Piggly Wiggly and South Carolina State Parks Partner on Annual Passport

Piggly Wiggly and the South Carolina Park Service are teaming up this Christmas season to give their customers a great deal on an annual State Park Passport.

Piggly Wiggly customers can get a 20 percent discount on an annual pass at Piggly Wiggly stores in the Lowcountry and the Midlands. The pass is good for everyone in your family or in your vehicle.

“We really are excited to have Piggly Wiggly as a partner in this promotion,” Duane Parrish, Director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT), said in a news release.

“And let me stress that this really is a great deal for Piggly Wiggly customers. If you are a family of four visiting Charles Towne Landing just three times during the year, the passport pays for itself!”

Piggly Wiggly will sell three different park passports. Customers will get a voucher at the store and can redeem it for a park passport at any state park.

The voucher can be redeemed any time in 2013. That’s important because it means current park passport holders can redeem their voucher whenever their current passport expires.

“Piggly Wiggly has been “Local Since Forever” and the beautiful natural resources showcased and preserved in South Carolina’s State Parks have truly been around forever.  The Pig family saw this partnership as a great opportunity to give our customers a significant admission discount to South Carolina State Parks,” said David Schools, President and CEO of Piggly Wiggly Carolina Company.

Hunting Island is South Carolina’s single most popular state park, attracting more than a million visitors a year, as well as a vast array of land and marine wildlife. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Providing additional value to our customers builds loyalty to Piggly Wiggly, and if our partnership with SCPRT brings more South Carolinians into our state’s wonderful parks, it will be an exciting result.”

A great Christmas present could be the Park Passport Plus. The 20 percent discount means the cost drops from $99 to just under $80. Not only is it good at all 47 state parks, customers get a copy of the state park coffee table book, Beautiful Places, and many other free benefits at state parks.

Lowcountry residents will probably want to buy the Statewide Passport good at all 47 state parks. The 20 percent discount means the price is only $60.

Midlands’ residents will most likely be interested in the Inland Park Passport good at 42 parks (excluding 5 coastal parks). The 20 percent discount means the price is only $40.

“If you live anywhere along the coast, the Piggly Wiggly discount really is a great deal for you” says South Carolina State Park Director Phil Gaines.

“Our regular visitors come by places like Myrtle Beach State Park and Huntington Beach State Park 20 to 30 times a year. The savings really add up quickly when you think about each visit costs $5 a person.”

Details

South Carolina State Parks

Stunning forested mountains and towering waterfalls, blackwater rivers and scenic inland lakes, white sand beaches and ancient island shores, treasured American historic sites and priceless cultural treasures.

With more than 80,000 acres of protected lands from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the sand dunes of the Atlantic, South Carolina State Parks protect some of the most inviting natural, cultural and recreational destinations in the US.

At scenic State Parks, you’ll find the best boating, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and hiking in South Carolina. One of the original 13 Colonies, South Carolina’s significant contributions to American history are brought to life in historic parks throughout the state.

A popular family, sporting, and group vacation destination, South Carolina State Parks feature cabins and villas, campgrounds, picnic areas, meeting rooms, and even equestrian stables.

Phone: (803) 734-1700 or (866) 224-9339 (toll free)

Website: southcarolinaparks.com

Park Passport Rules & Benefits: southcarolinaparks.com/park-passport

Piggly Wiggly

Take it from Mr. Pig: When it comes to value and freshness, you can’t beat Piggly Wiggly.

Piggly Wiggly, America’s first true self-service grocery store, was founded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1916 by Clarence Saunders.

Today, with over 600 stores in 17 states, Piggly Wiggly brings home the bacon for millions of American families.

Website: pigglywiggly.com

Worth Pondering…

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning,

—Gus Kahn, 1922

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Can State Parks Become Self-Sustaining?

Can South Carolina State Parks Become Self-Sustaining?

South Carolina has set a goal that no other state has been able to consistently achieve—create a self-sustaining park system.

Gov. Nikki Haley asked Duane Parrish, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism director to get the Palmetto State’s 49 state parks running in the black, without the assistance of the general fund, News Channel 7 WSPA reports.

Parrish and Phil Gaines, the director of the State Park Service, are confident that by the end of 2013 that long-discussed goal will be reality.

For years, only the state’s five coastal parks brought in more money than they cost to run, but now that number is up to 10.

“We’ve been building toward this for a while, becoming less dependent over the last ten years. Now we’ve just taken that final step and focused and narrowed that goal by defining a finish line,” said Gaines, who became director in 2005 after 23 years in the park service.

Presently the parks make $20 million in revenue each year which is about 83 percent of their budget. The general fund accounts for the last $4 million. But that’s half of what tax payers contributed in 2002, when the $8 million accounted for 66 percent of the parks budget, according to News Channel 7 WSPA.

There have been staffing cuts in that time, but Gaines attributes recent headway to the online reservation system that launched in 2005 where people are able sign up for campsites and cabins more easily, while freeing up park rangers to focus on helping the public in person.

From 2005 to 2010, annual reservations jumped from 93,500 to 124,500. Plus, like any hotel, the parks are able to change prices based on demand, which according to Gaines makes self-sufficiency attainable.

South Carolina State Parks locator (Source: southcarolinaparks.com)

“We’re set up to be flexible and market-driven and not all states are that way. When we talk about market-driven pricing people are concerned about us raising prices, but one of the most important things about it is it also allows us to run specials and reduce our prices when demand is not at its peak,” Gaines said.

That means if there’s a cancellation, instead of a cabin sitting empty all weekend, the parks department will reduce the rate and use social media to get the special out to eager campers.

But one fee has gone up. In January the cost of a statewide parks passport, which grants holders free entrance for the entire family for a year at any park, was increased from $50 to $75. The department also added an “in-land only” pass for $50 that excludes the five coastal parks.

Gaines said those prices won’t go up again in an effort to meet the goal, and noted that individual entrance fees are still $2 and are unlikely to increase in the next few years.

“While the price may have gone up, I really think that if you go to even a few of these places, it’s really the best value out there,” he said.

Gaines acknowledges that the parks cashed in on the Great Recession when people had less money to spend on vacations. But he thinks the new visitors were “surprised, impressed and want to come back.”

He said trying to get repeat visitors is more important to becoming self-sufficient than focusing on revenue. Different parks have the freedom to try creative ideas, like renting out space at the Caesars Head overlook on Fourth of July at night, when the park is normally closed, to view several Upstate cities’ fireworks shows.

Cheraw State Park offered free golf one slow weekend last year, but made a profit on lodging and the gift shop, News Channel 7 WSPA reports.

Plus the parks department just introduced its own Geocache Challenge. The popular scavenger-hunt-like game has players find hidden boxes with clues using GPS technology. Gaines said there are now geocaches in all 47 parks and the first few people to reach them all will get a prize.

Table Rock State Park exquisitely captures the beauty of the vibrant fall foliage. (Source: southcarolinaparks.com)

He said exciting events like that are what make family memories and keep people coming back.

“We have to manage these state parks, not for the next quarter or fiscal year, but the next generation and we think this is a good model so that we can survive any economic downturn or challenges ahead,” Gaines added.

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Worth Pondering…

Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.

—Tom Landry

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: February 17

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. Tire Inflation

Proper tire inflation is more important to your safety when traveling than many RVers realize.

Under-inflated tires create excessive heat, break down tire walls, create greater instability while driving, and decrease fuel economy. A vehicle with under-inflated tires is slower to respond to steering corrections.

Over-inflated tires, on the other hand, can cause an RV to ride rough. Tire over-inflation can also increase your risk of hydroplaning on wet roads.

Check your tires’ air pressure at least once a month, before each trip, and ideally each morning you drive during a road trip. Inflation pressures should be checked when tires are cold, which means before they are driven.

2. Save money with Georgia ParkPass

Those who love hiking, fishing and other outdoor pursuits can save money during 2012 with an Annual Georgia ParkPass. The $50 pass covers the usual $5 parking fee at all of Georgia’s State Parks.

Georgia’s State Parks offer a wide range of outdoor activities, including swimming, hiking and biking, miniature golf and disc golf, birding, geocaching, and paddling. Park rangers lead an impressive variety of events, ranging from moonlit hikes to bike races. The Annual ParkPass is good for one year from purchase date, and senior and military discounts are available.

The ParkPass program generates around $3.7 million annually for outdoor recreation improvements.

To purchase an Annual ParkPass, stop by any Georgia State Park office or visit the Georgia State Parks website.

3. 2012 Indiana Recreation Guide available

Your guide to Indiana’s best values in outdoor recreation this year is available now.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2012 Indiana Recreation Guide is an extensive source for information on state parks, reservoirs, state park inns, fish and wildlife areas, state forests, state historic sites, and other DNR properties.

Local retail outlets, state parks, reservoirs and other DNR properties have free printed copies available. The guide is available free online.

4. Texas State Park Fundraising Update

More than $1.14 million in generous donations to Texas State Parks has been received since the appeal for help two months ago. Hundreds of donations have been received from individual donors, as well as a significant donation of $500,000 from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and a $250,000 gift from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation.

“We’re off to a very promising start,” said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. “People of Texas truly care about their state parks and want to see them stay open for all to enjoy.”

Now as the weather warms to spring, one of the best ways to help state parks is to visit them with your family and friends. Almost 50 percent of the parks’ operating budget comes from visitor fees, including the sale of state parks passes. For only $70, a State Parks Pass waives daily entrance fees for everyone in your vehicle for a whole year.

The $4.6 million fundraising campaign was triggered by a budget shortfall created by heat, drought, wildfires, and a drop in park visitation.

5. Michigan Announces Newest State Park

Recreation officials say 4,200 acres of land along the shores of Lake Huron have become Michigan’s newest state park.

North of Alpena, Rockport State Park includes a deep-water protected harbor, 300-acre old limestone quarry, series of sinkholes, dedicated Natural Area (Besser Natural Area), and a variety of vegetative cover. The park also features a boat launch facility and several opportunities for recreation, reports CBS Local.

The property had been managed as part of the state forest system before being transferred to the Parks and Recreation Division. Administration of the park will be handled by nearby Harrisville State Park.

A recreation passport is required to enter any state park, recreation area, or boat launch in Michigan.

Have a great weekend.

Until next time, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Worth Pondering…

It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.

—Dale Carnegie

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More Gifts That Keeps on Giving

The Christmas countdown continues!

While the holidays bring with it lots of love, time spent with family and friends, good food, and more, it can also bring stress—most from the gift exchange. Trying to find the perfect gift for someone can get frustrating.

But if you’re still looking for gifts for the RVer in your life, you are in luck!

To keep this manageable, it’s been parted out into two posts—each with five items. To read part one, click here.

These are in no particular order, with no favoritism or affiliation to the actual products or vendors. So, without further ado here are five more gifts that keep on giving:

National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) Membership

By giving a gift membership, not only do you save yourself from the stress and crowds of department stores, but you’ll help protect America’s most treasured lands. The National Parks Conservation Association offers Gift Memberships starting at only $25. Gift members will also receive a fleece blanket as a welcome gift, plus a year’s subscription to the award-winning National Parks magazine. Donations between now and December 31 will be matched, dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000.

Arizona State Parks Annual Pass

You can support Arizona State Parks by purchasing an Annual Pass. They make great Holiday gifts, too. Share the outdoors today.

Any two individuals may put their names on the pass. Names must be the full first name and the full last name of each Pass Holder.

Both Standard and Premium Annual Passes can also be purchased on-site in the visitor center or gift shop at Arizona State Parks.

A Standard Annual Pass is $75.00 (+ $5 handling); Premium Annual Pass $200.00 (+ $5 handling).

Pennsylvania State Parks Gift Cards & Calendars

A state park gift card can be purchased in any dollar amount and may be used for campsites, cabins, and pavilions anywhere they are available in the award-winning state park system. Parks are a great, economical destination and offer the opportunity to watch wildlife and connect with nature. To order a gift card, visit dcnr.state.pa.us, choose “Find a Park,” then “Reservations,” then “Gift Cards.”

Holiday gift-givers also can support Pennsylvania’s 120 state parks by purchasing a calendar featuring the wonders of state parks throughout the seasons, and provides tips and facts that make it easy to discover what many locations have to offer. The 10-inch x 13-inch calendar costs $8.49, plus sales tax and shipping, and can be ordered by calling 1.888.PAPARKS. You can see the calendar online before purchasing.

Washington State Parks

New this year, the Discover Pass provides motor-vehicle access to nearly seven million acres of Washington state-managed recreation lands, including state parks, water-access points, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and trailheads. The annual pass, which is valid for one year from the issue date, is $35.

Addition information is available online.

“Living with Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest,” a 392-page guide to living and dealing with a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians is available for $25.

Florida State Parks Annual Pass

Annual Entrance Passes allow park entrance in lieu of the daily entrance fee and are honored at all state parks, except for Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, where they are valid for a 33 percent discount.

The Individual Annual Entrance Pass is valid for the named cardholder only, additional persons accompanying an Individual Annual Entrance Pass holder are $2.00 per person admission except at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where the standard admission fee applies.

The Family Annual Entrance Pass is valid for up to eight people in a group, except at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where the family pass is good for admission of up to two people.

An Individual Annual Entrance Pass is $60; Family Annual Entrance Pass (up to eight people in a group) $120.

Annual Passes can be purchased at all park ranger stations and museums and online.

Worth Pondering…

To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.

—Helen Keller

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

It’s that time of year again. The Christmas countdown has begun!

While the holidays bring with it lots of love, time spent with family and friends, good food, and more, it can also bring stress—most from the gift exchange. Trying to find the perfect gift for someone can get frustrating.

But if you’re still looking for gifts for the RVer in your life, you are in luck!

To keep this manageable, it’s been parted out into two posts—each with five items.  These are in no particular order, with no favoritism or affiliation to the actual products or vendors. So, without further ado here are five gifts that keep on giving:

The National Parks: Our American Landscape

A collection of over 200 stunning images depicting America’s national parks is a perfect gift for any RVer or lover of the outdoors. The book was originally released in 2010, but was released this year in a more affordable paperback version ($16.47 on Amazon.com).

Texas State Parks Pass

The Texas State Parks Pass is an annual pass that offers many special benefits including unlimited visits to more than 90 State Parks. You can also receive discounts on camping, park store merchandise, and recreational equipment rentals, and be eligible for other specials.

The single Texas State Park Pass (Primary Pass) may be purchased for $70. An additional pass may be issued at the time of purchase for an additional $15. Additional passes sold anytime after the original transaction may be purchased for $25.

State Parks Passes can be purchased on site at any Texas State Park location, and can be used on your very first visit. Or, you can purchase your Parks Pass from the State Park Customer Service Center, by calling (512) 389-8900.

December Is “Stocking Stuffer” Month at Oregon State Parks

Through the end of the month, visitors to Oregon’s 26 state parks can buy a 12-month day-use parking permit for $25 instead $30. Parking permits are transferable from vehicle to vehicle. The parks department also offers a 24-month pass for $50.

The Oregon Coast Passport, a multi-agency permit, also is discounted $5 in December. It is valid not only for parking at state parks but also at U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service sites along the Oregon Coast. The coastal passports are on sale for $30.

The parking permits, coastal passports, and gift certificates are available by calling the Oregon State Parks Information Center (800-551-6949).

Colorado State Parks Passes

A Colorado State Parks Annual Pass is a gift of outdoor cheer that lasts all year and doesn’t require a shopping trip. The annual passes provide free access for everyone in the vehicle to all 42 state parks throughout 2012.

Colorado State Parks offer settings of natural beauty across the state, nearly every kind of outdoor recreation—boating, camping, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, and sledding—and special programs for youngsters and adults.

The annual pass is $70 and is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.

The passes are available online and by phone (303-866-3437).

Gift certificates, which can be used for annual and daily passes, reservation fees, and camping sites are also available. And, Colorado State Park gift certificates never expire.

Purchase online for $5, $10, $25, $35, $60, or $70.

Indiana DNR Bargain Gift Pack

The $99 State Park Holiday Gift Pack includes a 2012 resident Annual Entrance Permit, an Indiana State Park Inns gift certificate worth $70, a one-year subscription to Outdoor Indiana magazine, and a 2012 Outdoor Indiana full-color calendar (a saving of $19).

The $129 State Park Holiday Gift Pack upgrades your $99 State Park Holiday Gift Pack to include a $100 Indiana State Park Inns gift certificate.

Indiana has 32 state parks and reservoirs scattered throughout the state. The entrance permit grants gate entrance for all of 2012 for all state parks and reservoirs.

The gift certificate can be used at any of seven state park lodging facilities, as well as the award-winning Pete Dye-designed golf course at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis.

You may even want to get yourself one, too, considering the savings.

Order at innsgifts.com, now through December 31.

Worth Pondering…

When your spirit cries for peace, come to a world of canyons deep in an old land; feel the exultation of high plateaus, the strength of moving wasters, the simplicity of sand and grass, and the silence of growth.

—August Fruge

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