Military Memorials in Texas

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Cliff/Flickr Creative Commons

As Memorial Day Weekend approaches, perhaps an interesting trip to take with your young folks would be to one of the many war memorials here in Texas. Texas has played a huge part in every conflict the United States has been involved in since the Civil War. From being the site of the last Civil War battle, to sending troops to Cuba to fight Spain, chasing Pancho Villa throughout northern Mexico, being the site of America’s first Air Force Base, to providing training grounds for generations of troops, we here in Texas have proudly down our part.

Every County Courthouse, it seems, has a war memorial listing the men and women of the county who fell in battle during the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq and Afghanistan…but there are some dedicated memorials as well with a broader scope, and I’m going to list some below that you can visit.

USS TEXAS

The Battleship Texas, located near the San Jacinto Battleground east of Houston, is the last surviving dreadnaught battleship in existence. She fought proudly in both World Wars and is a testament to those generations of men who defended our freedom.

USS LEXINGTON

The Lexington is an Essex class WWII aircraft carrier built to replace the original carrier Lexington which was lost during the Battle of Coral Sea. She is located in Corpus Cristi and is a monument to the WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam generations during which conflicts she served.

Museum of The Pacific War

Formerly known as the Nimitz Museum, this world class museum in Fredericksburg TX is one of the best monuments to the men and women from all across the country who served in the Pacific.

These men and women who chose to serve, as well as those who were drafted, risked their futures to ensure ours…Memorial Day is more than hot dogs and parades, it’s about gratitude and remembrance.

RV Davy Crockett Country

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Ben Gray/Flickr Creative Commons

Whether your Davy Crockett looks like Fess Parker, John Wayne, or Billy Bob Thornton…there is no denying that the mere mention of his name gets folks thinking about coonskin caps, Ol’ Betsy, and the Alamo. One of his most famous zingers back in the day when he lost re-election in Tennessee was; “You all may go to hell, and I’ll go to Texas!” Needless to say his rather famous trip to Texas was on the short side, and it ended at the hands of Santa Ana’s men, but don’t lets dwell on that. Lets instead hop in the RV and go look at some famous Davy Crockett sites around the state.

Some say his first stop was in Honey Grove, TX which is located just south of Hwy 82 between Sherman and Paris. Now no offence to the folks from Honey Grove, but this little town passed it’s peak a good while back. It’s downtown is a testament of better days gone by, but the folks that remain can still point you in the direction of where Crockett’s campsite was.

Nacogdoches, TX on Hwy 59 in E Texas is a more thriving town and always has been. The Sterne Hoya House Museum is where Davy actually stayed while he was in  town, so if you’re looking for that “walk a mile in his shoes” experience…this is your spot.

San Antonio, TX of course is the mecca for all those following the Davy Trail. It was here that in death he became mythical. If you care to visit the long barracks portion of the Alamo, behind glass they have one of Davy’s rifles. I doubt it’s the famous Old Betsy, but wouldn’t that be amazing? The best part of the Alamo in my opinion is that the old mission is a shrine and you are required to show your respect by removing your hat before you cross the threshold.

And don’t forget to drop in on us at the website, we’d be glad to get you outfitted with all the parts and accessories you need before you hit the trail!

 

Best Hamburgers In Texas?

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Harvey Rainwater/Flickr Creative Commons

I think we could for sure start some fights with this topic! And I reckon I ought to clarify the category slightly…today we’re going to talk about some of those Mom ‘N Pop Burger joints that are out-of-the-way and are mostly local legends. The food is superb, the staff are awesome, and they’ve been doing it their whole lives. No teenager hostesses impatiently waiting for you to sit down so they can get back to their cel phones here, nope. These are old-school Texas burger joints, go to ANY of them and I guarantee your mouth will be happy!

Schroeder’s – Thorndale, TX

Located on Hwy 79, east of Round Rock-Hutto-Taylor-Thrall in Milam County, Schroeder’s is one of the finest burgers in central Texas. The building used to be held up by the big oak tree on the east side of the building, but when the drought hit so hard these last few years, they built some buttresses on that side to prop the building up in case the tree died. The meat is always fresh never frozen, they serve chips not fires, and the folks there are wonderful. This is a bucket list burger joint, please stop in and grab a bite.

Bellaire Broiler Burger – Bellaire, TX

Located on the corner of Bellaire Blvd and Farris in Bellaire, which is in the southwest portion of Houston’s metroplex, this is one of those wonderful old-school small town burger joints that has been swallowed up by Houston’s expansion. They cook on a charcoal broiler and the crinkle fries are delightful. The ladies behind the counter are a heck of a lot of fun to joke around with, and if you’replanning on getting there during the lunch rush…well don’t. Or leave about 20 minutes early!

Woody’s – Mineral Wells, TX

Located on Hwy 180 on the east side of Mineral Wells, TX up in Palo Pinto and Parker counties west of Dallas/Ft Worth. I’m here to tell you this is the finest burger north of Waco, bar none. Woody’s is in a building that looks like an old Quonset hut from WWII…and I guess it could be because it’s fairly close to the Mineral Wells airport which was a training base back in those days. But if you’re traveling through N TX and you feel a bit peckish, try Woody’s then make somebody else drive, because you’re going to want a nap!

 

www.pplmotorhomes.com

 

Let’s Head To The Lake!

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Michael Gras, M.Ed./Flickr Creative Commons

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!

www.pplmotorhomes.com

I May Love Galveston a Little More Now

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scott feldstein/Flickr Creative Commons

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.

I love you Galveston, thanks for hosting this!

PPL MOTORHOMES

RV to Taos

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Robert Wilson/Flickr Creative Commons

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 Food Be Your Map!

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Boston Public Library, Flickr Creative Commons

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.

Come say Howdy!

Bluebonnets and BBQ

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!

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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!

 

Nana’s Going to Galveston

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.

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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!

RV The Panhandle, Texas’ Forgotten Corner

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!