20 Easy Ways to Save Fuel and Money

With millions of people planning to hit the road this summer, two things will be on their minds – getting to their destination safely and the price of fuel.

It's a great time of year for a road trip to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Pictured above is Spider Rock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The latest Campfire Canvass survey of RV owners reveals that 53% intend to use their RVs more this spring/summer despite higher fuel prices. Another 38% say they’ll use their RVs the same amount.

Many RV owners surveyed take additional measures to reduce fuel consumption through simple steps like driving 55 instead of 65 mph, packing lighter to reduce weight in the RV, and turning off home utilities to save energy when traveling.

Don’t let higher fuel prices stop you from enjoying your spring and summer; instead, test-drive these gas and money saving tips.

Most motorists share one common goal—to get the best mileage possible. The desire for the best fuel efficiency is especially strong among recreational vehicle owners. There are many ways that you can reduce fuel and related costs while enjoying travelling in your recreational vehicle.

Looking for a great spring or summer getaway? Think Galveston, Texas! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV drivers are often quite frugal. They budget carefully and they make the most of every trip and vacation. Part of that is being aware of the potential savings that are out there.

Following are a number of tips to help you save fuel:

  1. Slow down and maintain even pressure on the throttle.
  2. Accelerate gradually, both from a stop and when entering a freeway; avoid sudden jack-rabbit starts and rapid acceleration.
  3. Brake smoothly, avoiding fast stops; rapid braking wastes fuel and cut down your mileage.
  4. Maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
  5. Don’t slam on your brakes. See a stop sign or red light up ahead? Instead of slamming on your breaks just before the line, slowly ease off the accelerator ahead of time, coasting to a stop and thus avoid wasting fuel and wear on the brakes.
  6. When the light changes green, forget that pedal to the metal mindset and, again, ease into it.
  7. Look ahead and anticipate traffic conditions. Slow down well before you need to.
  8. Minimize excessive engine workload by using the vehicle’s kinetic forward motion to climb hills.
  9. Use downhill momentum, rather than applying accelerator, to build speed back up.
  10. Go cruising. Your cruise control button isn’t just convenient; it can be a fuel-saver. When driving long stretches of open road, cruise control can be a very valuable asset, maintaining your speed within the least fuel-guzzling gear, plus eliminating your chances of accidental speeding (and getting pulled over and ticketed).
  11. BUT, cruise control can take a bite into your fuel mileage potential on hills where it tends to coast up the hill until it realizes that it is losing speed and quickly attempts to make up for it by pushing the throttle, increasing your speed and your fuel use.
  12. Weather considerations. Winds have a substantial affect on increasing or reducing the vehicle’s moving resistance.
  13. Avoid excessive engine idling. Shut the engine off when the RV sits for more than a few minutes.
  14. Follow the recommended service and maintenance schedules; keeping an RV tuned up and in top running condition saves fuel. A poorly tuned engine can lower fuel economy by 10 to 20 percent. Use the recommended grade of motor oil. It’s worth it.
  15. A clean air filter keeps impurities from damaging your engine and can significantly improve fuel economy.
  16. Regularly check the air pressure in all tires, when the tires are cool (air pressure increases while you are driving). Proper inflation reduces the incidence of tire failure and improves fuel consumption.
  17. Control your weight. Many motorhomes have total holding tank capacities of 100 gallons or more, which means they can contain almost 900 pounds of wastewater when full. Fresh water tank may be 60 gallons of water at 8.3 pounds/gallons or almost 500 pounds when full. The carrying capacity of the three holding tanks, can total 1400 pounds or more and requires burning expensive fuel to carry it around.
  18. Control your weight. Check each coach storage compartment and exterior bays; remove items you will not be using while on the road. Every pound of unnecessary weight you carry decreases fuel mileage and saves wear and tear on your tires.
  19. Control your weight. Added weight significantly reduces fuel economy. Keep in mind that everything you put in your RV has weight. The average couple carries approximately 2,000 pounds of “stuff,” and many full-timing couples carry as much as 3,000 pounds. When possible travel with empty gray and black holding tanks and fresh water tank no more than ¼ full. The following are approximate weights of the liquids that RVs commonly carry:
  • Water—8.3 pounds/gallon
  • Gasoline—6 pounds/gallon
  • Diesel fuel—6.6 pounds/gallon
  • Propane—4.5 pounds/gallon

Now Let’s Go RVing!

If you have additional thoughts, we would love to hear them. Please do share!! Send them in an email to vogelontheroad@gmail.com, and I’ll see that they appear in a future post.

Worth Pondering…

The mint makes it first, it is up to you to make it last.

—Evan Esar (1899 – 1995)

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.

—Jackie Mason

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Happy Birthday Parks Canada!

The world may scratch its collective head when it comes to listing facts about Canada, but—at the very least—most know it’s a lot bigger than the spot they call home.

The Netherlands can easily fit into Lake Huron—with ample room to splash around.

Jasper National Park, Alberta. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s plenty to explore—Canada’s cities are new, dynamic, and evolving—but it’s the beauty of the massive forests, towering mountains, pristine lakes, and the land’s sheer breadth that enthralls many visitors.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada and Alan Latourelle, chief executive officer of the Parks Canada Agency, is inviting visitors from around the world—to enjoy the nation’s 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites, including nine canals, and four national marine conservation areas that stretch from British Columbia on the West Coast to Newfoundland on the East.

“Canada! We have more square feet of awesomeness per person than any other nation on Earth,” the beer commercial shouted over and over during last year’s Vancouver Olympics Games, to a steady backdrop of national park scenes. And the locals all raised their glasses, for Canadians love their national parks.

Much of the development of Parks Canada has taken place during the past two decades, and the intent of the parks system has expanded to embrace more and more land in the name of conservation—not necessarily visitation.

Today, some of the parks are home to animals which have become very rare or endangered in most parts of their natural range. For example, Elk Island National Park in Alberta is home to a genetically pure herd of rare wood bison. In March 2011, 30 of these animals were shipped to Russia. And most of us know about the transfer of grey wolves from Jasper to Yellowstone National Park.

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia (Credit: citypictures.org

Parks Canada has have restored bison and the black-footed ferret, thought to be extinct, into Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.

The largest park is the Wood Buffalo National Park that stretches across Alberta and the Northwest Territories. At 17,000 square miles, it’s about the size of New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, combined.

The smallest park is the 3.4-square-mile St. Lawrence Islands National Park in Ontario.

The most visited park in Canada in 2010, not surprisingly, was Banff, with a whopping 3,132,086 visitors—and over 3 million cameras. On the other hand, Quttinirpaaq on Ellesmere Island had just two visitors. That’s a lot of per-person space, as the park measures 14,585 square miles. And about a dozen visitors found their way to Tutktut Nogait National Park, which is about 105 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

As Parks Canada celebrates its centennial, it also faces challenges.

Eight out of 10 Canadians now live in urban centers, and a growing number have never visited a national park.

In the last 10 years, there has been a decline in attendance at the parks. In 2001, 22.4 million people visited the parks, compared with 20.7 million last year.

The agency has begun to address that decline with new advertising campaigns.

The organization has a lot planned to help celebrate the centennial including two days—July 1 and 16—that will offer free, one-day admission to all parks and historic sites.

A Famous Forts Weekend will be held from August 19 to 21 featuring festivities at many of the forts under the agency’s umbrella. The weekend will feature music, dancing, food, and—of course—the signature 100-gun salute.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. (Credit: Parks Canada)

My Parks Pass, a Canada-wide program, will provide all Grade 8 students free access (for one year) to any national park, national historic site, or national marine conservation area administered by Parks Canada.

Considered an international leader, the agency is celebrating successes at the same time as it works to attract a new generation of Canadians.

Some citizenship ceremonies take place in national parks and historic sites to introduce new Canadians to them.

“How can we continue to have our places be meaningful and really have Canadians connect to them?” asks Campbell, “That’s our biggest challenge.”

Parks Canada is working on nine new parks. The goal is to represent Canada’s 39 natural regions through the parks system; to capture a comprehensive representation of Canada’s flora, fauna and geology.

Happy Birthday Parks Canada!

Just the Facts

National Parks by province/territory

British Columbia: 7

Alberta: 4.5*

Ontario: 5

Northwest Territories: 3.5*

Nunavut: 4

Newfoundland and Labrador: 3

Quebec: 3

Yukon Territory: 3

Manitoba: 2

New Brunswick: 2

Nova Scotia: 2

Saskatchewan: 2

Prince Edward Island: 1

* Wood Buffalo National Park straddles the Alberta-Northwest Territories border

For more information visit parkscanada.

Worth Pondering…
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…
— John Muir

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Virginia State Parks Celebrate Milestone

The Commonwealth of Virginia is a state of firsts!

Old Dominion is the birthplace of the nation, the home of eight presidents, and the first state to create a state parks system.

2011 marks two major milestones in Virginia as the state recognizes two of its most treasured assets, Shenandoah National Park and the Virginia State Parks system as they both celebrate their 75th anniversary.

On June 15, 1936 the Commonwealth became the first state in the nation to open an entire park system on the same day.

Six parks were opened to the public in 1936: Douthat, Fairy Stone, Hungry Mother, Staunton River, Westmoreland, and Seashore (now First Landing State Park).

In 2010, Virginia State Parks hosted more than 8 million visitors who contributed approximately $189 million to Virginia’s economy with 224,269 visitors to Douthat State Park alone.

From the original six, the park system has now grown to 34 parks found in nearly every corner of Virginia and have been honored as the best state parks in America by organizations such as the National Sporting Goods Association.

Each site is different and offers visitors a great variety of outdoor recreation.

The rolling, mountainous land in Shenandoah River State Park features steep slopes and is mostly wooded. In addition to meandering river frontage, the park offers scenic vistas overlooking Massanutten Mountain to the west and Shenandoah National Park to the east. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The state parks encompass a variety of environments from sand beaches of the Atlantic to the high mountains of far western Virginia, from Civil War battlefields to railroad beds-tuned bike trails, and from bald eagle sanctuaries to an abandoned gold mine.

The park system can trace its roots back to 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

The CCC was a public work-relief program that provided employment for young men who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression. At the same time the program implemented a general natural resource conservation program throughout the nation.

Most of the original cabins built by the CCC in Virginia State Parks are still in use, having been upgraded with modern facilities, and are among the most requested cabins in the park system. Now more than 260 climate-controlled, fully furnished cabins are in the parks and include kitchen equipment, bedding, and towels. Many have fireplaces. Ten parks have large family cabins with multiple bedrooms and baths, perfect for reunions.

But it’s the Great Outdoors that makes the Virginia’s State Park experience exceptional. Many parks have beautiful lakes with swimming areas, canoe and boat rentals, and excellent fishing. Family hiking trails follow lake shores and through woodlots and meadows providing an excellent opportunity to see a multitude of wildlife species.

Administered by National Park Services, Blue Ridge Parkway is known for its varied scenic beauty which changes with the seasons. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The parks offer more than 1,700 camp sites ranging from rustic to those equipped with electric and water hookups.

Certain parks are in a class by themselves:

  • Caledon Natural Area on the Potomac River is home to one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles on the East Coast
  • A five-mile gorge traverses Breaks Interstate Park in far Southwest Virginia, giving it the nickname “Grand Canyon of the East”
  • Fairy Stone State Park is named for the small cross-shaped mineral formations rarely found in such abundance elsewhere
  • New River Trail State Park may be the longest and narrowest in the country, measuring 57 miles long and averaging 80 feet in width as it parallels the New River along a former railroad bed now turned into a popular biking trail
  • A real railroad line goes through Natural Tunnel State Park, utilizing the namesake naturally formed tunnel to get through the mountain

The parks host a variety of special events and festivals throughout each year.

Special programs and events and free admission days highlight activities perfect for families who want to shake off the stresses of everyday life and share the enjoyment of nature together.


Virginia State Parks

Contests including the “75 Days of Summer Contest” run from June 15 to September 5. Visit a state park and enter the drawing. The grand prize is a pop-up trailer from Coastal RV. Enter online daily contests and sweepstakes. Weekly prizes include a camping trip with a fully furnished camper trailer from Road Trip Rentals.

Worth Pondering…
The nation behaves well when it treats the natural resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.

—Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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The World’s First National Parks Turn 100

What was the first country in the world to establish a national parks system?

Jasper National Park, Alberta. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you guessed the United States or a European country such as Austria, Switzerland, Norway, or Sweden you would be wrong.

This year, Parks Canada, the first national parks service in the world, celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Banff was discovered accidentally in 1883, when explorers fell through the roof of a cave into a warm, sulphur-water spring below. Sixteen miles around Sulphur Mountain and the Cave and Basin, were set aside as a National Park in 1885, predating Parks Canada by 26 years.

Other sites were added until 1911, when the Dominion Parks Branch of government was formed.

In 1911, when J.B. (Bunny) Harkin was appointed Canada’s first commissioner of national parks, he thought “the word park seemed a very small name for so great a thing.”

The number of visitors to the Canadian Rockies at mountain parks now known as Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Glacier, and Waterton Lakes was increasing and the federal government felt it needed to protect the magnificence of the region.

Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks, Banff National Park, Alberta. (Credit: Parks Canada)

“Wonder, reverence, the feeling that one is nearer the mystery of things—that is what one feels in places of such sublime beauty,” wrote Harkin.

Today, Parks Canada administers 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites, including nine canals, and four national marine conservation areas.

More than 4,500 wardens, guides, scientists, and interpreters employed by Parks Canada oversee more than 145,000 square miles of federal land.

One hundred eighty countries now have national parks. The first, in 1872 in the United States, was Yellowstone National Park, which was “too big and too beautiful to belong to any private individual,” according to one of its proponents.

The Parks Canada mandate has not changed: “Dedicated to the people of Canada, for their benefit, education and enjoyment … to leave unimpaired for future generations.”

The national parks were direct results of Canada’s first national railroad, the Canadian Pacific.

Visitors arrived by rail and stayed in hotels built by Canadian Pacific Railway.

“The idea was not conservation, it was tourism,” says Jonathan France, director of the historical research branch of Parks Canada. “The main objective was an economic one, to show a return on the significant public investment in building a transcontinental railway.”

Born in 1875 in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Harkin worked as a journalist and a political secretary before being named parks commissioner, which he remained until 1936.

Chateau Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta. (Credit: Banffnationalpark.com)

He promoted national parks for outdoor recreation and as a source of valuable tourist dollars. He built roads for public access. But Harkin also developed the idea of conservation, noting that man “is constantly changing the face of nature, cutting and burning the forests, plowing up the wildflowers, killing off the wild animals and birds, damming and polluting rivers, draining and diverting lakes.”

In 1915, the agency designated three pronghorn antelope sanctuaries in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and in 1917 the Migratory Birds Protection Act was passed. This established protection of wildlife on federal lands as part of Parks’ mandate and led, among other initiatives, to the creation of Point Pelee National Park in southern Ontario.

In the 1920s, Harkin was often in conflict with business interests that wanted to exploit coal, timber, and water in parks, leading him to enshrine their inviolability in the 1930 National Parks Act.

Foreign emissaries began visiting Canada to study Harkin’s methods. By the time he retired in 1936, Harkin had built a system of 13 protected areas that touched nearly every province.

Recognized internationally as the Father of National Parks, he remains little-known in his homeland. A 16-page booklet, containing excerpts from Harkin’s notes, was posthumously published in 1957. The Origin and Meaning of the National Parks of Canada, a seminal and lyrical gem, closes with this: “Man is a restless animal. He is constantly changing the face of nature. Even the face of Canada has seen many changes in the last 50 years. What will it look like a hundred years from now?”

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Canada’s National Parks and its 100th anniversary.

Worth Pondering…
Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
— John Muir

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New KOA for Arizona

Thanks to recent voter approval of Proposition 401 in Chino Valley, the developer of the proposed Kampgrounds of America plans to begin construction in September and open the KOA in March 2012, The Daily Courier recently reported.

Signs show where the 17-acre Kampgrounds of America RV park campround will go on the east side of Highway 89, north of Road 3 North in Chino Valley. (Credit: Salina Sialega/Special to the Courier)

“We are actually in that scheduling process now,” said Charlie Arnold, representative for Jack Tuls Jr., the developer from Las Vegas who owns the site off Highway 89. “We are putting together our bid schedules and our construction schedules.”

Voters uphold by a wide margin a decision of the Town Council from July 2010 to rezone 17 acres to accommodate the KOA. The unofficial tally was 1,814 “yes” votes and 802 “no” votes.

KOA supporters contended the recreational vehicle park would boost the local economy by increasing sales tax revenues and creating new jobs.

However, opponents said the heavy-commercial zoning for 17 acres on the south side of East Road 3-1/2 North, about 400 feet east of Highway 89, was incompatible with nearby homes.

Voters also defeated council candidates James Conn and Charlie Marriott, who were plaintiffs in the lawsuit that qualified Proposition 401 for the ballot.

The lawsuit and referendum campaign set the campground construction project back several months. However, the rezoning ordinance that prompted the referendum went into effect when the Town Council canvassed the election results at a recent meeting, according to Town Clerk Jami Lewis.

Prescott is located 15 miles south of Chino Valley. Pictured above Yavapai County Courthouse. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before construction can start for the 119 RV spaces and 32 cabins at the KOA, the developer must still go through a number of hoops.

Tuls must present documentation to the town engineer about the permit that the Arizona Department of Transportation requires for off-site improvements, Development Services Director Pat Clingman said.

“He has to present to Development Services the layout of the KOA,” she said. “It would include the sidewalks and the streets. It is a detailed site plan.”

Tuls also needs to enter into agreements for water and sewer service to the project site, Clingman said.

“He has to provide us with plans for putting the infrastructure on that parcel, and permits would need to be reviewed and issued prior to the beginning of any construction,” she continued.

Those are all in the works, according to Arnold. He said Tuls must go out to bid for off-site projects for water, sewer, and roadwork because they are public improvements.

Citing information from the engineering firm Tuls has hired, Arnold said on-site improvements will cost $3 million and off-site improvements will cost about half that amount.

The Granite Dells, massive boulders of ancient rock that have weathered into delicately balanced forms and fanciful shapes, are located 4 miles north of Prescott. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) said she hopes Tuls will hire local contractors. YCCA has about 300 members.

“We are here to help the Town of Chino Valley with this terrific project,” Sandy Griffis said. “I feel that the owner of the KOA and Mr. Arnold as their representative will work diligently to use local contractors.”


Chino Valley

Although Prescott claims the privilege of being the first Arizona territorial capital, this honor rightfully belongs to the little community of Chino Valley, 15 miles to the north on Highway 89.

In 1863 there was a mining camp in Chino Valley under the command of Lt. Amiel Whipple, and he established the capital at his fort. The most logical choice, Tucson—a much larger town with more amenities—was ruled out because of its large number of Southern sympathizers.

The territorial capital was moved to Prescott the following year.

Chino Valley has a mild climate and a gentle four seasons with over 300 days of sunshine and an average annual precipitation of 10.6 inches.

Chino Valley was named by Lt. Whipple after the Mexican word for the curly grama grass he found growing in the area.

Worth Pondering…
When I walk in the desert the birds sing very beautifully

When I walk in the desert the trees wave their branches in the breeze

When I walk in the desert the tall saguaro wave their arms way up high

When I walk in the desert the animals stop to look at me as if they were saying

“Welcome to our home.”

—Jeanette Chico, in When It Rains

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What’s NOT to Love About Pickleball?

When Otis and Jean Vaughn bought a home in the east Mesa (Arizona) community of Venture Out RV Resort, they felt the active lifestyle and peaceful setting were the perfect ticket for their retirement.

Credit: pickleball.com

For much of the past two decades, they played tennis, exercised at the community pool, and traveled. But the Vaughns said that tranquility ended when the “pinging and popping” sounds of pickleball erupted on badminton-size courts that were built last year about 30 feet from their driveway, The Arizona Republic reported.

Otis Vaughn, an 84-year-old World War II veteran, said his complaints to resort and city officials haven’t generated any relief.

“It’s absolutely deafening,” he said of the hard-surface paddles striking perforated, plastic balls.

For the Vaughns, the issue is noise, not the game itself.

“We have a lot of friends who play pickleball, and it’s not about them or anybody who plays the game,” Otis Vaughn said.

“The noise penetrates our home, and it also carries over to the next street,” Otis Vaughn said.

Credit: Mission Royale Pickleball Club

He said they have considered moving, but his age would make that difficult.

And his noise protest appears to have no weight with Venture Out or the city.

Mesa Councilwoman Dina Higgins of District 5 said she met with the Vaughns in an effort to find a solution, but the city’s noise ordinance does not ban noise created by normal activities during daylight hours.

She said it is unlikely that the pickleball courts closest to the Vaughn home will be moved by the resort because there is nowhere to relocate.

“There are 400 people that play pickleball at Venture Out,” she said, “and when you watch the camaraderie that the game generates among people of a lot of ages you realize why it is growing.”

The Vaughns’ protest is among a chorus of objections to noise generated by the game in at least four Arizona retirement communities and several other states.

Pickleball is a popular activity at many RV resorts. (Credit: Sky Valley RV Resort)

But the complaints have had little impact on pickleball’s spreading popularity at numerous retirement communities and recreation vehicle parks and resorts throughout the nation and the increasing number of enthusiasts in all 50 states.

But the game has also left a trail of detractors and spawned studies to determine if the sport meets noise regulations. It has also sparked a lawsuit seeking to bar a New Mexico golf and country club from modifying tennis courts for pickleball.

Worth Pondering…
Pickleball Lyrics

Well…, meet me in the morning, meet me in the evening, meet me at pickleball time

Be my pickleball partner and we’ll have a good ole time.

Meet me by the kitchen, meet me at the baseline, meet me by the net, -that’s fine

Be my pickleball partner and we’ll have a good ole time.

Go and grab your paddle, and swear to your friends around

You’ll be loving pickleball, ‘til the end of time.

Let’s play in the morning, let’s play in the evening, let’s play anytime

We’ll play pickleball and have a good ole time.

Don’t smash the pickleball, don’t smash the net, don’t hit your opponent – in— the head

Meet me in the morning, meet me in the evening, meet me for pickleball time

Just meet me at the baseline, any ole time

Now pickleball time…is played – anytime ……

— that you are near– that you are near don’t you fear…don’t you roam……

Please don’t roam…up to the kitchen zone-alone.

And don’t LAND in the no-ooooo volley zone

Meet me in the morning, meet me in the evening, meet me at pickleball time

Be my pickleball partner…and …

We’ll have,

We’ll have,

Yes, we’ll have a good ole time

It’s Pickleball – Pickleball – Pickleball – time

—Singing Pickleball Pete

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Better Things in Life

The “Better Things in Life” survey conducted by ORC International on behalf of Nestle Waters North America Inc. recently announced its findings. Included in the results, 95 percent of Americans consider spending time in nature among the best things life has to offer.

Arrowhead Water is available in the western United States. Enter to win a trip for four to choice of a national park.

In fact, nearly every American polled (98%) considered visiting America’s national parks one of the best ways to enjoy nature. With 394 national parks as objects of desire, America offers numerous ways to enjoy nature’s awe-inspiring beauty. When taking in the best of this country’s breathtaking landscape, Americans want to head west, setting sights on the Grand Canyon National Park (49%) and Yellowstone National Park (47%) as the top choices for national parks to visit.

America’s most popular national parks pack in the tourists each summer, but there are others worth a visit—quiet gems with all of the scenery and none of the crowds.

Instead of the Grand Canyon South Rim, consider the North Rim. Although the two rims are more than four hours apart by road—no duh, it’s a big friggin’ hole-in-the-ground—the north side’s remoteness is exaggerated. The north sees 90 percent fewer visitors, and once you get there it’s the same canyon. Or is it? Because of its higher elevation (8,000-9,000 feet), the North Rim experiences less haze and enjoys better visibility into the canyon, plus some of its vantage points also offer views of the Painted Desert.

Instead of Yellowstone National Park—never mind! Yellowstone is too magical to pass up, even in high season. The good news is that traffic flows relatively smoothly over the park’s wheel-with-spokes-shaped main thoroughfare, the 142-mile Grand Loop Road. Also, visitors are spread over nine inns and 12 campgrounds, four that take reservations.

As for the trails, you’d be surprised how remote Yellowstone can feel once you get off the main geyser trails and short nature loops.

Recent survey reveals Ice Mountain drinkers love nature.

The survey also revealed time as the biggest barrier—and solution. Seventy-nine percent of Americans feel they do not have enough time to enjoy nature’s offerings and nearly three-quarters of Americans (74%) say that spending time enjoying life’s pleasures takes a backseat to work and other day-to-day responsibilities. Furthermore, four out of five Americans (81%) agree that “me time” is an important part of making the most of life.

“Finding time to enjoy the quality things in life—such as nature, is an important step to making our lives more fulfilling,” says Angela Barile, Group Marketing Manager, Nestle Waters’ Regional Spring Water brands.

In an effort to help Americans make time for nature and the things they find rewarding, Nestle Waters is launching the new “Better Things in Life” Sweepstakes for each of its six regional spring water brands—Arrowhead®, Deer Park®, Ice Mountain®, Ozarka®, Poland Spring®, and Zephyrhills®.

The source of the water comes from Florida’s natural spring aquifer underground. The town of Zephyrhills is located in central Florida, not far from the Tampa Bay area. Throughout this region are fresh springs, some of which are owned by Zephyrhills.

By visiting the website for the spring water brand in your region prior to November 30, 2011, you can learn more about the “Better Things in Life” Sweepstakes and enter for the chance to win a grand prize trip for four to their choice of one of our country’s 394 national parks along with hundreds of other prizes including tickets to theme parks and local sporting events. No purchase is necessary to enter or win. Limit one (1) entry per person, per day during the Sweepstakes.

About the Survey

The “Better Things in Life” survey was conducted by ORC International, a leading global market research firm with offices across the U.S., Europe, and Asia Pacific region, on behalf of Nestle Waters North America Inc.  The survey reached 6,003 adults (3,000 males, 3,003 females) 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing for the survey was completed during the period March 29-April 7, 2011. Data was weighted on age, gender, and race per each of the six regions—Northeast, East South Central/South Atlantic, West South Central, Florida, Midwest, and West.

Worth Pondering…

Take time to listen to the voices of the earth and what they mean…the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of flowing streams. And the voices of living things: the dawn chorus of the birds, the insects that play little fiddles in the grass.

—Rachel Carson

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What’s to Love About Pickleball?

“It’s the fastest-growing game in the country,” said Robert Hayes, a devout pickleball player and president of the Venture Out Condo Association. “I love the game.”

Robert Hayes, 69, serves during a pickleball game at the Venture Out RV Resort in Mesa. Norman Cudney, 78, is at right. (Credit: Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic)

For player Don Bogle, a Mesa resident and one of the game’s 350 ambassadors for the USA Pickleball Association, the sport is “addictive,” The Arizona Republic reported.

“You get such an adrenaline rush that it’s like a runner’s high,” he said.

Many people unfamiliar with the game marvel at the recent growth of a sport that was created 46 years ago. The game’s biggest surge has evolved over the past five years since the Pickleball Association, an all-volunteer group, was founded, said David Johnson, the association’s spokesman.

“They’ve put a lot of effort into building the sport and promoting its growth throughout America and Canada,” said the Seattle-area resident who turned his part-time pickleball equipment-sales business into a full-time enterprise two years ago.

“And when snowbirds are introduced to the sport in places like Arizona they go back home to states like Michigan and introduce it to their friends. Michigan is now one of the more popular states to play pickleball,” he said.

“We hear a lot from recreation departments interested in revitalizing underutilized tennis courts,” Johnson said. “Pickleball generally draws a different audience than tennis and usually an older demographic.”

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a fast paced, easy game to learn and very similar to tennis, yet easier on older joints. As a matter of fact it can be played on a tennis court with a few minor conversions.

If you build it, they will come. Wayne & Nancy Muggli built this pickleball court in their yard in Montana. (Credit: Pickleball Stuff)

Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong (table tennis), and is played on a court with the same dimensions as doubles badminton. It is played as a singles game with one person per side or more commonly as a doubles game with two people on each side of the 36 inches high net.

Each player uses a hard-surface paddle (total length plus width of the paddle cannot exceed 23¾ inches). The object of the game is to score points by successfully hitting a three-inch-diameter polymer (plastic) ball that is perforated with holes (similar to a whiffle-ball) across the net without it being successfully returned by the opponent (s).

Served with an underhand stroke, the ball must bounce before it can be returned on the serve and must bounce before the second return. Games are played to 11 points.

Over time the rules of the game have become more sophisticated but when first developed, pickleball was a simple game designed for all ages and any athletic ability level.

History of Pickleball

After playing golf one Saturday during the summer of 1965, Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington State and Bill Bell, successful businessman, returned to Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island (a short ferry ride from Seattle) to find their families sitting around with nothing to do.

The property had an old badminton court so Pritchard and Bell looked for some badminton equipment and could not find a full set of rackets. They improvised, cutting shafts of the damaged rackets and found a perforated plastic ball. The rackets didn’t work very well, so the dads created four wood paddles, similar to today’s wood paddles. At first they placed the net at badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball over the net. As the weekend progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface and soon the net was lowered to 36 inches.

Pickleball is a racquet sport which combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. The game is played with a hard paddle about twice the size of those used for ping-pong and a wiffle ball, making the technique required for pickleball different than other sports. (Credit: Toronto Sports Council)

The following weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game at Pritchard’s home. Soon, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton. They kept in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together.

The Pritchards had a cocker spaniel named Pickles, who became interested in this new game. Whenever a ball would come his way, he would take the ball and run off with it, because you see, it was Pickle’s ball.

And, as they say, the rest is history!

Worth Pondering…

Rules for ALL to Play Pickleball

First of all, if you recall, the name of the game is Pickleball.

Pickleball is a weird name but garners attention by its mere mention.

So what if the creator’s dog, Pickles, chased the ball, thus created the name for us all.

All you need is 20 x 44 feet; a 3-foot net and you’re ready for a treat.

Now grab a paddle and use the wiffle ball for your battle.

But to avoid looking like fools, first, you must understand the rules.

The proper score and server number you must state.

Until it is announced, serving the ball must wait.

A second time ‘serving early’ in that game will be at great cost,

As it could result in a point being lost.

So, state your score first and then the score of your foe.

Whether you are the first or the second server on your team, you must also know.

3 – 2 – 1 means you are ahead and the 1st server, for that series, on your team.

That’s simple enough it would seem.

But whoa!

It is important to also know

That rule to remember is simply:


—Wayne J. LaPointe

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Winnebago/Itasca Dealers Honored for Excellence

Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries, Inc., recently announced its Circle of Excellence dealerships for 2011.

Winnebago Industries Inc., manufacturer of Winnebago and Itasca brand motorhomes, established the industry’s first dealer excellence program in 1986 in order to recognize select dealers for excellence in customer satisfaction.

This year, 116 dealers were honored with the Circle of Excellence award in recognition of their excellence in customer satisfaction as it relates to the customers’ sales and service experience with the dealer.

“Winnebago Industries is pleased to recognize the 116 outstanding dealers that earned this year’s Circle of Excellence award,” said Roger Martin, Winnebago Industries vice president of sales and marketing. “These dealerships have proven their commitment to their customers by providing the total RV experience—knowledgeable sales personnel, qualified service technicians, and quality warranty and after-market service support. That commitment to providing excellent customer service is what separates these dealers from the rest—and is why they are deserving of this award.”

Circle of Excellence scoring is determined by rating dealers in four categories:

  • A Purchase and Delivery Satisfaction Study which is direct customer feedback after the purchase of a motor home
  • A Customer Satisfaction Study which surveys customers six months after their purchase
  • A Sales and Marketing Assessment that evaluates a dealership’s sales, market share, stocking levels, and participation in product training and the Winnebago Itasca Travelers Club (WIT)
With 12 distinct motor home lines and dozens of floorplans to choose from, there is a Winnebago motor home that is right for you. (Credit: Camping World)

A Service/Parts Assessment that evaluates a dealership’s warranty/parts inventory, service training, and certified technicians, and traveling customer care.

Dealerships earning the coveted Circle of Excellence status receive an award featuring three concentric circles that symbolize the interconnected relationship between the customer, dealer, and Winnebago Industries.

Since its inception 26 years ago, four dealerships have achieved Circle of Excellence status each year the award has been presented.  They are (with the Winnebago Industries’ brands the dealership represents listed in parenthesis):

  • Altman’s Winnebago, Carson, California (Winnebago)
  • Lazy Days, Seffner, Florida (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • McClain’s RV Superstore OKC West, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • PleasureLand, Inc., St. Cloud, Minnesota (Winnebago/Itasca)

The 2011 Circle of Excellence dealerships include (* Denotes first-time winner):


  • Suncoast RV, Inc., Calera (Winnebago)*


  • Great Alaskan Holidays, Anchorage (Winnebago/Itasca)


  • Carefree Coach & RV, Ltd., Edmonton (Itasca)*
  • Fraserway RV Limited Partnership, Airdrie (Itasca)*
  • Woody’s RV World, Red Deer (Winnebago)


  • Affinity RV Service, Sales & Rentals, Prescott (Winnebago)
  • La Mesa RV, Mesa (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • La Mesa RV Center, Tucson (Winnebago/Itasca)

British Columbia

  • Fraserway RV Limited Partnership, Abbotsford (Winnebago)
  • Okanagan Travel Land, Summerland (Winnebago)
  • Voyager RV Centre Ltd., Winfield (Itasca)


  • Altman’s Winnebago, Carson, California (Winnebago)
  • La Mesa RV, San Diego (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • Pan Pacific RV Centers, French Camp (Winnebago)
  • R. E. Barber Recreation Vehicles, Inc., Ventura (Winnebago)
  • Village RV, Roseville (Itasca)


  • Camping World RV SuperCenter, Fountain (Winnebago)
  • K & C RV Centers, LLC, Longmont (Winnebago)
  • Transwest Truck Trailer RV, Frederick (Itasca)*


  • Crowley RV Center, Bristol (Winnebago)


  • Parkview RV Supercenter, Smyrna (Winnebago)


  • Camping World of Fort Myers, Ft. Myers (Winnebago)*
  • Carpenter’s Campers, Inc., Pensacola (Winnebago)
  • Harberson RV-Pasco, LLC, Holiday (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • Lazy Days, Seffner, Florida (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • La Mesa RV Center, Inc., Sanford (Itasca)
  • R.V. World of Nokomis, Nokomis (Winnebago)
  • Suncoast RV, Cocoa (Winnebago)
  • Suncoast RV, Ocala (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • Suncoast RV, Winter Garden (Winnebago)


  • Camping World RV Sales, Pooler (Winnebago)
  • John Bleakley RV Center, Douglasville (Winnebago)


  • Barrington Motor Sales, Bartlett (Itasca)
  • Camping World of Chicago, Island Lake (Winnebago)
  • Winnebago Motor Homes, Rockford (Winnebago/Itasca)


  • Ben Davis Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick & Pontiac, Inc., Auburn (Winnebago)
  • Camp-Land, Burns Harbor (Winnebago)


  • Lichtsinn Motors, Forest City (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • US Adventure RV, Davenport (Winnebago/Itasca)


  • Olathe Ford RV Center, Gardner (Itasca)


  • Miller’s RV Center, Baton Rouge (Winnebago)


  • Beckley’s Camping Center, Thurmont (Winnebago)


  • Diamond R.V. Centre, Inc., Hatfield (Winnebago)


  • General RV Center, Mt. Clemens (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • General RV Center, Wayland (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • General RV Center, Wixom (Winnebago/Itasca)


  • Brambilla’s, Inc., Shakopee (Itasca)
  • Bullyan RV, Duluth (Winnebago)
  • Pleasureland RV Center – North Metro, Ramsey (Winnebago)
  • PleasureLand, Inc., St. Cloud, Minnesota (Winnebago/Itasca)


  • American RV Centers, Inc., Olive Branch (Winnebago)
  • Johnny Bishop RV, Columbus (Winnebago)
  • Reliable RV Center, Biloxi (Winnebago)


  • Midwest RV Center, LLC, St. Louis (Winnebago)*
  • Reliable RV, Springfield (Itasca)


  • McCollum Modern R.V.’s, Inc., Great Falls (Winnebago)
  • Pierce RV’s, Billings (Winnebago)


  • Leach Camper Sales of Lincoln, Inc., Lincoln (Itasca)


  • Findlay RV, Las Vegas (Winnebago)
  • Michael Hohl RV Center, Carson City (Winnebago)

New Hampshire

  • Hill’s RVs, Center Conway (Winnebago)

New Jersey

  • Colonial Itasca, Lakewood (Itasca)
  • Escape RV, Branchville (Winnebago)
  • Meyer’s RV Centers, LLC, Lakewood (Winnebago)*

New Mexico

  • Chisolm Trail RV, Albuquerque (Itasca)
  • Rocky Mountain RV World, Albuquerque (Winnebago)

New York

  • Camping World RV Sales of Syracuse, Syracuse (Itasca)

North Carolina

  • Bill Plemmons RV World, Raleigh (Winnebago)
  • Bill Plemmons RV World, Rural Hall (Winnebago)
  • Tom Johnson Camping Center, Marion (Winnebago)


  • Colerain RV, Cincinnati (Winnebago)
  • Dave Arbogast RV and Boat Depot, Troy (Winnebago)
  • Lewis Auto Sales, Inc., Dayton (Itasca)
  • Town and Country RV Center, Inc., Clyde (Winnebago)


  • Dean’s RV Superstore, Inc., Tulsa (Winnebago)
  • McClain’s RV Superstore OKC West, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Winnebago/Itasca)


  • Forest City Motor Homes, Ltd., Thorndale (Itasca)
  • Leisure Mart and RV Canada Corporation, Ottawa (Winnebago)*


  • All Seasons RV & Marine, Bend (Winnebago)
  • Camping World RV Sales, Portland (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • Guaranty RV Centers, Junction City (Itasca)
  • Olinger Travel Homes, Hillsboro (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • The RV Corral, Eugene (Winnebago)
  • Triple A RV Center, Inc., Medford (Winnebago)


  • Fretz RV, Souderton (Winnebago)*
  • Grumbine’s RV, Harrisburg (Itasca)*
  • Harold’s RV Center, Inc., Bath (Itasca)
  • Joe’s Marine, Inc., Sayre (Winnebago)
  • Media Camping Center, Inc., Fairless Hills (Winnebago)
  • Ray Wakley, Inc., North East (Winnebago)
  • Tom Schaeffer’s RV Super Store, Shoemakersville (Winnebago)


  • VR St-Cyr, St-Mathieu de Beloeil (Winnebago)
  • VR Daniel Emond, St-Nicolas (Itasca)

Rhode Island

  • Arlington RV Supercenter, East Greenwich (Winnebago)
  • Flagg RV Rhode Island, North Smithfield (Itasca)

South Carolina

  • Camper Country, Myrtle Beach (Winnebago)


  • Buddy Gregg Motor Homes, Knoxville (Itasca)*
  • Shipp’s RV Centers, LLC, Chattanooga (Winnebago)*


  • Crestview RV Center, Buda (Winnebago)
  • Billy Sims Trailer Town, Lubbock, Lubbock (Winnebago)
  • Holiday World of Houston, LP, League City (Winnebago)
  • Jack Sisemore Traveland, Amarillo (Winnebago)
  • McClain’s RV Rockwall, Inc., Rockwall (Winnebago)
  • McClain’s RV Superstore, Lake Dallas (Winnebago)
  • Ronnie Bock’s Kerrville RV, Kerrville (Winnebago)*
  • Shady Pines RV Center, Inc., Texarkana (Winnebago)


  • Motor Sportsland, Salt Lake City (Winnebago)


  • McGeorge’s Rolling Hills RV, Ashland (Winnebago)
  • Reines RV Center, Inc., Manassas (Winnebago)
  • Safford RV, Thornburg (Itasca)


  • Poulsbo RV, Kent (Winnebago)
  • R ‘N’ R RV Center, Liberty Lake (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • Roy Robinson Motorhomes, Marysville (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • Russ Dean Family RV, Pasco (Winnebago)


  • Horn’s Sales & Service, Sheboygan (Winnebago/Itasca)
  • King’s Campers, Wausau (Winnebago)

For more information, visit the Winnebago website.

Worth Pondering…
You don’t pay the price for success. You pay the price for failure.

—Zig Ziglar

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Closing California Parks: Another Stumbling Block

Will California be in Violation of Federal Law?

In the latest setback to Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to close one-quarter of California’s state parks to save money, 16 of the parks he is proposing to shutter cannot legally be closed because they have received federal money that requires parks to remain open.

Candlestick Point State Recreation Area near San Francisco is among the parks receiving federal Conservation funding, which, National Park Service officials say, means the state can't close it. (Credit: sfbayview.com)

“This funding is a grant to the state, like a contract,” said Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. “It is linked directly to the deed of these lands. It says the state makes a commitment to provide these places for public use in perpetuity. To not do that is essentially a breach of that contract.”

The affected parks include Castle Rock State Park in Santa Clara County, Twin Lakes State Beach in Santa Cruz, Portola Redwoods in San Mateo County, Candlestick Point near San Francisco, Limekiln in Big Sur, and Salton Sea State Recreation Area in Southern California, the Mercury News reported.

“It’s a challenge. It’s a legitimate issue we have to work through,” said California State Parks Director, Ruth Coleman.

Problems with the state’s plan surfaced when the head of the California Coastal Commission said that even though 11 state beaches are on the closure list, state park rangers cannot legally block anyone from the shoreline (SEE earlier post).

Established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund collects royalties from offshore oil drilling and uses the money to buy land for national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. The leading source of parks funding in the United States, the fund also issues grants to state and local parks to pay for everything from land acquisition to building new trails, visitor centers, and restrooms.

For tranquility and warm winter temperatures, point the RV in the direction of Salton Sea State Recreation Area while its still open to the public. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since 1965, California has received $287.3 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Written into the law is a requirement that any parks that receive the funds are required to remain open to the public. If states close parks that received the funding, the law does not require them to pay the money back, but it does require states to provide new park land of equal appraised value in a nearby location.

Also, the National Park Service could declare California ineligible for future federal parks grants if it closes parks that were purchased with land and water act funding.

Coleman said that she has begun discussing the issue with Christine Lehnertz, the head of the National Park Service’s regional office in San Francisco.

Coleman said the key question is whether the National Park Service will allow California to keep parks on the closure list open for one or two days a week and still qualify as “open,” or operate a park with volunteers, or even take all the rangers out and leave the gates open to satisfy the law.

“It’s one of the variables we have to look at,” Coleman said.”We are hopeful we can achieve enough access to meet the federal law’s requirements.”

Salton Sea State Recreation Area is popular with snowbirds and other campers, birders, and boaters. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Coleman encountered the same push-back from the National Park Service two years ago, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed closing 220 state parks. After receiving 135,000 cards, emails, and letters of opposition from the public, he dropped the idea.

“It is becoming more and more clear that closing down state parks is not a simple thing to do, and may not even save very much money,” said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California. “This really accentuates the importance of the governor and the Legislature finding ways to keep our state parks funded and open.”

On May 13, Brown’s staff announced that 70 of California’s 278 state parks would be closed by July 1, 2012, to help pay down California’s $9.6 billion budget deficit. The closures will save $11 million this year and $22 million next year, they said.

Jarvis, the national parks director, said Friday that he opposes California closing any state parks.

“I’m sympathetic to the states. But this is the wrong place to find those savings,” Jarvis said. “Parks are an essential social function that should be provided. People can take their kids and family and get a break from the hustle and bustle from daily life. When the previous governor attempted this, he got more letters than on any other issue.”

Worth Pondering…
In the end, we only conserve what we love.

We only love what we understand.

We will understand what we are taught.

—Baba Dioum, Sengalese poet

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