Texas, Our Texas!

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Joe Diaz/Flickr Creative Commons

Q: You have 20 people in a room, how can you tell which one is the Texan?

A: You won’t need to, they’ll tell you themselves!

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faungg’s photos/Flickr Creative Commons

Ain’t that the truth? I’m so proud to have been lucky enough to be born here, lucky enough to stay here, and lucky enough to have a great business here too! So I thought today IU could do a little Texas-centric bragging in hopes that those of y’all from outside the state will come and visit, and those of y’all already here would hit the trail and see what all the fuss has been about for the last couple hundred years!

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Rennet Stowe/Flickr Creative Commons

Now, Texas is an 800 mile long by 800 mile wide wonderland with the towns of Texoma, Brownsville, Orange, and Anthony being the northernmost, southernmost, easternmost and westernmost towns in the state. In between those towns you have almost every possible ecosystem you could want to visit…high plateau country, black dirt farmland, coastal prairies, piney woods, the limestone hill country, beaches, mountains, etc etc etc. Now since Texas is the biggest state in the continental US, would it surprise you that Texas has the most inland water of any state? We have more rivers and lakes in Texas than any other state but Alaska. And if we were our own country (again) we’d have the 12th largest economy in the ENTIRE WORLD!

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John Fowler/Flickr Creative Commons

We have our problems like everyone else, the highway system for example is straining to handle the increased traffic of all the folks moving here, but there is still a lot of elbow room here and True Born-Here Texans will still pull over onto the shoulder to let you pass…and wave while they’re doing it. If outdoor activities are your thing, we have all of those covered. If adventure is your thing…ditto. We also don’t have a state income tax.

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The 2016 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

Diana Leblanc personal photo

For those of you who may not know, I was fortunate this year to be a regional winner in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards for the Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.  What an honor to be nominated and an even greater honor to be a winner and have the opportunity to go to the national competition in Palm Springs last week.  This was a wonderful opportunity and an amazing trip.  Five of my team members and I spent five wonderful days listening to stories from some of the greatest entrepreneurs in the world and being amazed by their successes, trials and tribulations.

As I sat listening to Joe Montana and Jerry Rice tell of their career highs and lows, I found that I was asking myself what I had done to deserve to be in the presence of this group.  Everywhere I turned,  there were CEOs telling their stories, but I found there was something really different about this group, this forum….these people were all amazingly open and friendly.  They all put their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us.  Competition and ego was left behind and I have never experienced a more friendly and genuinely supportive group.

Here I was, the President of a successful RV consignment dealership, but I was in the finals with people like JW “Bill” Marriott,  and other wonderfully successful entrepreneurs.  We all have one thing in common.  We all had a dream, worked hard to share and grow that dream and we all have teams who made it happen.  I stared in 1980 at a small RV rental company.  Now, 36+ years later I am blessed to be surrounded by a team of over 130 individuals who truly care about the RV life style and have realized and shared in our dream.

Without this team, I would be nothing. I have been blessed to have met so many creative and brilliant individuals during my career, many of which have become lifelong friends.  They have all helped shape and mold me and have helped me lead the greatest them in the RV industry.  Although, I was not a winner on the national level, I am a winner to have been nominated and to have been able to share this moment.  In the words of my late husband who was 100% Cajun, this experience was the “lagniappe” in my career.  For those of you who have not been fortunate enough to have Cajun friends or family, “lagniappe” is the “something extra”… the “icing on the cake”.

Thanks to my family, friends, customers RVS, business associates and, of course, my PPL family, I have been fortunate to experience the “lagniappe”of my  career.  Thanks to each and very one of you.

This is for you.

 

-RV NANA

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Exercise Your Right To Vote

http://abc7news.com/politics/california-and-bay-area-election-results-and-voter-resources/1376363/

www.abc7news.com

As I listened to the news yesterday, I was reminded that today is the last day for early voting.  It’s hard to imagine, but the election is Tuesday.  I have heard so many of our customers enjoying a cup of coffee in the break room discussing the pros and cons of this election and I would like to throw my two cents in.  Years ago my father gave me some very good advice.  He told me that I should never talk politics or religion at work so you can rest assured that I am not going to try to persuade your vote.

I have an 18 year old granddaughter who is eligible to vote for the first time in this election.  She has asked many questions and voting has been a conversation at many of our family dinners.  My advice to her is the same advice I have given all of my employees.  Take time to educate yourself.  Learn about the candidates and their platforms.  Make your decision based on the information you research and not on the news media.  Make your decision because it is how you feel and don’t be persuaded by friends or family.  Your vote is your vote.  You do not have to share with anyone who you voted for.  You simply need to go out and VOTE!

The only wrong vote is the one that you do not cast.  Our forefathers fought and died to give us the right to vote.  Please do not take this privilege for granted.  Go out and vote!   God Bless America!

RV to NM for BBQ!

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.

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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.

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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!

www.pplmotorhomes.com

RV To Langtry, TX!

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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!

www.pplmotorhomes.com

Summertime Ski Lift Rides!

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Will Keightley/Flickr Creative Commons

I remember a summer visit to Phoenix one year. When the friend I was visiting asked me wanted I wanted to do most I said, “Find 73 degrees!” And you know what? We did! We took a day trip up to Flagstaff, AZ and rode the ski lift up to the top of Humphreys Peak at the Arizona Snow Bowl and it was awesomely amazing. The view, the peaceful quiet trip up the mountain at treetop height. It was so serene and beautiful. And no 120 degrees like the ol’ Valley of The Sun there down in Maricopa County!! So here’s my suggestion for all you Texans sweltering in the heat this summer, when making your travel plans, why not include a stop where there’s a ski lift? New Mexico is a day away and has more than a couple you can ride during the summertime!

The closest to us here in Texas (I think) is Sandia Peak in Albuquerque, NM. Albuquerque of course is that famous place Bugs Bunny should have turned left and is located on I-40 in north/central NM. The ski lifts at Sandia Peak can be reached either by taking the tram, which is an awesome very steep cable car ride with stations at the ski resort above and the tram station below, or you can drive up to the ski area. The tram ride is a beautiful scenic trip, and about $25 for an incredibly unique view, but if you prefer your own wheels or have a thing about heights, then the drive is just as scenic…but at a different angle. Round trip lift tickets to the top and back are only $12 and it’s a great feeling.

Also available in New Mexico are the chair lifts at the ski areas around the Taos area, ie Red River, Angel Fire, Taos Ski Valley, etc. These are located north of Santa Fe and are located in and around Highway 64. Remember to pack a jacket!!

www.pplmotorhomes.com for all you parts and accessories

PPL Motorhome’s Big Celebration in Cleburne

Photo: David O'Hearn

Photo: David O’Hearn

Sisters On the Fly Photo: David O’Hearn

It’s hard to imagine we have been open a little over a year in Cleburne (DFW area).  We just celebrated our first anniversary with a big Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting, RV seminars, product demonstrations and more.  To top it all off, we had tremendous support from Sisters on the Fly, an RV group that took time out of their busy schedules to bring their vintage trailers in and show them off for all to see.  Having them there with their trailers was like icing on the cake.
The ambassadors from the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce made us feel so welcome in the community.  Cleburne, a small town Southwest of Dallas-Fort Worth, has been a great home for our newest PPL location and we look forward to making even more friends in this thriving community.

Photo: David O'Hearn

Photo: David O’Hearn

 

I would like to thank all of our customers, vendors, associates and, of course, my terrific PPL family for all their support.  It was a fun filled, jam packed two days with over 70 door prizes, BBQ and, of course, great buys on RVs, parts and accessories.

So, if you are in the area, stop by and check us out.  Meet Jerry Hopkins and his team and experience, for yourself, the PPL difference.

 

Photo: David O'Hearn

Photo: David O’Hearn

 

PPL Dallas/Ft. Worth
2408 N Main St.
Cleburne, Texas 76033

Distracted Drivers… Sheesh!

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Ethan/Flickr Creative Commons

OK folks, prepare for a bit of a rant. Several years back I began noticing that one of the key features on I-1o was damaged guard rails. And I mean damaged. Like the idiot who hit the rail didn’t even put on the brakes, just plowed into the thing. And there is a little stretch of road that I travel pretty frequently where no sooner does the county or highway dept replace the rail and install new posts than it’s peeled back and sheared off again more or less within 24 hours it seems. So is the problem that the rails are hard to see? Are they installed too close to an active lane? Is it sleepy truckers (which is what the big push was a few years ago)? Or is it bored motorists Facebooking their way down the highway?

Lord have mercy people, which is more important: being brielfy entertained on your trip by watching the video of that cat trying to jump off the dresser and slipping, answering a chatty text, or arriving at your destination with vehicle, life, and insurance policy intact? Now, some could say this is a generational problem…I mean after all the statistics show that the highest number of distracted driving accidents occur in the 16-24 year old age range, but the funny thing is when I was growing up that age group had the highest number of accidents as well and our phones were on the wall next to the kitchen!

According to TXDOT, over 500 people a year die in our state in distracted driving accidents, and 1 in 5 accidents state wide are due to distracted driving. Granted their definition is not just phone related, they also include the ladies putting on makeup, the folks fiddling with their GPS, folks who are eating lunch, changing a CD, and they even include folks who are READING. I love a good book, I really do, but reading one on I-35 driving through Austin, for example, isn’t a diversion…it’s suicide. So can we all just prioritize a little bit and while we’re in our cars just concentrate on getting from Point A to Point B through the maze of distracted drivers without becoming one ourselves? This has been an Important Safety Message from RV Nana, and I approve this message. Ha!

RV Nana Visits Oregon and Almost Stays Forever

 

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Photos by Diana Leblanc

 

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Everyone knows that RV Nana is a native Houstonian with deep Texas roots.  You also know that I think Texas has more travel opportunities than most States and more places with majestic beauty that will simply take your breath away.  I love traveling outside Texas to see the sites, but I always return glad to be at home again.  I just got back from a few days in the Portland, Oregon area where I saw some of the most beautiful countryside ever.

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I know you are probably thinking that it rains all the time in the Pacific Northwest and it couldn’t have been that great in late March, but it was.  Of course, I took credit for the sunshine that popped out the day I arrived (after 3 weeks of rain in that area).  I told everyone that I brought it with me from Texas and I guess that may have been the case because it started raining the day I left which made me think I was taking it right back home with me.

Photo by; Diana Leblanc

When I left Houston it was 84 degrees with 90% humidity, a big difference from the cool morning air along the Columbia River Gorge.  There are more than 90 beautiful waterfalls along this Historic Oregon Route, all fed by snowmelt, glaciers and the winter rains in the area.  My favorite was Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon, with  breathtaking views of the falls on every turn in the path.  I had more photo ops than I ever imagined.  It was easy to spend the day wandering the trails and sightseeing in the area.

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Touring the waterfalls was a great start on this trip and I never imagined that the rest of the days there could even compare to these sights.  We all know that I love to visit wineries and I found one that is, by far, my favorite in the Pacific Northwest.  Bethany Vineyard is located in Ridgefield, Washington and is, by far, one of the most picturesque and resort like wineries I have ever visited…and the wine is wonderful.  It’s a real treat if you happen to visit with the owner, Walt, who has a real passion for wine making and a wonderful personality.

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The surprise attraction was an impromptu visit to a Tulip festival.  I had no idea that tulip growing is a big business in that area.  They had fields of tulips, all sizes, shapes and varieties where you could pick your own bouquet.  What a treat.

If you have not visited this area, you need to make plans and visit soon.   The landscape is breathtaking and the people were all so friendly.  Of course, they kept saying I have a funny Texas accent and I thought I was the one who sounded normal.  Oh well, what is normal anyway???

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Let Food Be Your Map!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/6985443673/in/photolist-87J5f3-bjavbP-64gwJS-BUNMjD-bDhhfr-9cZX6D-bokAR5-bDhe32-8pBW7E-gWtVa3-AjMS-e244nJ-zxRu-buWvWj-5VbRkz-CNsp1j-CHsQax-6t3Lxd-neT6Kr-6k8SJx-4uGuVR-4RNyhc-7LFNoa-bHRk8p-5RSaXU-oMSXfM-rvvoND-bDhh9z-8rfPnj-smnQwa-bqnjd1-7Q12HB-aoUHqh-77R8k6-993dVQ-4LkeUz-6CHJLP-7L4yzR-b6nVNP-nxuM96-5dH7YW-6KjDMa-pQP7Tq-bxDY3p-nY8Ruz-bjK5P3-p8fndh-4Lpswh-7L8x9Y-dqG5C5

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!