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Add these side trips to your snowbird migration – Part 2

September 20, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

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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 · Leave a Comment 

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 · Leave a Comment 

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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Off the beaten track: Southern Oregon’s South Slough Reserve

August 15, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

Though the sea is enjoyable and invigorating any time of year, fall is a great time to RV along the rocky Pacific coastline. The lure is a direct result of the transition that follows Labor Day, the official end of summer. Traffic no longer impacts Route 1, kids are all back in their schools and humming with activity, summer vacations are but memories until next year, and you can move into the now un-crowded campgrounds, un-bound by the high season necessity of making reservations–the destroyer of spontaneous whims.
This is the time of year when Indian summer settles over the coast. The fogs of summer, that form over the cooler offshore waters sucked in by the vacuum cleaner of sizzling inland temperatures, have mostly disappeared. Nippy afternoon winds have decreased to soft zephyrs.
This is the time to meander Route l, enjoying the ocean views atop precipitous cliffs, and walking barefoot along cool soft sandy beaches. But don’t forget the occasional side trip that often gets missed by the straight through traveler. One such trip is to South Slough National Estuarine Reserve, the nation’s first protected Estuarine preserve, on Oregon’s south coast near Coos Bay.
The Coos River enters the ocean a few miles west of Coos Bay at Charleston, and South Slough stretches out languidly south of town in a shallow, tidal basin of narrow winding channels and gooey mudflats. It is this mud and tidal flow that creates South Slough’s soupy smorgasbord, a mixture of the most primitive forms of life at the bottom of the food chain that feeds much of ocean life in its infancy.
Trails snake down the slopes from the visitor center, following the drainage from the surrounding hills into the tidal washed bottom, passing through dry scrub at the top to soggy wetlands at the bottom. Boardwalks provide walkways over these wet places so you don’t have to get your new hiking boots wet, and a superb viewing platform set just inside the tree line provides excellent viewing of shorebirds pecking in the mud, ducks on the open water, and deer, raccoons, and other critters who make South Slough home.
To find South Slough, take the Cape Arago Highway from Coos Bay to Charleston, whose harbor is one of the main sport fishing harbors in Oregon and its busiest commercial fishing port. It is also a good place to buy the freshest fish you can get, just off the hook to you and your frying pan.
To get to South Slough, return to Charleston and look for Seven Devils Road off to the left at the south end of town. For the next several miles just close your eyes (unless you’re the driver) as you pass the timber industry’s environmental signature–vast acres of ugly clear-cut forests—or what used to be forests. The practically non-existent re-seeding program has produced negligible restoration results since the devastating harvesting of the 1960s.
Five miles of this and you arrive at South Slough. Turn left into the interpretive center and pick up a map of the trails, a brochure on the reserve, and a schedule of naturalist-led walks.
Admission is free, the trails are open dawn to dusk, and be sure to pick up a tide schedule if you intend on paddling the slough’s waterways, which is an excellent way to see wildlife and birds up close. Walk quietly and bring your binoculars, who knows what you might see.
Take some time also for a side trip to three of Oregon’s premier state parks. Sunset Bay State Park offers dramatic cliffs, surf, diving, hiking, and one of the most popular all season campgrounds in Oregon, a good base camp from which to explore the area with greater leisure.
Another mile along the highway you come to Shore Acres State Park, the former summer home/estate of lumber magnate, Louis Simpson, and known not only for the magnificent rocky coastal views but for its restored formal gardens. Offshore from the rugged cliffs lies Cape Arago lighthouse, with good views from Cape Arago State Park, at the end of the Highway. All three parks are close together and connected by hiking trails.

South_Slough2689Though the sea is enjoyable and invigorating any time of year, fall is a great time to RV along the rocky Pacific coastline. The lure is a direct result of the transition that follows Labor Day, the official end of summer.

Traffic no longer impacts Route 1, kids are all back in their schools, summer vacations are but memories until next year, and you can move into the now un-crowded campgrounds, un-bound by the high season necessity of making reservations–the destroyer of spontaneous whims.

This is the time of year when Indian summer settles over the coast. The fogs of summer, that form over the cooler offshore waters sucked in by the vacuum cleaner of sizzling inland temperatures, have mostly disappeared. Nippy afternoon winds have decreased to soft zephyrs.

This is the time to meander Route l, enjoying the ocean views atop precipitous cliffs, and walking barefoot along cool soft sandy beaches. But don’t forget the occasional side trip that often gets missed by the straight through traveler. One such trip is to South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, the nation’s first protected Estuarine preserve, on Oregon’s south coast near Coos Bay.

The Coos River enters the ocean a few miles west of Coos Bay at Charleston, and South Slough stretches out languidly south of town in a shallow, tidal basin of narrow winding channels and gooey mudflats. It is this mud and tidal flow that creates South Slough’s soupy smorgasbord, a mixture of the most primitive forms of life at the bottom of the food chain that feeds much of ocean life in its infancy.

Trails snake down the slopes from the visitor center, following the drainage from the surrounding hills into the tidal washed bottom, passing through dry scrub at the top to soggy wetlands at the bottom. Boardwalks provide walkways over these wet places so you don’t have to get your new hiking boots wet, and a superb viewing platform set just inside the tree line provides excellent viewing of shorebirds pecking in the mud, ducks on the open water, and deer, raccoons, and other critters who make South Slough home.

To find South Slough, take the Cape Arago Highway from Coos Bay to Charleston, whose harbor is one of the main sport fishing harbors in Oregon and its busiest commercial fishing port. It is also a good place to buy the freshest fish you can get, just off the hook to you and your frying pan.

To get to South Slough, return to Charleston and look for Seven Devils Road off to the left at the south end of town. For the next several miles just close your eyes (unless you’re the driver) as you pass the timber industry’s environmental signature–vast acres of ugly clear-cut forests—or what used to be forests. The practically non-existent re-seeding program has produced negligible restoration results since the devastating harvesting of the 1960s.

Five miles of this and you arrive at South Slough. Turn left into the interpretive center and pick up a map of the trails, a brochure on the reserve, and a schedule of naturalist-led walks. Though camping is not permitted at the reserve, campgrounds and state parks are nearby.

Admission is free, the trails are open dawn to dusk, and be sure to pick up a tide schedule if you intend on paddling the slough’s waterways, which is an excellent way to see wildlife and birds up close. Walk quietly and bring your binoculars, who knows what you might see.

Take some time also for a side trip to three of Oregon’s premier state parks. Sunset Bay State Park offers dramatic cliffs, surf, diving, hiking, and one of the most popular all season campgrounds in Oregon, a good base camp from which to explore the area with greater leisure.

Another mile along the highway you come to Shore Acres State Park, the former summer home/estate of lumber magnate, Louis Simpson, and known not only for the magnificent rocky coastal views but for its restored formal gardens. Offshore from the rugged cliffs lies Cape Arago lighthouse, with good views from Cape Arago State Park, at the end of the Highway. All three parks are close together and connected by hiking trails but camping is only available at Sunset Bay.

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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OUTSIDE OUR RV AFTER DARK

July 30, 2014 by Barry & Monique Zander · Comments Off 

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

It’s dark, very dark.  We’re in a park with very few lights to distract us from appreciating our nighttime surroundings.  We are cradled in silence.  This is what nature camping is all about.

But wait!  As we lay back in our outdoor recliners, letting go of all the cares of the day just passed, we see lights.  We hear sounds.

Tiny lights are overhead, thousands of them, maybe millions, maybe billions, but who’s counting?  We pick out a series of stars that we recognized from National Park ranger talks as being constellations.  We never could envision all the mythical arrangements seen by Romans and Greeks thousands of years ago, but we know the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia.

Like an exercise in finding familiar figures in the clouds or focusing on the spaces between clusters of leaves, we don’t concentrate for very long on the arrangements we know but rather on the twinkling and steady shining specks across the panoply of sky.  Thankfully, our moon is nowhere in sight.

And speaking of clouds, there’s that wispy area – not clouds, but the billions of stars visible in the Milky Way.  That bright unsteady glow in the east is Venus; the faint orange dot is Mars.

Red flashing dots blink far away.  An airplane taking businessmen to tomorrow morning’s meetings.  Grandma en route to her annual visit with the kids.  College students off to see friends or to lounge on blistering sand beaches.  We’re 32,000 feet below them and unconditionally content not to be up there.  (A few seconds of RVing-appreciation time.)

“Do you see it?” I ask.  “Do you mean the satellite?”  “Yes, it’s moving fast” into a misty veil.  “Did you see that one?” Monique asks, “a shooting star over there.”  I missed that one, but when you sit outside in a dark environment long enough, you’re bound to see a few.  I remember when someoneNighttime Skyasked a ranger why there are so many more shooting stars during the summer.  “That’s when you spend more time outside,” he wisely replied.

No lightning flashes tonight.  No lighting bugs west of the Rocky Mountains.  Mostly stars.  Dim glimmers reflect off the backs of erratically flying bats.  That’s an indication that there are insects around, so we’re thankful for their presence.

The hum from the airplane that passed a minute ago finally reaches us.   When we hear that, it makes us aware of other sounds.   Loudest sound tonight is a cricket, which reminds us of the awful blaring chorus of cicadas that surrounded us in Prescott, Arizona, years ago.  Not one of our finest evenings but quite memorable.

From somewhere behind us comes an angry momma bird, perhaps alarmed that a foreigner is approaching her nest.  She can’t stand for that and lets the whole neighborhood know it.

Listening is one of the greatest joys of being outside our rig at night.  We may hear water flowing from a cascading creek in the woods or rippling waves in a lake or the sea.  Rustling sounds in the underbrush is always interesting.  A motorcycle in the distance is acceptable because we know the disturbance will be gone in a few seconds.

It’s getting chilly. Time to fold up the recliners and go in.  We did our thing.  Maybe tomorrow night the next woody campground will be dark and quiet.  Here’s hoping.

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

© All graphics by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

To the Never-Bored RVers

I always think of this scripture in the moments quite and solitude in nature. Be Still And Know That I Am God, you discovered it after a little while you hear the wind rustling the leaves and grass, a cricket, distant howl or hoot. Things you didn’t hear when you first sat down.

Then I don’t know if you remember the old Kung Fu show, the Master asked his student close your eyes and tell me what you hear. The student replies the wind, the sound of dripping water….the master replies do you not hear the grasshopper at your feet. The student opens his eyes to see.  Old man, the student says, why is it that you can hear these things, the master says, young man why is it you do not.

God Bless
Steve and Linda Gregory

Reminded me of a business trip I took 8 years ago using my camper.  Stopped at Mt. Ascutney state park in Vermont for the night (cheapest stay my company ever saw).  The stars were brilliant, and I could walk the park without my flashlight on.
Another campout with my wife up a little further north, we stayed near a lake and heard owls, herons, and other birds calling that night.  My wife was spooked (city gal), but I was intriqued by the multitude of wild life making their presence known.

Allen Schott

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 athttp://ontopoftheworld.bz.

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There are many other volunteer positions available to RVers in addition to camp hosting.

July 12, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

8. VOLUNTEERING
There are many other volunteer positions available to RVers in addition to camp hosting
How does volunteering fit into the RV Lifestyle? Camp hosting is not the only form of volunteer position open to RVers. Though there are volunteer positions available to students, retirees, and for seasonal needs, RVers who bring their houses with them are top tier candidates for volunteer positions where local housing may not be available and where there is room for RVers to park their rigs.
Why do businesses and others use volunteers?
Many parks use volunteers for jobs such as trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, wildlife census, habitat rejuvenation, leading hikes and nature walks, collecting camping fees, and many more. These are activities/chores that don’t always get funds included in budgets that have been pared to the bone.
When a park or other agency or business, such as a wildlife refuge, state park, national forest, or wilderness area can get the job done by offering a free campsite as trade without having to pay a fulltime employee or account for it in their expenses, everybody benefits.
Some seasonal positions may even pay a wage, though you won’t get rich on it. The famous Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, uses seasonal RVers to work in their store and even provides an RV park where all the seasonal RVers stay. They have found that RVers are reliable, trustworthy, happy to work short hours or in short temporary jobs, and will often come back year after year.
The huge online retailer, Amazon, also hires seasonal workers in their warehouses for shipping support, though if you aren’t used to working long hours on your feet, you might want to try an easier job.
Where do you find volunteer positions?
Often you can find a volunteer position just by enquiring at the location where you would like to volunteer, making it clear why you want to volunteer at that particular place.
Volunteers that are eager for certain locations will win out over those just wanting a free campsite anywhere they can get one. You never know what might turn up if you just ask—or suggest how you might volunteer. Park managers are often eager to trade out an empty campsite for work that needs to be done.

volunteeringHow does volunteering fit into the RV Lifestyle?

Camp hosting is not the only form of volunteering for RVers. Though volunteer positions are available to students, retirees, and for seasonal needs, RVers who bring their houses with them are top tier candidates for volunteer positions where local housing may not be available and where there is room for RVers to park their rigs.

Why do businesses and others use volunteers?

Many parks use volunteers for jobs such as trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, wildlife census, habitat rejuvenation, leading hikes and nature walks, collecting camping fees, and many more. These are activities/chores that don’t always get funds included in budgets that have been pared to the bone.

When a park or other agency or business, such as a wildlife refuge, state park, national forest, or wilderness area can get the job done by offering a free campsite as trade without having to pay a fulltime employee or account for it in their expenses, everybody benefits.

Some seasonal positions may even pay a wage, though you won’t get rich on it. The famous Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, uses seasonal RVers to work in their store and even provides an RV park where all the seasonal RVers stay. They have found that RVers are reliable, trustworthy, happy to work short hours or in short temporary jobs, and will often come back year after year.

The huge online retailer, Amazon, also hires seasonal workers in their warehouses for shipping support, though if you aren’t used to working long hours on your feet, you might want to try an easier job.

Where do you find volunteer positions?

Often you can find a volunteer position just by inquiring at the location where you would like to volunteer, making it clear why you want to volunteer at that particular place. Volunteers that are eager for certain locations will win out over those just wanting a free campsite anywhere they can get one. You never know what might turn up if you just ask—or suggest how you might volunteer. Park managers are often eager to trade out an empty campsite for work that needs to be done.

Here are some links to help you get a jump on obtaining a volunteer position.

http://www.volunteermatch.org/ Here you can enter the area you want to volunteer in, your interests, and the site will try to match you to a position.

http://www.serve.gov/ This government asks you what interests you and where you would like to volunteer then offers a list of matches.

http://www.volunteer.gov/gov/Another government site that matches volunteers with positions.

http://www.disneyparks.com Volunteer a day of service and get one day admission to Disney parks.

http://www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs/volunteers.htm Forest Service volunteer positions.

http://www.fws.gov/volunteers/volOpps.html Lists opportunities at more than 500 wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, along with how to go about finding positions.

The above article is #8 from my ebook, 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck.

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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How to avoid wasting energy while RV boondocking

July 4, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

boondocking_anderson_mesa

By Bob Difley

When you take the ultimate step and decide to be a serious boondocker, you make  modifications to the way you camp and add certain features like installing a sustainable energy source like solar panels, a wind generator, or a fusion nuclear generator [have they invented those yet?] to your RV that you might be hesitant to invest in until you know you like the lifestyle.

How to avoid wasting energy while RV boondocking
When you take the ultimate step and decide to be a serious boondocker, you make  modifications to the way you camp and add certain features like installing a sustainable energy source like solar panels, a wind generator, or a fusion nuclear generator [have they invented those yet?]) to your RV that you might be hesitant to invest in until you know you like the lifestyle.
But in the meantime, you can follow the tips below to reduce your electrical usage – and the amount of time you need to run your noisy generator to recharge your batteries.
Turn off all appliances, lights, radio, TV, and anything else that requires electricity when not in use.
Don’t leave your porch light on (a particular annoyance to me when I am not so fortunate to be able to camp away from neighbors, and he/she leaves the light on, ruining my night vision for seeing night critters and star gazing).
Coordinate your generator running time with the use of power-hungry appliances. For instance, schedule your showers, water heater, use of microwave, coffee grinder, and dishwashing all within a short period of time when you can run your generator to power them, rather than pull juice out of your batteries. This also charges you batteries at the same time.
Time your day to match the sun, rising when it does and going to bed with it also. This cuts your light usage down considerably.
If you read in bed, try using small rechargeable battery powered reading lights. You can recharge the batteries when you hook up next time and you won’t run down your house batteries with your RV’s lights. And you will probably disturb your mate less.
Monitor your house batteries charge with a voltage meter so you don’t run them down too low, which can damage the batteries. Deep cycle batteries are considered fully charged at about  12.6 volts and completely discharged at 10.6 volts. Recharge before they get below 60%, or about 12.0 volts.
In addition to these ways to cut your electric usage, there will be times when you are in an LTVA or other boondocking or dry-camping situation (like a rally or week-end event) where you have close neighbors. Remember that there are all kinds of RVers, some—maybe yourself included—who do not mind the noise of a generator running and don’t even consider that the noise or exhaust fumes may annoy others.
I remedy this, as I’m sure others do, by taking a walk during the time my neighbor will be running his generator. But it would annoy me if I had just settled down in my camp chair with a glass of the bubbly when my neighbor fires up his generator. Be courteous to your neighbor and he will return the courtesy.
Explain to your neighbor that you have to run your generator, and for however long you expect to, and ask when would be a good time when it wouldn’t bother him/her. Maybe you can all coordinate times.
Avoid running your generator past a reasonable hour in the evening when others may be relaxing, sitting outside enjoying the stars and the quiet, or trying to sleep. The same rule holds for the morning before the late risers greet the day.
Learn more about boondocking with my new eBook, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands.When you take the ultimate step and decide to become a serious boondocker, you make  modifications to the way you camp and add certain features like installing a sustainable energy source like solar panels, a wind generator, or a fusion nuclear generator [have they invented those yet?] to your RV, features  that you might be hesitant to invest in until you know you like the freedom of the boondocking lifestyle.

But in the meantime, you can follow the tips below to reduce your electrical usage – and the amount of time you need to run your noisy generator to recharge your batteries.

  • Turn off all appliances, lights, radio, TV, and anything else that requires electricity when not in use.
  • Don’t leave your porch light on (a particular annoyance to me when I am not so fortunate to be able to camp away from neighbors, and their porch light ruins my night vision for spotting critters and star gazing).
  • Coordinate your generator running time with the use of power-hungry appliances. For instance, schedule your showers, water heater, microwave, coffee grinder, and dishwashing all within the same period of time when you can run your generator to power them, rather than pull juice out of your batteries, also charging your batteries at the same time.
  • In the summer when days are longer time your day to match the sun, rising when it does and going to bed with it also. This cuts your usage of lights down considerably.
  • If you read in bed, try using small rechargeable battery powered reading lights. You can recharge the batteries when you hook up next time and you won’t run down your house batteries with your RV’s lights. And you will probably disturb your mate less.
  • Monitor your house batteries’ charge with a voltage meter so you don’t run them down too low, which can damage the batteries. Deep cycle batteries are considered fully charged at about  12.6 volts and completely discharged at 10.6 volts. For best results, recharge before they get below 60%, or about 12.0 volts.

In addition to these ways to cut your electric usage, there will be times when you are in an LTVA or other boondocking or dry-camping situation (like a rally or week-end event) where you have close neighbors. Remember that there are all kinds of RVers, some—maybe yourself included—who do not mind the noise of a generator running and don’t even consider that the noise or exhaust fumes may annoy others.

I remedy this by taking a walk during the time my neighbor runs his generator. But it would annoy me if I had just settled down in my camp chair with a glass of the bubbly when my neighbor fires up his generator. Be courteous to your neighbor and he will return the courtesy. For instance, explain to your neighbor that you have to run your generator, and for how long you expect to run it, and ask when would be a good time when it wouldn’t bother him/her. Maybe you can coordinate times with all your neighbors.

Avoid running your generator past a reasonable hour in the evening when others may be relaxing, sitting outside enjoying the stars and the quiet, or trying to sleep. The same rule holds for the morning before the late risers greet the day.

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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Teaching Technology at the Escapade RV Rally

June 20, 2014 by Chris Guld · Comments Off 

The Escapade is an annual rally for the Escapees RV Club. We’ve been teaching technology topics at RV rallies for 10 years now, but this Escapade had more people who were more interested in the topics of computers, smartphones, maps, pictures, and Blogs than any other we’ve experienced.

In this post we’ll take you day by day thru the Geeks on Tour activities at the Escapade rally held in Goshen, Indiana at the Elkhart county fairgrounds. I’ve written this blog post with enough detail that I hope our readers feel like they’ve been to the seminars as well.

imagePre-Rally Windows 8 Workshop

First came a hands-on, 6 hour class on Windows 8.  The people who came to the class saying, “I Hate Windows 8!” had all changed their tune by the end of the day.  We taught them how to make the tiled Start Screen more useable by customizing it, or to bypass it altogether and just use the old-fashioned desktop.  We taught them how to use the OneDrive folder on the computer to automatically backup and/or share files in the Cloud with OneDrive and their Microsoft account. We taught them how to Search, so they didn’t get frustrated by not finding stuff.  And, we taught them how to specify that they were using a “Metered” Internet connection.  That way, Windows 8 will refrain from doing all those big Uploads and Downloads when you’re using that connection.

Pre-Rally Smartphone Workshops

imageNext came two half-day classes, the first on Android phones and tablets, and the second on iPhones and iPads. Our students learned how to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot when cell signal is not available.  They also learned how to scan QR codes, turn their phone into a hotspot, customize their homescreens, use Google Maps, and use the camera app.  We had one couple  in our iPhone class who told us they learned more in this 3 hour class than in the 4 years they’ve owned their phones!  The iPhone class also had the added benefit of wisdom from our friends at Technomadia.com who volunteered to help teach.

Technology for Travelers Seminar

We started the rally week of seminars with our “Technology for Travelers” This is an overview of everything we teach: How we Plan, Preserve, and Share our Travels using Technology.  You can download the seminar handout here.  We show our Blog and how easy it is to make one yourself, for free with Blogger.com.  We share how we connect our computers to the Internet as we travel by making our phones into Wi-Fi hotspots.  Then we discussed what mapping programs we use to plan our travels and navigate along the way.  We showed one of our tutorial videos on planning a route using MS Streets and Trips.  S&T is just for Windows though, so we also demonstrated the web-based trip planning system called RVTripWizard.com – we like this one because it calculates the date you will arrive at any given destination along your route.  Then we show how both Google Maps on our phones, Rand McNally on the dashboard GPS unit 7720, and CoPilot on the Nexus 7 tablet, help us navigate each day on the road.  And, that’s just the Plan part!  For Preserve – we’re mostly talking about preserving your travels with pictures and managing those pictures with Picasa.  We had to stop at one hour, but this seminar was scheduled to be repeated on the last day of the rally, and we had 2 hours on the schedule then!  Here’s a picture of our audience for this first seminar.

Smartphones and Tablets for Travelers

One of the first things we teach in our smartphone class is how to read a QR code.  That’s those funny looking square codes that are popping up everywhere.  You can even have a QR code that will play an online video.  That way we can put our videos right on the class handout!  You can download the seminar handout here.  We also give an overview of exactly what smartphones and tablets are.  With a show of hands, our audience was predominantly Android users, but iPhone/iPad was a close second.  They were also predominantly Verizon subscribers.

Second Day: Picasa and Picasa Web Albums (aka Google + Photos)

I racked my brain trying to figure out what we could skip in teaching our Picasa seminar because we only had an hour and we NEED an hour and a half.  We like to have two hours!  Picasa is a specialty of ours – we have an entire website, PicasaGeeks.com.  I just couldn’t cut anything out, so we went really fast!  We took pictures of the audience, imported them to an Escapade folder on the computer using Picasa’s import tool.  Showed how to add captions, did a little editing, showed a video on how to rename folders and organize pictures, put the pictures we took into a collage, and uploaded that collage to Picasa Web Albums aka Google+ Photos where we could share it with you!  Whew!  Here’s the seminar handout for Picasa. And, here’s the collage we made during class.

Every RVer Needs a Blog

This is one of the first seminars we ever presented back in 2005 … second only to Internet on the Road.  It has never been one of our most popular titles, but blogging has probably been the most important technology tool for our travels.  We’ve been keeping our blog since we first came up with the idea of fulltime RVing, and we’ve been using Blogger the whole time.  Our blog has become so important, I’ve taken advantage of a website called Blog2Print to get hard-bound books made. We had the books at the seminar for show and tell.  Then we started at the beginning with how to create a Blog.  We showed how to add pictures, make hyperlinks, and even how to embed a video into a blog post.  We were SO happy to have a good turnout for the blogging class since we truly do believe that Every RVer Needs a Blog!  Several people came up to us afterward and related that they’ve had their blogs for years now and they learned from Geeks on Tour!  I think we need to give them a graphic ‘badge’ to put on their blog that reads, “I Learned from Geeks on Tour.”  If this is you, please contact us and we’ll get it set up.  Here’s the seminar handout for the Blogger class.

Third Day: Google Maps

By the third day, our audiences usually are dwindling – there’s so much to do at these rallies.  But that was not the case this time.  Google Maps had our largest audience yet.  It was only after the rally was over that I thumbed thru our latest issue of the Escapees magazine and notice an article about Google Maps!  Then I noticed that Chris Guld was the author!  I had completely forgotten about that – I wonder if it explains our large crowd?  Anyway, Google Maps is getting cooler every day.  We showed how to research a location and see photos, and street view in addition to maps.  We showed how to manage the Directions feature of Google Maps and to print out those directions or re-route according to your desires.  Last, but not least, we showed how to make your own custom maps to preserve your travels, including routes, stops, photos, blog posts, and videos.  Google Maps puts it all together.  See the map of our 2013 travels for an example.  Feel free to download our Google Maps seminar handout .. just remember these are for personal use only.  Here’s our awesome audience for Google Maps. I had to use the Panorama mode on my new Samsung phone to get in the whole audience!

Cloud Computing

Here’s the handout for Cloud Computing.  People are very confused about how to use Cloud Computing.  There’s a good reason for that!  It IS confusing.  We did our best to explain it, and our handout gives the specs for the major consumer cloud computing services: Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and iCloud.  On the one hand, “Cloud” simply means the Web, the Internet.  We used to call Blogger “Web-based” software, now it’s called “Cloud-based.”  The power of the Cloud is that it gives us device independence, we demonstrated how you can take a picture with your phone, that picture can go to the cloud, and then you can use your iPad to write a blog post and insert that same picture.  It doesn’t matter what device you’re using if your stuff is in the cloud.  We also demonstrated how using services like OneDrive or Dropbox can keep your files in the Cloud AND synchronize them with your computer.  The best of both worlds.  To demonstrate, we took a picture of the front row (including our longtime Geeks on Tour members Bill Osborne and David Cross) and let the audience watch as that picture appeared on our computer within seconds.  Dropbox automatically uploaded the picture to the Cloud, and then downloaded that same picture to my computer.  Now I can safely delete the picture from my phone to free up space.

The number one question we got over and over, “Does this feature use my cellular data?”  The answer was almost always Yes. It’s a great service, but you need to understand and control it so you don’t end up with a $500 Verizon bill unexpectedly!  Dropbox, for example has settings to tell it to only perform the uploads and downloads when your phone is connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot, not cellular.

Day Four: Technology for Travelers repeat/expanded

This was our last seminar, on the last day when everything was winding down.  We still had a great crowd and most of them had been in several of our seminars during the week, so they had lots of questions.  We had a full two and a half hours on the schedule for this one so we just answered questions, and more questions.  These people felt like our closest friends by this point, and we just had a good time!  We asked for a show of hands if anyone was seeing us for the first time in this seminar – only 3 raised their hands!

We still made sure to cover some of the information that we didn’t get to the first time, including how to make a movie using MovieMaker – that’s how we made this Ham-O-Rama video.

Recently Updated
Thanks Connie Bradish for these photos!

If you’re interested in Geeks on Tour seminars for your group, please contact us.  If you’re interested in learning more on the topics we teach, sign up for our Free Newsletters. Or, better yet, Become a Member!  Geeks on Tour is 100% member supported – no advertising, no product sales or sponsorships, just teaching.

Have a comment for this article? Leave Comments here.

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