July 15, 2018

RV Blessed? You Bet!


I have good news to share - only because I know you were all so worried about me (wink, wink).  Gander Outdoors re-stocked their supply of bear spray, and I was able to purchase a can a couple of days ago.  Just in time, as far as I'm concerned, since we had yet another bear sighting in the neighborhood.  They're only black bears but, still, I figure it's best not to take any chances, especially since there are a couple of cubs out and about.  So, I'm all set.  Thank you for your concern.

Over the course of the past six months or so, I’ve recounted our family’s travels during the first of three cross country National Parks camping trips with our kids and travel trailer in tow.  Our second trip (in the summer of 2010) was to the “Grand Circle” in the southwest and future posts will cover the tale of this epic journey.  Suffice it to say for now that this trip included 9 National Parks - 2 in Colorado, 1 in Arizona and 6 in Utah - and at least 2 State Parks.  In preparation for those upcoming posts, I pulled out our itinerary and have been scrolling through our photos, opening the floodgates to a whole host of memories.

July 07, 2018

Tidbits and Tips - June


Over the past month, I’ve been collecting a few (hopefully useful) tips and I’ve come across some intriguing little tidbits of news – none of which are worth a full blog post but all of which I thought might be of interest to you, and I decided that this format would be a good way to share them.  Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from any of the companies or organizations mentioned.  I’m just sharing what I consider to be delightful or useful bits of news with you – you know, the kind of stuff you might talk about when you get in a discussion about camping with your friends around a campfire.  First, the tips . . .

July 02, 2018

My Love-Hate Relationship with Walmart


Let me preface this post by saying that the effectiveness of my bear spray expired on June 30th according to the label on the can.  Now you and I know that this is simply an arbitrary date chosen by the manufacturer and, chances are, the spray will still be effective for at least a short time thereafter.  I am particularly hopeful that this is true as I carry it when I go for my daily walks down a quiet road in a forested area and I haven’t been able to pick up a new container yet.  I found out that this product can no longer be shipped to the state in which I live and the nearest outfitter doesn’t have any in stock right now.  However, since we have had three bear sightings within the past two weeks or so and one included a mama with two teeny tiny cubs, I thought it best to point out my situation to you in the event that, well, just in case I become as expired as my bear spray.

Let’s face it.  There is probably nothing I can say about Walmart that hasn’t already been said by someone, somewhere.  But that’s not going to stop me from sharing my personal feelings with you.  Please note that I’m not affiliated with Walmart in any way other than as a customer.  I am neither encouraging you to do business with them nor discouraging you from it.  I’m not being compensated in any way for this post; I’m simply sharing my opinion.

June 28, 2018

A Blog Roll, Please!


Just to let you know . . . I’ve added some random photos from our Father’s Day boating adventure that have absolutely nothing to do with the following post.  I didn’t want to plagiarize any pics from the blogs mentioned below but, since I always appreciate some color in the posts I read on other blogs, I decided to provide you with at least a little something to break up the text.  In case you’re wondering what boating has to do with camping, well, that’s a perfect topic for a future post!


One of the benefits of retirement that I’ve enjoyed and appreciated is the gift of more time to read.  I’ve always gotten up earlier than any other members of our family and savored that quiet time with the first cup of morning coffee accompanied by a good book or blog, or the latest issue of a favorite magazine.  And then I would go off to work having started my day on a pleasant and even keel.  Once I escaped from the workforce two years ago, I stretched one cup of coffee into two and began spending my early morning time exploring blogs of different topics, especially those written by other RV travelers.

I always get great pleasure out of digging up intriguing and useful information about the travel destinations on our vacation itineraries whether through reading about those destinations in guide books or on web sites, or by talking with people who had visited them.  And I found out that poking around on the blogs of fellow RV travelers is pretty much a combination of all three.  I started discovering wonderful new destinations, tips on how to enjoy places we planned to visit and helpful facts about shopping, dining and campgrounds.

Blog authors, just like book authors, have different writing styles and formats, and I soon found that I was drawn to blogs that were well written and had at least a smattering of photos with excellent landscape photography being a plus.  And I was particularly attracted to authors whose warm personality and sense of humor was evident in both their blog posts and their relationships with their readers.

The blogs I read generally fall into one of several categories – finances and investing (you can take the banker out of the bank but . . . ), retirement (two years in and it’s awesome!) and, of course, the camping lifestyle (it goes without saying, right?).  I’m thinking that those of you who read this blog may enjoy some of the same things that I do so, in the interest of sharing some great finds with like-minded people, I decided to add a Blog Roll to the right hand column of Reflections Around the Campfire.  But, just like when I add a web site to “my favorite places,” I’d like you to know why I’m adding each particular blog to my Blog Roll so that you can decide whether or not it would be of interest to you.  Let us begin!

June 21, 2018

I Can't Go Camping, So . . .


I thought I’d have a little fun today.  In a previous post, I had mentioned that my husband, Alan, has a major construction project going on at a rental property we own.  If all goes according to plan, the project should be finished by the end of this summer.  Meanwhile, he spends as much time as possible on site, working out of our older travel trailer, since the property is about three hours from our home.  I help him whenever schedules, projects and the task of running a household are under control at home.  When working on site, we usually end up filthy and exhausted - so much so that we’re both out like a light before 8:00 p.m. most nights.  (Don’t laugh at us or we just might put you to work, too.)  Last summer, we enjoyed almost six weeks on the road touring the National Parks along the west coast.  This summer . . . nothing.  (There is no emoji on earth that could convey the amount of sadness I feel right now, so I won’t even try.)  That being said, this is a really important project that will make a huge difference in the maintenance of the property and should increase its value substantially.  And, if all goes well, Alan and I will get out this fall to explore and enjoy.  So, I’m on board with it 100% - really.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not envious of all the RVers I pass on the road and all of those whose RV travel blogs I follow.  But, rather than wallow in self-pity, I figured I’d do something that would be fun and constructive with the little bit of spare time that I have, so please do come along and play with me.

June 17, 2018

Mike's Hard Lemonade "Happy Camper" - Looks Like I'll Have To Do Their Marketing For Them


Today, we celebrate Dads of all shapes and sizes, in all walks of life, with all kinds of kids.  It’s a tough job being a (good) parent, one that our kids won’t truly appreciate until they walk in our shoes.  Special shout outs today to the guys in my life whose responsibilities as fathers have recently taken on new meaning . . . To nephew, Geo, who, having just married his fiancée, Reneé, is celebrating his first Father’s Day as an official stepfather.  To our cousin, Nick, who is celebrating his first Father’s Day as Dad to two children.  He, his wife, Katharine, and their daughter, Hayden, welcomed baby Harrison to the family a little more than a month ago.  And to our friend, Mark, whose only child – his daughter, Katy - just recently became engaged.  He’ll be stepping into “father-in-law shoes” when Katy and her fiancé, Andrew, tie the knot.  Love and best wishes to all these guys!  As for our own special guy, I have no doubt that Alan will be a “Happy Father” today – not only will he be spending the day boating (his passion), but he’ll be able to do that with the two reasons he’s a Happy Father (son, Ryan, and daughter, Kyra), plus a bonus kid – Ryan’s longtime girlfriend, Anya.  You’re the best, Alan!  Enjoy your day!  Here’s hoping that all of you who are Dads (in any variation of the word) have the opportunity to spend the day exactly as you wish and that it turns out to be relaxing, enjoyable and happily memorable!  Now, as for these people at Mike’s Hard Lemonade . . .

June 10, 2018

Another Favorite Place - Twin Oaks RV Park in Elko, Georgia!


Rather than just provide a complete list of my favorite websites under “Check out my favorite places!,” I decided to add them one at a time and let you know exactly why I like them.  That way, you’ll be able to determine whether or not the site might be of interest to you.  Besides, I believe that these sites do such an awesome job of providing information, opportunities and/or entertainment that it really is a pleasure to bring them to your attention!

Twin Oaks RV Park is located just off Interstate 75 at Exit 127 in Elko, Georgia.  It’s about 30 minutes south of Macon, 2 hours south of Atlanta and 2 hours north of the Florida state line.  Alan and I have never been there.  So, you ask, why is this one of my favorite places?  To answer that question, we’ll need to go back in time almost 10 years.  Here’s the story . . .

June 03, 2018

Tidbits - May 2018


Over the past month, I’ve come across these interesting little tidbits of news – none of which are worth a full blog post but all of which intrigued me, so I thought this format would be a good way to share them.  Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from any of the companies or organizations mentioned.  I’m just sharing what I consider to be delightful or useful bits of news with you – you know, the kind of stuff you might talk about around a campfire with fellow travelers.  The photos in this post were taken last summer during our stay at Enchanted Trails RV Park on Historic Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico (link HERE).  Without further ado, here are the tidbits from May . . .

May 23, 2018

Yogi Was Right - "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" (National Parks Trip #1)


This post represents the final installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

As our family pulled out of the Riverview RV Park in Loveland, Colorado, early one August morning in 2007, we could look back at our itinerary and take great satisfaction knowing that we had achieved our goal of visiting one National Memorial (Mount Rushmore), one National Monument (Devil’s Tower), and five National Parks (Badlands, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Rocky Mountain) on our first cross country trip as a family of four.  Alan and I pretty much re-created our honeymoon of more than 25 years prior, the only differences being that a travel trailer had replaced our two person mountain tent and there were now two kids in the previously empty back seat.  The trip had been full of many “firsts” and tons of fun but, initially, we had been extremely disappointed that we would miss a visit with our friends Mary and Dave who live in Colorado.

If you remember me mentioning our close friends Peg and Bill who live in Virginia, you may be interested to know that Mary is Peg’s sister.  Since Peg and I have been friends since first grade, it follows that Mary and I have known each other for quite some time, as well.  Although Mary is younger by several years, she and her husband Dave had children before Alan and I did.  And I have to say that we have looked upon these two incredibly warm and caring people as role models while tripping our way through the landmines of parenthood.

May 14, 2018

Mother's Day Reflections - Go Ahead, Ask Me Why I'm Late


As I was putting the finishing touches on this post yesterday, my son and his girlfriend arrived with gifts in hand and canines in tow, so we had an enjoyable visit.  After they left, my daughter and I spent some quality time together soaping up one of her tires with the hope of figuring out why it was losing air.  (Yup, that nail would be the reason.)  So, it’s my kids’ fault that this post is late.  Of course, if they weren’t around, I wouldn’t be writing it.  I am SO happy they’re here!!!

May 10, 2018

My Magical Spot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (National Parks Trip #1)


This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

The northwestern corner of Wyoming is grand and glorious country and it was with no small amount of regret that we pulled out of the Colter Bay Village RV Park.  The Teton Range would be in our rearview mirror as we made our way south and east into Colorado.  Our next stop (and final National Park of the trip) would be Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), and our itinerary definitely included a visit to one of the most magical places in the Park.

May 05, 2018

Thinking and Driving - No Drinking Involved!


This past Tuesday morning found me on the road by 6:45 a.m.  Alan and I own a rental property that’s a three hour drive from home.  Normally, he makes the trip every four weeks or so to do a monthly water test and work on repairs and maintenance.  However, he’s currently working on a major construction project so, over the summer, he’ll be there for about a week at a time.  (Our older travel trailer, the Jayco, is parked on location and is coming in very handy!)  I’ll drive over to stay for several days at a clip because, although he’s handling the project just fine by himself, it’s a lot easier when you have another set of hands helping out.  While a three hour ride for, essentially, what is a business purpose can be tedious, I’ve never minded the drive even when I’m alone.  It provides a quiet block of time for thinking or dreaming or scheming, along with the delightful benefit of having a backdrop of gorgeous scenery.

April 30, 2018

Tidbits


Since I escaped from the workforce two years ago, I’ve come to truly appreciate simply having the time to “poke around,” as Alan and I like to call it.  Whether that means exploring a new part of town, wandering around a State Park or spending time “blog-hopping” online, it’s a privilege and a treat that I enjoy – a lot.

Over the past month, I’ve come across some interesting little tidbits of news – interesting to me, anyway.  None of them are really fodder for a full blog post, so I thought this format would be a good way to share them.  (I’ve included a few random photos just to add a little color to the page.)  On to the tidbits!

April 25, 2018

Job Description: Shotgun Rider


As I was growing up, I was intrigued by the American West.  I enjoyed watching Wagon Train, Rawhide, Laramie, Bonanza, The Virginian and The Big Valley on TV when I was little - and nobody could bring more class to a western than The Duke, John Wayne.  I’ve read Louis L’Amour’s western novels since I was a kid and he’s still one of my all-time favorite authors.  I love the depth of his descriptive writing, but also his thoughtful observations on a variety of topics that I have somehow been able to apply to my life no matter what my age:  “The thing to remember when traveling is that the trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.  Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.” 

April 20, 2018

A Prayer for Vacations - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (National Parks Trip #1)


This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

Grand Teton National Park is one of my husband’s favorite Parks.  The Historic District down near Menor’s Ferry is the area that calls to him the most, I think.  He loves exploring the flatlands near the Snake River with the craggy peaks of the Teton Range providing a rugged backdrop against the broad blue sky.


It is in this area that the iconic photo that appears on SO many calendars can be taken: horses grazing behind an old rail fence, with one or more of the Park’s historic buildings in the background.

April 16, 2018

Adventure Rich - Guest Post on a Blog After My Own Heart


Many of you know that I launched Reflections Around the Campfire at the end of 2017.  Although I escaped from the workforce in the spring of 2016 (has it really been two years already?!), it wasn’t until last year that I was able to devote time to a particular item on my Bucket List – publishing a blog about RV travel and the camping lifestyle.  The blog is a perfect outlet for my passion for travel, in general, and camping, specifically.  Not only am I enjoying this creative outlet immensely, but I’m also spending some quiet time each day exploring other blogs – and I’ve “met” some incredibly wonderful people along the way.

I grew up in the banking industry and have always had an affinity for numbers which, perhaps, explains my interest in so many things “financial.”  So, not only have I found some delightful blogs relating to RV travel, but I’ve also discovered other good reads related to retirement and/or finance.

Adventure Rich, a blog written by Mrs. Adventure Rich (with occasional help from Mr. Adventure Rich) details their family’s journey as they work toward financial independence while being mindful of living a full and adventure filled life.  Our shared values led to an invitation from Mrs. AR to guest post on the Adventure Rich blog.  (Thank you, Mrs. AR!  I’m simply delighted!)

Please do head over to Adventure Rich (link HERE) to check out the end result (“Are You Working Toward Your Goals - Or Wishing on a Star?”) and see how Mr. and Mrs. Adventure Rich and their young son celebrate family life on their journey to financial independence. 

April 14, 2018

Here's Your Chance . . . KOA Announces "Get Out There" Grants


The big yellow KOA campground signs are likely to be familiar to many people, even if they’re not camping enthusiasts themselves.  Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is based in Billings, Montana, and the company has grown to nearly 500 locations since its inception back in 1962, providing campsites (and, more recently, cabins) and a number of other amenities to the camping public.

Welcome to KOA!

KOA has been promoting active lifestyles and connecting people to the outdoors for over 50 years.  Now the company wants to help some lucky individuals make their “adventure of a lifetime” dreams a reality via their “Get Out There” Grants.

April 11, 2018

From Breakfast Sandwiches to RV Travel Planning


We were enjoying breakfast sandwiches and pastries recently in a tiny coffee shop in the lobby of a small hotel in the mountains with our long-time friends Patty and Rick.  As it usually happens whenever we get together, the talk turned to camping.  Our friends had just recently jumped back into RV life with the purchase of a travel trailer, having sold their Class A motorhome a number of years ago.  Patty said that she and Rick were interested in expanding their camping horizons and she asked how Alan and I decided on our vacation destinations, how I gathered information on attractions and campgrounds and whether or not it was a good idea to make reservations ahead of time.  Don’t let Patty fool you.  She’s a very smart cookie and one of the most organized people I know.  So, you can bet she would have figured ALL of this out without any help from me.  But her questions did provide food for thought which, in turn, provided the basis for this post.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that one of the many things I love about the camping and RV lifestyles is that there truly is something for everyone.  Whether your preferred home base is a tent or a 40’ coach, you’ll be able to find campsites that fit your style all across America.  As with the selection of rigs and campsites, a cookie cutter approach to travel planning is not appropriate.  We all have our preferred style and way of doing things – or not doing things as the case may be.  Some travelers plan down to the last detail, others fly by the seat of their pants (and quite successfully, too) and still others work best with a combination of the two.  Here’s how we roll . . .

April 05, 2018

Grand Adventures in Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming (National Parks Trip #1)


This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

Yellowstone, with its geothermal features, rivers, lakes, mountains and prairies provided us with a unique and incredible experience.  Although our family spent four full days exploring this Park – our country’s first official National Park – we could easily go back and spend another week there.  Each day in Yellowstone had its own special highlights, and one of our most memorable was the opportunity to watch the elusive wolf pack in the Lamar Valley.  The wolves were distant, but easily visible with binoculars, and this marked the first and only time we have ever seen wolves in the wild.  As much as we would have loved to spend even more time exploring Yellowstone, it was time to head south to Grand Teton National Park.

April 02, 2018

A Quick Update on Good Sam Discounts at Pilot Flying J


In my earlier post about Pilot and Flying J travel plazas (I'll Bet You Never Took a Shower at a Flying J!), I had mentioned that Good Sam members can save 5¢ per gallon on gas or 8¢ per gallon on diesel at most Flying J’s and Pilots in the U.S., and 1¢ per liter on gas or diesel in Canada.  Plus, Good Sam members can save 5¢ per gallon on propane and $2.50 on dump station fees (that’s 25% off their $10.00 dump fee).  But I forgot to tell you something important . . .

April 01, 2018

A Tribute to Friendship


Today is opening day of trout season in New York and it’s a bittersweet day for me.  Even though we live just a hop, skip and a jump from a well-known trout stream here in the northeast, I don’t fish, and the season itself doesn’t impact me in any way other than the fact that I’ll notice a number of vehicles parked at the various access points to the stream.  The reason it’s significant is because it was always a special day for my friend Bob.  Bob might possibly have been the first blogger on earth since he was on the job long before the term “blogging” was coined.

March 30, 2018

Celebrating National Park Week 2018 ~ April 21st - April 29th!


The National Park Service (NPS) is celebrating National Park Week from April 21st through April 29th with FREE entrance to our National Parks on Saturday, April 21st.  If you miss your opportunity on April 21st, the NPS is offering two more fee-free days in 2018 – September 22nd (National Public Lands Day) and November 11th (Veterans Day).  Saturday, April 21st is National Junior Ranger Day and Volunteer Day, as well.


Our National Parks offer incredible scenery, attractions and opportunities related to education and outdoor recreation.  For more information about National Park Week, including a listing of events at all participating Parks, visit the NPS web site (link HERE).


This land IS your land, folks, so why not get out there and enjoy it?!  Explore amazing new places, go walk a trail, bike a scenic road or kayak on a pristine lake with your family and make some extraordinary memories that will remain in your hearts forever.  Find YOUR Park!

March 27, 2018

A Scavenger Hunt of the Most Unique Kind - West Yellowstone, Montana (National Parks Trip #1)


This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

Alan and I had talked for years about re-creating our honeymoon trip during which we tent-camped our way across the country to visit a number of grand and glorious National Parks and Monuments in the west.  We wanted to share that same adventure with the kids and, in the summer of 2007, we did just that.  Instead of a two man mountain tent, we slept in our travel trailer, but aside from that concession to our formerly youthful bodies, the adventure was much the same.  We hit all the same National Parks – Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain - picnicked at mountain lakes, hiked some of the same trails we had taken 28 years ago and saw the awe on the faces of our children as we introduced them to America.

In my previous post in this series, I had mentioned a scavenger hunt on which we had dragged the kids along.  I wouldn’t be able to share this story with you if I didn’t take you back in time to a cold September night in West Yellowstone 28 years prior to this trip . . .

March 23, 2018

Today is Our 1st Anniversary! Here's the Story to Go Along With It!


Those of you who are astute and regular readers are remembering that Alan and I have two children who are young adults now and you’re probably figuring that, while there is a chance we were married just a year ago, it’s not likely.  Right you are!  Our first wedding anniversary was a moment in the rearview mirror of time many years ago and we’re currently working toward #39.  (Would you believe me if I told you I got married when I was 5 years old?  No?  I didn’t think so, but it was worth a shot.)  Today, though, we really are celebrating a 1st anniversary.  The story’s a long one, so you might want to grab a fresh cup of coffee before you continue reading.

March 22, 2018

Registration Opens for New York's "I Love My Park Day!"


New York’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has announced that registration is open for anyone wishing to participate in this year’s I Love My Park Day which is scheduled for Saturday, May 5, 2018.

March 18, 2018

I'll Bet You Never Took a Shower at a Flying J!


Please note that this post depicts our family’s experience with Flying J and Pilot travel plazas.  We like them and make a conscious effort to do business with them, but I am not affiliated with them in any way and I am not earning any type of compensation from this post. 

Last year, Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, traveled cross country for nearly six weeks on our family’s third cross country National Parks camping trip.  Our son, who is now 23, “aged out” several years ago due to full time employment.  (Yes, this makes me very sad.)  This trip was, most likely, the last time our daughter would be able to road trip with us (and yes, this makes me very sad, too).  We packed up shortly after her high school graduation and hit the road.

March 12, 2018

The Mystical, Magical Landscape of Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming, Montana and Idaho (National Parks Trip #1)


This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

More than 35 years ago, as young adults, Alan and I had honeymooned by tent camping across the United States visiting seven of the grand and glorious National Parks and Monuments in the west.  In 2007, we re-created that very same trip with our kids who were ages 13 and 8 at the time.  It would prove to be the first of three National Parks camping trips (so far!) we would take following the purchase of our first travel trailer in 2006.
 
One of Yellowstone National Park's many scenic rivers

While I do love ALL of our National Parks, the visit to Yellowstone proved to be the highlight of that first cross country trip.  Why?  The most obvious answer is because of the geothermal activity in the Park courtesy of the numerous geysers, hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles.

March 11, 2018

I Learned a New Word - "Anthropomorphic!"



Way back in my primary and secondary school years and on into college, the required list of compositions and term papers seemed downright endless.  I recall having a large, hardcover dictionary at home during the early grades which was followed by a smaller paperback edition when I was in high school.  It seems like there has always been a dictionary in our family bookcase and that’s still true today.  But now I find it much quicker and more convenient to access the Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus online (link HERE) and I often make use of the audio option when confronted with a word I’ve never heard pronounced.  (Just wait.  I really will tie this in to RV travel.)

March 07, 2018

New York State Parks Empire Pass - Act Quickly to Save $$$!



The Empire Pass, issued annually by the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, provides unlimited day use entry to 128 State Parks all across New York and 52 Parks operated by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in the Adirondacks and the Catskills.   (Be aware that the Pass does not provide a discount on camping fees.)  A complete list of the State Parks that accept the Empire Pass can be found (HERE).  The DEC facilities that accept the Empire Pass include forest preserve areas, boat launch sites, arboretums and park preserves and a complete list can be found (HERE).  But wait!  There’s more!

March 04, 2018

A Camping Epiphany in Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming, Montana and Idaho (National Parks Trip #1)



This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with our travel trailer in tow.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary uses the following phrases (among others) to define the word “epiphany”:  (1) a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; (2) an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking; and (3) an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure; a revealing scene or moment.  Well, let me tell you, people, I had a camping epiphany in Yellowstone National Park and it happened in the Madison Campground.

February 28, 2018

Another Favorite Place - RVParkReviews.com!



Rather than just provide a complete list of my favorite websites under “Check out my favorite places!,” I decided to add them one at a time and let you know exactly why I like them.  That way, you’ll be able to determine whether or not the site might be of interest to you.  Besides, I believe that these sites do such an awesome job of providing information and/or entertainment that it really is a pleasure to bring them to your attention!

RVParkReviews.com has become an invaluable resource for me whether I’m in trip planning mode or we’re traveling without reservations and simply need to find a place to spend the night.  I’ve been known to spend hours digging up info on a campground that we may need for even just a night or two.  I’ll bet you’re wondering why.  Alan wonders why sometimes, too.  But, truthfully, his idea of a perfect campsite and mine are pretty similar.  We enjoy the larger size and more natural surroundings of campgrounds found in State and National Parks.  We’ll both gladly forego hookups for “a room with a view” and, of course, we both want someplace safe and quiet to lay down our heads at night.  Although we do stay in privately owned RV parks when the need arises, we don’t generally search them out or require any of the usual resort amenities when we’re staying at one.  Our perfect campsite would be on public lands - on a lakeshore or riverfront, deep in the woods or at the edge of a meadow with a view of the mountains.  Because I feel so strongly about the sites we choose, I’m willing to devote time and effort to online research trying to match our preferences to campgrounds in the area in which we’ll be traveling.  That’s where RVParkReviews.com comes in.  Photos included in this post are all from campgrounds I found with the help of this extremely useful web site!

February 25, 2018

Destination: Glacier National Park, Montana - But What About the Wildfire?! (National Parks Trip #1)



This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips, travel trailer in tow.

With reservations set at the West Glacier KOA for the next two nights, we pulled out of Itch-Kep-Pe Park in Columbus, Montana and headed west once again.  Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana would be the westernmost point of this epic adventure; after a visit there, we planned to drop down into Yellowstone.  When we left Itch-Kep-Pe, we were more than 2,000 miles from home; by the time we reached Glacier, it would be nearly 2,500.

February 22, 2018

Cabela's - More than the "World's Foremost Outfitter"



Please note that these comments are based on my own opinion and our family’s experience with Cabela’s.  I’m not affiliated with Cabela’s in any way and I’m not receiving any compensation from Cabela’s for this post.  Alan and I are huge fans of companies that strive for excellence in customer service and, in our opinion, Cabela’s is one of them.

Cabela’s, which bills itself as the “World’s Foremost Outfitter” is a specialty retailer of outdoor recreation gear, clothing and other merchandise.  Last year, Cabela’s was purchased by Bass Pro Shops for approximately $4 billion dollars.  Both retailers began their solid and lengthy histories as small family businesses – Cabela’s, I understand, in 1961 and Bass Pro Shops in 1971.  As of now, Bass Pro Shops seems committed to carrying on the Cabela’s name and lines and I hope that will remain true.  Aside from wandering through a few Bass Pro Shops, I’m not really familiar with the company.  I am, however, familiar with Cabela’s and, although I knew the company was friendly to RVers, it wasn’t until this past year that I realized just what that meant.

February 19, 2018

Devil's Tower National Monument - Wyoming (National Parks Trip #1)



This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips.

Our visit to the Black Hills of South Dakota was an excellent one – with the exception of forgetting to pack our daughter’s bathing suit in anticipation of a stop at Sylvan Lake.  That did not go over well at all.  (Note to self:  Always pack the beach bag on a day out even if you’re not sure you’ll come upon any swimming holes.)  We pulled out of the Mystery Mountain Resort in Rapid City, South Dakota, the following morning and continued west into Wyoming.  That evening’s destination was Itch-Kep-Pe Park, a small city campground in Columbus, Montana, that would provide us with safe harbor for a quick overnight stop.  But first . . . Devil’s Tower!

February 18, 2018

New York's DEC Launches a Campground Ambassador Program!



In New York, some State Park Campgrounds are operated by the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.  Other State Park Campgrounds are operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  This year, the DEC has launched a new campground host program called the “Campground Ambassador Program” as part of the "Adventure NY" initiative.

February 14, 2018

Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorials - South Dakota (National Parks Trip #1)



This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips.

Heading out from the Mystery Mountain Resort in Rapid City, South Dakota, we set our sights on Mount Rushmore (link HERE).  Alan and I had visited this National Memorial on our honeymoon - the trip we were now recreating with our kids who were ages 8 and 13 at the time.  I can still remember standing in the viewing area all those years ago, a young adult mesmerized by the size and the scope of the sculpture.  Since I was remembering it as we first saw it, I was surprised to see how much had changed at Mount Rushmore in the intervening years.  Silly me.

February 10, 2018

Wrapping a Gift for a Fellow Traveler? Here's a Tip!



In a previous post about the Butler County Donut Trail (link HERE), I had mentioned that I enjoyed perusing Visitors’ Guides from various states.  You know the ones I’m talking about, don’t you - the glossy booklets you can find at rest areas along the interstates or request from state, county and city tourism departments?  Those guides are some of my favorite reading material!  Nothing better to spark a case of wanderlust than gorgeous photos of travelers having the time of their life in the most beautiful or fascinating settings, right?  

February 07, 2018

Badlands National Park and Wall Drug - South Dakota (National Parks Trip #1)


This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips.

After our delightful stop at Clear Lake State Park in Iowa that included a refreshing dip in the lake, we continued north into Minnesota.  Our destination was the Flying Goose Campground in Fairmont, Minnesota - a quiet little RV park right on Lake Imogene (link HERE).  In case you haven’t already figured it out, you should know that our family loves the water – whether it’s in the form of an ocean, lake, river, stream or waterfall – as much as we love the mountains. (We like mountains of all shapes and sizes, too!)  When we’re on an extended road trip, we try to build what we call “R&R days” into our schedule.  Since we’re often rolling along for anywhere between 9 and 12 hours a day, having a day set aside for “rest and relaxation” breaks up the driving for Alan and the riding for the rest of us.  (Yup, I know that kind of traveling is not for everyone, but the system of long days coupled with days of R&R works well for our family.)  I had booked two nights at the Flying Goose because I knew that Lake Imogene would provide some much appreciated water fun on our day of R&R.  (It did.  We had the lake to ourselves and the kids had a wonderful time!)

A peaceful afternoon on Lake Imogene

Upon leaving Minnesota, we headed west into South Dakota where we would visit the Badlands (link HERE), the first of the National Parks on our list, as well as the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park.  Alan and I had made this trip once already – on our honeymoon many, many years ago.  We would now be entering territory we had already traveled and we were both looking forward to sharing this journey with the kids.  What would they like?  What would they not?  Would they find themselves under the spell of our National Parks just like two young honeymooners did so long ago?  We were about to find out.