A Century of Celebrating America’s Beauty

Enjoy our nation’s wonder by camping at a National Park.
 
This upcoming August 25th marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service, an organization devoted to maintaining our nation’s natural splendor. The idea of conserving and enjoying natural spaces is actually even older. An Act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 established Yellowstone as our nation’s first national park and the first national park in the world. Last year, over 307 million people visited a national park. From battlefields to recreation areas, scenic waterways and trails, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And there’s no better way to experience all the splendor that a national park has to offer than camping. So consider pitching a tent at any of the following national parks this summer.
 
Michigan/Ohio/Pennsylvania
 
There’s something for everyone at the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. Camping, historic sites, wildlife watching and kayaking are available at this national park in Monroe, Michigan. The site was the scene of a major battle in the War of 1812. The loss by the United States’ forces here was a major turning point in our eventual victory. The trail provides visitors with an outstanding opportunity to step back in time and experience the marshes and wetlands that the early French settlers first explored.
 
Head north to Upper Michigan and explore Isle Royale National Park. This island park in Lake Superior offers canoeing, kayaking, fishing and scuba diving adventures. Backpacking and camping are especially popular, with 36 campgrounds located across the island. Campsites are accessible only by foot or watercraft. Typically, campers backpack from one campground to another, traveling six to eight miles per day. Several campgrounds on the Lake Superior shoreline have docks for power and sail boaters. Other campgrounds, located inland, are only accessible by non-motorized boats such as canoes and kayaks. For those who enjoy tranquility, you must check out this park.
 
Illinois/Indiana/Minnesota/Wisconsin
 
Just as rugged and just as awe-inspiring is Voyageurs National Park in International Falls, Minnesota. It was established in 1975 and named after the fur traders, called voyageurs (voyagers or travelers) who paddled the waterways over 200 years ago. Here you can see and touch rocks half as old as the world, experience the life of a voyageur, immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of a boreal forest, view the dark skies right from your campsite, or ply the interconnected water routes. With one-third of the parks 215,000-plus acres consisting of water, be sure to take in one of the two boat tours available June through September.
 
Kentucky/Maryland/Virginia/West Virginia
 
Explore the world’s longest known cave system (over 400 miles of caves have been explored so far) at Mammoth Cave National Park in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Cave tours have been offered since 1816, which makes Mammoth Cave one of the oldest tour attractions in North America. Mammoth Cave offers a number of tours of various duration and physical ability; be sure to pick one that suits you and all of your family members. Dress accordingly, since even on the hottest August days a sweatshirt or jacket is recommended within the cave. In addition to cave tours, hiking, camping, horseback riding, fishing and kayaking are available.
 
North Carolina/Tennessee
 
Situated on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park. It offers an unparalleled diversity of plant and animal life. Part of the Appalachian mountain chain, the “Smokies” get their name from the fog that tends to hang over the mountains in the morning and after rains. In addition to the natural beauty of these ancient mountains, this park offers views of Southern Appalachian mountain culture. One of the most popular destinations within the park is Cades Cove. It offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Large numbers of white-tailed deer are frequently seen and sightings of black bear, coyote, ground hog, turkey, raccoon, skunk, and other animals are also possible.
In addition to camping, plenty of other activities are available, including biking, hiking, fishing and horse riding. Thanks to its’ ample rainfall and elevation gradient, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an ideal destination for those who want to experience waterfalls. Over 100 prominent ones are featured within the park.
 
Kansas/Nebraska/Oklahoma/South Dakota
 
The rugged beauty of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Take in the 45-minute geology walk, visit the paleontology lab or attend the fossil talk to learn more about the ancient mammals––such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat––that once roamed here. Today, bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets reside within the park’s 244,000 acres. Have your cameras ready to capture their majestic beauty. For those who have never truly experienced the magnificence of the night sky, be sure to take in the Night Sky Program. It offers views of more than 7,500 stars and clear views of our Milky Way.
 
Every state in our nation offers a national treasure, be it a wilderness area, historical monument, trail or recreation area, with many offering onsite camping. The list is much too long to include in any article, so please visit www.nps.gov for more information and discover for yourself why we call it America the Beautiful.
 
-Happy Camper
 
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GET HEALTHY, SAVE MONEY, HAVE FUN!

We all learn to ride bikes as kids, but then comes high school and cars and other interests (like the opposite sex) and somehow our bikes end up in garage sales. But bicycling is a tremendous activity for any age, which is why you see so many people riding these days — on city streets, country roads and bike trails.
 
Get Healthy (Without Noticing)
 
Face it, exercise can be drudgery. Counting situp reps, straining on the weight machine, even watching soaps on a treadmill can get old very fast. But on a bike you’re out in fresh air, you’re seeing the sights and you’re getting a great workout without even knowing it. Riding a bike is obviously good exercise, but there are specific benefits:
 
Cycling minimizes the risk of coronary heart disease. Essentially an aerobic exercise, it gives your heart, blood vessels and lungs a workout.
A few miles of cycling per day assures trimmer and toned muscles. This is because your upper thigh muscles, backside and calf muscles all get to work out.
Cycling helps build stamina.
It will help you control your weight.
A good bike ride can lift your spirits and reduce anxiety.
 
So Many Choices
 
The kind of bike you want will depend on the kind of riding you do.
 
For off road biking. Solid, durable, with wider tires, suspensions that will absorb bumpy terrain, and plenty of gears for climbing.
 
A cross between a mountain bike and a “regular” bike, this bike is perfect for people who want a versatile bike for casual and fitness riding — on road and off. This category has exploded in growth over the past few years. For the serious cyclist who covers a lot of distance and wants a fast, lightweight and comfortable bike.
 
Functional, durable and easy to maintain, this bike is excellent for city commuters.
 
Michael Sohalsky with Schwinn Bicycles of Madison, Wisconsin, and he says it is very important to find a bike that suits you. “Listen to the advice of the people in the store, because they know bikes,” he says. “But you also want something that looks attractive on you, so don’t be afraid to listen to your gut, too.” (Just don’t let it talk you out of buying the bike).
 
A Bike for Every Price Range
 
Not only are there all kinds of bikes, there are all kinds of prices. Hard core cyclists want speed as well as durability, and bike construction can be very high tech, with sophisticated frame materials like carbon fiber, titanium and various alloys. And technology costs money: You can easily spend $10,000 on a bicycle.
 
But don’t let that scare you. For a few hundred dollars you can get a perfectly fine bicycle that does everything you need it to.
 
An Infinite Number of Miles Per Gallon
 
Exercise and pleasure will always be big reasons to bike, but with the price of gas these days practicality and economy are becoming more important factors. Any time you can ride your bike instead of driving your car you will be saving big money, considering you will spend on gasoline. Even if you ride to work once a week, you’ll be ahead.
 
Some tips on commuting with a bike:
Make sure your bike is comfortable and working well.
Plan your route; you will probably have to balance safety, convenience and aesthetics, you may want several routes for different moods.
Test your route on a day off when you are not under pressure; not only do you learn the route, you test your equipment and learn about how long the ride takes.
Select light, bright colored cycling clothes; you can’t make yourself too visible.
Plan your work attire; store a wardrobe at the office or carry cloths rolled in a towel to reduce wrinkling. (Tip: some people deliver a week’s worth of clothing to their office once a week.)
Get bike panniers or a ruck sack; for clothing, papers and snacks — longer rides favor panniers.
Buy a lock; learn where to park and how to use the lock for maximum effectiveness.
Wear a helmet — this applies for all bike riding; even with good training on how to ride like a vehicle, and riding defensively, accidents occasionally happen. Studies show that helmets can reduce the severity of the injury.
 
Safety is a concern for everyone on a bicycle. Bikes can be a great alternative to a car, but that car will always be bigger and faster than you are on a bike. Ride carefully in traffic.
 
Find a Bike Trail Near You
 
Recognizing the health and environmental benefits of cycling, state and local governments and private organizations are greatly expanding the number and length of dedicated biking trails. Go on the Internet and search “bike trails” under your state and you’ll likely find a number of good choices near you.
 
-Two Wheeler
 
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A Bicycle Built for You

With today’s emphasis on inexpensive transportation and physical fitness, two-wheeled people-powered vehicles have become extremely popular. But choosing a bike isn’t just a matter of picking out a stylish ride. To get the most out of your bike choose a model that fits both your needs and your physique. Mismatched bikes end up gathering dust in the garage, but the right bike can serve you well for years to come.
 
Form Follows Function
 
The first step in choosing a bike is deciding what kind of riding you’ll be doing. While there are numerous categories of bicycles, the most common are mountain bikes, racing or road bikes, and comfort bikes.
 
Mountain bikes are for off-road use. They have knobby tires that can grip in dirt. Mountain bikes are built with sturdy frames and wheels. Some have suspension systems. The gearing is wide, with emphasis on low ratios that can flatten out steep hills.
 
Racing and road bicycles are built on lightweight frames. They’re designed for speed and the gears range from mid to high ratios. The handlebars are dropped and the rider assumes a low and aerodynamic position.
 
Today’s most popular bikes are called comfort or hybrid bikes. Comfort bikes have low rolling resistance tires and are built with sturdy frames, comfortable saddles, and upright handlebars. Some have suspension or a shock-absorbing seat post for an ultra-comfortable ride. Because comfort bikes are built to travel moderate distances without overtaxing the rider, they’re ideal for commuting or general cruising.
 
Fit to be Ridden
 
Bikes are classified by wheel size, with bikes having 26-inch or larger wheels being appropriate for adults. Itty-bitty kids might start on a 17-inch bike, then graduate to a 20-inch. Bridging the gap between kid bikes and full-size rides are 24-inch bikes. Adults of less than 5’5” might be happier on a 24-inch bike.
 
Once you’ve chosen a bike, it should be adjusted for fit. Pedal crank length can be changed on some bikes. Finding a length that’s best for you makes pedaling easier. One guide suggests that the optimum crank length is equal to 18.5% of the distance from the bottom of your foot to the top of your femur.
 
Saddle tilt is adjustable on most bikes. The best position is a comfortable position. If the saddle is tilted down at the nose, you’ll slide forward, if the nose is high, it will be uncomfortable. Level is usually best.
 
Saddle height can be adjusted on all bikes. The goal here is to find a height that will allow a slight bend in your leg when the pedal is at the bottom of its travel. To adjust height, center yourself on the saddle. With the pedal at the bottom of its travel, your heel should rest on the pedal when your leg is fully straight. This will result in a slightly bent leg when riding.
 
Many saddles have a fore and aft adjustment. How far back the saddle is located relative to the pedals determines how balanced your body will be. All riders bend forward some amount, but when bending forward you don’t want to have to support your weight with your arms. If the saddle is positioned correctly, most of your weight will be on the saddle.
 
Handlebar position is related to saddle position. With your seat positioned correctly, you should be able to reach the bars without upsetting your balance.
 
Safe in the Saddle
 
No one, child or adult, should ride a bicycle without a helmet, and many cities and states require their use. Choose a helmet from a reputable manufacturer that fits properly. A cheap, ill-fitting helmet is not much better than no helmet.
 
If you’re going to ride at night, equip your bike with front and rear lights. The front light generally mounts on the handlebars, while the rear light is mounted on the seat post. Bicycle lights are inexpensive, but the extra security that a light provides is invaluable.
 
-Two Wheeler
 
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