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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How are the SOB (Soros-Obama-Biden) Gas Prices Working Out For You?

Forget the propaganda churned out by the corporate news media, here are the facts about the SOB (Soros-Obama-Biden) oil and gas policies designed to socialize America towards control via “The Great Reset, and New World Order (NOW).

SOROS-OBAMA

🔹The day before Barack Obama was inaugurated regular gasoline prices across the USA were $1.87 per gallon.

🔹When Obama left the White House the cost of gas was $4.22 per gallon.

🔹Immediately upon taking office he rescinded leases for oil shale production and expedited the failed Solendro energy deal while stalling other new energy production.

🔹He urged the Senate to pass a new higher energy tax.

🔹To George Soros’ delight, Obama opposed bills to unlock American energy resources, stopped drilling and leasing through new bureaucratic hurdles, and rejected the Keystone pipeline.

PRESIDENT TRUMP

2018– The United States became the world’s top crude oil producer under President Donald J. Trump and maintained the lead position through 2020.

April 7, 2020- Americans, with the leadership of President Trump in the White House, were enjoying low gasoline prices at the pump. $1.79 per gallon

BIDEN’S BUILD BACK BETTER

Jan. 21, 2021– Biden inaugurated and immediately cancels Keystone XL pipeline. Gas is at $2.09 gallon

Jan. 27, 2021– Biden halts new oil and gas leases. $2.35 gallon

Feb. 19, 2021– Biden rejoins Paris Climate Agreement. $2.48 gallon

May 7, 2021– Biden makes 30% of land off limits to oil and gas. $2.64 gallon

June 1, 2021– Biden halts drilling in ANWR. $3.07 gallon

June 30, 2021– Nancy Pelosi’s Congress reverses President Donald J. Trump’s natural gas regulations. $3.12 gallon

Oct. 7, 2021– Biden reverses Trump’s NEPA regulations. $3.27 gallon.

Oct. 29, 2021– Biden’s Department of Interior introduces “Social Cost of Carbon.” $3.43 gallon

Nov. 15. 2021- Biden begins moratorium on drilling in Chaco Canyon. $3.80 gallon

Feb. 24, 2022- Because Russia invades Ukraine, suddenly Biden Administration and Big Oil decides gas should be over $4 a gallon. $4.02 gallon.

March 1, 2022– Biden releases oil from US Strategic Petroleum Reserve again. $4.13 gallon

March 21, 2022- Biden’s SEC proposes Anti-oil Rule. $4.24 gallon

May 12, 2022– Biden cancels all remaining lease sales. $4.48 gallon.

June 12, 2022– Price of regular gas reaches all-time historical high according to AAA. State averages  range from $6.43 a gallon in California to $4.52 in Mississippi. $5.01 gallon

Recently, Senators Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Roger Marshall, R-Kansas; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Jerry Moran, R-Kansas; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; and Tom Cotton, R-Ark. wrote a letter to Biden’s Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm demanding she must comply with the law requiring her agency to disclose the number of jobs lost when Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. 

“At the time of its closure, the Keystone XL pipeline project was already under construction and employed more than 1,500 workers,” the letter read. “By the end of 2021, the Keystone XL pipeline was projected to provide approximately 11,000 jobs.”

“The closure erased thousands of real, high-paying jobs and approximately $800 million in wages,” it continued. “Significant prospective spending for rural communities and small businesses, as well as tax revenue for local schools and public safety, disappeared with the stroke of a pen.” 

“The Keystone XL pipeline was a critical investment for U.S. energy security and job creation,” Sen. Risch said in a statement. “Why the administration made the decision to prioritize Russia’s workforce and energy sector over the United States is beyond me. The Department of Energy must report back on this significant domestic loss.” 

How is the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris “Build Back Better” agenda working out for you?

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Lightning and Thunderstorm Preparation and Safety

Which states are the five most prone to lightning strikes in America?

Lightning is a leading cause of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Avg. # of days per year of thunderstorms

The top six most prone states (in this order) are Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

Thunderstorms are dangerous storms that include lightning and can:

IF YOU ARE UNDER A THUNDERSTORM WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY

  • When thunder roars, go indoors!
  • Move from outdoors into a building or car.
  • Pay attention to alerts and warnings.
  • Unplug appliances.
  • Do not use landline phones.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A THUNDERSTORM THREATENS

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s risk for thunderstorms. In most places, they can occur year-round and at any hour.
  • Create an emergency plan so that you and your family know what to do, where to go, and what you will need to protect yourselves from the effects of a thunderstorm.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • Identify nearby, sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study, and play.
  • Cut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home.
  • Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.

Survive DURING

  • When thunder roars, go indoors. A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans, if necessary, to be near shelter.
  • When you receive a thunderstorm warning or hear thunder, go inside immediately.
  • If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines.
  • Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices. Secure outside furniture.
  • If boating or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.
  • If necessary, take shelter in a car with a metal top and sides. Do not touch anything metal. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid flooded roadways. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
Golf course green hit by lightning

Be Safe AFTER

  • Listen to authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it is safe to go outside and instructions regarding potential flash flooding.
  • Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.
  • If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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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Clever Journeys in San Antonio and Texas Hill Country

A trip to San Antonio, the “Alamo City” isn’t just about the destination. The true beauty of this region can be found in the journey through and around it. Rolling hills, natural springs, meandering rivers and, come springtime, the beauty includes vibrantly painted landscapes of wildflowers up and down the highways and backroads.

As you head northwest west toward Boerne, Kerrville and  Fredericksburg, you’ll begin to see the landscape open up before you, with rolling tree-covered hills, exposed limestone cliffs and an array of colorful wildflowers.

In this area, known as the Hill Country, you’ll also find Johnson City, home to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. Here you can tour the family ranch and view artifacts such as his boyhood home and first school. This is also the final resting place of LBJ, our 36th president.

Johnson City is also the heart of the Hill Country wine region. Why not take a detour and sample some of the best wineries in Texas on the 290 Wine Trail? Ab Astris Winery and Kuhlman Cellars are a couple of our favorites.

In the quaint town of Fredericksburg, you’ll want to visit two unique museums: the National Museum of the Pacific War, dedicated to those who served in the Pacific Theater of World War II, and the Pioneer Museum, honoring the lives of the early German settlers of this region.

Heading back south toward San Antonio, a worthwhile scenic route offers serene Hill Country views through wildflower-lined back roads.

Look for Luckenbach. It’s a stretch to call it a town, but for country music fans, it’s a mecca. It was made famous in the ’70s by outlaw country musicians like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. You can still regularly catch country acts performing on the outdoor stage.

Continue on the backroads south around Canyon Lake on your way toward New Braunfels. Just outside the city, stop at Texas’ oldest continually operating dance hall, Gruene Hall.

Families will love a stop at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, but check their schedule online as they’re open seasonally. Families will also love exploring the vast caves at Natural Bridge Caverns and the exotic animals at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch about 20 minutes west of New Braunfels.

Back in San Antonio. The Alamo is the Spanish mission made famous as a battle site in the war for Texas independence. But it is just one of five historic Spanish missions in San Antonio that make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other four comprise the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. All five offer an incredible look back at the history and culture that still influence this proud city.

Just 10 minutes north of downtown, you will find the revitalized historic Pearl district. This area used to be the home of the Pearl Brewery. Today, you can walk the Pearl to explore trendy shops, delicious dining and even a weekend farmers market. Nearby is Brackenridge Park, Witte Muesum, Children’s DoSeum, Japanese Tea Garden and San Antonio Zoo.

Dating back to 1919 – and receiving major updates throughout the years – the Japanese Tea Garden features a lush year-round garden and a floral display with shaded walkways, stone bridges, a 60-foot waterfall and ponds filled with Koi. The garden’s entrance is punctuated by a moon gate created by a Mexican artist renowned for crafting wood-look concrete sculptures. Free admission.

When mean it when we say the River Walk is a must to experience. One of the nations’—most famous attractions is the vibrant River Walk. Restaurants and shops line the banks of the San Antonio River, which you can explore on foot or take a boat tour on one of the colorful river barges.

Sightseeing, shopping, food, and fun. All on this world-renowned 15-mile urban waterway. The River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, is a San Antonio treasure and the largest urban ecosystem in the nation.

Tucked quietly below street level and only steps away from the Alamo, it provides a serene and pleasant way to navigate the city. Explore by foot along the river’s walking path or jump aboard a river barge for a ride and guided tour. In the heart of downtown, explore nearby attractions like the Alamo, the King William Historic District and more. Or, shop local favorites along the river’s Museum Reach at the historic Pearl.

A good way to see downtown is by catching a ride with City Sightseeing San Antonio’s double-decker buses for tours and curbside drop-off to many of thw downtown attractions and landmarks.

If you missed the rodeo and February, be sure to end the night at Tejas Rodeo Company, where they hold live rodeos every Saturday night from March – November. You can also eat like a Texan at Tejas Steakhouse & Saloon and enjoy fun, and entertainment for all. 

If you are staying downtown, don’t miss Mi Tierra Café and Panaderia is the perfect place for a traditional Tex-Mex breakfast, with everything from huevos rancheros to breakfast tacos.  Schilo’s has been serving German-Texan fare since 1917 and is the oldest restaurant in San Antonio.  You can’t go wrong when you order the Pioneer pancakes or biscuits. In the mood for some schnitzel and homemade root beer? Check Schilo’s out for lunch. 

From this are you can take a walk through La Villita Historic Arts Village, San Antonio’s first neighborhood. Today La Villita is a cultural hub, home to local artisans, shops and restaurants. Walk down the river to the Briscoe Western Art Museum for stories of the cowboy, the vaquero, Native Americans and the western landscape. 

San Antonio also features theme park giants- Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld & Aquatica San Antonio.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Texas is Cracking Down on Fraudulent Use of Temporary License Tags

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) called a specially called meeting yesterday to stop the fraudulent production and use of temporary license tags. The board established limits on the number of temporary tags available to dealers and “denying bad actors access to the temporary tag database as soon as fraudulent activity has been identified.”

These actions will have immediate effect, once filed with the Texas Register. TxDMV will begin using the new authority to deny bad actors access to the temporary tag system immediately.

🔹The Board actions implement House Bill 3927, enacted by the Texas Legislature.

🔹The bill provides the legal authorization for TxDMV to take swifter action when fraud is identified and to reduce the potential number of tags at risk for illegal use.

🔹These tools will reduce the ability of criminals to print unlimited numbers of temporary tags for illegal purposes while ensuring legitimate dealers retain full access to temporary tags needed to support vehicle sales.

“We greatly appreciate the participation and input of the public and representatives of the motor vehicle industry in Texas as the department works to support our law enforcement partners throughout the state in reducing the illegal use of temporary tags,” said TxDMV Chairman Charles Bacarisse.

These processes were adopted by the Board as revisions to TxDMV administrative rules, following a period of public comment, input from the Motor Vehicle Industry Regulation Advisory Committee, and review by the Regulatory Compliance Division of the Office of the Governor.

The Board additionally directed TxDMV staff to continue pursuing ways to enhance the identification of individuals attempting to obtain a dealer license fraudulently.

🔹In the coming weeks, staff will review the department’s ability to institute processes to use fingerprinting and enhanced site visits during the license approval process and identify the rules and resources necessary to operationalize the measures.

🔹The agency will review ways to implement these and other activities that promote compliance with licensure requirements and the legitimate use of temporary tags without unduly burdening commerce and industry throughout the state.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Best Tire Safety Practices

Tire safety is not something you should ignore. Even before starting your vehicle, you should ensure that your tires are properly maintained and in good working condition to ensure your safety. There are four main factors to tire health: tread depth, tire age, tire inflation load and routine maintenance.


Always consult the owner’s manual of your vehicle and your tire manufacturer’s included literature for specific information about your vehicle/tire performance. The intent of this article is to supplement and not to supersede this material. In the event of a conflict, always rely on the recommendations of your vehicle and tire manufacturer.

Your tires connect your vehicle to the pavement and so play a major role in your safety on the road. Their health and condition are affected by a number of factors that you should know to keep as safe as possible. The following are also important in improving the length of your tire’s life span.

TREAD DEPTH SAFETY

Tread depth refers to the amount of tread remaining on a tire. It is calculated by measuring the distance between the top of the tread block to the bottom of the tread void. This number is normally displayed in 32nds of an inch but can also be displayed in millimeters.

Tread depth affects handling, traction and stopping distance. As a tire wears and tread depth is reduced, these capabilities are reduced. Reduced tread depth causes even more severe diminished performance in adverse conditions like wet or slick roads and surfaces.Infographic - wet stopping distances increase as tread depth is depleted

As you can see in the wet stopping distance chart above, tread depth affects how well your vehicle can stop, especially on wet roads. Keeping an eye on your tire’s tread depth is the first step in driving and operating your vehicle safely.

TIRE AGING SAFETY

Older tires have a higher risk for failure. Tires are made of rubber which begins to break down over time.

A publication released in 2008 from the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society entitled, “Rubber Oxidation and Tire Aging – A Review,” goes into detail how an aged tire has reduced crack resistance, which can lead to an increased rate of tire failure. As tires age, oxygen penetrates the rubber causing it to start breaking down on a molecular level. The rubber begins to harden and become brittle, losing its elasticity and strength.

After a certain point, the tire’s ability to carry weight is reduced and could potentially fail. Even if a tire has never seen service or has been used very little, it has still been exposed to time and the elements leading to compromised integrity.

You can determine the age of a tire by the DOT number stamped on the sidewall of every tire produced for street use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also conducted studies on tire aging and released findings showing a link between tire aging and the increased chance for tire failure.

Most tire and auto manufacturers recommend replacing your tires between 6-10 years. We change ours at six years.

TIRE INFLATION SAFETY AND LOAD CAPACITY

Properly inflated tires are also important for tire safety. The NHTSA has documented that an under-inflated tire increases the chance of tire failure. A tire must be abl eto hold the weight of not only the vehicle, but also any additional load the vehicle might carry such as fuel, passengers and payload. A tire alone does not have the strength to support this. A tire’s sidewall gains strength as air pressure builds inside the tire, meaning that with proper air pressure, a tire can support a vehicle safely.

Overloading a vehicle with underinflated tires is a recipe for blow outs and tire failure.

Under-inflated tires cannot support the vehicle and quickly become compromised. Driving on an under-inflated tire generates excess heat, causing the rubber to break down. Eventually, a tire will not be able to withstand the excess load and fail.

Check your air pressure often to prevent driving on under-inflated tires. Refer to your owner’s manual or vehicle placard to find the correct tire air pressure for your vehicle.

All vehicles manufactured from 2008 and beyond are equipped with a tire pressure monitor system (TPMS) to help monitor air pressure. The TPMS will alert the driver if pressure falls below 25% or more below the manufacturer’s recommended inflation.

You must check your air pressure often to prevent driving on under-inflated tires. Refer to your owner’s manual or vehicle placard to find the correct tire inflation for your vehicle.

ROUTINE TIRE MAINTENANCE

Proper and timely tire maintenance is crucial to safety. All tires on your vehicle should be inspected, inflated and rotated on a routine basis.

  • Inspect your tires every month. This will help you identify any damage or conditions that could interfere with safety. This is an important preventative step to eliminate risks that could potentially lead to an accident.
  • Check your air pressure every month. Properly inflated tires will sustain the weight of your vehicle and lessen the chance of tire failure due to improper inflation.
  • Rotate your tires every 6,000-8,000 miles. Regular tire rotations prolong tread life, maximizing handling, traction and stopping capabilities of your tires. This also requires removing the tire from the vehicle, allowing a more thorough tire inspection.

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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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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.