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!
Dr. Colleen Morgan/Flickr creative Commons
In the last blog we discussed a couple really neat Texas caves you can go visit. As we previously said, most of the caves you can take a tour of are in the central Texas/hill country area because they are formed in the limestone typical of the area. So without further ado, let’s hit the trail and head underground!
Cave Without A Name
Well there’s some truth-in-advertising eh? This cave is located 10 or so miles north of Boerne, which is 20 miles or so NW of San Antonio, and is one of the few living caverns you can visit in the state. By living, I mean that the formations are still growing, so you have got to fairly careful not to touch any of them as the oils from your fingerprints will prevent further growth. Their tours last about an hour, and hit all 6 of the major rooms of the cave. You can find out everything you need to know right here!
Cascade Caverns is also located outside San Antonio and is one of the few cave complexes that features it’s own campground! To get there you head west on I-10 for 15 miles or so until you see the Cascade Caverns exit, then just follow the signs. Tours last between 45 minutes and an hour, and this cave is living as well so be careful. They also offer some off-the-path adventure tours which last about 2 hours and are for ages 16 and up everything you need to know is right here!
Caverns Of Sonora
You’ll see the billboards for this cave for miles and miles along I-10, and this is one of the few caves you can visit that is further out from San Antonio, as Sonora is out west. Their walking tours last an hour and 45 minutes or so, and unlike many caves the humidity levels are very very high so it’s actually a warm cave. You won’t need a jacket like you would at say, Carlsbad Caverns. If you’d like to know more about this cave click right here!
If you’d like to know more about the parts and accessories we have in stock and waiting for you, click right here!
Josh Grenier/Flickr Creative Commons
This might have been a better topic for those super hot and humid, “Coastal Bake Oven” style days of mid July through…well…quite recently I suppose. Days when it’s so darn hot and still outside the idea of heading underground to look at stalagmites, stalagtites, columns, domes, and big holes in the ground is not only interesting and a great diversion, but also a cheap way to get out of the heat! Oddly, now that the temps are starting to sort of creep down a bit, these underground show caves will stay relatively the same temperature they were during the summer months. So let’s go caving!
There are 7 caverns or cave systems you can go visit easily here in the state of Texas, and the majority of them are in the central Texas hill country, so let’s get started.
Natural Bridge Caverns is located in the San Antonio area, and features guided tours as well as some more “off-the-path” adventure tours for those who enjoy getting to see what’s around the next corner. If you get there early enough you can go on the first tour of the day which is the “Lantern Tour”, a full tour of the cave with all the accent lighting turned off and illumination only provided by your groups cave lanterns. Truly a way to see the cave in it’s most natural setting.
Inner Space Caverns is located near Georgetown, TX and is a fairly new discovery as it was only discovered in 1963 by some Highway Dept workers during the construction of I-35. Needless to say, tours depart through the cave every 20-30 minutes so there is never a long wait before heading under ground. The fossilized remains of several pre-Ice Age animals such as Mammoths and Sabre Toothed Cats have been found in the cave, which is not fully explored.
Remember to come say howdy over at the website, we have purt’ near anything you need!
Viaggio Routard/Flickr Creative Commons
Well y’all, it’s finally October and that means two things that I can think of when traveling in Texas this month: Oktoberfest! Halloween Parties! If you’ve spent any amount of timing driving around Texas during the month of October, you’ve probably wondered how so many towns could suddenly be German, and how many towns could find enough hay bales in a drought to make mazes for the kids. So let’s go for a quick drive and explore some October, Texas Style!
Oktoberfest! Lord have mercy, what a party! No offense to the Oktoberfest celebrations held in other parts of the state, but if you want that real German Oktoberfest party, you need to head to New Braunfels or Fredericksburg! Oddly enough New Braunfels’ Oktoberfest is called Wurstfest, but don’t let the name fool you, it’s the best! Their slogan is “Sprechen Sie FUN?” and all the details can be found here! Not to be outdone in German party antics, Fredericksburg plays host to polka, pretzels, and Pilsner themed fun that is absolutely legendary and everything you need to know is right here!
For those of y’all who prefer more gluten-free entertainment, or perhaps sausage, oom-pah music, and dirndl-clad lasses are just not your thing, Texas hosts plenty of Halloween themed events in Rv Parks and Campgrounds all across the state! Pumpkin carving contests, hayrides, corn or hay bale mazes, costume contests, BBQ, are all available and heck it’s still Texas so you can probably hit the pool one last time! One such campground is Mitchell Resort up west of Dallas is in Perrin, TX (on Hwy 281 in between Mineral Wells and Jasckboro). They are fully geared up for family fun, and have a full listing of everything you need to know about their Halloween festivities up right here!
The best thing about traveling in Texas is we’re just so dang big, there is no way you can hit the road and not see something new. And before you hit the trail, hit our website for all your parts and accessories!
Colin J. McMechan/Flickr Creative Commons
FM 170 is a little known, but quite beautiful drive in West TX. The unassuming highway parallels the Rio Grande in Presidio and Brewster Counties for over 100 miles. It’s an exciting road to travel in that it is located in the middle of nowhere, you’d need to prepare for the drive instead of just winging it, and there’s that slight element of danger that gores with traveling near the US/Mexican Border. For those of y’all with an adventurous outlook, it’s just the ticket.
Funny thing is, it doesn’t matter what time of year you intend on traveling this route, you definitely need top remember to pack water! Needless to say, you’ll be driving through the desert so you have to plan accordingly. For this route you need to ensure your tires are in good condition, radiator is serviced (if you’re planning on a winter jaunt, then you may need to cover a portion to help keep your engine temps up), as well as GPS and reliable communication. I don’t mean to imply it’s the wild wild west out there, but you should be prepared for any eventuality, just like the Boy Scouts used to say.
FM 170 has as it’s western end the sleep small town of Candelaria. It’s one of those places you have to got to to get to, because it ain’t on the way to anywhere else. At the eastern end of FM 170, the road ends at Study Butte right by Big Bend National Park. The road actually travels through Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Coming down from Candelaria, you’ll come to a ghost town called Ruidosa and right by the road are the adobe remains of Sacred Heart Mission. It’s crumbling but still largely resembles an old old adobe church. The drive through the ghost towns and State Park, as well as the river views are worth the extra planning and effort of preparing for this drive. And as always, before you hit the trail, hit us up at the website for all your parts and accessories!
Infrogmation Of New Orleans/Flickr Creative Commons
Some folks don’t feel like they need to do all the typical Louisiana tourist spots like Bourbon St, the French Quarter, the casinos, the Tabasco Island, etc etc etc. Some folks prefer smaller crowds, less stress, and perhaps a little trip back into history as well. So today I thought we could discuss some of the lesser known Louisiana destination and luckily Louisiana has history by the boatload available for viewing.
Fort Jackson is in Plaquemine Parrish, right on the Mississippi Rivers as it heads south out of New Orleans and into the Gulf of Mexico. The only way to get there, without going by boat, is to take Hwy 23 south out of NOLA. Originally built in 1822 to protect New Orleans from further potential revenge raids from the British after they lost the War of 1812 and it’s named after Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans as well as the sitting president when the fort was built. The fort was actually in use until after WWI and is now a National Landmark and available for viewing.
Fort St Phillip is another fort in Plaquemine Parrish built to aid in the defense of New Orleans, and survived a 10 day battle with the British in 1815, and another 12 day siege during the Civil War. It is on the western bank of the Mississippi like it’s down-river neighbor Fort Jackson. Fort St Phillip is slowing being reclaimed by nature after being damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Ike.
Over on Lake Borgne which is a tidal lagoon of the Gulf of Mexico is the eerily intact Fort Proctor. Resembling a medieval fort, it dates back to the Civil War being built during that conflict and ironically never used. It is reachable to boat or kayak and the nearest town is probably Chalmette.
These are interesting, off-the-beaten-track destinations that require a little more effort than the average tourist trap, but also represent chapters in our Nation’s history that have been fading from memory more and more as time passes, so go visit them before they fade away!
Ed Schipul/Flickr Creative Commons
Ah, the French. Ah, the Italians. Ah, the Sicilians. Ah, the Greeks. Ah, the Californians? All these places have very famous wine-growing regions, and justifiably so, frankly. Luckily you do not need to learn a new language or drive very far, or even drive at all for that matter, to experience the next best thing: Texas Wine Country!
Today we’re gong to focus on Fredericksburg, the capitol of Texas Wine Country. There are a few reasons to focus on Fredericksburg actually:
- Surrounded by wineries
- Lots of other stuff to do
- Plenty of campgrounds, hotels, and the like
- Wine Taxis
Can’t express how important those wine taxis are, those tasting room visits can get a little borderline sometimes, and it doesn’t matter how many rows you walk in the vineyard, you won’t be legal when you get back to the concrete. So play it safe, and support the local wine taxis instead of the local attorneys OK?
There are at least 15 wineries along Hwy 290 in and around Fredericksburg, and they represent a wide variety of wines so if you’re up for a weekend of wine tasting, don’t forget to hydrate! None of us are as young as we were yesterday! A good website for information on the wineries is right here. A lot of the wineries host events and usually the events are free, so there is always something going on! A number of the wineries also feature live music on the weekends, so you can chill in the shade in central TX, sip some fantastic wine and listen to some great music in a beautiful setting.
If you’re coming into central TX from the east, take I-10 west and turn north on Hwy 87 in Comfort, TX and take that all the way into Fredericksburg. If you’re coming in on I-10 from the west, take Hwy 290 east into town. If you’re coming down from Dallas, take I-35 through Austin (sorry) and take Hwy 290 west into town. Guarantee you won’t regret it! If you have a favorite winery to visit, please leave a comment in the section below and tell us all about it!
www.pplmotorhomes.com for all your parts and accessories!
Gary J Wood/Flickr Creative Commons
Last year we talked about some BBQ joints here in Texas that are justifiably famous – some for the BBQ, some for longevity. Now that the edge is starting to come off of summer and a lot of folks from up north start drifting thisaway, or at least the thought of drifting thisaway starts popping up in their minds, I thought we could talk today about south Texas BBQ.
If you’re not from Texas you probably wonder how south Texas BBQ is different than regular old Texas BBQ. Let me start off with saying this: Texas is huge, so there’s a pretty big regional difference in sauces and the wood used to fuel the fires under the BBQ between Amarillo up north and Laredo down south, or from Houston on the east side to El Paso on the west side.
South Texas is down in the Mesquite Belt, so you can expect that wonderful mouth watering smell of mesquite smoke when you’re walking up to a south Texas BBQ joint. Also, the traditional South Texas sauces are a little different than in other parts of the state. South Texas BBQ sauce tends to be thicker and helps keep the meat moist.
So, let’s get specific about where to taste some good ol’ south Texas BBQ. If you’re traveling south out of San Antonio for Corpus Christi for example, you’ll be on I-37. Stop in Pleasanton, TX at McBee’s BBQ and give it a try. If you’re not hungry yet, keep on heading south. When Hwy 281 branches off of I-37 toward Three Rivers, go ahead and take it on town and try Sowell’s BBQ right there in town, or Van’s BBQ which is closer to the turnoff. If you’re still not quite hungry, wait until you get to George West, TX and try Slap Ya Mama BBQ!
Do you have a favorite spot for brisket and links on I-37? Drop us a line in the comment section below and tell us about it! And be sure to swing by our website for all your parts and accessories!
Jack Gray/Flickr Creative Commons
Folks, with the summer winding down and those hot hot hot August days behind us, there may be only a few weekends left to hit the ol swimming hole. I mean, what’s better on a hot day than heading down to the creek, taking the shoes off and going for a quick dip? Especially if that creek has a couple great spots to eat lunch once you’re out of the creek and dried off?
Good news is I know a great old-school resort spot in the Wichita Mountains, just west of Lawton that is a wonderful place to swim, eat lunch, listen to music, and just chill on a hot afternoon… Medicine Park, OK.
The little village of Medicine Park is over 100 years old, and is know far and wide as a cobblestone town. It has a very CCC style look to it, as the cobblestones and a lot of the remaining buildings are built of the native red granite of the Wichita Mountains. It’s entire history has been as a resort destination, even though it was founded before Oklahoma even became a state. Two dams were used to create Bath Lake Swimming Hole, which now features bridges, shaded areas, sunny areas, picnic areas, and of course one big ol swimming area!
Very often Medicine Park hosts live music on the big stage across the street from the creek, so while you’re floating and relaxing you can also enjoy live Country music, Blues music, Americana, Western Swing as you’re cooling off. The folks at Medicine Park are also very friendly and welcoming as they’ve been playing host to visitors for more than a century. Heck the current mayor is a retired school teacher who, besides running the town, also organizes the music on the stage! As of the 2010 census the town’s permanent population is only slightly more than 300, but on summer weekends the population swells into the thousands, so if you’re bringing your RV or trailer, call ahead for a berth at one of the campgrounds, or get there in the morning! And remember to visit our website for all your parts and accessories!!
Venturist/Flickr Creative Commons
Ah, roadside attractions. They seem to be the last of the old-school carnival hucksters and snake oil shows. Flying a little loose with the truth in a highly entertaining way all to get bodies through the door. I remember visiting the 400 Pound Gopher somewhere in Kansas back in 1998, and it was 400 pounds all right. Of concrete. And then there is the classic, “Come See the Man Eating Chicken!” With a title like that what can you do? You stop, pay your dollar, walk into the room, and there’s some guy at a table eating fried chicken.
So how many of y’all have seen the signs advertising for “The Thing” on I-10? It seems like they start just west of El Paso, and if you’re headed east out of CA on “the 10,” I want to say the billboards start before you get to Buckeye, AZ. The Thing has got to be the best hyped “roadside attraction” (read: tourist trap) in America. I’ve seen some amazing signs on my travels, and remember the Burma Shave billboards, but these folks are tenacious! So if you’d like to visit an old-school tourist trap, this is the one to see. It’s just south of I-10 in between Willcox and Benson right near Texas Canyon, in Dragoon, AZ.
Entry to the “exhibit” is $2 for adults, slightly less for the kiddos. And they have some Old West stuff on display, a 1937 Rolls Royce they claim belonged to Hitler, and then… dah, dah, DAH! You finally get to see The Thing! What is it? Well I’m not going to spoil the fun and suspense, so go see it yourself. Suffice to say, it’s only $2 folks. Also, before you hit the trail out into that dusty, dry, and empty portion of Interstate 10, please be sure to swing by our website for all your parts and accessories!