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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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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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.

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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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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.