Call of the Open Road

An RV travel adventure has no substitute. It is the ultimate experience, one for family fun!

Lake George/Adirondack Region of Upstate New York  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Lake George/Adirondack Region of Upstate New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summer is the peak season for RVers to travel the open road and experience the wonders of the United States and Canada, but where to go?

RVers are often creatures of habit and return to the same location year after year.

With so many great vacation spots through the U.S. and Canada, this is the summer to explore new areas of the vast countryside. There are so many cool places to go and not enough time.

Make plans to head out on the road and explore a new region this summer.

Lake George/Adirondack Region of Upstate New York

Beautiful Lake George is at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. The Adirondack Park is a 6 million acre forever wild park. With 3,000 ponds and lakes and over 2,000 miles of hiking trails, there is a lot of outdoor adventure and fun to be found in the Adirondack Mountains.

Head down the Schroon River in a kayak, stop by the Courthouse Gallery to see the latest exhibit, and end your day at Shepard Park for Thursday night fireworks.

From museums to historic forts, free concerts, theatre, and butterfly farms, there are plenty of ways to broaden your mind and renew the spirit in Lake George. And for the youngsters, there are mine tours, mini golf, and a Six Flags amusement park nearby.

Reedy River and Falls Park, Greenville, South Carolina  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Reedy River and Falls Park, Greenville, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Greenville/South Carolina Upcountry

Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, South Carolina’s Upcountry packs plenty of alpine splendor.

Greenville owes its existence to the 28-foot falls on the Reedy River that powered 19th-century textile mills, making it the “Textile Center of the South.” It took 40 years of cleaning after the mills closed to make Falls Park into a regional jewel, crowned by the cantilevered Liberty Bridge for pedestrians that was designed by architect Miguel Rosales with a distinctive curve as it pitches toward the falls.

Table Rock, Jones Gap, Paris Mountain, and Caesars Head state parks all deliver Blue Ridge Mountain adventure in Greenville’s backyard as the Appalachians tumble into the flatlands of the Piedmont region.

Holbrook/Route 66/Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Holbrook is the central point for a variety of adventures in Northeastern Arizona. The Petrified Forest National Park, Homolovi Ruins, Window Rock, Canyon de Chelly, Native American Cultures, rich Old West and Pioneer history, scenic vistas, the Mogollon Rim, and a diversity of recreational settings are all within easy driving distance of Holbrook.

Not only can you sleep in a teepee on old Route 66 at the very cool Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook, but each of the 15 individual concrete pointed-ceiling lodgings is fronted by a beautifully restored vintage car.

Wander out to the nearby Petrified Forest National Park, one of the world’s largest and most vibrantly colored assemblies of petrified wood, historic structures, and archeological sites. Check out the Agate House, a ruin that demonstrates the ancient Puebloan practice of using the petrified wood as a building material.

Holmes County/Ohio Amish Country

Holmes County/Ohio Amish Country  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Holmes County/Ohio Amish Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why do four million people a year visit Ohio’s Amish Country? Well, where else can you see the “Amish Sistine Chapel,” watch one of the nation’s oldest livestock auctions, shop at the world’s largest retailer of non-electric appliances, or take a guided back-road tour that ends with dinner in an Amish Home?

Holmes County has bakeries, cheese houses, wineries, quilt and craft shops, and 80 hardwood furniture stores. Explore the unique culture of the Amish with a vacation in central Ohio, home of the world’s largest Amish community.

Enjoy beautiful scenery, visit an Amish farm, savor homemade foods, and listen for the clip-clop of a horse and buggy, the most common sight in an Amish community. Shop for handmade quilts, artwork and furniture in Millersburg, Berlin, or Walnut Creek.

There is so much more to see and do in this beautiful and historic area. Take time to explore this great county in beautiful Ohio. You’ll be glad you did.

Worth Pondering…

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

—Rachel Carson

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Report: More Camp Sites With Full Hookups Required

A recent review and analysis of Ohio State Parks recommends the creation of more camp sites with full hookups for recreational vehicles and the closing of 29 less profitable cabins.

Mohican State Park  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Mohican State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The new performance audit by state Auditor Dave Yost indicates that the changes could generate more than $3.3 million in average annual returns and $3.8 million in one-time cost avoidance. This state park audit was one of a series conducted at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“Smarter planning and capital investment works just as well in the woods as it does in the city,” Yost said in a statement.

“Ohio has an opportunity to enhance the outdoor experience in our beautiful state parks for many years to come.”

Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer said, “We at ODNR appreciate the growing desire among Ohioans to have the opportunity to enjoy the state’s amazing open spaces and we are eager to provide them with the facilities that will enhance their experience while they are there.”

Ohio State Parks has four categories of overnight accommodations: campgrounds, cabins, “getaways”, and lodges. Campgrounds provide paved slabs for RVs; picnic areas; options for electric, water, and sewer hookups; and a variety of shared site amenities such as restrooms, shower houses, and retail convenience stores.

Holmes County  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Holmes County © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most cabins are approximately 900 square feet with two bedrooms, a living room, and kitchen area. Cabins are generally heated and air conditioned and are equipped with furniture, linens, and cookware.

Getaways encompass a variety of structures from teepees to primitive cabins, and their inventory comprises a small percentage of the overall accommodation inventory at any given park.

Lodges are hotel operations which are managed by third-party operators.

Campgrounds and cabins make up the majority of Parks’ self-managed inventory as well as the self-generated revenue; 98.6 percent and 96.2 percent, respectively.

Concerns have been raised regarding an insufficient number of full hook-up campsites and an aged cabin inventory that is no longer sufficiently able to attract customers and meet their needs in an efficient and effective manner.

Ohio State Parks supplies 207 full hook-up campsites specifically targeted toward high-end RVs—the fastest growing segment within RV camping nationally—a relatively small number in comparison to ownership levels.

Despite strong demand and relatively high operating performance, only 12 park locations offer full hook-up sites, with a median of a dozen at each of those parks. By comparison electric sites are more widespread, with 48 park locations offering a median inventory of 98 sites. As such, Parks may have an opportunity to meet customer demand for full hook-up sites by increasing not only the total number of full hook-up sites, but also the park locations offering them.

Ohio State Capitol, Colunbus  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Ohio State Capitol, Colunbus © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ohio State Parks plans to install new full hook-up campsites as upgrades to its existing stock of electric campsites. By using existing electrical service and concrete pads wherever possible, costs and construction complexity can be reduced.

Campgrounds sites with full hook-ups are occupied a median of 40 percent of the time. Camp sites with electricity are occupied about 18 percent, and non-electric sites less than 6 percent. The park agency already has earmarked $15 million for cabin improvements—each will cost an estimated $132,100 to renovation—and $10 million for campgrounds improvements from capital money approved last year. A portion of these funds will be used for the addition of full hook-up sites and the renovation of cabins at several locations.

The full report is here.

Details

Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR)

Website: www.ohiodnr.gov

Historic Marietta  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Historic Marietta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ohio State Parks

The Division of Parks was created as a division of ODNR in 1949 with the statutory obligation to create, supervise, operate, and maintain a system of state parks and to promote their use by the public. Through land acquisition and transfer, the park system has grown from the original 30 parks to 74 state parks in 59 counties with over 174,000 acres of land and water resources.

Facilities include eight resort lodges, two dining lodges, six golf courses, more than 9,000 campsites in 56 campgrounds, 518 cottages, 36 visitor/nature centers, 80 swimming beaches and 18 swimming pools, 188 boat ramps and 7,583 boat docks, 463 picnic areas, and 1,167 miles of trails.

Website: www.parks.ohiodnr.gov

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

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Lake Erie Wind Turbine Project Halted

In an earlier post I detailed the threat to migratory songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and bald eagles with the proposed wind turbine project planned for the shores of Lake Erie.

Source: bsbobird.org
Source: bsbobird.org

In a recent development, one of several wind turbine projects planned for the shores of Lake Erie, in one of the greatest bird migration corridors in the Western Hemisphere, has been halted following submission of a letter of intent to sue from American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), reports birdingwire.com.

The two groups had vigorously opposed the project due to its exceptionally high risk to federally protected wildlife.

The announcement formalizing the decision to halt the project was made via a letter from Air National Guard Headquarters-the National Guard Bureau, Department of Defense, in Andrews, Maryland-to the public interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal (MGC) of Washington, D.C, which represents ABC and BSBO.

The petition campaign and letter of intent to sue the Ohio National Guard (ONG)), along with an ongoing petition campaign that has acquired over 5,000 signatures, charged that efforts in connection with the wind project at Camp Perry Air National Guard Station west of Port Clinton, Ohio, violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other federal conservation and environmental laws.

The letter from the National Guard Bureau states: “After carefully considering your objections … I have decided to withdraw the FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact) for the project effective immediately. … Since the FONSI has been withdrawn, the project will not go forward at this time.” The letter was dated Jan. 28 and was signed by Colonel Peter A. Sartori, Director, Installations and Mission Support.

Camp Perry is in the "red zone" of ABC's Wind Development Bird Risk Map, indicating an extreme risk to birds. The red area that crosses Lake Erie is a high-density migration corridor.
Camp Perry is in the “red zone” of ABC’s Wind Development Bird Risk Map, indicating an extreme risk to birds. The red area that crosses Lake Erie is a high-density migration corridor.

“The victory sends a strong message to other wind energy developers in this ecologically sensitive region that conservationists will be closely watching their actions. This is a heartening outcome for the environment and for birds,” said Dr. Michael Hutchins, National Coordinator of ABC’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign.

“We are absolutely elated that the Air National Guard has halted this project, at least temporarily and possibly for good,” said Kimberly Kaufman, Executive Director of BSBO.

“We certainly owe thanks to the thousands who voiced their opposition to the project via the petition.”

“This is a big win for the vast numbers of birds that migrate through the Camp Perry area, which have been using these routes and stopover habitats for centuries,” said Kenn Kaufman, internationally acclaimed author of bird field guides and a local resident.

“It’s also a win for the local economy and for the businesses that rely on tourism dollars from the tens of thousands of visiting birders. Let’s hope that the suspension is a permanent one.”

ABC and BSBO assert that the placement of the project at the Camp Perry facility—and those proposed for the surrounding areas—presents an extremely high risk to migrating songbirds, especially the federally endangered Kirtland’s Warbler. This imperiled species was nearly extinct less than 40 years ago and, while rebounding due to costly and intensive management efforts, still numbers only in the low thousands.

Kim Kaufman and Mark Shieldcastle of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (Source: bsbobird.org)
Kim Kaufman and Mark Shieldcastle of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (Source: bsbobird.org)

Additional birds at risk include other migrating songbirds, raptors, Bald Eagles, endangered Piping Plovers, and waterfowl. Also of concern to local residents is the possibility that projects like these may discourage birding tourism. Currently, visiting birders inject $37 million into the local economy every spring.

The two groups announced their intention to sue via a letter sent by MGC, stating that the environmental review process was unlawfully circumvented and that the development is taking place in violation of the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

They pointed out that the Camp Perry turbine would sit in the middle of a major bird migration corridor directly adjacent to a national wildlife refuge and that it was being constructed without regard for the many concerns expressed by wildlife professionals in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

According to Mark Shieldcastle, BSBO Research Director: “Long-term research indicates that some of the largest concentrations of migratory birds in North America occur in the Lake Erie coastal region, including around Camp Perry. These species, along with one of the highest concentrations of nesting Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states, use habitat precisely in the risk zone of turbines such as the one proposed. Long-term monitoring of the active eagle nest at the facility indicates extensive use of the area of the turbine by eagles.”

Source: bsbobird.org
Source: bsbobird.org

ABC has created a Wind Development Bird Risk Map that shows the Lake Erie shoreline in Ohio is among the worst possible locations for a wind power project. The configuration of water and land serves to “funnel” large numbers of protected migratory birds through a small area; the birds aim to avoid a long lake crossing by hugging the shoreline or following the shortest cross-water route to the Pelee Peninsula to the north. This is also major stopover habitat, where migrating birds are not merely flying over, but landing and taking off-often during poor weather conditions.

Worth Pondering…
There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

—Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays

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The Wind Energy Threat to Birds Is NOT Overblown

Two environmental issues are at a crossroads on the shores of Lake Erie with two prominent natural resources on a collision course.

Kenn's Billboard Meme
Source: bsbobird.org

Birds and birders flock to the shores of Lake Erie. There is more of a concentration of bald eagle nests here than anywhere in the United States except Alaska. The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways converge near here. Each spring this area is the home of the largest birding event in the country, The Biggest Week in American Birding, which last year helped attract more than 70,000 birders from all over the world, reports thebeacon.net.

Economic impact studies conducted by Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) and Bowling Green State University show that visiting birders spend more than 30 million dollars in the area each spring. The internationally renowned Kaufman Birding Guides and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) have made this area their home.

Here where the water meets the shore, the winds are frequent and strong. Wind turbines are being constructed at schools and private industries all over the area. As a green, clean, renewable alternative to the fossil-fuel-fired plants, wind power is becoming a popular choice.

However, even with government subsidies, wind power is still an expensive alternative form of energy. The other significant negative with wind power is that birds, especially songbirds, eagles and other raptors, can be killed by wind turbines.

Source: bsbobird.org
Kim Kaufman and Mark Shieldcastle of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (Source: bsbobird.org)

In this area where birds migrate and converge, and where wind power is relatively new, the debate has risen to a crescendo, according to thebeacon.net.

Camp Perry, along the lakeshore west of Port Clinton, is in the process of erecting a wind turbine. Since 2007, The Black Swamp Bird Observatory, whose offices and bird banding station are a few miles down the shoreline at the entrance to Magee Marsh, has been expressing their concern that the Camp Perry wind turbine is at a location that endangers migrating birds, raptors and nesting eagles, including the eagles on the grounds of Camp Perry.

Recently Lake Erie Business Park, between Camp Perry and Magee Marsh, revealed plans for erecting six wind turbines.

Camp Perry has gone through regulatory steps and discussions and had an Environmental Assessment. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (DOW) have found that study to be flawed, containing as many as 50 erroneous statements, according to Kim Kaufman of BSBO.

Traditional studies of avian mortality from wind turbines also have several difficulties, according to Mark Shieldcastle of BSBO. For one, once a songbird hits a wind turbine, not much is left of the songbird. Another is that scavengers often consume the evidence.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has warned that according to environmental impact analysis studies, some facilities in important bird areas could kill thousands of birds and bats per year, reports thebeacon.net.

Source: bsbobird.org
Source: bsbobird.org

At Laurel Mountain, West Virginia, in October of 2011, wind turbines killed 500 birds in one night (to read earlier report, click here).

Meanwhile, Camp Perry has filed a “finding of no significant impact” and has begun construction of the wind turbine. The wildlife agencies, including the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the ODNR Division of Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, BSBO and the National Audubon Society, have disagreed that there is no significant impact.

At Lake Erie Business Park, no environmental assessment studies and no wildlife review are required, since they are privately funded. Erie Township, where Camp Perry and the business park are located, has no zoning regulations. When asked about the wind turbine construction, James McKinney of Lake Erie Business Park had no comment.

“It seems that the government has failed us, that the protection that we thought we had, we don’t. It took thirty years for us to recover the bald eagle population in Ohio, and their population could go downhill very quickly since their reproductive rates are much lower than that of songbirds,” said Shieldcastle, a nationally recognized eagle expert and widely known as the eagle person for the state of Ohio.

Source: bsbobird.org
Source: bsbobird.org

He recalls that in 1979 there were four pairs of eagles in Ohio. Now there are 300 nesting pairs in Ohio, with more than 50 nests along the shoreline between Sandusky and Toledo.

“If we can’t protect birds here, with all we know, where can we protect them?” asks Kaufman.

When 200 birds were caught in a freak ice storm in northern Alberta, and landed on Syncrude’s oilsands tailing ponds, Greenpeace was all over the story calling the bird deaths reprehensible. When hundreds of birds are killed by wind farms, allegedly a more environmentally friendly source of energy, Greenpeace is conspicuously silent.

Is it okay to butcher countless birds, create noise pollution, and make beautiful scenic areas ugly—all for the sake of green energy?

You be the judge.

Worth Pondering…
There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

—Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays

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Fall and Winter Warning about Blacklegged Ticks

An earlier post, Top 10 things RVers Should Know about Ticks, stressed the fact that ticks can be active even in the winter.

Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks. (Credit: tickencounter.org)
Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks. (Credit: tickencounter.org)

That’s right! Adult stage blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks) become active every year after the first frost.

They’re not killed by freezing temperatures, and while other ticks enter a feeding diapause as day-lengths get shorter, deer ticks will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen. This surprises people, especially during a January thaw or early spring day.

Remember this fact and hopefully you’ll never be caught off-guard.

Campers, hikers, and hunters should take special precautions in the woods during fall and winter to avoid this winter-resilient tick that transmits Lyme disease, according the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“We are trying to make the hunters aware that there are ticks in some of these areas and asking them to check their deer,” said Lindsay Rist, wildlife communication specialist for ODNR.

Two other species of ticks commonly found in Ohio—the American dog tick and the lone star tick—are known to transmit Lyme disease. However, neither of these species has been found to be active in winter.

When Dr. Glen Needham, entomologist at The Ohio State University, received a call that a family in Coshocton County had found a tick on their clothing in January, his interest was piqued.

Winter resilient blacklegged tick. (Courtesy: Dr. Glen Needham, OSU)
Winter resilient blacklegged tick. (Courtesy: Dr. Glen Needham, OSU)

“Ohio is not supposed to have ticks in January. For this tick, they did not get the memo on good tick behavior,” said Needham.

Needham traveled to the area and found an established population of blacklegged ticks. Since then, an additional 25 Ohio counties have added to the list of those with likely established populations.

For a county to be officially designated as such, they need to meet one of two criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The county needs to have turned in six blacklegged ticks or two blacklegged ticks in different life stages, said Needham.

As part of an annual summary of tick-borne diseases compiled by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) in 2011, the department collected ticks from deer heads donated by hunters in 25 Ohio counties. That project identified 56 blacklegged ticks from Monroe County, 48 from Noble County, 16 from Morgan County, and one from Athens County.

The ODH also collected and identified ticks submitted from various agencies and individuals. Only one blacklegged tick was identified from Washington County in 2011, not enough to qualify it as a county with a likely established population. But not officially qualifying does not mean the ticks are not here, said Needham.

Fact Box

Blacklegged or deer tick

This tiny, dark tick is one of three Lyme disease transmitting tick species found in Ohio.

They are the only Lyme disease transmitting tick that is active in winter.

Only 35 were identified in the 20-year period between 1989 and 2008. Since 2008 that number has been sharply on the rise, with 2,014 found in 2011 alone.

There were 53 cases of Lyme disease reported in Ohio in 2011 and 46 cases reported so far this year, said Lynn Denny, epidemiologist with the Ohio Department of Health.

Precautions

There are several precautions that outdoorsmen and women can take to protect themselves this fall and winter. It is important to make sure all clothing is snuggly tucked in. This will ensure that as little skin as possible is accessible.

Ticks are going to climb up from the bottom until they find skin.

A tick repellent containing permethrin can be purchased at most outdoors stores. The repellent should be used to saturate clothes and given time to dry. It dries odorless and lasts through approximately six washings.

Check that deer carcasses are free of ticks as soon as possible to avoid spreading the ticks to new locations.

If sick, remember to tell your physician of possible exposure to ticks.

For more information on identifying, preventing, and removing ticks, visit the ODNR resource page.

Worth Pondering…

I tried real hard to play golf, and I was so bad at it they would have to check me for ticks at the end of the round because I’d spent about half the day in the woods.
—Jeff Foxworthy

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‘Ready, Set, Wear It!’ Events Promote Safe Boating Week

“Ready, Set, Wear It!,” previously named “Ready, Set, Inflate!,” will usher in National Safe Boating Week, this year May 19-25, 2012.

With summer almost here, families and friends are eager to get outdoors and spend time on the water—boating, fishing, sailing, and more.

But, with approximately 500 people drowning each year from recreational boating accidents, it is imperative to push the message of “Wear It!”: wear your life jacket at all times while you are on the water, according to a news release.

The National Safe Boating Council, in partnership with the Canadian Safe Boating Council, invite boating safety professionals, the boating community and the media to participate in “Ready, Set, Wear It!” tomorrow (Saturday, May 19).

Participants in cities around the globe will gather to set a world record for the most life jackets worn and inflatable life jackets inflated. The goal is not only to promote the comfortable and versatile options when it comes to life jackets, but also to educate the public about life jackets and safe boating in general.

“What better way to share the life-saving importance of life jacket wear, while having some fun and helping set a world record,” said Virgil Chambers, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council.

“We are proud to once again partner with the Canadian Safe Boating Council to share about boating safety.”

Boating safety partners across the U.S. and Canada are teaming up to promote safe and responsible boating, including voluntary wear of life jackets, for National Safe Boating Week and throughout the boating season.

Last year, 1,685 people gathered at more than 99 events held around the world, including 87 in the U.S. and eight in Canada, to set a new record for the number of participants who inflated their inflatable life jacket or wore an inherently buoyant life jacket.

Ohio will kick off its observance of National Safe Boating Week May 19-25 with more than a dozen ‘Ready, Set, Wear It!’ life jacket safety awareness events, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Watercraft.

Headlining the series is the ‘Take Me Boating Toledo-Wear It Ohio’ event being held tomorrow (May 19) from 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., which will include various boating-related activities at Skyway Marina and the Maritime Academy of Toledo.

The free family event is open to the public and hosted by the City of Toledo in partnership with the Division of Watercraft, Western Lake Erie Safe Boating Council, and their local boating partners.

“Keeping people safe on the water by reminding individuals to always wear a life jacket is our biggest goal with the ‘Ready, Set, Wear It!’ campaign,” said Rodger Norcross, chief of the Division of Watercraft.

In Columbus, the ‘Ready, Set, Wear It!’ event is being hosted from 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on May 19 at COSI. Learn about safe boating and help COSI and Ohio break a world record in the number of people wearing life jackets on Saturday, May 19.

Activities include life jacket fitting, a family photo opportunity, a ‘Floats and Kids’ program with Watercraft Officer Dawn Potter at 11:30 a.m. and a chance to be part of an inflation ceremony at noon.

People can also register for a chance to win a two-night stay at an Ohio State Park campground. Activities are included with COSI admission.

Life Jacket Wear Is One of the Most Effective and Simple Life-Saving Strategies for Safe Recreational Boating

Details

National Safe Boating Council (NSBC)

The National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) provides safe boating materials, resources, tools, creative messages, training of instructors, education, and leads the annual safe boating awareness campaign.

Address: P.O. Box 509, Bristow, VA 20136

Phone: (703) 361-4294

Website: safeboatingcouncil.org

Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC)

The Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) was organized in 1991 to improve communications regarding safe boating issues between government departments and agencies servicing recreational boaters’ interests and private companies and organizations in the recreational boating field.

Address: 400 Consumers Road, Toronto, ON M2J 1P8

Phone: (905) 820-4817

Website: csbc.ca

Ready, Set, Wear It!

The National Safe Boating Council, in partnership with the Canadian Safe Boating Council, invite boating safety professionals, the boating community, and the media to participate in the third-annual “Ready, Set, Wear It!” Life Jacket World Record Day on Saturday, May 19.

Website: readysetwearit.com

Safe Boating Campaign

Website: safeboatingcampaign.com/

Worth Pondering…

The sea finds out everything you did wrong.
—Francis Stokes

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2011 National Park Holiday Celebrations

‘Tis the season! From Alaska to Georgia, there are countless holiday activities to enjoy in America’s national parks.

The National Park Foundation and National Park Service kicks-off the holiday season in Washington, D.C.’s President’s Park with the National Christmas Tree Lighting. This annual event can be seen LIVE December 1, beginning with the pre-show at 4:30 pm ET.

In addition to this 89 year-old tradition, the National Park Foundation reveals some of not-to-be-missed holiday festivities for national park visitors around the country this holiday season:

Alaska – Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

December 2, 2011: Join in the holiday cheer with performances by local talent, sing along carols, stories, poems, and refreshments at the Yuletide Christmas Concert in the National Park Service Auditorium.

Colorado – Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

December 2-3: Witness the joys, pleasures, and pastimes of the 1840s at an isolated trading post with candlelight tours of the fort.

Georgia – Fort Pulaski National Monument

November 27: Fort Pulaski will commemorate the 149th anniversary of the Grand Thanksgiving Fete and Festival of 1862 by recreating the 48th New York Infantry first Thanksgiving in the fort with activities for all ages including foot, sack and wheelbarrow races, demonstrations, and a Civil War garb burlesque parade.

Indiana – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

December 10: Visitors can take part in Holiday Traditions in the Dunes including activities in four different park locations, tree decorating, and a live performance from Nordic Kids.

Iowa – Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

December 2-4: The birthplace of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, will host A Christmas Past.

Louisiana – Cane River Creole National Historical Park

December 10: Stop by the Magnolia Plantation Overseer’s house for Christmas crafts and live music by the LaCour Trio. The entire plantation complex will be open for self guided tours.

Missouri – Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

December 3, 10, 17: Enjoy the 2011 Historic Holiday Traditions Weekend Series. The Historical Old Courthouse will feature music and activities that will take place in the rotunda, which will be adorned beautifully with Victorian decorations. Complimentary cookies and juice will be served during all weekend events.

Montana – Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

December 4: Explore the elegant Kohrs’ family ranch house. It will be decorated to reflect a Victorian Christmas.

Nebraska – Homestead National Monument of America

November 25-December 31: The Winter Festival of Prairie Cultures celebrates the winter traditions of people who lived on the Great Plains during the homesteading era.

New Mexico – Petroglyph National Monument

November 26: Visitors can celebrate the beginning of the 2011 winter season at a Holiday Open House in the Visitor Center. Light holiday refreshments will also be served. A traditional horno oven Pueblo Indian bread baking demonstration will take place.

Let's Go RVing to Petroglyph National Monument. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New York – Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

November 25-December 21: Visit the Vanderbilt Mansion to view the holiday decorations; or kick off the holiday season at the special Holiday Open House on December 4.

Ohio – Cuyahoga Valley National Park

November 17-December 20: Journey to the North Pole on The Polar Express Children’s Holiday Train. Enjoy hearing a reading of The Polar Express en route to the North Pole. Passengers are encouraged to wear their pajamas. Cookies and hot chocolate are served.

Pennsylvania – Steamtown National Historic Site

November 23, 24, December 1: Join in the merriment and festivities aboard the steam-powered Holiday Express rides to Moscow, Pennsylvania. Enjoy holiday songs, stories, and other fun activities for the children at both the former passenger station and freight depots.

Utah – Golden Spoke National Historic Site

Let's Go RVing to Vanderbilt National Historic Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

December 28–30: Visitors can take part in the annual Winter Steam Festival and watch one of their locomotives in action at the same spot where the transcontinental railroad was completed over 142 years ago.

Washington – Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Friday evenings through mid-December: Visitors take park in a guided lantern tour through the Fur Store, the Counting House, and Bake House. You will learn what activities would have occurred once the sun set at Fort Vancouver

Details

National Parks Service

84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites are protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks.

Website: nps.gov

National Park Foundation

The National Park Foundation is the national charitable partner of the National Park Service.

Website: nationalparks.org

Worth Pondering…

We didn’t inherit the earth; we are borrowing it from our children.

—Native American Proverb

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2011 Top 10 Great Neighborhoods in America

The Great Neighborhoods designation is part of the American Planning Association (APA) Great Places in America program, which began in 2007 and recognizes unique and exemplary streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces each year.

Highland Park, Birmingham, Alabama

Built around swales and ridges at the foot of Red Mountain, picturesque Highland Park continues to attract generation after generation of new residents with its enduring and distinctive public spaces, diversity of uses, University of Alabama’s Birmingham campus, medical facilities, popular businesses, and entertainment districts.

Northbrae, Berkeley, California

Nestled in the rolling foothills amidst outcroppings of volcanic rock, Northbrae stands out for its spectacular vistas of San Francisco Bay, environmentally sensitive design, connections to a unique network of 136 paths and steps crisscrossing Berkeley, and two nearby commercial areas for shopping and entertainment.

Ansley Park, Atlanta, Georgia

Large expanses of lush green parks are the hallmark of this 107-year-old garden suburb, which reflects design principles espoused by Frederick Law Olmsted. The brainchild of attorney and real estate developer Edwin P. Ansley, the 275-acre neighborhood was designed so that no home is more than a 10-minute walk from one of 14 parks, five of which create a continuous link from northeast to southwest.

The Pullman Neighborhood, Chicago, Illinois

The Pullman District was the first model of a planned industrial community in the United States and is designated on the National Register of Historic Places. (Credit: city-data.com)

Pullman’s timeless features have contributed to the renaissance of this handsome former company town. An experiment in industrial order and community planning, the neighborhood features a design that was intelligent in 1880 and “smart” today.

Gold Coast & Hamburg Historic District, Davenport, Iowa

Spectacular vistas, superb architecture, and active residents distinguish the Gold Coast-Hamburg Historic District, among Iowa’s oldest residential neighborhoods. Bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River afford unsurpassed views of the water, Davenport’s downtown, and the Illinois side of the Quad Cities. Lining the neighborhood’s streets are some of the city’s largest and most opulent houses, built between 1840 and 1910 by prominent citizens, many of them German.

Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Recognized for its Southern charm, the picturesque Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood retains many of the bucolic features that helped shape this urban treasure 127 years ago. Streets are lined with mature oaks and crape myrtles.

Dundee-Memorial Park, Omaha, Nebraska

A sense of community is palpable in the Dundee-Memorial Park neighborhood, where residents and merchants have sought National Register status, funded a streetscape plan, restored historic street lamps, and pushed to be declared a neighborhood conservation and enhancement district. A mix of uses, from quaint shops and restaurants to lovely early 20th century homes and inviting parks, infuses the neighborhood with vitality.

German Village, Columbus, Ohio

Unpretentious, renovated houses and cottages stand shoulder to shoulder. Small,

meticulously maintained front yards front tree-lined streets with brick sidewalks and cultivated village planters. German Village has remained true to its mid-19th century history, architecture, and character despite periods of disinvestment, decline, and near ruin.

Swan Lake, Tulsa, Oklahoma

As the name implies, Swan Lake is filled with beautiful swans and a majestic fountain. (Credit: tulsahomeforsale.net)

Replete with swans—real and handcrafted—Swan Lake is an idyllic neighborhood a mile and a half from downtown Tulsa. The neighborhood has made frequent use of the bird as a decorative motif ever since architect Joseph Koberling incorporated a swan into the facade of his French Eclectic-style stone house in 1944.

College Hill, Providence, Rhode Island

College Hill brings the past into the present. Its history reaches back to 1636 as the site of Rhode Island’s first permanent Colonial settlement. Cobblestoned Benefit Street, known as the Mile of History, is lined with 18th, 19th, and 20th century municipal structures, churches, and gracious homes. Two educational institutions—Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)—have contributed to the neighborhood’s vitality and character together with residents and organizations, including the Providence Preservation Society (PPS).

Details

American Planning Association (APA)

The American Planning Association (APA) is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities.

Website: planning.org

Note: This is the second of a three-part series on the American Planning Association (APA) Great Places in America program.

Part 1: 2011 Top 10 Great Public Spaces in America

Part 3: 2011 Top 10 Great Streets in America

Worth Pondering…
This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden

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30 Tips to Cut Your RV Travel Expenses

The Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to the summer travel season, with many families either hitting the road or planning to do so within the following summer months.

Try local wineries for wine tasting and tours. Pictured avbove Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following are 30 tips that will help you save money while still enjoying all the fun, freedom, and flexibility that RVing has to offer:

  1. Buy a local newspaper when checking into a campground or RV park and check it for coupons, bargains, and savings before going out to shop for groceries.
  2. Don’t buy all of your groceries at supermarkets. Buy food and other necessities at thrift bakeries, discount stores, dollar stores, church and charity bazaars, flea markets, roadside fruit and veggie stands, canning plants, and u-pick orchards.
  3. Shop at a local farmer’s market and chat with the folks selling the fruits and veggies. Pick up something “new to you” and ask them how to prepare it—then go back to your RV and try it.
  4. When in a campground connect to “shore power” and use THEIR electricity, not YOUR propane, to heat your water and run your refrigerator. Water heaters in particular consume considerable amounts of propane.
  5. If you’re staying in a metered park and paying for the electricity, you can determine which energy source is most economical—paying for the electricity or using your propane. Multiply the kilowatt rate being charged by 20 and compare that to the price of a gallon of propane.
  6. When eating out, look for 2-for-1 coupons and early bird specials.
  7. Eat out at lunch instead of dinner.
  8. Attend festivals, fairs, and parades. Pictured above is a guord festival near Moab, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

    Eat in. Cook your family favorites in the convenience of an RV and avoid the higher costs of eating out. Better yet, cook over your campfire!

  9. Check the local paper for free community events including concerts in the park, lectures, plays, etc.
  10. Attend festivals, fairs, and parades. Tourism offices and RV magazines offer calendars of events.
  11. Visit the public library and check out a few movies, make some popcorn, set up the TV outside the RV and have a date night or family gathering under the stars.
  12. Take free tours of state capitol buildings.
  13. Visit churches, cathedrals, and architectural sites.
  14. Visit museums on their free days—most have at least one a month.
  15. Take a factory tour—sometimes they’ll include bonus samples.
  16. Try local wineries for wine tasting and tours.
  17. Check out cheese factories, breweries, and farms that offer tasting tours.
  18. Pack a picnic and spend an afternoon at a local park relaxing, eating, talking, reading, exploring, daydreaming…did I mention relaxing?
  19. Window shop a fancy part of town. End the afternoon with a cup of coffee, tea, or other refreshing beverage in said “fancy part of town.”
  20. Follow the trails of the pioneer settlers as traveled the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to the Pacific Oregon.
  21. Discover the history and charm of America’s historic routes such as the Ohio and Erie Canalway in Ohio; Historic National Road in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia; and Historic Route 66 in Arizona, California, Illinois, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
  22. Explore Americas Scenic Byways such as the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway in Oregon, Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, and Natchez Trace Parkway in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
  23. Check out the travel section of local bookstores for guidebooks on historical, cultural, and scenic travels.
  24. Visit the birthplace and memorial libraries of presidents. Pictured above is John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

    Visit the birthplace and memorial libraries of presidents such as the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts and George Herbert Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.

  25. Visit the birthplace and homes of other famous people such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida.
  26. Take up bird watching.
  27. Explore the public parks and gardens around the continent such as the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and Stanley Park in Vancouver.
  28. Explore the beauty of the outdoors by taking a walk along a river or lake or hiking into the wilderness.
  29. Take advantage of regional bargains. Each area of the country has bargains you can take advantage of as you RV.
  30. Take a walk in nature—breathe deep, walk softly, and observe your surroundings.

Unless you have written savings goals, it is often tempting to spend money on purchases that give immediate gratification instead of long term rewards. Being skilled at managing money often requires goal setting as well as long term planning and saving.

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

Worth Pondering…

If you can, you will quickly find that the greatest rate of return you will earn is on your own personal spending. Being a smart shopper is the first step to getting rich.

—Mark Cuban

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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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