Wecome To RVs and OHVs

This blog is all about RVs (recreational vehicles) and OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles), camping, sailing, and survival
and how they work together to provide wholesome family fun and great learning opportunities.
Many posts are intended to familiarize novice campers and RVers with RV systems and basic camping and survival
skills. But even experienced RVers and campers will enjoy the anecdotes and may even benefit from a new
perspective. Comments, questions, and suggestions are encouraged. The organization is pretty much by date of publication. Please use the SEARCH option below to find what you are looking for.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Boat Winterization

How do you winterize your boat?  A lot depends on what kind of boat you have, now large it is, and whether you leave it in the water or not.  Trailerable boats can be easily hauled out and stored on shore, often at the owner's home so they are easily accessible for cleaning, maintenance, and upgrades.

Many aspects of winterizing a boat are similar to winterizing and RV.  First of all, drain or freeze-proof all water systems (fresh water tanks, lines, and fixtures, waste water lines and tanks, and engine cooling systems).  Remove all perishable foods, sundries, and supplies.  Inspect all hatches and thru-hull fittings to ensure they won't leak.  

If you have a trailerable boat, or have your boat hauled out for the winter, you may want to shrink wrap it to protect it from the elements over the winter.  Doing it yourself can be a lot of work but there are companies that perform this service and are well worth it if it is within your budget.  Covering  your boat with a tarp will provide some level of protection, but it won't be as secure as shrink wrap and wind may wear holes in the tarp and/or damage the finish on the boat where it contacts hard surface.  Custom fit boat covers provide a safer, more secure way of covering your boat but they can take time and can be quite expensive. 

While you have your boat out of the water is a good time to clean and inspect it.   Hulls often collect algae, mollusks, and other unwanted growths that can inhibit performance and, quite frankly, look like crap!  It would be a very good idea to thoroughly clean your boat, top and bottom, inside and out, before you put it into storage.  Carefully inspect the deck and hull to determine if they need painting or other maintenance before you put the boat back into service next year.

We have a trailerable Macgregor 25 sailboat.  Each winter we pull it out of the lake and bring it home.  This saves several months of mooring fees, avoids risking damage from being banged around the docks by winter storms or icing, and keeps the boat in our yard where we can keep an eye on it.  We built a shelter for our boat using a PVC pipe frame and a large, green farm tarp.  The PVC bends enough to form bows over the boat to hold the tarp up, preventing possible damage to the tarp and the finish on the boat and allowing us access to the deck and the cabin for inspection and maintenance.  It looks like a big green covered wagon over the boat.  We drive 3/8" rebar into the ground as anchor points for each of the PVC pipes supporting the frame.  We used 1/2" schedule 40 PVC pipe.  For our 25' boat we use three horizontal pipes -- one at the ridgeline and one alongside each lifeline.  We use 4-way  (cross) connectors every 2' to run bows and legs from the ground on one side up over the boat to the ground on the other side.  Then pull the tarp over and tie it down securely with bungie cords.  You might want to glue the framework together or secure each joint with cotter pins or bolts, but I just use a press fit so I can easily replace any parts that my get damaged from snow loading and can disassemble it when it is time to launch the boat.

To minimize tear down and set up time we keep as much of the framework intact when we remove it each summer.  If  you glue it together be sure to leave enough room on each side to pull the whole boat and trailer assembly out and put it back in next season.  If you choose to glue it together and use it as a semi-permanent structure you might want to consider using larger PVC pipe.  We went with 1/2" pipe for flexibility and ease of handling as well as lower cost.  We managed to break down our framework into about 6 pieces this last time and it took us less than 2 hours from start to finish to install the cover this year.  The "covered wagon" style cover also allows us easy access to the boat for inspection, repairs, cleaning, maintenance, and upgrades over the winter while providing good protection from the elements.

We kept our original 1970 Macgregor Venture 24 sailboat after it was totaled by the insurance company when it fell off the trailer on the way to the lake last summer.  It makes a fun playhouse for the grandkids and one day, with luck, we might find a new swing keel and mast to repair it and make it seaworthy again.  We covered it with a tarp to protect it against winter weather and keep soggy leaves from staining the deck.  I used sections of the broken mast to make a ridgepole down the centerline so that rain mostly runs off.  Fortunately the tarp doesn't really contact any painted or gelcoat surfaces that might be damaged by chaffing, but it is already wearing through where it contacts the tops of the stanchions along the lifeline.

The more you protect your boat for the winter, the less work you will face before launching it again next spring and the less chance there is of unwanted visitors making nasty nests or messes in or on your boat.

Keep it protected!

My Experience as a Volunteer Firefighter and How It Relates to Camping and Survival


For several years my wife and I have both served as volunteer firefighters and EMRs in our rural community.  It has been an exceptionally rewarding experience.  Now I was never one of those kids who wanted to be a fireman when he grew up, but I've always had a strong interest in emergency preparedness.  Growing up in a rural area instilled a deep appreciation of self reliance.  That led me to join my local Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) many years ago.  Then, several years ago, after just completing a renewal of my C.E.R.T. training I took a summer job at a resort in central Utah.  The fire station was about 1/4 mile from the resort.  I stopped by to let them know of my C.E.R.T. background in case I could be of use while working at the resort.  I was informed they didn't have enough permanent residents to support a C.E.R.T. program (4000 cabins and only 600 permanent residents in the district!) but they were short on volunteers.  The previous year they had more than 2 dozen volunteers but a falling out with the board of directors resulted in all by 3 resigning!  So I signed up as a volunteer firefighter and for the next 6 months I was 1/4 of the department!  That meant I got to do lots of things rookies don't usually get to do.

Upon purchasing a home in McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, my wife and I joined the Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Department.  Our timing was perfect.  There was a fire academy starting that very night, hosted by a neighboring department.  Fire academy includes activities that complete about 70% of the requirements to reach Firefighter I certification.  The rest has to be done in the home department after graduation.  Our department strongly encouraged us to get certified as Emergency Medical Responders (EMRs) as well.  EMR is the first level of emergency medical support, below EMTs and paramedics.  They used to be known simply as First Responders and often include law enforcement as well as fire fighters.  We learned that our little rural department handled about 300 calls a year, most of which were medical emergencies or traffic accidents along the 40+ miles of McKenzie Highway in our district.  So the EMR training was essential.

The skills, training, and experience we've gained in C.E.R.T. and as volunteer firefighters can be invaluable when facing an emergency in a remote area, something we might all face when RVing, boating, camping, or riding OHVs.  Even before I became a volunteer firefighter I used my C.E.R.T. training to assist injured dirt bike riders.  I helped splint a broken arm, a broken ankle, and provided first aid for and transported a rider with a severe knee laceration to the ER.  I once spent about an hour removing cactus spines from a rider's arm after he went down into a cactus patch.  Many times when we are enjoying the great outdoors we will be a long way from medical help and being able to provide basic or even advanced first aid could reduce suffering and could, literally be the difference between life and death in some cases.  So investing a little time in C.E.R.T. training or advanced first aid techniques is a good investment for anyone who goes RVing, camping, boating, or riding OHVs.

Why would anyone want to be a volunteer firefighter?  After all, being a volunteer means getting called any time, day or night, and rushing off, often in very bad weather, to assist people in distress.  You often see people on the very worse day of their lives -- when their house catches fire, they are in a motor vehicle accident, or are seriously ill or injured.  We feel it a privilege to be able to serve our community and, since we are nearly 1 hour away from a major city, it is essential that as citizens we are able to take care of ourselves.  Because of our remote location we often make use of Life Flight to transport patients to an appropriate emergency hospital for treatment.  It is kind of exciting to learn how to set up a safe landing zone and load patients into the helicopter.  It is always a good feeling to know you've helped someone.

Our regular fire department training ensures we are current in our first aid and other critical skills.   It adds a lot of peace of mind knowing we are up to date and know what to do in most emergency situations.  I can think of few if any events that would be more painful or difficult than facing a personal or family emergency without having any idea what to do.

While you can get called anytime, you are always a volunteer and can choose whether or not to respond to each call.  It is always up to you.

How safe is it?  Of course there are always risks associated with fighting fires, responding to motor vehicle accidents, and even taking care of sick people.  However, proper training, personal protective equipment, and procedures and protocols are designed to minimize the dangers.  My wife and I had both been certified flaggers for 5 years in Utah so we already had the skills to provide professional traffic control for motor vehicle accidents.  

The motto "Everybody goes home" is more than just a dandy slogan in the fire departmet:  it is a power rule that all firefighters live by.   Our fire chief demonstrated her commitment to that rule as it applies to our community when she ordered the early evacuation of residents during the devastating Holiday Farm fire last September.  She is credited for saving hundreds of lives.  She and several of our volunteers lost their own homes while out fighting the fire.

Are there age limits for being a volunteer firefighter?  Generally, you need to be at least 18 years old but some departments have junior firefighter programs for younger teens.  Some departments have a mandatory retirement at 55 or 65, but in most cases you can continue to serve as long as you are healthy enough to perform the necessary physical tasks.  My wife and I are both well into our 70s and are still active volunteer firefighters.  I follow the 5BX exercise program I learned in the Air Force Reserve to maintain the physical strength and agility required of firefighters.  I've read of people in their 90s who were still serving.  Many still respond to calls and even when one runs out of physical strength their knowledge, training, and experience can continue to be useful.

Volunteer firefighters make up nearly 3/4 of all the firefighters in the United States.  Even in larger cities with paid fire departments there are often opportunities for volunteers.  Unfortunately, the number of people stepping up has declined in recent years, but, if you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, that may work to your advantage.  There may be more opportunities now than there were a few years ago.  Some departments require prior experience or even Firefighter I certification but most volunteer departments are willing to train new volunteers, if the volunteers are willing to commit the time necessary for training.  Our academy took 4 hours or so on Wednesday nights and all day every Saturday for about 3 months.  We consider it time well invested.

Our little rural fire department is an all volunteer department.  That means there are no paid, full-time firefighters hanging out at the station waiting to be called into action.  When someone calls 911 we get a call on our fire department radios and/or an app on our cell phones and have to go to the station to pick up the proper equipment to meet the needs of each call.  For medical calls that is usually our Rescue truck, which is similar to an ambulance.  For fires and motor vehicle accidents we respond in a fire truck.  Response times for all-volunteer fire departments are, understandably, a bit longer than for full-time departments.  Personnel have to to drop what they are doing, leave their homes or jobs, and drive to the station instead of simply hopping aboard the apparatus and heading out to the call. 

Our fire department was first on scene at the start of the Holiday Farm fire in September 2020.  I was out of district and unavailable to respond but I monitored the progress on my department radio, including Level 3 evacuation orders that included my home in McKenzie Bridge.  Although the fire started only 3 miles from our home the wind took it the other way and we were spared.  At least a half dozen of our fellow firefighters, including our Chief, lost everything while they were out fighting the fire.  Because the main highway was closed by the fire my wife had to drive way around to join me at my mother's house.  The trip took her 6 hours to reach a destination that is normally 45 minutes away.  The fire, evacuation, and subsequent loss of normal services (electricity, telephone, Internet) accentuated the need for proper emergency preparedness.  It was at least two weeks before we could even get home to check things out and another week before power was restored.  Phone and Internet were still months away.

Being a volunteer firefighter involves learning many skills.  Obviously you learn how to fight  fires -- use fire extinguisher, run hoses, etc.  But is also includes a lot of learning about things like building construction and design and how it affects fire behavior, how to use specialized tools for gaining entrance into locked structures or cutting holes for ventilation. We also have to learn protocols and techniques for fighting wildfires.  Motor vehicle accident responses require knowledge of vehicle stabilization and patient extrication techniques as well as traffic control.  Since our district extends along the McKenzie River we need to know water and ropes rescue techniques.  Medical calls require a knowledge of CPR, including the use of an AED (Automatic External Defibrilator) as well as advanced first aid and administration of oxygen.  EMTs and paramedics can also do IVs.  In our rural district along the McKenzie River we also get frequent calls for water rescue events.  Those can be challenging.  The river is very cold all year round and flows at a high rate in most places.  White ater rafting is popular summer activity on the Upper McKenzie River.  Keeping up to date on all the training requirements requires a time commitment but it also keeps you on you toes and helps you maintain adequate levels of physical, mental, and emotional capabilities that yield benefits in all parts of your life.

 The skills you learn as a volunteer firefighter and EMR can have direct application to handling emergencies while camping and during natural or man-made disasters at home.  Fire suppression, first aid, medical triage, and light search and rescue can all be needed and maintaining those skills will always help you when faced with an emergency situation.   I once read that "YOU are the only first responder you can really count on" and having lived in earthquake country and seeing how overwhelmed emergency services can be in a large scale disaster, I definitely believe that is true.  It is a good feeling to know I can take care of my family and my friends and neighbors if necessary.  I fly an EMS flag (see below)on my dirt bike trailer when we go riding so other riders know where they can come for aid if they are injured.
                                                                       Image of EMS (White Line) Waterproof Flag 3x5ft

 Step up!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Boat Trailer Guide Posts

One of the most frustrating, difficult, and least fun tasks associated with owning a boat is launching it and loading it back onto the trailer.  Check out boat launch failures on Youtube for some amusing and sometimes painful and expensive examples.  Boat trailer guide posts are an amazing aid, especially when positioning an empty trailer in the water and lining up the boat to load it onto the submerged trailer.  They extend above the water to show you where the trailer is.  They won't prevent some of the most dramatic launch failures like backing your truck underwater, but they do make positioning the trailer and loading the boat a whole lot easier.

We just pulled our Macgregor 25 sailboat out of the water for the winter.  This was the first time I got to use my DIY boat trailer guide posts.  The last time we pulled a boat out of the water (without guide posts) it was a real pain in the neck (or about 2' lower!).  I had trouble seeing where the trailer was once it got submerged and had more trouble lining up the boat to load it for the same reason.    The trailer ended up at a strange angle and I couldn't see it through the water to guide the boat correctly onto the bunk boards.  Getting the boat loaded was a frustrating and time consuming ordeal that involved a lot of wading in cold, waist deep water and several tries both realigning the trailer and loading the boat.

I saw some commercial boat trailer guide posts on the Internet and it looked like a good solution to my problem.  But they were fairly expensive, like around $100 or more plus installation!  I thought about building my own out of PVC pipe and when I found DIY instructions for doing exactly that it became a no-brainer.  The total cost, for PVC pipe, fittings, and stainless steel hardware to attach them came to less than $25.  It only took about a half an hour to build and install the guide posts.  

I mounted mine to the back of the fenders and they pretty much fit right up against the sides of  the boat once it is centered on the trailer.  You might want to leave  yourself a little more wiggle room, but you don't want them sticking out too far.  You don't want to exceed maximum vehicle width in your jurisdiction, which could be dangerous and could cause you to get a traffic ticket.   Mine measure just 8', outside to outside, which is the maximum width in most jurisdictions.  Since the beam of my Macgregor 25 is 7'9", the diameter of the guide posts pretty much puts them right against the rails so it just fits.

I was amazed at how much easier it was positioning the trailer and lining up the boat!  I am surprised that I don't see guide posts on EVERY boat trailer!  I'm sure if other boaters tried them they would agree.  Turned out the whole process was so easy my wife and I loaded the boat onto the trailer without even getting our feet wet!  Previously it had required at least one of us to wade about waist deep to guide the boat and crank the winch to load it onto the trailer.  With the trailer correctly positioned and using the guide posts again to line up the boat, we were able to float the boat right onto the trailer, align it by hand from the dock, and winch it into place from the open tailgate on the truck.

Following the instructions I found online (Jon boat trailer guide (DIY less than $20).  Like the video I used 1 1/4" Schedule 40 PVC pipe for my guide posts.  A single 10' piece of pipe was enough to do both sides.  I cut it in two, then cut 1' off each piece to mount them to the trailer.  You'll need two 90° elbows to join the horizontal mounting pipe to the vertical guide posts.  You should be able to drill holes in the fenders or fender brackets to bolt the horizontal mounting pipes on.   In the video he installed short bolts through just one side of the horizontal mounting pipes, drilling holes large enough on the opposite side to get a socket through to tighten them.  I used longer bolts and simply drilled and mounted them all the way through the pipe, figuring it would distribute the stress of torque from the tall guide posts and minimizes twisting.   If you  do it my way don't over tighten the bolts or you will distort and possible compromise the pipe,  I put PVC caps on the tops of the guide posts.  I glued the elbows to the horizontal mounting pipes but did not glue the guide posts into the elbows.  Instead I drilled the pipes and the elbows and used stainless steel bolts and wing nuts to secure them so they could be removed if necessary.    You can remove the somewhat ugly printing from the PVC to clean it up with a little dab of acetone so it doesn't have such a DIY look.  I had some reflective arrow tape lying around I had picked up at Dollar Tree and stuck a piece on the front and back  at the top of each guide.  I am quite pleased with the aesthetics as well as the incredible functionality of my DIY boat trailer guides.  Frankly they work so well I would still use the even if they were really ugly!

With the guide posts sticking up out of the water it is easy to see where the trailer is going when backing it down the ramp.  I was able to easily park the trailer right next to and perfectly parallel to the dock.  It is also very easy to line the boat up with the trailer for easy loading.  With the posts close to the beam of the boat they don't exceed maximum vehicle width and aren't in the way when I put my PVC pipe/tarp cover over the boat for the winter.  All in all, a win-win situation!  If your boat has less beam width you might have a little more wiggle room between the posts when you load the boat.  Just be careful not to exceed the Federal maximum vehicle width of 96".

Guide on!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Winter Again

Yep, it’s winter again. For most of us, especially in the northern latitudes, it pretty much means the end of our RV, OHV, and camping season. Time to winterize the vehicles, clean and stow the camping gear, and break out the hot drinks and warm sweaters. Other posts on this blog have given detailed suggestions for winterization so we won’t go into details again here. Just consider this a reminder to review the previous winterization posts and take action. Failure to properly winterize your equipment can have far reaching and often expensive consequences. One of the most obvious issues is problems with freezing temperatures that have a devastating effect on water systems. Water expands when it freezes and it does so with surprising force. Freezing in little cracks in concrete sidewalks and driveways can completely destroy them. Freezing water tanks, pipes, and fixtures often cause damage in addition to the destruction of the items themselves so you want to be sure your water systems are protected if you expect freezing weather. Small engines, like those on motorcycles, personal water craft, and home maintenance equipment like lawn mowers are susceptible to fuel problems if fuel is left in the system for an extended period while the machine is not in use. Modern ethanol gasoline is does particularly nasty things to carburetors. It is a good idea to drain the all the fuel from the fuel tank, then run the motor until it stops to empty the carburetor. If you chose to leave fuel in the tank, be sure to add a fuel stabilizer to prevent it from going bad over the winter. And don’t forget other fuel-powered items such as lanterns and camping stoves.

When storing RVs, be sure to clean them thoroughly and remove any perishable foodstuffs. It is surprising how pests can find their way into even sealed plastic containers. We once had to throw out cases of MRIs from our fire department wildfire stash because rodents had chewed through the mylar packaging. Their ability to chew through it wasn’t surprising but how they could tell there was food inside kind of was. I guess even the sealed mylar containers allow enough odor to escape to attract them. Heavier plastic containers similar to Tupperware, might protect things better, but, to be on the safe side, remove ANY THING that might attract pests.

 Camping equipment other than items that may contain water (canteens, water heaters, thermoses, etc.) are often forgotten, but proper storage is essential to prevent damage and make sure they are safe and ready to use next season. Sleeping bags should NOT be tightly rolled. If you have a place to do so, hang them so they can stay dry, air out, and the loft can expand. If you can’t hang them, put them in a stuff bag but don’t pull the cords too tight. As a last resort, unroll them and hang them for a few hours to let any residual moisture evaporate, then gently fold them for storage.  Leaving them tightly rolled like you do them for packing is a sure way to destroy the loft and make them unusable the next time you get them out after lengthy storage.  Make sure other fabric items, such as back packs, ground clothes, tarps, and tents, are dry before storage. Storing things wet is an open invitation to mold and mildew which, at the very least, makes them unpleasant to use next season and can often cause permanent aesthetic and even structural damage.

Batteries need special attention also. Vehicle batteries may need to be removed and placed where they will be protected from freezing. Using a ”trickle” charger to maintain the charge will significantly lower the freezing point if you want to leave them in the vehicle. It is best to remove batteries from dry cell appliances, like lanterns and flashlights. Electronic equipment should be stored safely in a warm, dry place with a fairly stable temperature. Frequent swings between hot and cold can cause condensation to build up internally and damage them, especially if they are in a humid environment. Interestingly enough, some dry cell batteries may benefit from being stored in a refrigerator.  If you don't want to remove dry cell batteries, consider flipping one around backwards to interupt the circuit so the battries won't get drained if the switch gets accidentally turned on.

 Camping clothing should be cleaned and stored safely. If you choose to leave it hanging in an RV closet or folded in a drawer in your boat or camper, be sure to add some moth balls or used dryer cloths to discourage insects. I like using used dryer clothes. It is a nice way to recycle stuff that would otherwise just go into the trash and get extra use of out of otherwise disposable items and it leaves a pleasant scent, unlike the potent, nasty smell of moth balls.

Periodic inspections throughout the winter are a good idea. Take a few minutes to look over your stored RV, OHV, or boat every week or so to make sure everything is all right. If wind or weather has begun to damage things or there is evidence of pest intrusion, the sooner you discover it and can mitigate the problem, the less damage there will be. A broken limb that makes a hole in the roof of your camper isn’t TOO big a problem if you can find it and repair the hole before it allows a lot more weather to get in and create more significant damage. Getting rid of pests quickly can mean the difference between an unpleasant and inconvenient infestation and total loss of some items or even and entire RV!

 Winter is a good time to review and reflect on last season’s activities. Snuggle up in front of the fireplace in your favorite blanket with a hot beverage in your hand and read some of your camping diary. Or re-read your favorite RV or camping magazines and begin planning fun things to do in the upcoming season. Youtube has an endless supply of interesting and often useful and informative videos on just about any subject that may interest you. I have found the videos on camping and survival to be the most appealing and helpful to me. Brush up on your fire starting skills. Even if you have a nice gas log lighter to get your fireplace going, practice building your fire the right way, using appropriate tinder, kindling and perhaps flint and steel or some other “survival” method of starting a fire.  

While thinking about winterizing your recreational equipment you might want to think about winterizing your home too.  Sprinkler systems should be shut off and drained.  If you are on a well you might need to activate a heater or at least a 100 watt incandescent light bulb in your pump house to prevent exposed pipes from freezing.  You may have to shop around to find the 100 watt bulb as they seem to have been discontinued as a knee-jerk reaction to claims of global warming.  Drain and store garden hoses,  And don't forget to stock up firewood for your fireplace or wood stove.  Our current residence lacks both a fireplace and a stove but we still enjoy a fire in our R2D2 fire pit in our picnic area.  R2D2 is an old washing machine tub.

Stay warm, stay healthy, be safe, and get ready for another outstanding outdoor season!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Camping and COVID-19 -- Several months later


When I posted the first Camping and COVID-10 post we were all  hoping things would get better quickly.  Well, things haven't gotten better quickly!  In many places the increase in the spread of the disease has caused government to impose more restriction on our activities.  Fortunately, most restrictions focus on indoor activities and large outdoor gatherings.  For the most part we can still enjoy using our RVs, OHVs, and water craft.  With the promise of an effective vaccine on the horizon we may have some hope of things more or less returning to normal in 2021.

COVID-19 has certainly taken its toll on many of the activities we were accustomed to enjoying.  However, outdoor recreation, such as camping, dirt biking, and sailing, remain fairly accessible.  Social distancing puts limits on campfire gatherings but many of the other things we like to do outdoors are relatively unaffected.  Maintaining the recommended 6’ social distance spacing usually isn’t too much of a problem when dirt biking or water skiing for example, but it sure puts a kink in traditional campfire gatherings!

The “rules” seem to change every day and are often different from place to place and are often confusing if not downright perplexing.  A friend of mine discovered there was a 10 person limit on family gatherings for Thanksgiving but, in his jurisdiction, the limit for funeral s was 30 people.  So, his Thanksgiving gathering is going to be a funeral for his pet turkey!  While we can admire his creativity it is possible that the increased group size could possibly result in an increased opportunity to spread the virus, assuming you accept the CDC guidelines.

It is frustrating, at least to me, to see such diverse reporting surrounding the COVID-19 situation.  One the one hand you have those who favor even stricter rules for face masks and limits on public gatherings and cite increasing COVID-19 cases and deaths to support their position.  On the other hand are those who cite statistics that supposedly show COVID-19 is less dangerous than the “normal” seasonal flu  and claim wearing face masks is a larger health problem than COVID-19.  Fortunately I have a family member in the medical profession I can turn to for trustworthy information.  He has personally treated more than 2000 COVID-19 cases and remains free of the virus.  He attributes that largely to maintain proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and procedures, i.e.,  N-95 face masks and frequently washing of hands.  While these might be considered by some to be an invasion of personal freedom, they take little effort and CAN make a big difference.  Hand washing, for example, even before the COVID-19 pandemic was considered by many to have been the single most significant advance in medicine in the last 200 years when it comes to preventing infection and the spread of disease.  Before doctors understood the part germs play in causing and spreading infection it was not unusual for a doctor to handle an infected corpse and move on to a more or less healthy patient without even washing their hands.    Someone once told me of physicians in the Old West stropping their scalpels on the leather soles of their boots before operating on a patient.  Just imagine what those boots had been stepping in back in those days!

So, when it comes to camping (and other outdoor activities), there are still many opportunities we can take advantage of.  However, in the interest of avoiding catching COVID-19 – or falling victim to the fear-generated over-zealous reaction of some people to failure to comply with stated guidelines, it is prudent to comply with government regulations as much as possible.  Maintain at least 6 feet spacing between you and people who are not part of your household.  Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in close proximity to other people who might be carrying the virus.  Keep your face mask with you so you can don it whenever needed.

Many people think they don’t need to wear their face masks outdoors.  However, micro droplets from  coughing, sneezing and even just breathing, hangs around longer than most people think.  Hiking  jogging, or riding a bike even many feet behind an infected person could expose you to the virus so it is still a good idea to avoid being around people you can’t be sure are safe.

The good news is there is now a vaccine!  It isn't widely available yet and is currently only released as with provisional FDA emergency approval.  However, it has been successfully tested on more than 15,000 people,  The first round of vaccinations are going to front line medical personnel and high risk environments (doctors, first responders, and assisted living facilities).  Hopefully the introduction of a vaccine will mean the pandemic will soon be over and things can get back to "normal", whatever THAT means these days!  There is talk of the "new normal"; my wife calls it the '"new ab-normal".  I may be a bit cynical, but I tend to agree with her.

Hang in there!  This won’t last forever!