November 08, 2020

Campfire Talk

Over the past couple of months, I’ve come across some interesting tidbits of news which intrigued me, and I wanted to share them with you.  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 informative 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 during our last boating adventure of the season which happened to be on the Hudson River in New York State.

On the Road of Retirement – First up, a little housekeeping.  I’ve been meaning to add On the Road of Retirement to the sidebar because I’ve been reading this blog for quite some time.  John Hinton is the author, and he and his wife, Sharon, are full time RVers.  What I really like about their travels and John's blog is the leisurely pace of both and the fact that John and Sharon often stay in places that Alan and I would really enjoy.  They're big fans of Army Corps of Engineers facilities (just like we are), so I've been able to add a few COE campgrounds to my planning notes thanks to John's information.   Plus, he was kind enough to share details with me about where to obtain the U.S. map we use to denote states in which we’ve camped and how to add it to my blog.  (Thanks, John!)  Not only is On the Road of Retirement a pleasure to read, but John maintains a lengthy blog roll of his own that contains some excellent reading material as well.  You may visit John and Sharon On the Road of Retirement right now (link HERE) or click through from the list of my favorite blogs in the column on the right any time in the future.  

The Recreational Trailer Safety Course – Have you all been reading about how popular RVs have become during the pandemic?!  Believing them to be the perfect social distancing vehicle, so to speak, potential travelers have been buying them up faster than you can say, “How do I tow this thing?!”  On the British Columbia based RV West website, I just read about an online trailer safety course that’s offered by a Canadian company called Yardstick Training.  Since the course is online and would be used for recreational purposes, I don’t see why those of us south of the border wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the opportunity.  At a cost of about 25 Canadian dollars and 30 minutes of time, it seems like a reasonable option that would start a newbie off with a basic trailering foundation or provide a refresher course for an old-timer.  The author of the article, Timothy Fowler, said he took the course even though he had decades of trailering experience.  You’d be surprised at his score.  (So was he.)  If you’d like to read more about it, take a hop, skip and a jump over to the RV West website (link HERE).

The Great American Outdoors Act – Alan and I are huge supporters of our magnificent National Parks and other wild spaces and public lands.  John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt are two of my heroes, and I’ll be forever grateful for their vision and their efforts to preserve and protect these extraordinarily beautiful and impressive places throughout our country.

On August 4th of this year, the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a most welcome piece of landmark legislation, was signed into law with bipartisan support.  The GAOA will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and address a backlog of maintenance needs that has been steadily building within our National Park system.  According to the National Park Service website, the Great American Outdoors Act will use revenues from energy development to provide up to $1.9 billion a year for five years to provide needed maintenance for critical facilities and infrastructure in our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and American Indian schools.  It will also use royalties from offshore oil and natural gas to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $900 million a year to invest in conservation and recreation opportunities across the country.”

The passage of the GAOA is truly cause for celebration and, believe me, I am celebrating.  Yes, I know that a bunch of those dollars will likely be put toward boring, but necessary, infrastructure projects to improve roads and restroom facilities in our public lands and that’s just fine with me.  While those items are always important (and, sometimes, really important), what’s even more important to me is the support for our recreational lands that this legislation represents.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the future of our public lands, including National Parks and Monuments, the wide open spaces managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the huge amount of acreage under the care of the U. S. Forest Service.  Due to changes in society over the generations, fewer of us need to do physical labor to survive, and many of us are more likely to be sitting on an office chair for our jobs than hiking through the woods to hunt for food.  In addition to work time, we often spend leisure time indoors, binge watching television shows, searching out entertaining films on Netflix, playing video games or walking around with our eyes glued to our phones.  If a love for our exquisite public lands isn’t passed down to our children and grandchildren, who will cherish, support and care for these incredible treasures in the future?  I worry; I really do.  That’s why I’m delighted when I see young families outdoors – camping fishing, hiking, sightseeing and otherwise enjoying the pleasures of the natural world on our public lands.

In anticipation of the coming improvements made possible by the GAOA (which will include a welcome focus on improving accessibility for those with disabilities), the National Park Service (NPS) has drafted guidelines for campground development.  The good news is that the NPS is cognizant of the fact that many of us travel in RVs much larger than what the campgrounds in many National Parks were designed to handle.  So, in the future, you'll probably see some new sites that are at least 45' long and offer 50 amp electric service.  Don't expect the improvements to include Wi-Fi everywhere in the Parks or the type of amenities you'd find in private RV parks.  While the NPS is eager to improve its facilities, the agency wants its campgrounds to consistently focus on natural, outdoor experiences.

For a brief recap of the history of camping in our National Parks and an excellent explanation of what will likely be happening next in our National Parks campgrounds, I highly recommend Jason Epperson's video, "New Plan for National Park Campgrounds" (link HERE).  Jason and his wife, Abby, are the full time RVers behind the RV Miles Network which includes the RV Miles website, their blog (Our Wandering Family) and an absorbing assortment of RV podcasts and YouTube videos.  There's a lot of good stuff there, so don't hesitate to poke around on (link HERE) or search social media for Our Wandering Family.

The National Park Service is actively seeking public input as it continues to design campgrounds for the future; the deadline for public comment is December 4, 2020.  Interested in contributing your two cents?  Hop on over to the NPS website to access the draft of the Campground Development Guidelines and the opportunity to add your comments after reviewing it (link HERE).  I gotta say it's not exactly on-the-edge-of-your-seat reading like the latest from Lee Child or Michael Connelly.  However, if you're a die-hard fan of National Parks campgrounds, I think you'll find the campground design proposal educational, intriguing and a perfect opportunity to participate in a project that will benefit generations to come.

Civilian Conservation Corps - As mentioned in the National Park's new Campground Development Guidelines, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) had a hand in developing a number of National Parks facilities, bringing to life the architects' designs and successfully blending trails, campgrounds and structures into the natural landscape.  When Alan and I are traveling, we make a point to stop at locations where the work of the CCC has endured, benefiting countless outdoor enthusiasts.  With the rise in unemployment due to the impact of COVID-19 and no quick turnaround in sight, serious thinkers have been pondering potential solultions, and Wired magazine recently published a thought-provoking article by Matt Simon entitled, "The Case for Reviving the Civilian Conservation Corps."  If that piques your interest, be sure to check it out (link HERE). - I tend to be a cheerful and optimistic person (well, on most days, anyway), and I find traits and values that brighten our days and those of others to be especially heartwarming and worth cultivating.  The Foundation for a Better Life was founded 20 years ago "to promote positive role models and remind people of the values we all share."  You've probably seen some of their billboards or television ads.  The Foundation's website,, is a treasure trove of uplifting and positive messages from blog posts to billboards, radio ads to videos.  You can even sign up to receive a daily inspirational quote every weekday, if you'd like.  As we struggle with the many-faceted effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, (link HERE) is a perfect place to garner a smile, a breath of fresh air and a little inspiration for the road.  Be kind.  Be respectful.  Be grateful.  And pass it on.

If you are grateful for your privileges, your rights and your freedom, please consider taking 30 seconds to watch The Foundation for Better Living's new public service announcement honoring our nation's Veterans (link HERE), and be sure to thank a Vet for his or her service on Wednesday, November 11th - or any time during the year you happen to run into one of these special people.  Thank you, all, for your service.






  1. A trove of useful information for the kind of camper we might have been in another life. (SOMEBODY's got to buy those big diesel rigs.) We glampers are too addicted to comfort and gadgets, I guess. Thankfully, we've seen more than most, but your peeling the apple to taste the sweetness inside is enviable, too. The means by which we're blessed is not all that important; being grateful (as we all are) is what matters. Nice post, kiddo!

    1. Mike, I think there might be a bit of glamper in all of us, including me. I love waking up in a National Park campground and the first thing I do is grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the view - from my recliner! I really like the way The Foundation for a Better Life reminds us of the important things in life in such a gentle and heartwarming way with its public service announcements. I shared "The Haircut" with our daughter, Kyra, a barber. It brought tears to her eyes, just like it did to mine.


Comments are encouraged and appreciated, so please do join the conversation!