Minnesota RV Pastimes: Stargazing

Stargazing remains one of the favorite camping pastimes for seasoned and new RVers. And in November, if you find a nice dark campground, you’ll have a chance to not only tour the constellations, you’ll have a front-row seat for the Leonid Meteor Showers.  This year, the meteor showers will peak late on November 16 and continue until dawn on November 17.

The famous Leonids radiate from the constellation Leo; and this year, with a waxing crescent moon setting early in the evening, the sky will become a dark stage for the meteors’ spectacular performance.  If you’d like to learn more about the stars before you head out on your Minnesota RV stargazing trip, you might pay a visit to your friendly, neighborhood planetarium.

Part of the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum, the ExploraDome ranks among the top 10 planetariums in the U.S. Programs offer visitors a chance to lay back and take a trip through the cosmos using a high-tech projector. Weekly shows include “Zoom: From Earth to the Edge of the Universe.”

Keep an eye on the sky, and never miss a chance to wish upon a star!

Minnesota RVers: What Would You Do If You Saw A Bat?

Halloween is coming. And even though we have a blast camping out in the our new Minnesota motorhomes, carving pumpkins and dressing up as ghosts and goblins, it’s also a tough time of year for batty public relations. We thought this would be a great time to set the record straight with a few fun facts about bats from Bat Conservation International:

  • Centuries of myths and misinformation still generate needless fears and threaten bats and their habitats around the world.
  • The more than 1,200 species of bats. They range from the world’s smallest mammal, the tiny bumblebee bat that weighs less than a penny to giant flyig foxes with six-foot wingspans.
  • A single little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour, while a pregnant or lactating female bat typically eats the equivalent of her entire body weight in insects each night.
  • Almost a third of the world’s bats feed on the fruit or nectar of plants. In return for their meals, these bats are vital pollinators of countless plants (many of great economic value) and essential seed dispersers with a major role in regenerating rainforests.
  • About 1 percent of bats eat fish, mice, frogs or other small vertebrates.
  • Only three species, all in Latin America, are vampires. They really do feed on blood, although they lap it like kittens rather than sucking it up as horror movies suggest. Even the vampires are useful: an enzyme in their saliva is among the most potent blood-clot dissolvers known and is used to treat human stroke victims.

Minnesota has seven species of bats, and Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release, Inc. says that while some of our bats migrate south for the winter, others hibernate in caves, abandoned mines and buildings.  Two species include the gorgeous silver-haired bat, which lives in forests and has dark fur with silver streaks, and the red bat, which often hangs from its tree roosts by one foot, mimicking an autumn leaf.

This Halloween, help spread the word! Bats are not what you’ve seen in horror movies. Bats are the good guys!

Taking Your Pleasureland RV To The Flea Market

Chances are, any time you’re on the road with your new or used Minnesota RV, there’s a flea market nearby. What’s your favorite treasure? From collectible Scooby-Doo lunch buckets to velvet Elvis paintings, America’s flea markets have it all.

Kathy Johnson, who owns Pieces of the Past in Johnson City, Texas, is a flea market pro. She travels to flea markets all across the south in search of the perfect architectural antiques for her clients. “I tell people that the best way to plan your flea market road trip is to get that RV up and running,” says Kathy. “It’ll give you more room to carry your treasures! It’ll also give you a place to go when you’re tired, confused, hungry, or annoyed at the “sold” sign on that special something you wanted.”

Where will you begin your flea market adventure? The Travel Channel put together a list of what it considers the world’s best. The most intriguing one for those of us traveling in our Minnesota motorhomes is likely the 127 Corridor, which runs from Gadsden, Alabama all the way to Jamestown, Tennessee. For three weeks every August, more than 2,000 vendors line the road and welcome the adventurous shoppers.

The Hamel Lions Flea Market, here in Minnesota, is just west of Minneapolis and tops the CBS list of best flea markets.  Check out the other listings for even more flea markets here in Minnesota, or visit American Fleas to start planning your ultimate flea market road trip. While almost any flea market can help you add to your favorite collections, some also offer some great foods and local music while you shop. Let us know if you find a good one!

 

What’s your favorite flea market? What your best flea market find?

Minnesota RV Adventures: Hiking

For every Minnesota motorhome on the road, you’ll find at least one strong opinion about what makes a great hike, and where to find the most amazing scenery.  For some of us, fall is prime time for hiking, so we thought we’d share a few lists that highlight some of the best hikes in the U.S.

In its article describing the 10 Best Hiking Spots in the U.S., the Discovery Channel pondered why we hike at all. Ultimately, they wrote, “Vistas and waterfalls, giant redwoods and granite mountain faces aren’t typically visible from the interior of your car. And even when they are, it’s not the same as feeling the earth beneath your feet and standing on the edge of the cliff.”

If you’re traveling the country in your Pleasureland RV, there’s a great hiking spot not far from your destination. USA Today published a list of 51 hikes – one in each state plus the District of Columbia.  Not surprisingly, many of the best hikes are found in the National Parks, and National Geographic created a list of its picks for the 20 best trails.

Minnesota has some spectacular trails of its own, including hikes at Afton State Park where you can climb from the banks of the St. Croix River to a bluff overlooking the river valley.  If the name “Afton” sounds familiar, you may be thinking about the Robert Burns poem, “Afton Waters.” Hikes here could easily have been his inspiration.  There’s an easy, four-mile loop, and you can learn more about Afton State Park and read about 19 other popular Minnesota trails on Trails.com.

Finally, here are a few safety reminders. Before you head out on your hike, be sure someone knows where you’re headed, and when to expect you back. Take a backpack with supplies that make sense for the length of your hike, and the terrain you’ll encounter. Even for a short day hike, you’ll want to take plenty of water, a few snacks, a first aid kit, rain gear, and an extra jacket. The weather can change with little warning and it pays to be prepared.  What’s your favorite hike?

 

National Wildlife Refuge Week

Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida’s Pelican Island as the nation’s first wildlife refuge in 1903. Since that time, the National Wildlife Refuge System has grown to include 553 refuges and 38 wetland management districts that conserve America’s diversity of fish, wildlife and plant species.

There’s at least one refuge in every state, and the refuges are home to an estimated 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species and more than 200 species of fish, which means that the refuges offer countless nature tourism opportunities for RV travelers.

During the week of October 14 – 20, we’re helping Minnesota celebrate National Wildlife Refuge week, and thought we’d share a few events happening across the state. Some of the highlights include special talks hosted by none other than author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (as portrayed by historian Richard Smith at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, a photo workshop at the Fergus Falls-Prairie Wetland Learning Center, a photo contest at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and bird-watching opportunities at most Minnesota refuges.

And, if your Minnesota RV travel plans take you further afield next week, you can visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife site to find a refuge on your route, and search for upcoming events all over the country.

 

 

Minnesota RV Hobbies: Bird Watching

Some birders are hard core. They’ll jump on a plane in a heartbeat at the mere hint of an opportunity to check one more bird off their life list. Others are more relaxed, content with the birds of any feather that happen to flock to their own backyard. No matter which type of birder you are, fall is prime time for birding. And when you’re traveling in your Minnesota RV this fall, you can discover even more gorgeous and unusual species, including migratory birds.

If you’re in the mood for motorhome road trip, check out these 8 Great Places suggested by the National Wildlife Federation.  From the Sunrise Coast in Maine to the Sky Islands of Arizona, these are places recommended by some of the top birders in the nation.

And, if you’re looking for an RV excursion a little closer to home, Minnesota is home to a wide variety of birds – from bald eagles to sandhill cranes. One great opportunity for bird watching is the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail, which is Minnesota’s first International trail. Located in northwestern Minnesota, the 200-mile-long trail includes 45 sites for bird watching and is home to 275 species of birds. How many will you find in your new Minnesota travel trailer or motorhome?

Minnesota RVing Storytelling

Although you may be spending the night in your Pleasureland RV, a big part of the camping experience is the campfire. And storytelling by the campfire is an art form all its own.

First: the campfire. You’ll need four things: tinder, kindling, firewood, and a match.

Tinder lights easily, and can be anything from dried grasses or moss, to lint from your dryer or a packaged fire starter. Kindling provides fuel for the fire, and can include dried twigs or strips of cardboard. Firewood, including split and whole logs, will keep the roaring fire burning.  (Safety reminder: keep a bucket of water handy any time you have a campfire. Stray embers can easily start a forest fire!)

Start by creating a pile of tinder and kindling in the fire pit. You’ll want it piled together loosely enough for air to circulate, but closely enough for the flames to easily spread. Light the tinder with a match or lighter. Then, as the fire grows, add small pieces of firewood until the fire becomes hot enough to burn the larger logs. Add the wood in a star pattern, propping one log on the other to encourage air circulation and keeping the fire going.

Now, you’ve got a roaring campfire and it’s time for a round of storytelling! There’s something about the warm glow of a campfire that brings out our funniest family stories and scariest ghost stories. Who’s the best storyteller in your family?

This month, the Master Storytelling Festival in the Twin Cities features artists from  the Black Storytellers Alliance, and you can find more festivals all over the U.S. on the storytelling festivals page. It’s a great time to hitch up the your St. Cloud RV and go discover a long-lost slice of Americana!

Take a Trip In Your Minnesota RV To Experience Fall

The first hint of fall is in the air. Halloween displays are already crowding the grocery stores, pumpkins aren’t far behind, and before we know it, the trees will be turning a vibrant orange and gold.  This seems like a great time to grab your camera, hook up your St. Cloud motorhome, and plan a road trip that’s all about the scenery.

Superior Trails recommends several scenic tours along Lake Superior, including the Circle Tour, which leads you along Minnesota’s North Shore, through Ontario, Michigan, and Wisconsin. They’ll have full reports on the changing colors starting in mid- to late-September.

And if you want to capture the changing seasons with your camera, here are a few tips.

1.     Think about the light. The half hour after sunrise or before sunset can create the most amazing, warm light for photographs. The soft, diffuse light of an overcast day can eliminate harsh shadows capture an entirely different mood.
2.     Use a polarizing filter. This will help eliminate glare – not only from the sun, but the light bouncing off the leaves.
3.     Shoot close-ups for detail, in addition to framing for the wide landscape.
4.     Look for graphic patterns, or take advantage of water droplets, fog, or frost on the to add even more interest to your photos.
5.     Change your perspective. What does the landscape look like from the squirrel’s point of view? Or the hawk’s? Experiment with perspective and you’ll create something unique.

We suggest you take out the atlas (or hop online) now and plan your next memorable Minnesota RV foray into fall color!

RV Snowbirds, Consider Spending the Winter In Palm Springs California

It is not too far away. That time when the snow and temperatures start to fall and it’s time to take your Pleasureland RV and head to a warmer climate. How about California? Specifically the Palm Springs Area. It is a meca of fun, relaxation and sunshine!!

Enjoy sunny skies,  desert scenery and beautiful nearby mountain views plus the wonderful climate that the Palm Springs area has to offer.  Just take a look at these average temperatures – lots of 70s and 80s from October through April.

Photo Courtesy of Weather.com

You will find an abundance of world class golf and tennis resorts, great restaurants and shopping. In fact ladies, some of the best Outlet Malls in the country are not far away!

In for some adventure, hiking, rock climbing and more? Visit the Mount San Jacinto State Park or the high desert country at Joshua Tree Desert Park. And don’t miss the chance to experience the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

And there will be plenty to do right where you park your “home away from home”. Just a short distance from Palm Springs and Palm Desert you will find two great options in Desert Hot Springs -the Sky Valley Resort and Caliente Springs.

Sky Valley RV Resorts offer an active adult RV resort lifestyle including sparkling natural hot water spas, swimming pools, an executive golf course,  and plenty of activities and events.

Caliente Springs is a sophisticated 55+ RV Park with large RV sites a nine-hole executive golf course and an 18,000 square foot clubhouse.Plus enjoy daily water based activities, tennis courts and excellent hot springs and mineral pools.

And if you want to get away for the day… or a few, San Diego is just about 125 miles away,  and you can be in LA or Orange County in less than 2 hours. There you can experience so many wonderful things Southern California has to offer.

Photo Courtesy of Sky Valley Resorts

Have fun in California, travel safe and we’ll look forward to seeing you soon at Pleasureland RV!

Minnesota RVers: Will You Be Tailgating This Season?

Prepare your new Minnesota RV. It’s tailgating time!

From the Minnesota Gophers to the Minnesota Vikings, there’s lots of fun to be had before the game. If you’re headed to the Gophers’ pre-game party, here’s what you need to know: http://www.gophertailgate.com/tailgating-information/.  And for all the details on tailgating at the Metrodome, click here.

And if you’re going to keep your spirits up during the game, you’ll need some great tailgate grub! Super Nachos, stuffed Jalapeno poppers and Buffalo Wings are always tailgating favorites.

Buffalo Wings Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 12 whole chicken wings
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Place a 6-quart saucepan with a steamer basket and 1-inch of water in the bottom, over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.

Remove the tips of the wings and discard or save for making stock. Using kitchen shears, or a knife, separate the wings at the joint. Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the wings from the basket and carefully pat dry. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Replace the paper towels with parchment paper. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.

While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter in a small bowl along with the garlic. Pour this along with hot sauce and salt into a bowl large enough to hold all of the chicken and stir to combine.  Remove the wings from the oven and transfer to the bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve warm.  (Recipe Via Food Network)

Whether you tailgate at home, or take your Pleasureland RV on road trips to away games, tailgating with other fans is the best recipe for fall football fun!