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

August 15, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

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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.

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Getting away from it all: Boondocking tips

June 13, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By Bob Difley

boondocking-in-Tahoe-National-Forest

Do you always choose a campground because of the availability of hook-ups? If so, you may be missing some of the pleasures of camping and the RV lifestyle experience; enjoyment of nature in the wild, wide open spaces, primitive areas, leaving the crowds behind, quiet, solitude, and no neighbors that are so close that you can hear them sneeze.

In dispersed camping areas with undesignated campsites or on open BLM or Forest Service land, you can get as close to or as far away from the action as you like. In Quartzite, for example, you will find clusters of campers around a single group fire pit as well as loners stretched out across the isolated reaches of the desert floor. I am not denigrating hook-up campgrounds. I frequently use destination campgrounds because of the amenities that are not available in government or primitive campgrounds, such as swimming pools, hot tubs, organized activities, laundry rooms, and a Wifi connection. But if you choose a campground because you feel that you cannot exist without hook-ups, the following tips and suggestions may help in encouraging you to try an occasional boondocking trip on some wide-open land or deep into a national forest. The easiest way to start dry camping is in an organized campground with water (though not available as a hook up at your site) and a dump station. Your continuous length of stay before the necessary battery recharging, dumping, and water tank filling is dependent on your RV’s capacities. The larger the capacities and the more conservative your use of them, the longer you will last. When fresh water and a dump station are available, it simply means driving to the water fill and dump station and taking care of business, then returning to your campsite. In remote camping areas you will have to drive further. With some clever deduction, you can conclude that the less water you use taking showers and washing dishes, the longer you will be able to extend your stay before having to dump or fill your water tank. This does not mean that you should avoid showering for a week and have to use all throwaway plates and utensils. Therefore, when available:

  • Use campground showers and restroom facilities.
  • Wash dishes in a dish tub and discard the dishwater into the campground gray water receptacle.
  • Fill dishwashing tub from outside water supply.
  • Drain gray water into a Tote Tank (from Camping World and other RV supply stores) which can be rolled away and dumped into dump station or toilet.
  • Carry an extra hose(s). Maybe you can run them long enough to reach the campground water supply without having to move your rig.
  • Carry a five-gallon Jerry jug of water that you can dump into your water tank if you inadvertently run low.
  • When using RV supplied water for washing or showering, turn the water on to wet down, then turn off. Soap up, then turn water on to rinse off. You will save a lot of water—and pump running time–by not letting the water run.

The need to move temporarily from your campsite to dump and fill holds to “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” axiom. If you still have half a tank of fresh water but your holding tanks are full, that puts a definite crimp in how long you can extend your stay, and the further away you camp from facilities, the more practical it becomes to practice conservation. You should NEVER stretch out your stay, however, by dumping your holding tanks—net even your gray water tank—on the ground. Always use an approved dump station. You’ll know that you have reached the epitome in the art of planning and conservation when your battery needs charging, your freshwater tank needs filling, and your holding tanks need to be emptied, all at precisely the same time. And if you are really good, it will be on the last day of your camping trip. Electricity Your 12-volt electrical system is sufficient for satisfying your power needs as long as you can get along without 120-volt current. If you have an inverter which converts 12-volt into 120-volt, you will still have to do without your air conditioner and microwave oven, which draw considerable amperes from your batteries. Leave your electric blanket and Mr. Coffee at home for the same reason. An extra blanket and a drip coffee maker work just as well. If you and your party observe a few basic electricity conservation rules, you will be able to get the most out of your trip.

  • Use lights only when necessary and turn off lights that are not being used.
  • Do not leave the porch light on.
  • Use battery operated reading lights and flashlights.
  • Do not leave a radio or TV operating if no one is listening or watching.
  • Avoid using appliances that require high wattage to operate.

The amount of 12-volt electricity available to operate your systems limits your length of stay, or the time between recharging sessions. A single deep cycle 12-volt house battery will produce about 105 ampere-hours of electricity. By calculating the number of amps each of your electrical appliances draws multiplied by the hours in use you can make an educated guess at when you need to recharge by subtracting the ampere-hours used each day from the total available. Only about half of these amps (about 50) are available to run your electrical equipment. Take voltage readings at the battery terminals with a hand-held multi-meter and when the voltage drops to 11.5 volts, start your engine or run your charger/converter off your generator to recharge the battery. Installing a second house battery or switching to a pair of 6-volt golf cart batteries will increase the total number of available amps. Practice. Take notes. Keep a log. Soon you’ll be able to accurately judge how long you can go before your systems need attending. Try camping in new and more remote locations. Track the wildlife. Listen to the quiet. There’s a big world out there for boondocking and backroads exploring. 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 your laptop, iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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Is the end near for free camping and boondocking?

June 5, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

I’ve been RVing for over 45 years. My first RV, if you could call it that, was a panel van with a side sliding door. Nothing was built in and a mattress occupied most of the floor of the van. Camping in California state parks back then – none with hookups – cost $6 and you could camp in the national forests (NF) and on BLM land for free. In fact, you could sleep overnight almost anywhere, as long as you didn’t become a squatter and behaved yourself.
Times have changed. Now you can’t find even the most primitive of campsites for $6, and free camping, though still an option, is available only at selected NF and BLM locations – a recent change. The Travel Management Rules (TMR) are being implemented that restrict not only on which roads you are permitted to drive your RV but also where you can camp.
These camping areas are call Dispersed Camping Areas and are shown on Motor Vehicle Use Maps for each forest. There is a fine if you are caught camping in a non-approved area. Free use of our public lands (which are owned by all of us as part of our national heritage for recreational purposes among other uses) will now, unfortunately, be restricted.
But before you raise your muskets and storm the barricades to “take our country back” I can understand the feeling among many forest service and BLM personnel when you look at the situation from their point of view. Though we might not like to admit it, there are many among us RVers who take no responsibility for the care of the land or its resources, discarding trash around the forest campsites, dumping their tanks onto the ground, and destroying trees to use for firewood, and driving over plants, flowers, and the forest floor with no regard to its fragility (it’s not just RVers, but off-road vehicle users as well).
It is these unthinking people that are, unfortunately, making it worse for the rest of us, indicating to forest management people that they had to step in and enforce regulations to protect the land.
But I do have a hard time seeing the viewpoint of the Campground Owners of America and several vocal private campground owners who have been working diligently – and relentlessly – to get local and regional legislation passed that would make camping anywhere other than in a designated campground illegal. That would mean no more overnighting at a Walmart, Flying J, Cabela’s, highway rest stop, or  by a tree-shaded public park in the many small towns dotted across America.
In his June 3rd blog, Roadtreking (A journalist and friends discovering the small motorhome lifestyle), Mike Wendland writes an excellent piece titled Finding free places to overnight in your RV.
“There’s a real battle going on out there in the RV world,” writes Mike, “and it pits some powerful interests against those who resent paying for services they don’t need and only want to take advantage of the generous offers of places like Walmart, Cabella’s, Cracker Barrel, and other businesses that not only allow but welcome brief overnight stays by traveling RVers.”
I suggest that all of you who travel from one campground (yes, ones that you pay to camp in) to another, and that prefer to stop somewhere just for a meal and a night’s sleep, read his blog. It may be time for all of us who feel strongly about this issue to do more to remind residents in the places we pass through that we spend money with local merchants for food ,fuel, and supplies, and that supporting such measures might have adverse effects on their businesses. And maybe we might even want to follow some of Mikes’ suggestions, like not spending a dime in RV unfriendly towns. (Continued next week).
http://roadtreking.com/finding-free-places-overnight-in-rv/

walmart-rv-overnight-parking-

By Bob Difley

I’ve been RVing for over 45 years. My first RV, if you could call it that, was a panel van with a side sliding door. Nothing was built in and a mattress occupied most of the floor of the van. Camping in California state parks back then – none with hookups – cost $6 and you could camp in the national forests (NF) and on BLM land for free. In fact, you could sleep overnight almost anywhere, as long as you didn’t become a squatter and behaved yourself.

Times have changed. Now you can’t find even the most primitive of campsites for $6, and free camping, though still an option, is available only at selected NF and BLM locations – a recent change. The Travel Management Rules (TMR) are being implemented that restrict not only on which roads you are permitted to drive your RV but also where you can camp.

boondocking_allegheny_nf-300x199These camping areas are call Dispersed Camping Areas and are shown on Motor Vehicle Use Maps for each forest. There is a fine if you are caught camping in a non-approved area. Free use of our public lands (which are owned by all of us as part of our national heritage for recreational purposes among other uses) will now, unfortunately, be restricted.

But before you raise your muskets and storm the barricades to “take our country back” I can understand the feeling among many forest service and BLM personnel when you look at the situation from their point of view. Though we might not like to admit it, there are many among us RVers who take no responsibility for the care of the land or its resources, discarding trash around the forest campsites, dumping their tanks onto the ground, and destroying trees to use for firewood, and driving over plants, flowers, and the forest floor with no regard to its fragility (it’s not just RVers, but off-road vehicle users as well).

It is these unthinking people that are, unfortunately, making it worse for the rest of us, indicating to forest management people that they had to step in and enforce regulations to protect the land.

But I do have a hard time seeing the viewpoint of the Campground Owners of America and several vocal private campground owners who have been working diligently – and relentlessly – to get local and regional legislation passed that would make camping anywhere other than in a designated campground illegal. That would mean no more overnighting at a Walmart, Flying J, Cabela’s, highway rest stop, or  by a tree-shaded public park in the many small towns dotted across America.

In his June 3rd blog, Roadtreking (A journalist and friends discovering the small motorhome lifestyle), Mike Wendland writes an excellent piece titled Finding free places to overnight in your RV.

“There’s a real battle going on out there in the RV world,” writes Mike, “and it pits some powerful interests against those who resent paying for services they don’t need and only want to take advantage of the generous offers of places like Walmart, Cabella’s, Cracker Barrel, and other businesses that not only allow but welcome brief overnight stays by traveling RVers.”

I suggest that all of you who travel from one campground (yes, ones that you pay to camp in) to another, and that prefer to stop somewhere just for a meal and a night’s sleep, read his blog. It may be time for all of us who feel strongly about this issue to do more to remind residents in the places we pass through that we spend money with local merchants for food ,fuel, and supplies, and that supporting such measures might have adverse effects on their businesses. And maybe we might even want to follow some of Mikes’ suggestions, like not spending a dime in RV unfriendly towns. (Continued next week).

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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Follow these safe campfire tips for this hot, dry summer

May 11, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By Bob Difley

campfire_toolsThe hot dry days of summer are just around the corner, and if you plan on RVing in one of the areas affected by drought this year, such as California, expect to see campfire restrictions.

In most of the National Forests that have been affected, you are required to obtain a fire permit (which is free), have a shovel and bucket (for water) near your campfire, and observe common sense practices on the use of your campfire.

Common sense, of course, is often interpreted in different ways by different RVers. But these tips bear mentioning:

  • Build your fire in a prescribed fire pit or container if available.
  • When boondocking or camping where there are no containers, bring your own portable fire pit or build a fire containment circle out of rocks.
  • Rake or scrape all combustible debris, like leaves, twigs, etc. at least 10 feet away from your fire.
  • Do not build a fire if the wind is blowing as embers could blow off into combustible areas
  • Never leave a campfire unattended
  • When you leave your campsite, douse the fire with water and hold your hand above the fire to determine that it is cold, and that no hot spots remain that could flare up

When you head into a national forest for camping or boondocking, check in with the Ranger Station or Regional Office for any fire restrictions, closed areas, or existing fires that may be burning in the forest and follow the advise of rangers before choosing a campsite or campground.

If a wildfire does flare up near you, don’t wait until the last minute to evacuate. Wildfires are unpredictable and can quickly change direction or speed – and the smoke from existing fires will make you campsite very unpleasant even if the fire is quite distant. And listen each day for fire alerts or go on to the Forest service website for fire updates.

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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International Terrorism the focus of Sting of the Drone

April 27, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By Bob Difley

sting_of_the_droneREVIEW: Most RVers are readers. Many of us have, or soon will, make the transition from the stresses of a job and raising a family, to the more laid-back live of the wandering RVer. And as such, we find that we now have more time to pursue an entertainment option for the pure enjoyment of it. Reading novels is one of those pursuits, so if all you want to read about is RV stuff, you can skip this post. But if you are interested in a page-turning thriller to enjoy in your camp chair, Give Richard A. Clarke’s, Sting of the Drone, a try. Here is my review of the book.

The contentious world of fighting – or deterring – future wars by radio-controlled drones with the ability to fly anywhere in the world, make their strikes, and return to home bases is brought to jarring reality in Richard A. Clarke’s newest thriller, Sting of the Drone. In a nondescript building in Las Vegas manned by top security officials and CIA operatives, a team of Air Force pilots, used to flying F-16 fighter jets into combat zones, now sit behind computer monitors using their joy sticks to fly unmanned drones on kill
missions into the world’s most dangerous places from the comfort – and safety – of their stateside offices. But all is not as safe as it once was, as the targets of these drone attacks fight back, both at the drones themselves and the pilots on American soil that fly them. This page-turning thriller, the third novel by Clarke, former Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Security Group of the National Security Council from 1992–2003 and who appears regularly on TV as an expert in national security, and commentator for ABC and other media (including the John Stewart Show), takes the reader deep into the arcane world of national security, the secretive drone program, and the politics of it all in a way unimagined by most Americans. Who determines the targets? What terrorists are picked to be killed by the uncanny accuracy of the drone hellfire missiles? What is done to avoid making mistakes – like killing innocent civilians? Clarke’s insider knowledge will keep you glued to this book until the final page is turned.

The contentious world of fighting – or deterring – future wars by radio-controlled drones with the ability to fly anywhere in the world, make their strikes, and return to home bases is brought to jarring reality in Richard A. Clarke’s newest thriller, Sting of the Drone.

In a nondescript building in Las Vegas manned by top security officials and CIA operatives, a team of Air Force pilots, used to flying F-16 fighter jets into combat zones, now sit behind computer monitors using their joy sticks to fly unmanned drones on kill missions into the world’s most dangerous places from the comfort – and safety – of their stateside offices.

But all is not as safe as it once was, as the targets of these drone attacks fight back, both at the drones themselves and the pilots on American soil that fly them. This page-turning thriller, the third novel by Clarke, former Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Security Group of the National Security Council from 1992–2003, and who appears regularly on TV as an expert in national security, and commentator for ABC and other media (including the John Stewart Show), takes the reader deep into the arcane world of national security, the secretive drone program, and the politics of it all in a way unimagined by most Americans.

Who determines the targets? What terrorists are picked to be killed by the uncanny accuracy of the drone hellfire missiles? What is done to avoid making mistakes – like killing innocent civilians? Clarke’s insider knowledge will keep you glued to this book until the final page is turned.

But now back to RVing specifically, you  can find lots of RV tips, trips, and information on 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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Arizona’s Coconino National Forest: Where Snowbirds head to escape the heat

April 17, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

coconino-mapBy Bob Difley

With Snowbird season in its waning moments, RVers are starting to head north to cooler weather, many of which will head for the national forests for a change of scene from the Southwestern Deserts.

Many retreating snowbirds, though, choose a more leisurely pace to the northern climes than multiple hundred-mile days of driving, heading for higher elevations and cooler weather in some of the southern parts of the country. Northern Arizona’s Coconino National Forest, for example, lies north of Payson to above Flagstaff and up to Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet, about 10 miles north of Flagstaff.

There are plentiful areas in the national forest for both boondocking and in forest service campgrounds.

However, Coconino is well on the way to fully implementing its Travel Management Plan that designates which forest roads you can drive on and where you can boondock. These dispersed camping areas are identified on free maps available at ranger stations and online.

coconino_nf_camping2

I received the following  email from Mike Dechter, the Litigation Coordinator of Coconino NF, with updates and other information on camping in the Coconino National Forest that may be of some help if you are heading in that direction.

On April 15, the Coconino National Forest issued a revised, free Motor Vehicle Use Map to show all of the roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use on the Forest. The Motor Vehicle Use Map is re-issued each year, is free to the public, and can be downloaded for use on smartphones, tablets and Garmin GPS devices.  Copies of the Motor Vehicle Use Map will be available at all Coconino National Forest Offices, nearby national forest offices, and other local businesses.
In addition to hard copy maps, forest visitors can now get a free Coconino National Forest Travel Map, which is an electronic color map with shaded relief topography, game management units, hiking trails, and all designated motorized routes and areas. When using this map with the Avenza PDF Maps App, this map is GPS-enabled meaning you can see where you are on the map as you drive or hike on the national forest. Instructions for how to get the free map and app on your mobile device can be found at http://go.usa.gov/PEa (case sensitive).
The 2014 Motor Vehicle Use Map includes a number of updates and corrections made as a result of public input received over the past year. More substantive route changes requested by the public will need to be reviewed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The forest expects to propose changes to the system of designated motor vehicle routes and areas in late 2014 to begin the NEPA process.
If you discover errors on the 2014 Motorized Vehicle Use Map, notice problems with road signs on the Coconino National Forest, or have any general comments about motorized use policies or designations, please visit the website and complete the “Feedback” form, at http://go.usa.gov/Qww.
For additional information, please contact the Coconino National Forest at 928-527-3600.
Sincerely,
Mike Dechter
____________________________________
Mike Dechter
Coconino National Forest
NEPA, Appeals, and Litigation Coordinator
928-527-3416

On April 15, the Coconino National Forest issued a revised, free Motor Vehicle Use Map to show all of the roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use on the Forest. The Motor Vehicle Use Map is re-issued each year, is free to the public, and can be downloaded for use on smartphones, tablets and Garmin GPS devices.  Copies of the Motor Vehicle Use Map will be available at all Coconino National Forest Offices, nearby national forest offices, and other local businesses.

In addition to hard copy maps, forest visitors can now get a free Coconino National Forest Travel Map, which is an electronic color map with shaded relief topography, game management units, hiking trails, and all designated motorized routes and areas. When using this map with the Avenza PDF Maps App, this map is GPS-enabled meaning you can see where you are on the map as you drive or hike on the national forest. Instructions for how to get the free map and app on your mobile device can be found at http://go.usa.gov/PEa (case sensitive).

The 2014 Motor Vehicle Use Map includes a number of updates and corrections made as a result of public input received over the past year. More substantive route changes requested by the public will need to be reviewed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The forest expects to propose changes to the system of designated motor vehicle routes and areas in late 2014 to begin the NEPA process.

If you discover errors on the 2014 Motorized Vehicle Use Map, notice problems with road signs on the Coconino National Forest, or have any general comments about motorized use policies or designations, please visit the website and complete the “Feedback” form, at http://go.usa.gov/Qww.

For additional information, please contact the Coconino National Forest at 928-527-3600.

Sincerely,

Mike Dechter

Coconino National Forest

NEPA, Appeals, and Litigation Coordinator

The Coconino National Forest is worthy of a detour as you head north, and you may find it hard to leave. 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 (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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