How many times have you heard someone say, “the weather this year sure has been strange?” Whether it’s global warming, or too much concrete, or any one of the causes we have discussed, I think we all will agree that we have seen more natural disasters in the past few years than we have ever seen in the past. I don’t know about all of your out there, but I often feel that I am paying more attention to these things now than I did when I was younger. Maybe it’s because the older you get, you’ve seen enough things happen that you actually start paying need attention.
Regardless, I’m sure the weather has effected your RV life a little in the past few years. The first thing I think of is the burn bans that have been put in place in many of the state and national parks. In light of the recent fires in Tennessee and California along with the one in Bastrop, Texas that hit close to home for all of us in Texas, the parks have been forced to protect these natural wonders. Yes, I understand the need, but I’m from the old school where a campfire is just part of the RV life. I mean, who doesn’t want to roast weenies or marshmallows on a cool night or just snuggle up in a big blanket in a lawn chair next to a fire?
I found a solution and it’s one that even fits in my little 24′ Winnebago view. I carry a portable fire pit with me. This is a gas powered fire pit with an adjustable flame so I can keep it well under control. I don’t even have to carry a big LP tank because I can either hook it right in to the LP system on the RV or I can use those wonderful little green disposable tanks. And, best of all, I can wrap it all up and put it back in its own carrying case in a small compartment. No mess, no fuss, but I still have that great RV ambiance. Check it out for yourself, please make sure and check with the park manager, or host, but every time I have asked, they all give me a thumbs up.
Many of us here at PPL Motorhomes not only have kids, but many of us have grandchildren as well. For us, hitting the park swimming facilities is always fun, and you know we love to eat. However, as much fun as we have, I always have at the back of my mind the inherent dangers that always face our kids. That’s why knowing CPR for babies and children is imperative. Nothing is more terrifying that encountering either a child who has stopped breathing, or is choking. I found some great videos that can explain how to help a child who has stopped breathing, or is choking better than I could. I suggest watching these video numerous times.
The following videos are excellent lessons on how to stop an infant or child from choking. Again, I recommend that you watch each video periodically so you can stay fresh on this knowledge.
Please, if you have any more resources we should all look at, don’t hesitate to post the link in the comments section below. The more we know, the better prepared we all will be if, God forbid, we ever need to use what we’ve learned. I hope none of us ever do.
Those of you who know me have all had to listen to my stories about the best little RV park in Texas. I actually have mixed emotions about writing this blog because I would really like for this park to be one of those best kept secrets, but I also want everyone to have an RV experience like this. Leisure Resort in Fentress, Texas is a beautiful park outside Luling and I think it is simply a little piece of heaven on earth. As you drive down the road off Highway 80 you that you’re going to have a brief minute when you wonder where in the world I am sending you. Then you turn off to the left at a “not so fancy” sign and you enter this river front property. Leisure Camp, as it was called for years was a well known fishing camp positioned in the midst of a beautiful pecan orchard with terraced campsites leading down to the winding San Marcos River. Whether you’re in a diesel pusher, travel trailer, tent or simply day camping out of the back of your truck, you are sure to enjoy everything here. This is a family owned and operated RV park complete with cabins, a swimming pool, miniature golf and even a hayride for the kids on Saturday night.
We have been coming here for several years and have met some of the friendliest people in the world sitting in this river and camping under these trees. This is a great spot for a family reunion where your friends can join you even if they don’t own an RV because they can rent one of the cabins or even a tree house and still enjoy the great outdoors and the RV lifestyle. Make plans to check this out, but save room for us!
Every time I pull into a campsite or RV Park, I’m delighted to see the amount of kids running around and being…well..kids. Those are our future RVers out there! There was always something magical and adventurous when I was a kid about being out in the wild. If you have been thinking about getting a used RV in South Texas, or trading in your RV, do it while the kids, or grandkids, are still young. They really will appreciate it in the future and will possibly make some of the most amazing memories of their lives. Now, with the amount of amenities that are available at today’s parks, you should never hear the phrase “I’m bored.”
…but just in case you do, here is a fantastic site that designed specifically for the RV Kids!
Packed with all sorts of information and education, I can virtually guarantee you that your kids or grandkids will not only remember their trips in the RV, but they will be more inclined to stay involved with RVing in the futures and hopefully, bring their kids to the same parks they grew up with!
Well we’re getting to that time of year again where the leaves will be turning brown and the the wild grasses start losing some of their moisture and that means an increased chance for wildfires. Now, I generally write about the dangers of wildfires at least twice a year, because, let’s face it, this is Texas and seeing a repeat of what happened in Bastrop a few years back scares the bejeezus out of me.
The speed at which fire can spread when it is fueled by dry conditions and wind is faster than you could actually imagine. In the case of the fire that consumed Bastrop, not only was the fire moving quickly, but it also jumped a waterway that you’d think would have been a great defense. Nope. All it takes is one ember to make it across the river and it will likely continue on its destructive path. Take a look at the video below for proof.
So what can you do? First, you MUST heed all burn warnings and out right bans. A burn ban is just a suggestion, it is law and can likely result in a significant fine. But really, the money that you will be fined is minuscule to the danger that you are putting people, property and livestock in. That burger you are about to throw on top of the grill is going to taste really awful with that side of regret you’ll be eating it with.
If there is no burn ban and you do grill out, or have a campfire you still have to be extremely careful. Please, please, please extinguish your fires when camping with a generous amount of water. If you think you’ve put enough on to flood a small village, put on more. It’s also a VERY WISE idea to keep fire extinguishers at arms reach. You really can never be too safe. Once a fire catches it will be virtually impossible to contain it. At that point you’ll need to call the fire dept. and probably your lawyer, as I suspect you are going to be met with a few lawsuits. If that isn’t enough to scare you into fire prevention, then you probably ought not to be around matches.
In today’s world getting kids away from video games, iPads, smartphones and a whole host of other things designed to essentially keep them sedentary is a very difficult thing to do. When we were kids if you wanted entertainment, you had to make it up yourself. You had to go outside and explore. You had to create your own adventure and that was usually done outdoors. We went outside when it was sunny, when it was cold and even when it was raining. Today there simply is no “app” that will substitute for actually going outdoors.
When I try to light a fire under my grandchildren and get them off of the computer or away from the TV, it’s usually met with disgruntled moans and groans. “Aw, Nana, can’t we just finish this game?” My answer is usually “No”. I want them to get outside and explore the things that a virtual world could never replicate. So that got me thinking. If we are in a battle with our kids to leave the technology behind, we might lose that battle. Why not bring a little technology outside with them in the form of a digital camera and win the war!
A camera is, essentially a gateway between technology and environment. I’ve heard the term “hybrid learning”, which is where technology and nature work together to create a new way of thinking. By using the digital camera, or even the camera of their phones it allows your kids to both engage with nature and “play” with the electronics and technology at the same time.
Next time you go RVing with the kids, or grandkids try getting them to explore the outdoors more by challenging them to a photo scavenger hunt. For example, make a list of things that are commonly found in a campsite, or RV park, like flowers, insects, rocks, colors, shapes, people, animals, etc…and have them take a photo of each of the “hunted” items. The the photo possibilities are endless.
Now the camera doesn’t have to be a $2,000 SLR, or anything professional. That’s obvious. A simple point and shoot with automatic focus is good enough. They can still get great pictures without having to be concerned about anything else other than taking the picture. Children will spend a good amount of time composing their pictures in order to get “just the right shot”. The time the spend looking through the viewfinder and the concentration it requires are the special moments that allow kids to experience the minute details of nature in an up-close and personal way.
After they take their pictures, you can sit down with them and help them make a scrapbook of their photos that they can then share with friends and family. Before you they know it, they will have all of their trips and adventures documented and can always revisit those memories by looking at their pictures. Don’t forget to have them put captions of “when, where and what” on them so they can always remember.
Digital photography is a great tool to get our increasingly technologically oriented kids outside to not only discover nature, but also preserve and share those discoveries with their family and friends. If your kids have taken any pictures your like to share, just head over to PPL Motorhomes Facebook page and post them! I know all of our fans would love to see the outdoors through a child’s eyes.
Everybody knows about Inks Lake, Garner State Park. Lost Maples when it comes to fall foliage, but Texas has some breathtaking spots off the beaten path that do not get the kind of traffic that those other “calendar page” parks receive. So today I thought we could talk about some of these other places and what they have to offer.
Hueco Tanks State Park
Hueco Tanks is a truly awe inspiring place. Located just outside El Paso, Hueco Tanks is an amazing rock formation that did one truly amazing thing…they trapped rainwater. People for millennia have traveled to these rock basins to collect the rainwater stored inside. These days you can clamber over the rocks, hike, ride you bicycle, and marvel at the more than 200 petroglyphs that have survived.
Copper Breaks State Park
Located in far north Texas within a couple hours drive from Caprock Canyon and Palo Duro, Copper Breaks State Park is home to rugged scenery, a portion of the Official Longhorn Herd of Texas as well as being an internationally designated Dark Sky Park…which means they take light pollution seriously. RVs are welcome and there are campsites aplenty!
Palmetto State Park
Palmetto is one of those places it’s kind of hard to believe are in Texas. If you hike through the park on a misty morning you’d swear you were in dinosaur country. I mean it looks ancient in there with all the ferns, the dwarf palm trees which give Palmetto its name. They have a small spring fed Ox Bow lake available for boating, fishing and kayaking, and of course there are numerous campsites.
Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
If you’re in the Houston area, the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to get away from it all closer to home. Located down near Freeport and Lake Jackson, the refuge is a fairly large (44,000+ acre) allotment that is home to most of the coastal species of birds located here in Texas. Hike, camp, and wander to your heart’s content!
I love fall. I mean, I really love fall. When fall arrives here in Texas, it’s the surest sign I know that the heat wave is over. Although…Texas has pulled a fast one from time to time where we’ve gotten those gorgeous colors on the trees, and it jumped back into the 90’s. That’s just so wrong, on so many levels. But the fortunate thing about us folks in this RV lifestyle is that we are mobile. I remember a trip once where we decided that our destination was 65. Folks would ask us, “65? Where’s that?” I’d smile and say, “65 F. And it’s probably around 7000′ elevation!” But I digress. Fall is coming and all the Norman Rockwell colors that go with it, so today let’s talk locations where fall is on best display here in Texas.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
This little park gets kind of busy on the weekend during the fall foliage season, so play your trip accordingly. Weekdays during business hours are quieter, and the trails uncrowded. Located on FM 187 in Vanderpool, TX Lost Maples is a kaleidoscope of natural beauty. And their website even has a Fall Foliage Report (click on it) from October through to November so you can play your trip accordingly.
Garner State Park
This is another of those breath taking natural areas in the Texas Hill Country. Located on Hwy 83 in between Leakey (pronounced Lake-ee, thank you) and Uvalde, this beautiful spot has the Frio River running straight through it. Fall colors are on their best violently bright behavior during our cruelly short Fall, so get out and enjoy them while you can! This park doesn’t have a fall foliage report but it’s fairly close (in Texas miles) to Lost Maples to at least get a hint or two off of the Lost Maples Foliage report.
And remember, before you hit that trail this fall be sure an hit our website for all your parts and accessories!
There is something fantastic I love seeing every year in Texas, and that’s the remarkable migration of the Monarch butterflies. However in the Rio Grande Valley, their numbers are in steady decline because their natural habitat is disappearing due to the economic growth of the area, increased corporate farming and the use of pesticides and defoliants like Roundup. However, there is one RV park in the Rio Grande Valley that has done something to help promote and stimulate the success of these winged beauties. Oleander Acres RV Park, with the help of funding support from the Rio Grande Valley Garden Club and the Native Plant Society of Texas has planted 200 milkweed plants of 7 different varieties during the past 6 months.
Monarchs will actual drink nectar from almost all flowering plants that produce nectar, so why is milkweed important? Because milkweed is actually the only plant that Monarchs will lay their eggs on. Even though they don’t really provide a direct commercial value like honey bees do, seeing clouds of of migrating butterflies every year is worth quite a bit in human experience. It was Oleander Acres RV Park that decided that they would be able to provide a great spot for them to rest on their long journey.
Visitors are welcome to come out to Oleander Acres to see the butterfly gardens which in turn will help the butterfly population in Texas just in time for the next Butterfly Festival. For more information, check out Oleander Acres website and plan a trip out to the Rio Grande Valley for a really unique an beautiful experience.
Lordy it’s hot. It’s so darn hot the fire hydrants are praying for dogs. Which naturally leads one to the question, “How in heck do I beat this heat!?” Used to be a trip to the ol’ swimming hole was the best cure so let’s do just that! Pack up your RV with a couple towels, a watermelon or two, a cooler full of ice and everything you like to drink that’s cold, and let’s hit the road for some good ol’ fashioned Texas Swimming Holes!
Now if you’ve ever been to the San Marcos River, the Comal, or the Guadalupe why then you know what a shock it is to your posterior when it hits that chilly water. But with that said, once you realize that it ain’t cold…it’s just relaxing, then a leisurely float down one of these rivers is just what the Dr ordered for a bad case of August. All these rivers have tubes for rent, and rides from down river back upriver so don’t worry about that, just pack your sunscreen and don’t worry about getting anywhere fast. Head for San Marcos, New Braunfels, Martindale, or just about any other town these rivers pass through and enjoy your float.
Just outside of Austin is a wonderful spot, and no we’re not talking about Hamilton Pool this time…that place has just gotten too crowded. We’re talking about Krause Springs there in Spicewood, TX. Beautiful clear 65 degree water, towering cypress trees, and way less crowded than your usual Austin area water spots. Plan on about a 40 minute drive with all that traffic, but also plan on relaxing at an absolute OASIS when you arrive.
Another neat spot in Central Texas is Jacob’s Well there near Wimberly, TX. Like the others mentioned today it’s spring fed, crystal clear, and cool. You can swim right there in the artesian spring and it is one beautiful bit of nature.
As always, before you hit the road, hit us up at the website…we’ll be only to glad to help y’all out!
I have been with PPL Motor Homes since 1980 and have been fortunate enough to grow up with the company. A native Houstonian, I have been blessed with years of wonderful experiences and memories of RVing with family and friends. With 3 children, 8 grandchildren and a ton of friends who I refer to as my adopted family, I was a Nana long before I became RV Nana. I was blessed to have shared this lifestyle with my late husband, a Cajun from Lafayette, and his spirit will live on in all of us as we continue down the road of life.
My life with PPL has given me so many wonderful chapters, from sharing my RV experiences as RV Nana to working with the Texas Campground Owners Association and holding the position of President of the Texas RV Association from 2011-2013, so it’s easy to see that the RV lifestyle is my style. Watch for me on the road …I’m the one with the RV Nana license plates on my car and RV, and share your RV experiences with me. See you soon!