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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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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!