Post-Turkey Road Trip to Galveston

Galvez from the jetty. photo from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galveston,_Texas#mediaviewer/File:GalvezHotelGalveston.jpg

Well, that was a great Thanksgiving y’all! The turkey was awesome, the sides are all gone and the ole belt is loosened up a notch. Today is another day, Black Friday to some folks. A day that could be spent elbowing your way through the crowds looking for a good deal. Or not.

Today we’re gonna do what a bunch of Houstonians used to do on the day after Thanksgiving — head for the coast for one last bit of sun and sand before the winter gray takes over for a little while. Galveston, TX is easy to get to, just head south on I-45 until it ends at the beach.

Galveston is one of the oldest towns in the state of Texas. If I remember my 7th grade Texas History correctly, Cabeza de Vaca was among the first Europeans to visit Galveston back in the 1500’s. Since then it has belonged to Mexico, Spain, France and is still a fairly international city, but these days it mostly belongs to ex-pat Houstonians!

Being a barrier island, there is a wide variety of seafood available from all the varieties of fish you can eat to fresh Gulf shrimp and oysters. Deep sea fishing excursions are of course available, as is pier fishing, surf fishing, and all the water-borne activities. RV parks abound on the island, in town as well as in Jamaica Beach and East Beach.

If history is your thing, then Galveston shall provide! The tall ship Elissa is docked along The Strand, a preserved WWII Destroyer USS Stewart and Submarine USS Cavalla are on permanent display over on Pelican Island, and Lone Star Flight Museum hosts a number of restored WWII aircraft with some being available for rides! Also there are many many historic homes along Broadway blvd, and tours are available as well.

It’s a short trip for us, with something to interest every member of the family, so hit the road instead of the couch on this beautiful day after Thanksgiving. And remember, before you hit the road swing by our website for any RV Parts and Accessories you may need!

 

RV Nana’s Thanksgiving Reflections: “I’m Stuffed!”

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Well, that was a great Thanksgiving y’all! We were enjoying some much needed camping time at our favorite RV park, Leisure Resort in Fentress,  and went to a relative’s house for the big family feast.  The turkey was awesome, the sides are all gone, the desserts were out of this world and I was wishing I had worn elastic waist pants!   This was all wonderful, but the very best part of the weekend was time shared with family sitting out under the stars, laughing and sharing great stories while soaking in the peace that surrounds a campfire.  I didn’t even have an urge this year to go out on Black Friday,  the day that could be spent elbowing your way through the crowds looking for a good deal, or not.  Instead a few rounds of putt-putt golf took the place of all that chaos.
It was just me and two of my grandchildren, ages 16 and 13, at the campsite the first night and we were preparing an all-time camping tradition… Frito Pie.  We all pitched in to make this delicious pot of chili and it was almost ready.  In fact, our mouths were watering as we set the table and then the unthinkable happened!  My grandson ran through the campsite and tripped over the cord to the electric skillet and, yep, you guessed it.  About 90% of our big pot of chili was in the leaves.  Of course we had RV Nana, a Boy Scout and a Girl Scout all together and, voila, our dinner was somewhat saved.  We browned some sausage, added a can of chili to what we had saved and it was almost as good as what we had originally created.  It must have been pretty good because my grandson ate about three bags full.  That started our fun, adventurous weekend.

leisurecamp.net

leisurecamp.net

We cooked and ate all weekend long.  My son in law is a terrific cook when it comes to Dutch oven cooking so we feasted on a terrific quiche for breakfast and finger licking ribs for dinner.  Now, you put this great food and a little wine together with the stars in the sky and the cool weather. What more could you ask for?  Saturday night that question was answered.  We had been away from the campsite for a few hours and when we returned to start dinner around dusk, the neighbors were playing guitar.  Sounded great to us, so there was no need for a radio that night.  Little did we know that we were about to be serenaded for a few hours by the Jecker Brothers of Georgetown.  Yes, the guys who play at Monument Café.  This was a night to remember.  The only thing wrong with this night was the fact that we were all heading home the next day, leaving paradise and returning to the rat race.
So, for those of you who have not been RVing very long, this is what it is all about.  You never know who you will meet or where you will meet them.  We were surrounded by great RV neighbors for our special family Thanksgiving weekend.
I would love to hear some of your RV surprises, too!

The Real First Thanksgiving was in Texas

Don Oñate celebrating the first Thanksgiving in North America with the Mansos tribe in 1598. photo from: http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/paso/images/oniate-utep.html

Don Oñate celebrating the first Thanksgiving in North America with the Mansos tribe in 1598.

Thanksgiving means many things to many people, and the point of the entire exercise is to be grateful for what you have. Be thankful for good health, financial success, a happy family, even for something as trivial as your football team whooping theirs.

We here at PPL Motorhomes are thankful most of all for y’all’s continued support over the years, we couldn’t possibly do what we do without you folks supporting us and patronizing our business, and for that we are supremely grateful.

Seeing as how we are a company proudly based in the fine state of Texas, we thought today might be a good opportunity to describe the first Thanksgiving in North America, which actually occurred near El Paso, Texas, a good 23 years prior to the Pilgrims hitting Plymouth Rock way off up in Massachusetts.

What happened was, there was this mighty successful Spanish gentleman by the name of Juan de Oñate. He and his family were responsible for discovering the mines in San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas and shipped much wealth back home to the Spanish King. In return, the king granted Oñate vast lands up on the Rio Grande among the Pueblo Indians and the title Governor of New Mexico. So Oñate gathered up a few hundred settlers and soldiers, thousands of head of cattle, and struck out heading north out of Chihuahua across the desert towards the Rio Grande. It took 50 days and at one point the only thing that saved the caravan was a sudden rainstorm. By the time they reached the Rio Grande, they were in desperate straits and the waters of the Rio literally saved their lives.

After recuperating for a week or so, Oñate ordered a celebratory feast and invited the local Mansos tribe to join them. A survivor wrote, “We built a great bonfire and roasted the meat and fish, and then all sat down to a repast the like of which we had never enjoyed before. We were happy that our trials were over; as happy as were the passengers in the Ark when they saw the dove returning with the olive branch in his beak, bringing tidings that the deluge had subsided.” Thus proving that the first Thanksgiving happened in Texas.

All of us here at PPL Motorhomes would like to wish a “Big ‘Ol Texas-sized Happy Thanksgiving” to all of our RVing friends and family around this great state and across America.

 

Nana’s Recipes: Old Fashioned Texas Style Pecan Pie

PECAN PIE! photo from: http://www.macaroniandcheesecake.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/DSC_0865.jpg

Thanksgiving is only a couple days away ya’ll, and in the last week or two I’ve posted some recipes for Thanksgiving side-dishes that are SO true to my Texas heritage.  There were a few things you could be certain of when my family got together for Thanksgiving.  1)  someone was going to get their feelings hurt about something 2) There was always going to be a football game (or two) on TV 3) the women were all combing the newspaper for the best deals on Friday and 4) we would have lots of  delicious great food to choose from.  After all, unlike me, my mom was by far the very best cook in Texas.  As I look back on those great memories, I can recall all the other Thanksgiving celebrations we attended and it was so funny how there were always arguments and great discussions about who made the “best.”  Every family had their opinion of the “best” recipe for all those traditional foods and here in the Republic of Texas, I know of some knock down fights over who’s momma made the best pecan pie.  So strap on your helmets and pre-heat the oven because here we go!  This is, by far, one of the best recipes ever!!!
Anybody  who’s spent time in Texas can’t help but notice there are pecan trees in “purt near every river or creek bottom.”  Even out in West Texas where they have to flood irrigate, you’ll see row after row after row of pecan trees. So let’s embrace the National Nut of Texas…and I’m not talking about Kinky Friedman…and make a pie out of it.
Here’s what we’ll need:
This is Texan style, so you’ll need a for real cast iron skillet (10″)

  • A store-bought piecrust (unless you make your own, in which case…make one)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 325. Put the crust into the skillet then sprinkle it with powdered sugar. Whisk eggs in a large bowl until they’re kind of foamy then add in the brown sugar, butter, sugar, chopped pecans, flour, milk, and bourbon and whisk together. Pour mixture into piecrust, and then cover the top with pecan halves. Bake at 325 for a half hour, then reduce oven temperature to 300, and bake for another half hour. When the timer rings, kill the heat and let the pie stand in the oven (with the door shut) for another 3 hours. Then……….ENJOY!  And, don’t forget the Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream to scoop on top!!  Now, this is Texas style eating at its best.
I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends enjoying the old or making new Texas traditions.  Thanksgiving weekend brings a lot of travel, so be safe out there on the road.  At PPL Motor Homes, we will be closed Thursday thru Sunday for this Thanksgiving weekend so our PPL family will have time to make memories with their own family and friends. We will be closed at both locations, but our website is always open for your shopping convenience.

Nana’s Recipes: CORNBREAD!

Cornbread in a skillet. photo from: http://thehungrytxn.blogspot.com

Here’s another one of those dishes that’s sure to raise a ruckus on the wherefore’s, thou shalt’s, and everybody’s grandmother/grandfather/momma/daddy’s special recipe was to-die-for. On that I believe we can all agree. Another thing I think we can all agree on is there are two basic kinds of cornbread here in America: Yankee and Southern. To my tastebuds the only difference between the two is that Yankee cornbread seems to use more flour and sugar than Southern cornbread does. So before we get into all kinds of regional mud-slingin’, let’s get to cookin’ up a mess of cornbread, Southern Style!

Thanksgiving is almost here, and folks will be coming over to the house pretty soon, and they’ll be H-O-N-G-R-Y! What you’ll need more than anything else to appease the famished masses is some good ol’ down home cornbread, and for that you’ll need:

  • A Skillet!
  • 1/4 cup of shortening, or better yet…bacon fat for that “true to the old days” flavor
  • 1 1/2 cups of yellow cornmeal
  • 3 Tbsp of regular flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a peeeeench of sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg

First heat the bacon fat or shortening in the skillet on the stove, then pre-heat the oven to 425. While everything is heating up and smelling great, mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Once the bacon fat or shortening has liquified, gently slosh it around the skillet to coat the majority of the cooking surface of the skillet, then pour the rest of the fat into the dry mixture and stir. Add in the egg (beat it lightly first) and pour in some buttermilk, you may not use all of it…what we’re looking for is a thick mixture, but pourable. Make sure you fold the mixture over and over instead of actively stirring when you add in the buttermilk. Once you have the mixture to a thick but pourable consistency, pour it into the skillet, and put the skillet into the over for 20-25 minutes or until a knife stuck into the center of the cornbread comes back clean. Once the cornbread is finished, let it rest in the skillet for 5 or so minutes, then turn it out onto a plate and enjoy!

Before you hit the road this Thanksgiving holiday season, be sure and hit our website for all your RV parts and accessories!

RV W. Texas with the Buffalo Soldiers

Buffalo Soliders. Painting by Frederic Remington, photo from: http://education.texashistory.unt.edu/lessons/psa/Buffalo_Soldiers/

Buffalo Soliders. Painting by Frederic Remington, photo from: http://education.texashistory.unt.edu/lessons/psa/Buffalo_Soldiers/

As y’all may have noticed from the blog posts in recent weeks, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in West Texas, specifically in the Marathon, Ft Davis, Alpine, and Marfa area. One of the places we visited was historic Fort Davis which was a renowned cavalry fort during the “Chasing Geronimo and The Apaches All Over The Southwest” days. One group of troopers who were based here in Texas were the 10th Cavalry, better known as the Buffalo Soldiers. “Buffalo Soldier” was the nickname given to these Africa-American troopers by their Native-American foes.

Despite what the western movies show, a cavalry trooper didn’t spend 90% of his time galloping to the rescue of maidens in distress or foiling stage coach robberies. Their primary role seems to have been one of stabilization of the frontier. Not only in terms of the increasingly violent interactions between the Native-Americans and settlers arriving from back East, but also in terms of mapping the country, installing telegraph lines, and building up the infrastructure of this newer portion of America. Lt Henry Flipper, the first African-American graduate of West Point served in the 10th Cavalry at both Ft. Concho, and Ft Davis. As the frontier extended further westward, most of these forts had been abandoned by the 1880’s only to be rescued from destruction during the 20th century, and either restored to their former condition, or preserved in ruin.

Several of the cavalry forts have been renovated and restored in the western portion of Texas, and are easily accessible from I-10 or in the case of Ft Concho, from Hwy 87 from either I-20 or I-10. Clink the links below for pictures, descriptions, history, and directions. Most feature living history displays, and reenactments form time to time

Visit Fort McKavett

Visit Fort Lancaster

Visit Fort Concho

Visit Fort Davis

What are some of your favorite Old West destinations? Drop us a line in the comment section below and tell us about it. PPL Motorhomes, for all your parts and accessories.

RV the Great River Road

Mississippi River. photo from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_River

Mississippi River. photo from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_River

Have you ever gotten a wild idea in your head, let it percolate for a little while, then thought, “Let’s do it!” One of those for me has been to RV from the northern end of the Mississippi River to the southern end. The Great River Road National Scenic Byway extends 3000 miles and crosses through 10 states from Minnesota down to Louisiana, and I thought I’d bring it up since the 2014 Great Migration is in full effect with all you folks up in the top portions of the country heading down here for warmer weather and our amazing lack of snow shovels.

The Mighty Mrs. Sippi has it’s headwaters at Itasca State Park in Minnesota, and the Scenic Byway begins there as well. At first the river heads north and east to Bemidji before it turns south to drain into the Gulf Of Mexico. On it’s way  towards New Orleans and the Gulf, it winds through a BIG chunk of America’s heartland: Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and finally ending in Louisiana.

Road conditions this time of year can sometimes get a little dicey, but if you’re not too worried about your pace it makes for a fascinating, beautiful drive. To check on current road conditions along the byway in ANY state, please click the following link:

Great River Road National Scenic Byway road conditions by state

It’s not too late to get in one last beautiful, epic, inspiring road trip before the winter arrives and makes the trip more of a job than a fun outing. There are some amazing unique opportunities to view a vanishing portion of America on this route. From the breadbasket of America, to the birthplace of blues, to the birthplace of jazz, so many things that have defined the American experience throughout our history are to be enjoyed on this Great River Road.

Before you hit the road, be sure and hit us up on the world wide web for all your RV Parts and Accessories!

A Night Sky Like No Other: McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, TX

Copyright 2014 David O'Hearn

Copyright 2014 David O’Hearn

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 3.29.39 PM

Copyright 2014 David O’Hearn

 

You’d think that living in the great State of Texas there is almost a limitless number of things to be seen, and while that’s true, there is one place in Texas that has scenery like no other. Fort Davis.

The night sky is something that us city-dwellers often take for granted. It’s usually obscured by vast amounts of light pollution. Even if you get out of the city, say out to the East Texas area and the Great Piney woods, you simple can’t escape a night sky that allows you a view with no artificial light.

That’s not the case in Ft. Davis. Considered one of the darkest places at night in the United States, it provides the perfect location for The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory. Located on Mt. Locke, the observatory was constructed in the 1930’s and has provided vast amounts of data and images of the heavens that, to this day, stand as a monument to celebrate all that we’ve achieved and all that we continue to learn about the known Universe.

However, the observatory is not the most impressive thing about this location. Once the Sun sets, you don’t need a telescope to see literally millions more stars than you’ve ever seen anywhere else in Texas. The feeling of witnessing this for the first time is awe inspiring. Feeling small is an understatement. On a clear night, you can see the rest the Milky Way clearly, as if the sky were filled with stardust and diamonds. You can see planets, constellations, even other galaxies without the aid of a telescope. That is just your first introduction to the hidden majesty of “what is out there”.

The observatory will then provide a personal introduction to everything you’d ever

Source: https://mcdonaldobservatory.org/visitors/programs/star-parties

Source: https://mcdonaldobservatory.org/visitors/programs/star-parties

want to know about our universe and beyond. I highly recommend reserving a spot at for their Star Party. If you only had a moderate interest in astronomy, or virtually none in my case (I really just wanted to see some stars), you will leave with a new appreciation for the science,  philosophy and  it’s history. It is not a highbrow lecture but an interactive discovery as you sit under the night sky while staff show you (rather effectively) constellations, stars, planets and even other galaxies with a simple laser pointer. Can you tell I’m still impressed? And, that’s not even the highlight!  You actually get to look through an array of 7 or 8 of the observatories telescopes to look deeper into space than you ever have before. Ever see the rings of Saturn? I did. Ever see a Super Nova? I did. Be sure to bring a jacket and some blankets because it can get chilly.

Needless to say, I was not only impressed by what I saw, I was inspired.

Though the area is sparsely populated, there are plenty of areas to camp as well as parks to provide hook ups for your RV. If you have yet to visit West Texas, put it on your bucket list for a Spring trip. It’s one of the few places I’ve been in recent RVing trips that “recharged” me. It’s quiet. It’s friendly. It’s absolutely beautiful. By the way, the Davis Mountain State Park is terrific! In fact, while we were setting up the RV, we had a deer welcome us by sticking his head in our RV as if to say “Hi! Welcome to Fort Davis”.

Check out the McDonald Observatory and the David Mountain State Park and plan a trip. I guarantee that you will love it! At PPL Motorhomes, we aren’t just in the business of selling RVs and RV parts, we hope to sell memories, and Ft. Davis Texas and the surrounding towns (Marfa is just down the road) is full of memories waiting to be had by all. From the very young, to the old, it’s a place that must be seen to be believed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nana’s Recipes: Perfect Texas Thanksgiving Side Dish

Green Beans! photo from: http://www.roadfood.com/recipephotos/102.jpg

Green Beans! photo from: http://www.roadfood.com/recipephotos/102.jpg

There is no better, or quicker way I know of to get into a fight here in Texas than to say, “No, THIS is how you cook green beans!” So all you native Texans out there, read this post with a grain of salt. Yes your grandmother’s green bean recipe is the best, so is my grandmother’s recipe, and everybody else’s grandmother’s recipe, too. ALL those recipes are the best…OK? So with all the legal preamble and disclaimers out of the way, here’s an old fashioned Texas Green Bean recipe that may or may not be the best, depending on whose grandmother we’re talking about here…haaaaaa!

Some folks say that in order to do anything right, you’ve got to take it slow. Well, this is definitely a slow cooking method for making green beans, which works well for the holidays!  With these you can leave the beans simmering on the stove for a couple hours while you’re making all the other dishes, hollaring at your husband to turn the game down, swatting the grandkid’s hands as they try to sneak a bite before dinner, answering the phone, welcoming guests, etc etc etc.

Step One: Recruit a grandkid, or one of your favorite guests, to snap a pound and a half of green beans for you.

Step Two: While the beans are being snapped and y’all are talking about family members who have yet to arrive, get three or four strips of bacon, roll them up, and stick a toothpick through them to keep them from unrolling.

Step Three: Put the snapped beans in a pot with enough water to cover them, add the bacon rolls, salt and pepper, maybe a little garlic, and bring the pot to a boil.

Step Four: Once the pot begins boiling, bring the heat back down to a simmer, cover and let simmer for 2 hours.

Step Five: Shoo away your bean snapper, and get to work on everything else.

These are delicious and so easy and we all know that I love to use the EASY Button when I’m preparing a big meal.

What’s your favorite method of cooking down-home green beans? Leave us a comment below and tell us about it, we’re always keen to try new methods! Also, don;t forget to visit us at

PPL Motorhomes.Com for all your RV needs.

Thank You, Veterans

Poppies and war graves in France. photo from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/festivalsandevents/8654155/Book-now-short-break-holiday-ideas.html

Poppies and war graves in France. photo from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/festivalsandevents/8654155/Book-now-short-break-holiday-ideas.html

***A VETERAN***
Whether on active duty, retired, national guard or reserve, is someone who,
at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United
States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including my life.”
That is honor, and something to be proud of!

One of the most significant, yet least heralded holidays of the year, November 11th, is almost upon us. 96 years ago, at 11am on November 11th 1918, The War To End All Wars came to a conclusion. The negotiations had yet to begin, treaties had yet to be signed, but for the first time in over 4 years the guns were silent. An entire generation of Englishmen, Frenchmen, Belgians, Australians, Russians, Germans, and more than a few Americans were wiped out in those four short years. That conflict forced many changes world-wide, some for the better, most for the worse…BUT one of the better changes was world-wide recognition of what our veterans go through to ensure our freedoms and liberty remains intact.

At first November 11th was Armistice Day, and on the first anniversary of the cease fire, then-President Woodrow Wilson said in 1919, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory…” However, full recognition wasn’t achieved until the first Veteran’s Day was celebrated 52 years later in 1971.

These last 13 years have seen our men and women in uniform fighting for longer and, in some cases, more hopeless battles than at any other time in our nation’s history and they deserve our gratitude, our admiration, and our support. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you agree with WHY they are fighting, because you can help influence those decisions by VOTING. These returning servicemen and women don’t have a choice in when or where they serve, only that they CHOOSE to serve.

How many times have you gone to the supermarket and seen shoppers in uniform? Most of the time they seem to be with their families, toting young children, trying to go about their business. How much time or effort would it take to simply say, “Thank you for your service”?

Be respectful, be gracious, be grateful. The security of, not just our Nation, but those of our allies around the world depends heavily on our volunteer military. No one forced them to join, no one forced them to fight, and yet they bravely face wounds and death because they believe that the sovereignty of our nation, and of others is worth more than their own lives. Mothers and Fathers leave their children and children leave parents and friends because they know that there is nothing greater than courage in the face of imminent danger, or honor and bravery on the battlefield, and even accepting the ultimate sacrifice for God, for Country and for family.

PPL Motorhomes honors and salutes all those who have served past, present and future. We are grateful for your sacrifices beyond any words that we can express. Thank you — from the bottom of our hearts — thank you!