4 More Ice Fishing RVs

Ice fishing can be whatever you want it to be.

Salem Ice Cabin
The Forest River Salem Ice Cabin travel trailer is your little fishing cabin oasis just waiting for an adventure.

You can sit in comfort in a ice fishing RV all day waiting for a fish to come by. The only time you need to go outside is when you want to move to a new area.

Or you can sit on a pail, moving whenever your instincts tell you it’s time to move.

Following are four manufactures of ice fishing houses.

Salem Ice Cabin

Choose one of six models each with plenty of room to move about in while you wait for the big one. With six fishing holes in each model there should be plenty of action. You’ll even have a place to fry up a few when you get hungry on the 3-burner range with large oven.

Salem Ice Cabins range from 20 feet 5 inches to 24 feet 1 inch.

The Salem Ice Fish House is manufactured by Forest River, a Berkshire Hathaway company.

Website: www.forestriverinc.com

Ice fish in the comfort of a True North Ice Lodge
Ice fish in the comfort of a True North Ice Lodge

True North Ice Lodge

Ice fish in the comfort of a True North Ice Lodge. Choose one of six models each with plenty of room to move about in while you wait for the big one. With six fishing holes in each model (one model offers eight fishing holes) there should be plenty of action. You’ll even have a place to fry up a few when you get hungry on the 3-burner range with large oven.

With the touch of a few switches, the True North Ice Lodge can be lowered to the ice making your ice fishing experience a breeze. Salem Ice Cabins range from 20 feet 5 inches to 24 feet 1 inch.

The True North Ice Lodge is manufactured by Forest River, a Berkshire Hathaway company.

Website: www.forestriverinc.com

Ice Haven

Ice Haven from Gulf Stream Coach
Ice Haven from Gulf Stream Coach

You know the fish are out there. Now you can get to them while staying warm, sheltered, and comfortable in an Ice Haven from Gulf Stream Coach. Rugged construction, winter-weather insulation, a powerful furnace, a galley, and bunks mean no fish is safe.

The Ice Haven 20FH comes in a length of 25 feet 1 inch with a GVWR of 5,500 pounds. Standard features include a 20,000 BTU furnace, three-burner range with oven, and six fishing holes.

The Ice Haven is manufactured by Gulf Stream Coach.

Website: www.gulfstreamrvtrailers.com

Ice Seeker

Ice Seeker is a hard shell fish house that is fast and easy to set up and is built to fit your needs, whether it's for fishing, hunting, or camping.
Ice Seeker is a hard shell fish house that is fast and easy to set up and is built to fit your needs, whether it’s for fishing, hunting, or camping.

Ice Seeker is a hard shell fish house that is fast and easy to set up and is built to fit your needs, whether it’s for fishing, hunting, or camping. Built with every luxury you need for solitary use or fishing with all your friends.

The Ice Seeker is available in two floor plans with an exterior length of 20 feet 2 inches and 21 feet 8 inches. Standard features an 18,000 BTU furnace, three-burner range top with oven, and five ice fishing holes.

The Ice Seeker is manufactured by Crossroads RV.

Website: www.crossroadsrv.com

Please Note: This article is part of an on-going series on ice fishing and ice fish houses.

Worth Pondering…

‘Twas Night Before Christmas – Ice Fishing Version

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the ice fishing shelter,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a minnow;
The rods were all sitting by the ice holes with care,
In hopes that a walleye soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their parkas,
While visions of crappies danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my fur cap,
Had just got to fishing a new spot on the map,
When down through the hole my bobber plunged like a stone,
I grabbed for the rod and heard my reel groan.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a 30 inch walleye, hooked in the rear,
Since he was foul hooked he was lively and quick,
I knew a good capture would be a real trick.
I stuck in my hand, and pulled up the fish,
I finally had gotten my holiday wish.
He was golden in color, from his head to his tail,
We snapped a quick photo, he’s not bound for the pail.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the spot on his tail was as white as the snow;
The end of my thumb he held tight in his teeth,
It hurt quite a bit and I let out a shriek.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
I lowered him back to the hole for release,
And he slid from my hands as if he’d been greased.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he swam out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and keep your lines tight.”

—Tom Uehling, 2008

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Top 3 Ice Fishing RVs

Ice fishing is different things to different people. Some folks are out there with very serious intentions of catching fish, as many as possible.

That's the fun part of ice fishing: It can be whatever you want it to be.
That’s the fun part of ice fishing: It can be whatever you want it to be.

Other folks like the social aspect of ice fishing. They enjoy sitting in a warm shelter and generally just enjoying time outdoors with friends and family. For these folks an ice fishing house might be more to their liking. You walk in, light the heater, and before long you’re in shirt sleeves. That’s fun stuff.

And then there are those truly hardy anglers who sit on a pail out in the open. These folks like to travel light. They’ll pop a bunch of holes, then travel from hole to hole with their bucket, a depth finder, and a rod. These folks sit at a hole for a few minutes watching their depth finder closely.  If they see a fish, they’ll sit on the hole until it bites or moves on.  If no fish are seen in a few minutes, it’s off to the next hole. In the course of a day, these anglers catch a lot of fish.

That’s the fun part of ice fishing: It can be whatever you want it to be.

You can sit in comfort in a ice fishing cabin all day waiting for a fish to come by. The only time you need to go outside is when you want to move to a new area.

Or you can sit on a pail, moving whenever your instincts tell you it’s time to move.

Following are three manufactures of ice fishing houses with a history of building quality ice fishing RVs.

Ice Castle Fish Houses is the largest manufacturer of premium Portable Ice Fish Houses.
Ice Castle Fish Houses is the largest manufacturer of premium Portable Ice Fish Houses.

Ice Castle Fish House

Based in Montevideo, Minnesota since 1993, Ice Castle Fish House is the largest manufacturer of premium Portable Ice Fish Houses.

The road licensed Ice Fish House, featuring deluxe double pulley suspension with retractable wheels can be used year round. Use as a Hunting shack in the fall or use as a trailer for hauling snowmobiles, four wheelers, motorcycles and other toys in the winter, spring, and summer months.

Their top-end model is the luxurious King’s Castle, which stretches 8 by 30 feet (with a V-shaped front for extra space) and has a suggested retail price of $36,250. The smallest, most spartan model—the Scout—sells for just under $5,000.

Address: 3134 E. Highway 7 – P.O. Box 326, Montevideo, MN 56265

Phone: (320) 269-5428 or (877) 269-542 (toll free)

Website: www.icecastlefh.com

Custom Cottage
A Custom Cottage is a multi-season mobile shelter for ice fishing, hunting, camping, construction sites, overflow visitors, and more.

Custom Cottages

A Custom Cottage is a multi-season mobile shelter for ice fishing, hunting, camping, construction sites, overflow visitors, and more. The objective of Custom Cottages is to provide one shelter that can be used for all of these pursuits. Constructed with aluminum alloy frames and shells, Custom Cottages provide a strong, lightweight, and easy-to-move solution any time there’s a need for a comfortable mobile shelter.

Custom Cottages manufactures a variety of mobile cottages in varying lengths.

Address: 3005 East 4th Avenue, Shakopee, MN 55379

Phone: (612) 221-3214

Website: www.customcottagesinc.com

Canvas By The Stitch

Canvas by the Stitch is a custom canvas and upholstery design shop located in Wisconsin’s great north woods at Webster.
Canvas by the Stitch is a custom canvas and upholstery design shop located in Wisconsin’s great north woods at Webster.

Canvas by the Stitch is a custom canvas and upholstery design shop located in Wisconsin’s great north woods at Webster. They are the developers of the Original All Season Sports Trailer.

Weighing a mere 900 pounds, it will get you out on that ice earlier in the season and keep you there longer. And an optional foam coating under the flooring allows it to float, a potential safety measure for those venturing onto questionable ice.

Strong enough, you can pull it through the woods to reach your favorite hunting spot or ice fishing lake or fill it with your ATVs, lawn tractors, or whatever. It is rated to haul up to 2,600 pounds.

The Original All Season Sport Trailer is customizable—design it how you want it, how you need it, and how you’ll use it. Change it all up, add a door, adjust the sizes of the windows, or even add a few more, Canvas by the Stitch can do it all. The possibilities are endless.

Address: 24745 Anchor Inn Road, Webster, WI 54893

Phone: (715) 338-0391

Website: www.canvasbythestitch.com

Please Note: This article is part of an on-going series on ice fishing and ice fish houses.

Worth Pondering…

Winter giveth the fields, and the trees so old,
Their beards of icicles and snow…
—Charles duc d’Orléans, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Take Me Ice Fishing in an RV

No need to stay inside during the long winter months anticipating the annual spring thaw and another RV camping season.

Ice Seeker is a hard shell fish house that is fast and easy to set up and is built to fit your needs, whether it's for ice fishing, hunting, or camping.
Ice Seeker is a hard shell fish house that is fast and easy to set up and is built to fit your needs, whether it’s for ice fishing, hunting, or camping.

Be adventurous, get outside, and try fishing in a whole new way—through the ice—in an RV that doubles as an ice fishing house.

Ice fishing is more than just a way to fill the long days of winter. Ice fishing is a sub-culture and there is a strong camaraderie among the anglers.

It’s a chance to breathe the cool, clean winter air, to spend quiet time outdoors with family and friends, and to relax and collect one’s thoughts away from the hustle and bustle of a busy world.

If the winter’s subfreezing temperatures make you dream of dropping a line in the ice, there’s no need to spend all your time in the elements.

Ice fishing was unheard of in the North Country until the late 1800s. In 1888, Sven Stevenson built a cabin on a hill overlooking Minnesota’s Lake Minnewaska. It was a very wet fall and the hill had suffered a few mud slides. While the details are sketchy, it appears after a heavy January snowfall, Sven’s outhouse and a sizable chunk of frozen dirt slid down the hill and out onto Lake Minnewaska—all while Sven was inside doing his business.

Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV
Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV

The friction from all that frozen dirt sliding across the ice created enough heat to open up a small hole in the ice. Amazingly, the outhouse ended up right over the top of it. Sven, of course, wasn’t sure what was going on but when things settled down, he stood up, looked through the hole and saw fish swimming below the outhouse.

Being a fanatic angler, Sven ran to the cabin, grabbed his fishing pole, ran back to the outhouse and lowered some bait into the hole. It wasn’t long before a crowd gathered to see what Sven was up to.

A few days later, other area residents pushed outhouses onto the lake and a small community was born.

Many ice fishing pioneers built additions onto their outhouses and even put in wood stoves and a week’s worth of food so they could enjoy extended periods away from home. This tradition is still practiced today.

Finally spring arrived and the community of outhouses was pulled away by horses (equipped with special ice-gripping horse shoes). Sven’s outhouse was not removed in time and plunged through the thinning ice on April 12, 1889. The Minnesota Historical Society attempted to recover the structure in 1975 but, despite weeks of searching with a one-man submarine, failed.

Ice Haven
The Ice Haven 20FH showing storage area, folding game table, bay window, overhead bunk, and rubberized floor with 6 fishing holes.

Things have come a long way since Sven’s first Minnesota ice fishing house. Today, most have a heat source, television, satellite dish, reclining chairs, bunk beds, rustic dining table and chairs, carpet, paneling, and in a few rare cases, mortgage.

Ice fish houses are a great way to stay sheltered from the cold and spend time with family and friends while you wait on your tip-ups.

What began as an experiment in mobile fishing houses built on retractable wheels has blossomed into a business with many competing manufacturers, each seeking to upgrade winter anglers to amenities unknown to previous generations,

Ice cabins have become very popular. They’re made to RV specifications, and many are outfitted with air conditioners, so they can be used in summer as travel trailers.

Most manufactures offer a variety of models and floor plans ranging from six to 30 feet and in a price range of $3,000 to over $20,000.

Lightweight for easy maneuvering, fish houses can be towed onto the ice.

Custom Cottage
A Custom Cottage is a multi-season mobile shelter for ice fishing, hunting, camping, construction sites, overflow visitors, and more.

While some are very modest shelters providing bench seating and shelter from the elements, some fish houses come complete with all the amenities of a travel trailer, making long days on the ice more pleasant and providing refuge for overnight stays near the lake.

After a successful day on the ice, cook up the catch of the day on the stove while relaxing with friends.

Please Note: This article is part of an on-going series on ice fishing and ice fish houses.

Worth Pondering…

When ice fishing remember this rule of thumb: Thick and blue, tried and true. Thin and crispy, way too risky.

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Nostalgia-On-Wheels at Airstream-Only RV park

An RV park near St. Cloud in central Minnesota looks like most other campgrounds.

Nostalgia-On-Wheels at Airstream-Only RV park
Nostalgia-On-Wheels at Airstream-Only RV park (Source: airstreampark.com)

There’s a club house, heated swimming pool, a tennis court, golf course, sauna, horseshoes, tennis and bocce ball courts, shuffleboard, and fully serviced RV sites with all the usual amenities including free Wi-Fi access.

But this campground 53 miles northwest of the Minneapolis is different.

A slice of retro heaven, the Minnesota Airstream Park is a reflective sea of silver bullet trailers. Freshly polished aluminum skins shines like a mirror on wheels. This is an Airstream-only RV park—one of 11 in the U.S.

For decades, Airstream owners have been seduced by the sleek, aerodynamic, aluminum-skinned travel trailer created by Wally Byam in 1936. He named it the Clipper and the brand, Airstream, was placed onto the map.

The Clipper was of similar design to the Road Chief, a trailer previously designed by former aircraft designer chief builder of The Spirit of St. LouisHawley Bowlus. However, the Clipper had one distinct difference—the door was positioned on the side.

When Airstream began, there were less than 48 trailer manufacturers that were registered for business. Five years later, nearly 400 companies squared off against each other. Today of those 400 companies, only Airstream remains.

Nostalgia-On-Wheels at Airstream-Only RV park
Nostalgia-On-Wheels at Airstream-Only RV park (Source: airstreampark.com)

Back in 1970, a group of Airstream enthusiasts who lived in Minnesota wanted a place to call their own near the Twin Cities, founded the 80-acre park in Clear Lake.

The resort was organized as a cooperative by several families, all of whom were Airstream trailer owners and members of the Minnesota unit WBCCI (Wally Byam Caravan Club International) seeking a good place for rallies. With pooled funds, they purchased the land and did much of the work of building the Airstream Park themselves.

Today there are 125 sites, with lots priced from $4,000 to $22,000, depending on the location, landscaping, and amenities, such as screened gazebos.

Now, people come from all across the country—even across the pond—to enjoy the Land of 10,000 lakes.

The Minnesota Airstream Park has lots available for both short-term and seasonal guests.

Airstream club members also can rent a camping site for the daily rate of $27 or a three-night weekend for $54; weekly and monthly rates are $162 and $600 respectively.

Rates include a lot with a gazebo or screen room, full water, sewer, and electrical hook-ups and free access to all resort amenities, including the golf course (no greens fee), tennis court, swimming pool (and pool house with a sauna and soft-water showers), laundry room, picnic areas, fire pits, bocce ball court, shuffleboard court, and park-wide wi-fi access.

This is a co-op campground, so you have to buy a share in order to get a lot. Shares run anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000.

Nostalgia-On-Wheels at Airstream-Only RV park
Nostalgia-On-Wheels at Airstream-Only RV park (Source: airstreampark.com)

But Airstream Park culture isn’t just about the “silver bullet” trailers and memories of family vacations. Airstreamers also form friendships at social activities such as potlucks, bingo, campfires, and karaoke.

Details

Minnesota Airstream Park

Minnesota Airstream Park is an Airstream-only RV resort situated on 80 beautiful acres in central Minnesota. There are 125 member-owned lots, and all members of the resort are shareholders of Land Yacht Caravaners Club, Inc., a non-profit corporation.

Each owner’s share entitles them to the exclusive use of a specific site in the resort, along with the unlimited use of all shared resort amenities, including a 9 hole, par 28 golf course with no greens fees. If you have an Airstream-manufactured RV, you are eligible for the truly unique opportunity of owning a slice of the Airstream-only RV resort.

Address: 8795 82nd Street, Clear Lake, MN 55319

Phone: (320) 743-2771

Website: www.airstreampark.com

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
I saw a needle that winked its eye.
But I think I will have seen everything
When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV

Montevideo, Minnesota-based American Surplus offers an eclectic array of wares from cheap sunglasses to refrigerator magnets.

Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV
Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV

This warehouse-like building is also the epicenter of a revolution in ice-fishing houses.

About 80 workers are building Ice Castle ice-fishing houses, the brand that is rapidly becoming ubiquitous across the Upper Midwest’s ice-fishing belt, reports twincities.com.

As the ice thickens up to 11,000 Ice Castles will be towed across frozen lakes, where they’ll join thousands of home-fashioned ice houses.

When you think of a wheelhouse that can be hauled along the highway and onto the ice road and then lowered onto the ice, you probably picture an Ice Castle.

The brand continues to grow, to the point where “ice castle” is becoming a generic term for wheeled ice-fishing houses. The company is scrambling to keep up with orders, and a slew of competitors are entering the fray (to read an earlier story, click here.)

The brand claims 56 percent of the market share in Minnesota; in January (2013), 178 units were sold, compared to 19 by its nearest competitor. According to Omaha, Nebraska-based A.C. Nelsen RV World, the top-selling travel trailer recreational vehicle (ice house or not) in Minnesota is the Ice Castle.

“We didn’t know it was goi

Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV
Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV

ng to be this big,” confessed Jeff Drexler, the owner of American Surplus, which owns and builds Ice Castles with almost exclusively American-made parts.

And it all started on a whim, Drexler told twincities.com.

In 1997, Drexler, who ice-fishes only occasionally, got a call from friend Dave Hanlon, store manager at Milaca Unclaimed Freight.

“Why don’t those guys make an ice-fishing house trailer?” Hanlon asked.

And, as they say, the rest is history.

The first models were nameless, 6-1/2-by-12-foot boxes priced at $1,999. The company now offers 33 models, with a new one to be unveiling at the Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show on February 6-9 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

American Surplus’ top-end model is the luxurious King’s Castle, which stretches 8 by 30 feet (with a V-shaped front for extra space) and has a suggested retail price of $36,250. The smallest, most spartan model—the Scout—sells for just under $5,000.

Ice Castle doesn’t own patents on any key components or designs, but it did show the world how versatile its products can be.

But these aren’t just ice-fishing houses.

They’re RVs you can fish out of in the winter and camp with in the summer; some have party decks. They can be hunting sheds and toy haulers, too.

Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV
Ice Fishing From the Comfort of an RV

A common feature in many Ice Castles—and some RVs (toy haulers)—is the back end opens into a ramp. ATVs, snowmobiles, and dirt bikes can be driven right into the living room, which is fitted with tie-down anchors.

This is huge because, in Minnesota and Wisconsin, camping is so big the rest of the year.

Being an RV officially—has other benefits. Some campgrounds won’t accept “ice houses on wheels” for safety reasons, and banks are reluctant to finance the purchase of such a contraption.

That’s why, several years ago, Drexler obtained official certification from the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) for larger Ice Castle models.

“It legitimized what we were doing,” Karen Bogan, who leads sales and marketing for Ice Castle, told twincities.com.

“It made it a lot easier to explain to people that, yes, this really is an RV, and it meant you could finance them from your local credit union.”

In 2012, Ice Castle produced 1,422 fish houses, and in 2013 about 2,040. Working six days a week, they manufacture up to 10 units a day and are about 500 behind.

Details

Ice Castle Fish House Mfg.

ice_castle_logo_colorBased in Montevideo, Minnesota since 1993, Ice Castle Fish Houses is the largest manufacturer of premium Portable Ice Fish Houses.

The road licensed Ice Fish House, featuring deluxe double pulley suspension with retractable wheels can be used year round. Use as a Hunting shack in the fall or use as a trailer for hauling snowmobiles, four wheelers, motorcycles and other toys in the winter, spring, and summer months.

Address: 3134 E. Highway 7 – P.O. Box 326, Montevideo, MN 56265

Phone: (320) 269-5428 or (877) 269-542 (toll free)

Website: icecastlefh.com

Worth Pondering…

You can camp in an Ice Fish House, but you can’t fish in a camper.

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Iowa Hides RV Registration Fee Tax Grab in Catch-All Bill

In recent stories I reported that the governor of two northern states have declared war on the so-called rich.

nelson_haha2Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota proposed a snowbird tax on residents who live 60 days to just under six months in the state.

Dayton told snowbirds that since you’re rich, you can pay more.

“It’s time snowbirds paid their fair share,” he stated.

In a separate story the Iowa Senate approved a bill intended to prevent tax evaders (their words, not mine) from using out-of-state shell corporations to avoid paying registration fees on million-dollar recreational vehicles and other luxury vehicles.

Iowa Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, said Senate File 364 will make it easier to crack down on those who deliberately evade paying registration fees.

The bill was approved on a 46-2 vote and sent to the House.

In the most recent development this new rule affecting all current and future RVers was inserted in a catch-all bill approved by Iowa legislators.

How will this new tax affect the lifestyle of Iowans? (Source: theveganmom.com)
How will this new tax affect the lifestyle of Iowans? (Source: theveganmom.com)

Bowman says it’s a crackdown on tax evasion, radioiowa.com reported.

“What this will do is close the loophole by addressing a sham or a shell fake (limited liability) corporation specifically being in place in the state of Montana,” Bowman says.

“We’re talking about million-dollar RVs or luxury vehicles that are being registered out-of-state, but they’re being driven in the state of Iowa, they’re maintaining residence in the state of Iowa, but they’re getting through this loophole and not paying their user fee.”

Montana does not charge sales tax, so people around the country have set up corporations in Montana to avoid paying their home state’s sales tax on the purchase of expensive motorhomes. Bowman says some Iowans are using that loophole.

“If you’re talking about a $25,000 vehicle, that might mean $2000, but if you’re talking about a million dollar vehicle, it’s $50,000,” Bowman says.

The proposal that has cleared the legislature makes it a crime for an Iowa resident who does not use their RV to do business for a Montana-based corporation to evade Iowa taxes by registering their motorhome in Montana. Bowman says motorhomes create wear and tear on the state’s roads just like other vehicles and the state sales taxes paid on motorhome purchases help finance road repairs.

“That money goes directly to our Road Use Tax Fund,” Bowman says.

“We all know the need in our Road Use Tax Fund.”

Sales taxes on motor vehicles and state taxes charged on motor fuel are deposited in the state Road Use Tax Fund, but officials say the fund is at least $250 million short of covering the amount of repair and construction needed in Iowa’s road system.

Some states have set up tip lines for residents to call in and report on neighbors who have an RV with Montana plates.

camper-bike-6This motorhome sales tax issue was included in a huge bill that cleared the legislature on its final day. Governor Branstad has the authority to item veto sections of the bill and he routinely refuses to say in advance whether he’ll approve or veto proposals.

The proposed tax grabs by the states of Iowa and Minnesota draw the contrast of what is happening in United States today. Maybe, it’s time to move to Texas!

Worth Pondering…

Even if the majority agrees on an idiotic idea, it is still an idiotic idea.

—Sam Levenson

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Are You Ready for a Snowbird Tax?

The governor of a northern state is proposing a snowbird tax on residents who live 60 days to just under six months in the state.

Minnesota in winter (Source: minnesota.publicradio.org)
Minnesota in winter (Source: minnesota.publicradio.org)

Spend most of the year in Florida, Texas, Arizona, or another Sunbelt state, and a snowbird smack down could be your new reality.

Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota is proposing a snowbird tax as part of a larger tax grab by proposing to increase Minnesota’s personal income tax rate to 9.85% from 7.85% on income above $150,000 for singles and $250,000 for joint filers.

Minnesota’s income tax rate would be the country’s sixth highest.

Dayton tells snowbirds that since you’re rich, you can pay more. It’s time snowbirds paid their fair share!

Dayton, a Democrat, proposed the idea last month when announcing key parts of his proposed $37.9 billion budget.

He made a similar proposal last year that was defeated by the then-Republican-controlled legislature.

The plan would purportedly raise no more than $30 million over two years from all Minnesota residents who live 60 days to just under six months in Minnesota by taxing their capital gains and dividends as well as income from stocks and bonds.

The prorated income tax would largely hit older residents and retirees because they leave northern states to establish residency in such warmer places as Arizona and Florida.

Yuma, Arizona in winter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Yuma, Arizona in winter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to Dalton’s logic it’s unfair that somebody can live six months and a day outside of Minnesota and pay no state personal income taxes, then come back and take advantage of “all the state has to offer for five months and 29 days.”

“This is a snowbird tax—absolutely,” he told reporters.

Apparently in Dalton’s world it matters little that seniors have worked for upwards of 35 years contributing to the state economy and paying taxes and scrimping and saving in order to enjoy their senior years in a warmer climate.

The purportedly first-of-its-kind tax would be difficult to enforce and is already facing opposing from state Republicans.

The hassle factor will be enormous, with the taxmen presumably demanding proof of location during the year via the likes of golf or restaurant receipts, reports Wall Street Journal.

When revenue invariably doesn’t meet expectations, maybe Dayton can require a GPS locator for grandma’s cellphone.

But raising revenue isn’t the point of this exercise. In the governor’s own words it’s about “unfairnesses”. The goal is to punish people for the sin of being able to afford to travel south for the winter.

“I don’t even think that’s constitutional,” Senate Minority Leader David Hann told the MinnPost.com.

“I don’t even know how you’d do that. (And) as far as I can see, there’s not a lot of money attached to it.”

FoxNews reports that a Florida Republican congressman is welcoming to his home state Minnesota residents who migrate south to escape the Midwest’s notoriously cold, harsh winters—now that their governor is trying to impose a so-called “snowbird tax” on them.

“Dear Governor Mark Dayton,” Rep. Trey Radel wrote.

Winter in Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Winter in Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“I’m writing today to thank you. As a Floridian, I am overjoyed to hear about your plan to raise taxes on Minnesotans, most especially the so-called ‘snowbirds.’ Your proposal gives us a chance to shine here in the Sunshine State.”

Radel, argues in the letter, which appear written with pointed sarcasm to skewer higher taxes, that southwest Florida would welcome more entrepreneurs and philanthropists investing in the region. And he cited such incentives as no income taxes, investment incentives for big and small businesses, and “great” public, charter, and private schools.

“It’s my sincere hope your plan has just driven many Minnesotans to become year-round residents of our great state,” he wrote. “I thank you for your policy.  It draws the contrast of what is happening not only in United States today, but the world.”

Worth Pondering…

Even if the majority agrees on an idiotic idea, it is still an idiotic idea.

—Sam Levenson

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Geocaching Avian Adventure

A new geocaching program offers modern-day treasure hunters an exciting adventure filled with a variety of challenges, rewards, and bird-brained fun!

The Minnesota State Parks and Trails Geocaching Avian Adventure will take you across Minnesota—discovering the hidden gems of the state and revealing exciting facts about Minnesota’s favorite friends of flight.

Centered on Minnesota bird life, Geocaching Avian Adventure will begin this Saturday, June 9 (National Get Outdoors Day), offering long-time and novice geocachers the chance to learn about native avian life and the challenge of finding new caches in state parks, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Adding to the incentive, all state park admissions will be free on Saturday, in celebration of Get Outdoors Day.

A Geocaching Avian Adventure Bird Cache has been hidden and waiting to be discovered in all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, as well as on one state trail. Your challenge is to locate the Bird Cache using a hand-held GPS (global positioning system) unit.

Most sites have multi-caches featuring several hidden caches with quizzes and puzzles to solve; all have a collectible Bird Card in the final cache.

Each camouflaged Bird Cache includes an instruction card, the Bird Guestbook (logbook), and a collectible Bird Biome Card specific to the state park, recreation area, or state trail.

Each Bird Card is color coordinated to one of the states four distinct natural communities or biomes. Also included in the cache may be small trinkets left by a previous geocacher. If you find a trinket, it’s your to keep. If you choose, leave a trinket in return for the next Avian Adventure geocacher to find.

The clues to their exact whereabouts will be posted at 8:00 a.m. June 9 on the DNR website, mndnr.gov.

“The Geocaching Avian Adventure will be fun for new and experienced geocachers alike,” said Kathy Dummer, interpretive services coordinator for the DNR’s Division of Parks and Trails.

“Everyone who participates will get a little better acquainted with Minnesota’s birds and biomes along the way.”

GPS demonstration parks provide free tips and equipment for beginners.

At 25 designated geocaching demo parks, GPS units can be checked out for free, and Geocaching 101 workshops will provide hands-on instruction for first-time geocachers.

Geocaching 101 programs are scheduled in each region of the state:

  • Northeast Region – Friday, June 8, 1:00-1:30 p.m. at Gooseberry Falls State Park (Two Harbors)
  • Northwest Region – Saturday, June 9, 2:00-3:00 p.m. at Buffalo River State Park (Glyndon)
  • Central Region – Saturday, June 9, 10:00-11:00 a.m. at Interstate State Park (Taylors Falls)
  • Southern Region – Saturday, June 9, 1:00-4:00 p.m. at Camden State Park (Lynd) and 7:00-8:00 p.m. at Sibley State Park (New London)

Since the Geocaching Wildlife Safari began in 2009, the interpretive naturalists at Minnesota state parks have offered 325 Geocaching 101 programs that have reached more than 9,000 participants. GPS units were checked out from the demo parks more than 2,754 times in 2011 alone.

What Is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure-hunting game played by people with GPS devices throughout the world. The object of the game is to find the cache and then sign the logbook to show other geocachers that one has found the location. Some geocachers leave items near the cache for others to have.

What Is a Biome?

Minnesota is rich in natural diversity, providing essential habitat for a variety of plants and animals, especially birds. Minnesota is home to four major biomes, named for the dominant or most common plants that grow there: prairie grassland, deciduous forest, coniferous forest, and tallgrass aspen parkland.

Some birds are found in only one biome while many move between or across different natural communities. Minnesota State Parks and Trails preserve and manage significant fragments of these essential natural landscapes, making them great sites for birds, and for parks and trails visitors, too!

Worth Pondering…
There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
—Robert Service, The Spell of the Yukon

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Camping Opportunities in National Forests & Grasslands

As summer camping season approaches many families will rely on ForestCamping.com for camping opportunities in national forests and grasslands.

Mendenhall Glacier from the campground in Tongass National Forest, Alaska (Source: forestcamping.com)

Old man winter may have made a late arrival in your area but summer and the family camping season is just around the corner.

Camping is a good way for families to reconnect, to help strengthen family bonds, and counter the stressful effects of a busy lifestyle.

Many national forest campgrounds were designed, developed, and are managed for families, making them outstanding and affordable family vacation destinations.

Each year more families are discovering great family vacation destinations in national forest and grassland campgrounds. Whether camping with pre-school or older children, there are Forest Service campgrounds that will fit the family.

Using ForestCamping.com, with more than 2,400 developed campgrounds in 175 national forests and grasslands scattered across the country in 44 states, families can be assured they’ll find a Forest Service campground with what they want to see, do, and enjoy.

Canoes at Sawbill Campground in Superior National Forest, Minnesota (Source: forestcamping.com)

Whether close to home or for a cross-country trip, ForestCamping.com provides families—new or experienced campers—a source to locate an affordable camping experience.

Several examples follow:

Mendenhall Campground in Tongass National Forest, Alaska – Full hookups, a Visitor Center that is outstanding, fishing, hiking, hot showers, and a glacier right there. And it’s Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun, an ultimate family camping adventure destination. Details here>

Sawbill Campground in Superior National Forest, Minnesota – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is just steps from every campsite. The adjacent outfitter has everything needed for a memorable one day or week long canoe trip into the BWCAC including canoes and guide. Imagine listening to loon calls while eating pancakes stuffed with fresh picked blueberries. Details here>

Glacier View Campground in Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho – One of 37 developed campgrounds in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Centrally located, it is convenient to the breathtaking Sawtooth Wilderness with fabulous hiking trails, Redfish Lake with Rainbow, Brook, and Mackinaw trout, historic Redfish Lake Lodge offering a boat shuttle to Sawtooth Wilderness, trail rides, and a cook’s night out, and interpretive programs throughout the summer. Details here>

Lake Powhatan Campground in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina– Full hookups, modern bathroom facilities, beach and swim area, fishing, hiking

Redfish Lake near Glacier View Campground in Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho (Source: forestcamping.com)

, educational programs, and convenient to a number of attraction such as Cradle of Forestry Visitor Center, Blue Ridge Parkway and the Biltmore Estate, this campground has been popular with families for decades. Details here>

Details

ForestCamping.com
ForestCamping.com, the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide website, is a complete and comprehensive guide to developed campgrounds in national forests and grasslands.

It provides detailed information to campers looking to experience the great outdoors.

In addition to managing a website, Fred and Suzi Dow also self-publish Ebook CDs and downloads of eleven U.S. National Forest Campground Guides, which can be purchased online at their website.

Fred and Suzi Dow, authors and publishers of ForestCamping.com, have devoted 17 years to visiting, personally researching, and providing the public with free, detailed information about 175 national forests and grasslands and more than 2,400 personally surveyed campgrounds.

Website: forestcamping.com

Worth Pondering…

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.

—John Muir

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RVs That Double as Ice Fishing Cabins

Long a sport for the winter-hardy, ice fishing—which has begun for the season in far northern Minnesota—might soon also attract those who insist on warmth and (relative) luxury with their cold-weather walleyes.

The Forest River Salem Ice Cabin travel trailer is your little fishing cabin oasis just waiting for an adventure. (Credit: forestriverinc.com)

What began not many years ago as an experiment in mobile fishing houses built on retractable wheels has blossomed into a business with many competing manufacturers, each seeking to upgrade winter anglers to amenities unknown to previous generations, reported the Star Tribune (Minneapolis).

Sarah Coates Lange, general manager of Coates RV Center near Forest Lake, Minnesota, which sells Salem Ice Cabins, said winter anglers have provided a big boost to her recreational vehicle trade, which slows in winter.

“The Ice Cabins have been very, very popular,” Lange said. “They’re made to RV specifications, and we outfit about half the units we sell with air conditioners, so they can be used in summer as travel trailers.”

Choose one of three models each with plenty of room to move about in while you wait for the big one. With six fishing holes in each model there should be plenty of action. You’ll even have a place to fry up a few when you get hungry on the 3-burner range/oven.

2012 Forest River Salem Ice House interior. (Credit: salemicecabin.com)

There is also plenty of sleeping space with the fold down bunks (standard or optional) depending on the model you choose.  You can even choose an optional XXXL bunk or have a queen bed pull-down in T8x20SV above the dinette. Or, enjoy afternoon fishing while kicking back on the sofa watching the game on your portable TV (optional cable).

Salem Ice Cabins range from 14 to 20 feet, with show prices from $11,000 to $16,500.

Details

Forest River, Inc.

Elkhart, Indiana-based Forest River, Inc. was founded by Peter Liegl in 1996, which today makes all classes of recreational vehicles, cargo trailers, utility trailer, pontoon boats, light and medium-duty buses (primarily shuttle buses), portable offices, and structures to use for temporary schools.

The company operates 60 manufacturing facilities throughout the Mid West and West Coast and employs 5,400 workers.

Forest River currently manufactures motorhomes (Berkshire, Charleston, Forester, Georgetown, Lexington, Sunseeker, and Tsunami), travel trailers and fifth wheels (Cardinal, Cedar Creek, Cherokee, Day Dreamer, Flagstaff, r-pod, Rockwood, Salem, Sandpiper, Shamrock, Sierra, Surveyor, V-Cross, Wildcat, and Wildwood), park models (Kabana, Quailridge, and Summitt), and modular and hud homes (Sterling and Hart Homes).

Forest River, Inc. is a Berkshire Hathaway company.

Website: forestriverinc.com

Other Manufacturers of Portable Ice Fish Houses

New 2012 Forest River RV Salem Ice Cabins (Credit: coatesrv.com)

Ice Castle Fish House Manufacturing

Based in Minnesota since 1993, Ice Castle Fish House, is the largest manufacturer of portable ice homes in the state, with sizes ranging to 24 feet.

Address: 3134 E. Highway 7, P.O. Box 326, Montevideo, MN 56265

Phone: (320) 269-5428 or (877) 269-5428

Website: icecastlefh.com

Custom Cottages Inc.

Custom Cottages builds “hunting, fishing, camping mobile shelters” of aluminum alloy frames and shells.

Address: 3005 East 4th Avenue, Shakopee, MN 55379

Phone: (612) 221-3214

Website: customcottagesinc.com

Worth Pondering…

It’s a beautiful day for it.

—Wilbur Cross

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