RV Florida’s Emerald Coast

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bitterman/Flickr Creative Commons

Merry Christmas everybody! Hope y’all had a great holiday, and the time spent with family was a good one. Today we’re going to take a little trek down a stretch of highway that isn’t as well known as some of the others in this well-traveled State. We’re going to kick off our drive in an oft-visited Florida destination and finish in another landmark city, so grab some sunscreen, charge up the phone batteries, and strap in because we’re headed along the Gulf Coast!

Today let’s pretend we’re in Panama City, FL. We’ve had enough of crowded beaches and all the teenagers that come with them, so today we’re going to look for a little peace and quiet, beautiful scenery, and gorgeous beaches. So what we’re going to do today is drive out of Panama City along the coast on Rte 98. Once you cross the bridge and get past Tyndall AFB, you’re on the coast road and headed for Port St Joe.

Port St Joe is a sleepy little coastal town of a little less than 4000 people. Famous for it’s Cape San Blas lighthouse, from Port St Joe you can head south on 30A all the way to the white sand beaches of Bay San Blas. If you’d prefer to head further east, stay on Rte 98 and Apalachicola.

Apalachicola is another small coastal town, with a population of around 2-3000. It sits at the mouth of the Apalachicola River, where the fresh water of the river meets the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico. Every year the town hosts the Florida Seafood Festival, and is the home of Florida oysters. From here you can drive across the causeway to St George Island, or continue further east to Carabelle.

Would you believe that Carabelle, FL is another sleepy coastal town? Well it sure is! Population of around 1500, give or take a hundred or two. It is surrounded by water, with the Carabelle River, St George Sound, Crooked River, Ochlockonee River and the mighty Gulf of Mexico all within spitting distance. Continue east on 98 until you reach the junction with Hwy 319, take 319 up to Tallahassee and I-10.

In all of these little towns you will find the usual water and sun-based activities. Great seafood abounds, as do campgrounds, and fun. We hope you’ll enjoy this drive, and remember to swing by PPL Motorhomes for all your parts and accessories.

RVing the North Pole

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Well break out the snow chains, wash your clothes in anti-freeze, and stock up on reindeer chow because today we’re gonna ROOOOOAD TRIIIIIP (written in my best Oprah-style holler). On today’s journey, we’re heading for the North Pole, and since we’re departing from Houston, TX it’s gonna take awhile to arrive at our destination. So put this lat/long in your GPS: 90.00° N, 0.00° W and while you’re determining the best route for yourself, I’ll give you a couple of facts about the North Pole that you may not know:

  • Did you know the North Pole was discovered as recently as 1909? US Navy engineer Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, and four Inuit men have been given disputed credit for being the first men to stand on the North Pole.
  • Did you know that there are two North Poles? The geographic North Pole, which I gave you the lat/long for, and the magnetic North Pole with changes slightly everyday. The Magnetic Pole is the one your compass will point to more and more incorrectly the further north you are.
  • Did you know that the North Pole isn’t on land? There is only drifting pack ice over the North Pole, so if you were to go there, plant a flag and say, “I claim this North Pole for the Great State of Texas” by the time you got back home that flag might be  off the coast of Greenland.
  • Did you know Santa’s Workshop is not really at the Geographical North Pole? It’s actually in the Lapland region of far north Finland, and the wouldn’t you know the Lapps are world-reknowned reindeer herders too!

OK now that we’re all up on our North Pole facts, let’s hit the road!

I wanted to take a moment at this special time of year to say how much we here at PPL Motorhomes appreciate your support and business throughout the year, and we look forward to supplying your RV needs in the coming year as well. All the best to all of you from all of us here at PPL Motorhomes.

 

RV the Cajun Riviera

MyBiggestFan/Flickr Creative Commons

It’s almost Christmas, so those of y’all who have joined the Great Migration have taken your RV’s to warmer climes for the winter. Maybe the winter camping spot is getting a little small? Maybe the tires are getting a little itchy to see something new? Maybe it’s time to hit the road for a quick trip while the gas is cheap? Well, I thought I’d give you folks a few destinations in Louisiana that won’t be getting too cold anytime soon!

Avery Island, LA

Avery Island is the home of Tabasco Sauce, a bird sanctuary, and botanical garden. Located SE of New Iberia, Avery Island is best reached by taking Alt 90 S out of Lafayette, and then turning SE on Hwy 329 in New Iberia. Tours of the Tabasco factory are available Mon-Thurs , with a tasting room of course, and the bird sanctuary and botanical gardens are open year round, every day of the year.

Natchitoches, LA

Christmas is just a few days away, and Natchitoches hosts one of the most extravagant Christmas displays in Louisiana. The Festival of Lights (put on every year for the last 88 years!) uses over 300,000 lights and the city has to start checking the bulbs in June to ensure that the burned out bulbs are replaced in time for the start of the fest around Thanksgiving. You can reach Natchitoches by taking I-49 north out of Lafayette or south from Shreveport.

St. Francisville, LA

Located on Hwy 61, north of Baton Rouge, St. Francisville claims to be the second oldest city in Louisiana. The town is smack dab in the middle of the old south plantation country and there are about 7 of the old plantation homes available for tours. One of them, Oakley Plantation, is home to the Audubon Historical Site where John Audubon did 32 of his Birds Of America paintings.

What are some of your winter destinations in the US? Drop us a line in the comment section below and tell us about them! And don’t forget to hit our website before you hit the road, for all your parts and accessories!

RVing Through the Oregon Outback

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Quiltsalad/Flickr Creative Commons

When the weather warms up in the mighty fine state of Oregon, it’ll probably be May. If they’ve gotten a good snow load over the winter, then it’ll be melting, the streams will be full, and the Oregon Outback will be blooming into one of the most beautiful summer destinations in the US.

The Oregon Outback Scenic Byway is a highway that runs through central Oregon from La Pine down to Lakeview, and it’s a good introduction to the Oregon portion of The Great Basin, but it leaves out so much of Oregon’s Empty Quarter, that today we’re going to design a drive that will take you past most of the highlights of this breathtakingly beautiful, and fairly remote portion of the continental United States. So buckle up, and let’s hit the road!

Most traveling folks know where Reno, NV or Lake Tahoe, CA are located. Using those two well known and interesting destinations as a starting point, reaching the Oregon Outback is as simple as driving up Hwy 395 from Reno through Susanville, CA, through Likely, CA (stop for lunch at the Likely Cafe), through Alturas, CA where the road turns north and you cross the Oregon state line in New Pine Creek.

Lakeview, OR is a great starting point for an Oregon Outback excursion. it has all the amenities and supplies you’ll need as well as being picturesque and a great slice of true small town America like you’d remember from black and white TV days. If you take Hwy 140 E out of Lakeview (hwy is slightly north of town) you’ll drive through the Warner Mountains which are part of the Fremont National Forest and down from the mountains in the the basin. Hwy 140 continues on east and dips briefly down into Nevada’s Sheldon National Antelope Refuge before eventually intersecting Hwy 292 in Denio (pronounced deny-o). There’s a combination truckstop/hotel/diner/gun store in Denio that will cater to your tummy and your fuel tank, and it’d be best to fill up both here.

Head north on 292 and you’ll pass through Oregon’s beautiful Steen Mountain area which abound in natural beauty, hot springs, and outdoor activities. Next you’ll pass by Malheur Lake as you make your way into Burns, OR. From Burns you can either make your way west back to Hwy 395 and south back to Lakeview through Wagon Tire, past Albert Rim, and through Valley Falls. Or you can head east on 20 until you intersect I-84 into Boise or up towards the Columbia River and Portland.

Remember, they don’t call it The Oregon Outback for nothing. This country is pretty remote and sparsely populated, so before you hit the trail please swing by our website for all your parts and accessories!

 

Nana’s Recipes: Tex Mex Shrimp Kabobs

Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs

Living on the Texas Gulf Coast, or the Lone Star Riviera to make it sound more exotic, means we have some fairly mild winters at times, as well as handy access to fresh seafood. So, I thought today we’d combine some good ol’ Tex Mex with some Gulf Coast shrimp and throw them on the barbie!

So you’ll need to get a couple dozen shrimp, and a BBQ pit. First you’ll need to peel and de-vein them, and make sure you leave the tails intact. Then you’ll need to mix the following ingredients together in a decent sized bowl:

  • Chop a red bell pepper until you have about a cup of finely chopped bell pepper bits
  • Do the same with a clove or two of garlic (one if you don’t like garlic flavor too much)
  • Throw in a couple teaspoons of lime juice, a teaspoon of cooking oil, a teaspoon of ground red chiles (whichever variety you prefer)
  • Then add a quarter cup of tequila, a quarter cup of red wine vinegar, and a half teaspoon of salt

Blend all those ingredients together real well and then stir in the shrimp. Let the shrimp marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or so, then bring them out and put them on skewers. Let them cook on a medium heat over the coals for about 5 minutes, and keep brushing the marinade and turning them until the 5 min are up or they start turning pink. Take what’s left of the marinade and put it on the stove and bring it to a boil, then let simmer for 5 minutes or so. Once the sauce has simmered, serve the shrimp with whatever grilled veggies you prefer, and add some Mex style rice, chips and salsa, and some nice warm tortillas. If this doesn’t warm your winter a little bit, maybe add some jalapeño!

Don’t forget to swing by PPLMotorhomes.com and say howdy! We’ve got your parts here waiting for you.

 

Staying Fit in the RV Life

Rv Fit! photo from:http://consumerboomer.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/baby-boomer-exercise-program.jpg

Everybody knows that the roads are long, the driving hours are pretty sedentary, and the odd thing is that once you make it to your destination, ironically, you just want to sit down. Just like you’ve been doing all day long! Well here are some tips about how to get the blood pumping again after a long day on the road.

You may not be 6 years old anymore, but bicycles are awesome! They are an great way to get the legs going, the heart pumping, and some energy burnt. Not everybody has a car tailing along at the back of the RV, and bicycles are the perfect way to run those small errands when you’ve reached your destination. Take a backpack for groceries, or go old school and add a basket to the front. Chances are you wont be going over any sweet jumps or needing to look cool in front of all the other kids and baskets do make life just a little bit easier.

You have two things with you at all times that can help with mobility, health, and energy. Your feet! Pedometers are cheap, and you can go for record-breaking walks everyday. It’s always good to explore, and what better way to do it that than in some new shoes? It doesn’t take that much time out of your day and weren’t you just saying that there’s nothing good on TV?

On bad weather days, you can always put on your favorite music and have a quick dance party in the RV. Pretend you’re on an episode of Soul Train, Dancing With The Stars, or even Lawrence Welk, and dance like nobody’s watching! The fun thing about dancing is how quickly the time passes, only 3-4 songs and the next thing you know you have “worked out” for almost 30 minutes. As James Brown used to sing, “Get up off a that thing! Shake it, you’ll feel better!”

Come by PPLMotorhomes.com and say howdy, we have all the parts and accessories you’re looking for.

 

Put TX BBQ Waypoints in your GPS

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Some folks travel by interstate, some folks travel by destinations, some folks travel by BBQ joints, and that’s what we’re going to do today. If you have a GPS, we’re going to add some waypoints today that are guaranteed to expand that waistline a ‘lil bit, possibly stain a shirt, or two, as well as make a trip across Texas that much more enjoyable. If you’re vegetarian, well, some of these places have pickles.

We’re going to do this shotgun style, and by that I don’t mean we’re going to force you to marry one of these places, what I mean is we’re going to talk about BBQ all over the state because let’s face it, this is a big ‘ol’ place and who knows where you might find yourself? We will hit all points of the compass though, so you should be near enough to one of these places someday.

So many to choose from, so we’ll do urban area BBQ’s first, then rural.

Urban BBQ Joints

Houston, TX – Goode Co. (sorta West U meets Hwy 59 area), Rays BBQ Shack (Alt 90/Old Spanish Trail and Calhoun area), and Triple J Smokehouse (Homestead Rd N of 610) are three of ’em!

San Antonio – Smoke Shack in Alamo Heights, 2 Bros BBQ (on West Ave north of Nakoma Dr), and Big Bib BBQ (Austin Hwy and Lanark Dr) are three of em!

El Paso – Stateline BBQ (Sunland Park Dr s of I-10 on the TX/NM state line), Tony’s Pit BBQ (Myrtle Dr, S of I-10 off Cotton), and Famous Dave’s (3 locations, E, W, and Central) are three of em!

DFW Metroplex – Cousin’s (Fort Worth), Hard 8 BBQ (Roanoke, Stephenville, Coppel), and Mac’s Bar-B-Que (Dallas) are three of em!

Rural BBQ Joints

And now for a few off the beaten path:

Dieter Brothers, Lindsay TX – Hwy 82, W of Gainesville, TX

Louie Mueller, Taylor, TX – HWy 79 E of Round Rock, TX

McBee’s, Pleasanton, TX – Hwy 281, S of San Antonio, TX

Church BBQ, Huntsville, TX – I-45 N of Houston

Dyer’s BBQ, Pampa, TX – Hwy 207 N of I-40

Ace’s BBQ, Mission, TX – Hwy 495 N or I-2

Duncan’s Smokehouse, Vernon, TX – Bus 287 near junction of Hwy 283 and 287

Thompson’s BBQ, Crockett, TX – Hwy 21 just about equal distance between I-45 and Hwy 59

Cooper’s BBQ, Junction, TX – on I-10

… and so many more it’s unreal. Visit any one of these places on a trek across Texas and you’ll be happy, and a little tired. And please remember to come visit us at PPLMotorhomes.com for anything you need RV related, we’ll take care of y’all!

 

Caddo Lake, TX

Caddo Lake in the fog. photo from: http://www.cripscamp.com/

When the weather warms next spring and you get itchy feet, why not head to one of the most other-worldly spots in Texas (yes we know part of it is in Louisiana too, but we’re talking about the Texas side).  You can easily reach this primordial looking lake by taking hwy 43 NE from I-20 through Marshall, TX. Caddo Lake is an easy side trip if you’re on your way to Shreveport or Bossier City from Dallas/Fort Worth, and is a fascinating look at ancient Texas.

Caddo Lake in northeast Texas is the second largest natural lake in the south. It is the largest cypress forest left on Earth, and has featured strongly in Texas history as a water route for steamships until the “Great Raft” (a 100 mile long logjam on the Red River) was broken up leaving this part of the state high and dry to waterborne traffic. It was made a state park in the 1930s and the CCC began construction of the cabins, which are available for rent. There is a sheltered area that is non-RV accessible, but the rest of the park is available to RV travelers.

There are boats available for rent, boat tours start regularly, and alligators call the lake home. All the usual east Texas lake fish are represented, and the park offers hiking, camping, paddle trails, as well as the usual picnicking and nature viewing opportunities. In nearby towns such as Jefferson, the former commercial hub of northeast Texas left dry by the removal of the Great Raft, there are also horse-drawn tours, horseback riding. Private outfitters also provide steamship tours of the lake, fishing excursions, and historic home tours. Needless to say, in an environment like this the wildlife abounds, from all the aquatic birds to the gators and fish, this place feels like the grandfather of all East Texas.

Spring will be here before you know it, and it’ll be time to hit the road again. Remember to pay us a visit at PPL Motorhomes.com while you’re doing your winter RV chores for all your parts and accessories.

 

 

Well The Weather Outside Is Frightful…

Brrrrrrrrrr! photo from:http://rv-roadtrips.thefuntimesguide.com/2010/01/mice_problem.php

Some days, I wish the Puritan Work Ethic had never been brought to America, because some days my blankets are so warm and comfy and it’s so chilly outside that there’s no way I should have to get up and put my feet on that cold, cold floor. Even as far south as here in Texas we have our cold mornings, and our hard freezes, and yes one or two snowflakes on the Gulf Coast will shut down schools. You Yankees can laugh all you want at us and our snow phobias, but we get a good snicker every time y’all complain about temps over 80 so, all’s fair. Here’s what we’re going to do today, we’re going to talk about how to keep that RV warm in the winter, so that first step out of bed in the morning isn’t such a shocker.

One of the best ways to keep the chill from hitting your feet is to get the arctic package for your RV. What an arctic package usually includes is extra floor and roof insulation, heating pads for your water tanks, and dual pane windows. Other places the cold wind likes to creep in are through the entrance door and stairwell. Something as simple as adding a barrier like heavy cloth curtains, or even bubble wrap will help keep out the drafts. The stairwell is probably the biggest single opening through which drafts can seep, so think of ways where you can block off the entire thing at night when it’s the coldest, perhaps using a piece of plywood with insulation attached that is cut to size, as well as easy to install and remove.

We’ll talk next time about how to keep the plumbing and fuel lines from freezing so until then, feel free to browse our winterization parts at PPL Motorhomes.com and STAY WARM!

Nana’s Recipes: Fish Fajita Tacos in an RV Kitchen

Mario's Tacos, Lockhart TX! photo: personal

I thought today we’d combine a couple of awesome Tex-Mex dishes into the One Tex-Mex Dish To Rule Them All. We’re gonna take Fish Tacos and Fajitas, jumble ’em up, wrap ’em in a fresh tortilla, serve ’em up, and watch folks’ eyes roll back in Tex-Mex glee. So, here’s how we’re going to do it:

First let’s cook the fish.

  • Buy enough Tilapia fillets to feed however many people you plan on making happy.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350.
  • Wash the fillets and lay them out on a cookie sheet lined with foil.
  • Squeeze a lime over them.
  • Splash them with tequila.
  • Sprinkle a pinch of cumin over each of them, and some black pepper too.
  • Sprinkle some red pepper flakes over each as well, and perhaps add a pinch of garlic over them if you feel like it.
  • Leave the fillets uncovered and bake them in the oven for 30 minutes.

While the fish is baking, you can gather together the rest of the ingredients you’ll need. Sides like chips and salsa, queso, pico de gallo, etc. You’ll also need some fresh, warm tortillas and whatever you’d like to add to your tacos whether it’s shredded lettuce or cabbage, spinach, sauce, cheese, onions, whatever it is that make your mouth dance for awhile after dinner.

When the fish is done, take a sharp knife and slice the fillets width-wise into 1/4″ wide strips. Roll them up in tortillas, dress them to taste, and enjoy! Not only are these tacos tasty, but they make the entire RV smell wonderful. Open the windows while you’re cooking and just see if the neighbors don’t start lining up, cash in hand! Hope you enjoy these tacos, and if you have a favorite style of RV food, leave a comment in the section below and tell us about it, and if you find your RV’s kitchen in need of a little work, don’t hesitate to visit us at PPL Motorhomes.com for parts and accessories.

Happy Eating!