RV to the Hueco Tanks!

Texas has always fascinated me. Of course I’m biased as I can be having been so fortunate to be born here. The thing about Texas is that it is literally the crossroads of America. If you drive I-10 from the eastern end of Texas to the west for example, you start out in the piney woods, then break out into coastal plains, then the southern edge of the black dirt country, then the limestone formations of the hill country, then the southern edge of the Llano Estacado, then finally the northern edge of the Chihuahua Desert. Today we’re going to talk about an awesome state park out in West Texas in the northern edge of the Chihuahua Desert!

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Dana Le, Flickr Creative Commons

Hueco Tanks are these amazing rock basins that trap rainwater and act as natural cisterns. People and animals have for thousands of years traveled to these tanks for water in that arid country. Well, today they have been preserved as a state park which features only 20 campsites. Entry is $16 per night, and the campsites provide 50 amp hookup, water, a picnic table and communal restrooms. They limit the number of folks per campsite to 6 as well. They also limit the number of people on the self-guided trails to 70 at a time, so you are fairly assured of a peaceful visit to this wonderful park. There are ancient petroglyphs and pictographs to see, and of course you can hike, do some bird watching, or do some rock climbing if you like.

So where is this place? Well, you pretty much have to get there from El Paso. You take Hwy 62 east out of El Paso until you turn left on 2775 and stay on that until you reach the park. You can visit the park also by coming down out of New Mexico, but it is via fairly small roads and I would greatly suggest using the gps, here’s the address: 6900 Hueco Tanks Road No. 1, El Paso TX 79938.

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!

 

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.

CCC State Parks by RV Part 3: East Texas

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Adam Baker/Flickr Creative Commons

In this third part on the Civilian Conservation Corps built parks here in Texas, I feel I should repeat my opening paragraph from Part 1 for those of y’all joining us late in the program so to speak.

In my opinion some of the coolest places to visit are the older State Parks built by the CCC back during the Depression. They made it their goal to use native materials and help the park blend into it’s natural surroundings. The stone work is incredible, the carpentry superb, and while the accommodations may not live up to our 21st century ideal of what defines “necessities”, i.e. air conditioning, wifi etc, what the cabins, structures, and campsites do incredibly well is remind us how much simpler we can live without these necessities. And today, we’re headed for East Texas!

Misson Tejas

Mission Tejas State Park is one of those neat, kind of out of the way, parks that are scattered throughout the big thicket country of east Texas. Crockett, TX would be the closest big town. The park includes a replica of the Spanish Mission San Francisco de los Tejas that was constructed by the CCC in 1935. There are hiking trails and a pond you can doing some fishing in.

Huntsville

Huntsville State Park is more or less surrounded by the Sam Houston National Forest, but is one of those pristine, old-school, picturesque state parks you’d expect in East Texas. The fall foliage is incredible, and it is the perfect place to camp in the fall. A Jewel of the Piney Woods portion of our state. Construction began back in 1933, and be sure to check out the boat house.

These two parks are something special, maybe because I live in Houston, but Mission Tejas specifically is such a crossroads of worlds. It’s the meeting place of the Old South, The Spanish Southwest, and the end of the Pine Belt and that very much describes East Texas to my mind.

www.pplmotorhomes.com

 

CCC State Parks by RV Part 2: South Texas

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Jon Lekbowsky/Flickr Creative Commons

I’d like to re-state the first paragraph of my last blog on the CCC constructed State Parks here in TX: In my opinion some of the coolest places to visit are the older State Parks built by the CCC back during the Depression. They made it their goal to use native materials and help the park blend into it’s natural surroundings. The stone work is incredible, the carpentry superb, and while the accommodations may not live up to our 21st century ideal of what defines “necessities”, ie air conditioning, wifi etc, what the cabins, structures, and campsites do incredibly well is remind us how much simpler we can live without these necessities. Today we’re going to discuss three in South Texas.

Lake Corpus Christi

This is a 365 acre park, and the undisputed highlight is a building called The Refectory. it’s an open air building featuring a tower from which you can look out over the lake. The CCC also built a boathouse and numerous trails around the lake. Construction began in 1934, and the park was completed in 1936.

Goose Island

We’ve talked in previous blogs about this wonderful park  northeast of Rockport, TX. It’s most famous landmark is “The Big Tree” which is an ancient coastal oak which has survived many millennia and saw the arrival of the Spanish, the departure of the Native Americans, and many many hurricanes. The CCC built several buildings which are still in use, the biggest being the Rec Hall, but there are many camp shelters and fireplaces scattered throughout the park available for use.

Goliad

One of the most beautiful restored Spanish Missions surviving in Texas today is Mission Nuestra Señora de Espiritu Santo de Zuñiga in Goliad, TX.  Reconstruction work lasted form 1935-1941 on this crown jewel of Spanish Missions in south Texas. If you find yourself heading south on Hwy 183 from I-10 like you’re going to Port Aransas, please stop and check this place out, it is so beautiful and peaceful and the entrance fee is super cheap!

Remember y’all, come say howdy to us at the website and we’ll be only to glad to help you with whatever parts or accessories you need!

 

Texas Music Festivals Not in Austin

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der LichtKlicker/Flickr Creative Commons

Sure everyone has heard of SXSW up in Austin, and the Austin City Limits Festival up in Austin, and the Fun Fun Fun Fest up in Austin, but did you know there are music festivals all over Texas that AREN’T in Austin? For those of us that enjoy music but hate Austin traffic and the ridiculous cost and inconvenience of parking anywhere near downtown or the events that are hosted in Austin, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy great music outside Travis county!! So this morning I thought we could hit some of the lesser known but equally great music festivals scattered around our Great State.

Bob Wills Days

Every third April up in the Texas panhandle, the small town of Turkey hosts the absolute best Western Swing festival in Texas. Birthplace of Bob Wills who rose to fame at the helm of the Texas Playboys, writing such famous songs as Faded Love and San Antonio Rose as well as influencing generations of country music legends such as Wille Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, etc etc etc. Everything you need to know about this great festival can be found right here!

T Bone Walker Blues Fest

Meanwhile in the northeast Texas town of Longview, blues lovers gather to attend the fest named in honor of one of Texas most influential blues musicians of all time, Mr T-Bone Walker. Walker was cited as an influence on everyone from the Rolling Stones to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Needless to say there is beer and BBQ aplenty to go along with all that soulful music too. If you enjoy blues of all flavors, this is the festival to attend! Info can be found right here.

International Accordion Festival

For those of you who enjoy everything from tejano/conjunto, cajun, zydeco, czech polka music or any of the other varieties of music played in Texas this festival will absolutely have at least one band to suit your taste. As a matter of fact, this festival is a musical ADHD person’s dream because there is a little of EVERYTHING every year. It’s located annually in San Antonio, TX and is great fun for the entire family. Check out their website for schedule and lineup info!

And don’t forget to hit our website before you hit the trail, we have all the parts and accessories you could use in this RV lifestyle!!

CCC State Parks by RV Part 1: West Texas

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Sheila Scarborough/Flickr Creative Commons

In my opinion some of the coolest places to visit in our Great State of Texas are the older State Parks built by the CCC back during the Depression. They made it their goal to use native materials and help the park blend into it’s natural surroundings. The stone work is incredible, the carpentry superb, and while the accommodations may not live up to our 21st century ideal of what defines “necessities”, i.e. air conditioning, wi-fi etc, what the cabins, structures, and campsites do incredibly well is remind us how much simpler we can live without these necessities. Today we’re going to discuss the three CCC built State Parks in West Texas.

Balmorhea

Every time I’ve passed the sign for this state park while I was cruising down I-10 I’ve always thought Balmorhea sounded like some place in a Lord Of The Rings movie! What it is though, is a beautiful state park built around the San Solomon Springs, a true oasis in the middle of the Chihuahua desert. The CCC began construction of the park in 1934 using native limestone and adobe bricks to build a swimming pool and motor court-style lodgings around the springs.

Davis Mountains

Construction began 4-5 miles northwest of Ft Davis, TX in 1933. Back before I-10 most east/west motor traffic was on what is now Route 90, or Hwy 290 and this park was built to attract visitors in the newly burgeoning motor tourism. This park features a couple mess hall type buildings, picnic tables and shelters, and is set in the beautiful Davis Mountains, perfect spot for lunch!

Indian Lodge

Known as Indian Village Hotel, this pueblo style whitewashed adobe building is a spectacular tribute to the CCC’s sense of style and place and is a perfectly preserved piece of 1935 arts and crafts architecture. It is located near Davis Mountains and is a must see spot in W Texas!

 

Visit a Hidden Texas Beach Gem

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John W. Schulze/Flickr Creative Commons

A lot of folks from out of state may find the Texas Gulf Coast a little underwhelming at times. You pick the wrong time of year and your favorite beach going spot might be covered in seaweed, or dead jellyfish, or tar balls…all the usual Texas beach killing suspects. But the reality is this: Texas is home to some mighty fine beach out there y’all. You can’t even compare the green blue water of south Texas with the silty brown water of east Texas. You see, we have hundreds and hundreds of miles of coast line, and I’d like to tell you a little secret about one spot.

We’ve discussed Port Aransas in previous posts. There are beautiful beaches, great seafood, all the aquatic activities you can handle, and they are a welcoming RV friendly bunch. The little known thing about Port Aransas though is that you can hop a 15 minute jetty boat ride to a secluded, pristine, beautiful, and 21 mile long barrier atoll. It’s called San Jose on the map, but locals call it St Jo’s.

What you need to do to get there is to pick a campsite somewhere nearby, plenty to choose from, and get yourself to Fisherman’s Wharf. Buy at ticket from the folks for the jetty boat, and they run all day long if you need to return without staying all day. Tickets are cheap and the boat runs starting at 6:30 am and then on the hour after that until 4pm, with the last boat departing St Jo’s at 6 pm. Everything you need to know about rates and schedule can be found right here!  Only 20 folks at a time can fit on the boat, so you’re more or less guaranteed a low number crowd at the beach, perfect for family picnics, or getting away from the family too!

Don’t forget to swing by our awesome website for all you RV Parts & Accessories!

Fish Port O’Connor

 

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The U.S. Army/Flickr Creative Commons

A bunch of y’all may have recognized by now that I absolutely love the Texas Gulf Coast. I don’t care whether it’s Galveston, Padre Island, Matagorda, Port Aransas, etc etc etc as long as I can dip my toes in the water and enjoy some fresh out of the water seafood. In past blogs we’ve talked about different places to go swim, where to fish, the beaches with the best campgrounds, and all those type of things, but it dawned on me that in none of those blogs have I talked about Port O’Connor.

Port O’Connor is on the southwest “corner” of Matagorda Bay and is an old fishing town. Matter of fact it is such an old school town, they don’t even have mail delivery to your house, you have to pick it up at the Post Office! Back when it was first founded it was called Alligator Head, and it has been long known as a fishing village, as well as for it’s production of figs. Some of y’all may remember that Matagorda Island used to have an Air Force Base on  it, and the resulting military traffic is kind of what helped put Port O’Connor on the map. After the base closure, the town struggled for awhile but the fishing and tourism was enough to keep the place afloat.

Port O’Connor is also home to an old-school, cast iron lighthouse similar to the one on Bolivar Peninsula near the ferry landing. It has been there in 1873, and is still working. So, with beaches, seafood, a few awesome “watering holes”, and readily available boat rides over to Matagorda Island, Port O’Connor will continue to survive. Heck, it’s been destroyed by hurricanes four times, so I reckon it’s here to stay! It’s a beautiful spot to visit now that summer’s winding down. And remember, before you hit the road, hit us up at the website for all your parts and accessories!