RV to Wakulla Springs

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Paul Clark/Flickr Creative Commons

Wakulla Springs State Park is one of those intriguing “lost in time” destinations that are slightly off the beaten track, but it’s easily reached by taking Hwy 261 south off of I-10 in Tallahassee, FL. Hwy 261 turns into Hwy 319 as you head south of town, then you’ll turn left onto 267 and right onto Wakulla Springs Rd to enter the park.

Wakulla Springs State Park is centered around one of the Earth’s deepest and oldest fresh water springs, with an estimated average output of around 400,000 gallons per minute! Needless to say the spring has been around since very ancient times, and the bed of the spring and resulting Wakulla River is littered with historical sites, as well as the bones of mastodons, prehistoric armadillos, giant Sloths, camels, etc etc etc. Glass bottom river boat tours are available, as well as swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving within the springs itself. On land there are hiking trails, biking trails, riding trails, birdwatching opportunities, as well as the lodge.

The lodge is a beautiful Spanish style mansion built in 1937 by a relative of the DuPont family. It  has 27 rooms for guests and each room has a marble bathroom. Each room also features a telephone and period correct antique furniture, and thankfully a period correct lack of a television set. The Lodge also has a conference room or two as well as The Ball Room Restaurant overlooking the springs.

One of the unique examples of wildlife that can be viewed at Wakulla Springs are the West Indian Manatees. They are present year round, but most commonly during the months between October and January. Of course you’ll see some alligators, fish of all sorts, and turtles in the springs, but the park is also home to a vast array of bird life as well as white tail deer and wild turkey.

Before you hit the road to Florida this summer, be sure to hit us up on Facebook and at the website for any and all of your parts and accessories!

MaxxAir Vents

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-vents/31-1919.htmAs I’ve mentioned previously, we have four seasons here in Texas: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, and then when all that is finished we get to have August.

Right now, we’re in that portion of the year that’s best described as Almost Summer… we’re starting to get those warm afternoons here in Texas, the kind that never seem to stay long enough, and are quickly replaced with sweltering heat and humidity. With the warmer weather approaching, there are nights when the air conditioner is off and, depending on where you’re parked, the windows are open. Isn’t that nice? Yes it is, but it can get a little stuffy if there’s no breeze.

Allow me to introduce a line of air vents by MaxxAir. They are made of sturdy High Density Polyethylene with added maximum UV Protection. The standard models have a mounting system that prevents leakage of rain water into the RV, while at the same time allowing hot air, cooking smells, smoke, or musty storage odors to escape the RV. They fit onto the standard 14 inch square roof openings, and come in four common colors: Translucent White, Smoke Tint, Almond, Silver, and Champagne.

The updated MaxxAir II line of vents comes in the same popular color choices and size, but features a more streamlined, hinged housing. Not only that but the actual vent opening is doubled to allow more air to pass through while retaining that same water tight seal on the top of your RV. The hinged housing allows for quicker and easier access for cleaning, and this model can be installed over a high powered ventilator fan where the Standard model is not recommended for use with fans. Both models install easily without tools and are covered by a 6 year warranty.

So if your RV retains heat during those summer days, or smells stale and musty after winter storage, add a MaxxAir vent to the roof and breath that clean, fresh air! Visit our website to purchase yours!

Happy Earth Day

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Emilio Küffer/Flickr Creative Commons

When Earth Day was first declared in 1970, the date chose was March 21 which of course is the first day of Spring up here in the Northern Hemisphere. But somehow April 22 was also chosen as an environmental teach-in day and that date has stuck ever since as Earth Day. It appears from 1970 to 1990 that Earth Day was primarily an event held in the United States, but in 1990 a reported 200 million people in 141 countries world-wide came together to raise awareness of environmental issues all over our plant thus bringing Earth Day to international status.

What does Earth Day mean? It is meant to bring focus to individual environmental issues such as water pollution, air pollution, species loss, deforestation, climate change, etc etc etc. This year marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day and the stated goal is to plant one billion trees worldwide. If you’re not in a location to plant trees, go out an enjoy them instead! Every city park across this nation has at least some trees, heck in some towns the tree IS the city park!

Here in America we are very fortunate. We have National Forests and Parks, State Forests and Parks, as well as the local city parks. When this country was younger, forward thinking leaders recognized that if certain lands were not place off-limits to expansion and development, they would disappear forever. So luckily, massive land allotments around interesting and beautiful geographic feature were set aside for future generations to enjoy. Not every civilization has followed that model, and we should go out and appreciate what the previous generations set aside for us!

As RV’ers we choose to visit and support with our patronage the Parks and Forests of all kinds and descriptions, and it is our job to introduce the next generations to these incredible gifts. There is nothing more beneficial for our country than to teach the coming generations what was done for them, and what needs to be done to protect what was done. Help us celebrate Earth Day by either planting a tree, or  going to enjoy one!

Spring Cleaning: Water Filters!

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-pumps-water/rv-water-filters.htm
Springtime is the perfect time to change your water filters on your RV.  In fact, I make it part of my spring cleaning.  If you are a weekend warrior in your RV, there is a good chance that you only need to change the filter once a year.  On the other hand, if you are living in your RV full time it may require changing two or three times a year.
Water filtering is important not only from the standpoint of having clean, clear, great tasting water, but also because so many appliances and fixtures in your RV have moving parts that come in contact with the water. To add to that, some of your fixtures have small orifices that can easily become clogged by sand, heavy minerals, or sediment in the water supply. Let’s face it, when we’re out camping or enjoying a remote RV Park or campsite, the water supply sometimes isn’t the absolute best. So to keep from having to make costly plumbing repairs, filtering the incoming water supply is so much easier and less expensive even if you’re changing filters fairly regularly.
What are some indicators that it might be past time to change those filters? One of the surest signs is reduced flow. You know better than anyone how much water flows through the tap on an average day. When it takes longer to fill that water glass or if you’re washing dishes in the sink and it takes forever to fill up, your filters are more than likely are getting clogged. One way to help prevent clogging up those filters too quickly is to not use the clear supply hoses, because they can build up algae when they’re sitting out in the sun full of water waiting for the tap to turn.
Now that spring has sprung and the driving season is upon on us, swing by PPL Motorhomes.com for all your filtration needs!

Motorhome Racing!

 

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meridican/Flickr Creative Commons

Now that spring has fully sprung here in Texas, as evidenced by the lakes of pollen coated water laying about state-wide, some of us look at the old RV we’re meant to be dusting off and getting ready for the 2015 touring season and our thoughts go something like this:

“The ol’ girl is well…and I mean WELL…over 100,000 miles now, the galley needs some upgrades, the propane system has that slow leak, the water tanks have that slow leak too. Time to upgrade to something a little more comfortable, a little more modern. But I just can’t say goodbye to my old baby!”

Granted, the above is a dramatization and probably not everybody is thinking those thoughts at all, BUT, that probably is the mindset behind one of motor-sports dare I say coolest ideas: RV RACING!

Whether it’s on the drag strip, the oval, or even hauling a classic (read super tired and wore out) camper trailer around a figure eight track, motorhome racing adds a bit of comic drama and demolition derby style ethic to what can sometimes become a fairly routine and rule-soaked day. I read an article recently about a classic GMC Motorhome get together at a Florida drag strip. Not only was it a chance for the owners of a certain type to gather together and compare and contrast each other’s old-school RV’s. They also had a chance to talk about mods, parts, BBQ, beer, etc while awaiting their turn to go head-to-head down the drag strip! Apparently a new record was set for front-wheel drive GMC 1/4 mile speed: 22.514 seconds, which equates to 62 miles per hour, set by Bob Heller in a 1974 GMC with  a 455 and 110,000 original miles! The article also noted that Mr Heller performed all his own maintenance.

So the long and short of it is, if you have an adventurous mindset and you’re feeling like maybe it’s time to pasture Ol’ Bessie, maybe give some thought to cleaning her up, painting her all NASCAR style (we’d be glad to supply some PPL Motorhome stickers as well as parts and accessories), and taking her out to perform before the public in hair-raising style!

RV to the Crossroads

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Shawn Rossi/Flickr Creative Commons

According to legend, blues guitar player Robert Johnson is alleged to have gone to a crossroads at midnight to meet the devil and trade his eternal soul for fame, fortune, and incredible talent at playing the guitar. Ever since he was “rediscovered” in the 1960’s, folks have argued until they were blue in the face about which crossroads was home to  The Deal. Rosedale, MS claims it happened at the junction of Hwys 1 and 8. Clarksdale, MS claims Hwys 49 and 61 were The Spot. Historians claim it might have been closer to Cleveland, MS over by the Dockery Plantation. Does it really matter? No it doesn’t because legends don’t survive fact-checking too often because we all enjoy the story more than the reality.

The neat thing is, these days you can go enjoy the culture and music that spawned the legend of Robert Johnson because Clarksdale, MS (winner of the publicity battle of the “true” crossroads location) is host to the Juke Joint Festival every April. Music lovers from all over the world converge on Clarksdale that weekend and it’s not the typical music festival atmosphere you would expect. The average age of the festival goer runs from mid 30’s to Baby Boomers, so if you’re being kept up by the noise and frivolity it’s being created by someone your own age! The main stars of the festival are the local Mississippi bluesmen who still pound out the music in local juke joints and dance halls. Another good thing about this festival is the rooms in town are generally booked up a year in advance so campers and RVs are welcome! Not only that but there is probably no other music festival in America that is better suited to the tailgater BBQ than the Juke Joint Festival. The pre-parties generally get cranked up on Wed and Thurs night, then the main events are Friday and Saturday nights, but there is live music happening all over town, all day long.

And as we always say, before you hit the road, hit our website for any parts and accessories yo may need!

RV Some Classic Movie Locations

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Mike Warot/Flickr Creative Commons

Have you ever watched a movie and thought to yourself, “Man, that place is so cool! I’d love to go there!” Well, not every movie is filmed on a soundstage. Not every movie is filmed in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or Toronto! Matter of fact there are some amazing movie locations you can actually visit, and we’re gong to visit some of them right now.

Who remembers “Field Of Dreams”? It’s the classic American baseball movie starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and Burt Lancaster in his final role. Kevin Costner plays an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield so that the ghosts of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox can play ball. Well that baseball diamond built by the movie company and then abandoned as soon as filming wrapped is still in existence in that Iowa cornfield. The family who owned the property has kept the field in great shape and it is open for viewing/touring from April through November just outside of Dyersville Iowa on Lansing Rd. Dyersville is about 25 miles west of Dubuque on Hwy 20.

Remember how much fun “Goonies” was? It’s a Steven Spielberg film about a group of kids going after pirate treasure to try and save their neighborhood from being torn down by evil developers. Goonies was filmed in and around Astoria in far northwest Oregon. The house the main characters lived in is aptly name “The Goonies House” and ask anybody in town how to get there, and even though it was filmed 30 years ago, everyone in town knows where it is. Another nearby location is the appropriately named Cannon Beach where the iconic rocks jutting form the ocean are located and where the climax of the film was staged. To reach Cannon Beach from Astoria simply cross the bay on Hwy 101 and head south through Gearhart and Seaside until you reach Cannon Beach. Once you arrive hold up your Spanish Doubloon and see if they match the rocks on the map!

Driving season is almost upon us, so please visit our website for all your parts and accessories prior to hitting the road this summer!

 

 

RV The Great Smoky Mountains

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Adam Hay/Flickr Creative Commons

We spent a fair bit of time last week talking about some of the most remote drives and locations in the continental United States. Today I thought we’d try a little bit of the opposite and head through Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The park has on average 9,000,000 visitors a year making it the most visited National Park in the country! So sharpen up those elbows because it’s about to get crowded around here!
Great Smokey Mountains National Park is located in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, and is best accessed by coming into the park on Hwy 441 either through Gatlinburg, TN or Cherokee, NC. It was founded in 1934 but not officially opened until 1940. As you would expect it is home to spectacular scenic views, hiking, back country camping, sight-seeing, fishing (regular and fly), horseback riding, and bicycling. There are quite a few historic buildings scattered throughout the park as well, ranging from old pioneer cabins to a Baptist church, old school house, barns, and other outbuildings like smokehouses and corn cribs.
Numerous hiking trails criss-cross the park with campsites and even shelters available along the trails. If you feel like you might need to sleep in a shelter on your hike, check availability before you depart form home as these shelters only sleep 12-14 people a night and reservations may be required. Cades Cove is the most popular bicycling and self guided automobile tour area. The Park Service has preserved many of the historic buildings here and you can catch a glimpse of what that old school Appalachian lifestyle might have looked like back in the frontier days.
Another popular spot in the Park is Mount Le Conte which is in the Tennesse side of the park. Mount Le Conte is the highest peak in the Appalachian range at over 5300 feet in height from it’s base to it’s peak. The LeConte Lodge is near the peak and was opened in 1925…but you have to hike in as there is no road to the lodge!
And remember, before you hit the road swing by our website for any RV Parts and Accessories you may need!

Head For Spanish Florida

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Bahador/Flickr Creative Commons

Florida was the earliest real Spanish possession in North America. As a matter of fact, the oldest continually inhabited city in North America is in Florida: St Augustine. Spain established the city in 1565 and it’s been occupied ever since. By Spain, by England briefly, by the Confederacy briefly, and more permanently by the United States. St Augustin is near Jacksonville on the Atlantic Coast of Florida and the easiest way to reach the town is to turn east off of I-95 onto Hwy 16 if you’re coming in from the North or Hwy 207 if you’re headed up from the South.

St Augustine has all the usual activities available that you would expect from an eastern seaboard Florida town, but what makes St Augustine unique is the historical flavor. Where else in America can you play on the beach, and then tour a Spanish fort that was used continuously for over 200 years? Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is an amazing place. First constructed in 1672, the fort was in service all the way until 1900 when it was taken off the active duty register. Almost 500 of Geronimo’s Chiricahua Apaches were imprisoned there in the 1890’s, and it was turned into a National Monument in 1924.

If you’re on the Panhandle side of Florida, swing by Mission San Luis in Tallahassee, FL. Only a couple miles from the current capitol building in Tallahassee, Mission San Luis has a reconstructed Spanish mission, fort, homestead, and an Appalachee Council House. Mission San Luis was first started in 1633 and remained in use until 1704 when it was destroyed by Creek Indians and South Carolinians. Added to the Register of Historic Places in 1966, it is now home to historical reenactments and living history displays where you can watch a representation of the first interactions between Native Americans and Spanish priests, soldiers, and settlers to the New World.

We hope you’ll enjoy these destinations, and remember to swing by PPL Motorhomes for all your parts and accessories.

RV Civil War Virginia

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David Foster/Flickr Creative Commons

A lot of folks find the US Civil War a fascinating period in our nation’s history. So many people in our country had family and ancestors involved on one side or the other, and if not directly involved then definitely affected by the turmoil. As the largest war fought on this continent, the battlefields are known, maintained, and available for tour. So today I thought we’d take a journey through Virginia, which probably had more battles fought on it’s soil than any other state during that conflict. Virginia is a wide state. She stretches from the Blue Mountains in the west to the Atlantic in the east, and during the Civil War she stretched from the very beginning at Manassas to the bitter end at Appomattox. That’s where we’ll go today, the beginning and the end.

The first major battle in the US Civil War was the First Battle of Bull Run located near Manassas, Virginia. The National Park Service maintains the battlefield now as Manassas National Battlefield Park, and there is quite a bit to see. The easiest way to get there would be to take 66 west out of Washington DC until it intersects Hwy 29 just outside of Centerville. Continue west on 29 (also known as Lee Highway) until you see the park entrance prior to arriving in Gainesville. You can visit Stone House which was used as a hospital by both sides, as well as Stone Bridge which the Union troops retreated across after losing both the first and second battles of Bull Run. Ruins of the Robinson House,  the village of Groveton, and the plantation at Hazel Plain are also available for viewing as well as walking tours of the battlegrounds.

Appomattox Courthouse is the site of Lee’s surrender in 1865 thus sparking the end of the Civil War. You can reach Appomattox easiest by traveling east from Lynchburg on 460, and the National Park Service maintains the Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park just northeast of town. Lee signed the articles of surrender in the Mclean House which has been reconstructed on site and re-opened in 1949 with Ulysses S Grant III and Robert E Lee IV in attendance.

Remember, before you hit the road on a long trip back through time, be sure to visit us at PPL Motorhomes to stock up on all the necessities!