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!
So… Galveston. Man, I love it. Texas’ favorite island getaway just got a little better than I ever thought it could get. Do you know why? I just found out they’re hosting THE TEXAS MARGARITA FESTIVAL! Holy Mackerel, if that doesn’t sound awesome I’m not sure what’s wrong with you…but I bet it’s hard to pronounce! Haaa!
I’m not sure if there is a more Texan drink, especially during those long hot months we have coming up, than the good ol’ margarita. We’ve talked in previous blogs about margarita recipes, where it may or may not have been invented, wether or not Peggy Lee the singer was involved…but I can tell you this: if the Margarita really was invented at the Bali Room in Galveston, what better place to have a durn margarita festival than in Galveston, TX?
So here’s the deal, the festival is happening at Moody Gardens Hotel there in Galveston the weekend of June 19-20. There will be live music, fajitas, and margaritas by the gallon. There will be tequila tours, Sauza and Herradura will be in the house, there will be tastings, and the Texas Tornadoes headline the music side of things. This couldn’t be cooler if they resurrected Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.
Have you tried all the different flavors of margaritas they have these days? It’s not just triple sec and limes these days, they’ll have cantaloupe, mango, strawberry, and watermelon flavored margaritas just to name a few! At this point I think we ought to all be glad that the fest will be held very very very close to lodging, and if you intend to go you might as well go ahead and book your room now. Think strategically and get that room, so your festival experience remains the most positive it can be.
Q: You have 20 people in a room, how can you tell which one is the Texan?
A: You won’t need to, they’ll tell you themselves!
faungg’s photos/Flickr Creative Commons
Ain’t that the truth? I’m so proud to have been lucky enough to be born here, lucky enough to stay here, and lucky enough to have a great business here too! So I thought today IU could do a little Texas-centric bragging in hopes that those of y’all from outside the state will come and visit, and those of y’all already here would hit the trail and see what all the fuss has been about for the last couple hundred years!
Rennet Stowe/Flickr Creative Commons
Now, Texas is an 800 mile long by 800 mile wide wonderland with the towns of Texoma, Brownsville, Orange, and Anthony being the northernmost, southernmost, easternmost and westernmost towns in the state. In between those towns you have almost every possible ecosystem you could want to visit…high plateau country, black dirt farmland, coastal prairies, piney woods, the limestone hill country, beaches, mountains, etc etc etc. Now since Texas is the biggest state in the continental US, would it surprise you that Texas has the most inland water of any state? We have more rivers and lakes in Texas than any other state but Alaska. And if we were our own country (again) we’d have the 12th largest economy in the ENTIRE WORLD!
John Fowler/Flickr Creative Commons
We have our problems like everyone else, the highway system for example is straining to handle the increased traffic of all the folks moving here, but there is still a lot of elbow room here and True Born-Here Texans will still pull over onto the shoulder to let you pass…and wave while they’re doing it. If outdoor activities are your thing, we have all of those covered. If adventure is your thing…ditto. We also don’t have a state income tax.
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.
When I was a kid, I used to love the road trips my family would take. There was something about hitting the road and seeing all the new things, breathing new air, experiencing the world with new eyes that just got me right down there deep in my soul. Maybe that’s why I’m so attracted to the RV lifestyle. It didn’t dawn on me until the other day that I have a mental road map of Texas that could be based on meals alone. Some of those little towns we went through I can’t remember anything about…other than where we had lunch: Tex Miller’s in Cameron, Nu-Griddle in Plainview, or the old Taylor’s Cafe in Ft Stockton are just a few I can still remember. Don’t remember much about the towns or the visit, but I remember the lunch!
There’s just something special about those old-style small town cafe’s. If you want to know how the high school football team is doing, or who is sponsoring the FFA Club, or when the rodeo is coming to town, these little greasy spoons are the place to go. And you need to hit them up while they’re still here people! Small town America is getting more and more homogenized as the fast food chains continue their WalMarting the road food industry. Would you rather have breakfast at McDonald’s or at a place called The Hitchin’ Post or The Busy Bee?
These places are special, they are unique to the community, and they are a wonderful place to eat, so when you have the opportunity…wouldn’t you rather eat at a place you’ll remember? Even if it’s something as simple as the cashier being friendly polite or the waitress being sassy? Some of these gems are in peril because the declining fortunes of the towns where they’re located, some are in peril because oil, industry, or agriculture in that area is suffering. But some are in peril because the chains are closing in and franchises are popping up and down the highway. Rather than eat the same thing on the road as you can get at home, why not try Cueva de Leon in Ft Davis? It’s a beautiful drive, and an awesome meal.
Well that was a little ripple of cold weather for our first day of spring wasn’t it? Doesn’t that just figure that the last day of winter would be in the 80’s and the first day of spring would be in the 50’s? Thank you Texas Weather, time to get back on your meds darlin’. But since it’s officially spring and the whole state is busy pollinating, I thought we could visit a little bit today about some yummy springtime Texas destinations.
First let’s talk food. Saying you don’t like food is like saying you don’t like breathing, and since the bluebonnets are out and you’re hopefully out enjoying them, we’re going to hit Hill Country BBQ’s for all your mouthwatering, belt expanding, BBQ needs!
Marc Majcher/Flickr Creative Commons
Blanco, TX y’all – Old 300 BBQ y’all. Go there and thank me later!
Mason, TX – home of the ORIGINAL Cooper’s BBQ…famous the whole world over.
Brady, TX – Mac’s Bar B Que. If you’re not licking your fingers after chowing down here I don’t know what’s wrong with you…but I bet it’s hard to pronounce!
Llano, TX – Laird’s BBQ. You could take a slice of your Texas Toast and rub it in the dust on the ceiling and it’d taste great!
Comfort, TX – Fritze’s BBQ…wear a bib, this stuff is that good!
Uvalde, TX – Evett’s Bar B Que, some folks say it’s the best in South Texas…maybe you should taste test em yourself!
Texas is such an awesome place to travel around during the spring. All these places I’ve listed above are slightly off the beaten track, and hopefully you’ll see something new on the road to one of these. Or vetter yet, create your own Bar-B-Que Road Map and let us know where we can refuel! As always, be sure to swing by our website before you hit the trail out yonder. We’ll be only to glad to help you find whatever you need to make your RV life that much more awesome!
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!
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!
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!