"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

25 Last Minute Gift Ideas for your Camping Friends

by Jim Bessey editor

What do you get for the camper who has everything?  

Here's the truth: We NEVER have everything! Campers lose things, and wear them out, and love having extras. We're not terribly picky. We're practical, too. Here are some last-minute gifts you can grab for the camping enthusiasts in your life.

Stocking Stuffers: $1 to $15
  • Non-perishable snacks, like M&Ms or goodies in tins (my favorite)
  • A nice, basic "Swiss Army"-style multi-purpose knife. Everybody loves those!
  • Fancy tins of matches or a cool butane lighter (why not both?)
  • Mini-flashlites, or inexpensive regular flashlights (you never have enough)
  • Batteries! (see above)
Small stuff, but nice: $10 to $25
  • Nifty, fancy flashlight, batteries included
  • Grill Charms™ for the gourmet chef (the coolest!)
  • Bin Buddies®, or any kind of cool organizer-type bins for storage
  • Games of all kinds -- it rains sometimes, you know! (Consider dominoes)
  • Camp chairs. Yes, really. These wear out and we always need more.
  • Books or bookstore gift cards, if your camping friend is anything like me.
Cool gifts for close friends: $20 to $50
Splurge a little, big-budget: $50 to $150
  •  Stand-up sport-style gas grill.  (Only if they don't have one) Check available accessories, too.
  • Cool, hi-tech portable radios. ("Walkie-Talkies" -- great for keeping track of teenagers)
  • A ridiculously-rugged and cool waterproof outdoor radio (you might want to keep it for yourself!)
  • Outdoor shade and shelter: new designs from EZ-Up and others are much improved. These bag-up small enough to fit under the Christmas tree!
  • Or maybe a modern straight-sided screen house (not the old slanty-sided kind!)
  • A gift card for Dick's or Gander Mountain or some other awesome outdoor store (can't go wrong!)
See? We camping nuts aren't hard to please. Big budget or small, there are lots of good gift choices for campers. Sometimes low-tech is best. If you're unsure of the appropriateness of any of these suggestions, just ask subtly before you buy. Or save the receipt.

Please note: Amazon links are provided so you can see pictures and prices -- it's WAY too late to order anything for delivery in time for Christmas!
OK, what have I forgotten? If you have more (or better!) ideas, leave them in the Comments please. Keep in mind that ANY of these gifts would be fine with me. Just sayin'...

If you had to, could you live in your camper? Think about it...

by Jim Bessey

It's when you're safe at home that you wish you were having an adventure. When you're having an adventure you wish you were safe at home. ~Thornton Wilder

Camping pool-side at Holiday Hill
What if you lost your house? Could you move into your camper as a fall-back? As we enter Year Two of The Great Recession, this isn't just an idle, round-the-campfire question. When my wife was laid-off last Christmas, we wondered how we would ever pay our $1,000+ monthly mortgage. After all, we'd been spending both of our incomes; how would we get by without her half? What if we had to move out of our home?

Were we only joking when we said, "well, we can always live in our camper"?

First, let me be clear -- this ain't no Class A Motorhome. We have a 30-year-old Shasta trailer, bought used for less than a grand and lovingly restored by all four of us. It's about 19 feet long -- counting the hitch!. Compared to our 2,000 square-foot house, it's a closet. When we're camping, it's quite comfy; but could we live in it full-time?
We do, however, have a kitchen, dining area, living room/pull-out bedroom, and a teeny tiny bathroom with a "bathtub." 

Let's talk about space.

As modern camping trailers go, ours is at the "cramped quarters" end of the spectrum. The actual floor space measures 15' by 7 1/2' for a total of just over 100 square feet. For comparison, our one-car garage is three times that size. (The trailers that FEMA supplies to disaster victims are about twice as big as ours.) We do, however, have a kitchen, dining area, living room/pull-out bedroom, and a teeny tiny bathroom with a "bathtub." We have a lot of cabinet space, considering, but only one closet. My wife would have to "adjust" to that one!

We're talking a distinct lack of amenities here.

We don't have any air-conditioning, though we do have a toasty gas furnace. We boast neither built-in radio nor flat-screen TV; we don't subscribe to Satellite TV. Our only counter space is created by covering the 4-burner stove with a Formica slab. While we do have a booth and a couch, we have no chairs inside at all. Our chairs fold up and slide into canvas bags. When we hang out, it's generally under out camper's roll-out awning, or by the campfire.
No way we could stay here in upstate NY over the winter...

And there are some serious practical considerations, too.

We can't park our rig just anywhere. We replaced our original dual-power fridge (DOA) with an electric one from Home Depot. We've never used our holding-tank water supply. We need hook-ups! That leaves out Free Parking at Wal-Mart. If we wanted to bum around, camping in our friends' or relatives' driveways, most places prohibit that, except for a weekend stay. So much for that idea.

fall evening by the campfire, at KOA
We could have a lovely summer staying at our favorite campground, for about $1,200 (seasonal rate). But that only covers about one third of the year. No way we could stay here in upstate NY over the winter, heater or not. We'd have to move South. As long as at least one of us has a job, that would make getting to work a tad inconvenient.

So what's the real answer?
We'd wake up with the sun, and go to bed earlier.

I think we could do it, for a few months -- and not in winter. We'd save a ton of money, and just have to put up with the tight quarters and lack of luxuries. As long as the weather was decent, we'd spend most of our free time outdoors. We'd have campfires all the time! (Would I get tired of them? Hope not.)

We would spend more time talking to each other, listening to the radio, and reading books. Unless, of course, we decided to spring for a dish. Most campgrounds we like have Wi-Fi, so we could stay in touch with our online friends. We'd wake up with the sun, and go to bed earlier.

I know, I know...sounds sort of idyllic, doesn't it? I'm sure we'd get on each others' nerves long about Week 2. It'd probably rain even more than it usually does. But we'd have a roof over our heads.   There's no place like home...
 Have you ever tried living in your camper? I'm sure some of you big-rig owners do it for a few months out of the year. Anybody else? Could you, if you had to?

Happy Camping Thanksgiving: 9 things I am thankful for

by Jim Bessey, editor
The boys relax at our final fall campsite at KOA Canandaigua
 Sometimes, amid the rush to get the trailer hooked up and hit the road, I forget how lucky we are to be able to take off and enjoy the great outdoors and the company of family and friends. I spent a few minutes today reflecting on our good fortune.
  • I'm thankful my wife is willing to go camping with me, and that she inspired the search for our little Shasta camper.
  • I'm thankful that my youngest son has been willing to sleep in the "loft" these past few years, with only a minor complaint now and then. What a trooper!
  • I'm thankful that my oldest is the greatest high-design campfire builder in the Northeast. His fires are works of art -- and hot, too!
  • I'm thankful that God invented all sorts of wonderful trees, so that our campfires might burn with a myriad of delightful colors and scents. I like cherry best.
  • I'm thankful that we have friends who like camping just as much as we do.
  • I'm thankful that we can still afford the gas to haul our trailer to the campground, even at $3 per gallon. Good thing there are nice camping resorts close to home.
  • I'm thankful that some campgrounds have Wi-Fi -- and that some don't.
  • I'm grateful to whomever invented the roll-out awning. Shade and shelter in two minutes -- what a concept.
  • And finally, I'm thankful to all the wonderful people who spend their summers running campgrounds -- so we have really nice places to go, with clean restrooms and cool game rooms and mini-golf and stuff.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our camping friends and campground hosts. Thank you all!
  What have I forgotten? I'd be grateful for your thoughts on Thanksgiving and camping. Anybody having turkey dinner at the table in a motorhome this year?

Which is better camping: Tents or RV's?

by Jim Bessey
There are two distinct worlds of camping: tents and RV's. Each is as different from the other as Democrat and Republican. Emotions run strong in both camps, and proponents of one often disdain supporters of the other. "That's not camping!" the tenters say to the lazy, pampered residents of recreational vehicles. "But when it rains it pours," responds the RV lovers.

I've done both, and I'll take a roof over my head every time.

Purists will tell you it isn't camping if you aren't roughing it. Their ideal comes straight from a Coors Lite commercial: pure mountain stream, isolation, Jeep Wrangler in a clearing with a breeze wafting through the towering pines, and fresh-caught trout frying on a white-gas grill. Just you, your sweetheart, a playful Golden Retriever, and a couple thousand dollars worth of fancy gear from Adirondack Outfitters immersed in the pristine beauty of Nature, capital N.

I've lived in that picture, and even felt the condescending distaste for families who claimed they were camping in their luxury Winnebago's. I'm older now, a bit more tolerant, and have learned the wisdom of keeping my wife and children happy during vacations. By the time we'd bought a cavernous tent, screen house, stand-up grill, folding tables and a fleet of camp chairs I realized that we were no longer "roughing it" at all, merely postponing the inevitable. We bought a twenty-foot trailer the next summer.

We travel and camp in relative comfort now, and spend far less time worrying about the weather forecast. We can decide to leave on a few hours' notice, and don't have to venture into the mountains or find a suitable meadow by a babbling brook to achieve vacation success. And we don't have to pee in the bushes anymore.

I love having a bathroom! My wife loves it more. She never accepted the concept of visiting a thicket to attend the call of Nature. I have to admit that stumbling about in the darkness with a feeble flashlight, searching for a proper place to relieve myself has long since lost its original charm. We brush our teeth in a sink now, and use real toilet paper. We can even take a shower in the tiny stall if we want to. Running water is such a fine amenity!

Power was always a problem when we were tenting... keep reading.

See this story as it appears on Helium.com
Reprinted from an earlier column. All rights reserved.

Would you rather camp in a tent in the wilderness, or in an RV in a campground?

Devil's Stairsteps and more: Great places to visit near Cuchara, Colorado

by J. Gustav guest author

[Editor's note -- J. Gustav is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog .]

Devils Stairstep near Cuchara Colorado
Devil's Stairstep image courtesy of The Yellow Pine Ranch website
Cuchara may be the epitome of Colorado. A small town tucked away in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, it features spectacular mountain views, the San Isabel National Forest, and the Cuchara River, which cuts right through town. For those who want to experience nature at its finest, there is plenty to do. Here are some of the top sights in and around Cuchara, as well as places to camp and stay.

Devil's Stairsteps: The Devil's Stairsteps are an amazing rock formation, a series of over 400 dikes that radiate out from the Western Spanish Peak and continue either above or below ground for as much as 25 miles.

Monument Lake: Nestled high amongst the pines, Monument Lake is a gorgeous high altitude lake. The "monument" is a rock formation in the center of the lake that rises 15 feet above water and is said to represent two Indian chiefs. Year-round fishing is offered, as are numerous camping and RV sites around the lake.

The Dakota Wall: The Dakota Wall is a giant formation of Dakota sandstone that runs all across the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Wall first broke and pushed upwards 65 million years ago, and though much of it has eroded or fallen overtime, a significant chunk of the Dakota Wall remains today.

Profile Rock: Part of The Long Wall, visitors can let their imaginations run wild at Profile Rock. Some see the outlines of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, others say they see Washington's wife Martha. Still others have claimed to see a train on a trestle, a rearing horse (or deer), or a Native American.

Lodge image courtesy of
 The Yellow Pine Ranch website
Yellow Pine Ranch & Livery: Since 1927, guests have enjoyed stays at Yellow Pine Ranch's log cabins. Summer travelers can enjoy horseback rides at the ranch, while year-round Yellow Pine offers breath-taking views of rivers and streams. No televisions or telephones are in the cabins for a true nature experience.

Circle the Wagons RV Park: For those who need more amenities, Circle the Wagons has space for RVs of all sizes, including big rigs. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, the park also has a putting green, free Wi-Fi, a club house, game room, and free movie and book libraries. But with all there is to do around Cuchara, you should never be bored.


My wife and I flew to Denver in the fall of '04, for our delayed honeymoon. We stayed in the hotel adjacent to the Denver Broncos' stadium. Since we only had a long weekend, we didn't get to see much beyond the casinos in the mountains. We spent most of our time downtown, enjoying spectacular weather, great food, and a slew of delightful stores.

When we do finally return to Colorado, we're hoping to venture far from the city to see ghost-towns, ranches, mountain parks, and more. It's all much too far from here for us to drag our Shasta camper, so we'll look for a place like the Yellow Pine Ranch.

If you've found a great destination for camping or hiking and would like to share, you can reach me via Comments or by using the link at the top of this page.

Myrtle Beach Campground will host 27th annual South Carolina Fossil Fair on Oct 30

News Release--

The Award-Winning Ocean Lakes Family Campground will host Smithsonian Institute s
cientists and offer guests a chance to see fossils from all over the world

Fossils & Dinosaurs from from Ivan Walsh
October 28, 2010, Myrtle Beach, SC: Ocean Lakes Family Campground, located along the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, SC, will host the 27th Annual South Carolina Fossil Fair Saturday, Oct. 30 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. This marks the 10th consecutive year that this fair has been held at Ocean Lakes.

Presented by the South Carolina Fossil Association, the fossil fair features museum specialists from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History’s Department of Paleobiology, who will be on hand to identify fossils brought by participants. Guests can also see fossil and shell collections from all over the world.

Hands-on activities are a big hit at the fossil fair. Learn how to recover fossils at a mock dig site. Dig for shark teeth through materials from the PCS Phosphate Mine in Aurora, NC. Participants can make necklaces with the teeth they find and add beads (supplied). Guests can also tour the Ocean Lakes’ Nature Center Discovery Lab, featuring more than 10,000 shells and fossils, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“This is a great opportunity to speak with collectors and learn more about this educational hobby,” said Barb Krumm, Director of Marketing and PR for Ocean Lakes Family Campground. “The Fossil Fair seems to get more popular each year, especially with Scout troops and school students of all ages.”

Ocean Lakes Family Campground was awarded the title of 2008-2009 National "RV Park of the Year" by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, and is the largest campground on the East Coast, with over 310 acres of campsites and beach house rentals.

For more information about Ocean Lakes Family Campground call 1-877-510-1774, visit
www.oceanlakes.com or find the campground on Facebook
About Ocean Lakes Family Campground--

Ocean Lakes Family Campground, a division of The Jackson Companies, is one of the largest campgrounds the United States. In 2010, it received the Earth Day Award from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control for its iCare Program. It is the 2008-2009 National “RV Park of the Year” and has received that honor four times.

 In 2006, Ocean Lakes received the prestigious South Carolina Governor’s Cup for making a significant economic impact on the state. Ocean Lakes offers nearly one mile of beachfront and features 3,447 sites — of which almost 900 accommodate larger RVs. It was built by Mary Emily and Nelson Jackson and their five daughters, and opened with 30 campsites and one bathhouse in 1971. On an average seasonal day, Ocean Lakes has over 25,000 guests enjoying the amenities that have made it a national vacation destination. It currently holds a 9.5/9/9 ranking out of 10/10/10 from the Trailer Life Directory for its overall operation, recreational offerings, services and appearance.

If you have a relevant Press Release you'd like to submit, you can reach me via Comments or by using the link at the top of this page.

Fall foliage in Upstate NY: A sudden and unexpected explosion of color, two weeks late

by Jim Bessey editor

Here in the Northeast the big fall leaf-peeping season typically peaks right around the Columbus Day Weekend. Not this year. In fact, we had barely reached 50% of peak by that time. Now, two weeks later...

While we were sleeping, and while the drizzly gray days had us yearning for Nap Time, the trees in the Finger Lakes Region quietly dressed themselves in spectacular colors -- finally. Some of our hardier trees still cling to green, and many others are already almost bare; but now the rest have decided to perform in brilliant fashion.

The breathtaking palate of colors is enough to distract a driver right into the guardrail. Even the willows have decided to join the party, though they tend to pause half-changed in shades of yellow and pale green like streamers of succotash. It's the oaks, maples and underrated sassafras that own the show, presenting a dazzling array of muted yellows, fiery oranges, and sizzling scarlet. The purple beeches and Japanese maples have the key cameos in shades of burgundy and port wine.

Our valleys are filled with mixed stands of birch, poplar, locust, aspen and ash. These prefer pale yellows and deerskin tan, with an occasional blaze of rusty orange mixed in. On the hillsides, however, the big trees dabble in burnt sienna, copper, and old-schoolhouse red. We have fat walnuts, massive maples, shaggy hickories, awesome oaks, more maples, stately sycamores, some big-leafed chestnuts, a spattering of elms that survived Dutch Elm disease, and a whole lot more maples. These old-forest trees have colored our wooded hills like a bomb in a paint store.

In town the smaller flowering trees like Dogwood and Crab (and a slew of others whose names I don't know) steal the show. They're dressed in soft tints of red like Cortland apples, leaves perfectly uniform in color. On every corner, by every driveway, burning bush shrubs (Euonymus alata) provide bursts of alarming cheap-lipstick red that looks nothing like fire to me. Boldest of all are the barberry bushes so dark they look like dried blood. The Reds are everywhere!

This incredible art exhibit won't last, of course. The brightest colors might not make it to the weekend. Already the fallen leaves decorate our still-green lawns like cinnamon sugar on toast. They flutter to the ground like slow-motion snowflakes -- one here, a dozen there, a flurry of a hundred with every gust of wind. There's a front coming through tonight, bringing pounding rains and threats of dangerous wind gusts. Maybe the show will be over by morning. Somehow I doubt that. Our trees have waited long past their standard deadline. I doubt they'll bare their branches to winter without a battle.

All photos copyright 2010 Jim Bessey. Reprints with attribution

Wendy hikes and photographs the paths at Fillmore Glen State Park

by Jim Bessey,  for Wendy Montreuil

It's an invigorating two- to three-hour walk, with breathtaking views of Fillmore Glen and its waterfalls, in the state park named for our 13th President. Wendy and her family took the trek in early October, just before the leaves began to turn. These are just a few of the many beautiful images she captured along the way.
Fillmore Glen features 5 major falls and numerous cascades
The hike includes stone-walled walks and several bridges across the creek
Here's a wider view of two of the 8 or so bridges
The entire glen hike passes through breathtaking scenery by the water
Fillmore Glen State Park is open throughout the year, and its adjacent camping area offers a wide array of campsites from mid-May to mid-October. The gorge trails close in November for safety reasons. During the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built most of the stone walks, stairs and bridges (seen above). Part of Dry Creek is dammed in summertime to provide a swimming area.

Round trip, the gorge trail offers a moderate to difficult five-mile hike with spectacular views. Easier access to some paved trail sections is available from the Cowsheds parking area. Find the park about one mile south of the quaint village of Moravia, birthplace of President Millard Fillmore.

Photos reprinted by permission from Wendy Monteuil, all rights reserved..
From the official Fillmore Glen State Park website:

Fillmore Glen is one of the many beautiful gorges in the Finger Lakes region. Out of all the surrounding parks (Buttermilk, Treman, Watkins Glen), Fillmore is the most rustic and closest to its natural state. Fillmore Glen  is an oasis of cool, dense woods crowding into a long, narrow gorge. Its hiking trails offer magnificent views, distinctive geological characteristics (similar to Watkins Glen), including five major waterfalls within the glen. The park has 60 campsites, a stream-fed dammed swimming area and fishing in the Owasco Lake inlet. In the winter the park is often used for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

How about you? Do you have trail hike pictures you'd like to share? You can reach me via Comments or by using the link at the top of this page.

Travel destinations: Fall Foliage in New York

by Charlotte Louise Nystrom guest author

    [Editor's note - Charlotte is a four-star writer at Helium.com from Greenville, Maine]

Canal-side trees pack a colorful punch in downtown Fairport, NY
In New York, autumn is the perfect time of year for adventure.  Temperatures cool to a perfectly comfortable setting and hover between the heat of summer and winter’s chill. Foliage falls from the sky, magically twirling in the wind, covering paths in all directions.

New York State is an ideal location to view this spectacular foliage display. The region is graced with a large volume and variety of broad-leaved trees, which lend themselves to the famously colorful horizon. In addition, the pattern of change trends toward a predictable order each fall, beginning high in the Adirondacks and Catskill mountains then venturing down towards long island as the season progresses, and lasting approximately two weeks in each location...keep reading

  Reprinted from the original published on Helium, by Charlotte Louise Nystrom. 
Read Charlotte's Profile on Helium.com

See this story as it appears on Helium.com

Just Camping Out is based in upstate NY. We publish stories and articles about enjoying the great outdoors in this beautiful tourist destination. Coming up, a new photo essay from our recent hike just down the road.

Do you have a camping or hiking-related feature you'd like to share? You can reach me via Comments or by using the link at the top of this page.

Finally, Fall Foliage finds Fairport -- in color!

by Jim Bessey editor

We've had a funny fall here in Fairport, upstate NY. Typically, peak fall colors coincide with the Columbus Day weekend; not this year. It's past mid-October now and half our trees still have green leaves. Two years ago, we had some of the most amazing fall leaf displays ever. This week, with a couple of near-freezing nights behind us, some of that brilliant foliage has finally returned to Fairport.

Red, orange, yellow and green welcome canal walkers downtown Fairport
Canal waters mirror the gorgeous sunlit fall foliage, facing west from town
Even the boat rentals join in the joyous burst of fall color near the Lift Bridge
A cheerful splash of color brightens the White Haven Mem'l Park near town
  All photos copyright 2010 Jim Bessey. Reprints with attribution.

Fairport hosts hundreds of cyclists, walkers, and shoppers during the fall foliage season. You'll find some of the most beautiful scenery along the canal, near Fairport's historic lift-bridge. If you come for the day or the weekend, you'll find plenty of choices for food and shopping within easy walking distance. There's plenty of free parking nearby, too. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite fall leaf-peeping destination? Did you go there this year? If you took pictures and would like to share your foliage finds with our readers, please contact me via Comments or by using the link at the top of this page.

Fresh off the Presses: 3rd Edition of Take A Hike – Rochester « New York Outdoors Blog

by Sue Freeman

New 3rd Edition
Yesterday, a tractor trailer truck once again pulled up to the worldwide headquarters of Footprint Press, Inc. (i.e. our home). This time, its contents were the bright new 3rd edition of “Take A Hike – Family Walks in the Rochester, NY Area.” The new, updated edition lost a few trails, added quite a few new ones and now sports 67 places to go for a walk in the greater Rochester area.

The books aren’t in the pipeline yet so you won’t find any at Amazon or bookstores. But, You can order them from our web site: TAH-Roch
Add a request in the comments line and we’d be glad to autograph one for you.
This press release comes from the New York Outdoors blog, hosted by Rich and Sue Freeman. I've said it before and it bears repeating -- this is a great resource for NY State residents and tourists who love the outdoors. Always filled with info about hiking, camping, kayaking, and nature.

Our most recent posted hike was at Powder Mills Park: Trillium, Ridge and Hatchery Trails (photos!)

We hike Powder Mills Park trails: Trillium, Ridge, and the Hatchery Trail (photos!)

by Jim Bessey, editor

Before the leaves began to fall, we took a good long afternoon hike in Powder Mills Park, near Victor NY. Trails there range from easy to more than moderate, passing through beautiful stands of northern hardwoods and evergreens. 

The park includes nearly 400 acres of forested hills and green meadows. There's room for picnics, ballgames, and group gatherings in widely scattered shelters. Don't miss the Fish Hatchery or the amazing Mushroom House near the northeast entrance off Route 96.

The Trillium Trail is perfect for a weekend walk in the woods
We started out from the East Area shelter lot at the Trillium trail-head. It's a level stroll along the wetlands, along a steep hillside filled with towering maple, beech, white oak and sassafras. Trillium forms a loop with Ridge, so we veered uphill right away and climbed onto the Ridge Trail.

The Ridge Trail is a good climb through stands of oak, sassafras and maple
The Ridge follows atop a steep slope that leads down to the Trillium trail
Nick conquers a fallen tree above the big Ridge drop-off
Wetlands border the lower Trillium section, with branch trails leading in
At the eastern end, the Ridge Trail ends and hikers can descend to rejoin the Trillium for the trip back to the parking lot. We took a couple of side trips into the wetlands alongside. This is a view from one of the wooden bridges leading across the marsh.

The Ridge/Trillium loop made a fine one-mile hike that left us warmed-up for more. So we backtracked to the Fish Hatchery and trekked into the hilly woods north of Park Road there.

The Hatchery's blue loop wanders among a mixture of young and old trees
Sometimes it's tough to locate the trail among the twisted trees there
Looking up, from the trail, at the grandeur above

After struggling to find our way among the confusing blue blazes of the Hatchery loop, we'd had enough of the Powder Mills' woods for one weekend. It's a gorgeous park with several more miles of trails for us to discover ... on another day.

Up next, we tackle a lovely trail that begins just over a mile from our front door.
All photos copyright 2010 - Jim Bessey. Reprints provided with attribution.
Have you found a great hike in your area? Contact me here if you'd like to post pics and commentary.
NOTE: I've been remiss in announcing our Motorola Give-Away winner. I'll make that announcement later on this weekend. Thanks to everyone who entered, for your patience!

America’s Largest RV Show Prepares for Another Record-Breaking Year in Hershey, PA

Press Release from PA RV & Camping Association:

See the (linked) website for additional information and show details
Camp Hill, PA -- RV season [is] in full swing and the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show, America’s Largest RV Show, is preparing for another record-breaking show in Hershey, PA.

“The 2009 PA RV & Camping Show had a record year with over 34,000 people in attendance,” Rebecca Lenington, PA RV & Camping Association (PRVCA) Executive Vice President says. “We are determined to exceed expectations once again in 2010 with increased marketing and a new Industry Days format that better benefits exhibitors and attendees.”

The PA RV & Camping Show is the first show in the nation with 2011 products and has the largest display of Park Trailers in the country. There’s no better place for companies to promote their latest products, talk to their current customers and network with new contacts. The Show is also unique because it incorporates both trade and retail days creating a successful hybrid show that benefits the RV industry and consumers alike.

The deposit deadline to participate in the Show Drawing was April 8th and the drawing [was] held May 4th at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center. At press time, 523,586 square feet ha[d] been sold, which exceeds the amount of show space sold in 2009 by 16.6%.

For more information on how reserve your space at America’s Largest RV Show or to register for the event, visit www.largestRVshow.com or call 888 303 2887.
Editor's note:  You may have trouble finding nearby accommodations at this late date, since you aren't allowed to stay overnight in the show RV's. I'd imagine that local campgrounds are full; ditto any close motels/hotels. Still, it's a major show well worth attending if you can. And if you go, consider stopping back here with a report-back!

Class-A motorhome in New York, from Hawaii ~ Any ideas for what might be the best overland route?

by Jim Bessey, editor

When we're camping, we often take a walking tour of the campground, marveling at the distances some campers have traveled to join us here. On our most recent stay we saw motorhomes with plates from Montana and Texas. During our stroll this afternoon, we spotted a beautiful cruiser whose plate made us look twice. I think this one will hold the distance record for the foreseeable future.

see inset ~ no further explanation required!
We haven't yet taken any long-distance trips with our trailer, especially since gas went up; but we will. What's the farthest you've ever traveled while camping?

Dansville Balloon Fest: The joke was on us, and more pictures from 2009

by Jim Bessey, editor

We got up at dawn on Labor Day to race down to Dansville's Festival of Balloons (NYSFB at Dansville). We were running a bit behind, but made good time to the airfield, only to find that the festival had ended on Sunday. The joke was on us, and I won't have new pictures from the 2010 launch. In fact, the weather was so fickle during the weekend, I'm not sure if they launched at all.

As a consolation prize, here are the photos of fancy balloons I promised last year but never delivered. I'm sure some or all of these beautiful hot air balloons was in attendance this year, too.

Dansville Balloon Fest barn balloon
The fancy balloons prepare for launch at Dansville Balloon Fest

Dansville Balloon Fest barn balloon aloft
Don't forget to close the barn door!
Dansville Balloon Fest purple-winged balloon aloft
This one's got speckled wings for extra lift aloft.
Dansville Balloon Fest Bricker's french fries balloon
A blatant plug for Bricker's "famous" french fries. Cool, huh?
Dansville Balloon Fest buck-toothed balloon
I'm sure this bucktoothed guy has a name. And ideas?
Dansville Balloon Fest purple people eater balloon
Wake me up! Seems like I've seen this one in my nightmares.

All photos copyright 2009 - reprints available on request.
We're disappointed that we missed the Balloon Fest this year -- it's become a tradition of ours to stay at Skybrook Campground overlooking the airfield in the valley. In fact, last year we watched the balloonists sail directly over our campsite shorty after we arrived. This year the weekend's weather just wasn't great for camping, so we went hiking instead. I'll have pictures from that adventure later this week.

That's the final batch of hot air balloon pics from 2009. You can see the first group of balloon photos here, and the second round of hot air balloons in the air here. If you have pictures from 2010's Festival of Balloons and want to share, please contact me via Comments or by using the link at the top of this page.