picket poles are located nearby for use by equestrians renting the cabin and a short path leads to the park’s trail system.

This cabin was built through a partnership between the DNR and Sleepy Hollow Trail Riders Association, an equestrian group that maintains the equestrian trails and hosts various events throughout the year, such as competitive mounted orienteering and judged trail rides.

“This addition to Sleepy Hollow offers our customers a great option, along with renting a campsite or the modern cabin,” said Dave Zmikly, park ranger. “The lake view is one of the best in the park.”

For more information about Sleepy Hollow State Park, visit www.michigan.gov/sleepyhollow or call 517-651-6217.

To make cabin reservations, visit www.midnrreservations.com or call 1-800-44PARKS (1-800-447-2757).

Accessible cabin available at Wisconsin's Harrington Beach State Park

People with disabilities can explore and enjoy the great outdoors by camping at the newest of the specially designed and equipped "Cabins in the Woods" at Wisconsin state parks and forests.

Harrington Beach State Park in Belgium, Wis., will begin accepting reservations for the new cabin for the remainder of the 2015 camping season beginning today (Aug. 1), with occupancy to follow beginning Aug. 10. Cabin occupancy preference will be given to those with the greatest level of physical disability.

Harrington Beach State Park has more than a mile of beach along Lake Michigan. This 715-acre park also features a white cedar and hardwood swamp, old field grasslands with restored wetland ponds and a scenic limestone quarry lake. Camp, sunbathe, picnic, hike, bird watch, fish or practice astronomy. An observatory is open to the public for monthly viewings.

With the opening of this cabin, the Wisconsin state park system will offer eight cabins with accessible kitchens and bathrooms and bedrooms, and two accessible one-room rustic cabins. The cabins have become extremely popular in recent years, and are often booked well in advance for weekends and holidays.

The fully equipped cabin has kitchen counters that allow wheelchairs to roll under them, a bathroom with roll-in shower, family and dining areas and a bedroom large enough for wheelchairs and attendants to move about. The campers sleep on hospital-style beds with Hoyer lifts nearby if they are needed. Additional sleeping space for family members is also provided on a pull-out bed in the living room and on cots on the screened porch.

The Friends of Harrington Beach State Park (exit DNR) and the Wisconsin DNR have partnered together to be able to provide this new cabin. The cabin has been built through generous donations and gifts of building funds, building plans and furniture and equipment from a wide variety of organizations and businesses.

Reservation forms and a calendar of available dates will be available on the state parks pages of the Department of Natural Resources Web site at dnr.wi.gov/, choosing "Parks and Recreation," and then "Accessible Cabins." Applications should be mailed to Harrington Beach State Park, 531 County Road D, Belgium, WI 53004.

Mobil Satellite Technologies introduces new consumer satellite Internet antenna and service

After more than a year of development and testing, Mobil Satellite Technologies of Chesapeake, Va., is launching the new RVDataSat840 automatic satellite antenna system and Insta-Sat on-demand consumer broadband satellite Internet service.

According to a company announcement, the RV DataSat840 is a fully automatic satellite antenna system that includes a one-touch controller, .84-meter dish for increased signal strength, iDirect Evolution X5 satellite modem and 6 Watt transmitter.

This system has all of the professional-grade components of a government or commercial system, but is engineered as a consumer platform. The Insta-Sat broadband service was designed by Mobil Satellite Technologies specifically to support the new RV DataSat840 automatic satellite antenna system. This innovative system gives RV owners access to broadband anywhere in the USA, even in places where cellular doesn't work.

The Insta-Sat broadband service delivers up to 4 Mbps of data for lightning-fast downloads, and has no monthly fee, no contract and no term commitments. The Insta-Sat service is self-provisioning through a web portal, the user simply pushes a button to deploy the antenna, opens a browser and selects a service plan, enters their account information and the service activates itself automatically. The antenna can connect to the web portal any time that the antenna is deployed, whether there is a current service plan in place or not.

"The Insta-Sat service offers more flexibility than any other consumer broadband satellite service available," said D. M. (Bud) Burton, Mobil Satellite Technologies' president and CEO. "With the RV DataSat840 antenna and Insta-Sat service, we have designed the perfect satellite Internet solution for people who need reliable broadband service outside of 4G cellular coverage areas. Not having to sign an annual contract for service is a perfect fit for many RV owners."

Mobil Satellite Technologies is a satellite network operator and major supplier of land-mobile, marine, portable, and fixed broadband satellite solutions to business and Government customers throughout the USA and internationally. With more than 5,000 satellite systems installed, Mobil Satellite Technologies is currently celebrating their 18th year designing, selling, installing, and servicing satellite communications systems.

Learn more about Mobil Satellite Technologies at www.mobilsat.com.

RV Geeks videos: Wi-Fi Ranger, New RV Sewer Hose Set-up, Carefree of Colorado RV Slide Topper & New RV Tires



Enjoy these videos from The RV Geeks, one of North America's most popular RV bloggers.

About RV Geeks
The RV Geeks offer RV maintenance, repair & travel tips from “Do-It-Ourselves” full-time RVers. They’ve handled most of their own RV maintenance during more than a decade of exploring North America. While not RV technicians, the RV Geeks are mechanically inclined and have learned a lot about RV systems over the years. They handle most of our own minor service, repair and upgrade work on our 2005 43′ Newmar Mountain Aire diesel pusher. We also maintained our 2002 39′ Fleetwood Bounder Diesel during our first two years on the road. Visit their website and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

Ghosts Don't Take Summer Vacations in Orange County, New York



Year-round spirits inhabit some interesting spots in Orange County, N.Y.

A little girl runs across the village green only to disappear into thin air, while strange sounds come from a cemetery while you’re alone. No, you’re not imagining it, these and other Orange County, New York, sites have been documented by paranormal experts and countless witnesses who have personally experienced the ghostly events.

Orange County is part of The Haunted History Trail, a statewide program that lists verified ghost-inhabited places and sites with unexplained phenomena. All are open to the public and most are year-round. Orange County currently has five haunted and spooky places to beware of.

This summer, make a reservation for a Ghost Tour at Museum Village in Monroe. You might meet the founder of this living history museum even though he’s been dead for years. And that little girl? She’s in a homespun dress and bonnet playing catch-me-if-you-can, but you can’t because she fades away before your eyes. Your guide is a medium who knows the stories of the museum’s spirits, where to feel “the vortex” in some of its buildings, and why you shiver at the sudden gusts of cold in the middle of summer.

“Ghost Tour” dates are July 12, 26; 31, and Aug.14 for guests age 15 and above. To make a reservation, call 845-782-8247, or visit: www.museumvillage.org.

The peacefulness of Port Jervis’ Laurel Grove Cemetery is sometimes interrupted by the vision of a woman dressed in flowing white gown. She suddenly appears from behind a mausoleum, glides along the banks of the Neversink and Delaware rivers, only to disappear into the mist. At other times, cemetery officials have been startled by unexplained crashing sounds coming out of nowhere. Police investigation has yielded no clues even though the investigators have heard the din themselves.

The cemetery is open daily from dawn to dusk, and visitors can also walk down its carriage road to the Tri-State Rock, the famous landmark where New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania meet at the convergence of the two rivers. Admission is free. To learn more, call 845-858-4000.

It’s best not to sleep alone if you spend the night at the Pine Bush House Bed & Breakfast. According to the innkeepers, all of the rooms in this 1905 Victorian home have unique d├ęcor and different ghosts. Visitors are often surprised when the quiet elegance is upset by the sounds of footsteps upstairs, people laughing, and doors “accidentally” locking when no one else is in the house. Except, perhaps, “George” who inhabits the third floor where two lovely bedrooms are available for guests. Sleep well.

There are ghost investigations and psychic readings for those too frightened to stay overnight with the spirits. The inn is open through mid-December with rates from $175 to $275 per night along with special “Ghost Hunt packages.” 845-744-3641, http://www.pinebushhouse.com.

The spookiness continues within walking distance of the B&B. The Village of Pine Bush has earned the well-deserved designation as the “UFO Capital of the East Coast.” People come from all over the world to commune with extraterrestrial visitors, and many have succeeded. Eerie lights in the woods and strange hovering aircraft have been spotted here since the early 1960’s. Paranormal experts agree that this is the one place to be if you want to meet an alien. 845-744-8230, www.hauntedhistorytrail.com/pine-bush

Unexpected footsteps and sounds with no explanation, disappearing items, and ghostly shapes are just daily occurrences at Silvio’s Italian Villa in Warwick. When the North Jersey Paranormal Researchers visited the restaurant, they recorded the staff’s multiple accounts of strange happenings on the property. Swallow your fear and have dinner at Table 24 if you dare. Ask about former resident Roy Vail and what happened in that very spot!

Dinner is available Tuesday through Sunday starting at noon. 845-987-1500, www.silviositalianvilla.net/Benvenuti.html

For a multitude of things to do that don’t involve ghosts, visit the Facebook page, Orange County Tourism NY. It’s a great guide for up-to-the minute postings of events and activities, fun times, and memorable experiences in the Hudson Valley’s scenic Orange County.

About Orange County Tourism

Orange County Tourism, based in Goshen, NY, is the county’s tourism headquarters and a participant in the I LOVE NY program. A comprehensive listing of area attractions, lodging and events can be found at www.OrangeTourism.org. For a free copy of the Orange County Travel Guide, call 800-762-8687.

Top Family Parks according to the Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide



The Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide is highlighting Top Family Parks for July as part of the publisher’s 12 Months of RVing promotion (see below for more details on this "promotion").

These RV parks feature amenities, entertainment and education programs that serve family members of all ages. The parks cultivate an atmosphere that's welcoming for families big and small. Whether showing G-rated movies or conducting educational nature programs, these parks enable families to enjoy long periods of quality time together.

The editors and consultants of the Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide chose the list of Family Parks from the annual publication’s database of more than 7,000 private parks.

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve

Top Family RV Parks

Arizona
Pleasant Harbor RV Resort, Peoria

California
Anaheim Resort RV Park, Anaheim
Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve, Santee

Connecticut
Stateline Campresort & Cabins, East Killingly

Florida
Camp Gulf, Destin
Flamingo Lake RV Resort, Jacksonville
Tropical Palms Resort & Campground, Kissimmee
Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, Sarasota (See video below)

Georgia
Pine Mountain an RVC Outdoor Destination, Pine Mountain (See video below)

Ambassador RV Resort
Idaho
Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell

Louisiana
Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson

Maine
Wagon Wheel RV Resort & Campground, Old Orchard Beach (See video below)
Saco/Old Orchard Beach KOA, Saco

Maryland
Cherry Hill Park, College Park (See video below)

Massachusetts
Pinewood Lodge, Plymouth

Myers Lake Campground
Michigan
Myers Lake Campground, Byron
Hidden Ridge RV Resort, Hopkins

Missisippi
Yogi on the Lake, Pelahatchie (See video below)

Nevada
Hi-Desert RV, Winnemucca

New Hampshire
Mountain Lake Campground RV Park & Log Cabins, Lancaster
Friendly Beaver Campground, New Boston

New Jersey
Big Timber Lake RV and Camping Resort, Cape May Court House
Driftwood Camping Resort, Clermont

New Mexico
USA RV Park, Gallup

Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Niagara Falls
New York
Jellystone Park at Birchwood Acres, Ellenville
Jellystone Park of Western New York, North Java

North Carolina
Yogi In the Smokies, Cherokee
Raleigh Oaks RV Resort & Cottages, Four Oaks

Ohio
Cross Creek Camping Resort, Columbus
Indian Creek RV & Camping Resort, Geneva-On-The-Lake
Evergreen Park RV Resort, Mount Eaton (See video above)

Ontario
Campark Resorts, Niagara Falls
Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort, Niagara Falls
Bissell's Hideaway Resort, Pelham
Sherkston Shores, Port Colborne

Shenango Valley RV Park
Pennsylvania
Gettysburg Campground, Gettysburg
Yogi at Shangri-La, Milton
Twin Grove RV Resort & Cottages, Pine Grove
Shenango Valley RV Park, Sharon

South Carolina
The Campground at James Island County Park, Charleston
Lakewood Camping Resort, Myrtle Beach

Tennessee
Loretta Lynn's Ranch, Hurricane Mills (See video below)

Texas
Summit Vacation & RV Resort, Canyon Lake
Destiny RV Resorts-Dallas, Denton
Loyd Park/Joe Pool Lake, Grand Prairie
Lonestar Yogi, Waller

Virginia
Cherrystone Family Camping Resort, Cheriton

Sherwood Forest Camping & RV Park
Wisconsin
Westward Ho RV Resort & Campground, Fond Du Lac
Hidden Valley RV Resort & Campground, Milton (See video below)
Jellystone Park Warrens, Warrens  (See video below)
Sherwood Forest Camping & RV Park, Wisconsin Dells

12 Months of RVing

The 12 Months of RVing lists celebrate the diversity of the RV lifestyle. Regardless of RVing travel preferences, the Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide helps consumers find the parks that support their interests.

Parks participating in this program are featured in press releases, enewsletters and blog posts. Each of the parks will have Top Parks badge in their park information page. Click here for a list of all parks included in the 12 Months of RVing.

In addition to in-depth listings of RV parks and campgrounds across North America, the Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide features RV lifestyle articles, travel tips, helpful maps and informative itineraries that RVers can use for a journey anywhere in North America.

Gone with the Wynns videos: Busted Windshields, Alaskan Camping, Chicago Biking & Tow Cars



Enjoy these videos from Gone with the Wynns, a popular RV blogging couple.

About Gone with the Wynns
Jason and Nikki Wynn are a couple of perpetual travelers, RVers and modern day documentarians. Their RV is the home of their discoveries and adventures, all depicting the unscripted tale of the quirky couple who traded in everyday life to satisfy their wear-out-your-shoes sense of adventure. Visit their website.

Tin Can Tourists to tour northern Michigan beginning today

History buffs, camping enthusiasts and the public are invited to a unique opportunity to explore and learn about 30 vintage campers during the Tin Can Tourists’ northern Michigan state vintage camper tour, July 24-Aug. 8.

The Tin Can Tourists, a vintage trailer and motor coach club that’s open to all makes and models of campers at least 25 years old, has planned a caravan with stops at nine Michigan State Parks, many of which are in the Upper Peninsula.

“We have members coming from as far away as Georgia and California, and we’ll have everything from vintage Airstreams to Spartans to Shastas and more. We have a very wide variety and they’re all done up very nice,” said Bryan Quinn, a member of the Tin Can Tourists and one of the caravan organizers.

Quinn, who has a 1945 Starcraft Starcruiser motor home, said the caravan would be a bit different than the typical Tin Can Tourist rallies. Participants will have to be ready to travel nearly every day, so most won’t have the elaborate campsite setups many Tin Can Tourist rallies are known for. On travel days, Quinn added, RVers will need to arrive at the next stop on the tour before 5 p.m. That’s when Aaron Hudson and Rita Noble, the Nomad Food Travelers, will have their catered meals ready for the participants.

A number of the trailers have been meticulously renovated, and people are invited to stop at the state park campgrounds to see and tour the campers during the event (please note that for the safety of campers, non-camping visitors may not be able to drive or park in the campground). Tin Can Tourists are happy to talk about these unique and historical trailers and share their photos and fond camping memories.

Below is a schedule of the tour. The campers will arrive at the parks at various times before 5 p.m. and spend the evening at the park. Campers leave at varying times on travel days for the next park on the tour:


  • July 24-27: Port Crescent State Park (Huron County) tours July 25 noon-4 p.m.
  • July 30: Straits State Park (Mackinac County)
  • July 31-Aug. 1: Grand Marais Woodland Park (Burt Township Park; not a state park)
  • Aug. 2: Baraga State Park (Baraga County)
  • Aug. 3-4: Fort Wilkins State Park (Keweenaw County)
  • Aug. 5: Porcupine Mountains State Park (Ontonagon County)
  • Aug. 6: Bewabic State Park (Iron County)
  • Aug. 7: Indian Lake State Park (Schoolcraft County)
  • Aug. 8: Burt Lake State Park (Cheboygan County)

“The Tin Can Tourists devote so much time and energy into reviving their campers,” said Port Crescent State Park Supervisor Betsy Kish. “It’s a really fun and heartwarming event, seeing people of all ages connect with the owners and learn about the history behind their campers.”

The Tin Can Tourists club was organized in 1919 with the objective of uniting fraternally all autocampers. By the mid-1980s, the group was no longer in existence; however, Forrest and Jeri Bone re-established the club in 1998. The organization is open to all who share a desire to preserve and promote vintage trailers and motor coaches through social gatherings and information exchange.

Visitors come from around the state to see the campers. A convenient way to enjoy the vintage campers and spend time with the owners is by reserving a campsite at a participating park and staying for the weekend. To check state park camping availability and make a reservation, visit www.midnrreservations.com or call 1-800-44PARKS (1-800-447-2757).

There is no charge to attend the vintage camper tour, but a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to all participating state parks.

Recreation Passport

A Recreation Passport grants vehicle access to any Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks, local outdoor recreation opportunities, historic and cultural sites at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

Guest Post: ACE Adventure Resort's Summer Adventure Weekend In Southern Hills of West Virginia

Summertime and the living is easy. This is especially true in the southern hills of West Virginia at ACE Adventure Resort (http://aceraft.com/) where a summer full of fun can be captured over a long weekend on 1,500 acres that add up to a world of adventure in one place.

Rated the #1 Adventure Outfitter in West Virginia, the primary draw here is world-class whitewater rafting along with guided adventures, outdoor sports and activities such as zip lines, paintball, disc golf and more. In addition to its own many-acred playground, the adjacent 70,000-acre New River Gorge National River (a unit of the United States National Park Service) is an option for miles of wilderness exploring afoot and by mountain bike.

To make things even more inviting, ACE is offering several summer specials (see: http://aceraft.com/collections/specials-deals-discounts/summer) to consider. August All-In-A-Day Special #1 (Aug. 11 to Sept. 1) includes a half-day raft trip on the Lower New River or a Zip Line Tour plus a half-day Resort Gold Pass with breakfast, lunch and dinner for just $129 per person. The August All-In-A-Day Special #2 (Aug. 10 to 31) features a half-day Climb & Rappel, Scenic New River Bike Tour, Stand Up Paddleboard or Lake Tour plus a half-day Resort Gold Pass with breakfast, lunch and dinner for just $109 per person.

A typical weekend here begins when vacationers roll onto the property Friday afternoon prepared to set up their own campsite or with reservations in hand for bunkhouse or log cabin accommodations (see: http://aceraft.com/collections/lodging). On Saturdays guests usually schedule a whitewater rafting adventure on the New River, home to Class I to Class IV rapids that can be enjoyed by ages six and up, or on the Gauley River that is recognized as a National Recreation Area for its challenging Class II to Class V rapids targeting thrill-seeking enthusiasts.

After splashing in the rivers or in the on-site five-acre water park known as ACE Adventure Lake, guests can enjoy dinner before the Saturday night movie, pondering Sunday activities that might include zip lining, mountain biking, disc golf, stand up paddle boarding or rock climbing.

ACE understands that parents and their children aren’t always up for the same activities. Parents have the option to bring their children (ages 5-10) to the Kid’s Camp while they take off on advanced adventures, leaving kids under trained supervision to enjoy wall climbing, bungee jumping, arts and crafts and more.

For those who want to enjoy a full outdoor vacation experience, ACE offers lodging options for a party of any size. Families can bring or rent a tent and spend the night at a campsite with a fire pit and a picnic table, or they can rent a cabin from ACE with air conditioning, cable television and unique Amish Country furniture in many of the rooms.

“While we never claim to be a five-star resort, we are fun, comfortable and welcoming, not formal or uptight. We have dirt roads, not paved paths. We are in the heart of the New River Gorge, surrounded by friendly and proud people. We have beautiful facilities with amenities that will meet any guests’ needs. We don’t have saunas or spas, but we have everything from charming and cozy cabins with relaxing hot tubs to rustic camping. We are a break from the norm…we are where you come to have fun and truly connect to the outdoors” said Heidi Prior, Marketing Director.

For more information and to make reservations, please telephone (800) 787-3982 or email ace@aceraft.com. Visit the website at www.aceraft.com.

About ACE Adventure Resort

ACE Adventure Resort is the East Coast’s largest mountain hideaway exclusively focused on world-class whitewater rafting along with guided adventures, outdoor sports and activities, lodging, camping and other amenities. The nearby New River Gorge National River is affectionately known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” and features rafting from April to October. The New and Gauley Rivers combined offer over 100 miles of rapids all within 30 minutes of the resort. Both rivers are administered by the National Park Service.  ACE’s passion since 1980 has been to create vacations wrapped around these rivers and other outdoor adventures so that guests can experience “a world of adventure in one place.” The 1,500 acres here encompass both forest and a 5-acre lake plus a series of ponds, a mining-era ghost town and spectacular cliffs for rock climbing, waterfalls and overlooks.

Belle Isle State Park to host 'Intro to Fishing & Camping' for kids


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is holding an introductory camping opportunity for children at one of the state's newest parks Aug. 7-8.

The event, titled "Rec 101: Intro to Fishing and Camping," will begin at 10 a.m. at Belle Isle State Park in Detroit with games relating to fishing and camping. There will be free time to enjoy the park from 1 to 5 p.m. and campsite setup will begin at the White House at 6 p.m. The program will challenge children to learn what is needed to build a successful campsite. Burgers and hot dogs will be provided free of charge for dinner.

"Camping and fishing are great ways for kids to get hooked on a healthy, active lifestyle," said Karis Floyd, Belle Isle Park supervisor. "We're pleased to offer that opportunity at Belle Isle."

Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate.

Registration is required by Thursday, July 23. Please contact Karis Floyd at 313-396-6873 to register.

Belle Isle Park, a Detroit gem that became Michigan’s 102nd state park in 2014 under a lease agreement with the city of Detroit, is home to a variety of attractions, including an aquarium, a conservatory and the James Scott Memorial Fountain. The park provides a wide assortment of educational and recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.belleislepark.org.

There is no charge to participate in these Recreation 101 programs, but a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to Belle Isle.

Historic campfire cooking demonstration at Hayes State Park July 25

Modern campers can learn about everyday cooking at a time when Coleman stoves and RV kitchens were unheard of, thanks to an upcoming program Saturday, July 25, at Hayes State Park near Onsted, Michigan. Walker Tavern site historian Laurie Perkins will lead the historic campfire cooking program from 2 to 3 p.m. at the park's campfire ring.

In addition to demonstrating a variety of utensils and describing techniques, Perkins will offer insights into the variety of ingredients used by pioneer cooks. “We think that pioneers ate only mush and beans, but their skills and diet were much more sophisticated than one-pot meals,” said Perkins.

The program will provide information on some 175-year-old recipes adapted so that modern campers can create them over their own campfires. The program is free to all ages but a Recreation Passport is required for park entry.

Walker Tavern is one of 11 nationally accredited museums administered by the Michigan Historical Center. It is located at the junction of U.S. 12 and M-50, southeast of Jackson. For more information, call 517-467-4401 or visit www.michigan.gov/walkertavern.

The Michigan Historical Center is part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Its museum and archival programs help people discover, enjoy and find inspiration in their heritage. It includes the Michigan Historical Museum, 10 regional museums, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, and the Archives of Michigan. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/michiganhistory.

Michigan DNR's Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit opens today

Gov. Snyder, Mayor Duggan celebrate DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit, bringing 'Up North, Downtown'

Beginning with today's opening to the public, the new Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) in Detroit brings a host of outdoor experiences to the city’s urban center, allowing students, residents and visitors to learn about Michigan’s outdoor recreation opportunities, conservation efforts and world-class natural resources through hands-on activities.

The recent grand opening event on July 16 celebrated the center’s completion. Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, HGTV’s “Rehab Addict” star Nicole Curtis, Michigan Department of Natural Resources leaders and a host of partners and stakeholders were present for the ribbon cutting.

The OAC, located at 1801 Atwater St. and operated by the Michigan DNR, will bring “Up North, Downtown” for visitors of all ages. The center complements the nearby state-managed Milliken State Park and Harbor and Belle Isle Park, creating a trio of recreation facilities that provide a gateway to the outdoors.

“The OAC continues Detroit’s forward momentum by bringing another great natural resources-based experience to the Detroit riverfront,” said Snyder, who signed the Detroit “Grand Bargain” bills in the half-completed center in June 2014. “The refurbished historic building is a perfect symbol of Detroit’s ongoing revitalization.”

The building – site of the former Globe Trading Co. – served as a foundry and automotive manufacturing plant more than a century ago. Much of the historical integrity of the building was maintained during construction of the Outdoor Adventure Center, including walls of original brick, cast iron and Wellman trusses. An exhibit in the center is dedicated to sharing the building’s important history.

A unique blend of public and private sponsorships – including the city of Detroit, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Detroit Riverfront Conservancy – helped make the center and its exhibits a reality. During the ceremony, ITC Holdings Corp. presented a check for $100,000 to the DNR for trail exhibit development and programming in the Outdoor Adventure Center.

“The community has stepped up once again to help bring another important experience to downtown Detroit,” DNR Director Keith Creagh said. “This natural resources-based center will serve as an introduction to the outdoors and offer next steps to outdoor recreation opportunities throughout Michigan. We want every generation to enjoy and protect Michigan’s great outdoors heritage.”

The Outdoor Adventure Center invites guests to enjoy an up-close indoor exploration of Michigan’s great outdoors. It features a 40-foot-tall, man-made, interactive tree; off-road vehicle, bicycle, kayak, canoe and fishing simulators; a life-size beaver lodge and eagle’s nest; an indoor archery range; a 3,000-gallon, freshwater aquarium; a man-made waterfall with a 36-foot drop; and much more to see and experience.

During its opening week, the facility is open for special extended hours from noon to 4 p.m. today, July 20, through Friday, July 24. The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 25, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 26.

After opening week, regular business hours will go into effect. Beginning the week of July 27, the Outdoor Adventure Center will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The facility will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays with the exception of opening week.

During its first days of operation, the OAC will offer special activities for the public:

  • Monday, July 20. Celebrate history with special appearances by Miz Rosie the Storyteller, who tells the story of the Underground Railroad as Harriet Tubman, and participate in physical fitness activities and games outside the facility, courtesy of the U.S. Army.
  • Tuesday, July 21. Get up-close to live Michigan birds, amphibians and reptiles with the teams from Nature Discovery and Wildlife Recovery Association.
  • Wednesday, July 22. Experience art during the unveiling of an original art piece by Louise Phillips of Washington, D.C., courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, and through hands-on, nature-themed art experiences available throughout the day.
  • Thursday, July 23. View a showing of “An American Ascent,” which documents the first African-American expedition to Denali, North America’s highest peak.
  • Friday, July 24. Get up-close to bats while talking to instructors from the Organization for Bat Conservation at Cranbrook Institute of Science.
Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors (age 62 and older), $3 for children ages 2-12 and free for children younger than 2. Annual family memberships also are available for $50.

A Recreation Passport is not needed to access Outdoor Adventure Center parking or to enter the building. However, the Recreation Passport, required for access to Michigan’s 102 state parks (including Belle Isle Park), can be purchased at the Outdoor Adventure Center during regular business hours.

Learn more about the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center at www.michigan.gov/oac or www.facebook.com/MiOutdoorAdventureCenter.

Rollin' on TV video: Ford 350 and Jayco Eagle Premier 336 FKDS



In this episode (#2015-13), Rollin' on TV checks out the new Ford F-350 pickup and Jayco's Eagle Premier 336 FKDS. Also, Evanne Schmarder shows us how to make Apple Pie Salad. And how do you find your way around without a GPS, iPad or smart phone? Jeff Johnston shows us a tried and true solution.... the Delorme Atlas.

About Rollin' on TV
Now in its fourth year of production, Rollin’ On TV has become a leading RV, lifestyle television program reaching over 30 million homes on both cable and satellite TV. The weekly program is also available online. For additional information and for times and days the show airs, visit  www.rollinontv.com

Winnebago 'GoLife' Calendar Makes Debut

The newly-launched Winnebago GoLife calendar provides all of the information needed to plan your next travel adventure.

Located at http://winnebagolife.com/events, the calendar offers a glimpse at planned RV rallies, shows, events, and tours nationwide. Information compiled is designed to give any recreational vehicle enthusiast a valuable resource to discover events and places to visit.

“We heard from GoLife readers and various participants at rallies that they wished there was a good calendar of RV tours and events. There was nothing else like this on the web and we thought this would be a perfect addition to GoLife,” said GoLife blogger-in-chief, Don Cohen. “We’ll continue to add all kinds of general interest rallies and RV shows throughout the year including the full line up of Winnebago Outdoor Adventures’ trips.  We also added some easy-to-use search and filtering tools to help folks find what they’re interested in and plan their travel dates more easily.”

The calendar is expected to grow with new events and calendar options added frequently. Ultimately, the goal for the calendar is to be the definitive source for finding your next RV getaway.
Trips found on the calendar originate in locations across the United States and Canada. Examples of available trips span from the charming coasts of Newfoundland to the giant redwood trees of California.

Winnebago GoLife is the No. 1 lifestyle blog for RVers and is a site produced by Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE:WGO), a leading United States (U.S.) recreation vehicle manufacturer. Other features on the site include videos and blog posts on the latest trends in travel, products and the RV way of life.


https://www.avantlink.com/affiliate_app_confirm.php?mode=generate-js&application_id=310698 

Showcasing the Michigan DNR: Travel and tourism pros help renovate Sturgeon Point Lighthouse

Travel and tourism pros and DNR staff gather outside Sturgeon
Point Lighthouse to start the work day. (Michigan DNR photos)
A unique partnership between the Department of Natural Resources, Grand Valley State University and members of the Michigan travel and tourism industry (a group called Michigan Cares for Tourism) is paying big dividends for Michigan by refurbishing state resources and upgrading the kinds of attractions that help sustain the industry – an industry that generates $22 billion a year for Michigan’s economy.

A recent two-day work event at Sturgeon Point Lighthouse – a state-owned site just outside of Harrisville State Park on Lake Huron – accomplished what would have taken local volunteers and staffers years to get done.

Built in 1869 and made operational the next year, the Sturgeon Point lighthouse features a 70-foot, 9-inch tower.  It became a U.S. Coast Guard station in 1915, was electrified in 1939, and was deeded to the state of Michigan in 1961 after the Guard had moved on. In 1982, the Alcona Historical Society leased it from the state and began to convert it into a monument/museum. The lighthouse is still operational. 

As more than 160 volunteers and DNR staffers cleared brush, repaired damaged facilities, hauled stones, built pathways, painted and stained buildings, and constructed concrete pads for artifacts, it wasn’t long until the area bore little resemblance to what it looked like a week earlier. 

Volunteers assemble picnic tables at a recent Michigan
Cares for Tourism work day at Sturgeon Point Lighthouse.
The partnership sprang from the mind of Patty Janes, a professor at Grand Valley State University in hospitality and tourism management. Janes, who had a background in parks and recreation as a professor at Central Michigan University, was a board member of Tourism Cares, a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to cleaning up and rehabilitating historic sites. She  had participated in several Tourism Cares events – at Ellis Island and Mount Vernon, for instance – when the light bulb went off:  Why not a similar state program?

She approached the DNR’s Maia Turek at a Travel Michigan Advisory Council meeting for the state’s strategic travel plan. 

“I said, ‘The DNR is the right partner,’ and she said, ‘I love it, we’re in.’” 

Turek, a recreation programmer with the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said the idea was a no-brainer.

“Of course we’d like to work with volunteers,” she said. “Of course we’d like to restore some of our historic resources.” 

Janes then added Travel Michigan to the partnership, and finally Indian Trails – which agreed to furnish motor coaches for transporting volunteers – and then signed on Travel Michigan. Michigan Cares for Tourism was born. 

A volunteer paints the inside walls of the museum
at the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse.
The group applied for and won a $5,000 grant for seed money (announced at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in 2013) and got the ball rolling. Since that time, the group has added sponsors from all factions of the travel and tourism industry. 

The first Michigan Cares event, held in 2013 at Mill Lake at Waterloo State Recreation Area, attracted about 100 volunteers was a resounding success. A second, held at Belle Isle, attracted some 450. 

The group decided that two events annually – one in the spring and one in the fall – is about right. This fall, they’re headed to Fayette Historic State Park. 

Janes began enlisting partners to help fund the program. Driven, a marketing firm in the Metro Detroit area, has donated more than $40,000 in marketing support since 2013.  McCann Detroit – the marketing firm that runs the Pure Michigan campaign – granted the organization $10,000 to purchase a trailer for transporting gear to the work sites. A $10,000 grant from the General Agency – a family-owned insurance company in Mt. Pleasant – helped purchase the tools necessary to equip the trailer. 

“Now that we have a core set of supplies, we can go and support other people’s efforts, too,” Janes said. (Which they have; Michigan Cares recently brought its tool trailer to a park in Mt. Pleasant for a work day.) 

Volunteers haul excess dirt away from an area that’s been
excavated at Sturgeon Point Lighthouse – all part of
the Michigan Cares for Tourism work day. 
The Michigan Cares for Tourism board takes the lead on choosing appropriate projects, with special input from the DNR. 

“We can pick out areas of need and pick projects that can handle this much work at one time,” said Turek. 

And the DNR is all in. Anna Sylvester, who runs field operations in northern Michigan for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, estimated that the DNR saved 800 person/hours because of the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse event. Staffers worked side by side with industry professionals and travel and tourism students on everything from cutting down dead trees to building picnic tables and planting an herb garden.  

Volunteers come from all phases of the tourism industry. 

Jim Engel, general manager of Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth, was attending his third consecutive event. 

“I heard about the program at the meeting where Patty got the grant and I signed up,” he said. “This is sort of my Habitat for Humanity.” 

Engel, who took charge of painting a few storage sheds and an old brick privy at the Sturgeon Point work day, brought six other Bavarian Inn employees and four other Frankenmuth tourism workers with him. 

Not afraid to get their hands dirty, volunteers
load rock to be placed around the foundation
of the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse.
“My goal is to bring as many Frankenmuth people as I can,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to be here.” 

Kirsten Borgstrom, a freelance publicist who works with convention and visitors bureaus, spent the day clearing brush and hauling it to a chipper. 

“One person does just a little bit, but when you get a large group like this, it’s truly amazing what you can accomplish,” she said. “It’s a fun event.” 

Janes said she was delighted by the turnout, what it accomplished, and what it bodes for the future – for both the travel/tourism industry and the DNR, which she describes as “the ultimate partnership.” 

“The for-profit side and the nonprofit side were two different entities,” she said. “But we’re all in this together. A hotel isn’t going to make it if it doesn’t have attractions to bring in the people. 

“People tease me about getting teary-eyed about this,” she said, “because I do.” 

For more information on the program, visit www.gvsu.edu/michigancaresfortourism.

RV Education 101 videos: Installing a Battery Disconnect, Leveling a Trailer, Surge Guard Power Protection, & Adjustable RV Water Regulators



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"

Love Your RV videos: Renovating the Interior of a Fifth-Wheel



Ray Burr, a fulltimer and author of the popular Love Your RV blogsite, said their Keystone Cougar fifth wheel is now four years old and the interior is starting to show some wear.  They live full time in our rig and the original furnishings and carpet is pretty well thrashed. They've decided this summer to do some renos to the interior. Here's the first of two video about their project.

About Love Your RV
Three and one half years ago Ray and Anne Burr sold their home in Victoria, British Columbia, and bought a brand new fifth wheel trailer. They set off on an amazing one-year journey traveling all around the U.S. and Canada. About three months into it, they knew this was the life for them and became full timers traveling south in the winters and retreating to the north for the summers. They regularly update their blogsite of their travels and adventures.

Breakdown! The Time our Tongue Broke from the Frame


The tongue coming from the left where it meets one of the
two frames under the trailer. The piece of metal welded to
connect the tongue and frame is what broke. 

Along with several other members of our RVing extended family, we camped at Warren Dunes State Park for the Fourth of July weekend (great place; highly recommended).

The trip out there was only supposed to be about three hours, but an unexpected and expensive breakdown added another two-and-a-half hours to the trip.

My parents had started out about 30 minutes ahead of us. We stayed in contact with them so they could tell us about construction (near Ida, and then Dundee, and then Ann Arbor, and ... well a lot of places along the way). Just outside Marshall, they pulled into a highway rest stop. We stopped there, too, only about five minutes later.

I stepped out of the TrailBlazer, hugged mom and dad, turned back to check out our rig and immediately saw we had a serious problem.

The tongue was at such an angle that it was obvious it had broken free of the trailer frame.

Similar to the first photo, an identical piece of metal broke
connecting the tongue to the second frame 
on the other side
of the camper. 
I laid down on the pavement to take a better look under the camper and, sure enough, the foot-long piece of metal that was welded between the tongue and the frame had cracked and broken. Inspecting where the other side of the tongue meets the other frame piece under the camper revealed an identical break.

My first thought was, "Crap" (in so many words).

My immediate second thought was how lucky we were that it didn't come completely detatched while we were traveling on the highway. That would have been disastorous.

Near as I can tell, the tongue was still barely attached to the camper because it was still welded to a cross-piece at the front that connected the two frame pieces running down either side. 

How long we traveled like this, I don't know for certain. But we did hit construction soon after we got on the highway, and it was soon after that when my son asked why we were bouncing. I blindly answered that it was called "chucking" and as soon as we could get back up to a normal speed -- about 60-65 mph for us when we're towing the camper -- and on smooth pavement it would go away.

The foklift had a 14,000-pound capacity, so my 3,500-pound
camper was not a problem.
Maybe that was when the tongue broke? I really don't know. There was nothing obvious. No loud crack, no noticeable drop to the camper, no sign that slapped me in the face and said, "Pull over idiot. You have a problem."

But, about 100 miles later, as we were stopped at the highway rest stop, it was all too evident we had a major problem with our 15-year-old camper.

Here's what I did:
Step 1 - Diagnose the problem. (Already did that. The metal broke.)
Step 2 - Determine how it can be fixed. (It needs a new piece of metal welded from the tongue onto each frame.)
Step 3 - Determine whether you can fix it. (No dummy. You don't have any welding equipment with you.)
Step 4 - You can't fix it? Then find someone who can.

So I pulled out my iPhone and did an Internet seach for welders near Marshall, Michigan. Several popped up, but the one I ended up calling was K&S Welding & Fabrication in Albion. Why did I pick them? For no other reason than they were the closest to me.

The camper fit through the door with inches to spare.
I called them up and talked to Jim, the owner. He asked if I could bring it to the shop and I said I thought I could. I made it 100 miles in its current condition, I was reasonably sure I could drive it another three or four miles to his shop.

So, with my parents following us, we drove one mile to the next exit, then another few miles to K&S.

Jim and his nephew, Austin, took an initial inspection and came to the same conclusion I had, so they needed to get my camper into their shop to fix it. They moved a horse trailer they had been working on in their huge steel building/workshop. They also moved out of the way the biggest John Deere combine I had ever seen. 

With Austin directing him, Jim maneuvered his forklift so one fork was between my tandem axles and the other was under the center of the camper. The forks were long enough to extend under both trailer frames. Four piles of rigid padding were stacked between the forks and the frame, which allowed the forklift to lift the camper without the forks pushing in between the tires.

Several welds and new pieces of metal later and the repair
was completed.
Yes, I was worried the forklift could lift it. Yes, I was worried the camper would fall off the forks. But Jim said the forklift had a 14,000-pound capacity. My camper was only about 3,500 pounds. And they only lifted it a few feet before they tested it for balance. And by testing it I meant Austin -- a big strong kid -- tried to rock it up and down. It was plenty stable.

So Jim drove it into his shop and lifted it about six feet into the air. The two then removed the stablizer jacks that were in the way and removed the broken pieces, remarking how the manufacturer should have done more welds. They cleaned up what was left, moved the tongue back into proper position and welded the tongue back to the frame in both places. Austin fashioned two new foot-long pieces of metal -- much thicker than what had broken -- gave them a bend to match the angle needed and welded those into place, too.

After that, Jim brought it out of the barn, set it down and we hitched back up and were on our way.

It took them about two hours. They charged me $250. Yes, it was expensive. I could have done it myself for next to nothing.

But you know what, I long before had decided I wasn't going to let this setback get me in a foul mood. It could have been so much worse, and I don't mean the time or the money. We were lucky it wasn't a full-blown disaster out on the highway.

So we said our thanks and goodbyes, and then made it to Warren Dunes State Park and had an absolutely terrific Fourth of July vacation (as you can see in my video above).

68th AuSable River Canoe Marathon July 25-26



One of the Greatest Canoe Races on Earth: 68th AuSable River Canoe Marathon July 25-26

The 68th edition of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon – a grueling 120-mile overnight non-stop canoe race from Grayling to Oscoda, Michigan – is coming Saturday & Sunday, July 25-26.

Presented in 2015 by Consumers Energy and the Michigan Army National Guard – the AuSable Marathon is the middle leg of the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing.

This canoe race is exceptional in many respects. More than 80 professional two-person canoe racing teams from throughout the U.S. and Canada are entered. They will paddle at an amazing rate of 50-80 paddle strokes per minute for 14 to 19 hours in sleek hi-tech carbon-fiber racing canoes that weigh less than 30 pounds, some costing $5,000 or more.

Photo courtesy of AuSable River Canoe Marathon
The teams battle the darkness, river obstructions, frequently adverse weather conditions and sheer exhaustion during the course of the 120-mile race that includes running portages around six Consumers Energy hydro dams.  At various locations along the way they receive food, drink, clothing changes and other support from "feeders," or pit crews. The top teams vie for a share of the $50,000 cash & prizes purse.

Thousands of fans follow the action from the frenzied LeMans-style running start to the river that begins the race in Grayling, on to viewing locations at bridges, public access points and dam portages to cheer on the teams throughout the race to the finish line in Oscoda. Thousands more fans encourage the competitors from riverfront cabins and homes along the fabled AuSable River, many being the site of Marathon parties where family and friends gather to catch a glimpse of the action. Up to 50,000 fans are expected to view at least some part of the race.

The Michigan National Guard's history has been intertwined with that of the AuSable Canoe Marathon. Personnel assigned to the Camp Grayling host units have participated as Marathon Paddlers and Marathon Volunteers helping to make the event the success it is today.  The Michigan Army National Guard Recruiting Command for Northern Michigan provides this year's partnership to congratulate the participants, volunteers and fans of this outstanding event. This partnership also serves as a salute to the young men and women who step forward to serve in our armed forces and to thank them for a job well done.

For the first time in the history of the race, fans will also be able to follow the race online thanks to additional support provided by Consumers Energy as the Technology & Social Media Sponsor. Information transmitted by satellite GPS tracking devices in each canoe will frequently update each teams' position on a map hosted on the AuSable Marathon website – AuSableCanoeMarathon.org.  A mobile app for following the race can be accessed at app.bluedot.mobi.

Regarding their continuing and increased support of the AuSable Marathon, William Schoenlein, Consumers Energy manager of hydro & renewable generation commented, "It is special for Consumers Energy because of our 104 year history on the AuSable and it means a lot to our employees at the hydro plants. We want to see the race continue to thrive and support more people following the race, such as through the use of GPS this year."

Photo courtesy of AuSable River Canoe Marathon
Fans following the race in person or online can tune into AuSable Marathon coverage, including frequent live updates throughout the race. Race coverage will be carried in north central Michigan by WQON 100.3-FM and WGRY 101.1-FM, and, in north-east Michigan on HitsFM 94.9-FM & 103.3-FM. For those outside of the broadcast area, online live streaming of AuSable Marathon coverage can be accessed by clicking on the "Listen Live" link at q100-fm.com or at HitsFM.net  Both stations' live stream can also be accessed via TuneIn Radio at tunein.com

Michigan's Andy Triebold and Quebec's Steve Lajoie are almost universally considered to be the team to beat. Triebold, 39, of Grayling, Michigan and Lajoie, 39, of Mirabel, Quebec have seven consecutive AuSable Marathon victories and eight overall. They are the winningest team in Triple Crown of Canoe Racing history. New York's General Clinton Canoe Regatta, the AuSable Marathon and Quebec's Classique Internationale de canots de la Mauricie comprise the three stages of canoe racing's Triple Crown.

AuSable Marathon Week opens with the Consumers Energy Da$h For Ca$h at 5:30pm on Tuesday, July 21. The Dash is a single-elimination, "drag-race" event held at the AuSable Finish Line Park in Oscoda, with a cash purse of $5,000.  Teams sprint 1/4 mile two-at-a-time, producing an exciting evening of racing with a lot of thrilling photo finishes.

Next up are the Time Trial Sprints, Wednesday through Friday afternoon, July 22-24 at Penrod's Resort in Grayling.  Similar to Sprint Cup or Indy Car qualifying, teams individually sprint a looped course downstream and back to score a time that determines their starting position for Saturday night's run to the river with their canoes that starts the AuSable Marathon.

The main event pre-race program kicks off at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, July 25, in Grayling. The race gets underway with the running start to the river signaled by the crack of the starter's pistol at 9 p.m. sharp. The leaders are expected to arrive at the finish line in Oscoda shortly after 11 a.m.; teams must finish within 19 hours (by 4 p.m.) to be considered an official finisher.

The week-long AuSable River Festival takes place in conjunction with the AuSable Marathon in Grayling. For more information on Grayling area events and lodging, visit the Grayling Visitors Bureau - grayling-mi.com  For more information on Oscoda area events and lodging, visit the Oscoda Convention and Visitors Bureau - oscoda.com

For more information: