Saturday, April 14, 2007

RV Camping
Bitteroot National Forest Montana

The USDA Bitteroot National Forest offers over 20 developed campgrounds suitable for RV camping. With room for rigs up to 50 feet, and fees ranging from free, to $30 for a group site, there are great camping locations available for every type RV.

Located along the border with Idaho, this National Forest has 1.6 million acres, with 1/2 dedicated to the largest expanse of wilderness in the lower 48 states. Its rugged beauty was caused by glaciers forming steep canyons that open into wider valley floors, and the forest offers a wide range of opportunities for recreation like camping, hiking, and fishing.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed the mountains of present day Montana and Idaho in 1805. The terrain was so rugged and confusing they needed native guides to show the way. Large areas of this country are still as wild and remote as when Lewis and Clark saw it. Grizzly bears, wolves, elk, and moose are abundant. Mountain peaks, swift rivers, and forests blanketing the hillsides with Pine, Spruce, and Aspen await you.

So if you are heading into Montana this camping season, don't forget about the Bitteroot National Forest. It offers great multiple use opportunities for the whole family. Montana RV Camping has more information and links to other great campsites.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

RV Camping and Paraskevidekatriaphobia

If you have Paraskevidekatriaphobia, you fear Friday the 13th. The fear of Friday the 13th may be based on ancient experiences with the day Friday, and the number 13. Whatever the reason Friday the 13th causes some people consternation, it's always been a normal, if not lucky day for us.

This year is no exception. The weather forecast for today was 12 to 17 inches of snow. We're not real excited about camping in 12 to 17 inches of snow, and as late as the 10PM news last night, the forecast had been reduced to 8 to 12 inches of the white stuff. This morning, we awoke to cloudy skies, and 0 inches of snow. The storm had a mind of it's own, and decided to show the weather "guessers" who is still boss.

To me, not camping in 12 to 17 inches of snow is pretty lucky.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fire Ants!

The tallest sand dunes in North America are located a short distance from the town of Alamosa in south central Colorado. This spectacular area is protected by the National Park Service Great Sand Dunes National Park.

NPS Photo

This area is home to wildlife, unique insects (more on that later), interesting history and early Native American culture. It is common to see deer in the campground, and the sand dunes offer a unique opportunity to play in the sand without worrying about being run over by high speed motorized recreational users such as sand rails, ATV's, or motorcycles.

Now...about those insects. The Great Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle is one of at least seven insect species endemic only to Great Sand Dunes. Now we've not seen the Tiger Beetle, but we've had a run-in with some red Fire Ants and a tent there that we'll ever forget!!

Before we were RVers, we were tenters, and our trip to Great Sand Dunes turned into a long night. When we arrived at the campground, we found one open campsite. It looked ideal except for the fact that you had to carry your camping equipment from where you parked your car about 50 yards to the campsite. No Probem! We hauled our stuff on down to an absolutely beautiful spot and proceeded to put up the tent...Ouch!

I'd been bitten by a red Fire Ant! Ouch! another bite. Well...I'll just go ahead and hurry putting up the tent and that will be it. Tent up (a nylon dome tent) and we proceed to fix dinner and enjoy a nice campfire.

Climb into our sleeping bags for the night, but a very strange sound greeted us. I can not really describe the sound. Imagine if you can, the sound of thousands of little feet climbing all over your tent. Them ants wanted in!

Well, to make a long story shorter, we didn't get much sleep, but discovered that our tent was at least "ant proof". Climbing out of the sack in the morning greeted us with a deer just 50 feet away, singing birds, and spectacular views. It also taught me to look closer for ants.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Global Warming?

We made a move from Utah to Colorado yesterday. Our route took us across northern New Mexico and we had howling winds the whole trip. The good part of the wind at least was it's direction...behind us!

As we wound our way up into the mountains, we watched Gozer's (our motor home) outside temperature sensor readout drop...60, 50, 40, 30 and right 6:30AM, it's 20. Brrrrr! It's suppose to be Springtime in the Rockies...pretty chilly camping!

Must be global warming!

With the strange weather that has occured across the country this winter, it's difficult to believe in global warming. It was just a few years ago that scientists were predicting a new Ice Age for the planet, now it's going the other way.

We believe mankind is altering the planet in ways we don't understand. Where does all that air polution we see over big cities end up? What will it ultimately do? How long do we have left on the planet? Who knows?!

The science of the environment is much more tricky than predicting the weather.

RV Camping Home

Monday, April 9, 2007

The "Science" of Wildfire

As users of public lands with an interest in forest management and how it realates to RV camping and other outdoor recreation activities, we're signed up to receive press releases from the USDA Forest Service. We received the following press release today titled...

New study sheds light on long-term effects of logging after wildfire.
Are severe reburns likely with or without logging?

You can read the full press release at RV Camping News. Look for the USDA Forest Service press release heading.

We're not so sure this study sheds much light on anything! The following is a direct quote from the end of the news release...

“Wood can be fuel in the short term or the long term, but that’s only part of the story. Wood is also wildlife habitat, and wood provides nutrients to the soil. Fire, ecological factors, and management objectives are all important. Our data show that there are no simple answers.”

WOW!! What an enlightening statement...NOT! After 3 years, you would hope that a little more than "our data show that there are no simple answers" would be the conclusion, but obviously, forest management isn't easy.

I agree that a study of this type could provide significant information useful to forest managers long term to help control wildfire and manage forest fuels appropriately. I guess they need to collect some more scientific data.

Endangered Dirt!

Cryptobiotic (sounds like something from a James Bond movie) soils are found in the arid, and semi-arid climates of the southwestern USA and other parts of the world. This delicate soil crust is made primarily of blue-green algae and also include soil lichens, mosses, green algae, microfungi, and bacteria. In some areas of the southwestern US, this cust makes up as much as 70% of the live ground cover.

This "lumpy" soil crust is beneficial according to scientists because it helps control precipitation runoff, and is highly beneficial to other plant growth. It helps stabilize the surface thereby helping to cut down on dust too.

The crust is easily damaged by vehicle, animal, and human traffic, especially when dry. When wet, the cust can absorb up to 10 times it's volume of water thereby helping desert plants survive during long periods drought.

So where you walk and drive on your RV camping trips because areas that are disturbed may never recover. Read more about Cryptobiotic Soils.

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Sunday, April 8, 2007

Entrenched Meander?? Mexican Hat, UT

Located along the San Juan River, the tiny settlement of Mexican Hat has less than 100 residents, but is blessed with the rugged beauty of southeastern Utah. Goosenecks State Park is a great free camping location perched along the cliffs 1000 feet above the river just 10 miles away.

The state park is unusual in that there is no entrance or camping fee. As you pull into the main parking area, you are greeted with the cleanest vault toilets we've ever seen, barbecue grills, trash cans, a few picnic tables, one with a shade canopy, and million dollar views. There is no water available.

The camping area is nothing more than dispersed sites atop the mesa, but look at the view you can have from your RV! There is room for any size RV, but the road onto the mesa camping area is a bit rocky so go slow.

Photo Courtesy Robbie & Alice Simons

The switchback and forth of the river below is called an "entrenched meander", and perhaps the best example in the world. It takes the river over 5 miles to go a linear mile here. It can get windy, and there are few guard railings to keep you , your children , or your pets from falling off the rim. You will be able to watch river rafters camp and float down the river, and while this is a hot place in the summer, the short drive off the main highway is well worth the trip.

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