Daniel Oines/Flickr Creative Commons
Hoo WEE! If this subject doesn’t cause arguments the world over, I’m not sure what will. Heck, I just got finished blaring some Eagles on my last trip. (Yes, RV Nana knows how to rock). Let’s face it though, when you have miles and miles and miles of road ahead of you it really helps to have some good music playing to help occupy your mind while the miles and the hours roll by. It used to be that you could tune in the AM radio as you drove across the country and get a real taste of the region you were driving through, but in these days of broadcasting consortiums eating up local radio, hearing those distinct accents and regional music styles is getting more and more rare. If you’re lucky you’ll still stumble on some real gems like Alfred Vrazel on KMIL 1330 AM based in Cameron, TX, who has been hosting the Vrazel Polka Hour for the last 60 years, or KCFJ 570 AM in Alturas, CA, which broadcasts old-time radio shows and, in the last 10-15 years or so, news stories from China.
So today I thought I’d add some suggestions for music that’ll help take your mind off the miles. My first suggestion would be to consider film soundtracks. I say that for a couple reasons, first of which is that soundtracks are designed to help you visualize actions, mood, places, etc. when you hear them, plus if you’ve seen the movie you’re natural inclination is to think “Oh yeah, he was about to kiss her during this part” or “Aw man, this part was so tense” and sort of watch the movie in your mind as the music plays. Two really good travel soundtracks (in my opinion) are “Music By Ry Cooder” which is a compilation of his various soundtracks, and “The Professional” by Eric Serra. Both of those albums really help the miles pass and are largely instrumental. If you prefer music with lyrics, might I suggest either albums with stories in them like “Red Headed Stranger” by Willie Nelson or “The Wall” by Pink Floyd. If you’re looking for something more up-to-date check out Jason Isbell’s album “Southeastern”; he is a master of telling stories in every song.
Hope these suggestions help make the road-time seem shorter, and the only other suggestion I have is to click this link for any parts and accessories y’all may need!
DVIDSHUB/Flickr Creative Commons
Well y’all, it’s getting to be that time of year. This spring has been a welcome wet one here in Texas, so I reckon the weather patterns for this year, compared to the last few biblical-style drought years we’ve had, will be a little different. Since as RVers we tend to be highly mobile, I thought today we’d chat a bit about what to do when then storms turn from “Regular Ol’ Bad” to “Downright Ugly.”
I remember driving in between Lamesa and Big Spring out in west Texas quite a few summers back, when one of those walls of black clouds and rain hit us. The wind was knocking us around pretty good, it was getting darker and darker in the middle of the afternoon and then the wind started switching direction on us and hail was hitting the back glass even though we were still moving between 60-65 miles an hour! In situations like that you tend to run through all the lists of things people have told to you do and not do in the event of a tornado, but nowhere in those lists are two little friendly words: Don’t Panic. That is a wonderful place to start when dealing with iffy weather with possible (and actual) tornadoes.
Some things about dealing with tornadoes are fairly counter-intuitive, for example don’t assume you can outrun the tornado. Tornadoes on average have better than 110 mph winds, and your RV isn’t going do that in bad weather unless you drive it off a very tall cliff. Another counter intuitive thing you should think about is abandoning the RV. Yes it’s shelter from the rain and wind, but it has so much side area that it will want to fly away when that tornado hits, even if you’re tied down. So if you see the tornado coming, seek shelter outside the RV preferably in some sort of concrete structure or even laying down flat in a ditch (the wind will have a hard time picking you up and blowing you away if you’re even slightly below level ground).
So to conclude, as in all things, keep your wits about you and you’ll make the correct decisions.
Stephen Kruso:Flickr Creative Commons
Well y’all, there’s been a law on the books for the past few decades stating that trailers with a gross weight over 4500 pounds have to have an annual safety inspection. That includes travel trailers. Turns out a lot of folks either didn’t know about that law or just flat ignore it. Confusing matters further, the Texas Legislature decided back in 2013 that the inspection requirements will remain unchanged, but the inspection stickers will not be issued. The inspectors now send a notice electronically to the DMV showing compliance and then the inspections station issues a paper to the trailer owner certifying that the trailer has passed inspection and the trailer owner is now able to pay for registration. Inspection first, or no registration. As of 2016, the owner will have 90 days from registration expiration to have the trailer inspected
Of course inspection fees vary from county to county, but the state charges $7.50 and it is added to the $45 annual registration fee for the trailer. A $10 bridge and road fee could also be levied by individual counties as well as whatever fee the inspection station charges, probably in the $7-10 range. Worst case scenario, you’re looking at one more hoop to jump through and a grand total of probably not more than $75 per year for registration and inspection of your beloved drag-along. Of course as part of the inspection all the lights, brakes, and reflectors have to be installed and operational. Since the state will no longer issue the inspection stickers and a safety inspection is required prior to registration, the single registration sticker issued by the state will confirm at a glance that your trailer is in fact in compliance.
Of course some trailers have been neglected or have been rode hard and put up wet. If that’s the case please visit us at PPL Motorhomes for all your parts and accessories to help get that trailer back on the road!
Geoffrey Fairchild/Flickr Creative Commons
Do any of you folks reading this own an RV or trailer where the kitchen is just too darn big? Show of hands? Anyone? Anyone? Yep. Nobody. If your kitchen is too big, then maybe you’re just too small, ha!
I thought today I could give y’all a few tips on how to keep that kitchen/galley area organized and cook-friendly, because there is a lot of activity in that small a space.
Needless to say, since we’re dealing with a limited amount of space, we can only bring a limited amount of cooking gear out on the trail with us. Since some folks are part-time RV’rs, one thing that will help simplify life out on the road is to dedicate one set of pots, pans, plates, cups, and cutlery for permanent use in the RV. If you can do this, it prevents that forehead slapping moment when you’re camped in Flagstaff, AZ, and you suddenly realize that your skillet is back home in Waco, TX, for example. That same concept holds true for the spices and condiments you use most regularly — store them permanently out in the RV and they’ll be waiting for you when you open the pantry at the campground.
Also, if you’re only using the RV or trailer part-time for weekend getaways and camping activities, stocking it permanently with all the non-perishable items helps ensure that you forget less when you leave the house. Stock the pantry with all the canned fruits and veggies, rice, pastas, energy bars, cooking oils, beans, coffee, teas, etc. If you’re able to do this, all you need to bring with you when you’re ready to leave the driveway is the fresh ingredients like your meat and fresh vegetables, milk, eggs, etc.
Hopefully these common-sense concepts will help make those occasional RV trips less stressful, and the trips to the grocery store less frequent, allowing you to enjoy the campsite more. If you have any tips, please feel free to leave a comment below, and please visit us at PPL Motorhomes for all your RV needs.
Bill Ward/Flickr Creative Commons
Only you, the seller, and the bank know how much you paid for the RV. You may be able to fudge that number a little bit with everybody else, but three people know exactly how much you’ve laid out for this awesome machine. So with that size of investment in mind, why let a little pride cause your investment to shift from long-term to short-term by causing unnecessary and easily avoided damage and cost?
Driving a vehicle the size of an RV is not the same as driving that Honda Civic you have trailered up behind it, and we’ve all seen that new RV owner turning right and hitting the curb, or getting into a position at the gas station where it looks like they’re either going to hit the post by the fuel pump, another car, or even the building itself. So today I thought I’d talk about RV Driving Courses.
The practical benefits should be fairly obvious: that right turn I mentioned previously for example, learning to parallel park a vehicle whose size you are not used to judging, or even backing it up without damaging your or anyone else’s vehicle or property are just three ways an RV Driver’s Course can assist you after purchasing your first RV. Depending on which insurance provider you are with, some companies offer a discount on your premium for having completed an instructional course, especially if you have a clean record. Some driving schools offer a practical driving course similar in many ways to the courses offered for big rig drivers, while others offer classroom based classes. Depending on which state your license is issued from, you may be required to upgrade that license depending on how large your RV is, and participating in a school’s program will greatly assist you in that endeavor.
The main points though is this: you bought the RV because you wanted to be able to use it and have a home away from home. We all know you’re not 16, we all know that you can drive a car, but we also all know that first time around the block in something as large and expensive as a motor-coach can be pretty daunting and we’ve all jumped that curb at one point or another as well. Remember, as much as you may like to believe it is, your motorhome is not a toy. My best advice to new owners is to take a class, enjoy the new experience, and when it comes time to accessorize or modify your RV to suit your needs, visit PPLMotorhomes.com!
Everybody knows that the roads are long, the driving hours are pretty sedentary, and the odd thing is that once you make it to your destination, ironically, you just want to sit down. Just like you’ve been doing all day long! Well here are some tips about how to get the blood pumping again after a long day on the road.
You may not be 6 years old anymore, but bicycles are awesome! They are an great way to get the legs going, the heart pumping, and some energy burnt. Not everybody has a car tailing along at the back of the RV, and bicycles are the perfect way to run those small errands when you’ve reached your destination. Take a backpack for groceries, or go old school and add a basket to the front. Chances are you wont be going over any sweet jumps or needing to look cool in front of all the other kids and baskets do make life just a little bit easier.
You have two things with you at all times that can help with mobility, health, and energy. Your feet! Pedometers are cheap, and you can go for record-breaking walks everyday. It’s always good to explore, and what better way to do it that than in some new shoes? It doesn’t take that much time out of your day and weren’t you just saying that there’s nothing good on TV?
On bad weather days, you can always put on your favorite music and have a quick dance party in the RV. Pretend you’re on an episode of Soul Train, Dancing With The Stars, or even Lawrence Welk, and dance like nobody’s watching! The fun thing about dancing is how quickly the time passes, only 3-4 songs and the next thing you know you have “worked out” for almost 30 minutes. As James Brown used to sing, “Get up off a that thing! Shake it, you’ll feel better!”
Come by PPLMotorhomes.com and say howdy, we have all the parts and accessories you’re looking for.
Some folks travel by interstate, some folks travel by destinations, some folks travel by BBQ joints, and that’s what we’re going to do today. If you have a GPS, we’re going to add some waypoints today that are guaranteed to expand that waistline a ‘lil bit, possibly stain a shirt, or two, as well as make a trip across Texas that much more enjoyable. If you’re vegetarian, well, some of these places have pickles.
We’re going to do this shotgun style, and by that I don’t mean we’re going to force you to marry one of these places, what I mean is we’re going to talk about BBQ all over the state because let’s face it, this is a big ‘ol’ place and who knows where you might find yourself? We will hit all points of the compass though, so you should be near enough to one of these places someday.
So many to choose from, so we’ll do urban area BBQ’s first, then rural.
Urban BBQ Joints
Houston, TX – Goode Co. (sorta West U meets Hwy 59 area), Rays BBQ Shack (Alt 90/Old Spanish Trail and Calhoun area), and Triple J Smokehouse (Homestead Rd N of 610) are three of ’em!
San Antonio – Smoke Shack in Alamo Heights, 2 Bros BBQ (on West Ave north of Nakoma Dr), and Big Bib BBQ (Austin Hwy and Lanark Dr) are three of em!
El Paso – Stateline BBQ (Sunland Park Dr s of I-10 on the TX/NM state line), Tony’s Pit BBQ (Myrtle Dr, S of I-10 off Cotton), and Famous Dave’s (3 locations, E, W, and Central) are three of em!
DFW Metroplex – Cousin’s (Fort Worth), Hard 8 BBQ (Roanoke, Stephenville, Coppel), and Mac’s Bar-B-Que (Dallas) are three of em!
Rural BBQ Joints
And now for a few off the beaten path:
Dieter Brothers, Lindsay TX – Hwy 82, W of Gainesville, TX
Louie Mueller, Taylor, TX – HWy 79 E of Round Rock, TX
McBee’s, Pleasanton, TX – Hwy 281, S of San Antonio, TX
Church BBQ, Huntsville, TX – I-45 N of Houston
Dyer’s BBQ, Pampa, TX – Hwy 207 N of I-40
Ace’s BBQ, Mission, TX – Hwy 495 N or I-2
Duncan’s Smokehouse, Vernon, TX – Bus 287 near junction of Hwy 283 and 287
Thompson’s BBQ, Crockett, TX – Hwy 21 just about equal distance between I-45 and Hwy 59
Cooper’s BBQ, Junction, TX – on I-10
… and so many more it’s unreal. Visit any one of these places on a trek across Texas and you’ll be happy, and a little tired. And please remember to come visit us at PPLMotorhomes.com for anything you need RV related, we’ll take care of y’all!
Some days, I wish the Puritan Work Ethic had never been brought to America, because some days my blankets are so warm and comfy and it’s so chilly outside that there’s no way I should have to get up and put my feet on that cold, cold floor. Even as far south as here in Texas we have our cold mornings, and our hard freezes, and yes one or two snowflakes on the Gulf Coast will shut down schools. You Yankees can laugh all you want at us and our snow phobias, but we get a good snicker every time y’all complain about temps over 80 so, all’s fair. Here’s what we’re going to do today, we’re going to talk about how to keep that RV warm in the winter, so that first step out of bed in the morning isn’t such a shocker.
One of the best ways to keep the chill from hitting your feet is to get the arctic package for your RV. What an arctic package usually includes is extra floor and roof insulation, heating pads for your water tanks, and dual pane windows. Other places the cold wind likes to creep in are through the entrance door and stairwell. Something as simple as adding a barrier like heavy cloth curtains, or even bubble wrap will help keep out the drafts. The stairwell is probably the biggest single opening through which drafts can seep, so think of ways where you can block off the entire thing at night when it’s the coldest, perhaps using a piece of plywood with insulation attached that is cut to size, as well as easy to install and remove.
We’ll talk next time about how to keep the plumbing and fuel lines from freezing so until then, feel free to browse our winterization parts at PPL Motorhomes.com and STAY WARM!
When I wrote Monday’s blog about Surviving an RV Trip With Your Kids or Grandkids it dawned on me that sometimes the biggest children we travel with are each other. The miles get longer, the butt gets flatter, the conversation begins to dry up, little irritations get amplified, and the next thing you know there’s a big bust up over something fairly trivial. Now you two are stuck in a confined space with a destination in mind and everybody is grumpy, or has hurt feelings, or are just in a mood to verbally scuffle for awhile. So today I ‘d like to offer some suggestions as to how to avoid these on-the-road blowouts.
Money — this subject can cause trouble so fast. Everybody has an idea how it should be spent, everybody has their own list of priorities as to the use of it. To avoid any confrontation over spending, plan out a loose budget for the trip so that the cost of arriving at your destination is not a shock to anyone involved. It doesn’t have to be an itemized, to the last red cent accounting procedure, but rather a round number estimate the cost of the trip with fuel, food, lodging (if required), and the average run-of-the-mill repairs you might need en route. Let’s face it, every RV or truck/trailer has it’s own idiosyncrasies and you know your rig better than anyone else so plan accordingly.
While you are creating your travel budget, please don’t forget to add something in for treats… and by that, I mean whatever the two of you consider a treat. Whether it’s a movie, a round of golf, or a couple buckets of ice cream, be sure and include them in the budget because it’ll make a long trip easier if there are imminent things on the horizon to look forward to.
Oddly enough, also budget for some alone time. When you’re on the road and out of your regular schedule, you have a natural inclination to stick together because in a lot of places you are the only two people you know. Sometimes a little solo time can go a long way towards keeping the peace, so don’t be afraid to take it!
I hope these tips help, and if you have any thoughts, or suggestions please add them below in our comment section. And please visit us at PPL Motorhomes.com for all your parts and accessory needs.
Maybe it’s an inflammatory title, but I think we all know that traveling with children has the potential to become stressful, exhausting, and very long. So today I thought I’d share a few tips that might help take the edge off a long trip with your kids. Some of these ideas are common sense, and no doubt you’re doing them already, but there are some grandparents out there who haven’t had the opportunity to travel with the grandkids as much as the parents have and might be in for a shock! Sometimes it’s the simple things that can help create the longest diversion.
– Have each child pack their own backpack. This means each child will pack the items that they enjoy the most, and reduces the amount of guesswork on your part as to what they consider entertainment.
– Give each child their own map. Not only will they be able to track their progress, but it’ll allow them to see what’s coming up, what’s around them, as well as learn the geography of the route. In these days of GPS and Google maps, actually knowing where you are without electricity is becoming a rare talent, and kids should always know where they are and be able to figure out how to get where they need to go, and they’ll teach themselves that skill with this simple exercise.
– Pack a cookie sheet for each kid to use as their own desk. A lot of kids enjoy coloring and drawing on a road trip, but few bring anything solid to draw on. Cookie sheets are a cheap, effective, and highly portable way to help these kiddos out.
– Goody bags. As simple as a paper lunch bag with a few cheap, dollar store items to help entertain the kids. Could be as simple as a comic book, a Go Fish card game, little green army men, and a healthy snack like an apple or banana.
I think you’d be pleasantly surprised how far down the road you can get before the symphony of “How much longer? When will we get there? I’m bored!” begins, and how quickly that symphony can be changed into happy sounds by using the tips above.
We always appreciate the opportunity to help your RV lifestyle flow more smoothly, so please visit us at PPL Motorhomes.com for all your RV Parts and Accessories.