Daleus, Curmudgeon-at-Large, Flickr Creative Commons
This may be wishful thinking on my part, what with all the hot and humid weather we’ve been having here on the Gulf Coast, but i thought today we’d chat a bit about what to expect if you’re driving your RV in cold weather. I know you snowbirds are probably rolling your eyes at this, but we Texans politely listen to you talk about how hot it is, so please bear with us. Everybody knows that the weather here in Texas can get….unpredictable. Not only that but there are portions of our state which will be getting heavy snowfall at the same time other areas are experiencing beach weather, so here are four tips for dealing with ice and snow on the road.
Granted you’re in an RV, but don’t do anything in a hurry. Don’t accelerate quickly. Don’t stomp on the brakes quickly. Don’t feel like you need to get where ever you’re going in 5 minutes either. Slow and steady wins the race, especially on slick roads in reduced visibility.
Fill That Tank
Most vehicles have fuel tanks near the rear wheels, and if yours does as well, keep it topped off. The extra weight of the fuel in the tank presses down on the rear wheels aiding in keeping traction. You still don’t want drag race starts away from traffic lights, but you’ll have less slippage when you apply the gas than if the rear was lighter.
Driving in adverse conditions requires more attention and focus than regular driving and it can wear you out. Make sure you aren’t fatigued before you start!
Pack Cold Weather Gear
Nobody plans on getting stuck, but just like you pack water when traveling through a desert..pack some blankets and cold weather gear if you’re traveling through the snow. Also make sure you phone is charged and handy in case of a break down or if you get stuck.
www.pplmotorhomes.com for all your parts and accessories
Tom Bennet, Flickr Creative Commons
Everybody knows about Inks Lake, Garner State Park. Lost Maples when it comes to fall foliage, but Texas has some breathtaking spots off the beaten path that do not get the kind of traffic that those other “calendar page” parks receive. So today I thought we could talk about some of these other places and what they have to offer.
Hueco Tanks State Park
Hueco Tanks is a truly awe inspiring place. Located just outside El Paso, Hueco Tanks is an amazing rock formation that did one truly amazing thing…they trapped rainwater. People for millennia have traveled to these rock basins to collect the rainwater stored inside. These days you can clamber over the rocks, hike, ride you bicycle, and marvel at the more than 200 petroglyphs that have survived.
Copper Breaks State Park
Located in far north Texas within a couple hours drive from Caprock Canyon and Palo Duro, Copper Breaks State Park is home to rugged scenery, a portion of the Official Longhorn Herd of Texas as well as being an internationally designated Dark Sky Park…which means they take light pollution seriously. RVs are welcome and there are campsites aplenty!
Palmetto State Park
Palmetto is one of those places it’s kind of hard to believe are in Texas. If you hike through the park on a misty morning you’d swear you were in dinosaur country. I mean it looks ancient in there with all the ferns, the dwarf palm trees which give Palmetto its name. They have a small spring fed Ox Bow lake available for boating, fishing and kayaking, and of course there are numerous campsites.
Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
If you’re in the Houston area, the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to get away from it all closer to home. Located down near Freeport and Lake Jackson, the refuge is a fairly large (44,000+ acre) allotment that is home to most of the coastal species of birds located here in Texas. Hike, camp, and wander to your heart’s content!
Jon Lebkowsky, Flickr Creative Commons
I love fall. I mean, I really love fall. When fall arrives here in Texas, it’s the surest sign I know that the heat wave is over. Although…Texas has pulled a fast one from time to time where we’ve gotten those gorgeous colors on the trees, and it jumped back into the 90’s. That’s just so wrong, on so many levels. But the fortunate thing about us folks in this RV lifestyle is that we are mobile. I remember a trip once where we decided that our destination was 65. Folks would ask us, “65? Where’s that?” I’d smile and say, “65 F. And it’s probably around 7000′ elevation!” But I digress. Fall is coming and all the Norman Rockwell colors that go with it, so today let’s talk locations where fall is on best display here in Texas.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
This little park gets kind of busy on the weekend during the fall foliage season, so play your trip accordingly. Weekdays during business hours are quieter, and the trails uncrowded. Located on FM 187 in Vanderpool, TX Lost Maples is a kaleidoscope of natural beauty. And their website even has a Fall Foliage Report (click on it) from October through to November so you can play your trip accordingly.
Garner State Park
This is another of those breath taking natural areas in the Texas Hill Country. Located on Hwy 83 in between Leakey (pronounced Lake-ee, thank you) and Uvalde, this beautiful spot has the Frio River running straight through it. Fall colors are on their best violently bright behavior during our cruelly short Fall, so get out and enjoy them while you can! This park doesn’t have a fall foliage report but it’s fairly close (in Texas miles) to Lost Maples to at least get a hint or two off of the Lost Maples Foliage report.
And remember, before you hit that trail this fall be sure an hit our website for all your parts and accessories!
Now you may not think that “New Mexico” and “BBQ” would be a natural fit. When one thinks of New Mexico and food, you naturally think of chiles and spicy, flavorful, and….different…Mexican Food. Well if there’s one thing you’ll find a bunch of in New Mexico, it’s ex-pats from Texas! And since Texans like their BBQ and since New Mexico has a long, storied history with cattle dating all the way back to the Spaniards, you can be assured that the BBQ in their fine state is Top Notch. So if you’re headed through NM on I-10 or I-40 on that Great Winter Migration, I have a couple suggestions for you.
Sunshine Girl AZ, Flickr Creative Commons
Sparky’s BBQ, Hatch NM
Sparky’s. Man there just isn’t any place like it. Hatch is a quick jaunt north of I-10 on I-27 north of Las Cruces and Sparky’s is well worth the side trip! The entire place is a trip for that matter. I have no idea what is on top of the building now but statues of roosters, dinosaurs, Uncle Sam, a Kip’s Big Boy, a Bull from Sizzler’s have all graced the roof at one point or another. The place has such an eclectic collection of…just…stuff, that it features regularly on the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, or the Food Network. The food is fantastic as well. The brisket is to die for. And the Sliced beef sandwiches. And the green chile cheeseburgers. And the chopped beef.
Steve Terrell, Flickr Creative Commons
Mr Powdrell’s BBQ House, Albuquerque NM
Now up on the north side, there in Albuquerque on I-40 is Mr Powdrell’s. Mr Powdrell’s isn’t as flamboyant as Sparky’s, but is a top notch feed. Founded by Pete Powdrell (a displaced Texan), this place boasts the most tender brisket I have ever eaten outside Texas. Holy Mackerel this place is good!
So you see, no matter how you travel through NM you’re covered in good BBQ!
Flickr Creative Commons/John Flannery
There is something fantastic I love seeing every year in Texas, and that’s the remarkable migration of the Monarch butterflies. However in the Rio Grande Valley, their numbers are in steady decline because their natural habitat is disappearing due to the economic growth of the area, increased corporate farming and the use of pesticides and defoliants like Roundup. However, there is one RV park in the Rio Grande Valley that has done something to help promote and stimulate the success of these winged beauties. Oleander Acres RV Park, with the help of funding support from the Rio Grande Valley Garden Club and the Native Plant Society of Texas has planted 200 milkweed plants of 7 different varieties during the past 6 months.
Monarchs will actual drink nectar from almost all flowering plants that produce nectar, so why is milkweed important? Because milkweed is actually the only plant that Monarchs will lay their eggs on. Even though they don’t really provide a direct commercial value like honey bees do, seeing clouds of of migrating butterflies every year is worth quite a bit in human experience. It was Oleander Acres RV Park that decided that they would be able to provide a great spot for them to rest on their long journey.
Visitors are welcome to come out to Oleander Acres to see the butterfly gardens which in turn will help the butterfly population in Texas just in time for the next Butterfly Festival. For more information, check out Oleander Acres website and plan a trip out to the Rio Grande Valley for a really unique an beautiful experience.
Mike Fisher/Flickr Creative Commons
Some of y’all may remember a wonderful Paul Newman movie from 1972 called The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean. It was about this rough around the edges semi-rascal huckster named Roy Bean who left San Antonio to sell whiskey to the railroad workers who were building the Southern Pacific. Through a series of events usually involving his own hubris and willingness to never let an opportunity pass, Newman/Bean declares himself judge and “Law West Of The Pecos”. He names his town Langtry after a famous actress of the 1890’s he’d never met named Lilly Langtry. Bean also names his courthouse/saloon after the actress as well; The Jersey Lilly.
Langtry, TX today swelters in the Rio Grande border region heat. Located on Hwy 90 in Val Verde County about 50 miles upriver from Del Rio, Langtry is the site where the Silver Spike was driven completing the railroad and apparently Judge Bean was among several folks who fought to steal that spike out of the ground as soon as the railroad folks were out of sight! The Jersey Lilly still exists today, and is right next to the Judge Roy Bean Visitor’s Center, a small museum commemorating the colorful past of the region. Langtry is a virtual ghost town now with perhaps 30-40 residents in the town and immediate surroundings, so plan accordingly when it comes to fuel, food, and water.
Also the area has some spectacular views especially at dawn and dusk. There’s nothing quite like a west Texas sun at the horizon and the beautiful golden light it casts. Outside of town on 90 there is a beautiful bridge over the Pecos River, and Seminole Canyon State Historical Park over near Comstock TX. It’s a great place to go and see the petroglyphs on the canyon walls from an earlier Texas civilization. This little visited part of Texas is well worth the trip!
Nan Palmero/Flickr Creative Commons
Lordy it’s hot. It’s so darn hot the fire hydrants are praying for dogs. Which naturally leads one to the question, “How in heck do I beat this heat!?” Used to be a trip to the ol’ swimming hole was the best cure so let’s do just that! Pack up your RV with a couple towels, a watermelon or two, a cooler full of ice and everything you like to drink that’s cold, and let’s hit the road for some good ol’ fashioned Texas Swimming Holes!
Now if you’ve ever been to the San Marcos River, the Comal, or the Guadalupe why then you know what a shock it is to your posterior when it hits that chilly water. But with that said, once you realize that it ain’t cold…it’s just relaxing, then a leisurely float down one of these rivers is just what the Dr ordered for a bad case of August. All these rivers have tubes for rent, and rides from down river back upriver so don’t worry about that, just pack your sunscreen and don’t worry about getting anywhere fast. Head for San Marcos, New Braunfels, Martindale, or just about any other town these rivers pass through and enjoy your float.
Just outside of Austin is a wonderful spot, and no we’re not talking about Hamilton Pool this time…that place has just gotten too crowded. We’re talking about Krause Springs there in Spicewood, TX. Beautiful clear 65 degree water, towering cypress trees, and way less crowded than your usual Austin area water spots. Plan on about a 40 minute drive with all that traffic, but also plan on relaxing at an absolute OASIS when you arrive.
Another neat spot in Central Texas is Jacob’s Well there near Wimberly, TX. Like the others mentioned today it’s spring fed, crystal clear, and cool. You can swim right there in the artesian spring and it is one beautiful bit of nature.
As always, before you hit the road, hit us up at the website…we’ll be only to glad to help y’all out!
We will seamlessly be moving from July into August next week and the oven that is Texas will subtly be set from Bake to Broil. It’s times like these when the going gets tough, the tough go to……Oregon! So let’s hit the trail and talk all things green, and lush, and cool!
Oregon is a beautiful, highly natural, and mostly uncluttered state. And they’re hilarious too. I remember being in south central Oregon in their “outback” portion of the state, it was maybe 83 degrees and everyone was talking about how hot it was. I smiled quietly to myself until I was out of ear shot and then just belly laughed. 83 degrees with no humidity and it was killing them! I felt like Superwoman! So, I’m going to name two incredibly beautiful places that have nothing in common with anything you can see in Texas and that are both worth the trip:
Jonathan Miske/Flickr Creative Commons
Crater Lake National Park
Oh my God y’all, this place is amazing. It’s a crystal clear, giant lake in a volcanic caldera and it is incredible. There is camping, a cool old lodge, and hiking aplenty. What’s more, there is Wizard Island down on the lake and you can take the ferry boat out there and stay on the island all day…but be sure you don’t miss that last boat! Plus it’s pretty hard to get lost when you hike around a round(ish) lake…just keep the water on that same side and eventually you’ll be right back where you started.
Bjorn/Flickr Creative Commons
What a beautiful coastal town! It is quintessential Oregon coast. It has those amazing pyramid shaped rocks, the Columbia River, the house where they filmed Goonies back in the 80’s, a gigantic bridge over the river….it’s like a poster advertising the Pacific Northwest. Needless to say, there are plenty of great places to eat and things to do as well. Head across the river to Washington State and check out the old Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment for example, you won’t be disappointed!
Don’t forget to come say howdy to us at the website, we’re standing by to help you with whatever parts or accessories you need to stay on the trail!
Jen/Flickr Creative Commons
Some folks navigate by BBQ joints. Some folks navigate by hamburgers. Some folks navigate by Tex Mex restaurants. Well it’s summer out there people. It’s a hot and humid Texas summer now, so maybe it’s time to navigate based on ice cream shops!
If you’re headed down to the beach in Galveston, you’ve got to hit La King’s Confectionery. It’s located down near the Strand on the corner of Mechanic St and 24th. They’re actually an old fashioned candy maker but they also feature ice cream in their 1920’s style soda fountain. The ice cream they serve is made right on the location and is the oldest ice cream company in Texas!
If you’re headed through Austin, you’ve gotta go to Amy’s. Amy’s is an institution and they now have locations all over town. It’s summertime in Austin though, so expect traffic and long lines. Their ice cream is worth the wait though!
If you’re headed up through Dallas, stop in Denton, TX for an ice cream at Beth Marie’s. The original location is right on the square, and Beth Marie’s is another of those old-school soda fountains. They feature over a hundred different flavors, all made by themselves…and they even sell some of their ice cream at Central Markets in TX. So if you can’t make it to Dallas, swing by a Central Market for a taste.
If you’re coming through Houston, you’ve got to hit the Fat Cat Creamery. They’re located on N Shepherd between 19th and 20th streets in the Heights. They call themselves a small batch ice cream maker and all their ingredients are locally sourced. This place is amazing!
So if just reading this has given you cavities, or spiked your blood sugar, then my work here is done. You’ve probably heard more than one person say, “It’s the journey, not the destination that matters” well…while you’re journeying, stop for an ice cream and that will sure make the destination matter just a little less for a while.
Come say howdy to us over at the website.
Darlene Hildebrandt/Flickr Creative Commons
Do y’all remember the lines at gas stations during the 1970’s? Do y’all remember President Jimmy Carter coming on TV to explain how tire gauges work? Well we’re going to talk fuel economy a little bit today. The summer driving season is upon us and granted, RV’s aren’t like driving a Prius…but…there are several things you can do to squeeze more miles out of a tank of gas and that’s what we’re going to discuss today.
Oddly enough one of the biggest influences on the range of your fuel tank is your right foot. For those of y’all who are lead foots or think your RV is a dragster, I’ve seen figures that show a negative effect on your range from five to thirty three percent! For the same reason, use your cruise control whenever possible. That constant speed, and constant RPM equates to a more efficient way of converting your fuel to miles. On the other side of the same coin, don’t just let the RV idle for long periods…just shut off the engine if it’s going to be more than a few minutes.
Sometimes an increase in economy can be achieved just with regular maintenance. Something as simple as a broken oxygen sensor can impact you by forty percent. And the same goes for the rest of the emissions systems, remember these engines are basically air pumps so anything that affects the air flow through the engine will affect your gas mileage. So with that said, air filter maintenance is also a key component to maximizing your mileage. Keep it clean or replace it often especially if you’re driving out west where there is a higher level of airborne dust.
So to recap…by all means check your tire pressures, don’t drive like a teenager, and keep up with the maintenance on your RV and the cost per fuel stop won’t be any higher than it needs to be. Also, we can help you get down the road with parts and accessories over at the website, so come say howdy!