Arizona Signs Find Home at Rubber Ducky RV Resort

In 2013, while traveling down Interstate 10 in Arizona, Sheri and Dennis Crockatt, owners of the Rubber Ducky Resort near Warren, Manitoba, literally came upon a sign meant just for them.

Arizona Signs Find Home at Rubber Ducky RV Resort
Arizona Signs Find Home at Rubber Ducky RV Resort

Next to a campground closeout sale sign stood four 14-foot-high signs describing the amenities of the closing campground.

Upon reading the signs, they were astounded to find that each of the six different sections of the signs perfectly described the amenities of their own campground. It was clearly meant to be — these rustic signs simply had to make the journey back from Casa Grande, Arizona, to Warren, Manitoba.

“We just happened to be looking in the right direction at the right time. And once we read them, we knew that these signs weren’t destined for the junk yard. We had just the home for them.”, said Sheri Crockatt.

With 12 sections each measuring 9-feet-long by-1.5-feet-wide and 4 inches thick standing 14 feet in the air, moving the signs was not going to be an easy task.

Arizona Signs Find Home at Rubber Ducky RV Resort
Arizona Signs Find Home at Rubber Ducky RV Resort

Loading the sections into their camper and into a trailer pulled behind them, the signs made the 3,000-kilometer (1,800-mile) trip home to the Rubber Ducky Resort and Campground, where they proudly stand today.

“It’s proof that, if you believe in something strongly enough, there is always a way to make it happen,” she added.

An annual charity fundraiser, DuckyFest is scheduled for July 18-19, 2014.

Details

Rubber Ducky Resort and Campground

Rubber Ducky Resort and Campground is family owned and operated.

Accommodation choices include a modern family campground, camping cabins, and motel rooms and features two heated swimming pools and two hot tubs.

The campground offers both seasonal and overnight camping with nightly, weekly, monthly, and seasonal rates.

The Manitoba Campground Rubber Ducky knows kids love to swim—the pools are open early May until late September.

Address: Woodlands, MB R0C 3E0, Canada

Location: Approximately 50 km (30 miles) northwest of Winnipeg off Highway 6

Phone: (204) 322-5286 or (866) 254-7636 (toll free)

Camping: $25.71-$37.95

Website: www.rubberduckyresort.com

Worth Pondering…

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.

—Grandma Moses

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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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What do Ohio, Tennessee & British Columbia Have in Common? Part 2

America’s State Parks

Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Throughout America, state parks are struggling.

These are your parks. Get out and enjoy them.

What do Ohio, Tennessee & British Columbia Have in Common?

Ohio, Tennessee, and British Columbia are among a handful of a few states and Canadian provinces that DO NOT CHARGE ENTRY FEES to their parks. Admission is also free to park users in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Alberta, and Manitoba.

Park fees vary in other jurisdictions. The following is a sampling of day-use fees currently in place:

Alabama          $1-3/person

Arizona           $2-20/vehicle

California        $3-15/vehicle

Colorado         $7-8/vehicle

Connecticut     $9-22/vehicle

Delaware         $3-8/vehicle

Quail Gate State Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Florida             $4/vehicle

Idaho               $5/vehicle

Kansas             $3.70-4.20/vehicle

Massachusetts $2-9/vehicle

Minnesota       $5/vehicle

New Mexico   $5/vehicle

New York       $6-10/vehicle

Montana          $5/vehicle

Ontario            $10.75-19.25/vehicle

Oregon             $5/vehicle; some parks free

Saskatchewan $7/vehicle

Texas               $1-5/person

Utah                $5-10/vehicle

Vermont          $3/person

Wisconsin        $7-10/vehicle

State Park Pass

Shenandonah River State Park, Virginia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The state park entrance pass system works differently in each state. Many states offer some sort of pass that allows for unlimited entry at most state parks, while other offer park passes on a park-by-park basis.

Other State Park News

Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska vetoed a bill that would have increased annual resident permits for state parks and recreation areas from $20 to $25 and nonresident permits from $25 to $30.

Raising fees during these difficult economic times is not the appropriate way to better Nebraska’s state parks, Heineman said in his veto letter. Nebraskans have had to cut their spending, and they expect the same from government, he said.

Details

BC Parks

Washington State Parks

Discovery Pass

The Discovery Pass can be purchased at almost 600 sporting goods stores and other retailers statewide next month. The pass can also be purchased online or by calling 1-866-320-9933. Starting next fall, the state Department of Licensing also plans to sell the pass.

Worth Pondering…
Your travel life has the essence of a dream.

It is something outside the normal, yet you are in it.

It is peopled with characters you have never seen before and in all probability will never see again.

It brings occasional homesickness, and loneliness, and pangs of longing.

But you are like the Vikings or the master mariners of the Elizabethan age, who have gone into a world of adventure, and home is not home until you return.

—Agatha Christie, British mystery writer

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Tornadoes: The What, When & Where

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms.

A sequence of images showing the birth of a tornado. First, the rotating cloud base lowers. This lowering becomes a funnel, which continues descending while winds build near the surface, kicking up dust and other debris. Finally, the visible funnel extends to the ground, and the tornado begins causing major damage. This tornado, near Dimmitt, Texas, was one of the best-observed violent tornadoes in history. Image courtesy Wipikedia

People, recreational vehicles, cars, and even buildings may be hurled aloft by tornado-force winds—or simply blown away. Most injuries and deaths are caused by flying debris.

A tornado is a vertical funnel of violently rotating air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.

The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 miles (400 kilometers) per hour or more and can clear-cut a pathway in excess of one mile (1.6 kilometers) wide and 50 miles (80 kilometers) long.

Once a tornado in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, carried a motel sign 30 miles and dropped it in Arkansas!

These violent storms occur in many parts of the world, but the United States is the major hotspot with over 800 tornadoes reported every year. “Tornado Alley,” a region that includes eastern South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, northern Texas, and eastern Colorado, is home to the most powerful and destructive of these storms. U.S. tornadoes cause 80 deaths and more than 1,500 injuries per year.

Canada gets more tornadoes than any other country with the exception of the United States. Tornadoes are relatively common in Canada, but only in specific regions: southern portions of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Tornado season in Canada extends from April to September with peak months in June and July, but they can occur at any time.

Tornadoes’ distinctive funnel clouds are actually transparent. They become visible when water droplets pulled from a storm’s moist air condense or when dust and debris are taken up. Funnels typically grow about 660 feet (200 meters) wide.

Tornadoes move at speeds of about 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 kilometers) per hour, although they’ve been clocked in bursts up to 70 miles (113 kilometers) per hour. Most don’t get very far though. They rarely travel more than about six miles (ten kilometers) in their short lifetimes.

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Image courtesy Seymour

Tornado forecasters can’t provide the same kind of warning that hurricane watchers can, but they can do enough to save lives. Today the average warning time for a tornado alert is 13 minutes.

Tornadoes can also be identified by warning signs that include a dark, greenish sky, large hail, and a powerful train-like roar.

What causes tornadoes?

Thunderstorms develop in warm, moist air in advance of eastward-moving cold fronts. These thunderstorms often produce large hail, strong winds, and tornadoes.

Tornadoes in the winter and early spring are often associated with strong, frontal systems that form in the Central States and move east. Occasionally, large outbreaks of tornadoes occur with this type of weather pattern.

During the spring in the Central Plains, thunderstorms frequently develop along a “dryline,” which separates very warm, moist air to the east from hot, dry air to the west. Tornado-producing thunderstorms may form as the dryline moves east during the afternoon hours.

Along the front range of the Rocky Mountains, in the Texas panhandle, and in the southern High Plains, thunderstorms frequently form as air near the ground flows upslope toward higher terrain. If other favorable conditions exist, these thunderstorms can produce tornadoes.

This extremely dangerous tornado occurred on June 22, 2007 in the town of Elie, west of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The winds in this storm were rated to be between 260 and 320 miles (419 and 512 km) per hour, the most powerful tornado possible! The rare combination weather features converged this day in June, allowing for the most powerful tornado in Canadian history to be recorded. Image courtesy Steinbach Weather

The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction. The average forward speed is 30 mph but may vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph.

Frequency of Tornadoes

The meteorological factors that drive tornadoes make them more likely at some times than at others. They occur more often in late afternoon, when thunderstorms are common, and are more prevalent in spring and summer. However, tornadoes can and do form at any time of the day and year.

In the southern states, peak tornado occurrence is in March through May, while peak months in the northern states are during the summer.

Note: This is part 2 of a 3-part series on tornadoes

Worth Pondering…
There are two big forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness, and pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those disasters? Over that I have complete control.

—Leo F. Buscaglia, advocate of the power of love, 1924-1998

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Manitoba: The return of the snakes, Part 2

Five species of snakes breed in Manitoba. The red-sided garter snake has the largest range, is the most abundant and is the only species known to occupy large communal dens. Den sites include tree roots, shale cliffs, rock piles, sewers, foundations, animal burrows, rocky outcrops, and sinkholes. Dens contain from a few to over 10,000 snakes.

Mating ball: Annual mating ritual. Photo courtesy naturenorth.com

Red-sided garter snakes travel great distances every fall to return to their winter dens near Narcisse, Manitoba. Tens of thousands of these snakes migrate back to the limestone crevices that serve as winter homes, using what scientists believe are “scent trails” left by snakes travelling ahead. When fall rolls around, the central Interlake is inundated with these migratory snakes, reports the Winnipeg Free Press.

The fall migration back to the Narcisse Snake Dens is currently underway and will continue for a few more weeks. Good snake viewing should occur until at least the end of the first week in October. Sunny days are always best for snake viewing.

Image courtesy naturenorth.com

Highway 17 between Inwood and Narcisse is littered with the flattened bodies of snakes that were not lucky enough to make it across, the newspaper reported. Carcasses were literally everywhere.

Only two of the dens appeared to be active, with snakes slithering down the rocky edges into the pits. Most congregated together on the rocks to absorb the heat of the sun. Some of the snakes could be seen moving deeper into the dens, preparing for their winter of semi-hibernation.

The snake migration has caused problems in Inwood in the past. Last September, an Inwood seniors’ home, Inwood Manor, was infested with snakes on the return migration. Instead of going straight to their old dens, they decided to make the housing complex a new den.

Photo courtesy naturenorth.com

The Narcisse Snake Dens are 25 km/15 miles north of Inwood, on Highway 17. There are four snake dens in the Narcisse Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The dens were formed when underground water eroded the limestone rock of the area. This erosion caused the surface to collapse, creating a network of caverns and crevasses in the rock. This network extends well below the frost line, making it a perfect winter home for the red-sided garter snake.

In the fall, estimates of up to 50,000 snakes return to these dens resulting in the surrounding area being thick with snakes.

Worth Pondering…

There is magic in the air as August turns into September.

There is a ripening of the season as fruit trees grow heavy with red apples; leaves turn golden to reveal a harvest of pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and peppers in the field; and grape vines hang heavy with clusters of newly turned black and golden grapes.

Enjoy your days and love your life, because life is a journey to be savored.

Read More

Manitoba: The return of the snakes

Five species of snakes breed in Manitoba. The red-sided garter snake has the largest range, is the most abundant and is the only species known to occupy large communal dens. Den sites include tree roots, shale cliffs, rock piles, sewers, foundations, animal burrows, rocky outcrops, and sinkholes. Dens contain from a few to over 10,000 snakes.

Photo courtesy naturenorth.com

Red-sided garter snakes travel great distances every fall to return to their winter dens near Narcisse, Manitoba. Tens of thousands of these snakes migrate back to the limestone crevices that serve as winter homes, using what scientists believe are “scent trails” left by snakes travelling ahead. When fall rolls around, the central Interlake is inundated with these migratory snakes, reports the Winnipeg Free Press.

The fall migration back to the Narcisse Snake Dens is currently underway and will continue for a few more weeks. Good snake viewing should occur until at least the end of the first week in October. Sunny days are always best for snake viewing.

Photo courtesy naturenorth.com

Highway 17 between Inwood and Narcisse is littered with the flattened bodies of snakes that were not lucky enough to make it across, the newspaper reported. Carcasses were literally everywhere.

Only two of the dens appeared to be active, with snakes slithering down the rocky edges into the pits. Most congregated together on the rocks to absorb the heat of the sun. Some of the snakes could be seen moving deeper into the dens, preparing for their winter of semi-hibernation.

The snake migration has caused problems in Inwood in the past. Last September, an Inwood seniors’ home, Inwood Manor, was infested with snakes on the return migration. Instead of going straight to their old dens, they decided to make the housing complex a new den.

Image courtesy naturenorth.com

The Narcisse Snake Dens are 25 km/15 miles north of Inwood, on Highway 17. There are four snake dens in the Narcisse Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The dens were formed when underground water eroded the limestone rock of the area. This erosion caused the surface to collapse, creating a network of caverns and crevasses in the rock. This network extends well below the frost line, making it a perfect winter home for the red-sided garter snake.

In the fall, estimates of up to 50,000 snakes return to these dens resulting in the surrounding area being thick with snakes.

Worth Pondering…

There is magic in the air as August turns into September.

There is a ripening of the season as fruit trees grow heavy with red apples; leaves turn golden to reveal a harvest of pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and peppers in the field; and grape vines hang heavy with clusters of newly turned black and golden grapes.

Enjoy your days and love your life, because life is a journey to be savored.

Read More