Volunteers needed for stewardship at southern Michigan state parks

Spending a day outdoors at one of Michigan's state
parks for a volunteer stewardship workday is a great
way to make a real difference for the state's natural
areas. Plenty of opportunities are coming up in
November. (DNR photo)
Helpers of all ages are invited to enjoy the cool November weather while helping to restore high-quality, unique ecosystems and learning more about them during volunteer stewardship workdays at several Michigan state parks.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently released its November workday schedule. Volunteers are needed to cut invasive, non-native shrubs like glossy buckthorn, autumn olive and multi-flora rose, which threaten important ecosystems.

Workday dates, parks (counties) and times include:

Southeast Michigan

  • Sunday, Nov. 1: Highland (Oakland), 1-4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 7: Belle Isle (Wayne), 9 a.m.-noon
  • Sunday, Nov. 8: Pinckney (Washtenaw), 1-4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 14: Bald Mountain (Oakland), 9 a.m.-noon
  • Saturday, Nov. 21: Belle Isle (Wayne), 9 a.m.-noon

Southwest Michigan

Volunteers should bring work gloves, drinking water and appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants and sturdy, closed-toe shoes. Workday details, maps and directions can be found on the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers; click the Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays link.

All volunteers are asked to register using the form available on the DNR website or via email. For information about southeastern Michigan park workdays, contact Laurel Malvitz-Draper at 517-719-2285 or malvitzl@michigan.gov. For information about southwestern Michigan park workdays, contact Heidi Frei at 517-202-1360 or freih@michigan.gov.

The DNR's Volunteer Steward Program is a hands-on way for all ages to learn about and protect Michigan's natural resources by collecting native seeds, removing invasive species, conducting plant and animal surveys, and more. Other ways to volunteer with the DNR include joining a state park friends group, serving as a campground host or a lightkeeper, and many other opportunities. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers.

RV Education 101 videos: Kitchen Tile DIY Project, Vintage Travel Trailer & Truck Restoration Project

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"

Trailer Life celebrates 75th anniversary in 2016

Trailer Life, North America’s best-selling magazine for RV enthusiasts, marks its 75th anniversary in 2016 with a yearlong celebration highlighting the publication’s history in each issue and featuring a special commemorative edition in July.

Trailer Life launched in July 1941 as the monthly Western Trailer Life, circulated primarily in Southern California. The 18‐page debut issue sold for 10 cents and promoted the newly flourishing trailer-camping lifestyle. Five months later, bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, and the fledgling magazine extolled the virtues of deploying travel trailers as military housing. In the postwar boom of 1949, the magazine dropped Western from its name and became simply Trailer Life, reflecting a circulation that by then stretched from Canada to South America.

As the idea of RV ownership caught fire with families across North America in the 1950s and ’60s, Trailer Life grew in size and circulation. Now part of the Camping World/Good Sam brand, Trailer Life is North America’s most popular magazine for RV owners, distributed monthly to newsstands and paid subscribers and delivered four times a year to Good Sam Club members. The magazine’s parent company owns both the Good Sam Club (the world’s largest organization of RV owners) and Camping World (America’s largest retailer of RVs, RV accessories and RV‐related services), and publishes the monthly MotorHome magazine and the annual RV Buyers Guide and Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide (the only comprehensive North American RV park directory in print).

Over the decades, Trailer Life has chronicled the evolution of recreational vehicles from the modest tin‐can campers of the 1940s to the next millennium’s fifth‐wheel trailers with multiple slide‐out rooms, fold‐out patio decks and garages for motorized toys. The magazine continues to embrace its roots, with each issue showcasing the latest RVs and RV gear. In recent years, the editorial staff has taken the magazine’s content to the next level with vehicle tests, product evaluations, do‐it‐yourself projects, how‐to tips and RV travel destinations, published in both print and digital editions and accompanied by the TrailerLife.com website and the annual Guide to Towing supplement.

The Trailer Life of 2016 differs from its 1941 debut in many ways, but the magazine’s enthusiasm for RVs and RVing is unchanged. Throughout 2016, Trailer Life will turn back its pages, reflecting on RV trends that shaped the decades, while at the same time presenting what’s new in the ever‐changing realm of RV ownership.

Austin Adventures Embraces 2016 National Parks Centennial

Austin Adventures Embraces 2016 National Parks Centennial With Free Travel for 4th Graders, Donations to Tourism Cares and Death Valley Conservancy
(Guest Post) Perhaps Austin Adventures’ premier claim to fame over 40-plus years is the company’s commitment to sharing the beauty and lore of America’s National Parks, celebrating a milestone in 2016 that Dan Austin, Founder and President, can’t pass up.

“At Austin Adventures, National Parks are what we do best. Our homegrown guides have been leading small groups through America’s most pristine and protected lands for decades. Combine our legacy with that of Xanterra Parks and Resorts – who first hosted guests at the Grand Canyon in 1901 – and you can rest assured that when it comes to behind-the-scenes access and insider’s knowledge, our National Parks’ experience is simply unbeatable,” Austin said.

To mark the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation and companies such as Austin Adventures (http://www.austinadventures.com/) will be lending financial and promotional support to a variety of national initiatives. Specific to Austin Adventures will be ...

4th Graders Travel FREE in 2016: The National Park Foundation and the White House are launching an Every Kid in the Park initiative whereby 4th grade students across the country have free access to National Parks throughout the 2015-2016 school year. As advocates of this program, Austin Adventures is waiving trip fees for all 4th graders traveling on any National Park adventure with them in 2016. (Offer subject to certain conditions, see: http://www.austinadventures.com/find-your-park/)

Preserve A Park Program: Since 2010 Austin Adventures has helped honor and protect “America’s Best Idea” by sending a portion of specific National Park program bookings to a designated non-profit organization dedicated to national park preservation and education. In 2016 each booking of Austin Adventures’ Death Valley National Park adventure will generate a $100 donation to The Death Valley Conservancyhttp://deathvalleyfund.com/ a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide support and private funding for projects that preserve, protect or enhance Death Valley National Park by improving the area's natural, cultural and historic resources as well as the visitor experience. 
In past years Austin Adventures sent checks to Glacier National Park Fund (Montana), the Yosemite Conservancy (California), Canyonlands Natural History Association (Utah), Crater Lake Natural History Association (Oregon), and Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota). In 2015 the recipient was the Grand Canyon Field Institute.

Tourism Cares, Inc.: As a participant in The Centennial Tour Operator Program for upcoming National Park Service Centennial, Austin Adventures will donate $2 from each guest booked on one of if its National Park trips in 2016. Donated funds will be used by Tourism Cares and the National Park Foundation to bring more than 1,000 industry volunteers to aid restoration projects at five National Parks engaging hundreds of companies for tens of thousands of dollars of labor and materials. The program will also help promote National Parks and will make grants directly to support park priorities and projects. Tourism Cares, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit public charity that benefits society by, among others, preserving the travel experience for future generations by awarding grants to natural, cultural and historic sites worldwide.

Nearly a dozen National Park trips are on Austin Adventures’ 2016 schedule. All adult rates are per person, double occupancy.
To receive print and or digital copies of the newly released 2016 Family Adventures and Adult Adventures catalogs, please go to: www/austinadventures.com/request-catalog/ . For more information about Austin Adventures programs in National Parks please see:http://www.austinadventures.com/national-park-vacations/. To inquire about destinations and trips or to make reservations please call (800) 575-1540 or emailinfo@austinadventures.com.

About Austin Adventures

Based in Billings, MT, Austin Adventures (formerly Austin-Lehman Adventures) has spent more than 40 years building an international reputation as a provider of scheduled small group tours and customized trips to all seven continents. In 2014, Kasey Austin, Vice President of Operations, was named the World’s Top Family Guide by Outside Magazine. In 2013, Austin Adventures joined the Xanterra Parks & Resorts® portfolio of experiential leisure offerings. Xanterra Parks & Resorts has operations in the Grand Canyon, including Grand Canyon Railway and The Grand Hotel; Yellowstone; Zion; Crater Lake; Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks; Mount Rushmore National Memorial;Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina at Ohio’s Geneva State Park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts also operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., Windstar Cruises, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, and Country Walkers.

Technomadia video: Summer Travels to Alaska & Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2015

About Technomadia
Technomadia is the "adventures and musings" of Chris Dunphy & Cherie Ve Ard. Perpetually on the road since 2006 embracing nomadic serendipity, the two are now traveling in a "geeked out vintage bus conversion" and working remotely as app developers, technology consultants and strategy advisors. The two have a great sense of humor and really know their stuff whether its technology, RVing and how to have fun.

Visit their website, follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and like their Facebook page.

Love Your RV videos: RV Roofs & Eternabond, RV Battery Bank Upgrade & 'Not So Easy RV Winterizing Kit' Installation

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.

Top RV Parks for Fishing by the Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide

The Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide is highlighting Top RV Parks for Fishing as part of the publisher’s 12 Months of RVing promotion.

The RV parks featured below provide guests with great angling opportunities on rivers, lakes or off ocean coasts. Some parks provide boat fishing, others offer fish-rich shorelines. Need to replenish your fishing supplies? Some parks even offer tackle and bait services.

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

Top Fishing RV Parks

Eagle's Rest RV Park & Cabins, Valdez

Willow Beach Marina & RV Park, Willow Beach

Mad River Rapids RV Park, Arcata
Rio Bend RV & Golf Resort, El Centro

Pleasant Lake RV Resort, Bradenton
Chokoloskee Island Park , Chokoloskee (see video above)
Upriver RV Resort, Fort Myers
Live Oak Landing, Freeport
Rainbow RV Resort, Frostproof
North Lake Estates RV Resort, Moore Haven
Brighton RV Resort, Okeechobee
Silver Palms RV Resort, Okeechobee

Redrock RV and Camping Park, Island Park (see video above)
Mountain Home RV Park, Mountain Home

Basswood Resort, Platte City

North Carolina
Fort Tatham RV Park, Sylva

Marval Resort, Gore

Mountain Creek Campground, Carlisle

South Dakota
Oasis Campground, Chamberlain

Spring Creek Marina & RV Park, San Angelo

Gwynn's Island RV Resort And Campground, Gwynn
New Point RV Resort, New Point

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: Eliminating Graywater, Alaska Fishing, Gas vs Diesel, Glacier Hike,

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.

Go Deeper into the National Parks with Eight New REI Adventures Signature Camp Vacations

(Source: REI Adventures) Throughout REI Adventures' nearly 30-year history, the national parks have been the backdrop of life-changing adventures for its guests. With already the broadest national parks offerings of any active travel company, REI Adventures is expanding its popular REI Signature Camping assortment beyond Zion and Bryce Canyon. Eight new adventures now await solo travelers, couples, friends and families in Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Rocky Mountain and Yosemite national parks.

REI Signature Camping is a deluxe experience, where camp is a destination rather than an activity. Complete with an oversized REI tent for each couple or solo traveler, there is plenty of room to spread out. Tents are outfitted with REI cots, REI plush sleeping pads, floor coverings, lighting and more. A community area with comfy furniture, hammocks, covered dining area, outdoor games and twinkle lights set a fun atmosphere as guests reflect on their day. Thoughtful extras include French press coffee delivered to tents every morning, hearty meals that highlight regional cuisine, and appetizers and beverages that await guests' arrival in camp. Where available, camps have bathrooms with running water, showers and flush toilets. Where not available, personal hygiene kits and access to campground bathroom facilities are provided.

"REI Signature Camping is the perfect combination of exceptional gear, knowledgeable guides and active exploration where our guests are immersed into the destination," says Cynthia Dunbar, general manager of REI Adventures. "Our trips are truly one-of-a kind experiences. For example, our Utah National Park Ultimate Adventure explores five national parks in the state, including Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion."

New trips include:
Arizona Ultimate Adventure – Grand Canyon & Beyond
Arizona's defining geologic feature is surely its breathtaking canyons of every shape and size. This landscape is the backdrop of an eight-day hiking and kayaking adventure that begins with two days in the Grand Canyon. Explorers kayak the emerald-colored waters of Lake Powell and explore Antelope Canyon, a magnificent sandstone slot canyon. The itinerary visits the towering monoliths of Monument Valley and wraps up in mysterious Canyon de Chelly National Monument where a local Navajo guide enlightens guests on the history of the canyon and cultures that thrived here over the centuries.

Great Smoky Mountains Adventure
The Smokies have the distinction of being America's most visited park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. By day, visitors explore the old growth forest along the classic Appalachian Trail and picturesque viewpoints that many hikers dream about. By night, the forest comes alive during hikes to experience fireflies, bioluminescent foxfire and owls. After three days of hiking, the group's final adrenaline-pumping day includes zip-lining between mountain tops, followed by whitewater rafting down the Nantahala River. A Great Smoky Mountains Family Adventure is also available.

Rocky Mountain National Park Adventure
Over six days, guests have an immersive experience through this park well-known for its alpine lakes carved into rugged mountain peaks. They hike along meadows and tranquil lakes contrasted by massive rock formations formed by glaciers. Mid-way through the trip, the group sets off on a whitewater adventure on the Cache la Poudre, Colorado's only designated "Wild and Scenic River" for an exhilarating change of pace. A scenic drive follows on Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road in the America, and a hike that crosses the Continental Divide Trail. A family itinerary of this adventure is available, including young guests taking part in the Junior Ranger program.

Utah National Parks Ultimate Adventure
REI's Utah trip is a comprehensive itinerary through five of Utah's national parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion. Over nine days, guests stay at four deluxe camps while they hike through awe-inspiring landscapes sculpted over thousands of years by the powerful forces of erosion. Highlights include learning about ancient cultures that once called the region their home, visiting the ruins of an ancestral Puebloan village, witnessing the mighty Colorado River, and deciphering the meaning of Newspaper Rock's petroglyphs.

Yosemite Hiking & Camping
From the iconic granite peaks of Yosemite Valley to the wildflower carpeted meadows of the High Country, this six-day hiking adventure includes taking in the best views of El Capitan, navigating 600 stone steps down to the 317-foot Vernal Falls, experiencing Tuolumne Grove's giant sequoias, and tackling Yosemite's second highest peak, Mount Dana. On evening hikes, guests witness the alpenglow on the High Sierra peaks, also known as John Muir's "Range of Light," panoramic views of Lembert Dome and more. REI's Yosemite Family Adventure, also six days, will impart a lifelong appreciation of the national parks among young travelers.

Honoring the Centennial

As the "Official Outdoor Retailer" for the National Park Centennial celebration, REI is donating 10 percent of the retail price for each REI Adventures' national park trip to the National Park Foundation through 2016. With the addition of the new Signature Camp itineraries, REI Adventures now offers more than 45 trips to national parks.

About REI Adventures

Award-winning REI Adventures has been a global leader in worldwide guided active adventure programs since 1987. The company offers unique itineraries focused on sustainable, human-powered outdoor adventure including hiking, biking, kayaking, climbing and more. Guests will experience iconic destinations as guides take them off the "beaten path" and provide opportunities to explore a destination, get to know the local people, their culture, the flora and fauna and discover things they would not be able to duplicate on their own or with another travel company. REI members receive a special discount price on most trips. For more information, full itineraries and trip reviews provided by guests, visit http://www.rei.com/adventures.

General RV Center to hire 150 new employees

General RV Center, the largest family-owned RV retailer in the nation, is expanding its workforce by more than 10% for the fifth straight year, with plans to add up to 150 employees between its 11 locations and corporate headquarters in Wixom, Mich.

“We’re proud to be known as one of the best employers in the industry, which is how we’ve been able to build, retain, and continually grow our talented General RV family,” said Loren Baidas, General RV’s president. “We invest in our employees by providing industry-leading compensation and training, and we’re eager to add new members to our team.”

Of the 150 new positions, approximately 100 will be located at Michigan’s six General RV locations in Birch Run, Brownstown, Mt. Clemens, Wayland, White Lake and Wixom.

General RV is seeking sales representatives, financial services managers, RV technicians, service writers, porters, support staff, and administrators to fill these open positions.

“Even if we don’t have the exact position an applicant is searching for, we welcome talented job-seekers to contact us and explore potential opportunities,” said Corey Burns, recruiting manager at General RV. “The recreational vehicle industry, and specifically General RV Center, offers career options that many are not aware of. In addition to our store-level associates, our corporate team is comprised of extremely talented individuals whose skills range from digital media and marketing to IT and accounting, to name a few. Due to its zero-debt model, our company has historically been very stable and is a great career choice.”

For more information about our benefits package, most popular positions and current job openings, visit GeneralRV.com/about/careers. The new positions will be posted online over the coming months.

RVspotfinder.com launches LetsBonfire.com

Dallas-based startup RVspotfinder.com is launching a new technology platform they say will change the outdoor travel industry forever, making it as easy to find and book campsites as it is to book a hotel. The new platform is called Bonfire (www.letsbonfire.com) and it leverages technologies that have long been successful in the hospitality industry, which is full of booking sites, apps and other conveniences.

“The demographics of the RV industry and camping have grown younger and more tech savvy,” says Nathan Smith, CEO and Founder of RVspotfinder.com. “Over 44 million outdoor travelers are hungry for modern technology to help manage and plan their outdoor adventures. It’s time.”

Understanding this trend, the RVspotfinder team has dedicated the last two years to a thorough research and development process and determined that today’s current options are severely lagging behind the modern needs of travelers and park owners alike.

RVspotfinder has now answered these needs directly by introducing Bonfire, a Campground Management Solution that will enable RV parks and Campgrounds to manage all aspects of park management, payment processing and most importantly real-time reservations. The company has received an overwhelming response from park owners, and expects to add over 750 properties to their platform before the 2016 season takes off.

The idea came to Smith when he and his wife wanted to plan an RV trip across the country.  “We were handed this enormous book with thousands of ads touting campground information” he said.  “I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a digital way to view parks, read reviews, choose a spot and make our reservations.  It seemed so old-fashioned, but I realized that this was the way it had always been done and any digital options were extremely expensive and not user friendly.”

With a background in hospitality, marketing and sales, Nathan and his team began visiting parks across the country in an effort to educate themselves on the needs of the industry and to better understand how their product would be beneficial.

“We learned that while a few software companies and applications were attempting to fill the need,” Smith said. “They created major doubt in the minds of the park owners because their rates were astronomical, and they just couldn’t easily merge the worlds of park owners and travelers.  The outdoor travel world shares a very social space and this also wasn’t being addressed.”

The Bonfire Campground Management Solution is designed to connect an industry in need of connectivity.  It enables an RV park to use one tool to manage their park, process payments, complete online reservations via multiple sites and apps while simultaneously updating all information such as rates, photos and events across multiple integrated partner apps.

RVspotfinder.com, LLC is a Texas based company with offices in Dallas and Austin, Texas and was founded in 2013.

Orange County, NY is the destination for fall festivals galore this October

Nothing says fall like a festival, and there are plenty to choose from in Orange County, N.Y. -- about an hour north of New York City -- this October.  There are fall festivals each and every weekend in this scenic Hudson Valley county. From live music and craft vendors to pumpkin painting and children’s rides, each festival offers a unique atmosphere and schedule of events. With the variety of festival options, Orange County, NY is sure to be a destination of choice for day trippers and weekenders alike this month.

 “Crisp autumn air and leaves in brilliant colors surround dozens of fall festivals in Orange County,” said Orange County Tourism Director Susan Hawvermale. “From pumpkin picking for the kids to wine tasting for adults, October is a great time to be here.”

 Here’s a sampling of some fall festivals on the calendar in Orange County, NY this October:

October 10-12, 2015, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm: Sugar Loaf Fall Festival, Kings Highway, Sugar Loaf, NY. Enjoy food, crafts and family friendly fun in the quaint Sugar Loaf arts and crafts hamlet. Crafters from the tri-state region, kids zone, and live music in the Bertoni Sculpture Garden. Held rain or shine. Website: www.sugarloafnewyork.com

October 17, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.: 40th Annual Apple Time Fair at the Cornwall Presbyterian Church, Cornwall, NY. Come early for homemade apple pies, baked goods, crafts, children’s activities, and holiday items. Check out the books, toys and jewelry and explore Grandma’s Bargain Basement. Website: www.cornwallpresbyterian.org

October 17, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.: 1st Annual Middletown Harvest Festival, Erie Way Parking Lot, Middletown, NY. Enjoy live entertainment, arts and crafts, Trunk or Treat with city vehicles, face and pumpkin painting, petting zoo and more activities for children! Rain date: Saturday, October 24. Website: www.middletown-ny.com

October 17, 2015, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Pumpkin Festival at Hill-Hold Museum, Campbell Hall, NY. Guests are invited to enjoy a fun-filled afternoon featuring pumpkin rolling and painting, scarecrow making, face painting and a hay ride through the historic grounds to the pumpkin patch. Website: www.hillholdandbrickhouse.org

October 17, 2015, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: Walden Harvest Fest, Village Square, Walden, NY. A day of fun for the whole family with over 100 craft vendors, music and entertainment, a children’s carnival, baking contest, frog jumping contest, pie eating contest, Child ID, raffles, Health Alley and more within walking distance of the village shops, restaurants and businesses. Website: www.villageofwalden.org

Be sure to visit Orange County Tourism’s Facebook page: Orange County Tourism NY. It’s a fabulous guide to up-to-the-minute postings of area events and activities, great times, and memorable experiences available to visitors.

 Also visit Orange County Tourism’s new website: www.orangetourism.org.

Rollin' on TV videos: British Tent Trailer, Thetford RV Toilets & Roadmaster Spare Tire System

In this episode (#2015-20), Rollin' on TV takes a look at week's program Jeff Johnston checks out a new folding tent trailer called the OPUS. It's made in the U.K and has been around for a few years. They are now available here in the U.S. and Rollin' on TV got their hands on the first prototype assembled here in the states. There are some changes and refinements being done on the actual production models but this unit will give you a good idea of what the OPUS is like. Also, we RVers all take RV toilets for granted, that is until we have a problem with them. This week Rollin' on TV visits Thetford, one of the leading producers of RV and portable toilets, and sees what goes into making today's modern RV toilets.

About Rollin' on TV

Now in its fifth 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

Pure Adventures launches new Self-Guided Bike Tours in California’s Napa & Sonoma Wine Country

Editor's note: Enjoy this guest post from Pure Adventures.

Pioneers of self-guided cycling vacations, Pure Adventures (http://pure-adventures.com/), announces two new self-guided bicycle itineraries in the California Wine Country that come with a savings of $150 per person if traveling this September or October.

With new itineraries come opportunities for spontaneity and discovery, so the incentive is dubbed a “Scout Discount” for the first riders to follow these planned routes.
“These are new tours; as such there may be some unexpected hiccups, so if you are willing to share your feedback and suggestions for possible improvement, Pure Adventures is willing to extend a “Scout” discount of $150/person for anyone who signs up for a September or October departure,” said Loren Siekman, Pure Adventures founder/owner.

Napa Valley Wine Country Self-Guided Cycle Tour at $1,595 per person double (before Scout discount) is an easy to moderately paced bucket-list adventure with high quality lodgings and ample opportunities for wine tastings and tours. This six-day/five-night ride can depart any week starting Sunday through Friday. Weekend start dates are possible with a supplement. From the seat of a bicycle, guests immerse themselves in a land stitched together by stubborn farmers and captured by storytelling giants like Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson.  
From Calistoga the route takes riders through the heart of Napa Valley and along the famous Silverado Trail where cultural and culinary pleasures await. Guests can soak in mineral-rich mud baths, taste world-renowned local fare and enjoy the many styles of architecture displayed across these classic scenes. The journey ends in Sonoma in a downtown plaza of one-of-a-kind restaurants and shops.

Sonoma County Wine Country Self-Guided Cycling at $1,445 per person double (before Scout discount) is a more intense road cycling trip over six days and five nights for those seeking longer, more challenging riding in a new destination. Off the saddle there’s ample wine tasting and relaxation. Top quality hotels are included with some upgrades possible. Sonoma County is known for its excellent cycling and scenic wine country, but few take the time to truly explore its hidden gems. Rolling hills, punchy climbs, quiet country roads and lush vineyards make this trip a road cyclist’s dream! On this journey, guests breathe in fresh wine country air and take in view upon view while exploring quiet lanes and roads that only the locals know.
The rate for each itinerary includes a personal orientation upon arrival in order to go over the route book. Staff assist in setting up the bikes while riders get pointers from local experts. Included are accommodation with breakfast for five nights, luggage transfers, detailed road book with maps, cue sheets and suggestions for visits and site information as well as restaurant suggestions, pre travel documentation and information, pre and post travel assistance and travel planning.
In addition to self-guided programs, Pure Adventures offers other ways to organize domestic and international bicycling and hiking vacations: Guided vs Self-Guided vs Supported, Self-Directed, See: http://pure-adventures.com/blog/2014/06/23/how-to-choose-the-perfect-bicycle-vacation/#.VUk4UvlVhHw
For more information on all of Pure Adventures guided, self-guided and supported, self-directed tours, call: 800-960-2221 or 480-905-1235, Email: info@pure-adventures.com, or visit online: http://pure-adventures.com.

About Pure Adventures

Pure Adventures was created to meet North America’s growing demand for high-quality, self-guided cycling tours. Pure Adventures leverages and utilizes local expertise for route development, sites to see, people to meet, where to eat, shop and experience life as a local. Award-winning tours are competitively priced and meticulously planned with substantial behind-the-scene support creating a unique combination that makes a bicycle adventure more easily accessible to today’s active traveler.
This company pioneered self-guided tours in Europe in 1994 and recently launched its first itineraries in North America. 2015 tours span Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and now the United States with the introduction of 20 programs in the West. Pure Adventures was recently recognized with a Best of Travel 2015 award by OUTSIDE Magazine for their California tours that elevated that state to the top destination in the category of Best Road Biking.

Thermo Tent is heavy and expensive; still might be worth it

(Source: Press release) Camping: There’s something very appealing about being surrounded by nature, far from the urban chaos that defines our usual existence. But along with the enjoyable bits — sleeping in the woods or under the stars — come the parts that are a lot less fun: the hours spent packing up gear, the seemingly endless assault by insects that want to feast on your blood, and waking up in a freezing cold (or boiling hot) tent.

Derek O’Sullivan, who grew up camping with his family in Ireland, decided four years ago that he wanted to solve the latter, so he invented the Thermo Tent. It’s just like a standard camping tent, but with one major difference: It’s thermally insulated.

“The whole idea is to avoid those spikes in temperature,” O’Sullivan says.

The Thermo Tent is actually two tents in one: the regular tent and a specially designed inner tent made of a three-layer blend of poly-cotton and high-density insulation. The result: a shelter that stays cool when it’s hot outside, or warm when the weather turns cold. And there’s a second benefit too: The insulating layer also cuts down on sound that enters (or escapes) the inner tent — enough to take a loud conversation down to a whisper.

As a former consultant working in the insulation industry, O’Sullivan reckoned that we insulate everything else, so why not tents?

“Nobody has done it before,” O’Sullivan claims of his design, adding that even the U.S. military has resorted to less-than-ideal solutions such as applying spray-foam insulation to the outside of their tents when conditions called for extra warmth. In the last two years, his Tralee, Ireland-based company has grown to six people and recently completed a successful $55,000 round of funding on Kickstarter.

There are two Thermo Tent models, which you can buy directly from the company (they ship worldwide): First, there’s the three-person version ($539) that packs into a single bag, suitable for hiking. Then there’s a bit of a jump. For a more luxurious 6-person tent — aimed at the “glamping” end of the market — that packs into two bags, you’ll pay around $1,880. The company also makes a specialized disaster relief model and recently became an official tent supplier to the U.N.

To be sure, the price of the luxury model might be more than a little steep for some. However, Toronto-based former Outward Bound instructor Elizabeth Doyle says that the cost of the three-person version is actually lower than high-end expedition tents, which go for more than $700.

The tent’s biggest drawback, in her opinion?

“It’s way too heavy for general wilderness travel,” she says. At 26.4 pounds for the three-person model and a whopping 105 pounds for the six-person model, they’re hardly light; other options can weigh as little as 5.6 pounds. So maybe not for your annual camping trek into the bush. However, for guided trips with porters, the insulated tents could “make clients feel more pampered,” Doyle suggests.

If your family wants to heed the call of the great outdoors, without the uncomfortable heat and cold that goes with it (not to mention some of those noisy fellow campers), the Thermo Tent might be worth the investment — in both cash and hauling efforts. This may even be the camping upgrade that coaxes those decidedly non-campers from their comfy hotels and into the woods.

Technomadia's Vintage Bus Restoration Project: Complete video set

Enjoy these videos from Chris Dunphy & Cherie Ve Ard of Technomadia.com as they talk about the summer-long restoration of their vintage RV. It was a long, stressful and oftentimes frustrating project for the two, but the results were were it.

About Technomadia
Technomadia is the "adventures and musings" of Chris Dunphy & Cherie Ve Ard. Perpetually on the road since 2006 embracing nomadic serendipity, the two are now traveling in a "geeked out vintage bus conversion" and working remotely as app developers, technology consultants and strategy advisors. The two have a great sense of humor and really know their stuff whether its technology, RVing and how to have fun.

Visit their website, follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and like their Facebook page.

Equal-i-zer Hitch Celebrates 70 Years of Keeping Families Safe

Editor's note: From the first day we drove off the General RV lot with our camper, we have used an Equal-i-zer Sway Control Hitch. I'm convinced it has saved our bacon at least three times. The first was our maiden voyage, when a wind storm, that later produced a tornado 100 miles down the road, swept through while we were driving. The second was when we lost a tire off one of our axles. The third was when our tongue frame nearly came separated from a chassis frame. I will never use anything but an Equal-i-zer.

This month The Original Equal-i-zer Sway Control Hitch celebrates its 70th anniversary of keeping families safe on the road, and kicks off the celebration by moving into a brand new building. For the past several decades Equal-i-zer has worked to deliver superior safety and performance. The safety and reliability of the hitch is largely attributed to it being 100% made in America. High quality materials travel from Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania to Utah for machining, fabrication and assembly. “With top quality materials and family-focused employees, it’s easy to provide a lifetime warranty on each hitch,” said Rich Elliott, VP of Sales and Marketing.

“It is exciting to see how far the company has come. We work hard to provide the best sway control hitch on the market, and it’s great to see the commitment and dedication of our employees pay off as we hit 70 years,” said Jed Anderson, CEO.

The Equal-i-zer hitch started out as a product of Mobile Manufacturing in Salt Lake City, Utah where founder Edward Hedgepeth created the first integrated sway control hitch. The company has experienced changes in the industry, improvements to the hitch and growth in the company. In fact, the company has experienced such large growth it has relocated to a new building to allow continual progression and expansion.
“We are so happy to be in our new building. Our beautiful new place gives us the space and resources we need to work. This has been a very fun and exciting change!” said Josh Binks, CFO. Equal-i-zer has stayed true to being a company that works in a way to provide for its families, serve the community and provide a legacy of good. 

Equal-i-zer hitch is the proud owner of several awards including the Utah Manufacturer of the Year, Stag-Parkway Peach Award and the Trailer Life Reader’s Choice Award. The Stag-Parkway Peach Award was given to Equal-i-zer for recognition as an exemplary supplier partner and for “exhibiting exceptional customer service, providing superior sales and training support, and for being basically really good people to work with.” Equal-i-zer is also the only hitch chosen as Gold winners in Trailer Life Reader’s Choice Awards, and has received the Reader’s Choice award three years in a row.

About Equal-i-zer
Equal-i-zer keeps families secure on the road. The Equal-i-zer hitch’s integrated 4-Point Sway Control™ technology provides the best protection for your journey. You can count on the Equal-i-zer hitch to deliver superior safety performance for a lifetime. Every hitch is made from the highest-quality American steel in the Mountain West by people who care about you and your family. For more information about Equal-i-zer visit www.equalizerhitch.com.

Rollin' on TV video: Jayco Alante, Ice Castle Fish House Trailers & Minnesota Destinations

 In this week's episode (#2015-18), Rollin' on TV looks at the new Jayco Alante class A motorhome including what goes into building this unit. Jeff Johnston checks out the Ice Castle Fish House trailers made in Minnesota. Later Jeff visits a couple of great RV destinations in Minnesota.

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 

Just Ahead Road-Trips: From LA to Vegas and Beyond In New I-15 Audio Tour Guide

Editor's note: Another guest post from Just Ahead.

Just Ahead (http://www.justahead.com/), the award-winning smartphone app synonymous with road tripping through national parks, has just added one of the country’s most popular open-road drives to its audio-tour map.

Just Ahead’s new Interstate 15 audio guide amuses driver and passengers with anecdotes of gunslingers, crazy characters and history along 400 well-traveled miles of Interstate 15 from Los Angeles to St. George, UT, by way of Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. Time to detour? The new I-15 tour guide segues into other Just Ahead audio tours for Zion National Park and Death Valley National Park.

Many travelers know I-15 simply as the way to Vegas. But imagine listening en route to yarns of Spanish history, learning about bizarre geographical highlights—including cinder cones and the San Andreas Fault—and about plant life and wildlife, from Joshua trees to creosote to rattlesnakes. And not to be missed are tales of Las Vegas’s quirky history. Although Nevada was the first western state to ban gambling, Bugsy Siegel changed the game, bringing flair, style and organized crime to Las Vegas, where not so many years ago the city thrilled to the sight of mushroom clouds rising from the nearby desert floor in the early days of atomic bomb testing.

This tour guides listeners over fabled Cajon Pass and across the high Mohave Desert, including a side trip to Hoover Dam. The dam, completed in 1935, was one of history’s greatest engineering accomplishments. But what about those rumors of workers buried inside the concrete abutments? Just Ahead spells out the real story. The app also makes memorable Lake Mead, a recreation hub, and the Mojave National Preserve, Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, and the Virgin River Gorge.
As with all Just Ahead smartphone guides, the Interstate 15 audio tour works without an Internet connection or cell phone service. Drivers or passengers simply download it, turn it on, and enjoy a richly narrated tour keyed to your present location.
Just Ahead’s location-aware technology utilizes GPS to know precisely where drivers are on the road, and delivers stories and maps relevant to their exact location. The groundbreaking app points out not-to-miss features while also helping drivers avoid getting lost, by providing suggested directions and telling drivers why they should turn or not, what they should do after a turn, and the best direction to take if there are multiple route options.

A recent user of the guide had this to say about the I-15 audio tour: “Once the narrator started talking about all of the amazing historic sites, natural highlights, and man-made oddities, we were hooked. We listened, and his information sparked amazing family conversations about the geography we were seeing, the people who used to traverse this same trail thousands of years ago, and the power of water.”
Just Ahead guides are currently available for the following National Parks: Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Zion & Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands & Arches, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. Many additional park guides are in production.
The Just Ahead app is a free download available either through the Apple App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android), and each destination guide is available as an in-app purchase. Guides range from $7.99 to $9.99 and include a free trial and free guide updates.

About Just Ahead

Recently named Best Travel App by the North American Travel Journalists Association and Best App by the editors of Sunset magazine, the Just Ahead mobile app turns a smartphone into a hands-free audio guide to the most beautiful places on earth by delivering professionally written and narrated audio tours to vacationers who want an informed travel experience as they drive.
Just Ahead’s award-winning audio guides work without an Internet connection or phone service and use a smartphone’s GPS to deliver hands-free, customized audio tours based on a vehicle’s location. The guides and built-in maps also provide helpful suggested directions, and offer more points of interest and stories than any other GPS audio travel apps. Ideal for families, Just Ahead’s audio guides help create shared experiences, conversations, and memories that will last a lifetime. The Just Ahead app is a free download, and each destination guide is available as an in-app purchase that includes free guide updates.
For more information, please visit: http://www.justahead.com.

Visit Minnesota state forests for fall color driving tours

Those looking for a scenic drive to take during peak fall color should consider visiting a state forest, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“State forests are an excellent place to see fall color,” said Jennifer Teegarden, forestry outreach specialist for the DNR. “Hilly or rugged areas dominated by deciduous trees tend to have the best mix of color. And the dark green needles of conifers accent the yellow, orange and red leaves of deciduous trees in mixed forests.”

Here are a few state forests and routes to consider:

Late September

  • Finland State Forest heading northeast along Country Road 7 from Finland. 
  • Smoky Hills State Forest along state Highway 34 between Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes
  • St. Croix State Forest along County Road 25 south of Duxbury to the Mallard Lake Forest Road.

Early October

  • Big Fork and Bowstring state forests along state Highway 38 between Grand Rapids and Effie.
  • Rum River State Forest along Rum River State Forest Road off of Highway 20.


  • Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest has two good options:
    • Along Zumbro Bottoms Road off state Highway 60 southwest of Wabasha.
    • Along state Highway 16 between Interstate 90 and state Highway 26.

More information about state forests is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/stateforests. Entrance into a state forest is free. State forest campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis for $14 a night.

Visit the Minnesota state parks and trails Fall Color Finder at www.mndnr.gov/fall_colors to find areas with peak fall color. The Fall Color Finder is updated every Thursday through the end of October.