Michigan Is Taking a Cue From Bob Ross and Planting Thousands of Happy Little Trees

Bob Ross/YouTube
Bob Ross/YouTube

Bob Ross made a living painting “happy little trees,” but in Michigan his legacy has been transferred from the canvas to real-life happy trees in nature.

Bob Ross Inc. and Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have teamed up with inmates in three of the state’s correctional institutions to plant trees. Roadtrippers reports that to celebrate the 100th year of Michigan’s state park systems—and to honor Ross—the DNR renamed their “prison grow” program Happy Little Trees. The program teaches prisoners horticulture skills by growing trees from native seeds collected by volunteers. Each year, the inmates help grow around 1000 trees. The state uses those young (and happy) trees to replace damaged or diseased trees that reside in parks, campgrounds, and trails all over Michigan. In 2019, 22 out of 103 parks—about 20 percent—will be the recipient of healthy and happy trees grown by the inmates and a staff of volunteers.

To commemorate Ross’s involvement, several parks are scheduled to have commemorative signs. Orchard Beach, Port Crescent, and Yankee Springs parks will have green signs with Bob Ross’s face (afro and all) happily painting outlines of trees; the words “Happy Little Trees Ahead” appear below the outlines. DNR is always looking for more volunteers to plant trees, and those who sign up receive a special groovy T-shirt featuring Ross’s likeness.

Next year marks the 25th anniversary of Ross’s death, so the tree-planting program is particularly appropriate. As Ross once said: “I got a letter from somebody here a while back, and they said, ‘Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.’ That’s for sure. That’s why I paint. It’s because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Shoot, if you want bad stuff, watch the news.” Ross probably would have been thrilled to have his name attached to a program that grows thousands of happy little trees in the wild.

A Rare ‘Full Cold Moon Kiss’ Is Coming This Week—Here’s How to See It

jamesvancouver/iStock via Getty Images
jamesvancouver/iStock via Getty Images

Every year ends with a cold moon—the name given to a full moon that appears in December. The full cold moon that's lighting up skies in 2019 will come with a bonus spectacle for sky-gazers. As Forbes reports, a planetary "kiss" between Saturn and Venus will coincide with the last full moon of the year. Here's what you need to know about the astronomical events.

What is a Full Cold Moon Kiss?

The full moon of each month has a unique nickname associated with the time of year it occurs. A cold moon happens as temperatures drop and winter settles in, hence the name. December's full moon has also been called the long nights moon by some Native American tribes and the moon Before Yule in Europe, according to Travel and Leisure.

This year's moon will be visible the night of December 11 through the morning of December 12. On this same night, the planets Venus and Saturn will appear closer than usual in the night sky. The celestial bodies will be less than 2° apart and share a celestial longitude, a phenomena known as a conjunction or a planetary "kiss."

How to See the Full Cold Moon Kiss

During twilight on Tuesday, December 10, the bright planet Venus and the dimmer planet Saturn will arrive at their closest conjunction, 1.8° apart, above the southwestern horizon. The following evening, they'll be just .01° further away. Stick around the night of Wednesday, December 11 to catch the full cold moon, which reaches peak illumination at 9:12 p.m. on the West Coast and at 12 minutes after midnight on the East Coast.

Not planning on staying up late to see the moon reach its fullest state? Moonrise on December 11 will be just as spectacular. When the moon surfaces around sunset, it will appear larger and more reddish in color in the sky. Meanwhile, Venus's and Saturn's kiss will be visible 180º away.

[h/t Forbes]

This All-In-One Tent Can Transform Into a Sleeping Bag, Air Mattress, Hammock, and More

Rawpixel/iStock via Getty Images
Rawpixel/iStock via Getty Images

For an activity that's supposed to get you back to basics, there’s a surprising amount of gear involved in camping. There's the tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, pillows, and plenty of other essentials. All this equipment gets expensive, and just thinking about lugging pounds of gear on your back into the woods might squash your desire to camp before you even hit the trail. But the Crua Modus, a 6-in-1 camping system, takes all of those essentials and crams them into one convenient pack.

Made by Crua Outdoors, the Modus already raised over $177,000 on Kickstarter in under two hours, crushing its original $20,000 goal. But you can still back this product until January 9, 2020. Pledges start at $199, and “early bird” backers will receive the Crua Modus for $329—40 percent off the regular retail value.

The Modus is broken down into parts:

  • The Footprint: This waterproof tarp offers your tent extra protection against damp ground. And it also functions as a place to sit, so you stay clean and dry.
  • The Base: This self-inflating air mattress and pillow is insulated with a waterproof base. It also comes with a zip-on quilt, which, according to the company, is beneficial, because “when you sleep on a traditional sleeping bag, you are crushing the very fibers that are supposed to be insulating you, making them useless.”
  • The Inflatable Poles and Bug Mesh: The bug mesh attaches to the air mattress and is supported by two inflatable poles that blow up quickly. If it’s a nice summer night, you don’t even need to use the cover, allowing you to look out at the night sky.
  • The Flysheet: This waterproof flysheet has you covered in case your camping trip is hampered by the elements. But it does more than keep you dry during surprise rainstorms; the sheet is also reflective, so you won't overheat on particularly sunny days. And if it’s too cold, reverse the sheet and it will help keep heat inside.
  • The Hammock: Want to take a nap outside? No problem. The flysheet also functions as a hammock. Simply remove it and use the adjustable straps to hang it between two trees.
  • The Picnic Blanket: By night, the quilt keeps you warm, but by day this multi-use blanket can be used for having a picnic or just sitting on the ground. The opposite side is waterproof, so it won’t get wet.

When you’re ready to head home, this tent folds up into a 29.5-inch by 8.5-inch bag that weighs 8.5 pounds. So not only does this make for a light load, but it won’t take up too much space at home.

Now that you’ve got some room your pack, check out these other essentials for tackling the great outdoors. And if you still need a little extra convincing to go camping, check out these scientific benefits of going outside.

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