Frank Quan at China Camp Village Photo: Mary Catherine O'Connor
I found Frank Quan at a picnic bench, just off the beach, as the waters of San Pablo Bay lapped gently on the shore. It was an unseasonably warm, windless April afternoon and Quan was sitting in China Camp Village with the Ernie Stanton, the treasurer of Friends of China Camp, a group of volunteers that are scrambling to save China Camp State Park. The 1,500-acre park in southeast Marin County, near the town of San Rafael, is one of many California State Parks that have been slated for closure as of July 1, 2012, due to budgetary constraints.
Aside from a beloved park for mountain biking, road biking, trail running, hiking and boating, China Camp is Frank Quan’s lifelong home, and it was his family’s home for generations. China Camp was once a major shrimping village for Chinese immigrants who’d been forced out of San Francisco by white settlers who, essentially, no longer cared to compete with the very successful Chinese fishermen. When the state park was founded in 1977, Quan remained. He still lives in his family home, right there on the beach, and runs the small café and history museum in China Camp Village.
So the specter of China Camp's closure poses a conundrum that well exceeds the hand-wringing over other state parks that are facing the same fate. If this park isn't saved, where will 85-year-old Quan go?
Earlier this month we drove our vintage Airstream to Marfa, Texas, for its maiden voyage. We knew zilch about driving or camping with a travel trailer before we left, so it was trial-by-fire from the get-go. Despite a few train wrecks along the way, we survived and learned some things for next time—a good thing, because now that we know how much fun Airstream camping can be, there will most definitely be a next time (Chaco Canyon, Crested Butte!). Whether you're plotting an epic family road trip or just want to elevate your usual camping experience this summer, follow these tips for a hassle-free adventure with travel trailer in tow. If you plan it right, you won't have to sacrifice wild places and open spaces for comfort.
1. Make sure your trailer is road-ready. Just because you’ve given your vintage Airstream a hip interior renovation with robin’s egg-blue cushions and eco-friendly cork floors doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ready to be hauled on the interstate at 70 mph. Check your brake lights, your latches, your tires, your windows, your rusty AM radio antenna. Anything old or loose will break or fall off.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe may be granted management of the South Unit of Badlands National Park, which would create the country's first tribal national park. The tribe and the National Park Service (NPS) have been working on an agreement to shift management of the 133,300-acre parcel since 2003. Department of Interior secretary Ken Salazar and NPS director Jon Jarvis today announced the release of the final General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement for the park.
It would, however, be more accurate to say the tribe may be returned management of the land. The South Unit is part of what was the Pine Ridge Aerial Gunnery Range, which the U.S government formed during World War II by removing the land from the Pine Ridge Reservation. In 1968, the range closed and NPS took over management of the South Unit, as part of Badlands National Park.
First, assume an Australian accent. It'll help when you pronounce the name of this snazzy bike trailer setup: Midget Bushtrekka. This pimped out bike trailer has "duallies" (kind of) and is designed to pivot and absorb shock. It can be adjusted to fit on a range of bike frames and has leveling legs to address uneven terrain. Of course, the main feature is the pop-up tent.
The set-up likely isn't worth the $600 you'll spend on it unless you're a dedicated bike tourist and get a guarantee from the manufacturer that you won't have any hitch failures, which some commenters on eBay complain about. If you're willing to sleep on the ground, you could save some money and some weight (the Midget Bushtrekka will add 45 pounds to your trip before it's filled) with a standard bike trailer.
Texas is so vast it makes New Mexico feel as crowded as wall-to-wall suburbs back in Jersey. Two hours after leaving Truth or Consequences, we crossed the state line north of El Paso and saw a sign: “Beaumont: 831 miles.” How is it even possible that a single state could be so wide? Just across the highway, the cramped houses of Juarez, Mexico, seemed to sag into the ground beneath lopsided tin roofs.
We had 150 miles to go until Marfa, and soon we left El Paso behind and were engulfed by an austere landscape, lonely ranch gates the only sign of life. Miraculously, the Airstream tires were holding, the door hadn't blown open since we crossed into Texas, and the only thing broken besides the back window was the ancient AM radio antenna, now bent over and nearly dragging on the highway. Compared to the previous day's ordeal, this ranked as a huge success.
With 30 miles to go, we blasted through the outskirts of Valentine, a town of about 100, if that. “There was the Prada–Marfa store!” Steve said as the fashion icon’s black-and-white logo whizzed past my window. The store’s not actually a store, but a wry art installation and cultural commentary on the stylization of an otherwise dusty West Texas ranch town. I thought about telling Steve to turn the Airstream around so I could take a picture, but then I contemplated the horrors that might unleash, and I kept my mouth shut.