Top Most Isolated Vacation Trips in the Lower 48 American States

West Texas

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There’s nothing better than time away from the noise to recharge your batteries and uplift your mood. There are many isolated, but sight-worthy places within the U.S you can visit.

Here is a sampling of just some of the places that are popular among nature lovers, easy to locate, and the perfect adventure for boosting your dopamine levels. 

Havasupai, Arizona

This location is known to many for the Havasu Falls located in Havasupai Canyon in Arizona. The waterfall itself is located in a remote area on Havasupai Native Reservation.

To get to the falls, you’ll have to walk a distance of 10-miles or join a horseback excursion. This might be a bit stressful for people who don’t like walking or riding horses, but it’s definitely worth the walk.

Once you arrive, you’d be in the midst of one of the most beautiful places on earth. The crystal clear turquoise water plunges down the fiery red cliffs into travertine swimming holes at the bottom.

There are also four other major waterfalls nearby; Upper and Lower Najavo Falls, Beaver Falls, and Mooney Falls. You may as well take this opportunity to explore them too.

Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana

Montana is known for its abundant open spaces of wilderness. And the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, located in the northwestern part of the state, is one wilderness that tops them all—the third-largest wilderness area in the Lower 48.

It follows the Continental Divide for 60 miles, spread across 1.5 million acres of rocky ridges, alpine meadows, and dense forest.

Within the Bob Marshall Wilderness, you can find all kinds of wildlife. From moose to elk, wolves, grizzlies, mountain lions, mountain goats, and deer.

Not only is this wilderness a magnificent place to visit, but the area also contains what is believed to be the most dramatic natural feature of the Rockies: the Chinese Wall, a limestone escarpment deep in the wilderness and a part of the Continental Divide.

Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

The Bighorn Mountains are one of the best places to visit in Wyoming and quite an isolated area—Visited only by a few people even during high peak travel seasons.

A 58-mile drive on the Bighorn Scenic Byway will bring you over its crest. The mountain stretches from the Powder River Basin to the Bighorn Basin, following Highway 14 from outside the town of Greybull.

If you love camping and a good hike, an adventure on this mountain is definitely for you. You’ll find miles of trails for hiking and perfect places to set camp. However, if you prefer to sleep in a hotel or hostel, the town of Buffalo is nearby and offers many options for accommodation and attractions of its own.

Gila National Forest and the Gila Cliff Dwellings

Fancy a trip to SouthWest America in Arizona? Then head over to Gila National Forest. The Gila National Forest has more official wilderness than any other protected forest in the Southwest.

The 558,000-acre Gila Wilderness was the first designated wilderness area in the world. With terrain varying from grassy foothills to juniper woodland, ponderosa pine and spruce-fir forests on high peaks. The Gila Wilderness connects the Blue Range Wilderness and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness.

The Gila Cliff dwellings, built as far back as the 13th century, are located within the Gila National Forest. For thousands of years, groups of ancient nomads used the caves above the Gila River as a temporary shelter. Until the late 1200s, when the people of the agricultural Mogollon culture made it their homes. They built rooms, crafted pottery, and raised children in the cliff dwellings for one or two generations before moving away by 1300.

Boundary Waters Wilderness, Minnesota

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeast Minnesota is one of America’s most beautiful and remote places. With over 1,100 lakes and hundreds of miles of waterways, its vast wilderness extends 150 miles along the U.S.-Canada border, covering approximately 1,098,000 acres.

It offers some of the country’s best canoeing, with 1,200 miles of canoeing trails attracting over 150,000 visitors yearly. From paddling from one lake to the next and stepping off onto countless miles of untouched shoreline, there are many interesting things to do in the Boundary Waters wilderness.

If you need some time alone, that can be arranged. Head to the Boulder and Adams lakes. They are some of the most remote lakes around here—it’s almost certain you’d see absolutely no one.

Spending time in isolated places doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have fun. Some of the most isolated places in the country are some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Don’t forget to breathe fresh air amidst nature. There are many open spaces around America perfect for recollecting thoughts while away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Tips and Secrets for Better Internet in Rural Areas: RVers, Campers and Country Living

It’s no secret Bidenflation has forced millions to seek out ways to reduce food, travel and living expenses.

In 2020, we moved to a rural area in the Texas Hill Country away from congestion, traffic and rising crime. We have no regrets about living a far less expensive and peaceful life. It allows us to work and write from home or on occasional road trips.

Due to the high cost of just about everything, including rentals and housing, more Americans are:

🔹Living in RVs and Campers.

🔹Using tents instead of hotel rooms.

🔹Taking “staycations” and limiting travel closer to home.

🔹Working remotely on the internet from home instead of commuting to and from a work location.

🔹Becoming Digital Nomads, wandering the country taking miscellaneous work and temporary employment.

We loved Guadalupe River State Park in April 2022

In 2022, the United States should break records with over 305 million internet users within its borders, which accounts for this rise in numbers of digital nomads and remote workers all over the country. 

Unfortunately, as practical as this may sound, these remote workers and  digital nomads, along with over 25 million Americans, continue to struggle with slow internet speeds and lack access to high-speed internet facilities due to the rural locations they may find themselves in.

Slow internet speeds can affect work deliverables, hamper productivity, and even jeopardize employability, especially if the job requires high internet speeds for effectiveness. 

These tips may improve your internet connection if you are living in a rural area, are on the road, or just camping out.

Tips for Rural Residents 

Turn off your router for some time. Giving your router a break can help refresh your internet connection and improve your speed issues. Doing this daily stimulates your internet connection, especially when experiencing a lag.  This fix won’t take your speeds to NASA levels, but it should help.

What’s your Data Capacity? A data cap may be responsible for slowing your home speeds. Your ISP allocates the amount of data you can use every month. Once exceeded, your internet speed drops drastically. The cap limit is outlined in your bill.

Move your Router. Where is your router positioned? That may be why your internet speed sucks.  Moving the position of your router to a higher point or more central location in your home will ensure the Wifi signal from your router reaches every corner of your building. With most wireless modems, the closer you are, the higher your internet speed.

Get Wired. Ditch wireless connections and get wired to eliminate any lags in speed you may be experiencing. Many people don’t know this, but cabled connections like Ethernet are safer, more reliable, and faster than most wireless connections.

Ads are a Drag. Literally. Every time you are online, you see ads. It’s everywhere, on every website; you can’t escape it. Or can you? Ads slow down your internet speeds, especially those heavy, annoying auto-play videos. You can fix this by installing an ad blocker in your browsers.

Scan regularly for Viruses and Malware. Viruses and malware may also be responsible for your crawling internet speeds. Install software that scan your device and connections for viruses and malware, set it up to scan regularly, and you should be fine.

Tips for Campers

Stay centered. Or as close to the center of the camp as you possibly can. The range for RV parks and Campground Wifi signals, thanks to FCC regulations, is limited to just under 300 feet. The closer you are to the camp router, which is often set up in the center of the camp, the better your internet connection.

The less green, the better. Dense trees, foliage, and even high walls can reduce your internet connection quality. For the signal to get to you uninterrupted, you must ensure you are not being obstructed by greenery or other natural or artificial fixtures. Set up your camp in an open space to improve your connection quality.

Upgrade your receiver. A Wi-Fi reception booster or antenna can improve your internet connection and reduce lags. Both instruments can receive and upgrade your internet signals on all your devices. They are easy to install and set up, and you should get sorted out quickly.

Look before you Camp. Different RV parks and Camps use different ISPs for internet access. Do some research before you camp in that park or hotspot. Check reviews for internet speeds and plan accordingly.

Tips for RVers 

Choose your equipment carefully. The right equipment can mean the difference between consistent high internet speeds and slower speeds. Pick the right cellular equipment for your needs, the more powerful your router, the more powerful your internet connection will be.

X marks the Spot. Using a coverage map will help you navigate areas with spotty coverage and keep you informed about signal strength so you are never caught in the lurch.  These maps are not always accurate but are still great tools for planning your travels.

Avoid Congestions. Areas with many internet users can experience low internet speeds due to heavy data traffic. Congested areas like festivals, concerts, and even football games have tended to experience an overload on the internet infrastructure, resulting in slow connection speeds.

Less is good: The fewer devices connected to your network, the better. Make sure your devices are connected to the devices you are using at the moment. It is easy to lose track of background devices, leading to an increased lag in your internet speed as they update regularly.

Definitely not us. LOL.

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The Legendary Camels of Camp Verde, Texas

Nestled snugly in the Texas Hill Country, between Kerrville and the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” Bandera, is the delightful Camp Verde Store and Restaurant.

Today, near our home, Dodie and I enjoy passing through historical Bandera Pass to see bison, zebra and exotic wildlife on our way to dine at the site of the old fort, situated on Camp Verde Creek.

Known far and wide as Old Camp Verde, it was here, on July 8, 1856, the noted camel post was established by the U.S. government.

War Department records explained the camp was located “On the north bank of Rio Verde, or Verde Creek, a branch of the Guadalupe River, half a mile west of old Johnson Road, leading from San Antonio to Fort Terret; about four miles from Fort Ives; about 55 miles, direct course, northwest of San Antonio, but about 65 miles leading from San Antonio, through Fredericksburg to Forts Mason, McCavett, and Concho.”

When the camels first arrived from overseas, they entered in Indianola, Texas. The herd was driven to San Antonio grazing along the route, in about 14 days.

They were kept in the “headwaters of San Pedro” creek for a few days and then moved out to the ranch of Major Howard on the Medina River, twelve miles from San Antonio, where they were kept until they moved to their permanent home in Camp Verde on August 26 and 27, 1856.

Old Spanish maps identified this as “Verde Arroyo” (Green Creek). Before the thirty-three camels arrived in 1856, a sketch had been drawn of an Eastern caravansary in Asia Minor. This drawing was used to construct a detailed reproduction at Camp Verde.

The camels were used to transport supplies and dispatched to Forts Martin Scott, Concho, Griffen, Phantom Hill, Inge, Clark, Lancaster, Hudson, Stockton, Davis, Quitman, Bliss and other forts in West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

What was formerly the officers’ barracks is where the store and restaurant is. On March 26, 1910, the headquarters abode was destroyed by fire, which took the life of Tom Blair.

The camp was continuously garrisoned until March 7, 1861, when U.S. troops surrendered the post to the Confederates, and withdrew. After the Civil War, the post was reoccupied by Federal troops on November 30, 1866, and finally abandoned on November 30, 1869.

It was rebuilt by W.H. Bonnell as an exact replica using the stone structure that survived the fire.

History shows that camels roamed the Bandera hills and many pioneers in this area actually herded them.

🔹Amasa Clark, who died at his home near Bandera at age 102, herded camels. Among his possessions was a pair of pillows made from camel’s hair, which he sheared from the animals he tended.

🔹Jim Walker, who died in 1945, owned a bell worn by the lead camel at his time working there during the Civil War.

🔹Andy Jones, a pioneer citizen of Bandera who died in the mid 1940s, often saw droves of camels miles away from the old fort. When Camp Verde was handed back to the Federal Government after the Civil War, the original 32 camels had grown to a herd of over 100, under the care of the Confederate troops.

“When I was a boy on my father’s ranch, the government kept a lot of camels at Camp Verde,” Jones said. One day we hobbled three of our horses and turned them loose near the house, and fourteen of those old camels came lumbering along.”

“The horses took fright at the sight of them, and we did not see those horses for many days,” he continued. “My brother and I penned the camels, all of them being gentle except for one.”

“We roped the wild one, but never wanted to rope another,” he recalled. “For the old humpbacked villain slobbered all over us, and the slobber made us deathly sick. However, we had a jolly time with those camels, when we got rid of the foul, sickening slobber, and we often rode broncos and wild steers, we rode camels too…They could easily travel one hundred miles a day. The Indians seemed to be afraid of the camels, and of course never attempted to steal any of them.”

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

How to Prepare for Bears in the Wild and at Home

HUNTERS, CAMPERS, HIKERS & HOMEOWNERS BEWARE

HUNTING

Hunters must remember that areas where they leave game animal remains will attract bears.

🔹This carrion is an easy meal that bears will eagerly consume.

🔹No matter what time of year you hunt, it is possible you could encounter a bear. Although contact is minimal in the winter, due to hibernation, be aware of your surroundings, especially in remote locations that may contain dens with sleeping bears.

🔹Bear-proofing wildlife feeding stations, such as deer feeders, can be difficult. Because hunters want game to have access to feed, but want to exclude black bears, the best options involve limiting access. Unless they are protected by an electric fence that deer can jump, gravity feeders should likely be removed in favor of spin-cast feeders.

🔹The base of spin-cast feeders should be at least 10 feet off the ground, and suspended from a cross-member that is least 4 feet from the post that supports it. Alternatively, hunters may electrify tripod spin-cast or gravity feeders, as well as providing electric fencing.

🔹Electric fencing may be permanent, similar to systems designed for livestock, or be portable, such as “back-country bear fencing” often used to secure camp sites. These portable systems are available from many outdoor companies. They are powered by D-cell batteries and use lightweight posts and wire. Whether suspending feed or electrifying, take care to prevent damage and the loss of feed.

CAMPING

🔹Campers should collect trash nightly and hang it high enough from a tree or other structure that a bear cannot reach it, or climb to it. Ten feet off ground level and four feet from any branches is generally sufficient.

🔹Sweet-smelling items such as perfumes, insect repellants, and candy attract bears.

🔹The smell of camp cooking can also attract bears. It is wise to locate your cooking site 100 yards from your sleeping area. Even the smell of food on clothes can attract bears, so change clothes before sleeping if you cook for the camp.

🔹Coolers of food are easy targets for bears—keep them inside vehicles or otherwise inaccessible. Although some coolers are rated as bear-safe, black bears will still cause damage trying to get in them.

HIKING

🔹Hikers should be noisy in areas where black bears are present.

🔹A startled bear is a dangerous bear, and will have the same reaction as any animal when frightened. Although they might flee, they might also display defensive behaviors such as bluff charges or teeth clacking. This is especially possible for a female with cubs.

Bear-proofing around the house 

Human-bear relations are most problematic around private homes.

🔹Bears, like raccoons, are opportunistic omnivores who enjoy human garbage. Homeowners should minimize exposing garbage to bears.

🔹A good first step is to secure trash cans with certified bear-proof covers. You can also contact your waste disposal company to request that they upgrade community dumpsters to be bear-proof.

🔹Minimize areas where you dump cooking grease, scraps, and reduce access to compost piles. 

Black Bears of East Texas. Photos provided by the East Texas Black Bear Task Force.

🔹Other food sources include bird feeders and other wildlife feed, fallen fruit from trees, pet foods, and barbecue pits.

🔹Wood piles attract rodents, which can be a food source. Bears will quickly assess these sources come to them for food. If you choose to feed wildlife in “bear country,” move the feed frequently to prevent bears from becoming habituated to one area. 

🔹It may be surprising, but a closed door, high window, or low wall often will not deter bears. Livestock and pet feed stored in outbuildings are easy, high-energy sources of nutrition for black bears. 

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Tent Camping Checklist for Couples by Clever Journeys

This is our go-to list for tent camping as a couple. It can be modified per trip –family, friends, ages, activities (toys, rafts, hunting, skiing, etc.).

We always have protection, a jack, spare, fix-a-flat, jumper cables, portable battery starter, small power unit with lights, stored energy, electricity, etc. in our vehicle.

No two people are the same when it comes to planning a camping trip. What is important to one person may not matter to another when it comes to camping gear. One of my sons prefers to go ultralight and another brings practically everything he can when they camp. As a family, we tend to bring more items. All this to say, there is no right or wrong answer to what you bring on your camping trip.

The Camp

🔹Tent (Coleman Sunbeam 7’×9′ 4-person) & accessories (stakes, bungi cords with hooks, rain roof, bottom footprint tarp)

🔹Mats (outside door, inside door)

🔹Sleeping bags

🔹Sleeping pads

🔹Pillows

🔹Electric extension cord

🔹Lighting: solar lights, head lamp, flashlights, lantern, extra batteries

🔹Camping chairs

Eating

🔹Cooler (We love our soft-sided 4-gallon capacity Kodi cooler from H-E-B Foods/Drugs)

🔹Camping utensils, plates, pans, cups

🔹Camping stove

🔹Can opener

🔹Charcoal &/or fire wood

🔹Insulated water bottles

🔹Matches

🔹Cutting board & knife

🔹Coffee maker

Hygiene

🔹Biodegradable wet wipes

🔹Shampoo & conditioner

🔹Hand sanitizer

🔹Towels & wash cloths

🔹Soap

🔹Deodorant

🔹Rash prevention/lotion

🔹Toothbrushes & toothpaste

🔹Lip balm

🔹Toilet paper

🔹Combs/brushes

🔹Shaving gear

Other

🔹First Aid kit

🔹Rx, prescriptions & supplements

🔹Campsite Reservation Copy

🔹Sunscreen & bug repellent

🔹Trash bags

🔹Duct tape

🔹Mallot

🔹Clothes pins & clothes line cord

🔹Rope

🔹Binoculars

🔹Dry bag (store electronics, etc in event of rain)

🔹Tool bag. Minimum: hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, multi-tool, folding shovel/saw, tin-snips, axe-hatchet, tent repair kit, tent pole repair sleeve

🔹Small fire extinguisher

🔹Emergency (solar/handcrank) weather radio

🔹Travel alarm clock

🔹Travel mirror

🔹GPS

🔹Cell phones

🔹Books, cards, games…

🔹Portable butane heater with extra filled tanks (in cold weather)

🔹Tent fan in warm weather. (We also have a portable “air cooler” we fill with ice cubes if it is too hot).

Clothing

🔹Bandana

🔹Flip flops or sandals

🔹Rain ponchos

🔹Swim/water/shower shoes

🔹Socks (wool or synthetic)

🔹Hiking boots/shoes, sneakers

🔹Hat

🔹Sunglasses

🔹Gloves

🔹Shirts, Jackets, Sleepwear, Pants, Shorts, Swimwear

🔹Underwear

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

HEB FOOD DRUGS

The True Story of Fire Fighting Smokey Bear

He is not Smokey ‘The’ Bear and Other Fun Facts

The start of World War II meant that many firefighters and other able-bodied men were deployed, leaving communities to manage wildfires themselves. .

The head of the Forest Service at that time, Lyle F. Watts, decided to attack the wildfire problem by educating the public about their role in fire prevention. Watts invited the Ad Council to join the Forest Service in this new ad campaign.Watts and team soon realized that they needed a symbol or character to represent their fire prevention campaign. A forest animal would be ideal.

The Disney Studios offered one of their characters to be the “face” of the fire prevention plan. The movie, Bambi, enjoyed widespread popularity at the time, so the deer Bambi represented the original ad campaign—but Disney’s licensing contract lasted just one year.

Seeing an overwhelmingly successful first year, Watts and his team chose a bear to replace Bambi.

Two decades before, on a July morning in 1922, a case of magnesium powder exploded in a warehouse in New York’s Greenwich Village. The resulting fire was devasting and claimed the life of a heroic firefighter named “Smokey” Joe Martin.

On August 9, 1944, the first Smokey Bear poster appeared. The bear was named in honor of “Smokey” Joe, and his first piece of public service artwork depicted the animal in his iconic hat, dousing a fire with a bucket of water.

A historic Smokey the Bear poster

Artist Albert Staehle painted this first Smokey Bear poster.

The ‘50s and ‘60s brought Smokey’s “ABC” campaign. This was a national push to educate the public about wildfire prevention in three easy steps, and it was broadcast to American homes through radio and TV spots.

Smokey 2

It wasn’t long before more posters of Smokey appeared. The bear gained widespread popularity. Soon Smokey Bear was featured on everything from comic books to toys. He was an undisputed success.

A real Smokey Bear

In 1950, a wildfire burned in New Mexico’s Capitan Mountains. Firefighters there found a young bear cub clinging to a tree branch. Firefighters presumed the cub climbed the tree to escape the raging fire. The little bear was alive, but severely burned. Firefighters rescued the cub and aptly named him Smokey.

News of a real Smokey Bear soon spread across the country. When Smokey had sufficiently recovered from his ordeal, he was moved to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he continued to play a role in educating people about fire prevention.

To handle all of his fan mail–up to 13,000 letters a week–the U.S. Postal Service set up his own personal zip code, 20252, for his area in the zoo. The zip code was decommissioned in 1994, but fortunately brought back in honor of Smokey’s 70th birthday.

When the real Smokey Bear died, his body was taken back to the Capitan Mountains for burial in the State Historical Park.

Smokey carried his “only you can prevent forest fires” message into the early 2000s and placed the responsibility on us all to be careful around the campfire. Additionally, the shift in the use of “forest fires” to “wildfires” in Smokey’s messaging is present, as well.

Today, new Public Service Announcements to educate the public on different ways that wildfires are caused, including hot coals, dragging chains, and burning debris. Smokey’s wildfire prevention message was already resonating with audiences—now, they just needed actionable steps to take.

Today’s Smokey Bear

Other Smokey Bear facts

  • The Smokey Bear campaign is the longest-running Public Service Advertisement campaign in U.S. history.
  • In 1953, the Ideal Toy Company made a Smokey Bear doll. Included with the doll was a card that when mailed back gave children an official “Junior Forest Ranger” identification card. Within two years, over half a million kids had applied and received the unofficial honor.

  • Since its development in the 1940s, it’s estimated that the Smokey Bear ad campaign has reduced the number of acres lost to wildfires by 15.6 million annually.
  • Smokey does not have a middle name. (It’s Smokey Bear. Not Smokey “The” Bear.) A song about the forest icon added “The” to his name in order to make the lyrics and melody sync better. 

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.
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These Vintage Trailer Transformations Will Leave You Smiling

We love to travel and especially enjoy roadtrips across America. Since we’ve been married in 2019, the two of us–along with Mr. Beefy, our “King of the Hill Country” canine–have been to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maryland.

We also enjoyed Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia…and we’ve just started.

Both of us have peculiar little quirks of interests, individually and those we share: museums, historical sites, camping, amusement parks, birdwatching, theater, concerts and roadside attractions.

trailer3

One in particular is viewing restored pieces of history, especially trains, planes and automobiles. When it comes to restoring things from the past, such as an antique or junk someone left behind, there’s plenty of room to let the imagination run wild.

Being Baby Boomers, it’s not so hard to enjoy seeing what others have done by restoring vintage travel trailers. We hope these make you smile.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Essential Camping Safety Tips for RVers and Motorcyclists

Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and to ensure your trips are safe, here are tips uniquely for RVers and motorcyclists.

RVers and motorcyclists should plan out all escape routes and discuss them with (RV occupants) and fellow campers when traveling. Ensure everyone is informed of the survival plans.

Basic Camping Safety

🔹Keep watch on children! You are responsible for the safety of your children. Make sure you know where your kids are and what they are doing.

🔹Be aware of the natural surroundings. There may be plants with thorns or stickers.

🔹You are a visitor in wildlife’s home. Keep a safe distance from wild animals. Although they may look cute, they are wild and can carry diseases.

🔹Never feed the wildlife! Feeding wildlife can encourage bad behavior by animals and is against park regulations.

🔹Be careful with fire. Never leave a fire unattended and be sure your campfire is out when you break camp.

🔹Axes, knives and saws are useful tools, but be sure you know how to properly use them.

RV Safety Tips

🔹Have more than one fire extinguisher and insure everyone knows where they are and how to use them. Make sure they have the right amount of pressure according to the gauge. In fact, anytime you use an extinguisher, it should be recharged or replaced to avoid future problems.

🔹Watch where you park. Heat from underneath your RV can catch grass on fire.

🔹Never use any stove or cooking appliance for heating space. Smaller space means less ventilation and the greater the chance of a fire.

🔹Keep any combustible items like paper towels or dish cloths away from the stove and remain near the stove when cooking.

🔹Install and inspect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Test alarms every two-weeks to ensure they work properly. This is a fast and easy test that can save lives and property.

🔹A dragging brake line can cause friction. This can easily be ignited by dripping brake fluid. Make sure to check the pressure in your tires regularly and spot check at every stop.

🔹Always be aware of your surroundings.  Be aware of who is camping next to you, across from you and behind you. Pay attention to what is happening.  Know when the weather is changing and who is moving about around your RV.

🔹Always lock your camper when you leave it.  Even if you are just going to the laundry room or the bathhouse in the campground.

🔹Use window locks so your RV can’t be accessed by the sliding windows.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

🔹Pack safe. Keep the center of gravity of your bike in mind and make sure the heavy items are lower down.  below the COV of your bike. Even up the balance on each side of the bike – don’t put all the heavy stuff in one saddlebag! If traveling solo, pack your gear so it acts as a backrest to support your lower back.

🔹Make sure nothing is touching the exhausts. Use the most effective ratchet straps, bungees or cargo nets to secure the load and carry additional items on top for easy access.

🔹Pack light. Space is limited so be efficient and don’t fill up every available space. Seasoned motorcycle campers overwhelmingly pack light and trim luggage down to the minimum. You can always buy stuff along the way.

 🔹Pack efficiently. Determine what you really need, and pack accordingly. Pack your tent and sleeping bag last so they are first things you unpack at camp site, and make sure the things you’ll need on the ride – sunglasses, sunscreen, waterproofs and maps – are easily accessible.

🔹A tent. If tenting, use one with a waterproof floor or groundsheet and take metal stakes to fix it down and a driver. Pick the size of tent according to your needs – even if you are travelling solo, a two or even three-man tent will give you the space you need to hold your clothes and luggage as well as you, and won’t take up much more space than a one-man tent. Vestibules allow you to strip off wet rain gear and store wet luggage without getting the inside of your tent wet. Make sure you have a waterproof fly- sheet for wet nights. Try setting it up at home rather than working out how to set it up in the dark at your first camp site.

🔹Use a sleeping bag in a grade for  the range of temperatures you are likely to experience. Down insulation is more efficient and packs down smaller than synthetic fillings. Use compression bags to hold your sleeping bag, tent and pad to make the most effective use of space.

Orange County Choppers in New York salutes fire departmens and emergency responders across the nation (Photo: Jack Dennis)

 🔹Before you set off, make sure your bike is serviced and in good condition. A day or two before departure do a trial run of packing and riding your bike – ideally an overnight trip if you can. You’ll almost certainly over pack so it is a great opportunity to check and reassess what you are taking, and to ensure everything is efficiently packed and you know where it is and how to get at it. Of course, if someone with you is travelling by car, put the campsite equipment in there and only carry essentials – it also means you can take more stuff you will find useful, such as camp chairs, extra food or a cool box.

🔹When you are on your trip, don’t leave too late in the day to find a site – when you are tired, it’s easy to make bad decisions and leaving too late will increase your stress levels and make mistakes more likely to happen. When you’ve found the site, choose the best area – sheltered and flat, not sloping or rocky, and not low-lying so you avoid pooling water if it rains, or falling cold air if the temperature drops. Be friendly with other campers, and when you leave make sure you leave no trace you have been there – kill any fire you may have made, and pick up any trash and clear it away.

🔹Finally, when you are back home, make a post-trip evaluation of your packing – what did you not use, what did you not take that you needed – and make a note of it, so next trip you will be operating at maximum efficiency, leaving you free to enjoy the ride.

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Geared For Seniors: Bicycle Guide To Health

There are many good comfort bikes for seniors these days. You might be wondering how you might go about choosing the best comfort bike for yourself.

Bike riding is very good for seniors. Some seniors have age-related aches and pains, or they suffer from conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia.

Bike riding is one of the best forms of exercise for older persons because it provides aerobic exercise that causes little impact on joints.

Cycling gives you an excellent opportunity to stretch your limbs as you ride, providing a gentle way to tone your muscles and to develop flexibility. Riding a bicycle increases endorphins that are critical and create a feeling of well-being.

Cycling increases lung capacity and improves circulation to enhance your overall health.

Riding can be a social sport and can help you to combat feelings of isolation. When children move away, retirement begins, or life circumstances create changes in social networks.

Best of all, most airlines and bus companies now allow you to bring your bike on board. Making it possible for you to see the world on a shoestring budget.

After you make the initial purchase, a well-maintained bike can continue to provide low-cost commuting here and abroad for many years to come.

What Kind Of Bike Is Easiest To Ride?

The easiest bike to ride is lightweight and is equipped with dual brakes to give you maximum control of stopping.

Bikes that have 3 or 7 speeds will be easier for you to handle on hills and rougher terrain.

A suspension system absorbs shock to give you a more comfortable ride. Other features like waffle tread or all-weather tires can improve traction and year-round usability.

As it happens, bikes that tend to fit well into the above description include urban cruisers and hybrids.

While road bikes and mountain bikes also have some of the same features, their large size and heavy weight make long rides uncomfortable for some older adults.

Which Bikes For Seniors Are The Most Comfortable?

Conditions like arthritis and back pain are not exclusive to senior citizens but may occur more frequently in some older adults.

Comfort bicycles for seniors, therefore, have features that are designed to reduce shock and eliminate the potential for you to feel pain as you ride.

Some of the features you probably want to look for include an extra-wide saddle, a padded seat, cushioned handlebar grips, and front suspension.

A comfort bike that lets you maintain an upright riding position will ease pressure on your back. It also provides the most comfortable ride if you have any skeletal pain.

Features like a low step-through and wide pedals can be an asset, letting you easily mount, dismount and move your bike without having to exert undue effort.

How To Buy One Of The Best Bikes For Older Adults?

Here is a quick overview of the essential features to consider as you prepare to purchase your new bike.

Wheels And Tires

The standard wheel sizes are 26 inches or 700C and have widths that range from about 1.0 to 2.2 inches. Urban commuters tend to have narrower tires. The wider tires we see more often on mountain bikes.

Steel alloy rims are very sturdy but much heavier than aluminum. If your bike has steel rims, you will probably want to make sure they have been treated to make them weather-resistant.

For traveling in light traffic and paved roads, many seniors favor lightweight cruisers and commuter bikes. Because they often feature rear racks where they can stow possessions and purchases.

Many of these bikes have 1 or 3 speeds, keeping them functional yet simple to operate and maintain.

Gears And Shifting

Single-gear bikes are a good choice if you plan to ride primarily on pavement and other flat surfaces.

Having extra gears, like a mountain bike for example, gives you more options, including cruising at higher speeds and riding on hills.

If you intend to ride on uneven surfaces, you might want to consider purchasing a 7-speed model that can easily tackle inclines.

High-quality shifters and derailleurs make it possible to shift gears while your bike is moving and let you navigate unpredictable surfaces.

Seniors who intend to take on more challenging rides will probably want to choose a bike that has at least 7 speeds.

This gearing option will make it easier to pedal on inclines, especially if the bike has additional features like fork and seat suspension.

Brake System

Rim brakes, or V-brakes, give you very little control of sudden stops and may not be the safest option if you intend to ride in urban settings.

Disc brakes provide the most thorough type of stopping, making it easy for you to come to a sudden full stop in an emergency.

Hydraulic disc brakes require less effort, but mechanical brakes give you fine-tuned control of stopping.

Frame

Lightweight and affordable, bikes that have aluminum frames are often a good choice for seniors.

Steel is durable but much heavier than aluminum and less practical for long-distance riding.

Carbon fiber and titanium are lightweight and durable materials being used in bike frames. Due to the high cost, however, these materials are mainly used in high-end and competitive cycles.

Additional Features

Wheel swapping is an excellent feature to have if you intend to ride throughout the year.

Look for a bike that has a quick-release mechanism for fast and easy tire changes.

Your bike’s suspension system absorbs shock and provides a more comfortable ride over bumps and on hills.
Add a suspension seat, and you are set to tackle the hilliest surfaces with the greatest of ease.

Other comfort features include a dual spring saddle, waffle tread tires, and an extra-wide padded seat

Ideally, bikes for older people contain lights and reflectors that make it safer to ride your bike at night and in low-visibility conditions.

Mirrors increase your viewing range and can help you to anticipate obstacles so that you can deal with them proactively.

What is an E-BIKE?

E-bikes look like regular bicycles and come in a variety of sizes and styles. They include an electric motor and a large battery that give the bike its power. Riders can choose to pedal manually, without power, or use what is called pedal assist, where the bike’s motor “assists” the rider while pedaling. This gives you the extra help you need to make it up hills without straining or to travel at a faster pace.

Most models in the U.S. also include a throttle that you can use without pedaling. This is good for helping you take off from a stop or to give yourself a short rest from pedaling on longer rides. Some lower-end models have only a throttle, but in my opinion you will be happier buying a bike with pedal assist.

Are There Any Precautions I Need To Take Before I Ride?

Your bike must be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions if it is to continue to provide a safe ride.

If you cannot afford to have a technician fix potential problems, then you must learn to perform at least necessary repairs yourself.

It is a good idea for cyclists of all ages to use appropriate protective gear.

A cycling helmet, gloves, knee pads, and elbow pads will provide comfort and protect you in the event of a fall or impact.

Some riders find that a cycling cap worn under the helmet improves air circulation and absorbs moisture to maximize comfort.

Family of two seniors on bikes wearing bicycle helmets
Wearing a bicycle helmet is a good idea for people of all ages

Cycling offers many health advantages, but it can prove problematic for seniors who have certain medical conditions.

You may want to consult with your health care provider before you begin to cycle, especially if you suffer from a heart condition, asthma, epilepsy, or sleep disorders.

The ability to exercise is probably less related to age than it is to the level of conditioning you currently have.

To ensure an enjoyable and injury-free cycling career, begin slowly and listen to your body’s reactions as you ride and always take something to drink with you!

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Veterans, Gold Star Families Get Free Entrance to National Parks, Other Public Lands

Entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites are waived for current Military Service-members and their dependents, Veterans and Gold Star Families.

They now have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle, from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing, camping, and much more.

Are you eligible?

For purposes of this program, a Veteran is identified as an individual who has served in the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, and is able to present one of the following forms of valid (unexpired) identification:

Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the United States Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as a war, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving with the United States Armed Forces.

The America the Beautiful – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (Interagency Pass) Program

The Interagency Pass Program already includes a free annual pass for active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents. Current Military Service-members must show a valid (unexpired) Department of Defense ID. Dependents of current Service-members must show a valid (unexpired) DD Form 1173 AD or DEC.

The annual Military Pass has been expanded to include Veterans and Gold Star Family members. Other free or discounted passes, including some lifetime passes, are available for persons with permanent disabilities, fourth grade students, volunteers, and senior citizens age 62 years or older.

How to get your Interagency Pass

Interagency Passes can be obtained in person while visiting a participating site. Visit Places to Get Interagency Passes for a searchable list and be sure to contact the site before you go, to make sure they are open and have passes in stock.  In addition, Military passes, as well as those for seniors and persons with permanent disabilities, are available online through the USGS Online Store.

For more information about eligibility and passes, visit Free Entrance to National Parks for Veterans and Gold Star Families (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).

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Almost 43 Million Americans to Take Road Trips Labor Day Weekend

This Labor Day weekend, 42.9 million Americans are expected to take a road trip. While that’s a big number, it’s down a percentage point from last year and down 10 points from 2019 (the last Labor Day before COVID-19).

However, the numbers are uncertain because of an increase in last minute bookings.

Mel Dohmen, senior brand manager at Orbitz, says, “The last-minute booking trend really emerged last year as a response to COVID-19 and travelers taking their time to make decisions on where and when to go, if at all.”

Additionally, Orbitz notes an increase in demand for travel insurance compared to past years.

Given Hurricane Ida caused many major Gulf Shore pipelines to pause production and an increase in demand is typical during holiday weekends, most experts believe gas prices will be about five cents per gallon higher than last week.

TripAdvisor data confirms the desire for flexibility, showing an increase in searches for terms like “free cancellation,” “pay at stay,” and “travel safe.”

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The 3 A’s of Camping

Years ago, before the days of cell phones, I was tent camping at Garner State Park in Texas with friends and had no way of knowing danger was ahead.

Lightning, strong winds and heavy rain were our only notice in the middle of the night. Concerned of flash flooding from the Frio River, we bit the bullet, grabbed what we could and drove to higher ground.

Others weren’t so fortunate.  We lost a tent, blankets and lawn chairs. Some lost their lives.

Even today, because of that experience, I stay alert of weather conditions.

The Three A’s of Campground Weather Safety

Awareness

Check the forecast before you travel or set up camp.  Once you are in camping mode or vacation mind, you are planning for fun! But weather can change that quickly so know what the weather is going to be like over the next couple days so you can make good decisions about your activities and destinations.  Use a reliable weather information website like NOAA  or the National Weather Service.

If you are in an area that has cell service, then a weather appwith emergency weather notification is a great thing to have set up.  They have a free and paid version.  The app will send you a notification when there are watches and warnings for the area you are in.  Be sure to have your app set up to notify you even if your other notifications are off and also have your location setting turned on.

Alertness

Have your weather radios set up to alert you when there is a threat.  There are different kinds of weather radio options. We have one we can crank if all the other options (solar, batteries, electrical outlet plugin) fail or are unavailable.

Having a radio that doubles as a walkie-talkie can be a good choice to make the most of small space storage.

Frio River near Garner State Park, Texas.

Have a weather contingency plan.  What will you do if the weather suddenly changes and you are in danger?  Everyone on your trip should have a job to do and know how to do it in case of an emergency evacuation.

In case of an emergency, how will you make contact with help?  What is cell service is lost? Using emergency radios can make the difference in campground weather safety.

Action

Have a plan on what to do if there is threatening weather that may put you in danger.

Know where you are – use a GPS to help identify your location in case you need it.

Know your evacuation plan:  If you need to evacuate where are you going?  Are you going to stick it out?

Use your weather radios to keep abreast of changes in weather in your area.

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. “It may be too late the second time,” Texas Park & Wildlife Department officials said. “The first time we can get them out by land, the second time it will be by boat if we can get to them at all.”

Don’t attempt to drive through flooded roads, even if the water looks shallow. “If you can’t see the road, don’t try it,” the Texas Park and Wildlife official said. “It’ll be a deadly mistake.”

Watch out for downed power lines and do not go near them, even around residences.

If you get a weather notification for an approaching storm of any kind, start to clean up your campsite and put things away that could potentially become airborne in a wind gust situation.  Your RV windows, motorcycles and your camping neighbors will love you for it.

A few things to remember:

Have flashlights ready in case of power outage and you don’t have RV house batteries.

Have a weather radio and/or weather app set to alert you when there is a weather event

Have activity appropriate apparel and shoes for your outings in case of unexpected weather.  Dress in layers to avoid discomfort in changes of temperatures.

Keep a positive attitude!  You can’t control the weather but you can wait out bad weather by planning to have games and activities to do when bad weather strikes.

If your plans have to change because of weather, be sure to have some alternate activities planned.  A stash of games and cards can turn a disappointment into another kind of fun!

Texas flood.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.