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Are RVers about to lose their freedom to camp on public lands

October 31, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

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Special interests are increasing the pressure on the federal government to turn over to the states public lands that fall within their bouondaries. So far these efforts have failed, as they should. As an RVer and boondocker, I have a particular intererst our public lands and have been an advocate of thier use by RVers for camping and boondocking for many years. Even my nickname, “boondockbob,” comes from my love of camping on the millions of wide open acres of public lands managed by the National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
But if the special interests that are trying to transfer these public lands out of the American citizens’ hands and into the coffers of opportunistic politicians in the states, imagine what could be the ramifications of what would follow. First, the states would have to start coughing up the money required to manage these lands. The federal wildlife management agencies spent almost $4 billion in 2014 alone to manage just the wildlife refuges. And isn’t the enjoyment of our beaautiful and scenic public lands the very reason why many of us have chosen the RV lifestyle?
Do you think the states, in the current political climate, are going to suggest raising taxes to manage these lands? Of course not. So what will they do? The only possible option is to start leasing or selling the public lands (which are our lands) to the highest bidder, whether it be amusment part developers, hotel chains, mining and exploration companies, or any other organization whose main interest is extracting what they can take from the land and rewarding their shareholders, and not what they can do to preserve the land for its current uses – camping, hiking, boondocking, paddling, hunting, and other outdoor recreation opportunities.
That is not what I want to happen to our public lands that we pay taxes on to keep them out of private hands. I don’t want to see locked gates going up across forest service roads and “No Trespassing” signs appearing on all the dirt roads I like to explore and camp on. The states will be forced to sell off the best of our public lands leaving the taxpayers to foot the bill for what is left. And can you be sure where all that money will go when these lands are sold or leased?
There couldn’t be any possible benefit to RVers in turning public lands over to the states, unless you are a major shareholder of the corporations that will come in like the robber barons of the old railroad expansion days and reap the spoils of the taxpayers’ land. But can we do anything about it? We can, but it will take our diligence to watch the manipulations laid on us by those who wish to benefit at our expense. Watch for the legislation they put out and vote against it – loudly. It is your land and you have the right to demand – yes, demand – that it remain out of state politicians’ hands.
Boondocking in Colorado's national forests

Boondocking in Colorado's national forests

Personal and financial interests are increasing the pressure on the federal government to turn over to the states public lands that fall within their boundaries. So far these efforts have failed, as they should. As an RVer and boondocker, I have a particular interest in our public lands and have been an advocate of their use by RVers for camping and boondocking for many years. Even my nickname, “boondockbob,” comes from my love of camping on the millions of wide open acres of public lands managed by the National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

But if the special interests that are trying to transfer these public lands out of the American citizens’ hands and into the coffers of opportunistic politicians in the states, imagine what could be the ramifications of what would follow. First, the states would have to start coughing up the money required to manage these lands. The federal wildlife management agencies spent almost $4 billion in 2014 alone to manage just the wildlife refuges.

Do you think the states, with the current political climate, are going to suggest raising taxes to manage these lands? Of course not. So what will they do? The only possible option is to start leasing or selling the public lands (which are our lands) to the highest bidder, whether it be amusement part developers, hotel chains, mining and exploration companies, or any other organization whose main interest is extracting what they can take from the land and rewarding their shareholders, and not what they can do to preserve the land for all Americans and for current low-revenue producing uses such as camping, hiking, boondocking, paddling, hunting, and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

That is not what I want to happen to our public lands that we pay taxes on to keep them out of private hands. I don’t want to see locked gates going up across forest service roads and “No Trespassing” signs appearing on all the dirt roads I like to explore and camp on. And isn’t the enjoyment of our beaautiful and scenic public lands the very reason why many of us have chosen the RV lifestyle?

That’s not all. The states will be forced to sell off the most attractive of our public lands, those where private parties can extract the most revenue, leaving the taxpayers to foot the bill for what is left. And will you be comfortable with where all that money will go when these lands are sold or leased?

There couldn’t be any possible benefit to RVers in turning public lands over to the states, unless you are a major shareholder of the corporations that will come in like the robber barons of the old railroad expansion days and reap the spoils of the taxpayers’ land. But can we do anything about it? We can, but it will take our diligence to scrutinize the politicians and special interests that will attempt to manipulate us for personal or corporate benefit at our expense. Watch for the legislation they put out and vote against it – loudly. It is your land and you have the right to demand – yes, demand – that it remain out of state politicians’ hands.

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

Also check out my blogs, and your feedback and comments will enhance the discussions:

RV.net

The Good Sam Club blog

Camping and Boondocking on our Public Lands

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What RVers can do to avoid animal/vehicle accidents

October 24, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

“FALL is the season of apples, frost, turning leaves and roadkill” write  Amanda Hardy and Renee Seidler on the New York Times Opinion Pages.  ”A 2008 congressional study found that one in 20 reported motor vehicle collisions is animal-related, and the numbers peak in autumn. Annually, these incidents result in about 26,000 injuries and 200 human deaths. Across the country, collisions with deer — the most common type of animal-related incident — cost more than $8.3 billion per year, including vehicle repair, medical services, towing, law enforcement time and carcass disposal.”
The article also points out that most reported animal related accidents are collisions with large mammals and that the “toll on smaller creatures like squirrels, salamanders and birds goes largely uncounted, but a recent study estimated that as many as 340 million birds are killed by vehicles annually. For 21 species listed by federal authorities as threatened or endangered — including the Canada lynx, the red wolf, the Florida panther, the crested caracara and Florida scrub-jay — road death is a major threat to survival.”
Though most wildlife authorities conclude that reducing such animal/vehicle accidents could be prevented by installing safe corridors over or under roads that lie across migration routes, these solutions are expensive. Though a study shows that the cost can be recouped in about 12 years the original funding can be problematic.
It seems also, that changing animal behavior (teaching them to use tunnels and bridges) is more effective that altering human behavior to take steps to avoid such accidents. But as RVers, we likely already take some steps toward improved animal safety. For instance, since most animal/vehicle accidents happen on “two-lane highways that have relatively low traffic volumes (fewer than 5,000 vehicles per day),” because of the size of RVs, we will be driving slower and giving animals more time to react to our presence.
The article also states that “With greater awareness, motorists can adapt their driving. Research shows that drivers who anticipate danger can halve their reaction time and cut the risk of collision.” So if you are environmentally conscious and enjoy watching wildlife, it would be to everyone’s advantage – especially wildlife – to take extra precautions when driving in areas where wildlife may be present. These precautions would include driving slower (especially at dawn and dusk when animals are most active), being extra alert for animals on the sides of roads, slowing down even more if an animal crosses your path (more may follow), paying attention to wildlife warning signs, and supporting funding for wildlife corridors, bridges, tunnels, warning lights when animals are present, etc.
New York Times illustration by Irene Rinaldi

New York Times illustration by Irene Rinaldi

“FALL is the season of apples, frost, turning leaves and roadkill” write  Amanda Hardy and Renee Seidler on the New York Times Opinion Pages.  ”A 2008 congressional study found that one in 20 reported motor vehicle collisions is animal-related, and the numbers peak in autumn. Annually, these incidents result in about 26,000 injuries and 200 human deaths. Across the country, collisions with deer — the most common type of animal-related incident — cost more than $8.3 billion per year, including vehicle repair, medical services, towing, law enforcement time and carcass disposal.”

The article also points out that most reported animal related accidents are collisions with large mammals and that the “toll on smaller creatures like squirrels, salamanders and birds goes largely uncounted, but a recent study estimated that as many as 340 million birds are killed by vehicles annually. For 21 species listed by federal authorities as threatened or endangered — including the Canada lynx, the red wolf, the Florida panther, the crested caracara and Florida scrub-jay — road death is a major threat to survival.”

Though most wildlife authorities conclude that reducing such animal/vehicle accidents could be prevented by installing safe corridors over or under roads that lie across migration routes, these solutions are expensive. Though a study shows that the cost can be recouped in about 12 years the original funding can be problematic.

It seems also, that changing animal behavior (teaching them to use tunnels and bridges) is more effective that altering human behavior to take steps to avoid such accidents. But as RVers, we likely already take some steps toward improved animal safety. For instance, since most animal/vehicle accidents happen on “two-lane highways that have relatively low traffic volumes (fewer than 5,000 vehicles per day),” because of the size of RVs, we will be driving slower and giving animals more time to react to our presence.

The article also states that “With greater awareness, motorists can adapt their driving. Research shows that drivers who anticipate danger can halve their reaction time and cut the risk of collision.” So if you are environmentally conscious and enjoy watching wildlife, it would be to everyone’s advantage – especially wildlife – to take extra precautions when driving in areas where wildlife may be present.

These precautions would include driving slower (especially at dawn and dusk when animals are most active), being extra alert for animals on the sides of roads, slowing down even more if an animal crosses your path (more may follow), paying attention to wildlife warning signs, avoid driving in wildlife areas at dawn and dusk when possible, and supporting funding for wildlife corridors, bridges, tunnels, warning lights when animals are present, etc. Read the entire NYTimes article here.

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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FOR SPOILED (SMALL) DOGS

October 23, 2014 by Loloho.com · Leave a Comment 

Many RV owners are also dog owners. One of the best items we’ve found for small (and we do mean small) dogs is our Alfie Pet Sling Carrier (http://goo.gl/gSWwpn). This is an item especially appreciated by spoiled dogs.

Available in blue, pink, and grey, this pet sling carrier is just right for our favorite teacup chihuahua – a 3 ½ pounder we call “Baby Girl.”

REAL MEN WEAR PINK DOG SLINGS, but if you prefer they are available in grey and blue too! (CLICK THE PIC for more info.)

REAL MEN WEAR PINK DOG SLINGS, but if you prefer they are available in grey and blue too! (CLICK THE PIC for more info.)

Yes, Baby Girl is a bit spoiled. Just a bit.

Since this sort of review is really all about the dog’s reaction to the product, let’s examine this sling from Baby Girl’s point-of-view. After all, if she didn’t like the sling, it wouldn’t really matter what we think of it. But she does like this sling – she likes it a lot.

Baby Girl is a tiny little thing. Although she enjoys sitting on the living room couch, she insists on being placed there by a human being. The leap to or from an average couch or living room chair is just a little too much for her to contemplate.

Given her diminutive size, her reluctance to jump is understandable. Leaping from the couch to the floor would be kind of like a grown man leaping from the second story of a building to the ground – it’s not something I’m going to do very often, if at all.

Then there’s her issue with hardwood floors. Baby Girl hates hardwood. She finds it too slippery for her tastes. Her fear of hardwood dates back to one occasion when she slipped and fell on the hardwood floor. The fall frightened Baby Girl. Since that fateful moment, she has refused to walk on hardwood or similar smooth surfaces. It’s carpet or nothing for Baby Girl.

Baby Girl is small, but she also seems quite smart – at least as smart as the average politician. (And she’s never been caught embezzling any funds or texting obscene images of herself.)

Our favorite chihuahua is certainly smart enough to understand that she’s at a major size disadvantage – against most other dogs, all human beings and their feet, and well, against just about every other living creature on Earth that’s larger than a squirrel.

So Baby Girl has a preferred method of transportation: she likes to be carried everywhere by human beings.

CHIHUAHUA APPROVED. She likes it, she really likes it! (CLICK THE PIC for more info.)

CHIHUAHUA APPROVED. She likes it, she really likes it! (CLICK THE PIC for more info.)

Since Baby Girl likes to be carried, she really likes this Alfie Pet Sling. We’ve tried a couple of different dog slings, but this is her favorite, and it’s preferred by her humans too.

The sling is an elegant solution to this ongoing dilemma: Baby Girl likes to be held and carried, but Owner Guy likes to have both of his hands available.

Baby Girl seems to love being carried in this sling. The mere sight of the sling brings forth a burst of canine excitement.

The sling is made of a soft and stretchy but durable fabric. It’s not microfleece, but it is comfortable – kind of like an old fashioned baby blanket.

The Alfie sling is reversible, featuring a solid color on one side, and polka dots on the reverse.

The sling includes a safety collar hook for extra security. But since there’s zero chance of Baby Girl jumping out, we never use the collar hook.

What else makes these reversible sling dog carriers so great?

The carrier loops over the shoulder while the dog rests in the pouch on the opposite hip.

This keeps Baby Girl secure and comfortable.

She can poke her head out anytime she wants to watch the action, or duck down when she wants to hide from the world.

Of course, this sort of sling is perfect for a small breed of dog. It measures 9 inches in depth and holds pets up to 12 pounds.

Baby Girl tips the scales at a petite 3.5 pounds, so she’s easy to carry all day. Lucky for her! She loves riding in the sling.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if a space alien were to descend to our planet and secretly spy on the interaction between we dog lovers and our pets. Would the aliens think that the dogs are in charge? Maybe, considering that we quickly and obediently cater to our dogs’ every need. Who is serving who here?

Click here to spoil your own dog.

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ON TO THE LA FAIRPLEX — RECALLING THE PAST

October 8, 2014 by Barry & Monique Zander · Comments Off 

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

It’s wonderful being retired!  BUT it’s too early in life to stop being productive.  That’s my excuse for not publishing more often on RV.net.  I’ve gotten myself too involved in our newly adopted community in the mountains and my entry into photographic art to sit down and write.  I apologize to the thousands of readers who followed our adventures in Alaska and throughout North America in recent years.

I’m writing now to invite you to come visit us for the big RVIA Show this Friday through next Sunday, October 9-19 [http://www.thebestrvshow.com].  Monique and I will be manning Booth No. F-12 (on the left aisle as you come in the main tent entrance).  If you happen to be there this Friday, the 9th, we’ll be away from the booth for an hour beginning at 4:30 giving a seminar on Tips for RVers.  In our years on the road full-time, we learned a lot that we are ready to pass on to new and veteran RVers.

This is the 62nd edition of the show held annually at the Los Angeles County Fair & Exposition “Fairplex” in Pomona, California.

“The Never-Bored RVers” claim to fame (among readers of rv.net) is my waxing prosaically on what makes RVing such a great way to enhance our lives. Proving to us that getting on the road with an RV is such a wonderful opportunity is our excitement as we pack up the rig and the GMC tow vehicle for this excursion.  That indicates to us that RV travel is something important in our lives.

Let’s take it a step further. Yesterday Monique and I sat in our yard swing, where we gave in to spontaneity instead of hustling to do the dozens of tasks necessaryIn the Stream - 1103 for our week ahead.  Monique asked me, “What was your favorite military campground?”  Of our 484 stops of one or more nights, we spent about 50 in “FamCamps,” the military version of RV parks.  I finally answered, “Whidbey Island, Washington,” which brought on an hour-long reminiscing about our favorite places around North America (plus some places that still make us shudder).

HOW LUCKY WE ARE to have all these memories.  A majority of people spend their lives bouncing between home, the office, restaurants, and the other local places they frequent, but not RVers.  We (you and us) see new things every time we take the rig on the road, even if it’s the routine route from the Northern Tier down to the Sunbelt.  The memories pile up.  For many, practically every place has an adventure associated with it.

And I’m sure AARP would agree that it’s a healthy mind game to sit back and remember those occasions … the goose that laid an egg next to us at Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi; the authentic tribal feast along the Washington State coast; having my golf game delayed because the president had honors on the course; touching the gray whales’ babies in Baja California … What are your memories?

Before signing off so I can take my computer into the trailer, I leave you with my two favorite sayings, which you are welcome to adopt as your own:

To be happy, you must be free.  To be free, you must be brave.”

And the other:  “I’ll be old in 10 years.”

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

Because of the numerous Spam comments on this site, the comments section has been deactivated.  Please email us at neverboredrvers@gmail.com and I will pass along your comments.    Learn about Alaska, the Canadian Atlantic Provinces and much much plus a growing number of travel photos at http://ontopoftheworld.bz.

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Everyone should take an RV trip at least once in their lifetime

September 23, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

motorhome_red_rock_countryLong ago, back when I had a real job, I had a favorite saying when interacting with potential customers. At some point in the beginning of our conversation, I would say, “Everyone should take an RV trip at least once in their lifetime.” You might expect a statement like that coming from the Regional General Manager of a recreational vehicle (RV) rental and sales company. But I fully and completely believed it.

And now – 21 years after retiring and 17 years of traveling and living fulltime in my motorhome – I believe it more than ever.

I’ve been RVing for more than 45 years, beginning with renting a Class C motorhome for a one-week vacation to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with my wife and parents. While operating the RV rental company in Northern California I also managed to slip away for several weekends a year in one of my rentals (one of the best perks of a job I can think of), trying different models and sizes of RVs in the guise of “research.”

My wife and I would take off on a Friday afternoon for the redwood country, or up the coast, or into the national forests, or to the Mojave and Sonora deserts. We stayed in a variety campgrounds ranging from fancy RV resorts – with swimming pools, spas, and organized recreational activities – to primitive no-frills forested campsites surrounded by towering evergreens. My agenda: to evaluate how the RV and all its systems worked, comparing livability of small to large-sized RVs, and how a particular size or floor plan fit my wife’s and my specific needs. It was a tough job but somebody had to do it.

On the RV rental side of the business, I got to meet customers from around the world, discovering their particular reasons for wanting to rent an RV, their preconceptions, and the response from them when they returned their RV after use.

One of the more memorable responses was from a middle-aged English couple that set off to explore the Wild West. Three weeks later they returned all decked out in cowboy hats and boots. When I asked where they had gone, they replied that they hadn’t actually gotten much further than the old west gold mining town of Murphys. They had stopped in a cowboy bar for a drink, made new  friends, and were having such a good time that they stayed there for half their vacation.

In fact, the two most mentioned features of the returning renters were the spectacular scenery of the Western States and the people they met – both in and out of campgrounds. Some new to the RV Lifestyle, however, might be concerned that RVing is too much “roughing it,” foregoing hotel room amenities like room service and on site restaurants, to “sleep in the woods.” To those I respond, you might be surprised – and pleasantly so – after just one RV trip.

And, of course, the easy and smartest way to find out is by renting an RV before considering a purchase. You can see whether you enjoy the life, traveling, sleeping “in the woods,” and what size and type of RV you are comfortable with and that fits your particular needs. One way to take the plunge is by logging in to an online rental company, such as RVShare.com, and search for RVs to rent in your area. Their format is easy to use and you can look at pictures of the various RVs available for rent. Pick one out that fits your needs, and call the owner for further information.

So after 45-plus years of RVing – both in the business and as a fulltime RVer – I have learned a lot about RV travel and I would like to share short list of tips (the long list would be too long to print) of why “everyone should take an RV trip at least once in their lifetime.”

  • Your family can travel the scenic backroads of America together and in comfort
  • See parts of the country you would never see from an airplane
  • Choose your camping style, from amenity-rich RV resorts to primitive woodsy campsites
  • With the RV’s onboard systems you have everything you need for livability: restroom with shower, cooking facilities, refrigerator, generator for electricity (if not connected to campground power sources), a comfortable bed, and holding tanks for sewage, waste water, and drinking water.
  • Spend the night on a desert plateau and watch the sun set in a blaze of glorious colors over a distant mountain range
  • Wake in the morning to the songs of forest birds surrounded by towering Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs
  • Camp next to a mountain stream where you can fish fright from your camp chair
  • Visit RV hotspots like the massive winter gathering of friendly RVers (called snowbirds) in the small desert community of Quartzsite, Arizona
  • Watch NASCAR races in designated RV campsites right along the race course
  • Visit dispersed relatives across the country
  • Meander along the country’s beautiful National Scenic Byways, camping in picturesque campgrounds along the way
  • Bring your bicycle and ride some of the thousands of miles of former railroad lines now maintained as recreation trails by the Rails to Trails organization.
  • Discover the best hiking, paddling, birdwatching, and wine trails, follow the fall turning-of-the-leaves, find music festivals, mountain lakes, large mammal viewing spots, and more
  • Follow your favorite venues or interests, such as touring historic sites, old mines, ghost towns, chili cookoffs, RV rallies, square dance competitions, and our national and state parks

And there is much, much more. Happy Travels. For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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Add these side trips to your snowbird migration – Part 2

September 20, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

sunset craterIn last week’s post (Part I) I suggested that instead of making a near non-stop head long rush to your winter home in the Southwestern Desert, you instead take some time to visit some short side trips along the way. This week I follow with the next highlight following Wupatki pueblo that I wrote about.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

From Wupatki, continue on the loop. You will pass Sunset Crater (photos), Lava Flow, and Lenox Crater Trails before arriving at the visitor center, which is two miles before rejoining 89. Lava Flow Trail, a self-guided loop, depicts a variety of volcanic features, while Lenox Crater Trail is a more strenuous climb up the side of a cinder cone, two miles round trip. Sunset volcano erupted in AD 1065 and displays in the visitor center illustrate various volcanic phenomena, such as squeeze ups, where the lava is forced upward through cracks, and hornitos, strange hornlike protuberances.

Ranger Stephen Nycz explained some of the geology of the area. “From the visitors building we see the same top layers as in the Grand Canyon–250 million year old rock–before there were dinosaurs, trees, or plants, and before the separation of the continents.”

sunset crater sc0007bb3201Road pullouts, some with trails, provide access into the strange volcanic landscape. The cinders–rough, black rocks–have a strange feel as you walk across them. This crater is the youngest of the few prehistoric volcanoes in the world that can be accurately dated. After the eruption, 800 square miles lay buried under black volcanic ash. The eruption took place before the masonry pueblos were built about 1150 AD, although some Sinaguans lived in pit houses at the time. The volcano actually showed signs of life for over 200 years.

The loop road, though narrow, is suitable for all types and sizes of rigs and adequate parking is available at the view sites and visitor centers. Due to the fragile nature of archeological sites, it is best to stay on designated trails and leave any artifacts where you find them.

Bonito primitive campground at the Sunset Crater visitor center can accommodate rigs to 35 feet and, weather permitting, stays open through October. Additional camping and RV resorts are available in Flagstaff.

Now don’t you feel better for taking that little side trip? I know you could have been to your winter digs two days ago, but look at what you would have missed. And soon it will be too cold for that excursion. Enjoy your winter.

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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Add these side trips to your snowbird migration – Part 1

September 13, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

waupatki sc00047d6102Snowbirds descending from the Pacific Northwest, the plains states, or the mid-west into southern Arizona for the winter have several routes to choose from, though most often they take the most direct.

Typically, my father, the archetypal planner, plotted out the exact mileage and average driving time to haul his trailer from home in Pennsylvania to San Diego, CA , where he spent the winter near my brother and his family.

He knew practically to the minute how long it would take him to make the journey, starting each day at a prescribed time and stopping each evening at a pre-determined campground (always a KOA), and conducted the trip as if it were an organized time/distance rally. It drove my mother nuts but it worked for him.

I know that there are still some of you out there who travel like that today, admit it. Get to the destination in the most efficient and timely manner! Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! Maybe this year, rather than choosing the most direct or fastest route, try a different way, with side trips and stopovers on the way. (I can see a cold sweat breaking out on your forehead). So it won’t be too debilitating to your efficiency genes, I’ll suggest an easy alternative to start with.

waupatki sc00047d6103Instead of focusing on your destination of Phoenix and its environs, fix your sites on Flagstaff, only a couple of hours driving time to the north. You will pass through some scenic, high country, pine forests before dropping down to the scrub, juniper, and rabbitbrush of the high plateau along Interstate 89. On your way, you could even stop off at the Grand Canyon for a couple days.

Twenty-seven miles north of Flagstaff, a two-lane paved 35-mile loop turns east into Wupatki (photos) and Sunset Crater National Monuments, and back to 89 just 12 miles above Flag–an easy, non-stressful, route.

Wupatki National Monument

Until eight hundred years ago a far-reaching Native American pueblo civilization spread like ants across this high volcanic plateau, raising beans, corn, and squash. They built intricate structures using the abundant uniform slabs of red sandstone stacked like bricks and reinforced with mud mortar atop the natural rock outcroppings, a solid foundation to build upon. The rock mass elevated the pueblos above the deteriorating effects of erosion, acted as a passive solar heat source, absorbing heat from the sun in the daytime providing warmth through the night, and offered the inhabitants a wide view across the landscape to see approaching visitors and traders.

Present day Hopi, the descendants of these former inhabitants, refer to them as Hisatsinom, meaning, “people of long ago.” The Navajo word, Anasazi, and the Pima or O’odham word, Hohokam also refer to these ancient peoples. The Spanish used their own words in calling them Sinagua (sin=without, and aqua=water).

Hundreds of archeological sites are scattered across the plateau, and several have been uncovered and preserved so visitors can see how these early dwellers lived. Markers along the road mark short access trails to the pueblos–Lomaki, Citadel, Doney Mountain, Wupatki, and Wukoki.

At its peak occupation during the 1100’s, the Wupatki Pueblo contained almost 100 rooms and housed about 200 residents. The pueblo also contains a central circular amphitheater (kiva), and a ballcourt, thought to have religious as well as sport and social uses.

Like many pueblos, the Hisatsinom built Wupatki by accretion. They built the first rooms into the bedrock, and as the population grew, they added rooms around and above. Inner, older rooms, some used for storage, were ventilated with a series of small openings in the walls. They carried ponderosa pine support beams, for second stories and roofs, from a considerable distance.

Near the ballcourt, a unique geologic feature called a blowhole, consists of a large network of small underground cracks. When air pressure below ground builds up greater than that above, air blows out of the hole, often with considerable force. When the below ground air pressure is less, the air is reversed and sucked in. The cold air coming out of the hole smelled strongly of wet rocks and rich earth. Two little girls held their shirts out over the flow to cool their tummies.

By the mid 1200s, Wupatki was mysteriously abandoned. The ranger offered the theory that it was for both social and religious reasons. “People throughout history have gathered, dispersed, then gathered again, for a variety of reasons, which are seldom mysterious or sinister. Perhaps due to overpopulation or drought, they may have migrated into the Rio Grande Valley and the Little Colorado River area and became Zuni and Hopi.

“There are two schools of archaeological thought,” she continued. “The old school is purely scientific. Everything is based on physical evidence. But there is a new school that includes oral history as part of the study, which includes the Hopi legends and stories, and the songs and ceremonies that date back to these early days.”

Watch next Saturday for Part II

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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REVIEW: Nikon MONARCH = Great Binoculars

September 9, 2014 by Loloho.com · Comments Off 

A few years ago, we decided to upgrade our binoculars from a set of K-Mart Special el cheapos to something better. After a lot of research, we ended up choosing Nikon MONARCH (http://goo.gl/kw7UOr) binoculars. We opted for the 8×42 magnification, but the binoculars are also available in 10×42 and 12×42 flavors.

The binoculars may last a lifetime. (Click the pic for more info.)

The binoculars may last a lifetime. (Click the pic for more info.)

Quality binoculars are a long term investment for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. We use ours for observing wildlife like birds and bears in national parks. They are also invaluable for viewing boats and (for those of you who enjoy following the latest fashion trends) bikinis at the beach. Of course they are fun at the football stadium as well.

Why did we choose Nikon MONARCH? If you know anything about cameras and lenses, you know the name Nikon. The Nikkor company has a long history of lens manufacture. It makes sense to trust Nikon in designing and manufacturing a set of binoculars, since binoculars are essentially a pair of telephoto lenses that are customized for the human eye instead of a camera sensor.

When shopping for nice binoculars, you can find the gamut in features and price range. (For example, check out this $6400 pair of military grade night vision goggles – I want some!) We concluded that Nikon MONARCH were the nicest line of binoculars for the money, offering the most “bang for the buck.”

Nikon brings all of its lens construction expertise into the binocular arena with the MONARCH series.

It's important to monitor the latest trends in bikini fashion. Nikon MONARCH help in this vital cultural pursuit. (Click the pic for more info.)

It's important to monitor the latest trends in bikini fashion. Nikon MONARCH help in this vital cultural pursuit. (Click the pic for more info.)

We have original MONARCH binocs. So what’s new with the MONARCH 5? The new design is almost an ounce lighter than its predecessor and built with Nikon ED (extra-low dispersion) glass lenses.

Camera guys love Nikon ED glass. The MONARCH 5 delivers sharp, high-contrast views that are the result of its state-of-the-art optical system. In addition to the glass, MONARCH includes what Nikon calls “Dielectric High-Reflective Multilayer Prism Coatings.” All of this high tech stuff works to ensure accurate color reproduction and a clear, natural looking image.

Nikon MONARCH lenses are fully multicoated to provide maximum resolution and light transmission. While at first glance this sounds like a bunch of marketing mumbo jumbo, my experience with Nikkor telephoto lenses has taught me that it holds weight. The nicer professional Nikkor camera lenses are equipped with these technologies, and their magnification abilities are breathtaking. If you’ve ever wondered what makes professional photographs look so good, it all starts with the lens. In other words, good glass makes all the difference.

These suckers are weatherproof and waterproof, and built to last. (Click the pic for more info.)

These suckers are weatherproof and waterproof, and built to last. (Click the pic for more info.)

The MONARCH 5 binocular comes in black finish. As noted above, it’s available in 8×42, 10×42 and 12×42 magnifications. We opted for the 8×42, which gets your eyesight eight times closer to the subject. The 10 and 12 varieties offer more magnification, but they may be a little more difficult to hold steady for extended periods of time (more magnification increases the effect of shake if your hand is less than steady). Note that these binoculars do not zoom – they are a fixed focal length which provides superior optical quality.

Nikon MONARCH binoculars are comfortable to use. They utilize Nikon’s high-eye point design to provide a clear field-of-view and long eye-relief. The long eye-relief ensures a sufficient space between the user’s face and the binoculars’ eyecups to make them comfortable for everyone, even for those wearing eyeglasses. As an eyeglass wearer myself, I am able to use the MONARCHs without problem (I wish I could say the same for all Nikon cameras).

The turn-and-slide rubber eyecups make it easy to find the right eye positioning for extended periods of use.

Nikon MONARCH binocs also utilize a smooth central focus knob that makes it easy to bring objects into focus for fast viewing. It’s a breeze to rotate the knob with your finger for quick and accurate focus.

Another great feature of Nikon MONARCH binoculars is the weather sealing. These are built for extreme usage. In fact, the MONARCH 5 is Nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed, making it completely waterproof and fog proof. A protective, rubber-armored coating strengthens its durability and ensures a non-slip grip during wet and dry conditions.

Our MONARCHs have a set of attached lens caps. Some people complain about the design of these caps, but I appreciate it. Our caps are attached to the unit in a fashion that ensures they will never be dropped or lost. This keeps the glass looking clean for the long term.

Our MONARCHs also included a nice soft case with a belt loop, and a neck strap.

We’ve owned our Nikon MONARCHs for years and they still look like new. Of course your mileage may very, but these are extremely nice binoculars that for us feel like a long term purchase. Quality binoculars are an investment that you can enjoy for a lifetime. We’ll probably be using the same binoculars a decade from now.

Click here to view different options in the Nikon MONARCH binocular line.

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RVers and bears: Tips on staying safe – for both RVers and bears

September 6, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

“When you are naked, it’s amazing how little courage you have,” writes Tom Stienstra in the San Francisco Chronicle relating to his recent camping trip into the mountains of California. Remembering in the middle of the night that he had left his on-the-road dinner leftovers on the passenger seat in the truck when he set up camp in a remote section of a national forest, he rose about 2:00 AM to remove the leftovers before a bear discovered them and decided to break in for the goodies.
With only a penlight to approached his truck and came face to face with a 250-pound black bear. Before he had time to decide on the correct defence, the bear, appearing more shocked than he was, scampered off crashing through the bushes and brush to disappear in the woods, leaving behind a trail of urine (conceivably more frightened than Stienstra who did not).
The lesson to be learned for campers (that includes RVers) is not only the obvious one of not leaving food out – on the picnic table, littering the campsite, or on the pasenger seat of your truck – but also that the reaction of the bear – frightened and running away – is the natural and normal reaction expected from wild animals.
But that expectation has changed, and for the worst. Except for bears that live in the deeper reaches of forests and mostly out of contact with civilization, most have lost their fear of humans because of the unfortunate way humans view their responsibilities toward wildlife, especially bears, the results off which often end with injury and property damage to humans and death to the bears that have to be euthanized.
The bears of Lake Tahoe, Stienstra points out, have completely lost their fear of humans because of careless handling of food scraps and food wrappers (which carry the scent of food and attract bears as much as the food itself) by tourists, overflowing trash cans, and by local residents feeding them (one case he relates is a woman who places feeding bowls for bears in her back yard – eight bears were seen at one time feeding – and was attacked in August and put in the hospital).
To keep yourself and your campsite intact, ALWAYS contain and dispose properly of all food scraps in designated bear proof containers. A cooler is not bear proof as innumerable acouonts show bears breaking into vehicles to ravage coolers (and the vehicle broken into).
You can learn more about how to safely act and react in bear country and when encountering bears at the Bear Smart website.
http://www.bearsmart.com/becoming-bear-smart/play/bear-encounters
1
Read Stienstra’s article, “The problem with bears is the humans” in its entirerty.

bear_on_beach

By Bob Difley

“When you are naked, it’s amazing how little courage you have,” writes Tom Stienstra in the San Francisco Chronicle relating to his recent camping trip into the mountains of California.

Remembering in the middle of the night that he had left his on-the-road dinner leftovers on the passenger seat in the truck when he set up camp in a remote section of a national forest, he rose about 2:00 AM to remove the leftovers before a bear discovered them and decided to break in for the goodies.

With only a penlight to approached his truck and came face to face with a 250-pound black bear. Before he had time to decide on the correct defence, the bear, appearing more shocked than he was, scampered off crashing through the bushes and brush to disappear in the woods, leaving behind a trail of urine (conceivably more frightened than Stienstra who did not).

The lesson to be learned for campers (that includes RVers) is not only the obvious one of not leaving food out – on the picnic table, littering the campsite, or on the pasenger seat of your truck – but also that the reaction of the bear – frightened and running away – is the natural and normal reaction expected from wild animals.

But that expectation has changed, and for the worst. Except for bears that live in the deeper reaches of forests and mostly out of contact with civilization, most have lost their fear of humans because of the unfortunate way humans view their responsibilities toward wildlife, especially bears, the results off which often end with injury and property damage to humans and death to the bears that have to be euthanized.

The bears of Lake Tahoe, Stienstra points out, have completely lost their fear of humans because of careless handling of food scraps and food wrappers (which carry the scent of food and attract bears as much as the food itself) by tourists, overflowing trash cans, and by local residents feeding them (one case he relates is a woman who places feeding bowls for bears in her back yard – eight bears were seen at one time feeding – and was attacked in August and put in the hospital).

To keep yourself and your campsite intact, ALWAYS contain and dispose properly of all food scraps in designated bear proof containers. A cooler is not bear proof as innumerable acouonts show bears breaking into vehicles to ravage coolers (and the vehicle broken into).

You can learn more about how to safely act and react in bear country and when encountering bears at the Bear Smart website.

Read Tom Stienstra’s entire article, “The problem with bears is the humans.”

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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If HR5204 passes the House our public lands may no longer be free

September 1, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

For those of you who define your RV Lifestyle by the great hiking, fishing, and camping to be found in our national forests and on land managed by the BLM, HR 5204 poses a financial threat and possibly even greater controls over what we can do with our RVs when we go seeking the beauty and solitude of our public lands.

The following is a repost of an email alert sent by the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition. I have placed it here, because I believe it is important to get the word out:

HR 5204 is written as an amendment to the current law, in the form of line-by-line additions, deletions, and substitutions, which makes it very difficult for the public to understand. (Probably this was the intention.) A detailed analysis of the major provisions of HR 5204 can been seen at this link.

August 24, 2014

THE FEE-FREE PRESS

DEAR PUBLIC LANDS SUPPORTER ,

Action is urgently needed to stop a bill introduced in the House, and already rammed through Committee and ready for a floor vote. HR 5204 would authorize the Forest Service and BLM to charge fees for all public lands, for any activity, by any person, any time. Details follow. Please TAKE ACTION NOW!
Kitty Benzar

Fee signWelcome to the future.
Pay ahead.

STOP THIS BILL
HOUSE BILL WOULD ALLOW FEES FOR ALL PUBLIC LAND ACCESS

Just before the House adjourned for their August recess, HR 5204 The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Modernization Act of 2014, was introduced by U.S. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) and rammed through the House Resources Committee, without a hearing, by its Chairman, U.S. Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA).

It’s likely that Bishop and Hastings are planning to get HR 5204 attached as a rider to the FY2015 appropriations bill. Although HR 5204 has attracted no sponsor in the Senate so far, it’s likely that if attached as an appropriations rider it will pass both chambers without scrutiny or public debate, and become the law of the land, because appropriations bills are considered “must pass” in order to avoid a government shutdown.

HR 5204, if enacted, could destroy the concept of public lands as places where everyone has access and is welcome. Every place, every activity, every person, could be required to pay a fee – an additional tax on top of the taxes that already support public lands – for access, regardless whether they are highly developed like National Parks and Forest Service or BLM campgrounds, or completely undeveloped like Wilderness Areas.

HR 5204 would allow the kind of fees that have not been controversial to continue, such as fees for developed campgrounds and National Park entrance fees. But in addition to those fees, it would allow general access fees for any federal recreational lands and waters. It would accomplish this by two types of fee: Day Use Fees and Permit Fees.

The only meaningful requirement for a Day Use Fee would be that where you park there is a toilet of some kind (could be a porta-potty or a stinky outhouse) within 1/2 mile.

The only meaningful requirement for a Permit Fee would be that where you park gives access to a “special area.” Neither “special” nor “area” is defined. The land agencies would have complete discretion to claim that any place at all is a “special area.”

So where there is a toilet it could be called a Day Use Fee. Where there is not a toilet, it could be called a Permit Fee. The result is the same: there would not be anyplace where a fee is not allowed. And since the agencies would get to keep all the fee money directly, there would be not be anywhere that they wouldn’t have a strong incentive to charge a fee.

Public lands? Forget that. Not any more. Not if this passes.

There is other stuff in HR 5204 (like no more fee-free days, citizenship checks on annual pass holders, and overhead costs rising from 15% to 25%), but they only rearrange the deck chairs on the sinking ship of our public lands.

A detailed analysis of the major provisions is on our website at this link.

Congress is on vacation until the week after Labor Day. When they return, the 2015 appropriations bills will be among the top items of business. If Bishop and Hastings succeed in getting HR 5204 attached to one of them, it’s almost guaranteed to pass.

What can stop it?
Only one thing can:
PUBLIC OUTRAGE – PUBLIC ACTION.

If you care about our public lands being turned into commodities available only to those who can afford to pay fees for everything, then you must let YOUR Representative and YOUR Senators hear from you. Tell them that this major change in public policy cannot be allowed, particularly without any public hearing or debate.

HR 5204 lacks any over-arching vision or framework of our public lands being spaces where we all are welcome and have access. Yet it’s being supported by groups like the National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, and America Outdoors, because it throws a bone here and there to their special interests. But for the general public, there is nothing redeeming in this bill, nor any way it could be amended into something acceptable. It represents a complete change in public lands policy, which would be accomplished without public hearings or debate.

Tell your congressional delegation to OPPOSE HR 5204 and TO NOT ALLOW IT TO BE ATTACHED TO AN APPROPRIATIONS BILL!

All the contact information you need can be found at
www.house.gov
and
www.senate.gov.

* Use their webform.
* Call their office in Washington.
* Call their local office.
* Write, phone, fax, drop in in person.

Do all of the above. And then do it again!

Your personal action is urgently needed or this bill WILL PASS!

IF THAT HAPPENS, KISS YOUR ACCESS TO PUBLIC LANDS GOODBYE.

The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition is a broad-based organizationconsisting of diverse interests including hiking, biking, boating, equestrian and motorized enthusiasts, community groups, local and
state elected officials, conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, and just plain citizens.

Our goals are:
* To eliminate recreation fees for general access to public lands managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management
* To eliminate backcountry fees and interpretive program fees in National Parks
* To require more accountability within the land management agencies
* To encourage Congress to adequately fund our public lands

Thank you for your support!

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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