Celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service with a Viator

The 2016 National Park Service centennial is a time for celebration and exploration. To celebrate the agency commissioned with overseeing more than 400 of our nation’s most precious historic sites, monuments, preserves and recreation areas, the team at Viator – a TripAdvisor company and the leading resource for tours and activities worldwide – has compiled a selection of the top tours and activities in some of America’s most iconic and inspiring National Parks, fitting for summertime visits and year-round expeditions.

Do something epic 
Adventure-seekers have long known America’s national parks offer some of the best places in the world for thrills on land, at sea and in the air. Fly over the mighty mouth of the Grand Canyon on a helicopter tour, go skydiving or river rafting in Arches National Park, spend the day off-roading through Canyonlands National Park, paddle volcanic sea caves on a kayak tour to Channel Islands National Park, explore Hawaii Volcano National Park and the active Kilauea Volcano by bike, scale the soaring rock formations of Yosemite or Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, or soar through the forest and over the tundra on a zip lining adventure in Denali National Park. Viator also offers a small number of unique, multi-day tours for travelers to become fully immersed in a destination and check several national parks off their list in one trip, such as a 7-day camping tour of Bryce Canyon, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountains and Snow Canyon, and a 6-day hiking tour through five of Utah’s most stunning national parks.

Get up close and personal with wildlife and nature 
In addition to the amazing natural beauty and surrounds, national park visitors have many opportunities to encounter their inhabitants – both large and small – in their natural environment. Take a small group wildlife safari in Grand Teton National Park to view moose, elk, bison and bears, hike through the woods to the Appalachian waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, see wolves, bears and eagles while exploringYellowstone on a wildlife spotting safari, or look for whales, sea otters, sea lions, puffins and more on a cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park. Viator’s Florida Everglades Airboat Ride and Wildlife Adventure gets visitors up close to manatees and egrets in the UNESCO-listed park, the Hawaiian Wildlife Discovery Tour showcases Hawaiian turtles in their natural habitat in Haleakala National Park, and the Alaska Bear Country Day Trip includes a plane ride deep into Katmai or Lake Clark National Park, home to one of the world’s largest population concentration of brown bears.

Relive history 
The National Park centennial offers many opportunities to visit an iconic park, discover American stories, or simply reflect on 100 years of recreation, conservation and historic preservation. Visit the Pioneer Yosemite History Center on the Yosemite and Glacier Point Day Tour and learn about Yosemite’s earliest days. Spend the day exploring Fort Jefferson, one of the largest coastal forts ever built, on a catamaran day trip from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park. Check out vintage steam locomotives on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad or travel through time with a ride on the historic Grand Canyon Railroad. Visit an authentic Navajo trading post and enjoy live music and cowboy stories of the Old West while camping on a working ranch. Or step back in time on a two-hour walking tour of abandoned turn-of-the-century Smoky Mountain resorts while listening to tales of elegant guests, moonshiners and train wrecks.

Enjoy arts and culture 
“Art is the child of Nature,” said American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and the NPS centennial is the perfect time to celebrate the unique cultures of the national parks along with their music, art and traditions. Take an 11-day excursion through Nova Scotia, Price Edward Island and Acadia National Park and learn about the music and culture of Acadian people and the Maritimes while enjoying some of Canada’s quaint fishing villages and historic sites. Follow the footsteps of Ansel Adams in California’s most iconic national park on the Experience Yosemite: Beginner or Advanced Photography Lesson or Ansel Adams’ Legacy Photography Class. Visit a Navajo Indian reservation on a three-day National Parks Tour of the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon. Or take in the sublime beauty of daybreak from the top of Maui’s highest peak on an eight-hour sunrise tour of Mt. Haleakala and see first-hand the sights that once inspired Mark Twain.

The team at Viator has created an interactive map of America’s 59 national parks, which provides a satellite view of the country’s treasured parks, visitor information and direct links to Viator’s related travel experiences. The map also features images of the national parks, viewable when a traveller selects a pin to click, as well as related Viator videos.

For more information on the selection of more than 100 national park tours and activities available on Viator.com and the Viator Tours & Activities App, as well as the latest deals, promotions, contests and news, visit http://www.viator.com or follow Viator on Facebook (ViatorTours) and Twitter (ViatorTravel).

About Viator 
Viator, a TripAdvisor company, is the leading global tours and activities provider for travelers, delivering online and mobile access to thousands of trip activities including tours, attractions, shore excursions and private guides, in more than 2,000 destinations worldwide. In-house travel experts work with trusted local operators to ensure the quality and value of every experience, all backed by Viator’s 24/7 customer service and global low-price guarantee. With more than 1 million verified reviews plus exclusive videos and insider travel tips, Viator has everything a traveler needs to find and book the best things to do. In addition to the flagship site – Viator.com – travelers can book in advance or in-destination via the Viator Tours and Activities App, as well as local-language sites for European, Latin American and Asian travelers. Viator also provides tours and activities to more than 3,000 affiliate partners including some of the world’s top airlines, hotels and online travel agencies. Viator is headquartered in San Francisco with regional offices in Sydney, London and Las Vegas. Viator – travel with an insider.

Source: Press Release

RV Geeks videos: Solar Panels, Towbar ABCs, Awning Replacement, Stuck in the Desert, LED Conversion, Toothpaste Headlights

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 their own minor service, repair and upgrade work on their 2005 43-foot Newmar Mountain Aire diesel pusher. They also maintained their 2002 39′ Fleetwood Bounder Diesel during their first two years on the road. Visit their website and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

Enjoy 'Meteors & S'mores' at Michigan State Parks Aug. 10-13 during Perseid meteor shower

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites the public to catch magnificent views of the Perseid meteor shower during "Meteors & S'mores" in participating Michigan state parks Aug. 10-13.

Visitors enjoy one of many events taking place at Michigan
state parks and recreation areas throughout the summer.
Day-use visitors and campers are encouraged to bring blankets, seating, bug spray and snacks and enjoy a night of stargazing at a number of state parks during "Meteors & S'mores." Complimentary s’mores and campfires are part of the celebration. Designated viewing areas and viewing times will be specified at each park. 

"The Perseid meteor showers are one of the best opportunities to see shooting stars with the naked eye," said Stephanie Wirtz, recreation programmer for the DNR. "Michigan state parks offer excellent opportunities for stargazing and include a number of parks that are legislatively designated as Dark Sky Preserves."

Dark Sky Preserves have protection against light pollution and are ideal locations for stargazing. Seven Michigan state parks have been designated as Dark Sky Preserves by the Michigan Legislature, including Lake Hudson Recreation Area, Negwegon State Park, Port Crescent State Park, Rockport Recreation Area, Thompson’s Harbor State Park and Wilderness State Park. The Headlands Dark Sky Park, an Emmet County park, is the only internationally designated Dark Sky Park in the state and offers another opportunity for viewing the night sky.

Events listed below with asterisks(**) take place at a Designated Dark Sky park. Meteors & S'mores events are scheduled at the following locations:
During the Meteors & S'mores events, parks stay open later than their normal closing times.

To take full advantage of the meteor showers that will take place Aug. 7-13, visitors are encouraged to make camping reservations throughout the week and to sleep under the stars. To check camping availability in state parks and make a reservation, visitwww.midnrreservations.com or call 1-800-44PARKS.

For more information about these events, contact Stephanie Wirtz atwirtzs@michigan.gov or 989-274-6182.

We're the Russos: Top 10 RV Gadgets, Food & Harleys in Milwaukee, and Cliffside Park Review

About We're the Russos
In 2015, Joe and Kait Russo quit their jobs, sold their home, and got rid of most of their possessions to live their dream – travel and work for themselves. Together with their rescue dog, Leo, the Russos are traveling all across North America seeking adventure. Their rig is a 2015 Newmar Bay Star, a gas motorhome coming in just shy of 30 feet. Visit their website for tons of more information about the Russos and their travels. You can also subscribe to their YouTube channel, where they have videos on RVing, Living Life on Your Terms, Following their Adventure, and more, plus they're on Twitter and Facebook.

Electric power restored to several state parks in Michigan's U.P.

Damage was sustained to two travel campers at the
Emily Lake State Forest Campground in Houghton County
Thursday morning. No injuries were reported. (DNR photos)
Power has been restored to all but one of six Michigan state parks in the Upper Peninsula that had been without electric service since last Thursday morning.

A complex of thunderstorms rumbled through the Upper Peninsula last Thursday from Minnesota, toppling trees, downing electric lines and knocking out service for utility customers over a wide area.
“An electric line down near Silver City in Ontonagon County still has Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park without power this evening,” said John Pepin, deputy public information officer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “We’re hoping electric service will be back on there soon.”

Power had been fully restored at F.J. McLain State Park and Twin Lakes State Park in Houghton County, Baraga State Park in Baraga County, Fort Wilkins State Park in Keweenaw County and Lake Gogebic State Park in Gogebic County.

Two recent weather events have several areas still closed at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park because of flooding and storm damage.

Those park features include the Speaker’s Cabin, Big Carp 6, Big Carp 4 and Lake Superior backcountry cabins, all backcountry campsites between the mouths of the Big and Little Carp rivers and backcountry campsite No. 36 at Presque Isle.

“Park visitors are also being asked to avoid the Lake Superior Trail, between the mouths of the Big and Little Carp rivers,” Pepin said.

Storm damage and cost assessments are continuing to be calculated at the park.

Meanwhile, workers from J.M. Longyear LLC of Marquette were expected to continue work through the weekend at the Emily Lake State Forest Campground, which is located a few miles south of Twin Lakes State Park in Houghton County.

“The campground will remain closed until safety hazards can be removed and the campsites readied for visitors,” Pepin said.

Thunderstorms struck the campground shortly before 7 a.m. Thursday, knocking trees down on top of vehicles and two travel campers, which were occupied at the time. No injuries were reported.

Of the rustic campground’s 13 campsites, 4 were being used when the storm struck.
Trees were also downed at the Pike Lake boating access site, south of Emily Lake.

“The access site is not closed, but we are asking visitors to use caution in this area,” Pepin said.

For more information about state park camping reservations, call 1-800-447-2757 or 1-800-44PARKS.

Minnesota State Park campgrounds re-open after strong winds and storm

Tree down by Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center, Itasca State Park.
In the wake of a storm that hit northern Minnesota early Thursday, the state's Department of Natural Resources’ crews are busy working to clean up the damage and reopen facilities.

The DNR recommends visitors check www.mndnr.gov/closures for current information on state parks, recreation areas and state forest campgrounds.

Conditions continue to change as power is restored and crews clean up areas that were damaged.

All visitors and staff are safe and no serious injuries were reported in the aftermath.

Most of the state’s 75 state parks and recreation areas, 25 state trails and state forest campgrounds and trails were not affected by the storm. For some of those that were, here are the latest updates:

Itasca State Park campgrounds are open and most lodging facilities were to reopen at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 23. There are still some temporary closures of remote campsites, group camps and lodging facilities. Visitors affected by the closures are being contacted by the DNR. 

An emergency crew of about 30 is on-site cutting downed trees, cleaning up debris and making trails passable. The park is gradually opening facilities as areas are being cleared of downed trees and debris.

Check here for the most current conditions: www.mndnr.gov/itasca. Douglas Lodge restaurant will reopen on Saturday. The Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center and Wilderness Drive continue to be closed and Itasca’s phone system is still down. 

Savanna Portage State Park will provide rustic camping only, until power can be restored. Visitors will have hand pumps for water and the use of vault toilets. Shower buildings will be closed. The DNR is notifying campers of the rustic conditions.

Greer Lake Forest Recreation Area campground is temporarily closed.

Clint Converse Forest Recreation Area campground is partially closed.

Paul Bunyan State Trail from Lake Bemidji State Park through the city of Bemidji is open but has a lot of debris on it that will be cleaned up next week. The stretch of trail from Bemidji to Walker is not recommended for use at this time.

RV Gear: L-com debuts 4G/LTE Mobile Booster Kit

L-com Global Connectivity, a preferred manufacturer of wired and wireless connectivity products, announced today that it has released a 4G/LTE mobile booster kit.

L-com’s HAKIT-72150-M01 4G/LTE mobile booster kit is an ideal solution to meet today’s ever-increasing need for consistent cellular connectivity for mobile devices. It can be difficult to obtain a reliable cellular signal while in a car, RV or boat. This booster captures weak cellular signals and transfers them to a cell booster. The cell booster then amplifies and rebroadcasts the signals inside the vehicle, improving call quality and increasing data speeds while reducing the frequency of dropped calls.

“Weak signal areas as well as physical obstructions inside a vehicle can affect the performance of cellular devices. When installed in a vehicle, our new 4G/LTE mobile booster kit helps improve cellular voice and data signals so users can enjoy crystal-clear calls and fast, consistent data speeds,” said Ken Burgner, Product Manager.

The HAKIT-72150-M01 mobile booster kit mounts inside almost any vehicle and can be especially useful for commercial vehicles used for utility, construction, public safety (fire and police) and transportation (taxi, bus, etc.). Designed for in-vehicle use only, it is powered by a 12V power adapter which is included. This mobile booster kit allows you to simultaneously connect multiple mobile devices and works with 2G, 3G and 4G networks on most US carriers. The boosted cellular signal also helps reduce radiation and increase battery life for up to 2 hours of additional talk time in weak-signal areas.

Source: Press release

Rollin' on TV: Jayco Hummingbird, Thetford Smart Tote II, and ice cream sandwiches

On this week's program (#2016-16), Rollin' On TV's Jeff Johnston gives us a look at the new Jayco Hummingbird travel trailer. Then Jeff is joined by Andy Bialorucki from Thetford as they show us the new Smart Tote 2 LX holding tank. And Evanne Schmarder whips up a cold refreshing dessert, RV made, ice cream sandwiches.

About Rollin' On TV
In production since 2010, Rollin' On TV has become one of the leading RV lifestyle television programs on the air today, reaching over 30 million homes on both cable and satellite TV. The weekly program is also available online. For more information, visit www.rollinontv.com.

Rollin' on TV: Renting an RV, Mini-Meatloaf Meal & Bricks in the Frig

On this week's program (#2016-14), Rollin' On TV visits Fuller RV Rental and learn all about renting an RV. It's not quite like renting a car. Evanne Schmarder prepares a mini-meatloaf meal and Jeff Johnston shows us how putting bricks in your RV refrigerator can make a big difference.

About Rollin' On TV
In production since 2010, Rollin' On TV has become one of the leading RV lifestyle television programs on the air today, reaching over 30 million homes on both cable and satellite TV. The weekly program is also available online. For more information, visit www.rollinontv.com.

The Fit RV Videos: Boot Camping Challenge Parts 1-4

About The Fit RV

Meet Stef & James: Travato-owning outdoor enthusiasts keeping fit and active on the road. Get inspired, be entertained, & find (sometimes) useful RV tips! Follow The Fit RV on their websiteblogFacebook pageTwitter account and on Pinterest.

REI Celebrates the Centennial with National Park Service Products

To celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service (NPS), REI is offering its members and customers a collection of limited-edition NPS-branded gear from a variety of outdoor brands. Commemorative products include packs, tents, trekking poles, hammocks, patches and T-shirt from REI, Osprey, CamelBak, ENO, Pendleton, Osprey and Coleman. A full list of gear celebrating the parks can be found online.

“These products celebrate an amazing gift that was passed to us by previous generations – the heart of our outdoors, our treasured national parks,” says Susan Viscon, REI’s senior vice president of merchandising.

When customers purchase an REI-branded NPS-edition product, such as the REI NPS Traverse 28 Pack or an “America the Beautiful” Annual National Parks Pass through the co-op, REI will donate 10 percent of its 2016 proceeds from these items to the National Park Foundation (NPF), which is the official charity of America’s national parks. NPF raises private funds that directly aid, support, and enrich America’s more than 400 national parks and their programs. Other brands including Osprey, ENO and CamelBak have also pledged support to NPF.

REI Celebrates the Centennial
REI first announced its involvement in the 100th birthday of the National Park Service last March, which kicked off with #FindYourPark, a public awareness campaign. Other areas of the co-op’s partnership include:

  • REI Adventures’ national park trips – The co-op is donating 10 percent of the retail price for each REI Adventures’ national park trip purchased through the end of 2016 to the NPF. With the broadest assortment of backpacking trips in the national parks of any active travel company, REI Adventures offers more than 45 national park trips. Last year, REI Adventures’ trips into these national treasures generated $300,000 in additional funding for the National Park Foundation.
  • REI Outdoor School – More than 300 classes and outings are offered in national parks through REI Outdoor School. Participants can choose from a variety of outdoor activities across the country led by expert instructors and can look for special opportunities on fee-free days in the parks.
  • National Parks app – The co-op launched a free dynamic, crowdsourced digital trail guide to the national parks called the REI Co-op Guide to the National Parks. Available on Android and iOS.

About REI
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 6 million active members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 145 stores in 35 states. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI.com/outlet or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs 150 custom-designed itineraries on every continent. REI’s Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner- to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to–and steward–the outdoor places that inspire us.

We're the Russos videos: RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum, Showhauler Super C Test Drive, Milwaukee Beers & Kayaking, Pine Country RV & Camping Resort

About We're the Russos
In 2015, Joe and Kait Russo quit their jobs, sold their home, and got rid of most of their possessions to live their dream – travel and work for themselves. Together with their rescue dog, Leo, the Russos are traveling all across North America seeking adventure. Their rig is a 2015 Newmar Bay Star, a gas motorhome coming in just shy of 30 feet. Visit their website for tons of more information about the Russos and their travels. You can also subscribe to their YouTube channel, where they have videos on RVing, Living Life on Your Terms, Following their Adventure, and more, plus they're on Twitter and Facebook.

Eagle River, Wisconsin: New Mecca for Active Travelers

For more than a century, Eagle River, Wisconsin has been an angling mecca. Surrounded by state and national forests and more than 1,300 lakes, this Northwoods locale is famous for muskellunge, walleye, northern pike and other sport fish. In recent years, however, it has been gaining notoriety for something else: action sports.

The same lakes and forests that have traditionally drawn fishermen and hunters are now becoming a magnet for paddlers, mountain bikers, runners and hikers. This transformation has been due in part to the development of a sophisticated trail system across the Eagle River area, including hiking and biking routes in the Nicolet National Forest, as well as trails developed by the Vilas County Forest Hunter/Hiking Trail System and the Great Headwaters Trails.

The growth of events such as Journeys Marathon, the Callie Rohr Canoe and Kayak Race, and the SepTimber Ride has also contributed to the progress of active sports tourism in the area. For example, Journeys Marathon began as a marathon and half-marathon event in 1997. In its 20th year, it’s expanded to include a 13.1-mile power walk, 10K, 5K and Kids Fun Run, drawing more than 1,030 participants last May. Likewise, the SepTimber Ride will this year add a 50K road bike course to the 28-mile trail route offered at the inaugural event last year.

The expansion of the region’s ATV/UTV routes and the explosion of fat tire popularity have also increased the area’s appeal to active lifestyle travelers, since both can be done in virtually any season. Although seemingly unrelated, a surge in artisanal food and beverage opportunities – such as the Three Lakes Winery, Tribute Brewing Company and the Up North Beerfest – may also have played a role.

“Anecdotally, we know there is definitely a connection between local craft foods and active lifestyle tourism,” said Kim Emerson, executive director of the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce. “Destinations in California and Colorado have shown that for years, and it holds true in the Midwest, as well – particularly with millennial travelers.”

A full list of Eagle River area events and activities can be found on the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce website, http://www.eagleriver.org.

Long, Long Honeymoon video: Secrets of the Alaska Highway Part 1

About Long, Long Honeymoon
After getting married in the Florida Keys, C.S. (Sean) and Kristy Michael spent their wedding night in their newly purchased recreational vehicle — a 25-foot Airstream travel trailer. Instead of jaunting off to honeymoon on a posh Pacific island, the newlyweds hitched up their trusty Ford diesel truck (nicknamed “SEEMORE”) and started exploring America.

Their “long long honeymoon” journey has stretched over 100,000 miles and 49 States, ranging from Key West (the southernmost point in the United States) all the way up to Fairbanks, Alaska. They have camped in every conceivable environment, from scenic national parks to less-than-exotic asphalt parking lots.

A writer and filmmaker, Sean totes his video camera everywhere, relentlessly documenting the experience. And in addition to Sean’s filmmaking equipment, the couple always pack their sense of humor. Their blog explores the lighter side of RV life; or as Kristy says, “the fun stuff!”

Why do they do it? “Because life should be a long long honeymoon…”

You can catch Sean and Kristy’s latest RV adventures (including all of their videos in glorious high-definition) on their website: LongLongHoneymoon.com. When not aboard their Airstream, the newlyweds divide their time between homes in Alabama and Florida. But you can always reach them via email at HoneymoonShow@aol.com.

Rollin' on TV: Thor Gemini Review, Guac-Paco Dip and Thetford Toilets

On this week's program (#2016-13), Rollin' On TV's Jeff Johnston does a full, real life review of the new Thor Gemini motorhome. Also, Evanne Schmarder prepares a nice healthy, fresh snack called Guac-Pico dip. Then they check out what goes into building RV toilets at the Thetford factory.

About Rollin' On TV
In production since 2010, Rollin' On TV has become one of the leading RV lifestyle television programs on the air today, reaching over 30 million homes on both cable and satellite TV. The weekly program is also available online. For more information, visit www.rollinontv.com.