Here it is the end of March, yet it feels like we've gone through at least six months of travails here at the Traveler.
* We've moved the website not once, but twice since mid-January with hopes of finding a stable hosting system. And we think we've found that platform at Cruiskeen Consulting, a Wisconsin-based web-hosting and design service. Among the benefits you'll notice are quicker-loading pages and improved search. We still have some fine-tuning to do, but we're feeling pretty stable. At least in terms of site up-time.
* We've released two special publications/projects this month: Our Essential Paddling Guide to the National Parks and our Essential Park Guide, Spring 2014. We hope you enjoy these as much as we enjoyed putting them together. The paddling guide in particular is the only one that we know of that attempts to put all paddling (canoeing, kayaking, rafting) outlets (at least the approved ones) in the National Park System in one place. This will be an annual guide, and we're aiming to cover any bases we missed this year in next year's guide. The spring guide offers a mix of content, from the seasonal rebirth in the parks to field institutes that can teach your children well.
Please don't overlook the advertisers and sponsors who made these guides possible.
* We're now working on our summer guide to the national parks, aiming towards a mid-May release date. We are looking to our readership for the "Parting Shot" photo that goes on the inside of the back cover (see the inside back cover of either the Paddling Guide or Spring Guide). If you think you've got a great summer photo from the parks, please send a low-res image to us and we'll select the best shot. We're also planning to continue our practice of using a painting for the front cover, so send any candidates to us.
* If you're a Traveler member, please don't neglect to check into the forums on a regular basis. We recently had a question posted about visiting parks in Alaska, and if you have any experience with that topic please check in and offer your thoughts and advice.
* Speaking of Traveler membership, we rely on your support to keep us afloat. It is not inexpensive to move the website to a stable hosting platform, and we do incur monthly charges related to hosting, Internet service, compiling the special guides, and trying to scrape up a little extra to occasionally reward our contributors with actual cash so they can pay their bills, too.
Please consider becoming a member. It's just $9.95 for an entire year. Not only do you support a worthy cause -- independent journalism focused on covering the national parks -- but members receive discounts on books, lodging, and outfitter trips.
The Traveler is not an extension of the National Park Service, not underwritten by a foundation, and not part of corporate America. In other words, there are no deep pockets financing this site.
We're counting on your desire to have access to special publications such as the paddling guide and seasonal travel guides and to stay atop of issues such as the backcountry fees in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the state of trail rides at Bryce Canyon National Park, how Congress manages the parks, and even how the National Park Service acts to help us meet the bills.
Ten dollars for a whole year of national park coverage and an outlet for you to voice your opinions. Is that a bargain, or what?