One More Not-Too-Crowded Spot To RV

Bureau of Land Management/Flickr Creative Commons

The last two blogs were about some of the emptiest places left in America. They were about drives and locations that would add an element of adventure to your travels, either because of their lack of available services or because the pure isolation. Some people enjoy the crowds, the hustle and bustle, while other prefer the quiet and the solitude. Well today’s blog is the last in our three-part series of big, beautiful, empty places that are off the beaten track and available for your enjoyment.

We’ve talked about Lake County, Oregon in previous blogs so today we’ll concentrate on the rest of the Oregon Outback. The Oregon Outback Scenic Byway begins in on Hwy 395 in Lakeview. As you head north you’ll come to a split in the road in Valley Falls, the huge exposed geologic fault called Abert Rim will be off to your right, and Abert Lake will be in front of you, however you turn left towards Paisley. You’ll cross over the Chewaucan River a couple of times, and will more than likely see quite a few fishermen after trout. The road travels through Paisley and heads along the base of Winter Rim which still bears the scars of the devastating Winter/Toolbox Fire of 2002. On your right will be Summer Lake. Once you’re past Sumemr Lake, the road will begin to climb and you’ll be back up in high desert. The Fort Rock turnoff will be coming up on the right. Fort Rock is a natural volcanic feature that is 200 feet high and over 4000 feet wide and is quite spectacular. After Fort Rock the byway enters Deschutes National Forest and you can head on into Bend, Redmond, or Prineville, OR from there. Of course if you prefer to use Redmond as a starting point, it is an equally spectacular drive and you can continue on 395 south all the way to Reno, NV, or Tahoe, or…?

OH! One last thing. Before y’all head out into the great beyond, be sure and stock up on batteries and water, and also swing by PPL for any other accessories you might need!


RV Through Wide Open Spaces

Al_HikesAZ/Flickr Creative Commons

The summer driving season is only a couple months away for those of us down here in the south central portions of the United States. And once school is out and folks really hit the road, it tends to get a little crowded out there. So this week I’ll be focusing on some of those out-of-the-way places. In the last blog I told y’all about the least populated county in America, Loving County TX and the remotest emptiest stretch of highway in America which is Hwy 50 in Nevada. Today I thought I’d tell you folks about the remotest town and the most isolated stretch of interstate in the continental US.

If you feel like heading to the Grand Canyon this summer, you can visit the most remote town in the continental United States. Supai, AZ is a town of roughly 400 inhabitants, and not a single car. All supplies are brought in on mule trains or the occasional helicopter. Oh, didn’t I mention? Supai, AZ is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and is the capitol of the Havasupai Reservation. It’s been said that Supai is so far off the beaten track that in 2000 the Census Bureau FORGOT to count the inhabitants! Supai is filled with an other-worldly rugged beauty, and is the only place in the nation where the US Mail is carried in and out on mules.

While we’re in the northern Arizona portion of the nation, let’s hop across the Grand Canyon and head north to Utah. Specifically a 106 mile portion of I-70 located in Smack Dab In The Middle Of, UT. The 106 mile portion between Green River in the east and Salina in the west has only 6 exits, no towns, no gas, nothing. Nothing but incredible scenery of the rugged and colorful variety. It’s the equivalent of driving between Baltimore and Philadelphia and not seeing a single person, a single McDonalds, or a single fuel pump. So, when you get to Salina, or Green River, you best fill up the ol’ tank and make sure you do the same with your propane!

OH! One last thing. Before y’all head out into the great beyond, be sure and stock up on batteries and water, and also swing by PPL for any other accessories you might need.

Need Some Elbow Room?

Matthew Rutledge/Flickr Creative Commons

It’s difficult in this day and age of internet, interstates, and instant (not to mention constant) communication, that there are still places in the United States that are remote, unpopulated, and somewhat forgotten. Sometimes it’s nice to head down a trail that doesn’t have too many tracks, so today we’re going to talk about a couple of the empty places that are scattered throughout the continental US, and we’ll start with one here in Texas.

As of the 2010 census, Loving County, TX is the least populated county in the entire United States with a total population of 82. Most folks live in or near the county seat of Mentone, TX which by the way is the only town in Loving County. Back in the 1970’s the schools were closed and both Loving County students were incorporated into the Wink County school district. There are no doctors or lawyers in the county, but there is the Boot Track Cafe in Mentone. They allow smoking, but don’t take credit cards. If you want to shop, I’d imagine you’d head to Kermit, TX. A local was quoted as saying, “You can buy a stamp at the Mentone Post Office, but you have to get the spit to lick it in Kermit”, because Mentone even  has to truck in its water. To get to Mentone you need to head north on Hwy 285 from Pecos, like you’re going to Carlsbad, NM, then take a right on Hwy 302 to Mentone. It’s not in the middle of nowhere, but you can sure see nowhere from Mentone, TX.

Another place nowhere near anywhere is Hwy 50 in Nevada. Back in the 80’s it was proclaimed the “Loneliest Highway in America” and not a lot has changed in the last 30 years. The stretch between Ely and Eureka is probably the most remote 73 miles of the Loneliest Highway in America. If you have any qualms about the mechanical state of your vehicle, stick with the interstates because this road is so far out there it is home to the darkest night skies left in America. That means there are no lights, people, service stations, McDonald’s…nothing. The highway zig zags around the washboard mountain ranges that seem to march in ranks across the state, and most settlements left in this part of Nevada were old mining communities form the silver rush days.

Before y’all head out into the great beyond, be sure and stock up on batteries and water, and also swing by PPL for any other accessories you might need.


Nana’s Recipes : Lemon-Basil Pasta with Shrimp On Top

jeffreyw/Flickr Creative Commons

There’s nothing simpler than cooking up a mess of pasta on the ol’ stove. All you have to do is heat water, throw in the pasta of your choice and wait til it reaches that “al dente” state right? Well, yeah. Kinda. But what are you going to have with it? What kind of sauce? Well let’s look in the cupboard and the fridge and see what we’ve got laying around. Hmmm, we’ve got some shrimp in the fridge, that would be nice. There’s a little bottle of capers there in the door, some fresh baby spinach down in the veggie drawer…what else have we got? Let’s see there’s some basil left over, a couple lemons, here’s a box of spaghetti. We’ve even got some olive oil left in this bottle and I know I’ve got salt and pepper, let’s do this!

I guess first thing, let’s chop about a quarter cup of fresh basil, then let’s get the shrimp peeled and de-veined. We’ve got a pound of it, and that’ll feed four folks I reckon. Once the shrimp is all prepared, we’ll need to get the water boiling in a pot and we’ll need a pan to cook the shrimp. We’ll get three quarts of water boiling then add about eight ounces or so of spaghetti. While the spaghetti is going, we’ll put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and heat the pan until the olive oil just begins to smoke then throw about half the shrimp in as well as some salt, pepper, and even a pinch of sugar is you’re so inclined. Shrimp cook pretty fast so keep an eye on them, when the edges turn pink and they’re spotty/brown take the pan off heat, grab some tongs and pull them out and put them on a plate, so you can cook the other half of the shrimp.

If you were a short-order cook back in high school or college running the pasta and the shrimp at the same time is no problem because they’ll cook in about the same amount of time, but if you get flustered and overwhelmed in the kitchen, cook the shrimp first and pasta after. Once the pasta has reached that al dente goodness level, strain it then pour it into a mixing bowl. In the bowl stir in the chopped basil, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a couple tablespoons of capers, a couple tablespoons of lemon juice, then salt to taste. Grab four plates, put a handful of fresh baby spinach on each plate, a serving of pasta on top of that then crown it with the shrimp! This stuff is so good you should eat it immediately and thank me later, or swing by PPL after dinner for any parts and accessories you may require.


The First RV

Baker County Tourism/Flickr Creative Commons

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we’re 105 years into this whole RV’ing thing, so, today I thought I’d write about how some of this stuff we enjoy now came to be. First there came the car, then the next logical step was a car owner thinking, “How can I make this thing suitable for camping?” Well, in 1910, the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company presented the first ever purpose-built RV they called the Touring Landau. Those early automobiles were named after differing styles of high-end horse drawn carriages; coupe, sedan, cabriolet, brougham, limousine, phaeton, etc might be words familiar to classic car enthusiasts as well as people with only a passing interest in automobiles. This was pre-Henry Ford “a car in every driveway” thinking, this was at the very beginning when owning an automobile was thought to be exclusively for the upper classes. Pierce-Arrow calling their RV a Touring Landau is a perfect example since a landau was a very high-end carriage. Think of the times you’ve seen the Queen of England riding in a horse-drawn carriage on TV, well she was riding in a landau. Better yet, a landau is what Cinderella’s fairy godmother turns the pumpkin into, pretty fancy eh?

But back to Pierce-Arrow for a moment, Pierce-Arrow was a top-of-the-line manufacturer based in Buffalo, New York, and they were highly enough thought of that when the White House switched from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles, President Taft ordered two Pierce-Arrow gas powered automobiles (McKinley had the first presidential car, a Stanley Steamer which was steam powered). So when a manufacturer with that sort of up-scale reputation decides to delve into the recreational vehicle/camping market the automotive world took notice!

That first 1910 Touring Landau featured such novelties/necessities as a water tank, chamber pot style toilet, wash basin, trunks, roof rack and side boxes for storage, hot and cold running water, a folding bed, AS WELL AS a telephone for communicating with the chauffeur! My how times have changed. Back in those days you would have needed to contact Pierce Arrow by telegraph to have them mail you a parts catalog, then order your parts by mail, and await rail delivery. Well today all you have to do is type into your browser and we’ll deliver those parts and accessories straight to your door!

RV the Going-To-The-Sun Road

Dhinal Chheda/Flickr Creative Commons

Glacier National Park in northern Montana is home to one of the most beautiful drives in the continental United States, and it goes by the other-worldy name of “The Going-To-The-Sun Road”. Located in far northern Montana, Glacier National Park shares a border with two Canadian Provinces: British Columbia and Alberta. The easiest way to get to Glacier and the Going-To-The-Sun Road is to get to Missoula, Montana on I-90 then take Hwy 93 to Kalispell where you turn right on Hwy 2 until it intersects the Going-To-The-Sun Road at West Glacier.

Glacier National Park is also home to quite a few historic lodges. If you feel like getting out of the RV for a night or two, everything from old-school motor-courts, to cabins, to full-on lodges are available at Lake McDonald lodge, Many Glacier Hotel, Rising Sun Motor Inn and Cabins, Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins, and the Village Inn at Apgar. Of course camping at campgrounds is available throughout the park as well.

Another unique bit of entertainment at Glacier National Park is the Red Bus Tours. Locally called the Red Jammers, this fleet of restored 1930’s White Motor Co tour buses head up and down the Going-To-The-Sun Road providing a way to take in the spectacular scenery along the 53 mile long road. Why drive yourself, when you can soak it all in form the back of a 1930’s era red bus I ask you?

Of course right now is a TERRIBLE time to head to Glacier National Park, as all but 3 miles of the road are closed to traffic due to snow, but since it becoming spring down here in the southern portions of the States…thoughts around here have started wandering towards “Where are we going to travel this summer?”. If you’re from down south, and want to dodge that heat and humidity of the Gulf Coast come August, Glacier National Park is just about as far north as you can get and still stay in America! Be sure and say howdy to us on the website before you hit the road, and let us help you with any parts and accessories you require before the summer travel season is upon us!


That Retro Style!

Recreational Vehicles are around 105 years old, and with that amount of time comes a variety of change in styles, purpose built vehicles, as well as changes in plain old everyday philosophy. The good news about all those changes is that these days you can more or less choose  to decorate, convert, or modify an RV to suit a particular period of RV’ing. Some folks go full retro 50’s kitsch, some folks prefer a more “glamping” style of luxurious modern appointments that have the classic antique look, while others prefer that old-school utilitarian look. The options for decorating are as limitless as you allow them to be.

Of course if you choose to pursue a decorating style from the past you will have to decide if you want to track down and purchase actual antique or vintage equipment which is generally fairly expensive, hard to find, fragile, and irreplaceable. One of the benefits of today’s interest in classic styling is that today’s manufactures are creating current production items that represent those looks of yesteryear while maintaining modern functionality. For example, we offer sets of vintage style crockery (see photo below):



Getting that look from the past is quite an individual pursuit and also one that’s also very gratifying. There’s nothing quite like having a recreational vehicle that stands out from the herd, above the rest, and does so in a classy way. Even if you’re part-timing the RV, or more especially if you live in your vehicle year-round, you want it to reflect your individual sense of taste and style. When folks come visiting and they feel transported to another time and place, it makes for a great evening.

Please feel free to come visit us at PPL and peruse our online catalogue for those vintage-flavored item, we’re always glad to see y’all, and happier to see y’all pleased with your purchases!

Better Get Those Trailers Inspected!

Stephen Kruso:Flickr Creative Commons

Well y’all, there’s been a law on the books for the past few decades stating that trailers with a gross weight over 4500 pounds have to have an annual safety inspection. That includes travel trailers. Turns out a lot of folks either didn’t know about that law or just flat ignore it. Confusing matters further, the Texas Legislature decided back in 2013 that the inspection requirements will remain unchanged, but the inspection stickers will not be issued. The inspectors now send a notice electronically to the DMV showing compliance and then the inspections station issues a paper to the trailer owner certifying that the trailer has passed inspection and the trailer owner is now able to pay for registration. Inspection first, or no registration. As of 2016, the owner will have 90 days from registration expiration to have the trailer inspected

Of course inspection fees vary from county to county, but the state charges $7.50 and it is added to the $45 annual registration fee for the trailer. A $10 bridge and road fee could also be levied by individual counties as well as whatever fee the inspection station charges, probably in the $7-10 range. Worst case scenario, you’re looking at one more hoop to jump through and a grand total of probably not more than $75 per year for registration and inspection of your beloved drag-along. Of course as part of the inspection all the lights, brakes, and reflectors have to be installed and operational. Since the state will no longer issue the inspection stickers and a safety inspection is required prior to registration, the single registration sticker issued by the state will confirm at a glance that your trailer is in fact in compliance.

Of course some trailers have been neglected or have been rode hard and put up wet. If that’s the case please visit us at PPL Motorhomes for all your parts and accessories to help get that trailer back on the road!

Nana’s Recipes: Mediterranean Style Salmon

Steve Hooton/Flickr Creative Commons

It’s cold and wet  and dark all across most the state of Texas this morning (sorry Panhandle, Midland, and El Paso), and though all this moisture is mighty welcome, it made me start thinking of sunnier, warmer climes like the Mediterranean. The Med is home to some of the oldest European culture on the planet, and boy do they know how to cook! So instead of staring out the window cussing the time change and the wet, let’s talk about a warm spicy awesome salmon recipe.

This recipe works for however many salmon steaks you feel like cooking, just duplicate  the process on each slice of fish. We’re also assuming an average weight of 1/2 pound of fish per serving. All seasoning and garnishing in this recipe should be done to suit your taste. If you don’t like an overpowering onion flavor for example, don’t use a lot of onion! A lot of folks look at recipes as an absolute, but I’m here to tell you that this one is more of a guideline, after all what we’re after is a delicious meal.

I suppose while we’re visiting you should go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. There are a few veggies to prep while the oven is warming up, so grab a smallish tomato and chop it into 1/4″ or so cubes, same with a purple onion, and set the chopped bits aside. Now get a pie pan, line it with foil and put the salmon in there. Drizzle some red wine vinaigrette over the salmon, then add a little olive oil. McCormick makes a Mediterranean Seasoning Blend in those little red bottles you see at the grocery store, sprinkle some of that on the salmon, and add some red pepper flakes. Once the salmon is spiced, take a handful of chopped tomato and sprinkle over the top of the fish. Then add some the chopped purple onion. Finally, add some sliced black olives and capers, add a light dusting of crushed black pepper over the top of the whole mess, close the foil into a packet and bake for 30 minutes on a cookie sheet with each fish you cook in it’s own separate foil packet.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! Drop us a line in the comment section below and let us know how you like it, and what you do to make it suit your tastebuds.


Off The Beaten Path on Texas’ Gulf Coast

John W. Schulze/Flickr Creative Commons

A whole bunch of people know all about Galveston, South Padre, Surfside, Corpus, Port Aransas and all the usual spots on Texas’ Gulf Coast, but not as many know about the little gems we’ll be discussing today. If you like to swim, fish, see some spectacular scenery, and don’t particularly enjoy the crowds that come with those activities, then today’s blog might help point you in a lower traffic direction. Let’s hit the road!

First stop is Goose Island State Park. Just up the peninsula from Port Aransas is Rockport. Just across the bridge from Rockport and after you turn right on Park Road 13 is Goose Island State Park. Goose Island itself is in Aransas Bay and is home to some great fishing, campsites, and The Big Tree. Folks That Know reckon that The Big Tree was better than 500 years old when Cabeza de Vaca first landed in Texas in 1528, putting the tree’s age at more than 1000 years old. When you think of how many hurricanes, how much wind, how much drought, frost, and just regular old idiots this old tree has survived…it is truly a thing of wonder.

While we’re in the area, let’s head to Mustang Island State Park. If we use Port Aransas as the starting point like we did for Goose Island, you simply drive south from Port Aransas on Hwy 361 until you arrive at Mustang Island State Park (pssst! Port Aransas is the northern tip of Mustang Island). Mustang Island State Park is home to some of the cleanest beaches on the Texas Gulf Coast. At the park you can rent a kayak and paddle your way through better than twenty miles of paddle trails, or if you prefer, the surf and sand are some of the best in the state. Bike trails also criss cross the park if two-wheeled pedal-powered adventures are your thing.

Although we love visiting Galveston and Padre, there’s more to the shore. And before you hit the beach, hit us up on the website for all those camping and grilling goodies!