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I hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas ⛄

“Santa’s Elves” Dogs and Cats with Human Hands Making Toys

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Traveling by RV this summer? Here’s what you need to know

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By Stephen Starr

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.

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America Celebrates Her Freedom

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July 4th fireworks 2020: Where to watch on TV, online

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If you’re planning to stay home for the 4th of July, here are some options of fireworks displays that’ll be shown on TV and online. Author: TEGNA Published: 1:58 PM EDT July 3, 2020

As the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, many cities have canceled public firework displays because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

But there are still a number of large scale displays that are moving forward that you can watch from the safety and comfort of your own living room.

Below is a number of options for enjoying fireworks on television this year. null

A Capitol Fourth

PBS will host a 40th anniversary presentation of “A Capitol Fourth.” 

This year, the broadcast will be hosted by Fuller House star John Stamos and artist Vanessa Williams. Typically the show takes place right in front of the U.S. Capitol but because of coronavirus all performances will be pre-recorded from cities across the country. The 90-minute broadcast will also feature highlights from throughout the concert’s 40 year history. 

While the concert portion has been pre-taped, the program will still have live coverage of the fireworks display from multiple cameras around Washington, D.C. 

The broadcast begins July 4, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. ET and can be found on PBS, the American Forces Network, NPR or streamed via Facebook and YouTube.

RELATED: ‘Hamilton’ debuts Friday on Disney Plus: 6 things you need to know

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks

New York City is planning on having its famous Fourth of July fireworks, but they have formed alternative plans to try and prevent gatherings of large crowds. Instead of having one large fireworks display, Macy’s is planning smaller unannounced displays in every borough of New York City over the course of the week leading up to July 4. Each display will last about five minutes and will be fired from both water and land based locations. 

The fireworks show will still be broadcast live July 4 on NBC from 8 to 10 p.m. ET./PT or 7 to 9 p.m. CT/MT.

The telecast will also feature performances from artists including the Black Eyed Peas, John Legend and Tim McGraw.

Boston Pops Fireworks

While the traditional Boston Pops live concert is canceled, there will still be a special broadcast featuring both old and new content on July 4. null

This year’s Boston Pops celebration will instead pay tribute to front-line and essential workers, as well as those who have lost their lives to the coronavirus. 

The show will feature a virtual performance from Renese King with Keith Lockart at the Piano. The Boston Pops will perform their recently viral hit of “Summon of the Heroes” with a musical and spoken introduction from composer John WIlliams. 

Boston Pops said a “retrospective” fireworks display will end the broadcast.

The show will air on Bloomberg Television and Bloomberg Radio from 8 to 11 p.m. ET.

Willie Nelson’s July Fourth picnic

Willie Nelson’s annual Fourth of July Picnic is going ahead this year, but to reduce concerns about the coronavirus the event will be virtual.

Fans can tune in to the nearly 50-year-old music bash Saturday via luck.stream and williepicnic.com. Tickets for the picnic are on sale at williepicnic.com.

Other performers expected to play include Sheryl Crow, Ziggy Marley, Steve Earle and Nelson’s fellow Texas-based singers Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen and Kinky Friedman.

Some of the artists will perform at Nelson’s Luck Ranch in Spicewood, northwest of Austin. Others will stream live from elsewhere.

Nelson’s event started in 1972 and has been held most years since, moving around Texas and occasionally outside the Lone Star State. It typically draws thousands.

The 87-year-old Nelson’s 70th album was released Friday. “First Rose of Spring” features two new tunes plus Nelson’s take on songs by Toby Keith and Chris Stapleton.

RELATED: Cape Cod officials warn of white sharks ahead of July Fourth

RELATED: President Trump committed to July 4 celebration despite lawmaker concern Fireworks explode over Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, at the National Mall, during the Independence Day celebrations in Washington on Thursday, July 4, 2019, after President Donald Trump’s ‘Salute to America’ remarks at Lincoln Memorial. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) AP

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Enjoy the ride 🎢

Play it safe while you play this holiday weekend 🎇

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

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Enjoy your special day…

Moms Are The Best People In The World

🌹 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY 🌹

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To those who lost their mothers and to those who lost their children…

I hope you fine peace and know that you are loved!

 

Enjoy your special day ladies ❣️

 

Easter Tradition From The First Lady Melania Trump

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Hope You Have A Great Weekend

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