5 Must Haves To Make SIMS 4 Outdoor Retreat realistic

I’m not much of a gamer. I used to play Rollercoaster Tycoon and a lot of online chess. If it wasn’t for the logos I couldn’t tell the difference between a Playstation and an N64. Do they still make the N64?

I do know enough to know that The SIMS is a pretty popular game. Or activity. Can you win it? Anyway, the latest version of this virtual reality game has its characters heading outside for a little family time around the campfire at a fictional national park. According to the trailer, you can play horseshoes with a bear, hook-up in a tent, and experience the joys of what happens when government employees are saddled with overseeing toilet maintenance.

Outside of the National Park system’s mandate to stay at least 150 yards away from all wildlife (or invite them into camp for recreational pastimes), these are all pretty realistic scenarios of a typical American camping trip.

But if The SIMS 4 Outdoor Retreat is going to shoot for realism in family camping, it better include the following:

1.  Litter. Lots of litter
It’s not an easily-accessed American wilderness if there isn’t a sufficient collection of empty water bottles, Clifbar wrappers, and apple cores (They’re biodegradable!); as well as the occasional pair of socks or an abandoned XXXL tee shirt. And it has to be sweaty.

2. Loud music at night
A national park campground isn’t anything close to enjoyable without an ongoing cacophonous serenade of classic rock or inappropriate hair metal. And it can’t be by the artists who have managed to transcend those eras; it has to be the absolute most robust compendium of bands whose fans wait through an entire concert set just to hear that “one song.” Think, Lita Ford. Or Mountain.

3. Traffic
This goes without saying that a free shuttle has to be available to be neglected. To get the simulation down pat, we’re going to need minivans stacked rocker panel to roof rack with napping toddlers, indifferent teenagers, and miles of “keep them quiet and uninterested DVDs” like “The Lego Movie” and “Frozen” and an impressive cross section of gas station snack items. Oh, and dad needs to be pissed behind the wheel and unable to understand why all these people visit on July 4 weekend. Just like he’s doing.

4. Unreasonably large campfires
Wood. We’ll need lots of firewood. And don’t think for a second that the mature timber stands are off limits or that folding furniture can’t be burned either, noxious plastics be damned. You remember Donald Sutherland’s arsonist character from “Backdraft?” Yeah, he needs to be in charge of your fire. Oh, and the fire’s height and intensity needs to correlate directly with the volume of the music referred to in Item #2.

5. Ice cream
At the very least, game players will need it as an object of bribery to keep the kids from complaining about the lack of water slides. It also has to be overpriced and come in flavors that easily stains clothing, because what better signifies American adventure tourism than week-long evidence of our love for a double scoop of mocha fudge in a waffle cone?

There you go SIMS programmers—if these items and situations haven’t made it in your game … then, there’s always SIMS 5: Let’s Feed the Squirrels.

Lawsuit challenges Smokies backcountry fee

Ms. Jewell has her first headache.

A group called the Southern Forest Watch has filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service for its introduction of a backcountry camping fee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

A couple of years ago I wrote in defense of this fee.

I don’t feel the same anymore.

The state of Tennessee needs to get out of the way of the Park Service and allow an entrance fee. Considering how many vehicles enter that park from the Volunteer State’s testament to all things garish, Gatlinburg, the state itself should consider creating a fund to cover at least a portion of what would be collected if a fee was put in place.

The Smoky Mountains backcountry is occupied almost exclusively by locals. The vast majority of those who visit the system’s most traffic-rich park rarely venture more than 50 yards from their vehicle, unless it’s to get frozen yogurt or approach a mother bear and her cubs.

The majority of trail maintenance and upkeep is done through a supportive collection of advocacy groups and now their efforts are being rewarded with a $4/night fee. For folks who have been backpacking in this highly under-rated wilderness for nothing more than the time it took to complete a small form at the trailhead, it’s much more about the principle of the fee than its amount.

Still, with fees come logistics, reservations and without doubt, increases.

The bottom line is that its absurd to charge backpackers a fee when without an ounce of equivocation, the majority of park upkeep costs stem from having to accommodate a perpetual stream of food-stained mini-vans and ear-splitting Harley Davidson riders who think everyone else within a ten-mile radius wants to hear them coming.

image from nps.gov

National Park Fees Waived This Weekend, Hike In To Get Your Own Griswold Xmas Tree

Free fees at national parks for Veterans Day weekend: Mother Nature Network.com
We’re heading to Zion to take in the colors. Where’re you headed?

A dog left to die on the mountain: Outside Online.com
This story is kind of old by now, and I even made that known to Outside via Facebook. But, I read it anyway. Dogs aren’t cut out every outside adventure, as much as we want them to be.

Christmas Tree Tags soon available for Tusayan and Williams districts: Grand Canyon News.com
Hey, it’s the holidays, go get a tree from the national forests. Better than that Charlie Browner you’re going to buy for a $100.00

America’s Ten Best Adventure Cities: Adventure Journal.com
Liking Las Vegas’s inclusion here; probably a few other surprises as well.