Due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, vacationers this summer are mapping out road trips in RVs, campervans, and trailers.Photograph by Alexandra Keeling
Travelers are gearing up for summer getaways, but with more than 20 states reporting spikes in COVID-19 cases in June, vacations involving air travel and large gatherings are likely to remain on hold. If you’re driven to distraction by wanderlust, here’s a tip: Take a spin in an RV.
The pandemic has fueled interest in recreational vehicles—RVs, campervans, and travel trailers. As a result, motor home sales and rentals have dramatically ramped up. While industry-wide data has yet to be fully compiled, RV dealers that reopened in early May report monthly sales are up 170 percent year over year; bookings through rental site RVshare for the Fourth of July weekend are up 81 percent over 2019.
What’s more, the duration of rentals has increased. “We have seen an uptick in the amount people are spending because the average rental period has increased,” says Jon Gray, of peer-to-peer booking site RVshare. “Instead of a long weekend, renters are booking for an average of seven to 10 days.”
The dip in gas prices—expected to remain low throughout the summer months—is helping to make 2020 the Year of the Camper. “People know it’s the only safe way to travel,” says Gigi Stetler of RV Sales of Broward in Florida, and founder of RV Advisor, a member-driven advice site.
Navigating the nation with a trailer in tow takes some planning, but the learning curve should not scare travelers from wheeling away. Here’s what you need to know to get comfortable with a campervan.
Getting in gear
Start by looking into booking companies. Go RVing and Cruise America will connect you with rental centers in the U.S. and Canada that offer a range of vehicle sizes. RVshare and Outdoorsy are peer-to-peer booking sites offering everything from popup trailers to motor homes.
Most rental companies charge a daily rate, which averages $165 for an RV or camper, according to a study by Go RV Rentals. Some also charge a fee per mile traveled. If you’re looking for eco-friendly models, TRA Certification has a list of brands that are certified green, from parts to practices.
In addition to the daily rate, first-time renters should think about additional costs—gas, food, and campground fees, to name a few—to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road. Vehicle options abound, and many renters advise to pick an RV with a bathroom. Especially during the pandemic, renters should insist that their RV has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. RVshare, for example, has partnered with TaskRabbit to offer professional cleaning services to camper owners.
In 2016 Jessy Muller bought a 1978 Dodge Commander, she named “Mander.” Since rehabbing it, she’s been driving it across the United States.Photograph by Jessy Muller
Most rentals do not require a special driver’s license. Ahead of booking make sure to ask about rental insurance and roadside assistance plans. Take advantage of a quick RV training session before revving up. If you plan on bringing along a furry friend, check the pet policies specific to your rental. Perhaps most important is to book early. As for incidentals in peer-to-peer rentals, “you should speak to the RV owner about what they keep on board for their renters, such as linens and cookware,” suggests Gray.
Owning the road
For Aaron Levine, owning a home on wheels has been a longtime dream. “I fish, hike, love being in nature,” he says. For him, the attraction of owning a camper is the freedom and mobility that goes with it. During the pandemic, the Phoenix, Arizona, resident finally locked down a deal on a new 28-foot-long Gulf Stream travel trailer. “It’s a way to stay active—and to stay away from people,” he says. The outdoor enthusiast has already taken his trailer on the road twice and plans a summer of trips.
If you’ve fallen in love with the idea of a home on wheels, you might want to go in for the long haul. Levine suggests road-trippers take their time and do their research, especially since prices can range from a few thousand dollars for a previously owned folding or “pop-up” camping trailer to well over $500,000 for a top-of-the-range, Class A motor home.
“Buy something that you know is going to work for you and your family,” says Levine. “Think about the activities you’re going to do.” If your plans involve regularly traversing hairpin mountain passes or embarking on day-long hikes, a campervan or truck camper would best fit the bill. Conversely, 45-foot motor homes equipped with cooking appliances and large wastewater holding tanks work well for large family get-togethers.
Newbies should try to support local dealers, as it will help mitigate maintenance complications down the road. “Do business with your local dealer, because you’re going to need them for service work,” says Stetler.
Where to go
The RV boom is taking off just as the country’s 18,000 campgrounds are re-opening, albeit with restrictions. Because states are at different stages in their response to the pandemic, those restrictions vary from campground to campground. As sites re-open, they’re likely to book up quickly.
Those headed to national parks will find limited capacity among the National Park Service’s 8,585 motor home pads, though NPS officials say they’re “continuing to increase access on a daily basis.” At Yosemite National Park, which recently reopened, only two of 10 campsites with RV facilities are open, as of June 15: Upper Pines (RVs up to 35 feet long, trailers up to 24 feet) and Wawona Horse (93 RV and trailer pads). These open sites don’t have hookups, which means no water, electricity, or access to dumping. Campsites with hookups tend to be more convenient, but cost more.
In Yellowstone National Park, the Tower Fall campground and Fishing Bridge RV Park are closed for the year. But Madison, Bay Bridge, and Grant Village campgrounds are open, with the remaining seven sites scheduled to follow suit on June 19 and July 1.
Alexandra Keeling and her dog Rocko enjoy California’s sun-soaked Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Park from the comfort of her teardrop travel trailer. Since planning her solo trip across the country in 2018, Keeling has been on and off the road for more than a year.Photograph by Winston Shull
Be sure to follow all park guidelines, especially during these pandemic times. “We encourage all visitors to recreate responsibly by following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and follow “Leave No Trace” principles when you visit,” says Cynthia Hernandez, National Parks Service spokesperson. For a full list of open campgrounds, check individual park websites.
Operators of privately owned campsites are welcoming campers with discounts and assurances of strict physical distancing rules, but that means doing away with services that, for many, make them attractive alternatives to national parks: dining facilities, playgrounds, dog boarding, and communal fire pits, as well as fewer staff on site.
Whit’s End Campground in West Ossipee, New Hampshire, is currently open only to New Hampshire residents and out-of-staters who have self-quarantined for 14 days. The site’s swimming pool and common areas re-opened on June 15, and though holiday weekends are busy, there’s good availability throughout the summer, according to management.
The Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams, Arizona, has 124 RV spaces and reports availability throughout the summer months. Some facilities, such as kenneling and communal fireplaces, are closed, so campers should call or email for the latest updates.
A short drive west of Zion National Park in Utah, Zion River Resort reports high occupancy at its 122-space campground for the coming weeks, but from mid-July availability increases. Management says a typical year would see many camping enthusiasts from Europe starting in July, but that’s not likely this year, opening up more options for U.S. travelers.
No matter where you go, be adaptable when plans change and mishaps happen, says Alexandra Keeling, who’s been traveling the country with her “tiny tin can” trailer for more than a year. “Road life will always throw you a curveball. It makes traveling so much more fun when you can go with the flow,” she says. “I’ve made some of my favorite memories in places I never planned to be and some of the toughest blows put me in the position for some of the greatest experiences.”
Stephen Starr is an Irish journalist and author who reported from the Middle East for a decade before moving to Ohio. Find Stephen on Twitter and Instagram.
buzzfeed.com 49 Games You Can Play With Only Two People Melanie Aman BuzzFeed Staff 17-21 minutes We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.
1. A traditional game of Scrabble to test your word-making abilities. You’d better have a dictionary nearby because you’re gonna need it. Barnes & Noble Get it from Barnes & Noble for $14.95.
2. Or a Harry Potter Scrabble if that’s more your cup of tea. It follows most of the rules as an old-school Scrabble game but spells, potion names, characters from the series, and wizarding locations all count as words. Bed Bath & Beyond Promising review: “The cards used in association with this game make it quite fun. Even if you are not a Harry Potter pro, the cards shake the game up. From switching tile racks to backwards spelling, this game was worth the premium price.” —Drew Get it from Bed Bath & Beyond for $29.99.
3. A beautiful set of dice for Yatzy — another traditional game (except this version’s gotten a bit of a face-lift) that’ll have you pulling out your lucky rabbit’s foot before each roll. West Elm Get it from West Elm for $9.99.
4. Mancala because I am about to crush you with colorful glass stones. I take Mancala very seriously if you couldn’t tell. JOANN Get it from JOANN for $9.74.
5. Monopoly Fortnite so you can boogie bomb the millennials or Gen Z’ers in this battle royale version of classic Monopoly. It has many of the same elements as the video game: Tilted Towers, loot chests, the storm, and even the battle bus. So, where we dropping boys? JCPenney Promising review: “Really enjoy playing this game. My kids love this game. Would play it every day if they could.” —MsDivaD1 Get it from JCPenney for $19.99
. 6. Connect 4 Shots to put your years of beer pong experience to use. It’s just like regular Connect 4 except you have to bounce your colored balls from the table to the slots. JCPenney Get it from JCPenney for $19.99.
7. A magnetic chess set if you’re getting ~board~ with other games. REI Promising review: “Awesome ‘take it anywhere with you’ type of game especially for camping and backpacking trips. The magnetic top and pieces rock.” —Suep G Get it from REI for $14.95.
8. A fun game of checkers that’ll no doubt bring out your competitive side.
WoodenChessDirect / Etsy 9. Or, Chinese checkers for testing your tactical skills. Can you get all your colored pegs to the opposite side of the board? AmaWoodShop / Etsy
10. Cribbage because now is the perfect time to finally learn how to play. And once you get going, a game will only take you ~30 minutes so you can try plenty of times. REI Promising review: “The cards and pegs fit nicely in the board and it has its own little pack for easy storage. Lightweight and doesn’t take up much space. A good time for any situation.” —Mandingo05 Get it from REI for $16.95.
11. Jenga so you can get your daily adrenaline rush as you remove a block and hope your giant tower doesn’t come crumbling down. Barnes & Noble Get it from Barnes & Noble for $16.95.
12. Or Jenga Throw ‘n Go to add another element of surprise to your game. The roll of a dice determines which color block you have to remove. Wayfair Promising review: “Lots of fun and addictive. The die makes it more interesting and eventually more difficult as the tower gets taller and harder to pull certain color blocks. So much fun!” —Patricia Get it from Wayfair for $27.50.
During the first half of February, Mercury will complete its best evening appearance for mid-northern latitude observers during 2020, climbing higher in the west-southwestern sky every evening.
During the first half of February, Mercury will complete its best evening appearance for mid-northern latitude observers during 2020, climbing higher in the west-southwestern sky every evening.
Mercury is often cited as the most difficult of the naked-eye planets to see. Because it’s the closest planet to the sun, it is usually obscured by the light from our star.
“Mercury has been known since very early times, but it is never very conspicuous, and there are many people who have never seen it at all,” legendary British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore wrote in “The Boy’s Book of Astronomy,” (Roy Publishers, 1958). “The reason for this is that it always seems to keep close to the sun in the sky, and can never be observed against a dark background.”
Although that’s mostly true, there are times during the year when Mercury can be surprisingly easy to spot. And we are in just such a period right now.
Mercury is called an “inferior planet” because its orbit is nearer to the sun than Earth’s is. Therefore, Mercury always appears, from our vantage point (as Moore wrote), to be in the same general direction as the sun. That’s why relatively few people have set eyes on it. There is even a rumor that Nicolaus Copernicus — who, in the early 1500s, formulated a model of the universe that placed the sun, rather than Earth, at the center of the solar system — never saw it.
Yet Mercury is not really hard to see. You simply must know when and where to look, and find a clear horizon.
For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, a great “window of opportunity” for viewing Mercury in the evening sky opened up in late January. That window will remain open through Feb. 17, giving you a number of chances to see this so-called elusive planet with your own eyes.
When and where to look
Currently, Mercury is visible about 35 to 40 minutes after sunset, very near to the horizon, about 25 degrees south of due west. Your clenched fist held at arm’s length measures roughly 10 degrees, so approximately 2.5 “fists” to the left of due west, along the horizon, will bring you to Mercury.
On the evening of Monday, Feb. 10, Mercury (orbit shown as red curve) will reach its widest separation, 18 degrees east of the sun. With Mercury sitting above a nearly vertical evening ecliptic, this will be the best appearance of the planet in 2020 for Northern Hemisphere observers. The optimal viewing times fall between 6 and 7 p.m. local time. Viewed in a telescope (inset), the planet will exhibit a waning half-illuminated phase.
On the evening of Monday, Feb. 10, Mercury (orbit shown as red curve) will reach its widest separation, 18 degrees east of the sun. With Mercury sitting above a nearly vertical evening ecliptic, this will be the best appearance of the planet in 2020 for Northern Hemisphere observers. The optimal viewing times fall between 6 and 7 p.m. local time. Viewed in a telescope (inset), the planet will exhibit a waning half-illuminated phase. (Image credit: Starry Night)
You can also use brilliant Venus as a benchmark. Just look the same distance — 25 degrees — to Venus’ lower right, and you’ll come to Mercury. If your sky is clear and there are no tall obstructions (like trees or buildings), you should have no trouble seeing Mercury as a very bright “star” shining with a trace of a yellowish-orange tinge. Tonight (Jan. 31), Mercury will be shining at magnitude -1.0, which means that only three other objects in the sky will appear brighter: the moon, Venus and Sirius (the brightest star in Earth’s night sky).
In the evenings that follow, Mercury will slowly diminish in brightness, but it will also slowly gain altitude as it gradually moves away from the sun’s vicinity.
It will be at greatest elongation, 18.2 degrees to the east of the sun, on Feb. 10. Look for it about 45 minutes to an hour after sundown, still about 25 degrees to the lower right of Venus. Shining at magnitude -0.5 (just a smidge dimmer than the second-brightest star in the sky, Canopus, in the constellation Carina), it sets more than 90 minutes after the sun, making this Mercury’s best evening apparition of 2020.
While viewing circumstances for Mercury are quite favorable north of the equator, that is not so for those in the Southern Hemisphere, where this rocky little world will hang very low to the horizon while deeply immersed in bright twilight, making the planet very difficult to see. Southern Hemisphere observers will get their chance to spot Mercury in late March and early April, when the elusive planet will appear to soar high into the eastern sky at dawn.
Mercury, like Venus and the moon, appears to go through phases. Soon after it emerged into the evening sky in January, Mercury was a nearly full disk, which is why it currently appears so bright. By the time it arrives at its greatest elongation, or its greatest separation from the sun, on Feb. 10, it will appear nearly half-illuminated. The amount of the planet’s surface illuminated by the sun will continue to decrease in the days to come. When Mercury begins to turn back toward the sun’s vicinity after Feb. 10, it will fade at a rather rapid pace. By Feb. 14, it will dim to magnitude +0.2, nearly as bright as the star Rigel, in the constellation Orion.
By the evening of Feb. 17, Mercury’s brightness will drop to magnitude +1.6 — about as bright as the star Castor, in the constellation Gemini, but only about 9% as bright as it appears now. In telescopes, Mercury will appear as a narrowing crescent. This, in all likelihood, will be your last view of the elusive planet this month, for the combination of its lowering altitude and its descent into the brighter sunset glow will finally render Mercury invisible in the evenings that follow. It will arrive at inferior conjunction, meaning it will pass between Earth and the sun, on Feb. 25. It will reappear in the morning sky in late March and early April.
Swift, with a dual identity
In ancient Roman mythology, Mercury was the swift-footed messenger of the gods. The planet is well named, for it is the closest planet to the sun and the swiftest of the solar system. Averaging about 30 miles per second (48 kilometers per second), Mercury makes a journey around the sun in only 88 Earth days. Interestingly, it takes Mercury 59 Earth days to rotate once on its axis, so all parts of its surface experience long periods of intense heat and extreme cold. Although its mean distance from the sun is only 36 million miles (58 million km), Mercury experiences by far the greatest range of temperatures: 800 degrees Fahrenheit (426 degrees Celsius) on its day side, and minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 173 degrees Celsius) on its night side.
In the pre-Christian era, this speedy planet actually had two names, as astronomers did not realize that it could alternately appear on one side of the sun and then the other. The planet was called Mercury when it was in the evening sky, but it was known as Apollo when it appeared in the morning. It is said that Pythagoras, in about the fifth century B.C., pointed out that they were one and the same.
Rare Mercury transit, the last until 2032, thrills skywatchers around the world
The most enduring mysteries of Mercury
Surprise! Dust ring discovered in Mercury’s orbit
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmers’ Almanac and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.
Hate daylight saving time? Here’s what it would take to ditch it.
By Katie Herzog on Nov 4, 2016
People across the country will go through the mild torture of circadian disruption as daylight saving time (DST) comes to an end on Sunday morning. In preparation, writers from all corners of the internet have started debating the merits of falling back and springing forward. They cite various studies proving that adjusting our clocks either increases or decreases energy use, saves lives or costs them, and makes crime rates go up or down.
But no matter the evidence, a whole lot of people just hate DST, complaining that springing ahead leads to more car crashes, sleepier students, and added stress. The haters have launched many, many online petitions to scrap it entirely. One petition asks Congress to “please stop the messing with our schedules.” A 2014 poll found that half of Americans simply don’t see the point.
So what would it take for this anti-DST contingent to kill daylight saving once and for all? Can something as seemingly intractable as time be changed by government decree?
You bet! Daylight saving time was created by government decree after all. The United States actually adopted DST during World War I to save fuel, following Germany’s lead. (That’s right. It had nothing to do with helping farmers get more hours of daylight back in the olden days, contrary to the beliefs of most elementary school students and a number of Grist staffers). Farmers, in particular, opposed the change, and Congress repealed DST after the war ended.
The latest iteration springs from the 1966 Uniform Time Act, which has been tweaked several times since. In 1974, DST was observed year-round in response to the OPEC oil embargo, and it’s been extended twice since then, in 1986 and again in 2005.
States can opt out through legislation or executive action. Legislators in Alaska, California, and several other states have tried (and failed) to end their state’s participation. Two holdouts — Hawaii and Arizona (minus the Navajo Nation) — leave their clocks alone all year long. Scrapping DST nationwide, however, would likely prove more difficult, because it requires an act of Congress.
But the main reason DST is here to stay, says Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, is that it’s good for business. Retailers, home-improvement shops, and other industries benefit from an extra hour of summer daylight, giving people more time to shop, play, and work in the yard. The golf industry, for example, estimates that DST brings in an additional $200 million each year.
Not only do these industries lobby to continue this practice, but they also fight to make it longer. The main push for extending DST into November, Downing says, came from the makers of Halloween candy. Lobbyists even put candy pumpkins on every senator’s chair during DST hearings in 1985.
The only way to end daylight saving time, it seems, is to get big business out of Congress. So until that happens, enjoy the extra hour of sleep. You’ll pay it back in March.
What song do you believe is ideal for U.S. Election 2016?Hi everyone I’m reblogging this because I think it would be fun for everyone to come up with some ideas! Please send your comments over to Jim’s blog! He’s been sick and had a hard year and I think he would have fun reading your comments….thanks everyone ☺
Stop struggling to find the bottom of your takeout box and unfold it into an easy platter.
It may seem like bananas should be peeled from the stem, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Next time you want to eat a banana try peeling it from the opposite side. Just squeeze that little nub on the end. You’ll be happily surprised.=!
The name Hippopotamus comes from the Ancient Greek ‘river horse’. They can sleep underwater and will automatically rise and breathe without waking. They are only territorial while in the water and the reproduction and birth occur in the water. Hippos bask on the shoreline and secrete an oily red substance, which gave rise to the myth that they sweat blood. The liquid is actually a skin moistener and sunblock that may also provide protection against germs. They are one of the most aggressive creatures in the world, although they look chubby, they can easily outrun a human.
Wednesday, the 13th of August, 2014 is the 225th day in 2014 and in the 33rd calendar week.
International Lefthanders Day
August 13, 2014 in the World
International Lefthanders Day is celebrated on August 13, 2014. It was first observed 13 August 1976. As its name suggests, it is meant to promote awareness of the inconveniences facing left-handers in a predominantly right-handed world. It celebrates the left-handers, who are from seven to ten percent of the world’s population.
International Lefthanders Day was founded by the Left-Handers Club in 1992, with the club itself having been founded in 1990. International Left-Handers Day is, according to the club, “an annual event when left-handers everywhere can celebrate their sinistrality [meaning left-handedness] and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed.”
If you are left-handed, you know that living in a world designed for right-handed people can be quite…
Companies invest loads of money to make their brands look flawless, however, even the top brands can’t do everything perfectly. Clif Dickens, a graphic designer from Nashville, decided to point out these flaws on his blog, called Honest Slogans.
Instead of writing their own slogans, Clif adds something a bit more honest. The slogans are deceptive in their apparent simplicity – they are exactly what we thought of these brands, but couldn’t put to words ourselves.
(Editor’s Note: With regards to the above text, management of this blog take the position immortalised by Francis Ewan Urquhart, “You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment”,
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard