Thomas Jefferson’s Wine Tour?

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Emily Carlin/Flickr Creative Commons

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!

RV to Abita Springs, LA

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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!

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!

 

Texas RV Campsites Off The Beaten Path

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Todd Dwyer, Flickr Creative Commons

I can’t speak for y’all but there are days where I think that if I never see I-10 or I-35 again that’d be just fine! I-35 between San Antonio and Dallas just kills me when we’re driving. If it’s not a parking lot, it’s way to narrow and fast for my taste. “JANE! GET ME OFF THIS CRAZY THING!” as George Jetson used to say. So today we’re going to talk about a couple RV Campsites that are: 1. Awesome and 2. Off The Interstate!

First up is Alsatian RV Resort and Golf Club in Castroville, TX. Grsanted that puts it near to BOTH I-10 and I-35 but it’s 30 minutes away from all that hustle and stress. This place is definitely upscale and has the amenities to go with it. Obviously golf is available, but they also have a spa, a stocked fishing pond, gym, a gorgeous pool, and best of all…they have little casitas at the pull-throughs that include an outdoor kitchen, tiled showers, and a couple patios that look out over the golf course. If you’re planning a trip up or down 35 or headed through San Antonio on 10 and you need a break from the traffic, give this place a shot!

Over in Lajitas, TX, out in Big Bend country, is Maverick Ranch RV Park. And again, you kind of need to use I-10 if you’re coming in from the west, but if you’re coming in from the east you can slow down a little bit by taking Alt-90 and seeing some incredible country you might not otherwise get to see. Maverick Ranch has over 100 hookups and is located right by Lajitas Golf Club, and surrounded by the majestic W TX scenery. They have a fairly large clubhouse which features a library and TV room, very nice pool, a pergola for sitting in the shade, and a full laundry room. The sunsets out west are amazing, and especially so during the winter months if you ask me.

Hope you enjoy your stay at either of these campgrounds, and remember, before you hit the road, hit our website and we’ll be glad to get y’all sorted out!

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!

The THING!

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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!

Healthier Road Trip Snacking Methods

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Max Wolfe/Flickr Creative Commons

We all know that part of a trip where you’re stuck in one of those more straight, empty, boring parts of the drive. It’s August, it’s hot and everywhere you look you see 100 different shades of brown. We all know what happens right about then too. You start thinking to yourself, “Man. I could sure use a snack.” You’re not hungry really, but you are very bored and eating a little something would provide a diversion from that rainbow of ugly happening outside your windshield. Usually at that point you see a small country store gas station that is the only thing happening at the next exit on the interstate and you think to yourself, “Well, I could stretch my legs, top up the tank, and grab a bite.” Those little stores have candy, Giganto-sized sugary drinks, and all sort of stuff fried in last week’s grease. The sugar crash you’re going to have in a couple dozen miles is going to be huge if you eat that junk, so today I thought we could talk about some more healthy sensible snacking methods while you’re traveling.

If you’re traveling in an RV, you’re traveling with your own kitchen, so with a little planning and  forethought there is absolutely no need to stop at that little ghost town convenience store. The food is junk and over-priced too. When it comes to road snacks, think in terms of a filling, energy-giving snack that will keep you feeling awake, alert, and full longer than the processed sugar snakes of the roadside convenience.

For example, instead of having potato chips, why not have some nuts instead? Doesn’t matter what kind, just as long as you like them! Most verities come in a lightly salted option these days, but if nuts aren’t your thing and you’re having a craving from crunchy, throw some popcorn in the microwave. When it comes to drinks, ditch the 44oz (or larger, sheesh) soft drinks and replace them with juice (100% fruit or vegetable) or even water. You’d be surprised how well water knocks the edge off a craving. Needless to say, fresh fruit and vegetables that are pre-cleaned and sliced before you hit the road are a wonderful option, and they’re only as far away as your fridge or cooler.

We here at PPL Motorhomes are only as far away as a few clicks on the keyboard anytime you need parts or accessories out on the road. Happy snacking, happy driving!

Leaving Home: Check List for Hitting the Road

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mt 23/Flickr Creative Commons

 

I was reading an article recently about taking care of your home before you hit the road for an adventure in your home on wheels and it got me to thinking.  I guess I do have a little routine that I go through whether I’m leaving on an RV adventure, or hopping a plane.  I’m going to share my check list with you, but you need to promise not to laugh.

A day, or two before I leave, I always leave my itinerary with my neighbor and my daughter.  Everyone should be as lucky as I am because I have the greatest neighbors in the world and a daughter and son in law who are always there for me.

Now here is my check list….

  • Make sure to move all my potted plants to one area in a shady spot in the yard where the sprinkler will hit them.  I got tired of coming home to dead plants.
  • Water my two or three house plants.
  • Check to make sure all my lights on timers are working properly.  I have a few upstairs and downstairs scheduled to come on and off at different times.
  • Run the last load of dishes in the dishwasher
  • Make sure all my laundry is done.  I hate to come home to a mess.
  • Run the disposal one last time.  There is nothing worse than coming home to a horrific smell from last nights dinner scraps left in the disposal.
  • Empty all the trash cans and get the trash out of the house.
  • I actually change my sheets the morning I am leaving so I come home to my nice clean bed.
  • Set thermostat on ac or heat.  In the winter I set it at 50 and in the summer I set it at 80. Of course, I am considering a new fancy thermostat that I can set from my phone.
  • Stop mail and newspaper delivery.
  • Grab my last minute things for the trip.  Set the alarm and leave the house.

This little list gives me peace of mind.  Basically, I always had a fear that something would happen and a friend or family member would have to come into the house to take care of something for me and I wanted to make sure they didn’t realize what a messy person I really am. Plus, it just makes it really nice to come to a fresh, clean home.

Mental Diversions On Long Road Trips

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Angus MacRae/Flickr Creative Commons

Let’s face it: the RV life is a grand one, but even the most gung-ho of us experience that creeping boredom on a long trip. Especially on those long road trips over routes we’ve traveled many times. How many times can you ask yourself, “Hey, isn’t that restaurant new?” or “WHEN are they going to finish working on that exit?” before you just couldn’t care less? With the advent of smart phones, surfing the net becomes a very dangerous yet alluring distraction. Your passenger will fuss at you and your stock response of “I’m just using the map” doesn’t make it any less dangerous, so today I thought we could talk about how to keep your mind occupied while the long straight road whizzes by.

If you’re driving by yourself and you can’t find anything good on the FM, don’t forget there is an AM side! You can hear some of the coolest local radio shows on the AM dial and it’ll really give you a taste or flavor of the region. I remember driving through the painted desert portion of AZ on I-40 heading for New Mexico and hearing the Navajo Radio station on 660. It was so interesting to hear the Navajo language spoken and hear the English words scattered throughout…for example, George Strait in Navajo is: George Strait.

All those old-school road trip games will come into play as well, but we’ve covered those in previous blogs. So a newer suggestion is to do Road Math! For example let’s say you’re in Eastern New Mexico on Hwy 285, add up the numbers 2, 8, and 5 and you get 10. Diesel costs $3.27? Add it up! You get 12! A tractor trailer goes by with the ID# 25703, it adds up to 17. It really works well when you start to get a little tired and dozy in the heat.