Thomas Jefferson’s Wine Tour?

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Emily Carlin/Flickr Creative Commons

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!

Portable Waste Tanks

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.

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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.

Rand McNally GPS

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.

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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.

RV to Abita Springs, LA

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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!

Baby It’s Cold Outside

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Florida Keys–Public Libraries, Flickr Creative Commons

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!

RV to the Warmest Spot in Wintertime America: Miami!

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www.GlynLowe.com/Flickr Creative Commons

With this Arctic Death Cold Front that has just arrived from the frozen gates of the North Pole, my thoughts have turned to the internet so I can find the warmest spot in America during the winter. You know what? It’s no surprise…Miami is the warmest place in America during the winter. Although if we were to look real hard, I bet Key West might have it beat! But today we’re gonna keep ourselves in the continental US, and talk about some campgrounds in the Miami area that are perfect for the weekend visitor more than a winter-long campground.

First we’re going to talk about Larry & Penny Thompson Campground. It’s one of the only public campgrounds in the Miami area that allows RV hookups. And it’s centrally located right there by Miami Zoo. There are almost 250 campsites spread across almost 300 acres of natural land. Laundry and shower facilities are provided as well as water and electric, there is a decent sized freshwater lagoon, a concession stand, hiking and biking trails, and you can bring your pets…but they have to stay at your RV site. They have daily/weekly/monthly rates and if you’re looking for that winter getaway spot, they also allow seasonal reservations in advance

Then there is the Miami Everglades RV Resort. This place is amazing and has a very tropical air about it. You camp amongst mango, avocado, and palm tress while the warm humid breezes blow through the branches. The campsite is 34 acres, surrounded by tree nurseries, and is located 30 miles south of Miami and about 10 minutes from the Everglades National Park, and a half hour or so from Key Largo. They have everything from laundry and wifi to mini golf and shuffleboard. So let’s whip out the hawaiian flowery shirts, crank up the ol’ RV and head for Florida next winter!

And don’t forget, come visit us at www.pplmotorhomes.com for all your parts and accessories!

 

Texas RV Campsites Off The Beaten Path

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Todd Dwyer, Flickr Creative Commons

I can’t speak for y’all but there are days where I think that if I never see I-10 or I-35 again that’d be just fine! I-35 between San Antonio and Dallas just kills me when we’re driving. If it’s not a parking lot, it’s way to narrow and fast for my taste. “JANE! GET ME OFF THIS CRAZY THING!” as George Jetson used to say. So today we’re going to talk about a couple RV Campsites that are: 1. Awesome and 2. Off The Interstate!

First up is Alsatian RV Resort and Golf Club in Castroville, TX. Grsanted that puts it near to BOTH I-10 and I-35 but it’s 30 minutes away from all that hustle and stress. This place is definitely upscale and has the amenities to go with it. Obviously golf is available, but they also have a spa, a stocked fishing pond, gym, a gorgeous pool, and best of all…they have little casitas at the pull-throughs that include an outdoor kitchen, tiled showers, and a couple patios that look out over the golf course. If you’re planning a trip up or down 35 or headed through San Antonio on 10 and you need a break from the traffic, give this place a shot!

Over in Lajitas, TX, out in Big Bend country, is Maverick Ranch RV Park. And again, you kind of need to use I-10 if you’re coming in from the west, but if you’re coming in from the east you can slow down a little bit by taking Alt-90 and seeing some incredible country you might not otherwise get to see. Maverick Ranch has over 100 hookups and is located right by Lajitas Golf Club, and surrounded by the majestic W TX scenery. They have a fairly large clubhouse which features a library and TV room, very nice pool, a pergola for sitting in the shade, and a full laundry room. The sunsets out west are amazing, and especially so during the winter months if you ask me.

Hope you enjoy your stay at either of these campgrounds, and remember, before you hit the road, hit our website and we’ll be glad to get y’all sorted out!

Spice Up that RV Lifestyle with a Trip to New Orleans!

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Romtomtom/Flickr Creative Commons

What’s life without a little pepper? We’re getting to that time of the year when things are winding down and folks are getting settled in for the winter. The good news for those of us on the Gulf Coast is that we’re not hunkering down because of the weather just yet! The roads are clear, the temperature is till in the 50’s-70’s along I-10 and if you;re in Houston, TX a quick trip over to New Orleans can still offer an awesome end-of-year getaway. Today I thought we could discuss some of the RV Parks you can visit in Crescent City, Tha Big Easy…New Orleans, Mr Orleans if you’re nasty.

One of the closest parks to the action is French Quarter RV Resort. they are located at 565 Crozat St there in New Orleans, and their zip code for you GPS users is 70112. This RV Resort features the usual electricity, 50 amp, water and sewer. wifi, pool, allow pets, and have enough space for you larger equipped folks to pull through and turn around. Since most folks do not come to New Orleans for a quiet, dark, rural trip away from home y’all realize that this place is going to be louder and brighter than your average park, and of course you’re close by all that NOLA has to offer.

Jude Travel Park is located at 7400 Chef Manteur Hwy and the zip is 70126. They offer 46 sites, and feature the usual 50amp, sewer and water, wifi, pool, pets, and they also allow tent camping as well. Their pull throughs are large enough for the biggest of y’all to be able to turn around, and they’re located east of downtown an easy jaunt down 90 from I-10. Instead of party and Bourboun Street/Frenchman St noise, this park will have your normal urban noise level and will be a bit darker than over near the Quarter.

New Year’s is coming up, so why not take a quick drive over to New Orleans and celebrate irresponsibly yet in style? Ha! And before you hit the road, hit our website at www.pplmotorhomes.com for all your parts and accessories.

Texas’ Hidden Jewel of an RV Park: Leisure Resort, Fentress, TX

http://www.leisurecamp.net/

Pool at Leisure Resort on the San Marcos River/Source www.Leisurecamp.net

I wanted to write and tell all of you about an RV park that is near and dear to my heart.  For years my family has enjoyed the peaceful setting and beautiful San Marcos River that flows through Leisure Resort in Fentress, Texas.   Thinking back, I believe my grand some (now age 14) was 5 when we first ventured into this park.  It was one of those ads in the Texas Campground Guide that had a pretty picture so my daughter and I decided to make reservations for the family.  What a great decision it was.

On our first visit we met Cathie and T.J, the owners of the park and it didn’t take us long to realize that their dedication to hard work was what made that park a success.  Their team made us feel at home from the start and then I made a huge mistake.  I started telling all of our PPL customers about my hidden jewel and they all started making reservations, too!  I know that is what I really wanted to have happen, but the next time I needed a reservation I discovered it was full.  Now I know to plan early and often.

My friends at Leisure Resort have had a heck of a year in 2015.  The park was badly flooded during the Memorial Day storms in Texas, leaving many of the structures in dire need of repair.  Amazingly, a team of employees and volunteers got the park and all the amenities back up to normal within a few short weeks with a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  The river had receded and the park was back to normal…a short lived normal!  In the midst of hayride events and pumpkin patches, another horrific storm hit the same area Halloween weekend and wiped out even more than the first one.  A bad blow, both economically and spiritually.  It knocked the wind out of their sails.  Again, this team has rallied and the park is looking great.  There was a bumper pecan crop enjoyed by many in November and they are making plans for a great Winter and Spring season.

Make plans now to call and make reservations.  This is one of those parks you want to make sure you put on your bucket list…and come back again and again.   Take a group up there for a day trip or spend time in your RV.  Enjoy!

“Sisters on the Fly” Holiday RV Rally

Photo Credit: Diana LeBlanc

Photo Credit: Diana LeBlanc

I have to tell all of you about my wonderful weekend RV experience.  I was asked to speak at an RV rally, something I do often, and this one was completely different from all the others I have ever attended.  This was the “Sisters on the Fly” Texas holiday event in Bulverde, Texas.  From the moment I first walked up to introduce myself to LeeAnn Moore, the Texas Wrangler (she is the one who spent countless hours making this event happen), to my parting hugs and handshakes several hours later, I was truly amazed by the spirit of this wonderful group of RVers.

I was somewhat familiar with Sisters on the Fly, but had no idea what to expect.  As I walked up to the gated area outside Mike’s on the Square in Bulverde, I was shocked at the décor and holiday festival feeling.  From the white table linens that made me think of a wedding, not an RV rally, to the elaborately decorated Santa centerpieces, I knew this was going to be right up my ally.  Of course, being the quiet and reserved person I am, I jumped in with both feet, distributing tickets, bidding on auction items and doing whatever I could to help out where needed.  As the group gathered, I met some of the most interesting women from all walks of life: Doctors, lawyers, wives, mothers, daughters who all come together a few times a year for a girl’s weekend.  They share a love for RVs and the outdoors with a huge focus on Glamping.  These women (with a lot of help from family and sisters really know how to dress up every kind of RV from the older Shastas and Airstreams to the brand new Class B units like mine. They have a passion for glitz and glamour of camping.

 

Photo Credit: Diana LeBlanc

Photo Credit: Diana LeBlanc

As I listened to the various members speak to the group I was amazed by the tight bond they have.  I heard stories about everything from fly fishing to antiquing and everything in between.  Two things really stuck out in my mind from this event.

  • They are a group that strongly encourages children to be a part of the great outdoors.  They even have a segment of their organization referred to as Grandmas on the Loose and their motto is the “Leave No Child Indoors.”  What a great thing to believe in today when we see all the kids, young and old, so closely connected to their phone, tablets and computers.  There is so much to be seen in the great outdoors.
  • There is another portion of this organization that strongly supports breast cancer and illnesses that truly effect all of us.  They even have a traveling quilt program where a quilt is sent to a sister who is going through a hard time and, upon their recovery, this quilt is returned to the main organization to be passed on to another sister in need.  Again, the support was phenomenal.

    Photo Credit: Diana LeBlanc

    Photo Credit: Diana LeBlanc

 

Now, I have to brag a little now because I was so proud of my PPL family.  As I finished my few minutes of speaking to the group, I was so moved when several different women stood up to brag about their experience with PPL and the representative that made a difference to them.  Wow, that was a great RV Nana moment!

I really thought this was on my top 10 RV outings of all time.  And, needless to say, I will be joining this organization in the near future.  Now, I want you to hear about the icing on the cake….Today I received an envelope in the mail with no note enclosed.  Inside there was the neatest RV t-shirt.  I had commented to one of the Sisters about how much I liked their Santa Sleigh shirts and, in true Sisters on the Fly tradition, she literally gave me the shirt off her back.  I will wear it proudly to our PPL party!

Photo Credit: Diana LeBlanc

Photo Credit: Diana LeBlanc