I heard on the news last night that this summer has been declared the worst wildfire season in our nation’s history. Wildfires poses some of their own hazards to us as the RVing population, so I thought I’d ask a friend of mine, who fought wildfires for years as an air tanker pilot, for some advice and hints.
Here’s his email:
“A big wildfire ain’t like in the Planes movie — you don’t see a large amount of trapped tourists threatened by fire… you see property threatened and folks evacuating. Depending on population density, mandatory evacs can cause roads to be choked with people leaving an area that is threatened, which in turn can cause snarls and delays for men and equipment trying to find the quickest way to the fireline.
Remember the fire in Bastrop a few years ago? That was the worst wildfire in Texas history. If I remember correctly it burned over 1600 homes, which was 1500 more than the second worst fire in Texas history. The day that thing started, I was at a roadblock at the corner of Hwys 21 and 95 for several hours and it was absolutely packed with evacuating families traveling away from the fire with whatever they could carry, and in the other direction brush trucks, command vehicles, dozers, pump trucks, and pickups full of VFD were making their way to the flank. It was a very orderly mess.
For me personally, the irony was that this time I wasn’t flying, and this time my family’s ranch was dead in the middle of that huge fire, and I never made a single drop on it. But I spent weeks afterwards cleaning up, rebuilding fence, feeding and watering ours and other folk’s cattle while they built fence, sitting on the porch with a 30/30 to keep the looters out, hauling hay, driving the tractor for us and others, all those community rebuilding type things.
So having been at both ends of wildfire, here’s my advice: If you’re at a campsite in a National Forest or Park and you see smoke, report it immediately. If you get an evac order, don’t whine about how long you’ve planned this trip, or how disappointed you and your kids are, just pack your stuff and git! If you’re traveling and see a big column of smoke on the horizon, go somewhere else. Don’t clog up the highway so you can get a dramatic picture, don’t squat on the shoulder and rubber-neck, don’t flag down the BLM or Forest Service crews and ask em what’s happening, don’t be a moth attracted to a flame.
Here’s what you do: find an alternate route to where ever you’re headed, watch it on the news that night, and if you’re at a gas station or cafe and you see a group of folks in green pants and yellow shirts who look whip strong and like they’ve been rolling around in the dirt for a week, say thank you, shake their hands, and buy their sandwich. They don’t get paid near enough to keep that fire over on the horizon instead of in your backyard.”
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!
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!
Well, that was a great Thanksgiving y’all! We were enjoying some much needed camping time at our favorite RV park, Leisure Resort in Fentress, and went to a relative’s house for the big family feast. The turkey was awesome, the sides are all gone, the desserts were out of this world and I was wishing I had worn elastic waist pants! This was all wonderful, but the very best part of the weekend was time shared with family sitting out under the stars, laughing and sharing great stories while soaking in the peace that surrounds a campfire. I didn’t even have an urge this year to go out on Black Friday, the day that could be spent elbowing your way through the crowds looking for a good deal, or not. Instead a few rounds of putt-putt golf took the place of all that chaos.
It was just me and two of my grandchildren, ages 16 and 13, at the campsite the first night and we were preparing an all-time camping tradition… Frito Pie. We all pitched in to make this delicious pot of chili and it was almost ready. In fact, our mouths were watering as we set the table and then the unthinkable happened! My grandson ran through the campsite and tripped over the cord to the electric skillet and, yep, you guessed it. About 90% of our big pot of chili was in the leaves. Of course we had RV Nana, a Boy Scout and a Girl Scout all together and, voila, our dinner was somewhat saved. We browned some sausage, added a can of chili to what we had saved and it was almost as good as what we had originally created. It must have been pretty good because my grandson ate about three bags full. That started our fun, adventurous weekend.
We cooked and ate all weekend long. My son in law is a terrific cook when it comes to Dutch oven cooking so we feasted on a terrific quiche for breakfast and finger licking ribs for dinner. Now, you put this great food and a little wine together with the stars in the sky and the cool weather. What more could you ask for? Saturday night that question was answered. We had been away from the campsite for a few hours and when we returned to start dinner around dusk, the neighbors were playing guitar. Sounded great to us, so there was no need for a radio that night. Little did we know that we were about to be serenaded for a few hours by the Jecker Brothers of Georgetown. Yes, the guys who play at Monument Café. This was a night to remember. The only thing wrong with this night was the fact that we were all heading home the next day, leaving paradise and returning to the rat race.
So, for those of you who have not been RVing very long, this is what it is all about. You never know who you will meet or where you will meet them. We were surrounded by great RV neighbors for our special family Thanksgiving weekend.
I would love to hear some of your RV surprises, too!
I see you winter Texans trickling down from the Great White North, and I would like to be the first say, “Howdy, and bienvenidos a Tejas!”
As y’all can probably tell, the further south in the state you go for the winter, the milder it should be, but one of the joys of living here in God’s Country is that the weather changes more than it stays the same! But, to paraphrase Horace Greeley, “Head south young man!” and y’all ought to be just fine for the short winter months, because Texas has 4 seasons: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, and Road Construction.
South of I-10 there are some great winter RV parks, like Hillshade RV Park in Gonzales, TX. They have all the amenities on-site plus laundry facilities, free WIFI, AND they’re only a half hour or so from the Spoetzal Brewery in Shiner, TX. Hillshade is also built in an easy to use U shape so pull-in and pull-out is no problem. They’re located east of Gonzales, TX on alt 90 right by Lake Gonzales.
If you prefer to be closer to the coast, maybe check out On The Beach RV Park in Port Aransas, TX. They have the usual water, sewer, electrical, phone, and cable hookups as well as being just west of town and right on the beach. There are fishing, boating, and all the water borne activities to be indulged in while your less fortunate family members and neighbors are out shoveling their driveways and scraping ice off of, well, everything.
Texas literally has something for everyone and these are only two of many awesome Texas RV parks and destinations for you snowbirds to come and experience this winter. Not to take anything away from other Summer RV destinations, but I’m betting Texas’ Almost Summer, Summer, and Still Summer seasons might convince you to take a few months to enjoy what the northern climates don’t have to offer…warmth, sun and fun! And remember, before you hit the road, hit our website for all your RV parts and accessories!
The Daytona 500 is this weekend and I know plenty of folks are already on their way, or parked and camping as you read this. RVing to the races is a big event and you’ve gotta be prepared for it. There’s a lot of community involved with NASCAR enthusiasts, so you’ve gotta be ready when the time comes to entertain a few of your friends while you’re waiting for the races to begin. I’ve put together a few products I think would definitely help you have a great weekend out at the track.
These Reversible Racing RV Awning Mats can be used in a wide variety of areas like floor mats, beach mats and area mats – Not only for your patio! Thick 3 straw woven polypropylene mats are UV stabilized for increased sun exposure. Lightweight breathable material dries quickly and won’t kill grass. New Racing Design for NASCAR enthusiasts. All mats include corner tie downs.
These string lights would turn a boring old patio into a sight to see! Create a festive atmosphere with these weather resistant patio lights, after all, you can’t control the weather. Includes 6 large acrylic globes (6″ diameter) hardware and a heavy-duty 30′ coiled cord that resists tangles. Make your RV patio the one that all of your friends want to come visit.
During the downtime at the track, you can still enjoy your shows with this, the Winegard Carryout MP1 is an easy, low cost solution. Great for tailgating parties, RVing, camping, backyard BBQs, trucking, races, vacation homes, cabins and more. Unit is self contained in its fully enclosed case. The case has a twist off cap that provides an easy way to fill the top portion with water or sand for stability on windy days.
Trick-or-treating isn’t just for neighborhoods and the suburbs. RV parks all across the US routinely host some really great trick-or-treating opportunities. RVers are passionate about their RVs and decorate them with as much detail as they would decorate their own homes. Remember though, the same trick-or-treating rules apply.
Make sure your kids are wearing costumes that are visible at night. Add reflectors or glowsticks if need be. RV parks can be busy this time of year.
Be sure to inspect all of the candy you collect before eating any. Check for tampering, such as holes in the packaging or candy resealed with tape. Even the expiration date is important; you never know when someone will pass out candy that was originally purchased a couple of decades ago.
Always be aware of your surroundings. Look other ways before you cross the road. There will probably be lots of vehicles on the road within the park.
Make sure an adult accompanies all children.
Ever seen what trick-or-treating looks like at an RV park in Texas? This video was shot at the RV Ranch in Burleson, Texas.
This year do something different. Take your kids and grandkids RVing and let them trick-or-treat. There are lots of great RV parks in and around the Houston area. I’m going to go as far to say that it’s even better than doing it at home. Everyone is very friendly and really enjoying the Halloween season. If you have any questions, or are looking for some decorations for your RV, just give PPL Motorhomes a call.
You don’t have to live in the far North East to want to head south for the Winter. There are thousands of RVers in North Texas who do just that every year and still stay in Texas! With destination cities located in central and south central Texas, such as Austin and San Antonio, on over to Houston and down along the coast, Texans headed south for the winter every year and have a multitude of places to visit so they can bask in the warm sun of a Southern Texas winter.
The ultimate Texas winter RV vacation is without question a Gulf Coast trip. Even thought the water may be a little cooler, the weather is wonderful and the fishing is amazing.
I love a good trip along the Gulf Coast.
Click on the picture below for a link to Texas Parks & Wildlife’s list of things to see and do along the Gulf Coast. It has some really good suggestions on the place that are “must stop” type locations.
Do you live in North Texas and have a favorite South Texas destination you like to visit during the winter? Share it with us! Are you an RVer in another state and never considered the Texas Southern Coast as a vacation spot? I highly recommend that you just take a few minutes and click on the link above to find out a little more about why I think why Texas has some really unique and interesting winter vacation destination locations.
Now, it might seem a little early to start talking about Fall/Winter travel, but in fact right now is the perfect time to start planning a trip for the changing seasons. It won’t be long now and Texans will soon be heading towards some warmer climates like San Antonio, Houston, Corpus Christi, and many other destinations. I’d say that most of them venture all the way down to the valley, but as I said before, many are finding warmer weather and a great time in the Houston and San Antonio areas.
Regardless of where you plan to go, there are a whole host of amazing apps out there that can help you plan all aspects of your trip easily. For example, take a look at the video below. The RV Trip Wizard is a very useful tool when planning your next trip.
Now is the time to start planning your Fall/Winter trip. One thing to keep in mind is planning trips in Texas, there are plenty of places to visit that are right here in the state. Of course, taking a nice winter trip along the Gulf Coast is a wonderful vacation. There are plenty of places that are prime spots in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida that are worth looking at planning a visit too as well.
Of course, there are multiple things you are going to want to plan for and get ready for your trip. For any of your parts, accessory and camping need this Fall and Winter, I recommend that you start at PPL Motorhomes. We have thousands of parts and accessories that will come in handy during your Snowbirding adventures.
RVers know a thing or two about getting back to nature, and whether they know it or not, many RVers are also excellent conservationists! Let’s think about it for just a moment. First of all, there is already a predisposition for most RVers to leave as small of a foot print as possible in regards to where they travel.
For example, did you know that about 95% of American water usage ends up going don the drain? Water for your average RVer is both a valuable resource and can be a liability of sorts. First off, even though you are hooked up to a fresh water source, chances are that much of that water is going to just end up in your grey or black water tanks. This just means that you need to empty them more often. You’ll see RVers not leaving the water running while doing dishes, brushing their teeth, or even when taking showers. The desire to reduce water collected by their sewage system translates into using less water over all.
Did you know that only one in four Americans recycle their plastic water bottles? They don’t decompose, and that means that they are certainly not biodegradable. In fact, all of those cases of fresh water more often than not just end up in landfills. RVers can take a different approach. Space is valuable to an RVer and having even just once case of water lying around the RV is a space waster. That’s while you’ll see many campers and RVers use refillable receptacles. If everyone in the RV has a large bottle of water and just refill that container, well you aren’t just going to save space, you save the environment.
Here’s an interesting fact: two-thirds of Americans cannot see the night sky due to “light pollution” in their respective areas. RVers tend to turn off their lights more when not in use. Even if they have a constant energy source, often times the lights go off when they don’t need them. This might be because RVers may be more accustomed to saving propane being used by their generators when an AC current isn’t available. Trust me, propane can get expensive and you’ll want to save on refills. By turning off excessive light usage, you’ll not only save propane, but it sure will make viewing that night sky much easier.
Trash can be an issue for everyone, not just RVers. When you go to the store you can actually cut down on the amount of garbage that is being sent to the landfills by buying some foods in bulk. Cereal for example. Why do you need a box when the product also comes in a bag? I know it’s for shipping purposes, but that last time I checked, crushed cereal tastes the same as uncrushed cereal. You know what? Buying rice, pasta, cereal, crackers, and other snacks in bulk bins will also save you cash!
You probably do this at home, and you should do it while you are camping too. That is, provide separate waste containers in your RV for garbage and recyclables. Most, if not all campgrounds, have recycling bins. All you have to do is ask where they are. If for some reason your park or campground doesn’t have a recycling bin, simply suggest that that look into adding one. It’s not hard for our parks and campgrounds to get in on the act of helping out the environment. Especially their environment.
If you have any other suggestions, tips or hints about how to go green while you go RVing, leave them in the comments section below. Also check out PPL Motorhomes online for a multitude of Green RVing products.
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!