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Month: November 2012

Plowing for Diamonds in Arkansas

November 20, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Plowing for Diamonds in Arkansas

Crater of Diamonds State Park is the world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public. On average, two diamonds are found each day at the park. The state park’s policy is finder-keepers. What park visitors find is theirs to keep. Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The colors found at the Crater of Diamonds are white, brown, and yellow, in that order. The search area at the Crater of Diamonds State Park is a 37 ½-acre plowed field, the eroded surface of the eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in the world in surface area. Why plow the search field at the diamond mine? The practice of plowing the diamond field goes back to the earliest days of commercial diamond mining, according to Park Interpreter Margi Jenks. In the early 1900s miners used a mule team and farming plow to dig trenches. After tourism began in the 1950s, Millar’s Crater of Diamonds used a road grader to turn over the dirt on what is now the north end of the present diamond search area. Today’s... [Read more...]

What Are You Thankful For?

November 19, 2012 by · 7 Comments 

What Are You Thankful For?

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?   How do you remember those you have loved and lost?  How do you keep their memory alive?  Around this time of year, with holidays fast approaching and family making their arrivals, is when I really start remembering and missing the loved ones I have lost.  I am not sure if it is because of the holidays and having family around a lot or if it is because today is my late father’s birthday: probably a combination of the two. The way that I remember him and all those who I have lost over the years is to do things that remind me of them and of who they were.   Whether that includes seeing the Nutcracker ballet and accompanying symphony in their memory, because he had always wanted to take us kids (and never did), or going golfing in the rain because you have sweet memories of doing just that with them when they were here.  There are so many things you can do, including the more traditional outing of going to the cemetery with flowers. In... [Read more...]

Planning a Camping Trip

November 18, 2012 by · 3 Comments 

Planning a Camping Trip

Most people plan, plan, and plan some more before taking a camping trip.  According to the 2012 American Camping Report, “almost half of all American campers plan their trips at least one month in advance.”  That is an astounding number of campers who have the forethought to plan a fun time out in the “wilderness” with their family, friends, or to just get away by themselves.  Personally, we rarely plan that far in advance unless we are going with a larger group of people who require that kind of planning.  Then again, we are the more spontaneous type.  Like backpacking last weekend, with no more than a few days of planning and preparations; we just decide last minute sometimes. The advantages of all that planning are obvious.  You have more time to make sure you get all the necessary gear and food ready, reservations are set, and a back-up plan is in place, just in case.  One of the downsides of being spontaneous, especially with camping these days, is that many places require... [Read more...]

Black Friday Camping

November 18, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Each year, my wife has meticulously plans her Black Friday shopping experience. Last year, she narrowed down most of what she wanted to one store: Best Buy. The sales were the motivation, but what I didn’t realize was that the camping experience would be memorable for my whole family. One week before the event, my wife and I stopped by the store to look at the options that they were selling. We were surprised to find that people were already camping out…in a tent… at the store. Like most people, I felt that these people had no life or really any social obligations. There was no way I was going to be that crazy…or so I thought. Black Friday for My Daughter The next Tuesday over dinner I decided to tell my 10 year old daughter how crazy these people were. It had the complete opposite effect. She looked me excitedly and asked, “Camping? Really, dad? Like in front of the store? That’s Awesome! Can we do it? P-P-Please?” I quickly realized our dilemma. I tried... [Read more...]

Fabulous Fall Camping Activities–Part 4: The Blues Fest

November 18, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Fabulous Fall Camping Activities–Part 4: The Blues Fest

I know that Labor Day Weekend is technically not in fall, but for many campers, it marks the end of the summer camping season and time to switch to fall activities. One destination event worth planning for occurs every Labor Day Weekend up at Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico: the Enchanted Circle Festival Labor Day Weekend Blues Fest. Billed as a weekend of music and camping, the event is truly worth attending. The music is free and the camping, Friday through Monday is a mere $25 for the entire festival. Albuquerque’s Taxi Dancer Band performing at Blues Fest Some of the best Blues acts around are booked every year. In 2012, it was the Taxi Dancer Band for Albuquerque, Gulf Coast Blues Legend Bert Wills, Kathy and the Cruisers and Felix y Los Gatos. Clearly the headliner, Wills is known in the Texas music scene as a Texas Blues-Rock legend His music ranges in styles from swamp country and Texas swing to Chicago and Piedmont blues, conjuring up a collection of roots music echoes of everyone... [Read more...]

Technology while RVing – iPhone Edition

November 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Technology while RVing – iPhone Edition

Last week, I shared some of the advantages of having an iPad with you while traveling in an RV. This time around I would like to concentrate on the benefits of having an iPhone (or sometimes an iPod) when you are traveling long distances. MUSIC Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. ~Victor Hugo Music has been part of the human life for hundreds of years.   Back in the 60s and 70s, when I was younger, it was natural to turn on the radio while driving long distance.   Then in the 80s the famous walk-man came on and I – like many other teenagers back then – had a yellow Sony.  I could listen to my cassette tapes alone.   The CD revolutionized the market and since the late 90s the iPod.   In the 21st century the iPhone became available as one of the smart phones out there.   My husband owns a smartphone while I own an iPod.   We have different styles of music that we like but that doesn’t stop us to put music on when we are... [Read more...]

Camping in Rose Valley

November 17, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Camping in Rose Valley

Rose Valley has an incredibly easy, short, and beautiful hike to the bottom of the 300-foot high Rose Valley Falls.  Go a few days after rainfall and you will experience the falls more full, complete with rushing water at the lower and hopefully upper falls.  Just a mile-long round trip, the hike takes you to the bottom of the lower falls, with options for some more extreme hiking to the bottom of the upper falls.  During the hike, you have to cross a stream and may have to boulder-hop if the flow is up. Just 15 miles north of lovely Ojai, off Highway 33, Rose Valley is a spectacular section of the Los Padres National Forest.  Go for an afternoon hike or for a weekend-long camping trip.  At an elevation of 3,450 feet, the Rose Valley Campground consists of a peaceful 9-site single loop of campground sites, serenely shaded by cottonwood trees.  The sites are pretty primitive with just fire pits, BBQ grills, and picnic tables.  Three small, stocked lakes are nearby as well as the Ojai... [Read more...]

The Changing Face of Campers

November 16, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

The Changing Face of Campers

When you go camping, do you go to party?  Do you go to see family you haven’t seen in eons?  At campgrounds all around, there is a new face of campers who seem to: camp specifically to connect with extended family, encourage the kids of multiple (often related) families to play together, while partying with all the best camping supplies that money can buy. The 2012 American Camping Report “confirms that Hispanic campers are social, using camping as an opportunity to connect with friends, family and extended family.”   Being half-Mexican myself, I completely agree with the findings of this report and find them to be true with the Mexican side of my family.  I grew up camping with my extended family and it was oftentimes the only time all year that we would see some of the extended family members.  Camping was an ideal way to enjoy the great outdoors while bringing our extended family together at the same time. Mexicans are also more likely to go “glamping” (glamorous... [Read more...]

CAMPFIRE STORIES – “Broken Down on the Key Bridge”

November 16, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

CAMPFIRE STORIES – “Broken Down on the Key Bridge”

Sitting around a campfire with a group of old friends or new acquaintances inevitably brings out personal stories that speak of the trials, tribulations and adventures we all encounter during our RV travels.  Such was the case last week as a group gathered on a cool November night.   That’s when Allan shared the unfortunate but somewhat humorous adventure he, his dog and wife endured as they crossed the Frances Scott Key Bridge in Washington, D.C.:   We are finally underway to meet our fellow Cedar Creek RV Owners Club friends for our End of Year Rally at   Willow Tree Resort in South Carolina.  Our Terrier, Duffy, and I really needed this getaway.  We had planned getaways earlier this fall but had to cancel them for my hernia operation and my son’s spinal surgery.  Then, we were forced to delay our departure for this trip when Hurricane Sandy caused a blackout at our home. The ride from our home in PA to Willow Tree normally takes about 10 hours.  I was so looking... [Read more...]

Camping with Kids II

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Camping with Kids II

Petting zoos, swimming pools, water parks, play structures, and so many more amenities are offered at numerous KOA campgrounds across the nation.  These Kampgrounds of America (KOA) are the ultimate family-friendly campgrounds that also have unbeatable specials, such as camp one night, get the next night for free.  This is an especially common promotion at the local KOA we frequent.  One of the local Moms groups I am involved in actually plans their bi-annual camp outs around this exact deal.  It turns into a weekend-long play date! With fun teepees to sleep in and lots of other family-friendly options, including an exhilarating zip line, cozy cabins, and some kid-friendly play structures such as climbing walls, parents can look forward to taking their kids camping at such sensational campgrounds.  Knowing how important it is for kids to get outdoors with their parents, KOA’s have even been known to offer free camping just for kids for a given weekend.  For example, this year for... [Read more...]

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