I Dream of Galveston: Galveston Ferry & Railroad Museum

Following are more of our favorite Galveston attractions…

Galveston Island Ferry

Aboard the Galveston Island Ferry. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drive aboard or park and walk onto the free ferry between Galveston and Port Bolivar. Ferry service has been a part of the Texas transportation system since the 19th century when the skiff, The Tarpon, began operating from Galveston Island.

The Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry is the bridge between two segments of State Highway 87. South of I-10, State Highway 87 is the only highway around Galveston Bay. The free ferry service provided by TxDOT is the only way motorists can cross the waterway between Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island.

Throughout the year, more than 8 million people use the TxDOT ferry system.

This 2.7 mile ride (approximately 18 minutes) to Port Bolivar provides an excellent view of Galveston’s harbor, Seawolf Park, SS Selma, and opportunity to feed the flocks of gulls which usually sail with the ferries.

The ferries run 24 hours and follow regular, seasonal schedules.

Information: (409)795-2230

Location: Galveston Ferry Landing

Website: dot.state.tx.us

Aboard Galveston Island Ferry looking across to Seawolf Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Galveston Railroad Museum

Located in the former Santa Fe Union Station, at the end of Strand on 25th Street, the Galveston Railroad Museum depicts the city’s rail heritage.

One of the five largest in the country, the Railroad Museum features more than 20,000 railroad items, including three steam engines, three diesel engines, 15 passenger/business/ex­press cars, 14 freight cars, three cabooses, and the stream­lined Texas Limited passenger train. Three baggage cars and a coach have been remodeled, and now house pro­tected exhibits of railroad artifacts and photographs. Ex­hibits of railroad china are also on display.

When renovations were complete in 1982, the Museum opened its doors to visitors. Since then, well over a million visitors have toured the Museum.

The state’s first steam locomotive, the “General Sherman,” arrived at the Port of Galveston in 1853. Railroads became the lifeblood of Texas commerce, with an ever-expanding network of rail arteries serving to link major areas. As the largest, most cosmopolitan city in the southwest, Galveston in the late 1800s was the heart, pumping cotton, sugar, and other goods onto and off of rail cars at its thriving port.

During its railroading history Galveston Island has been headquarters of and/or served by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe, the Galveston, Houston and Henderson, the Gulf and Interstate, the M-K-T, the Texas and Pacific, the Burlington-Rock Island, Missouri Pacific, and the Southern Pacific.

This Galveston Island Railroad Museum poster depicts a very small sampling of the extraordinary collection of restored engines, cars, and railroad memorabila showcased here. (Credit: galvestonimagespastandpresent.com)

Even today railroads play a part in Galveston life. The port is served by the Union Pacific and its subsidiary the Southern Pacific, and by the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroads. These lines carry grain, sugar, sulfur, and other commodities daily.

Admission: $6; seniors $5

Location: 123 25th Street

Information: (409)765-5700

Website: galvestonrrmuseum.com

Note: After being closed for renovations, Galveston Railroad Museum is now open

Please Note: This is the second in a series of stories on favorite Galveston attractions

Texas Spoken Friendly

Find what brings you joy and go there.

Worth Pondering…
I still see her standing by the water
Standing there lookin’ out to sea
And is she waiting there for me?
On the beach where we used to run.
—Glen Campbell

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May RV Manufacturer Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently announced recall notices involving five recreational vehicle manufacturers—Jayco, Airstream, Crossroads RV, Forest River, and Tiffin Motorhomes.

Jayco, Inc.

Middlebury, Indiana-based Jayco, Inc. is recalling 66 model year 2012 Jay Flight Bungalow travel trailers, manufactured from March 19, 2012 through March 27, 2012.

The load range and the cold tire inflation pressure on these trailers are incorrectly identified. Thus, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 120, “Tire Selection and Rims for Motor Vehicles Other than Passenger Cars.”

Relying on the misprinted label could lead to improper vehicle loading specifications or tire inflation, which could result in a tire failure, increasing the risk of a crash.

Jayco, Inc. will notify owners, and dealers will remove and replace the labels with a correct label. Owners should contact Jayco at 1-574-825-0608.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to safercar.gov.

Airstream, Inc.

Jackson Center, Ohio-based Airstream, Inc. is recalling 12 model year 2012-2013 International Eddie Bauer travel trailers.

The Part 567 Certification Labels on the vehicles contain incorrect tire and rim size information. Thus, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

Incorrect tire and tire pressure information on the label could lead to the installation of a tire with the wrong load rating and insufficient tire pressure. These conditions could result in tire failure, increasing the risk of a crash.

Airstream will mail to consumers the corrected label and provide instructions on how to install the label.

Owners should contact Thor at 1-937-596-6849 or Airstream at 1-937-538-1268.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to safercar.gov.

Crossroads RV

Topeka, Indiana-based Crossroads RV is recalling 24 model year 2012 Elevation RVs manufactured from November 7, 2011 through February 22, 2012.

The onboard, auxiliary fuel storage tank is installed too high, which does not permit the tank to be filled properly. As a result, fuel may come back out of the fuel filler neck and spill.

In the presence of an ignition source, this could cause a fire or an explosion, which may result in personal injury or death.

Crossroads will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel tank mounting brackets free of charge.

Owners may contact Thor at 1-937-596-6849 or Crossroads at 1-260-593-2866.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to safercar.gov.

Forest River Inc.

Elkhart, Indiana-based Forest River, Inc. is recalling 1,468 model year 2010-2012 Georgetown RVs built on a Ford stripped chassis, manufactured from February 15, 2010 through November 29, 2011.

The gear shifter’s cable may break at the attachment to the transmission control selector arm assembly mounted on the steering column. If the cable breaks, the transmission gear indicator in the gear display in the instrument panel will remain in the first gear position regardless of the gear selected.

An incorrect gear indication in the instrument panel increases the risk that a vehicle is left in gear, such that the vehicle could roll, leading to a crash or injury to a bystander.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will replace the transmission selector arm assembly and the cable assembly, free of charge.

Forest Rivers has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Forest River at 1-574-295-8749.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to safercar.gov.

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc.

Red Bay, Alabama-based Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. is recalling 1,250 model year 2010 through 2012 Allegro motorhomes built on Ford F-53 and F-59 stripped chassis.

The gear shift cable may break at the attachment to the transmission control selector arm assembly mounted on the steering column. If the cable breaks, the transmission gear indicator in the gear shift display in the instrument panel will remain in the first gear regardless of the gear selected.

An incorrect gear indication in the instrument panel may prevent the driver from knowing if they are in park or reverse, increasing the risk of a crash.

Tiffin is working with Ford to identify and notify owners of the affected motorhomes. Ford will replace the transmission selector arm assembly and the gear shift cable assembly, free of charge. Owners may contact Tiffin at 1-256-356-8661 or Ford Motor Company Customer Relationship Center at 1-866-436-7332.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to safercar.gov.

Worth Pondering…

It is good to appreciate that life is now. Whatever it offers, little or much, life is now—this day—this hour.

—Charles Macomb Flandrau

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EverGreen RV Introduces Kitchen Island Unit to Ever-Lite Trailers

Middlebury, Indiana-based towable builder EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC has added a kitchen island floor plan to its line of Ever-Lite and Ever-Lite Select Deep Slide (DS) travel trailers for 2012.

The new kitchen island model 30KIS-DS is especially designed for families who enjoy cooking and entertaining large gatherings.

Perfect for serving meals, a full-sized, 42-inch deep slide-out, with a dinette that seats four adults and a sofa that seats three, is directly across from the large kitchen island, according to a news release.

A full-sized porcelain sink is centered in the countertop of the island for easy clean up.

Behind the island, another slide out provides ample counter and floor space for food preparation with easy, turn-around access from the sink to the standard three-burner stove with oven and hood, microwave, double-door fridge, and spacious cabinet storage.

The kitchen island has a contemporary, furniture quality feel with radius end caps and plenty of storage drawers and cabinets, the company noted.

The flagship of EverGreen Recreational Vehicles, the original Ever-Lite brand now has a total of 10 travel trailer floor plans built with full ComposiTek Construction.

The new Ever-Lite Select has 16 total floor plans built to be more affordable with a satin fiberglass exterior and a unique composite inner shell.

EverGreen 30-KIS-DS features island kitchen

Eight floorplans of both the Ever-Lite and Ever-Lite Selects brands are Deep Slide (DS) travel trailer models with larger 42-inch slides-like the new Model 30KIS-DS.


EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC was founded in December of 2008 with the premise that the recreational vehicle industry needed a new generation of innovative, sustainable, eco-friendly, green travel trailers and fifth wheels built like none before.

The vision of EverGreen is to use sustainable eco-friendly, recyclable, composite materials to replace wood and produce higher quality, longer-lasting products that are fully equipped, yet lightweight.

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC is the first RV manufacturer to achieve the TRA Certified Green Emerald Rating for its eco-friendly Ever-Lite travel trailers and fifth wheels.

EverGreen 30-KIS-DS floor plan








Address: 10758 County Road 2, Middlebury, IN 46540

Phone: (574) 825-4298

Website: goevergreenrv.com

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Worth Pondering…

RVing is great no matter what the weather. If it’s pleasant outdoors, then you can hike, swim, fish, or just hang around camp and snooze on your lawn chair. If the weather is cold and dreary, or rainy, you can simply hole up inside your little house and be as comfy as can be.

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Redwood Introduces Blackwood Bunk House Fifth Wheel

Syracuse, Indiana-based upscale fifth-wheel builder Redwood RV unveiled the new Blackwood 36BH, a family luxury bunk house, which it describes as being big on comfort and style with features designed specifically for families.

“At Redwood, we work hard to develop floor plans and features that make sense to the people who use them,” said Product Manager Paul Craven.

“This fundamental philosophy helped launch the Redwood brand, and it’s the basic principle behind the Blackwood product line. The new 36BH is what we call a family bunk house because we filled it with family-friendly features and enough sleeping space for up to eight people.”

The unit is set off by two separate awnings covering over 22 feet of outdoor living space while the interior offers a foyer bench with four coat hooks, residential bead board design and large storage doors, according to a news release.

The kitchen offers over 14 feet of solid surface countertop designed for entertaining family and friends.

A private half bath situated near the entry door, and second room makes it easy to entertain and keep the coach clean.

2012 Redwood RV Blackwood Fifth Wheel

Redwood RV said it is proud of the extensive research and design built into the Blackwood.

Solid cherry hardwood cabinets, solid surface countertops and backsplashes, over 10 feet of usable hang up space in the bedroom wardrobe are all standard features found on each and every Blackwood.

Add the Redwood quality difference, and you have a product that is like nothing else in the industry.

Features include:

  • Quad slide bunkhouse Blackwood FW w/rear bunk slide out w/cube sofa below
  • ½ bath w/private entry
  • Entertainment center w/40 inch TV
  • Microwave/3-burner range/refrigerator and pantry slide out
  • Kitchen island w/double-sink and waste basket
  • Ceiling fan
  • Seat w/overhead by entry
  • 72 inch sofa and dinette slide out
  •  Step up to side aisle bath w/toilet, sink and 60 inch shower
  • Front queen bed w/chests and wash/dryer closet
  • Wardrobe and large chest w/nightstands

Specifications include:

  • Length                                     39 feet 7 inches
  • Width                                       8 feet 0 inches
  • Height                                      12 feet 9 inches
  • Interior Height                        6 feet 10 inches
  • Fresh Water Capacity            85 gallons
  • Grey Water Capacity              90 gallons
  • Black Water Capacity             45 gallons
  • Furnace                                    35,000 BTU
  • Sleeps                                        6
  • Tire Size                                   16 inches
  • Slides                                        4
Blackwood 36BH floor plan from Redwood


Redwood RV

Redwood RV focuses exclusively on building mid-priced, luxury fifth wheels designed specifically for full time living.

Headquartered in Syracuse, Indiana Redwood RV distributes its products through dealers throughout the United States and Canada.

Redwood RV is a division of Thor Industries Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles.

Address: 72440 St. Rd. 13, Syracuse, IN 46567

Phone: (574) 456-7800

Website: redwood-rv.com

Worth Pondering…
Life is a gift, not an obligation. So make the very best of every single day you’re given!

—Donovan Campbell

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Rand McNally Offers New Destination for RVers

Rand McNally has expanded its award-winning travel community Best of the Road with a new microsite dedicated to RVers.

The Best of RVing site kicks off with a prize-a-day giveaway featuring items such as Rand McNally RV GPS devices, e-reader tablets, and campground memberships.  In collaboration with the Good Sam family of RV clubs, the site also features an RV Stories contest in which RVers can win up to $5,000.

“Following the success of the Best of the Road online community of road travelers, it was logical to build a special section just for RVers,” said Dave Muscatel, CEO of Rand McNally.

“Rand McNally has a long-standing relationship with RVers, who use our TripMaker RVND RV GPS as well as the Rand McNally Road Atlas, to explore the country. The Best of RVing site extends that experience, providing an outlet for RVers to connect, share their stories, learn about the lifestyle, and get practical tips from experts and partners.”

Launched a year ago, bestoftheroad.com is a community of road travelers who review the best stops on America’s highways and byways—including small towns and the points of interest between them. Every year votes are collected for the best small towns, which are then visited by amateur travelers in a Best of the Road Rally.

Best of RVing kicks off with a prize-a-day giveaway for all site registrants until August 31, 2012.

Prizes include Rand McNally’s TripMaker RVND GPS devices for RVers; NOOK Tablets from Barnes & Noble; and from Thousand Trails, Annual Camping Passes to their premier campground network. RVers simply register on bestoftheroad.com/rv and automatically they are entered to win.

In addition to the daily giveaway, the site also features an RV Stories contest, sponsored by Good Sam.

Contest entrants submit their best tales and videos in one of six categories: Oops! Bloopers & Video outtakes; Pay it Forward; Pet Stories; Outdoor Epiphanies; Camping with Kids; and Head-Turning RV Mods & Upgrades.

The RV community is invited to vote on the stories. Monthly prizes—such as $500 gift certificates to Camping World Supercenters, DISH Tailgater portable HDTV systems, Good Sam Club, and Good Sam Roadside Assistance memberships—will be awarded.

At the end of the summer, for each of the six categories, Rand McNally and Good Sam will name Grand Prize winners. The Grand Prize winners will receive $5,000 each, provided by Nokia’s Location and Commerce business, which includes NAVTEQ Maps and Traffic, the leading data enabling solutions for fleet logistics, geospatial analysis, and asset management.

Beyond the contests, the site offers information for the experienced RVer as well as the newbie, including:

  • RV News and Resources
  • New RVer
  • RV Solutions
  • RV Navigation
  • RV Living
  • RV Traveler
Join the fun as our Best of the Road RV travels the country from May through July 15.
Join the fun as our Best of the Road RV travels the country from May through July 15.

“Rand McNally has a great sense of the RVer community and what they are looking for in navigation and products that help enhance the on-the-road lifestyle,” said John Sirpilla, President of Camping World.

“We are excited to support the new Best of RVing site as it provides the RVer community with a wide range of opportunities to get updated on the latest and greatest and share with each other—from RV specific road trip ideas, to product news, to lifestyle tips.”


Rand McNally

Rand McNally is the most trusted source for maps, directions, and travel content.

Website: randmcnally.com

Best of RVing website: bestoftheroad.com/rv

Best of the Road website: bestoftheroad.com

Worth Pondering…
Every exit is an entry somewhere else.
—Tom Stoppard

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Vote for Your Favorite Park 2012

The third annual America Is Your Park campaign was launched last week (May 23) by Coca-Cola Live Positively.

Parks are the anchors of our communities, providing places for friends, families, and neighbors to be active and enjoy the outdoors together. Last year, park supporters cast more than 13 million votes for their favorite park to win money for improvements.

America Is Your Park campaign empowers people to rally their communities and get out the vote to select America’s Favorite Park.

Slides, park swings, see-saws, and open play spaces all stand to benefit in the third-annual America Is Your Park campaign.

With the click of a button, park goers can change their communities by voting for their favorite park to win the title of “America’s Favorite Park.” Also at stake is a $100,000 recreation grant made possible by the Coca-Cola Live Positively initiative.

“Parks are the anchors of our communities, but budget cuts have left them with little funds for restoration,” said Celeste Bottorff, Vice President, Living Well, Coca-Cola North America.

“Through the Coca-Cola America Is Your Park campaign, a small action today can turn your favorite park into a better place to play tomorrow. So whether it’s an evening walk or a day of family fun, get out and play in the park—and vote to help your favorite win.”

Voting for “America’s Favorite Park” is easy!

With just the click of a button, people can vote for their favorite park at LivePositively.com/parks.

Park lovers earn one vote per click for their favorite park—and can also earn 100 votes each time they “check in” from the park. More details on how to vote from the park are available on the website.

The three parks that receive the most votes by July 15, 2012 will be awarded recreation grants in the following amounts:

  • First Place – $100,000
  • Second Place – $50,000
  • Third Place – $25,000

In addition, a $15,000 grant will be awarded at random to another park that places in one of the remaining top 25 spots. These recreation grants are provided to help restore, rebuild, or enhance activity areas in parks where people can play and be active.

Park supporters can vote for their favorite park by:

  • Going online (via computer or smartphone) to LivePositively.com/parks (1 vote each)
  • “Checking in” from the park (100 votes each)

The America Is Your Park campaign was developed in collaboration with the National Park Foundation, America’s State Parks, and the National Recreation and Park Association.

Currently, the top 5 parks are:

  • Swift-Cantrell Park, Kennesaw, Georgia (539,013 votes)
  • Bastrop State Park, Bastrop, Texas (523,602 votes)
  • Parr Hill Park, Joplin, Missouri (310,424)
  • Jekyll Island State Park, Jekyll Island, Georgia (143,250 votes)
  • Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs, Georgia (142,432 votes)

The Story of Last Year’s Winner Inspires Communities in 2012
It takes a community to save a park! The 2011 winner, Oak Park, is a great example of a community that banded together to rock the park vote.

After a flood destroyed this beloved park in the small town of Minot, North Dakota, residents organized to get out the vote. They urged neighbors to join in, organized voting drives, and spread their message through online communities. Hometown celebrities also energized their social networks, and their fans responded by supporting the cause.

The $100,000 grant is being used to help rebuild the park so families can enjoy the outdoors once again.

“Residents of Minot pulled out all the stops to get people involved,” said Ron Bieri, Minot Park Board President.

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Worth Pondering…

I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play.

—Boris Becker

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Cummins Falls Tennessee’s 54th State Park

Cummins Falls State Park, the 54th addition to the Tennessee State Parks system was officially dedicated on Tuesday, May 22.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau joined members of the General Assembly, local elected officials, and members of the community to dedicate the newly created park.

“I want to extend my congratulations to the citizens of both Jackson and Putnam counties who rallied in support of preserving and protecting Cummins Falls as a state park, opening up to the public a beautiful, one-of-a-kind landmark for use today and for future generations,” Gov. Haslam said.

“Cummins Falls will not only serve as a constant reminder of the natural beauty Tennessee has to offer, this new state park will continue to demonstrate how private/public partnerships can work together to make a difference.”

Located on the beautiful Blackburn Fork State Scenic River, this idyllic 211-acre site in Jackson County is home to Tennessee’s eighth largest waterfall at 75 feet high. Cummins Falls is formed on the Eastern Highland Rim and has been a favorite scenic spot and swimming hole for local residents for more than 100 years.

Situated in the Cordell Hull watershed, Cummins Falls’ forest includes a variety of oaks, beech, buckeye, sycamore, and hemlock trees. Woodland plants include October’s lady tresses, star chickweed, liverleaf and Allegheny spurge. The property’s forested streamside protects turkey, quail and eagles, as well as a variety of fox, mink, and unique insects such as damselflies and dragonflies.

While Cummins Falls State Park is officially open to the public, enhancements to the park—including trails, additional road work, restroom facilities, and a small park office—are still part of the overall park management plan.

Cummins Falls is Tennessee’s eighth largest waterfall at 75 feet high. (Source: tnstateparks.com)

Cummins Falls’ rich history includes a time when Indians used the area to track the numerous buffalo that wallowed in the river’s shallow areas. In the 1790s, Sergeant Blackburn, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and for whom the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River was named, was awarded the land in lieu of a pension.

The land was acquired by John Cummins in 1825, and he used the land to build the first of two mills.  Because of his growing clientele, a larger second mill was built in 1845.  Local residents would visit the mills and the falls for both commerce and recreation.

The mill was washed away during the great flood of 1928, but cars and paved highways had already begun to make the trek to Cummins Falls more accessible.

The land was not rebuilt but stayed with the Cummins family for more than 180 years until the recent efforts by the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation to purchase the land through private and public donations for resale to the state of Tennessee for nearly $1,040,000.

Cummins Falls is the eighth largest waterfall in Tennessee in volume of water, and was named one of the top 10 best swimming holes in the United States in the “America’s Best Swimming Holes” article in Travel and Leisure magazine.


Tennessee State Parks
Tennessee’s 54 state parks and 82 natural areas offer diverse natural, recreational, and cultural experiences for individuals, families or business and professional groups.

State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses.

Phone: (888) 867-2757 (toll free)

Website: tnstateparks.com

Cummins Falls State Park

Cummins Falls State Park is open to the public free from 8 a.m. to sunset every day year-round,

Cummins Falls State Park is a 211-acre park located nine miles north of Cookeville on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River. In the rolling hills where Putnam and Jackson counties meet, the stream gives way to a 75 foot drop.

Hours of Operation: This day-use park and is open from 8:00 a.m. CT until sunset, year-round

Address: 1225 Cummins Mill Road, Cookeville, TN 38501

Directions: From I-40, take exit 286 towards Cookeville; go northeast on S. Willow Ave. for 3.2 miles; when in Cookeville, turn left onto W 12th Street (the road turns into TN-290W/Gainesboro Grade); drive 6.6 miles and turn right onto Cummins Mill Road, go 3.1 miles and turn left onto Blackburn Fork Road and the Park entrance will be on the left.

Phone: (931) 432-5312 (Burgess Falls State Park phone #)

Worth Pondering…
It’s a hard-earned scramble to the bottom that involves hiking to the overlook, wading across the ankle-deep stream, climbing up to the ridge, and using a rope guide to walk yourself down to the water. This is not a swimming hole for lightweights. Translation: expect a younger crowd. But if you’re agile (and sure-footed), the descent into the cavernous pool is worth the effort.

—Alice Bruneau, Travel and Leisure magazine, June 2010

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MapMuse Announces 2012 Update to State Parks Locator

MapMuse announces a 2012 data update to its State Parks Locator, a popular app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that connects outdoor enthusiasts with state parks across America.

The app now features nearly 3,200 parks that users can locate, learn about, and contact.

“Over 700 million people in the U.S. visit state parks every year,” says MapMuse owner Mike Pilon.

“We’re hoping the State Parks Locator increases that number.”

Built on an interactive map populated with icons representing each park, the app allows user to browse parks near their hometown or search for ones far and wide.

Tapping a park’s icon loads its profile page, which is packed with helpful visitor’s information such as headquarter contact details, history, main attractions, web links, Wikipedia links, and photos.

Once a user finds a park they’d like to visit, they can get instant in-app driving directions there via Google Maps, or call the visitor’s hotline via one-touch dialing for more information.

MapMuse Web Site State Parks Locator

“The goal of the app is to make it as easy as possible for users to get to these parks,” says Pilon.

Customer feedback to the State Parks Locator has been overwhelmingly positive so far, with over half of the submitted reviews on iTunes awarding it a perfect five-star rating. An increase in downloads is anticipated by MapMuse in the coming months as the weather warms and park explorers look for new places to visit.

Certain interactive features have been included in the app to engage the user base, including the abilities to suggest edits to the map (e.g. park openings and closures), and submit photos and reviews of locations visited.

“State Parks Locator is so much more than just a travel guide or a directory,” says Pilon.

“It’s a park review and photo sharing platform too.”

The State Parks Locator is available for download on the iTunes app store for $2.99.

A Droid version is currently in development, with a projected release coming later this summer.

Park explorers without mobile devices can access a free web version of the app on MapMuse’s website, which contains the same parks and data, but with less functionality (e.g. no mobile driving directions, dialing, etc.).



MapMuse Web Site State Parks Locator

Reston, Virginia-based MapMuse, an internet and app development company, is an experienced player in the outdoor resource locator market.

MapMuse has been creating leading edge mapping applications for major corporations since 2004, and also operates MapMuse.com which helps more than 1,000,000 visitors a month find places to live, work, learn, and play.

With the incredible growth of mobile internet services, MapMuse is now an iPhone developer offering extremely easy to use mapping applications on Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch devices.

In addition to the State Parks Locator, they’ve developed web maps and mobile apps for National Parks, National Recreation Sites, and National Historic and Nature Areas.

All of these topics can be added to the State Parks Locator map via in-app purchases.

Website: find.mapmuse.com

MapMuse State Parks Locator: find.mapmuse.com/state-parks

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Worth Pondering…
I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.
—Susan Sontag

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RV Advice for a Family with Young Children

Traveling in a recreational vehicle is one of the more convenient ways to holiday with young children: you can pull over and change a diaper, make lunch, or take “time out” on a moment’s notice.

Camping in a Class A motorhome at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Go RVing Canada may tempt you further; it cites the average cost savings of a seven-day RV vacation from Vancouver to Banff National Park using a lightweight travel trailer at 41 percent cheaper than the same vacation with a car/hotel option, and around 54 percent cheaper than an air/hotel option, the Globe and Mail reports.

Obviously, you need to invest some capital upfront to purchase an RV.

To determine which type of unit is right for your family, there are a few things to consider, including your budget.

“It’s tough to do an apples-to-apples comparison, but normally a travel trailer is significantly less expensive than a motorhome, dependent of course upon age, size, condition, etc. With a motorhome, you have an engine and drivetrain, and because of that insurance is typically higher. It’s almost like having another vehicle,” says one Alberta RV retailer.

Check with the manufacturer for the towing capacity of your current vehicle. Some lightweight trailers can be pulled with mid-size vehicles, including the family car.

If this doesn’t meet your requirements, you’ll need a heavy-duty vehicle or pickup truck to safely pull a larger conventional trailer or fifth-wheel unit.

If you need to purchase a second vehicle, going the tow route may not be more cost-effective than a motorized RV.

If economy is your foremost concern, consider a pop-up trailer or hard-top tent trailer.

Camping at Arches National Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“The investment in a tent trailer is comparatively low, you’ve got plenty of sleep-ability, and they’re easy to tow with almost any vehicle, but it’s just a lot more work setting up and taking down. There are also typically no washrooms, so when the kids are younger it can be a bit of a pain if you’re not close to the public washrooms,” says another dealer.

Many of the differences between a motorhome and travel or fifth wheel trailer also come down to convenience.

An advantage with towing a trailer is that once you arrive and set up, you can use your vehicle for shopping or touring around.

In a motorhome, you have to pack up first, unless you want to tow a car.

However, with a trailer you don’t have immediate access to amenities when you’re traveling down the road. For pure convenience with small children, a motorhome is hard to beat.

There are pluses and minuses for each type of recreational vehicle.

Your choice will depend to a large extent on your budget, and which extras you want and can afford.

Before making a final decision estimate the length of time you’re likely to keep the RV, and whether its sleeping arrangements will accommodate a growing family.

Because you’re new to RV life, consider renting before committing to ownership.

Camping at Laura Walker State Park, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’ll discover the features you don’t like, and those you can’t live without. And, you may even decide that renting, without the worry of maintaining, insuring, and storing an RV, is the way you want to roll.

Remember Robin Williams and the movie, RV?

Worth Pondering…

The RV lifestyle is like nothing else.

It’s leaving home, exploring America, and yet bringing your home along with you!

Stopping at a wayside picnic area, preparing lunch in your kitchen.

It’s sleeping in your own bed every night, yet waking up to a new vista each morning!

The sounds of a crackling campfire; of a mountain stream, of frogs, and crickets.

It’s families drawn closer; it’s retirees being rewarded for many years of labor.

—Loren Eyrich, Two-Lane Roads

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Salton Sea State Recreation Area Faces Closure

Salton Sea State Recreation Area is slated for closure on June 30 by the state of California.

For tranquility and warm winter temperatures, point the RV in the direction of Salton Sea State Recreation Area before it closes to the public. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park is one of 70 falling prey to legislative and economic malaise.

The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake and its surface elevation is about 230 feet below sea level, making it one of the lowest places on Earth. There is a particular smell, not always pleasant, but people get used to it quickly, they say.

It is an odd place according to a report in the U-T of San Diego.

The Salton Sea State Recreation Area stretches across 14 miles of the sea’s northeastern shore that, despite millions of dollars in improvements in the past decade, is scheduled to be permanently closed June 30.

Evaporation — about 1.3 million acre-feet of water evaporates each year — and rising salinity — it’s about 52 percent saltier than the ocean — threaten the sea’s survival.

Restoration plans have been debated and discussed for years, but the astronomical costs have precluded any real action.

Some say closure of the state park and its visitor’s center would signal the end of hope for the sea.

“Our fate as a state park is tied to the fate of the Salton Sea,” said board president Bill Meister. “We maintain that visible presence so that people will continue to learn about the Salton Sea so it won’t fade off into the sunset.”

It’s the winter home for millions of migrating birds — more than 400 species — traveling the Pacific Flyway.

Salton Sea State Recreation Area is a birders' paradise. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Salton Sea State Recreation Area is a birders' paradise. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More than 60,000 visitors come through the park each year to camp, fish, and boat.

One of the original 70 state parks targeted by Sacramento for closure last year because of the state’s budget mess, the area is far from self-supporting.

Camping fees and day-use payments bring in only about $100,000 a year while the budget to keep it operating has been around $1.2 million.

But there is hope for the park. If a group of residents, volunteers, and friends of the sea can raise $250,000, they would be eligible to operate the park and keep one window to the sea alive.

They need someone to step forward. They need money—and they need it fast.

“We just haven’t been able to access the public the way we would like to be able to do so,” said Bill Meister, president of the Sea and Desert Interpretive Association, which runs the visitor center and park store and is leading the charge.

“It’s all about location,” said Buford Crites, a former Palm Desert mayor who has been coming to the Salton Sea for years.

Crites said the park’s remoteness makes it an easy mark for budget cutters, reports mydesert.com.

“If the Salton Sea was between Palm Springs and Santa Monica, this wouldn’t even be an issue,” said Crites, who serves as chairman of the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy. “But it’s in the poorest part of California and off the major highways. That’s why this issue is in front of us.”

The Salton Sea was created in 1905 by accident when high spring flooding on the Colorado River crashed canal gates leading into the developing Imperial Valley.

For 18 months the Colorado River rushed downward into the Salton Trough. By the time engineers were able to stop the breaching water in 1907, the Salton Sea had been born at 45 miles long and 20 miles wide — equaling about 130 miles of shoreline. Over the years the salinity level has risen. The Salton Sea is now 50 percent saltier than the Pacific Ocean.

At one time the Salton Sea was a bustling tourist mecca.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, they came by the hundreds of thousands to swim, boat, camp, and fish.

But over the years, as the sea’s salinity level steadily rose, killing all the fish except for millions of Tilapia, the lure of the lake evaporated.

One of several recreation areas along the Salton Sea. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
One of several recreation areas along the Salton Sea. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The state park land is owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. If it closes, management of the park could be turned back over to the bureau.

But the bureau doesn’t directly manage its parks, according to an official. It partners with other agencies to handle day-to-day operations.

“If it ends up coming back to us, we would have to sit down and look at a variety of options,” said Rose Davis, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region.

Discussions with state and federal agencies continue, but no conclusions have been made on a coordinated response to this potential recreation area closure.

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Worth Pondering…
To quote one long-time Salton Sea local, “all the normal people have left or died.”

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