What's In Your Tank?

This is the not so fun part about RVing….talking about our holding tanks. However, sometimes it’s just necessary. Around the country, but more specifically here in California, we are having ground water quality issues. As a result, the California Water Quality Control Board is increasing regulations and water testing requirements that affect campgrounds and RV parks across the state. And it’s not just commercial operations. State Parks, National Parks, and other public agency campgrounds are facing the same challenges. From time to time, campground and rest area dump stations have been closed and businesses have been denied the right to install dump stations. Some campgrounds have even been denied the ability to add more RV sites.

So what’s going on that would cause water contamination? Basically it comes down to the chemical based holding products used by RVers to control the smell from their holding tanks. These chemicals prevent bacteria from breaking down the waste and can cause the waste water treatment systems used by campgrounds and RV parks to fail. A more in-depth explanation has been provided by the University of Arizona’s Extension Program. Click here to read more.

Chemical based products most frequently contain formaldehyde and other chemicals that convert to formaldehyde in a holding tank environment. Besides being a biocide, formaldehyde has been determined to be carcinogenic. Pull out your holding tank product….if it has a skull and cross bones on it, you can pretty safely say that your product includes formaldehyde. One of the biggest challenges facing RVers is figuring out what is in your product. Very few manufacturers include the product list on the packaging. More often than not, you must obtain a Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) to determine the contents.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Toxic Substances have both generated warning fact sheets in regards to formaldehyde based holding tank products.

EPA Alert

CA Dept. of Toxic Substances Alert

The good news is that chemical based products are quickly being replaced with bacteria and enzyme based products. These products are safer for you and the environment. Additionally, they augment and aid the break down process of waste matter in whatever waste system a campground has in place.

The California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds has compiled a list of all known products and listed their ingredients based on the product’s MSDS. While every effort has been made in the creation of this list, it is by no means the authoritative document in regards to RV Holding Tank products.

Holding Tank Product List

California Campgrounds and RV Parks encourage you to use environmentally responsible products. Bacterial and enzyme based products protect you and your family from harmful chemicals, as well as protecting California’s precious ground water.

January’s Featured Region
Inland Empire – California’s Playground

If you are the adventuresome sort, the Inland Empire has it all: hiking, biking, skydiving, parasailing, paddle surfing. The sports enthusiast can get an adrenaline boost at the Auto Club Speedway home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup. For the finer points in life, Temecula’s wine region provides culinary adventures; Riverside and San Bernardino’s Performing Arts Centers offer cultural enrichment and shopping abounds throughout the region.

The Inland Empire, tucked between Los Angeles to the west and the Deserts to the east, is often referred to as the Riverside-San Bernardino area. The region runs from Victorville in the north to Aguanga in the south and from Big Bear City in the East to Chino Hills in the west. The Inland Empire features soaring mountains, alpine lakes, winter snow sports, and pine-scented air along with urban centers, festivals, Old West towns, Orange groves and wineries. Read More

The climate in the Inland Empire is diverse as the area and includes changes from valleys to mountains. The valley portion experiences a somewhat cooler version of a semi-arid Mediterranean climate, hot dry summers and mild, relatively wet winters. During the winter months higher elevations experience snow and freezing temperatures. Relative to other areas in Southern California, winters are colder and there may be frost and chilly to cold morning temperatures.  Learn more about the Inland Empire destinations.

Camp-California.com offers resources on different things to see and do in California’s Playground.

Featured Wildlife Viewing Area:
Mount San Jacinto State Park

Background: Over two miles high, these craggy peaks, subalpine forests, and wildflower-filled mountain meadows form a designated wilderness accessible only by trails. Enclosed tram cars climb steeply past weathered rock walls, affording good views of soaring red-tailed hawks, Cooper's hawks, and golden eagles. California ground and California western gray squirrels are abundant, evening visitors may catch a glimpse of elusive ringtails here. The pine canopy is home to Clark's nutcrackers, common ravens, northern flickers, and white-headed woodpeckers. Coyotes, mule deer, bobcats, and rarely seen mountain lions are also residents. They are joined by many spring migrants, including Audubon's warblers, western tanagers, western bluebirds, and violet-green swallows. Year round residents include Steller's jay, dark eyed junco, and pigmy nuthatch. Bats are common. Being a State designated Wilderness provides suitable habitat for an immense diversity of plants and wildlife in addition to what is listed above.

The Habitat: The State Park and Wilderness straddle the San Jacinto Mountains, encompassing habitats from desert scrub on the east side and montane forests at high elevations to oak woodland on the west side.

The Experience: The mountain is home to a number of rare and endangered plants and animals, and a great diversity of more common species.

Wildlife and Where to Find It: Wildlife is best viewed from extensive network of trails and viewpoints. For trail hiking see State Park and Wilderness map available at http://www.parks.ca.gov and at the park.

Viewing Tips: High probability of seeing small mammals, song birds and raptors, and evidence of bobcat and coyote from spring through fall. There are more than 70 miles of trails, a State Park visitor center, and spectacular views available year round.

Site Notes: For non-wilderness experience be sure to hike the trails in Long Valley. They are relatively short, easy to moderate in difficulty, and readily accessible from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

How to Get There: For tram: From Palm Springs area on Highway 111, take Chino Canyon/Aerial Tramway Road exit and turn west. Drive 3.5 miles to tram parking lot. For access to wilderness trailheads via Idyllwild, take Highway 243 to Idyllwild.

Contact Information: California State Parks, 25905 Highway 243, Idyllwild, CA 92549, (951) 659-2607

For more information visit California Watchable Wildlife

Featured State Park:
California Citrus State Historic Park

This park preserves some of the rapidly vanishing cultural landscape of the citrus industry and helps to tell the story of this industry's role in the history and development of California. The park recaptures the time when "Citrus was King" in California, recognizing the importance of the citrus industry in southern California.

In the early 1900s, an effort to promote citrus ranching in the state brought hundreds of would-be citrus barons to California for the "second Gold Rush." The lush groves of oranges, lemons and grapefruit gave California another legacy - its lingering image as the Golden State - the land of sunshine and opportunity.

The design of the park is reminiscent of a 1900s city park, complete with an activity center, interpretive structure, amphitheater, picnic area, and demonstration groves. The land contained within the park still continues to produce high-quality fruits.

Location - Directions

The California Citrus State Historic Park is located in Riverside, at 9400 Dufferin Avenue (at the corner of Van Buren). The address of the office is 1879 Jackson Street, Riverside.  In the Arlington Heights - Lake Matthews area of Riverside.

Treasure Hunt

An increasing number of studies say that kids who play outside are happier, healthier and smarter. Help your kids connect with nature and put smiles on their faces by going on a Nature Treasure Hunt! Do this easy treasure hunt in your own backyard, in a nearby park or at a Nature Conservancy preserve near you…wherever you like to be in the great outdoors! This Nature Treasure Hunt offers two hunts: one for ages 4-7 and another for ages 8-10. What treasures will your family find in nature?

Download the Nature Treasure Hunt (PDF, 1.4 mb)

Featured Recipe
Shrimp and Asparagus

Hosted by RVCookingShow.com

California’s asparagus crop will be arriving in stores soon. Check out Evanne’s “right off the shrimp boat” recipe – shrimp & asparagus .


Lemon Crème Fraiche Sauce - make this first:

1/4 c crème fraiche (sour cream works in a pinch)
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T snipped chives - reserve a few for garnish
1t fresh squeezed lemon juice

Shrimp & Asparagus:

2 T extra virgin olive oil
2-3 oz pancetta (bacon works in a pinch)
1 pound shrimp - peeled, cleaned and butterflied (you can also use scallops)
1 shallot - thinly sliced
1 pound asparagus - stem removed - cut into 1" pieces
          (sliced Brussels sprouts or broccoli work great in this dish, too)
1 T butter
1 clove of garlic

How To:

Lemon Crème Fraiche Sauce:
Combine all ingredients and whisk gently to create a sauce.  Garnish with reserved chives. Set aside.

Shrimp & Asparagus:
Heat olive oil in large sauté pan on medium heat. Add pancetta, flip, cook until crisp. Remove from pan.  Add asparagus and shallots. Cook until asparagus is soft but still bright green. Crumble and add pancetta back into pan. Mix well and push aside. In empty side of pan add shrimp.  Salt and pepper shrimp and cook, turning, until just opaque - approximately 2 minutes.  Mix shrimp with asparagus mixture. Turn off burner and remove pan from heat. Add butter and press garlic clove into mixture. Mix well.  Spoon onto plate and serve with lemon crème fraiche sauce on the side.

Visit RVCookingShow.com to find more RV friendly recipes!

Upcoming California Events and Fun Happenings!

PinotFest Pasadena Jan 14-Feb 11
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Santa Barbara Jan 27
Desert Wildflower Viewing Joshua Tree National Park February
Blossom Trail Fresno February-March
Ranger Led Snowshoe Walk Lassen Volcanic National Park Every Wknd in Feb
Chinese Lion Dance Weaverville Feb 1
Annual Air Show Gala El Centro Feb 3
Mammoth Winterfest Mammoth Lakes February 3-4
Wine & Chocolate Fantasy Healdsburg Feb 4
Pet Expo San Jose Feb 4
Laguna Beach Music Festival Laguna Beach Feb 6-12
Colusa Farm Show Colusa Feb 7-9
Anita Chen Violinist & Pianist Crescent City Feb 10
Whiskey Flat Wild West Daze Rodeo Kernville President's Day Weekend
Telemark Festival Bear Valley February 10-12
Dr. George Car Show Indian Wells Feb 11
Indulge Los Angeles Los Angeles Feb 11
Rough and Ready Grange Breakfast Rough and Ready Feb 11
Monster Energy Supercross San Diego Feb 11
Brews, Bikes, Bucks San Rafael Feb 12
The Eternity Ball San Francisco Feb 14
Valentine's Day, A Romantic Rendezvous San Clemente Feb 14
Mardi Gras Ball - Food & Dance Showcase Santa Rosa Feb 18
Polar Plunge Oceanside Feb 18
LA Phil Live: Dudamel Conducts Mahler Victorville Feb 18
Mardi Gras Nevada City February 18-19
Scottish Festival and Games Long Beach February 18-19
Mardi Gras Gala Riverside Feb 21
Enlisted Recognition Dinner Oceanside Feb 24-25
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour Santa Cruz Feb 24-25
CA Duck Days Davis Feb 25
Moonshine & Mayhem Big Bear Lake Feb 25
San Luis Obispo Symphony Ball San Luis Obispo Feb 25
Barrel Tasting at OC Custom Wine Anaheim Feb 29

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