A cheaper way to see the USA.

Volunteering in our Nation’s parks.

Rob Nurre playing the role of Frank Davey, a turn-of-the-century storekeeper in Garnet, waits for a young customer to choose her candy. Photo by David Abrams, BLM, Western Montana Zone

You could camp this Summer at Yellowstone National Park for a mere $22.50 a night, if you can get the reservations, or you could park your RV free by volunteering as a campground host.  This is just one of the hundreds of volunteer opportunities that come with some sort of lodging via the National Park Service this year.

To learn more about volunteering benefits, read this great article by Money Talk News…… READ MORE

NPS-Closed Campgrounds,Fewer Seasonal Employees,Sunday Closures

Sequestration hits National Park Service, RVers and campers.

Closed campgrounds, Sunday closures of National Park System units, and 900 permanent positions that will go unfilled are just some of the latest details of how the National Park Service is responding to the ongoing federal budget sequestration.

* At Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, officials said the 64-site Elk Mountain Campground would remain closed. That move eliminates the need for two summer employees to maintain the campground and interpretive rangers to present evening campfire programs, park officials said.

“The sequestration has forced us to make some tough decisions that will impact visitors to Wind Cave National Park,” said Superintendent Vidal Davila. “People will have fewer opportunities to tour Wind Cave, the park’s primary resource, as a result of less staff.”

The 5 percent budget cut also will lead to a reduction in invasive plant control at the park, maintenance of fences and building repairs, science and research activities, natural resource monitoring, and wildlife management programs.

* In Alabama, Park Service officials said the sequestration forces them to close the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, and the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail on Sundays until further notice.

* At Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, the cuts could lead to delays in snow plowing this spring on the Rainy Lake Ice Road, the Kab-Ash Ice Road, and the entrance to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center as park officials look to reduce fuel consumption and overtime pay.

Park officials say that when snowfall occurs before or after regular park operating hours, snow removal will be delayed until personnel report for normal duty hours. If significant snowfall occurs during weekends the Rainy Lake Visitor Center may be closed.

* At Badlands National Park in South Dakota, the 5 percent budget cut equates to a 24 percent reduction in seasonal hires for positions that support interpretive talks and walks, school programs, custodial services, road, fence and building repair and maintenance, science and research activities, natural resource monitoring, and search and rescue operations.

“The seasonal workforce is the heart of the park,” said Superintendent Eric Brunnemann. “This sort of loss cuts deeply into our ability to serve the public, something we are dedicated to doing every day.”

* Across the entire park system, 900 permanent positions that currently are vacant will not be filled, Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said Friday in a memo to the entire agency.

“In an organization with 15,000 permanent employees, 900 vacant jobs have a profound effect. Every activity will be affected. Some impacts will be immediate, others will accumulate over time,” Director Jarvis said. “Fewer law enforcement rangers and USPP officers mean lower levels of protection and longer response times. Fewer maintenance personnel mean that parks may have to close facilities completely when breakdowns occur – and that the $12 billion maintenance backlog will continue to grow.”

The memo did not, however, mention how many vacant positions the Park Service has been carrying in recent months.

Director Jarvis said the agency, system-wide, would see seasonal hirings drop by more than 1,000 employees, would furlough some staff in the U.S. Park Police, and would ban all non-essential travel.

“‘Essential’ travel includes only the following: travel that is critical for health and safety, and travel to attend training required to retain current, mission critical certifications – such as contracting warrants. International travel is cancelled,” wrote the director.

Director Jarvis also noted that the most recent continuing resolution to fund the federal government expires March 27.

“We do not know how, or if, the debate on a new continuing resolution will impact the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013 or the Fiscal Year 2014 budget negotiations. For now, please assume that we will operate for the remainder of the year at the 95 percent spending level envisioned in your sequestration plans,” he wrote.

From nationalparkstravel.com by NPT staff.

Autumn Splendor in an RV

Summer is winding down, and soon the nights will be getting longer, the air will be getting a little cooler, and the trees will start changing.  Autumn is a magical time of year when you can start to pull out those light sweaters and look forward to all things pumpkin flavored.  As an RVer, you have the opportunity to go out during Fall and see some of the most beautiful areas of the country during the most beautiful time of year.  One such place is the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia.   The Parkway is beautiful in the Summer and Spring as well.  However Autumn brings the Blue Ridge Mountains to life. This season of change is absolutely beautiful.

Mount Mitchell, NC  in Autumn Splendor

Mount Mitchell, NC in Autumn Splendor

We all know that one of the biggest part of RVing isn’t the destination, but the drive to get there.  The Blue Ridge Parkway during the early Autumn months is some of the beautiful and memorable driving in the country.  The great part about it is that it is not too far away from where you probably live, so you only need to plan a short weekend trip to drive through and see it in all of its splendor.  September and October are known as the prime months to see all the orange, yellow, and gold along the road, and it will leave you awe-struck by the end of your trip.

Blue Ridge Parkway Viaduct

The Linn Cove Viaduct winds past the slopes of Grandfather Mountain.

The road will take you to Mount Mitchell State Park, which has the highest peak in the Southeast.  Be sure to look for some of the great campgrounds around the park to enjoy the weekend, and make sure that you give yourself plenty of daylight for then drive to and from the park.  While most people think that the Northeast, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, has the best Autumn season drives, the Blue Ridge Parkway is sure to give them a run for their money.  So pack up the rig, and take a nice slow drive through the Blue Ridge mountains and see for yourself.  I am sure you will agree with me, when I say Autumn is a great time to go RVing…

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Civil War 150th Anniversary Photo Contest

Civil War Trust Photo Contest
It has been 150 years since the opening shots of the Civil War sounded, and since then snapshots of the battlefields have transported people into history, inspiring many to visit these sites, to walk on holy ground. The Civil War Trust is looking for today’s best photos of these sites during its 2011 Annual Photography Contest, currently underway through August 21,2011. Winners will be announced in September. Please visit www.civilwar.org/photos for rules and full details about the photo contest.

Many civil war sites offer great RV and camper parking.  Although some battlefields require auto tours, so making those in a motor-home could be cumbersome to say the least. However you travel and enjoy the RVing lifestyle. Please take time to visit these great places that helped to shape our nation.  And while you are there, stop for a moment to think about the thousands of men and women, that gave their lives during these great conflicts. And also for the ones who continue to do so till this day.

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Fence Row

Great Smoky Visitors Can Now Check Road Conditions Digitally

I recently discovered this article in a Trailer Life magazine.  I thought I would share it with my readers as well.  This is just another way technology has found a home in mainstream society and into the RVing lifestyle.  If anyone out there has any other ways technology has helped the RVing lifestyle, please post it.

Visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park may now sign up to receive status updates about the park’s most frequently used roads via text message or on Twitter. In the past, travelers had to place phone calls to the Park to determine the status of the roads, which can change frequently with changing weather conditions.

The Park’s recorded information line receives more than 1,000 calls per day during the severe winter weather from people inquiring about road conditions. When all of the incoming lines are in-use, the calls rollover to the park’s Communications Center staff, often resulting in more than 600 calls to be answered, hampering the staff from responding to calls requesting park information and emergency assistance.

Those who wish to be notified of the status of the Park’s four most popular roads — Newfound Gap (U.S. 441), Little River Road, Laurel Creek Road, and Cades Cove Loop Road — can opt to get text messages to their cell phones by texting follow smokiesroadsnps to 40404. To stop receiving the text message alerts, text stop smokiesroadsnps to the same number. Standard text rates will apply.

The public can get that same information via the Internet by going to: twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps to read recent road notification postings. This is a Twitter website maintained by the park, but anybody can access it at any time, without having to establish a Twitter account.

Anyone having a Twitter account can go an extra step and choose to have updates set to them by going to the site listed above and clicking the “follow” button to see the updates on their own account page and receive the notifications in the manner they specify. In addition to notifications of winter road conditions, park officials plan to notify travelers throughout the year of road openings and closings due to rock slides, fallen trees, and accidents. Anytime the status of one of the listed roads changes, a message will be sent.

As the National Park Service prepares for its 2016 centennial celebration, officials are increasingly utilizing technology to connect the American people to their national parks.

For more information about Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and for a link to the Twitter site, go to www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm. Information on all of the roads in the Park as well as other Park information may be obtained by calling the park’s information line at (865) 436-1200 and following the prompts.