Wildness is a Necessity: Interest in Camping Is at an All-Time High Following COVID-19 Outbreak

Now, more than ever before, it is evident that the outdoors is vital to our wellbeing.

The international ripple of COVID-19 has dealt a crippling hand to select businesses and industries. And yet, unfamiliar circumstances have simultaneously provided others unparalleled profitability—and not just those in the toilet paper or hand sanitizer industries.

Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sales of bicycles, for example, have spiked so significantly in the U.S. that the nation is now facing a shortage—especially on low-end models—as overworked suppliers struggle to keep up with the never-before-seen demand.

Along the Colorado River, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Similarly, public interest in camping has increased exponentially in the months since the nation first locked its doors. A dread of at-home confinement has led to the American public turning its eyes toward the outdoors, according to recent data.

Along the Mississippi River, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some families have spent decades loading up the camper and heading to the lakes and forests for a week or two of relaxation. But thanks to a drastic change in travel habits, some folks are now getting that first camper and discovering state parks. It’s the kind of family getaway that’s been around for a long time, hitching up the camper, or loading the motorhome, or packing a tent and heading to a state park. Those campsites are tucked away in piney hills, laid out along clear-water lakes or streams, or nestled among the oak trees in a mountain hideaway.

Parker Canyon Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The renowned naturalist John Muir wrote that “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

The world has changed immensely since he wrote this in 1901. People, now more than ever, seek the benefits of nature.

Pinnacles National Park,California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Safe Ways to Recreate Outside This Summer

Now, more than ever before, it is evident that the outdoors is vital to our wellbeing.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As states and local communities continue to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, guidelines about what activities are safest and where people should visit continue to evolve. Many are seeking opportunities for outdoor recreation, including visits to the nation’s public lands, waterways, and public spaces like parks and trails.

Artisan Village, Berea, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With the summer season in full swing, the Recreate Responsibly Coalition released an update to its tips, initially released in May, for safely recreating outdoors. The coalition first came together two months ago as a group of two dozen organizations based in Washington State. Since then, the group has grown into a diverse, nationwide community of over 500 businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, outdoor media, and influencers. The coalition’s common ground is a shared love of the outdoors, a desire to help everyone experience the benefits of nature, and a belief that by sharing best practices, people can get outside safely and help keep our parks, trails, and public lands open.

Along the Tech at St. Martinsville, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The overall #RecreateResponsibly message remains simple: We all have a role to play in keeping people, places, and communities safe as we enjoy the outdoors this summer and beyond. 

The latest #RecreateResponsibly guidelines are:

  • Know Before You Go—Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a backup plan.
  • Plan Ahead—Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack lunch, and bring essentials like hand sanitizer.
  • Explore Locally—Limit long-distance travel and make use of local parks, trails, and public spaces. Be mindful of your impact on the communities you visit.
  • Practice Physical Distancing—Keep your group size small. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.
  • Play It Safe—Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained.
  • Leave No Trace—Respect public lands and waters, as well as Native and local communities. Take all your garbage with you.
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Wilderness needs no defense, only more defenders.

—Edward Abbey

Adventure is Just around the (Four) Corners

The Four Corners area represents more than the connection point of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico

Due to changing advisories, please check local travel guidelines before visiting.

Canyon de Chelly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A tourism destination by itself or a perfect addition to Arches and Canyonlands itineraries, Four Corners is a journey into sweeping landscapes with human and geologic history. Culturally, the region is a combination of Mexican, Mormon, Navajo, Hopi, Ute, and Zuni ancestry. It is a part of the Colorado Plateau, a geological formation responsible for much of the snow and rainfall over the central U. S.

Here are eight adventures in the Four Corners region that RV travelers shouldn’t miss.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

The iconic landscape of Monument Valley symbolizes the American West with its towering buttes and sweeping skies. Located on the Utah-Arizona border, a 17-mile loop drive takes visitors through the park with guided tours also available which allow access to more remote areas of the park. The 3.2-mile Wildcat Trail is open for unguided hiking. A $20 cash-only fee is charged to enter the park, and the on-site The View Campground has views living up to its name.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell

Stretching from the beginning of the Grand Canyon at Lees Ferry in Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is graced with scenic views, unique geology, and evidence of 10,000 years of human history. Within the recreation area, Lake Powell is the second largest man-made lake in the U. S. and is widely recognized as a premier boating destination.

Natural Bridges National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges is home to three expansive rock arches and the first International Dark Sky Park. Though less accessible than Utah’s national parks, it is just as grand. At 6,500-feet in elevation atop the massive Cedar Mesa the park is a little cooler in the heat of summer than other parks. Abundant hiking, stargazing, and canyoneering make this a quiet haven for those looking to explore a little off the beaten path.

Canyon de Chelly showing Spider Rock © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Canyon de Chelly offers a spectacular collection of sheer red sandstone cliffs forming a maze of canyons that all lead into the main Canyon de Chelly. Although none of the cliffs exceeds 1,000 feet the huge 800-foot monolith Spider Rock is an awesome sight. Part of the Navajo Reservation, Canyon de Chelly is also home to thousands of Ancestral Pueblo ruins and archaeological sites dating as far back as 2500 BC.

Hovenweep National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hovenweep National Monument

Once home to over 2,500 people, Hovenweep includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Explore a variety of structures, including multistory towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders. The construction and attention to detail will leave you marveling at the skill and motivation of the builders.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park (Spanish for green table) was established to preserve archaeological sites built by the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited Mesa Verde for more than 700 years (550 A.D. to 1300 A.D.). Currently Mesa Verde has over 4,700 archaeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings and the mesa top sites of pithouses, pueblos, masonry towers, and farming structures. These sites are some of the most notable and best-preserved dwellings in the U. S.

Navajo Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Navajo Bridge

Navajo Bridge was the only vehicle structure spanning the Grand Canyon until it was replaced in 1995 by a new bridge immediately next to it. The old bridge was kept as a pedestrian bridge, and today visitors can walk across and take in the beginning of the Grand Canyon at Marble Canyon and the Colorado River 467 feet below. Often seen are Grand Canyon rafters and endangered California condors with nine-foot-wide wing spans.

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park, formed by the currents and tributaries of Utah’s Green and Colorado rivers is home to many different types of travel experiences from solitude in the more remote stretches of the park to moderate hikes through Islands in the Sky and the Needles district.

Worth Pondering…

Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.

—Lawrence Block

Advice to Help You Get Outside This Summer

Tips for people who don’t really camp but kinda want to camp

It’s the summer of camping. It’s the summer of RV rentals and takeout picnics, of visiting national parks, and exploring small towns. Summer has always been the season of road trips, but this year, being able to escape the four walls you’ve been quarantining in holds even more appeal.

Versailles, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After spending half the year cooped up inside due to a certain virus we’re all sick of thinking about, our need for a good old fashioned camping trip has never been greater.

But camping can be intimidating, especially for first-timers. The key is preparation.

Babcock State Park, West Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What to bring (sunscreen and socks!), what to do (hike and stargaze!), and what to know (bears and bug prevention!) for a successful camping trip.

Socks might be the most important thing you pack. No kidding! Wet socks—whether from rain, mud, sweat, or a wet trail—make feet blister easier which can pretty much end your fun times right there.

Quail Gate State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To avoid unwanted run-ins with bears and other wily critters, you’ll need to put all of your “smellables” away (this includes toothpaste). If you plan on doing any hiking in bear country, invest in some bear spray.

Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t forget the deet. And don’t stress about it too much, either. Past health problems caused by the insect repellent were mostly due to overapplication and ingestion. If you apply as the label recommends (once a day, to exposed skin only), and wash it off at the end of the day, you’ll be fine. It certainly beats risking mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile—or the woes of being the mosquito magnet at camp.

An added benefit of camping: You might just wake up to the sight of a rugged mountain range bathed in morning sunlight, like we did in the photo below at Catalina State Park.

Catalina State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shutdown-induced boredom renewed our appreciation for scenic drives; now, we’re going full-on day trip, complete with roadside attractions, oldies on the radio, and a cooler in the back—but wait. 

Weekenders, meanwhile, are back in love with RVs. According to industry predictions, 46 million people plan to hit the road in an RV this summer. And it’s not just seniors getting in on the wonderful world of sewer drains and s’mores; millenials who used to roll their eyes at their parents’ traditional ways are largely behind the wheel. 

Camping in Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Those motorhomes, camper vans, and trailers are bottlenecking the national parks which are reopening across the country to renewed enthusiasm. For self-contained campers—those whose idea of roughing it includes being able to keep all your stuff within 10 feet—campsite reservations are among the hottest tickets to be had. Want to camp in Arches? Check back in October, when some spots might open up.

Buccaneer State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With the more popular parks at capacity, people are discovering America’s beautiful B-sides: Enter national forests with millions of acres to explore and hardly any people. America’s 154 national forests cover more than 188 million acres across 40 states: three times the total area protected by the 62 national parks. State parks, county and regional parks, and the lesser-loved national parks are now as valid a destination as Disney World reminding us that sprawling protected lands should never be taken for granted. So yeah, you’ve got options in these favorite often-overlooked natural playgrounds from coast to coast.

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These throwbacks to the “good old days” have always been available to us. But a funny thing happened this spring when we all started to hunker down, faced with unprecedented anxiety about the still-uncertain future: Collectively, people yearned not just for fresh air, but for the familiar

World’s Largest Pistachio Nut, Alamogordo, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The past is telling us that the best way to experience the present is to hop in an oversized vehicle and hit the road. To take a three-hour detour to see the world’s largest pistachio nut or some cute little town that somebody said has good pie. To struggle with a cheap popup tent and tell ghost stories with our friends. To get out this summer and barrel down the highway to rediscover places from our youth.

Discover cute little towns like Midway, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For now, those simple pleasures of discovery and escape from an increasingly fraught world—and sometimes, that’s enough.

Worth Pondering…

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.

—Douglas Adams

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Naturally

A Delaware-sized museum of sedimentary erosion that walks you down through a 200-million-year-old staircase

Due to changing advisories, please check local travel guidelines before visiting.

So called for the series of plateaus that descend from Bryce Canyon south toward the Grand Canyon, marked by vertical drops at the Pink Cliffs, Grey Cliffs, White Cliffs, Vermillion Cliffs, and Chocolate Cliffs. Lots of colorful scenery herein, natch! They ought to call it the Grand Stare-case.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The sense of wonder inspired by the magnificent beauty of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument excites the imagination and invites exploration of the natural world. Within this vast and untamed wilderness, visitors find places for recreation and solitude.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This is a huge area consisting of a maze of sandstone cliffs, canyons, and plateaus. The Canyons are part of a natural basin surrounded by higher areas of the Colorado Plateau. Parts of the Colorado Plateau, such as the Aquarius Plateau, rise to above 11,000 feet, while lower parts of the canyons empty towards Lake Powell at 3,700 feet.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument dominates any map of southern Utah and spans 1.7 million acres of America’s public lands between the Utah-Arizona border to Bryce Canyon National Park on the west and Capitol Reef National Park on the east. It is unique in that it is the first monument to be administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), rather than the National Park Service.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Entry into the national monument is by two paved roads: Highway 89 between Kanab and Big Water on its southern end and All American Road Scenic Byway 12 between Bryce Canyon and Boulder on the north. Johnson Canyon Road and Burr Trail are two other hardened-gravel access roads. All the other roads into the Monument are dirt, clay, or sand. Caution should be exercised when traveling on unpaved roads as conditions can change quickly and dramatically depending on the weather. High clearance four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended. Services, smart phone access, and water are generally not available.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The monument is a geologic sampler, with a huge variety of formations, features, and world-class paleontological sites. A geological formation spanning eons of time, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a territory of multicolored cliffs, plateaus, mesas, buttes, pinnacles, and canyons. It is divided into three distinct sections: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Despite their different topographies, these three sections share certain qualities: great distances, enormously difficult terrain, and a remoteness rarely equaled in the lower forty-eight states. Human activities are limited on these lands, yet their very remoteness and isolation attract seekers of adventure or solitude and those who hope to understand the natural world through the Monument’s wealth of scientific information.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Grand Staircase rises in broad, tilted terraces. From the south the terraces step up in great technicolor cliffs: vermilion, white, gray, pink. Together these escarpments expose 200 million years of the earth’s history.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The highest part of the Monument is the Kaiparowits Plateau. From the air, the Plateau appears to fan out southward from the town of Escalante into an enormous grayish green triangle, ending far to the south at Lake Powell and the Paria Plateau. The 42-mile-long Straight Cliffs mark the eastern edge of the plateau, ending at Fiftymile Mountain in the southeast.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To the north of Fiftymile Bench is the Aquarius Plateau, dominated by the 11,000-foot Boulder Mountain. To the east lies an expanse of pale Navajo sandstone which the Escalante River and its tributaries, flowing down from the plateau, have carved into a maze of canyons. In this arid territory, it is ironically water that has done the most to shape the landscape.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As intriguing as it is beautiful, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument also provides remarkable possibilities for scientific research and study. Researchers continue to uncover new insight about how the land was formed and the life it sustains.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What scientists are learning and the methods they use to understand what it all means can be discovered at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument visitors centers located in the communities of Kanab, Big Water, Cannonville, and Escalante. With so much information to share, each visitor center’s interpretive exhibits focus on different scientific themes, including paleontology (Big Water), geology and archaeology (Kanab), the human landscape (Cannonville), biology, botany, and eology (Escalante).

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Through interpretive exhibit, visitors learn about the spectacular Monument resources and gain a greater appreciation for the natural world.

Worth Pondering…

There is something very special about the natural world, and each trip outdoors is like an unfinished book just waiting for you to write your own chapter.

—Paul Thompson

Camping Etiquette: Getting Away From Each Other & Doing It Together

Be smart. Be kind. Be considerate.

Since I am writing this article during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ll start with the caveat that camping etiquette now includes respecting the health of others by maintaining social distancing and sanitary protocols. Much as we crave our former levels of interaction, this is a time when it’s absolutely okay to politely decline an invitation to a potluck or other gathering—unless you know your neighbors well and/or are comfortable with the level of safety precautions that will be taken.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With the arrival of summer, one thing is certain. Americans and Canadians will flee the cities by the thousands in search of open space and a chance to get away from the rest of us. The situation is akin to the hippie movement of the ’60s when everyone was being different but doing it all together.

Jack’s Landing RV Resort, Grants Pass, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That means that virtually every campground and outdoor recreation venue within four hours of every major cities will be full each and every weekend—full of people getting away from it all and doing it together.

Eagles Landing RV Park, Auburn, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan ahead and take care of last-minute errands sooner rather than later since a brief stop on the way out of town Friday afternoon could cost you that last available camping spot.

Campground courtesy (the unwritten rules of etiquette) is an easy way to ensure that a group of people living in close proximity together where sounds travel and light can be a disturbance continue to camp together in harmony.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spending time in a campground requires a certain level of community patience and a willingness to live and let live, there are some basic rules of camping etiquette that will help create a friendly atmosphere and make the camping experience more enjoyable for everyone.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be friendly and greet other campers. Again, this is part of being within the camping community and even though you may not know the other people, you all have a common goal of enjoying the camping experience.

Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep in mind that I may be in the campground to get away from it all and wish to hear the wind blowing through the aspens, the chatter of squirrels, or perhaps the call of a jay. While I recognize your right to enjoy a little music, I don’t necessarily share your musical taste unless, of course, it’s Willie’s “On the road again…“. That is why they make headphones.

Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In that same vein, remember not all generators are created equal. Some are designed to run very quietly, and others are not. Quiet hours are there for a reason.

Follow the campground rules and regulations. These rules usually include speed limits, fire regulations, quiet times, and so on. Adhering to these rules is one of the basics of campground etiquette. Be sure to review and enforce the rules with your children, as well.

Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be considerate when arriving late or leaving early. If you arrive at the campsite after dark or leave before dawn, remember that others may be sleeping. Be as unobtrusive as possible. If setting up, do the least amount you need to get through the night and keep voices quiet and lights dim. If you are leaving early, pack up the bulk of your items the day before so you can make a quick get away with the least amount of disturbance possible.

Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contain yourself and your camping gear and supplies within your campsite area. When you set up your RV, don’t allow slideouts or awnings to extend beyond your site and into the neighboring  area. Keep all belongings, chairs, mats, toys, etc. within your campsite. If you need to place your satellite dish in another campsite in order to receive a signal, ask for permission from the people occupying the site.

Custer State Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another common misstep is that of walking through another person’s camp without being invited. Treat other campsites as private property. A campsite is a person’s home away from home. When someone is set up in a campsite, that site becomes their property for the duration of their stay. It is their personal space, and it should be treated that way. Never cut across another occupied site without permission. If the washrooms or beach access are on the other side of a site, walk around.

Lockhart State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be a responsible pet owner. If you are traveling with pets, make sure they are well taken care of. Keep dogs on leashes whenever they are outside so they are not bothering your neighbors and discourage them from barking. Never leave a dog that barks or howls unattended. Clean up after your pet—always.

Deadhorse Point State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clean up after yourself. When you prepare to exit the campsite, be sure to remove all trash regardless of its origin. Always leave the campsite as clean, or cleaner, than it was when you arrived. The camp host and the next camper will appreciate it.

The bottom line is that camping requires us to respect the land and one another. When it comes down to it, continued success of this ongoing social experiment requires it.

Monahans Sandhill State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Have an enjoyable and safe camping summer.

Worth Pondering…

When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

Celebrating Independence Day during the Pandemic

Happy Birthday, USA! Like all birthdays this summer, celebration will probably look a little different than usual.

2020 is shaping up to be the summer—maybe even the year—of the road trip. Pent up demand to get out of town is ramping up with millions of Americans planning to hit the highway for Fourth of July.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After months of staying home, many Americans are itching to get away during the Fourth of July holiday bringing a bump up in travel, particularly short trips by car or recreational vehicle. But many vacationers also appear to be making last-minute decisions as they navigate travel restrictions, canceled fireworks, and uncertainty amid rising coronavirus cases across much of the country.

Road trip along the Blue Ridge Highway in North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A recent story in the Detroit News indicated that sales of bikes, kayaks, and other outdoor gear is at an all-time high, and in fact, some major outdoor retailers are completely sold out of these items. The owner of a bike store in the region stated that he has had his two best months of bike-related accessories and bike repair in over 20 years of business.

Hiking in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Recent studies have shown that people are beginning to return to travel, but they are looking for unique outdoor experiences, as is being proven by their outdoor equipment purchasing habits. Also, people can travel and enjoy the outdoors in such a manner that allows for social distancing. The trend coincides with the most significant increase in Google “camping” searches in nearly a decade.

Canoeing in Stephen Foster State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Having all you need at your fingertips including kitchen, bedroom, toilet and shower, and entertainment center coupled with the ability to easily change course adds to a sense of freedom following COVID-19’s lengthy lockdown.

Fishing at Lynx Lake near Prescott, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not everyone is venturing out to cure cabin fever. Only 18 percent of Americans have taken an overnight trip since March, according to a survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. A majority said they have no plans to travel for the rest of 2020.

Utah Scenic Byway 12, an All-American Road © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the latest projections from the AAA, Americans will take more than 700 million trips this summer but that number is down nearly 15 percent or 120 million trips from last July through September. It’s the first decline in summer travel since 2009 when cash-strapped Americans were trying to climb out of the recession. Airline travel is expected to see a nosedive of 74 percent due to coronavirus fears while cruises, buses, and train travel will be further sunk by about 86 percent.

Fishing at Port Aransas, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That’s where the good old American road trip comes in. Nationally, road-tripping will only decrease by 3 percent with 683 million summer road trips still taking place. Awareness of crowds, self-contained travel, and lower fuel prices are changing the name of the travel game. The spirit of the open road and freedom that comes with departing your driveway has been a staple of travel for generations.

Camping in Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Popular destinations and even some states may raise or lower their restrictions at the drop of a hat. But driving gives people a chance to change their travel plans at the last minute.

Camping at Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With all due respect, summer 2020 is probably not the best time to live out your Jack Kerouac fantasy. Planning in advance is essential, and that includes a pandemic-specific packing list.

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AAA lists masks, Lysol wipes, toilet paper, gloves, sanitizer, health insurance cards, and thermometer as the new road trip essentials. Make sure to stock up your COVID kit before departure: These items are in high demand and may be out of stock.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are requiring travelers from states with outbreaks to self-quarantine for 14 days. Other states have varying policies and recommendations. Before you head out to camp for the July 4th weekend, or any weekend, be sure to CALL FIRST.

Although we all need to maintain social distancing and follow CDC guidelines for avoiding the COVID-19 virus, your family can still enjoy the July 4th celebration.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Go camping – Camping is a) perfect for social distancing b) surrounded by natural air filters and c) an excellent excuse to go offline. As we’ve been saying, camping and the outdoors are the safest ways to enjoy nature and have fun.

Saguaro Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Picnic with your family – Grill those favorites…burgers, hot dogs, potatoes, and make s’mores over your campfire. 

Worth Pondering…

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

―Marie Curie

Mount St. Helens: On the Eruption 40 Years Ago & Future Eruptions

Before Mount St. Helens blew its top it was a beautifully symmetric rounded snow-capped mountain that stood between two jagged peaks, Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams

Mount St. Helens, located in southwestern Washington, is one of several lofty volcanic peaks that dominate the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest; the range extends from Mount Garibaldi in British Columbia to Lassen Peak in northern California. Geologists call Mount St. Helens a composite volcano (or stratovolcano), a term for steepsided, often symmetrical cones constructed of alternating layers of lava flows, ash, and other volcanic debris.

Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forty years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted, killing 57 people and leveling the surrounding region. At 8:32 a.m. that fateful day, a 5.1 earthquake rattled the volcano, triggering an explosion of fluid. The north face of the volcano collapsed altogether. The eruption of Mount St. Helens caused the largest landslide in recorded history sweeping through the Toutle River Valley and removing 1,306 feet from the top of the volcano.

Mount St. Helens from Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The powerful lava flow, savage winds, and deadly heat destroyed much of the previous landscape. What the mountain left behind is the history of a violent eruption that shook the surrounding region and left many with stories of that tumultuous day on May 18, 1980.

Mount St. Helens from Hoffstadt Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Four visitor centers tell the story of the mountain and the people living in the region surrounding it. The awesome views from each of the centers bring you face to face with a monumental natural event. 

People remember the thick, dark plumes of clouds that day, the choking ash and lightning bolts that catapulted across the skies. That terrifying, apocalyptic scene is forever seared in the memory of so many.

Mount St. Helens from Lowitt Viewpoint © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since that natural disaster, scientists have made considerable progress in tracking volcanic activity, but more still needs to be done. Seismologist and former University of Washington professor Dr. Steve Malone was one of many experts who had been tracking warning signs of the eventual eruption for months in advance. He said there’s a real threat for another eruption in the decades ahead.

Mount St. Helens from Lowitt Viewpoint © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While he says Mount St. Helens is the most likely to erupt next, Mt. Rainier is considered the most dangerous volcano of the Cascades, largely because it’s surrounded by communities that are heavily populated.

There are five major volcanoes in the Washington Cascades, including Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and of course, Mount Saint Helens. Mt. Hood in Oregon also poses a threat.

On the road to Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“The one we think is sort of the most frightening in many respects are what are called lahars or volcanic mudflows, that can travel down valleys and be totally devastating to anything within that valley,” Malone said.

While scientists can’t predict volcanic explosions with any precision, there can be warning signs up to a week in advance of an eruption.

On the road to Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“I think Mount St. Helens triggered that awareness, that says ‘hey, we really need to pay more attention to these’ and there’s not just Mount St. Helens, but the other cascade volcanoes as well,” Malone said.

Seismologists say scientists will likely never be able to predict future volcanic eruptions with a great level of accuracy and precision, better monitoring stations on the volcanoes can help. While there’s an adequate number of volcano monitoring stations at Mount St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, more are needed on other Washington volcanoes like Glacier Peak.

On the road to Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) says we cannot forget the message that Mount St. Helens communicated all those years ago. The mountains are beautiful, but they also have the potential to create these hazardous eruptions.

On the road to Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Congress has authorized $55 million to better track volcanoes across the country, but they have yet to invest that money. Even still, the PNSN says it’s working on plans to implement those monitoring devices for once those funds are appropriated and any permits have been granted.

Mount St. Helens Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Each volcano is an independent machine—nay, each vent and monticule is for the time being engaged in its own peculiar business, cooking as it were its special dish, which in due time is to be separately served.

—Clarence Edward Dutton, American geologist (1841-1912)

June 2020 RV Manufacturer Recalls

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

When a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

Hidden Valley RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

NHTSA announced 26 recall notices during June 2020. These recalls involved 10 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (9 recalls), Keystone RV Company (4 recalls), Thor Motor Coach (4 recalls), Jayco (3 recalls), KZRV (1 recall), Triple E (1 recall), Highland Ridge RV (1 recall), Airstream (1 recall), Grand Design (1 recall), and Newell (1 recall).

Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Surveyor Travel Trailers, model SVT296QBLE. The safety chains are insufficient for the trailer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and may break in the event of the trailer coming unhitched.

Forest River will notify owners, and a dealer or service center will replace the safety chains, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 1, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-3112. Forest River’s number for this recall is 37-1170.

Tri-Mountain RV Park, Ridgefield, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Coachmen Mirada and Pursuit Class A motorhomes. The gasoline-powered generator fuel supply hose may leak.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the fuel hose, replacing it if necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 6, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-825-8212. Forest River’s number for this recall is 310-1168.

Katy Lake RV Resort, Katy, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Haulin, US Cargo, and US Cargo Trail N Sport cargo trailers. The safety chains are insufficient for the trailer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and may break if the trailer comes unhitched.

Forest River will notify owners, and a dealer or service center will replace the safety chains, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 8, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-848-1335. Forest River’s number for this recall is 24-1167.

Buccaneer State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021 Prime Time Avenger travel trailers. The safety chains that help prevent a total trailer separation may have been incorrectly attached to the trailer.

Forest River will notify owners, and a dealer or service center will install the missing safety chain attaching hardware, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 15, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-862-1025. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-1163.

A+ Motel & RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021 FR3 recreational vehicles built on a Ford chassis with a V8 engine. The wiring harness may have an incorrect wire connected to the parking brake, allowing the leveling jacks to deploy inadvertently while the vehicle is in motion.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will correct the wiring harness, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 29, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-206-7600. Forest River’s number for this recall is 68-1178.

Terre Haute KOA, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021 Cherokee Wolf Pack toyhaulers, model CKF325PACK13. The propane gas line may be routed around sharp edges which may cause a propane leak.

Forest River will notify owners and dealers will reroute the propane line and/or replace it if necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin August 5, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-260-499-2100. Forest River’s number for this recall is 73-1182.

Creek Fire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Coachmen Galleria, Dynamax Isata, and Forest River Battisti Coach, Forester, and Sunseeker motorhomes, built on 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. The rear part of the front fender liner may contact and chafe the brake hose, possibly resulting in a loss of brake fluid.

Forest River will notify owners, and Mercedes-Benz or Freightliner Sprinter dealers will inspect and replace the brake hoses, as necessary. Additionally, the fender liners will be modified. All services will be performed free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 29, 2020. Owners may contact DVUSA customer service at 1-877-762-8267. DVUSA’s number for this recall is VS3BRADVER. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-1177.

Eagel’s Landing RV Park, Holt, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020 Surveyor recreational trailers equipped with a specific 30K BTU furnace. The furnace may not have been properly secured inside the furnace cabinet, allowing it to move freely inside the cabinet.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will secure the furnace and verify the exhaust vent connections, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 29th, 2020. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-3119 Option 2. Forest River’s number for this recall is 47-1175.

West Creek Casino RV Park, Atmore, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Coachmen Galleria and PRISM, Forest River Forester, Battisti and Sunseeker and Dynamax Isata recreational vehicles built on Sprinter chassis with automatic transmission. The operator’s manual does not correctly specify certain conditions under which the automatic parking function (“Auto-P”) operates.

Forest River will notify owners, and Mercedes-Benz dealers will provide the correct description of the Auto-P function for the Operator’s Manual, free of charge. The manufacturer has not provided a notification schedule for this recall. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-800-348-7440 or Sprinter service at 1-877-762-8267. The booklet with correct information is also available online through Mercedes-Benz, free of charge.

Cochise Terrace RV Resort, Benson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Cougar travel trailers, model 24RDS, equipped with a Furrion range cook top. The interior range cooktop is installed in a cabinet that may not be entirely sealed from the furnace cavity. As a result, during furnace operation, the interior range cooktop burner flame may invert.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the interior range cooktop with the furnace running, installing a plywood panel to seal it as necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 17, 2020. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 20-377.

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020 Springdale trailers, model 295BHWE. The Federal Identification Tag incorrectly indicates the tire load range and size as ST255/75R15E with 80 psi; however, the correct load range and tire size is ST255/75R15D with 65 psi. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.”

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will replace the Federal Identification Tag. This recall is expected to begin July 27, 2020. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 20-378.

12 Tribes Casino RV Park, Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020 Springdale trailers, model 335BHWE. The affected trailers incorrectly have 4400 pound axles and ST255/75R15D tires and rims, instead of the correct 5200 pound axles and ST255/75R15E tires and rims as specified on the Federal Identification Tag.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will replace the 4400 pound axles, ST225/75R15D tires, and rims with 5200 pound axles, ST225/75R15E tires, and rims. This recall is expected to begin July 27, 2020. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 20-379.

Eagle’s Landing RV Park, Auburn, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020 Alpine, Avalanche, Fuzion, Laredo, Montana, Raptor, Crossroads Redwood, and Dutchmen Voltage trailers. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal frame of the frameless windows may fail which can allow the glass to detach while moving.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 29, 2020. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 20-375.

Leaf Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2020-2021 Quantum, Chateau and Four Winds, and 2020 Vegas and Axis motorhomes built on a Ford E-series chassis. A wire harness in the rear of the vehicle may contact the vehicle frame, resulting in damage to the circuits that support the fuel pump and the anti-lock braking system (ABS).

TMC will notify owners, and Ford dealers will inspect the wire harness for damage. If no damage is found, dealers will apply anti-abrasion tape over the area and ensure clearance to surrounding components. If damage is found, dealers will splice in new wire and apply anti-abrasion tape over the area and ensure clearance to surrounding components. All services will be performed free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 27, 2020. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000189.

Sunrise RV Park, Texarkana, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2020 Daybreak, Four Winds, Delano, Gemini, Quantum, Tiburon, Chateau Citation, Compass, Chateau, Siesta, Freedom Elite, and Synergy motorhomes built on Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis [platform 907 (VS30)] equipped with automatic transmissions. The owner’s manual does not correctly specify the certain conditions under which the automatic parking function (Auto-P) operates.

TMC will notify owners, and a Mercedes Benz dealer will supplement the Operator’s Manual with a correct description of the Auto-P function equipped in the vehicle. This recall is expected to begin July 26, 2020. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000190.

Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2020 Daybreak, Four Winds, Delano, Gemini, Quantum, Tiburon, Chateau Citation, Compass, Chateau, Siesta, Freedom Elite, and Synergy motorhomes built on Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis [platform 907 (VS30)]. The rear part of the fender liner on the front axle may contact and chafe the brake hose, possibly resulting in a loss of brake fluid.

TMC will notify owners, and an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer will inspect the brake hoses for chafing and replacement if necessary. The fender liner will also be altered to permit more clearance. All repairs will be performed free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 27, 2020. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000191.

Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2020-2021 ACE, 2021 Four Winds and 2020 Gemini, Axis, Compass, Delano, Windsport, Hurricane, Outlaw, and Vegas motorhomes. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal hinge frame of the frameless windows may fail which would then allow the glass to detach and fall out.

TMC will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the frameless windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 5, 2020. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000192.

Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Entegra Qwest and 2019-2021 Jayco Melbourne and Melbourne Prestige Class C motorhomes built on Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. The Operator’s Manual may not contain the correct information about how the automatic parking function (“Auto-P”) operates.

Jayco will notify owners, and Mercedes-Benz or Freightliner Sprinter dealers will provide the correct description of the Auto-P function for the Operator’s Manual, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin June 12, 2020. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137 or Sprinter service at 1-877-762-8267. The booklet with correct information is also available online, free of charge.

The Motorcoach Resort, Chandler, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2020 Towable Eagle, Eagle HT, JayFlight, NorthPoint, Octane, Pinnacle, Seismic, and Talon recreational vehicles. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal hinge frame of the frameless crank out vent and egress windows may fail which would then allow the glass to detach and fall out.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the frameless windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin June 15, 2020. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901508.

River Run RV Resort, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2020 Motorized Alante, Greyhawk, Melbourne, Precept, Redhawk, Seneca, Accolade, Emblem, Esteem, Odyssey, Qwest, and Vision recreational vehicles. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal hinge frame of the frameless crank out vent and egress windows may fail which would then allow the glass to detach and fall out.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the frameless windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin June 15, 2020. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901508.

Harvest Moon RV Park, Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

KZRV

KZRV, L.P. (KZRV) is recalling certain 2018 Escape recreational trailers. The Federal Identification Tag and Tire Inflation Pressure Label indicates an incorrect Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR), and an incorrect tire and rim size with incorrect tire inflation pressure, which can result in the tires being overinflated. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

KZRV will mail corrected labels to owners with instructions for their application, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin June 30, 2020. Owners may contact KZRV customer service at 1-800-768-4016, extension 154 or 153. KZRV’s number for this recall is KZ-2020-02.

JGW RV Park, Redding, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Triple E

Triple E Recreational Vehicles (Triple E) is recalling certain 2020 Unity travel trailers, model U24RL. The utility compartment’s inner latch mechanism may rotate due to vehicle motion, becoming locked.

Triple E will notify owners, and dealers will repair the utility compartment latch mechanism, free of charge. This recall began June 2, 2020. Owners may contact Triple E customer service at 1-877-992-9906. Triple E’s number for this recall is CA#9681-1.

Flag City RV Resort, Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highland Ridge RV

Highland Ridge RV (Highland Ridge) is recalling certain 2020 Ridge, Open Range, and Silverstar recreational trailers. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal hinge frame of the frameless crank out vent and egress windows may fail which would then allow the glass to detach and fall out.

Highland RV will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the frameless windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary, free of charge. This recall began June 15, 2020. Owners may contact Highland RV customer service at 1-260-768-7771. Highland RV’s number for this recall is 9901508.

Pleasant Harbor RV Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2017-2018 Basecamp travel trailers. The adhesive bond between the glass and the metal frame of the entry door window may fail, allowing the glass to separate while the trailer is moving.

Airstream will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the windows for proper adhesive bond strength, replacing the windows as necessary and installing updated adhesive strips to all windows, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin August 11, 2020. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111, extension 7401 or 7411.

Pala Casino RV Resort, Pala, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Design

Grand Design RV, LLC (Grand Design) is recalling certain 2016-2018 Reflection trailers. A wiring connector in the vehicle underbody may not be properly secured, allowing water intrusion into the wiring connector, possibly resulting in an electrical short circuit.

Grand Design will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and secure the wiring connectors up to prevent water intrusion, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 27, 2020. Owners may contact Grand Design’s customer service at 1-574-825-9679. Grand Design’s number for this recall is 910020.

Rain Spirit RV Park, Cottonwood, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Newell

Newell Coach Corp. (Newell) is recalling certain 2020-2021 P50 motor coaches. The decorative cover for the center console column may be knocked loose by the driver’s foot, allowing the piece to become lodged under the brake pedal.

Newell will notify owners and request the owners remove and discard the decorative cover. Dealers will install a replacement apron cover, free of charge. This recall is expected to begin July 13, 2020. Owners may contact Newell customer service at 1-888-363-9355. Newell’s number for this recall is 124.

Please Note: This is the 17th in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

Best Places for RV Travel this July

Fill up the tires, top off the tank, and pile in the RV for the best summer road trip of your life

July is the birth month of Julius Caesar and that’s why the month was named after him. July is also the first month on the traditional calendar that isn’t named after a god or goddess of Roman or Greek origins, but is named after a real person.

Black Hills of South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With the Fourth of July this week, there is an extra emphasis on outdoor activities in the age of COVID-19—due to the open air as well as the ability to easily social distance. As such, a number of national and state parks around the country are open while others plan to do so just in time for the holiday. This is a very good social-distancing type of vacation. It’s just you and your family and your RV out there in the great outdoors.

Eleven Mile Range in Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s also a chance to catch North Dakota in a rare moment of warmth. Or just crash out on the beach. The sun is strong and temperatures soar far and wide—South Dakota, New Hampshire, even North Dakota, for god’s sake. Enjoy.

Due to changing advisories, please check local travel guidelines before visiting.

Badlands National Park in South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out our monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in April, May, and June. Also check out our recommendations from July 2019.

Needles Highway in the Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

South Dakota

Road-trippers are too often guilty of blowing through South Dakota with a soda stop at Wall Drug and a quick gawk at Mount Rushmore, then back to I-90 and onward. Well, ease off the gas a bit. SoDak has a lot going on. The Black Hills would hold their own as a national park replete with winding scenic drives, deep forests (the “black” in Black Hills), sparkling lakes, world-class caverns, and the tallest mountain east of the Rockies. Even the farm-and-prairie country to the east, bisected by the Missouri River, is sprinkled with gems, particularly if you’re drawn to lakes and rivers.

New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is heavily forested and riddled with rocky crags and more than 1,300 lakes. The steep, rugged White Mountains are a collection of 4,000-foot peaks that dominate the northern portion of the state. Move south looking for mellower terrain and there’s barely enough time for those mountains to transition to hills before you’re at the coast which is almost as thrilling as the peaks on the other end of the state. The 18 miles of coastline are known for cold surf, rocky beaches, and jagged islands popping up from the Atlantic.

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Step aboard the Cog Railway and climb to the Northeast’s highest summit, Mount Washington. The train travels the steepest railroad tracks in North America, passing through several climate zones before reaching the summit. With 93 state parks offering everything from surf breaks to mountain peaks, New Hampshire is a state built for adventure.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

For wildlife spotting opportunities away from the crowds head west to the littler-known Theodore Roosevelt National Park which sees just 749,000 annual visitors. Twenty-nine American bison were reintroduced here in 1956 with herd numbers today totaling several hundred between the park’s north and south units. For the best chance of seeing bison, make your way around the Scenic Loop Drive in the south unit but be sure to maintain a respectable distance from the massive creatures. Fortunately, bison prefer to graze the nutritious grasslands surrounding prairie dog communities, and thus, you may spot both species.

Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Beyond the park’s critters, there is an abundance of scenic views and impressive rock formations to enjoy. Visiting at sunrise or sunset is an ideal time to appreciate the multitude of colors emanating from bands of minerals in the rugged rock face.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston

There are few better places to be for the Fourth of July than Boston, the birthplace of the American Revolution. This richly historic, seafront state capital come alive with celebrations. Packed with museums and galleries, Boston was once hailed the Athens of America. Bostonians are proud of their food culture with classics like clam chowder and lobster rolls.

Forest Center, Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Everyone loves a two-for-one, especially when it comes to national parks. As Yosemite’s southern neighbors, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are often overlooked. Although Sequoia and Kings Canyon’s natural beauty rival its northerly neighbor, it only received 1.2 million visitors in 2018 compared to Yosemite’s four million. But as the famed naturalist John Muir once penned, “…southward of the famous Yosemite Valley, there is a grander valley of the same kind.” And we have to agree.

Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.”

—Walter Winchell

Celebrating Canada Day during the Pandemic

COVID-19 means it’s time for a road trip

With Canada Day rapidly approaching, this year will be totally different. There will be few, if any, Canada Day parades, festivals, or big July 1st parties.

Along the Icefields Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summer is the best time for a road trip and Canada is filled with some of the world’s most scenic drives. After months of staying indoors, Canadians are more than ready for a change of scenery. This will be the summer of the road trip—the kind of vacation many of us recall from childhood. With ultra-low fuel prices, a road trip is an inexpensive and easy way to get away.

Along the Icefields Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you simply hop in a car or hit the open road in a recreational vehicle, the Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in Canada—or most anywhere else.

This 232-kilometre (144-mile) stretch of road between Jasper and Lake Louise (also known as Highway 93) was built along the backbone of the North American continent.

Along the Icefields Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The road is dotted with more than 100 glaciers, rugged mountains, waterfalls, stunning blue lakes, and vast sweeping valleys. It has been described as one of the world’s most awe-inspiring road trips by National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, and numerous other publications.

Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The drive can be done in three hours but you’ll want to budget a full day or more. The Columbia Icefields for which the road is named is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies and a stop at Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre is a must. Here, you’ll travel on a massive Ice Explorer to a place where you can walk on the Athabasca Glacier. Then, take a jaw-dropping walk along the glass-floored Glacial Skywalk at the cliff’s edge. With reduced occupancy these tours fill quickly.

Columbia Icefields © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Peyto Lake and Bow Summit, Bow Lake, Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, Parker Ridge, Weeping Wall, and Mistaya Canyon are just a few of the other amazing stops that can be made along the way. You’ll find many more amazing natural wonders on either end of the Icefields Parkway in Jasper, Lake Louise, and Banff.

Glacial Skywalk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another way to celebrate and have fun with a Canadian theme is to enjoy some tasty Canadian wine. In all, British Columbia now has 370 wineries, most of them in the Okanagan. The statistics are a testament to the strength and rapid growth of the wine industry in the province.

In the South Okanagan, rainfall is scarce and the soils are sandy. The resulting thickly tannic wines favor Syrah, Merlot, and other Bordeaux reds, along with hot-climate whites such as Viognier.

Black Hills Estate Winery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here, Black Hills Estate Winery is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first release of their iconic Bordeaux style red, Nota Bene. Normally they celebrate the release with a big party but this year the winery is taking its party online on July 17th.

Black Hills Estate Winery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Customers who purchase 12 bottles of the 2018 Nota Bene ($59.90 each) will receive access to the online party featuring recording artist Steven Page joined by Jason Priestley, Erin Cebula, Prevail, and 2018 Olympic winner, Kelsey Serwa. Black Hills’ Winemaker and Master of Wine, Ross Wise kicks off the celebration with a guided tasting of his 2018 Nota Bene. Customers also receive a VIP Cabana Tasting at the winery and free shipping.

Black Hills Estate Winery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The South Okanagan Valley icon is located on the famed Black Sage Bench, 13 kilometres (8 miles) north of Osoyoos and 10 kilometres (6 miles) south of Oliver. This places Black Hills Estate in the Okanagan Valley appellation centered in the middle of Canada’s only official desert. The resulting microclimate leaves Black Hills with one of the hottest, driest, and sunniest sites in the country. In fact, this northern latitude attracts more sunlight hours than Napa Valley in the key growing months of June through August.

Black Hills Estate Winery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While in the Okanagan, nothing quite says summer than a refreshing float down Penticton’s river channel. The man-made waterway, also known as the Okanagan River Channel, was first created in the 1950s to control flooding and water flow from the Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake.

Okanagan River Channel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The seven-kilometre (4-mile) river float has since changed into a beloved community staple that draws people from across the valley for an up-to three hour river float. Coyote Cruises which offers shuttle and inner-tubes said that due to the current water flow, the float only takes an hour and fifteen minutes from start to finish.

Okanagan River Channel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Recently a long list of COVID-19 procedures for health and safety were posted on its website and included insights into how social distancing will be maintained. Among the things listed, the shuttle bus will only be 2/3 full. Personal inflation services will not be provided and staff will not be helping guests in and out of the channel.

Okanagan Lake at Penticton © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So Happy 153rd Birthday, Canada. And here’s to the delicious wines of the Okanagan! May both continue to grow and prosper!

Worth Pondering…

Think I’ll go out to Alberta

Weather’s good there in the fall

Got some friends there I can go to.

—sung by Ian Tyson