Tag Archives: summer

Avoiding Animal Heat Stress

On Earth Day, Sambo, an approximately 40–45 year old elephant, dropped dead from heart failure and extreme heat exhaustion after walking for 40 minutes in 40° Celsius weather in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The irony of an elephant dying on Earth Day surely didn’t escape many. It’s a sad event to see that an elephant has been overworked in such intense heat without anyone caring for its physiological needs. One of the questions that begs to be answered then is: How can we avoid animal heat stress?

sambo the elephant

Sambo was only one of the many elephants used as a tourist attraction in Cambodia. She had been working for Angkor Elephant Company since 2001, part of a couple of elephants made to bring tourists to the popular Cambodian temple complex, Angkor Wat. [Image: www.dankoehl.blogspot.com/]

During summer, animals experience heat stress. As temperatures rise, medical risks, such as heat stroke and heart attack, are common symptoms of heat stress for animals. Below are some tips to help keep animals well-cared for in the summer.

Provide easy access to water and shade.

dog tub

This dog is spending his summer in the best way possible: Chilling in his very own pool with other “friends.” [Image: www.opensecretsdc.tumblr.com/]

Summers can be brutal—they can make one dehydrated if there isn’t enough water ready to replenish the system. Shade is also another vital companion to prevent constant exposure to extreme heat, making both water and shade critical aspects of properly caring for animals.

Handle only when the time is right.

playful cat

“But what do you mean I can’t go outside and play? I want to!” [Image: www.wallpaperswide.com/]

It is highly recommended that all handling activities—this includes training animals—be postponed to dates or changed to times when the heat isn’t as intense. The reason for this is that some animals have less of a tolerance to heat than others, and any movement under such high temperatures outside can easily increase the animals’ internal body temperature.

Know heat stroke indications.

grizzly bear bathing

A grizzly bear luxuriously bathing in a creek. [Image: www.grizzlybearblog.wordpress.com/]

Fortunately, heat stroke has a few key identifiable factors. Here are a few:

  • High body temperature (above 104° F/40° C)
  • Altered mental state or behavior
  • Alteration in sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid breathing

Animals are vulnerable to heat stress and heat stroke, so it is important to be able to identify key signs of behavior and physiological symptoms in order to take care of them properly.

This summer, there’s no need to put your animals in danger. And as always, with the help of your Pocket Ranger® mobile apps, you can go out and have some unforgettable adventures together! Make the sun a friend and not a nemesis.

Five Types of Trees that Have Our Attention

Summer is here, and now it’s time to finally stop marveling at the blooming trees and hide underneath them for some valuable shade. It’s easy to forget just how many unique and interesting tree species are scattered across the world, but luckily we came up with a list of just five that’ll have you planning a tree-touring trip around the world.

1. Baobab Trees, Madagascar

A huge, misshapen Baobab Tree.

Try wrapping your arms around these interestingly shaped giants. [Image: http://gardenofeaden.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/how-to-grow-baobab-tree-from-seed.html]

Baobob Trees are known by many names (Upside Down Trees, Bottle Trees, and Monkey Bread Trees to name a few) due to their distinctive, mostly leafless appearance. Most of these trees can be found in Madagascar, but certain species appear in Australia and Africa as well. They come in handy for both humans and animals in the unbearable savannah heat, and the thick tree bark is fire resistant and great for making cloth or rope. These fascinating trees are thought to have long lives, and rumor has it that there’s one in South Africa that’s over 6,000 years old!

2. Cannonball Trees, Sri Lanka

Cannonball-like fruits hanging from a tree trunk.

Look out, above! You don’t want to get knocked on the head by these heavy fruits. [Image: http://timdeanblog.com/2013/04/27/trees/]

The nickname Cannonball Tree makes sense once you see the large, round fruits hanging off its trunks. Don’t get too close, though, because they live up to their name, and a falling fruit could lead to lots of pain! Often found in Central and South American rainforests, these trees are an exquisite sight. If you can tolerate the horrible smell, the fruits are edible, too.

3. Dragon Blood Trees, Yemen

Umbrella-shaped trees.

The Dragon Blood Trees’ shape make them the perfect place to hide from the sun. [Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/neslab/8288058514]

Native to the Socotra archipelago in Yemen, the rare and distinct Dragon Blood Trees have an even more interesting characteristic underneath their bark. Once cut, the trees appear to bleed by releasing a red resin commonly used in medicines and dyes. Unfortunately many populations of this tree are struggling because of poor regeneration and increased tourism and overdevelopment.

4. Rainbow Eucalyptus, Hawaii

Colorful tree bark.

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you—these trees ARE rainbow! [Image: http://www.lovethesepics.com/2013/01/living-rainbow-rainbow-eucalyptus-most-beautiful-tree-bark-on-earth-36-pics/]

Streaked in color and looking almost like part of an art project, the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees are a gorgeous, tropical sight. They naturally occur in the Northern Hemisphere and can be found in tree plantations around the world as well.

5. Windswept Trees, New Zealand

Trees bent to the side because of drastic winds.

The only other living creatures you’ll see by these trees are probably sheep! [Image: http://www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com/windswept-trees-in-the-brute-slope-point-new-zealand-5300/]

Some pretty intense, Antarctic winds relentlessly hit Slope Point in New Zealand, leading to its breathtaking Windswept Trees. Aside from these drastically bent trees, the only other living creatures in its proximity are herding sheep.

Don’t just take it from us, though—discover some of these majestic beauties on your own! Download our Pocket Ranger® State Parks Apps and National Park Passport Guide App to find some rare and remarkable trees near you.

Poems for Summer

Whenever a new season comes along we like to celebrate with poems (winter and spring). If you haven’t had the time to peek out your window yet— summer is here! To liven up the first days, we invite you to read our poems for summer, and bask in the images.

Image: www.noelalva.com

Image: www.noelalva.com

Reverie in Open Air
By Rita Dove

I acknowledge my status as a stranger:
Inappropriate clothes, odd habits
Out of sync with wasp and wren.
I admit I don’t know how
To sit still or move without purpose.
I prefer books to moonlight, statuary to trees.

But this lawn has been leveled for looking,
So I kick off my sandals and walk its cool green.
Who claims we’re mere muscle and fluids?
My feet are the primitives here.
As for the rest—ah, the air now
Is a tonic of absence, bearing nothing
But news of a breeze.

Image: www. etherealplant.tumblr.com/post/118795783134

Image: www. etherealplant.tumblr.com/post/118795783134

Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child
Darcy Cummings

One summer afternoon, I learned my body
like a blind child leaving a walled
school for the first time, stumbling
from cool hallways to a world
dense with scent and sound,
pines roaring in the sudden wind
like a huge chorus of insects.
I felt the damp socket of flowers,
touched weeds riding the crest
of a stony ridge, and the scrubby
ground cover on low hills.
Haystacks began to burn,
smoke rose like sheets of
translucent mica. The thick air
hummed over the stretched wires
of wheat as I lay in the overgrown field
listening to the shrieks of small rabbits
bounding beneath my skin.

My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer
Mark Strand

When the moon appears
and a few wind-stricken barns stand out
in the low-domed hills
and shine with a light
that is veiled and dust-filled
and that floats upon the fields,
my mother, with her hair in a bun,
her face in shadow, and the smoke
from her cigarette coiling close
to the faint yellow sheen of her dress,
stands near the house
and watches the seepage of late light
down through the sedges,
the last gray islands of cloud
taken from view, and the wind
ruffling the moon’s ash-colored coat
on the black bay.

Image: www.pinterest.com/pin/258957047293303545/

Image: www.pinterest.com/pin/258957047293303545/

Tropical Courtyard
Joe Bolton

It is a rage against geometry:
The spiked fans of the palmetto arcing
Like improvised brushstrokes in the light breeze;
Like shadowplay, somewhere a dog barking.

Against the height of new and old brick walls,
Confounding stone, transplanted pine and palm
Lift in imperfection, as heavy bells
That would force order fade into the calm

Of azure and a faint scent of musk.
(Is it eucalyptus or just the past?)
There’s nothing in this warm, vegetal dusk
That is not beautiful or that will last.

Thousand Islands Region of New York: Three Beautiful Waterfront State Parks

Contributed by Katie Levy of Adventure-Inspired

Cool breezes, sunsets to die for, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation are among the many reasons to visit the Thousand Islands region of New York. Stretching from Lake Ontario to the west along the St. Lawrence River to Lake Champlain to the east, it’s one of the most beautiful places, in my opinion, to spend a warm weather weekend.

I grew up visiting the Thousand Islands with my family and have fond memories of playing Capture the Flag with my brother, raging bonfires on the banks of the St. Lawrence with my cousins, learning to fish with my father, and visiting family staying at nearby campgrounds.

Though you won’t find solitude or quiet during the high season at any of these campgrounds, there’s just something special about sleeping next to the river. The three options below are great places to start when you’re planning your next trip to the Thousand Islands.

On the Boat  - American Narrows [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

On the Boat – American Narrows [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Burnham Point State Park

If you’re looking for a relatively small, quiet campground with easy access to local attractions and towns, start your search with Burnham Point State Park. Located just east of Cape Vincent, New York, Burham Point is home 47 campsites situated right on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Waterfront access and unobstructed views are available for a lucky few who make reservations far enough in advance, but the most choice sites go quickly during peak season.

This year, the park is open from May 22nd through September 6th with peak season beginning July 25th and ending August 7th. Campsites start at $15, but be aware of additional charges for electric hookups, out-of-state reservations, prime and waterfront sites, and weekend/holiday visits as well as vehicle entry fees.

Once you’re there, the park hosts boat launches, boat docking, a playground, showers, grills, pavilions, picnic tables, and more for visitors. Fishing and boating are popular activities at Burnham Point. Plus the park is close to local shopping, grocery stores, and other activities.

Bonfires on the St. Lawrence in Thousand Islands NY  [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Bonfires on the St. Lawrence [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Cedar Point State Park

If you’re looking for a bustling campground with a sand beach, plenty of docking for boats, and plenty of room for children to run around, Cedar Point State Park is an ideal option. Like Burnham Point State Park, Cedar Point is a popular, beautiful campground nestled right along the St. Lawrence River. Located just north of Burnham Point in Clayton, New York, Cedar Point hosts 165 sites, including RV-accessible sites as well as tent sites.

The season at Cedar Point is a bit longer than at Burnham Point, stretching from May 1st through October 11th this year. Sites start at $15, but additional charges apply for RV hookups, out-of-state reservations and more, as with Burnham Point State Park.

Cedar Point is always busy during the summer season, and with good reason. The park is home to baseball fields, a boat launch, dump and comfort stations, fishing opportunities, picnic amenities, a recycling station, volleyball courts, and best of all, a sheltered sand beach for swimming and relaxing. Even if you’re not staying in the campground, paying the day-use fee for access to the beach is highly recommended!

Sunset Over Carlton Island [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Sunset Over Carlton Island [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Wellesley Island State Park

Technically part of the Town of Orleans in Jefferson County, New York, Wellesley Island hosts the largest camping complex in the Thousand Islands region. With over 400 sites available, visitors can stay in tents, RVs, trailers, even fully outfitted cottages with porches ideal for sunset watching. Though it’s a massive complex, you can still find a handful of secluded sites accessible only by foot or by boat.

Wellesley Island is open for year-round visitation, but not all campground loops and cottages stay open all year. Be sure to look at Reserve America for dates and availability as well as site prices and additional fees. The best part? As the name suggests, if you stay the night, you’ll be camping on an island.

The park hosts four full-service boat launches, docks, dumping stations, showers, food concessions, golfing, fish cleaning stations, nature trails, a museum, baseball fields, a camp store with laundry facilities, and much more. Miles of hiking trails and granite outcrops are ideal for sightseeing and sunset-watching. If summer isn’t your favorite season, drop by Wellesley Island in the winter for cross-country skiing and ice fishing.

Find out about any of these state parks in the Thousand Islands region and more by downloading the free Pocket Ranger® Guide for New York State Parks mobile app!

Have you been to any of these state parks or to the Thousand Islands Region? We’d love to hear from you!

National Trails Day Events 2015

American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day arrives June 6, 2015, spreading across the country. Discover the many state parks offering free outdoor events. From birding festival to evening hikes, there’s something for everyone at the state parks this summer!


 Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge, Maine

Join the Aroostook Birders bird watching club and the Friends of the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge for an unforgettable birding festival. The Northern Maine Bird Festival is a free-admission event, running from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. It will feature guided bird walks, netting/banding demonstrations, educational displays, activities for kids, plus a special live-birds “Owls of Maine” for all ages. The first “early-bird” hike goes out at 6 a.m, which includes a visit to woodland, wetland and grassland habitats to see flycatchers, warblers, and the uncommon Lincoln’s Sparrow and Upland Sandpiper. An ecology professor will be on board to show the branding of songbirds. Also outdoor stations will be set up for children to build a bird house, construct a feeder, and learn about birds through other fun activities. Birders of all skill levels are welcomed.

More info: 207-540-3079, steve_agius@fws.gov

State Park Ranger with a group of park visitors,

Image: www.nps.gov

Cheraw State Park, South Carolina

The best way to learn about your state park is with the help of a park ranger. Celebrate National Trails Day with the Hike with a Ranger event in the rolling landscape of the Sand Hills region of South Carolina through a 2.5 mile loop and the 4.5 mile Turkey Oak Trail. As you hike along, you’ll get a peek at some of the most common South Carolina wildlife, such as deer, turkey, native squirrels, snakes and the endangered red cockaded woodpecker. Visitors will be able to pass an active colony of red cockaded woodpeckers. After the nature walks, hikers can stick around to use the day area found along the banks of the 360-acre Lake Juniper. Be sure to carry water, comfy shoes, binoculars and bug spray.

More info: 843-537-9656, caughman@scprt.com

Hikers walking at night.

Image: www.blog.eurekatent.com

High Knob Lake, Virginia

We know it’s not Halloween, but exploring the woods at night is thrilling any time of the year. Join the Clinch Coalition, an organization that helps protect and preserve forest, wildlife and watersheds to celebrate National Trails Day with an Overnight Excursion. Experience Virginia’s premier hiking trails: Chief Benge Scout Trail and the Little Stony Falls National Recreation Trail, spanning 19 miles. The hike begins at  High Knob Lake, situated at an elevation of 4,000 feet over sea level, then down the mountain to the Hanging Rock Recreation Area.

More info: 423-948-5538, clinchcoalition@gmail.com

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Help keep your state park clean by volunteering to pick up trash while hiking along the trails in Palo Duro Canyon State Park‘s Clean Up Your Park Trails Day. Choose the trail you want to hike and head to the park between 8:30 and10:00 a.m for a free entry. The Entrance Office will be providing trash bags. Visitors will be informed of the collection site the day of the event.

More info: 806 488 2227 x226, bernice.blasingame@tpwd.texas.gov

A group of volunteers cleaning up their park.

Image: www.beltlineorg.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com

 Prairie State Park, Missouri

Discover wildlife while hiking. Come out to Prairie State Park to see bison and their lovely new calves. The guided hike will take take place June 6th at 10am, taking visitors for a two mile hike over uneven terrain. Be sure to stay hydrated with water and snacks, also bring insect repellent, a hat, sunscreen, and sturdy shoes. Since you can’t get too close to the bison, a pair of binoculars will come in handy for any wildlife you encounter.

Register: 417-843-6711  Additional Info: 800-334-6946

There are plenty more National Trails Day events to get excited about, even a photo contest!

Discover trails, wildlife and outdoors activities with the Pocket Ranger® State Parks Apps and the National Park Passport Guide App.

10 Nature Quotes For Summer

After a horrid, freezing winter with subzero temperatures and never-ending overcasts, the sun has finally graced us all with its beautiful rays of light. Stop telling Mother Nature to talk to the hand because summer is definitely here. Break out the sunscreen and sunglasses… it’s time to become reacquainted with the great outdoors. Summer ‘tis the season for many state park activities such as picnicking, camping, hiking and swimming. If you’ve never tried GeoCaching or our very own GPS Tours, you definitely should this summer. To get you in the mood (although we’re sure you don’t need anymore encouragement at this point), we’ll supply you with some of the best nature quotes about summertime.

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” – John Ruskin

nature photos

Image: www.wallpapers76.com

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” – Helen Keller

nature quotes

Image: www.faithxfortune.tumblr.com

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” – Dale Carnegie

nature quotes

Image: www.earthlycreations.tumblr.com

“Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.” – Osho

nature photos

Image: www.foresity.tumblr.com

“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” – Henry David Thoreau

nature quotes

Image: www.simonrobert.files.wordpress.com

“In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.” – Charles A. Lindbergh

nature quotes

Image: www.spokanefavs.com

“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth

nature quotes

Image: www.apodyoopsis.tumblr.com

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” –  Sylvia Plath

nature quotes

Image: www.avirginsbeauty.com

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”
– William Shakespeare

nature quotes

Image: www.media.paperblog.fr

Salads for a Summer Picnic

Picnicking in state parks can be a ton of fun with games, activities and food. But what is a picnic without a delicious salad? Not sure what type of salad to make? Check out some of these salads for your summer picnic.

Mexican Coleslaw

Courtesy of delish.com

This coleslaw goes best on a taco or you can munch on it as a snack. This recipe serves 8 and the total time to make it is 20 minutes.

Cabbage Mexican Coleslaw

Image: www.tattoodonkey.com


  • 6 cups of thinly sliced green cabbage (1/2 head)
  • ½ cup peeled and grated carrots (2-3 medium)
  • 1/3 cups of chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cups of rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt


1. Place cabbage and carrots in a colander; rinse thoroughly with cold water to crisp. Let drain for 5 minutes.

2. Whisk cilantro, vinegar, oil and salt in a large bowl. Add cabbage and carrots; toss well to coat.

Tomato, Onion and Cucumber Salad

 Courtesy of eatingwell.com

This is the simplest salad to make, especially if you are in a hurry heading to your state park for a good picnic spot. This recipe serves 6 and total time to make is 50 minutes.

Cucumber, Tomato, Onion Salad

Image: www.pinterest.com/pin/173177548141326359/


  • 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 4 medium tomatoes (cut into ½ wedges)
  • 1 sweet onion (halved and thinly sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped herbs (parsley, chives)


  1. Whisk vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl.
  2. Remove alternating stripes of peel from the cucumbers. Slice the cucumbers into thin rounds. Add the cucumber slices, tomatoes and onion to the dressing; gently toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Just before serving, add herbs and toss again.

Seven-Layer Salad

 Courtesy of recipe.com

This recipe is Midwestern. It has layers of lettuce, peas, bell peppers and tomatoes with a tangy dressing. The best thing about this salad is that it stays fresh until it is time for your picnic. This recipe serves 10 and total time to make is 30 minutes.

Colorful Seven layer salad

Image: tsgcookin.com


  •  8 cups of shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • ½ cup sliced scallions
  • ¾ cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • ¾ cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 3 strip cooked bacon, crumbled


1. Place lettuce in a large bowl. Layer peas, bell pepper, tomatoes, celery and scallions on top.

2. Whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar to taste, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Spread the dressing evenly over the top of the salad. Sprinkle with cheese, basil and bacon.

 Roasted Corn, Black Bean, and Mango Salad

Courtesy of myrecipes.com

If you are having a picnic in the park and plan on firing up the grill, here is a refreshing topping for grilled food such as chicken, pork or even salmon for that extra kick! This recipe serves 8 and it takes 45 minutes to make.

Mango Salad

Image: sweetpeaskitchen.com


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 cups corn kernals
  • 2 cups mango, peeled and diced
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 small can chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, drained and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in corn; cook 8 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Place corn mixture in a large bowl. Add mango and remaining ingredients except greens; stir well. Arrange 1 cup greens on each of 8 plates. Spoon 1 cup corn mixture over greens.

Playground and picnic area near water

Image: www.tripadvisor.com

Download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app to find a state park near you with a picnic area and a playground so your whole family can enjoy the day. Happy summer picnicking!

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