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!
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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!
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!
Andrew Hyde/Flickr Creative Commons
Every now and again I hear folks talking about RV’ing with kids or grandkids, and the conversations tend to revert to hushed tones as though they’re spilling state secrets to ISIS or something. As though people will hear that they’re planning on packing the RV with kids and will immediately try to talk them out of it or stage an intervention. On the other side of the coin, I also hear people discussing a trip with kids as if the kids are the delicate, fragile ones who can’t handle being confined for the course of the road trip. Today we’re going to talk about a few things you can do that will help mitigate some of the problems you face when traveling with kids.
Schedule Regular Stops
This is so important. If you are traveling long distance in a day or perhaps a multi-day cross country trip, plan on stopping every 2 hours or so. If you can make these stops correspond with mealtimes that also helps. Stop at a Chick Fil A or McDonalds or someplace with a playground so those kids can run and MAKE NOISE! An added benefit is that once the kids know there is a scheduled stop coming soon, the “When are we going to get there?” questions will fade away.
Give Them A Map
I realize nobody has maps anymore and it’s all GPS, but buy the kids a roadmap each. Not only will they learn to use one, but they’ll be able to track their progress and therefore that dreaded “How Much Longer?” question gets another smack down. Plus the kids will be able to see what interesting sights are coming up and can make some suggestions on where the next stop will be. For example, “Hey Nana, can we stop at The Thing on I-10 in Arizona?” or “Carlsbad Caverns is off to the left, can we go there?”. They’ll take an interest in the trip, it’ll divert their attention from the passage of time, as well as teaching them a useful skill.
Jay Cross/Flickr Creative Commons
It seems like every day or two there are new lists posted all over social media that tout to have “The Top 5 Songs Of All Time” or “20 Of The Best Songs To Chop Broccoli To” (the writers of these lists have amazing grammar by the way) or even “Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Songs Of All Time” but when you click the link it’s not even an article by Rolling Stone, and there are so many advertisements popping up all over that seeing all 500 songs would take 500 days.
Everyone has an opinion on music because music is 100% subjective. You like what you like, I like what I like. For example, I love The Eagles. However in The Big Lebowski, Jeff Bridges’ character loudly and publicly dislikes The Eagles. And you know what? That’s his, and my, prerogative. That being said, almost nothing can tense up a road trip like arguing over the music.
The accepted rule is “Driver Controls The Stereo” and that should be true unless it’s gonna be a long trip in which case there should be some sort of “your CD, then my CD” arrangement. It’s fair. That way poor Jeff Bridges doesn’t have to listen to two The Eagles CDs in a row and I don’t have to listen to two Creedence Clearwater Revival albums back-to-back.
Even married couples with decades of experience dealing with each other don’t want to listen to the same music. So be at peace people! Just take turns, Your taste is not better than hers, and hers isn’t any better than yours. It’s just super individualized. So for the good of the trip, to keep peace in the vehicle, just suck it up and listen to her music, every other album. Next thing you know, miles have slipped behind you and you might even hear some new music that you can ALL like!
Come say howdy over at the website, we’ll get you squared away!
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!
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I can’t remember if we’ve ever talked about hail. Of so, it’s been a long, long, long time and we might as well hit it again. So here we are mid-spring, the weather has been mostly wonderful. Central Texas, and North Texas too, have had some pretty powerful weather over the course of the spring and that belt of the state from north of Austin to the Red River gets strong storms pretty regularly. I still remember when Jarrell got wiped out by a tornado back in the 90’s. So what do you do when those storms are coming and they’re bringing hail and damaging winds with them?
Now it’s almost a cliche about RVs and travel trailers being beaten up by bad weather, but there is nothing more important than the well being of yourself and your loved ones. If weather is headed your way, and you don’t have time to get moving out of it’s path, your absolute best option is to seek shelter. That applies whether it’s straight-line winds, severe lightning, floods, hail, etc etc etc. Find yourself a sturdy, permanent structure if possible and get inside. Then keep away from windows and wait it out.
So you’ve made it through the storm and you’re looking your RV over immediately afterwards and it has taken a beating. We here at PPL can help you get it back to looking it’s best with replacement for all that damaged stuff up on top. I’m talking about replacements for refrigerator vent covers, vent lids, A/C shrouds, plumbing vent caps, and if you have punctures we even have self-adhesive rubber roof repair kits. Chances are if you have antennas mounted up top, they’ve taken a beating too. It’s amazing the amount of stuff we have up there that kind of gets forgotten about. So if you’ve gone through some severe weather, survey your RV or trailer, than call us and let us know how we can help you get back on the road!
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!
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!
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!