About the Authors
During their courtship, Fred told Suzi, "I don't do windows and I don't camp." But that was before they discovered the beauty of the national forests (NF) and grasslands (NG) and the wide variety of camping experiences and other recreational opportunities to be found there. Frustrated in the early 1990s by the lack of specific, dependable information about camping in the 157 NFs and 20 NGs, Fred and Suzi Dow decided to do something about it. With U.S. Forest Service blessing and after two years of testing research criteria in local NFs and creating a database, in May 1996, they closed the front door on their Virginia home. With Tory, their Golden Retriever, they hit the road in their 23-foot travel trailer to fill that information void.
Fred, who retired from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Suzi, a former instructor at George Mason University, weren't simply changing lifestyles. No, they had taken on a mission: to create a consolidated information resource that could be used by the public to increase its awareness and knowledge of the NFs and NGs and the camping opportunities found there.
The Dows have enjoyed many adventures since undertaking their project. In their travels, they have met and interviewed hundreds of interesting people, driven on some of the worst roads in the country, and seen the most amazingly spectacular sights. They've had some scary moments too, but those are more then overshadowed by all the great times they've had.
Occasionally, Fred and Suzi look at each other and wonder at what they've accomplished over more than 20 years (and counting) of researching 157 national forests and 20 national grasslands, personal on-the-ground research of over 2,400 developed campgrounds, creating a popular website with thousands of hits a day, 12 eBooks published and over 250,000 miles traveled.
Now, after visiting every NF and NG (including El Yunque NF in Puerto Rico) in the country, the Dow's are going back to selected forests and grasslands to re-research some of the campgrounds. This includes taking more and better pictures and shooting some video. In addition, they are giving PowerPoint presentations on camping in the forests and grasslands.
Little did they realize when Fred made his declaration about windows and camping that their shared love and respect for the outdoors would become such a major part of their lives. Nor would they have predicted that they would be spending 3 to 5 months a year visiting many parts of America collecting information on national forest and grassland campgrounds and loving every minute of it.