Summertime is almost here in some parts of Texas, and definitely here in other parts of Texas, and still other parts of Texas are just sitting back enjoying the extended spring. What better way to enjoy almost summer, summer, or still spring than by heading to one of Texas’s many awesome lakes? You may not know, but Texas has more inland water than any state in the continental US, so there are plenty of places to play!
With the recent rains, and Mansfield Dam opening it’s floodgates for the first time since 2007, Lake Travis, outside Austin, will probably be back to it’s normal bustling “party lake” status as soon as the silt settles. It’s the perfect spot for boating, swimming, eating, watching the sunset, and enjoying the water life. If you like fishing, it’s a good spot…but I reckon it’ll be pretty noist this summer!
One of the prettiest lakes in Texas is Lake Whitney, which is currently closed do to all the rain. BUT when it reopens here in just a little bit, it’ll be back to it’s limestone cliffed beauty. Lake Whitney is north of Austin on I-35 and just a little west of the town of Hillsboro. If you like boating, fishing, protected coves, and limestone bluffs, this is the lake for you.
Another gorgeous lake is Toledo Bend on the TX/LA border. This thing is huuuuuuge. I think I read somewhere that it has over 1200 miles of shoreline. Needless to say this is a sportsman’s paradise. If you have a boat, this lake will give you almost a lifetime’s worth of exploration opportunties. You can boat, fish, hunt, explore, swim, ski, or BBQ to your heart’s content.
Lake Texoma is another awesome lake. It’s up in north Texas and offers sandy beaches, nearby resorts, restaurants, and plenty of marinas. If you like to sail as opposed to use a power boat, this is a great lake for you as it is often windier than a mother-in-law convention up there! This lake also doesn’t suffer from the over-development that other lakes,suck as Lake Travis, suffer from.
Doesn’t matter which direction you want to head there will be a lake in front of you somewhere, so go enjoy it!
There have been a few days this spring where I swear it felt like New Mexico outside. I walked outside the other day and said, “Feels like an August morning in Santa Fe” because it was low humidity, around 80 degrees, and the breeze was a little chilly. In Houston. Weather like that makes me think of Hatch Chiles, old Adobe buildings, and endless blue skies, so I thought today we could visit about northern New Mexico, specifically Taos.
Taos is an amazing place, and old old old too. It takes it’s name from the nearby Indian Pueblo which may be the oldest inhabited communities in North America. Located in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, there is plenty to do. If you enjoy outdoors activities, almost every one that you can imagine is covered! If you like history, this place has you sorted. If you like art, good food, and a little bit of eccentric culture…come visit Taos. It’s an arty community that is not as obnoxious about it’s “weirdness” as Austin is, and I love Austin so don’t take that the wrong way. There are several RV parks and resorts in the area that can cater to whatever level of campground experience you require.
Now Taos is north of Santa Fe, and is a quick drive to all kinds of area attractions. Royal Gorge is off to the west. The steam trains in Chama are a quick day trip away. All that grogeous Georgia O’Keefe country around Abiquiu is right down the road. National Forests abound in this area as well with the Santa Fe National Forest butting up against the east side of town, the Carson National Forest to the west, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument to the north, it’s a natural paradise. And of course, if you prefer the winter activities, the ski area is renowned and located nearby to the northeast of town. To me, the best part of the humid Houston summer is leaving it behind for the New Mexico high country! Don’t forget to visit our website before you hit the trail, we’ll get you squared away.
Let’s admit it, sometimes we all procrastinate. For example, let’s say you’ve got a trip coming up where you’re going to take your beloved RV all the way across the country to some far-off destination where you get to go-see-do all kinds of neat stuff. The destination is wonderful and you’ve told all your friends what you’re going to do. You have the whole thing mapped out right? Well…maybe just the first night or so. You haven’t quite found a campsite out there in the middle because it doesn’t seem like many of the campgrounds out there have a website and you’ve been too busy to call.
When you finally do get around to calling, the person on the other end of the phone reserves you a spot but doesn’t inspire much confidence in you that they understand what you want or need or what you’re even doing there. Once you finally arrive at the campground a little while later, you could swear you can hear banjo music and you start thinking about running away as fast as you can like Ned Beatty should have done in the movie “Deliverance”. But you’re tired after a long day’s travel and now you’re stuck for the night. Thank goodness your RV is equipped with a permanently mounted surge protector because it looks like these folks have only recently even heard of electricity, much less know how to wire up the pedestal.
Matthew Hogan/Flickr Creative Commons
Which brings me to the point. Mount a surge protector, or bring a portable one with you, so you know that your RV or travel trailer’s electrical circuits will be protected. Over voltage, under voltage, power surges, open neutrals, etc etc etc can all wreak havoc with your electrical system. Protect your investment, and prevent that awful burning smell by just installing that surge protector between your RV and the campground owner’s cousin’s wiring job on that pedestal, we’ve got them in stock right HERE!
LORDAMERCY the weather folks say it supposed to be in the 80’s and 90’s today! And it’s only mid-March! Tell you what I’m going to do folks, I’m going throw my hands up and head to Galveston! From here in Houston it’s a mere hop, skip, and jump down I-45 to the closest beach we have. Believe it or not, Galveston has recovered from Hurricane Ike and Rita, the town and state has done a massive job in rebuilding the beaches, so I thought today we could do a refresher on Galveston because it may have been awhile since you headed thataway.
Katie Haugland/Flickr Creative Commons
Beaches: Yep, they have them. Stewart Beach, Jamaica Beach, East Beach, all the usual suspects are in fine form and back up and running.
Historical Home Tours: Yes Sir, they have these as well. If you would like to see some of the homes that survived The Great Storm (1900) and every Hurricane since from Allen, Alicia, and Andrew to Katrina, Ike and Rita you should definitely have a gander at these gems in Galveston’s crown. A lot of the homes were built before, during, or right after the Civil War and are going on 150+ years old. It’s like the French Quarter over in New Orleans, hard to believe such a young country as ourselves has such old amazing architecture…and STILL occupied!
The Strand: Galveston’s historic waterfront on the channel-side of the island. Antiques galore, margaritas galore, seafood galore, and breathe that ocean air people!
RV Park/Campgrounds: Oh yes they do! Matter of fact Tiki Tom’s RV Community right there on Tiki Island as you approach the causeway is a wonderful place to stay. They have oyster reefs, 4 lighted and loooooooong fishing piers, a marina and boat slips, elevated deck, 30 or 50 amp, wifi…everything you need to enjoy your island stay. Now that I think of it, this may be the best place to go in the next couple weeks as Spring Break hits the Gulf Coast. Tiki Tom’s should be outside the blast radius, ha!
Don’t forget to hit our website before you hit the beach, we have everything you need to make a trip like this hassle-free!
Have you seen the movie “Bernie” with Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughy? It’s a very funny movie about this East Texas funeral director who kills the town’s (Carthage, by the way) rich, old Cruella DeVille sort of lady. But that’s not the point, the point is this: there is a scene in the movie where this guy at a lunch counter is describing the different parts of Texas for those who are unfamiliar. Here it is so you can understand where I’m going with this:
So there you have it. We’re going to talk Texas Panhandle Destinations today!
If you’re a fan of the outdoors and being out in nature, Palo Duro Canyon is an absolute must-see on your Panhandle Checklist. It’s located in Canyon, TX, south of Amarillo if you need a bigger reference, and is a gem of a State Park. All the usual and expected outdoor activities can be done here, and it is absolutely stunning!
If you’re interested in learning about American Indians, the Kwahadi Museum Of The American Indian is located in Amarillo, TX. Being in the Panhandle, the museum focuses on Plains Indians specifically, and features regular performances of Kwahadi Dancers.
If you find yourself over in Lubbock, be sure and stop by the Buddy Holly Center which features all sorts of exhibits about the music of the Panhandle. You’d be surprised who all was from out thataway! Roy Orbison, Bob Wills, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, and of course Buddy Holly Himself.
Another awesome State Park up there is Caprock Canyon. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful place, but it has a feature you don’t get in most other State Parks that I can think of. They have a hiking trail that goes through an almost 750 foot long railroad tunnel! How cool is that? Especially if you’re traveling with the kids or grandkids, they would get a real kick out of that…and being OUT of the RV for part of the day.
Well y’all, it’s been real. Don’t forget to hit our website before you hit the trail. We’ll be glad to help you with whatever you may need!
You know what I would never have put together? Thomas Jefferson and a great wine making region! So it turns out our third President is literally the father of American wine making, which is great because I am an American wine drinker! So here’s the story: Thomas Jefferson is sitting in his room at Monticello thinking to himself that a nice glass of wine would hit the spot, but they haven’t built any HEB’s nearby so what does he have to do? Well he and an Italian physician friend put their heads together and start planting vineyards all over their land. The Revolution puts a temporary halt to their plans, but post-war they begin cultivation again. Now, the Monticello region is not only the birthplace of American Wine but an beautiful place to visit as well.
Where is Monticello? In Virginia, with 32 wineries participating in the Monticello Wine Trail. A good place to base yourself during a tour, would be in the town of Charlottesville. There are a couple really neat campgrounds in and around town, as well as a KOA. While you’re in the area, there are ample opportunities for outdoor activity, with nearby hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, cave tours, waterfalls, and Shenandoah National Park all within an easy drive.
But let us return to the wine tour shall we? One of the great thing about these modern day wineries is that not only do they offer tasty premium wines, but with the laws being what they are…there are several tour companies serving the region as well. In short, somebody else is driving so have a great time! It’s been a mild winter down here, March is the official calendar beginning of spring, you might as well be getting the RV ready to hit the road, and where else to head these days young man, but to head east! And don’t forget to hit our website before you hit the trail for any parts or accessories you’ll need to get that RV back on the road again!
Have you ever found yourself in that situation where the campground doesn’t individual sewer hookups and you’d have to move the entire RV to the waste transfer station to empty the black water tank? What a pain in the neck that is especially if you’re there more or less permanent for a little while, with everything leveled and the yard pretties staked out. So what would be the easiest option for you at that point? Yep, you need a portable waste tank. Depending on the size of your black water tank, there are different options available for a portable waste tank.
Thetford makes a great tank called the Smarttote. They come in sizes ranging from twelve to thirty five gallons capacity. The larger models come with full castoring dual wheels at the front end as well as two wheels at the back to support the weight of the tank when fully loaded. Needless to say with this sort of system the primary concern, aside from the mobility of it, is how to get this thing serviced in the cleanest possible way. They have a patented system called “Permastore” where the 5 foot replaceable sewer servicing line is permanently housed and stored at the bottom of the tank. The hose is replaceable and comes with a bayonet cap to prevent spills.
Another way this tank design helps keep the servicing process as clean as possible is by featuring an auto-stop function that activates when the tank is full, preventing and overload/overflow situation and the mess involved. The hose is designed also so that it is a very simple load and unload, and the stows away tidily in case you need to make more than one trip to the transfer station per servicing. If you’d like to know more about these, please visit our website right HERE.
Remember the days when you’d have to pull over, unfold that gigantic map and then get yourself oriented? I seem to recall that folding the thing back up was more of a hassle than getting to the shoulder in traffic to unfurl the thing in the first place! Then the GPS’s started getting a foothold in the 1990’s but they were VERY expensive and had the two ton screen…that sort of gray background with black information on top. Except at night when it was green and black! Even at that point the GPS’s back then were hit and miss. Weather could obscure the antenna, the databases required pretty periodic updating which in turn required a fairly expensive subscription.
Well those days are truly gone. While I still have a Key Map of Houston tucked away somewhere, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen an active RV’r without a GPS mounted to the dash of the vehicle. Some say having a smart phone is good enough, and yes they are…if you never leave the interstate. But we all know those spots in the mountains where the cell signal is weakest seem to pop up right when you need that darn phone to point you in the right direction to the campsite.
May I offer an alternative? The Tripmaker 7730 is an awesome GPS put out by the map makers at Rand McNally. What’s great about this GPS vs any of the rest is you can customize your routing for your RV! Not a car! What this means is that in RV mode the 7730 offers you advanced lane guidance which guides you through complicated intersections, calculates toll costs as well as offering no-toll options, as well as the ability to drop “bread crumbs” while you’re traveling off-route so you can make your way back to the original route the same way you left it. It’s one of the most flexible road GPS’s out there and great value for money. If you’re curious to learn more, click HERE.
Infrogmation of New Orleans, Flickr Creative Commons
Here in Texas we have Shiner Bock. We have Lone Star. We have Pearl. We even have world famous craft beer like St Arnold’s. Louisiana has a rich beer history as well, but Abita Turbodog might just be the flagship beer of their flagship brewery! Abita Beer is brewed in Abita Springs, Louisiana which is an awesome little Spanish-moss-covered-old-growth-oak-trees sort of town. It’s located on the north shore, that is to say, the north side of Lake Pontchartrain and is situated the more well known towns of Covington and Mandeville.
To get to Abita Springs, head east from Texas on I-10 until you cross the bridge over the Mississippi in Baton Rouge then take I-12 east until you exit to the north on 190. Turn right on 36 and you’ll pass the Abita Brewing Company before you hit the main town of Abita Springs. Needless to say, even the TAP WATER in Abita Springs tastes magical, but I digress a little bit. Abita Springs was the site of a Choctaw settlement back in the old days, and the water from the springs was hailed as medicinal because of the mineral content.
But since we’re responsible RV’rs let’s get the thing parked in our campground before we hit the brewery eh? The Abita Springs RV Resort is a family friendly spot that features fishing, walking paths, cabins for rent if you’d prefer a night outside the RV, artesian springs, pool, cajun dancing…all that great Louisiana stuff!
If you enjoy great Louisiana Music, the Abita Springs Opry puts on periodic concerts and there are numerous places nearby to see live music both in Abita Springs and Covington as well as down in Mandeville. The town’s population is around 2500 so it’s big enough to have what you need and small enough to have that elbow room you’re craving! And remember before you hit the road, hit our website for all those parts and accessories to keep you on the trail and enjoying this RV Lifestyle!
Snowbirds. Some folks love them, some folks cuss them, but they have a great idea don’t they? The idea of: we’re going to get as far as possible from that cold stuff back home. I drove a fair chunk of I-10 last weekend and there were RVs galore on the interstate, most of them with Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other snow-bound license plates…and I thought to myself, if I was an RVer from The Great White North I’d head for the beach! Today we’re going to talk RV Parks in the Florida Keys!
Grassy Key RV Park and Resort is located in a community called Marathon, FL right in the heart of the Florida Keys and it’s the closest place to paradise you can find in the continental US during the winter. Sandy beaches, swaying palms, blue water, HEAT…can you come up with a better formula for fun in January? Not in this lady’s reckoning! The RV park features three levels of campsite from Standard to Waterfront, as well as dock space if you have a boat! All the usual amenities can be found as from the gorgeous pool, to the white sand beach, to laundry, to the now must-have: Wifi!
Further down the Overseas Highway is Bluewater Key RV Resort. Bluewater is located in Key West near the end of the highway at mile marker 14. Their sites are Poolside, Canal Side, or Bay Side and as you would expect their rates include the usual electricity, sewer, water, etc. You can have up to 2 dogs with you as well, and they’re definitely pet friendly, however they do restrict their sites to RV’s only, as they don’t allow pop-ups, camper shells, or tent camping. If you’re bringing your boat, they do have storage available however you can’t store your boat at your campsite, but in the dedicated storage area.
Before you head south though, head over to our website and get all those beach camping accessories you’ll need!
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!