Welcome to June 2012, a month that has been designated Great Outdoors Month by President Barack Obama and by dozens of states across the country.
National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is gearing up to celebrate the great outdoors with Great American Backyard Campout, scheduled for June 23. You can join the Great American Backyard Campout, whether you are an experienced outdoor enthusiast or a first-time camper. Spend the night sleeping under the stars and give back to American children what they don’t even know they’ve lost—their connection to the natural world. We have all you will need to get you ready to camp at your fingertips on the official website at www.backyardcampout.org.
If you participate in the Campout, consider nocturnal wildlife-watching as an activity that will keep you and the family entertained even without your computer or TV. Once the sun sets, the cast of critters that roams your yard changes completely. Depending on where you live, here are five species you may be able to spot:
The day after the final clash at Gettysburg, Pa., on July 4th, 1863, far away and down the snaky Mississippi River in Vicksburg, Miss., an army of the Confederate States of America made a signal surrender to Ulysses S. Grant after a long siege. It was one of the final big blows to the Confederacy and opened the southern part of the Confederacy to Union depredation—the first step in William Tecumseh Sherman’s fiery march to the sea. Today, Vicksburg is a beautiful but somber National Civil War Battlefield park, with lovely hills and high bluffs, stunning views of the river and hundreds of stone monuments to the lives lost and the history made. It’s also a very good place to take a hike.
If you’ve signed up to run a marathon this fall, then you’re probably deep into the training program that will hopefully carry you to your 26.2-mile goal. At this point, you wouldn’t want to make any major changes to your diet or workout schedule, and you certainly wouldn’t want to try anything different on the day of the race, be it new shoes, shorts, or drinks.
Still, you’ve got time to test a few products that could enhance your training, or that you may even want to include on your next Big Run, whether it’s a half-marathon, a triathalon, or even a Thanksgiving Day turkey trot. Here are a couple worth considering:
Ah, the cactus—one of the most interesting and beautiful plants in the desert. Don’t be fooled though, cacti are found in many places other than the Southwest. There are numerous species of cactus spread throughout the United States. We have encountered them on hikes in Missouri, Illinois, and North Dakota, to name a few places. None of the cacti we have encountered though are nearly as cuddly, cute, and dangerous as the semi-aptly named Teddy Bear Cactus.
Rousseau said: Men are born free but everywhere are in chains. A profound observation which foretold the bicycle craze. Then Aretha came along and said: Chain-chain-chain, chain of fools. Which sums it all up quite a bit better in my opinion.
The invention of the chain drive in the 1880s (almost exactly halfway between Rousseau and Aretha) enabled bicyclists to escape the purgatory of the highwheeler era, during which their pedals were shackled directly to those comically large front wheels. Along with Dunlop's pneumatic tire, Starley's addition of a chain and gears to the bicycle was certainly one of the most important waypoints in the entire history of personal transportation. The chain drive was a revolution in personal freedom and human dignity.
Not long after the miraculous chain drive took over, however, inventors were thinking of ways to put it out of business. Chains were hardly perfect, after all. They were greasy and needed frequent lubrication, and occasionally tried to take your finger off, realities that diminished the marketing glow of the new form of transportation.
Although there are many factors to consider when choosing a backpack—durability, weight, proportion to body size, trip length, etc.—the key is the same with a pack as it is with boots—it’s all about the proper fit. Which is one reason Osprey packs are a perennial favorite. Osprey dealers offer expert fit assistance, and they can heat-mold your hipbelt into the form-fitting shape that’s just right for you.
I would guess that many of us are familiar with the Devil’s Tower National Monument, one of the filming locations for 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in northeast Wyoming? The volcanic neck tops out at 5,112 feet above sea level and juts up 865 feet from the ground with nothing but grasslands and pine forests surrounding it. Such an odd formation to be in this location that it is known as a sacred site to the Lakota and over twenty other tribes in the area. The tower is a popular destination for rock climbers and park tourists alike.