One Last RV Trip Before School Starts

A lot of kiddos here in Texas head back to school next week, so now is your opportunity to hit the road with them one more time before it turns into “only on the weekends” during the school year. Fortunately we don’t have the flooding our neighbors in Louisiana are experiencing right now, although we are a bit soggy in parts. Might be a great time to head to one of the lakes or state parks we’re blessed with, or maybe head to the coast for one last blast on the beach. Tell you what, let’s head to the coast!

Andy Mitchell, Flickr Creative Commons


One of my favorite spots! And easy to get to as well…just make your way to FM 2031 and stop when you get to the water! The town of Matagorda is right by the mouth of the Colorado River and was founded by Stephen F Austin back in 1827 making it Texas’ 3rd oldest town. But the beach y’all, the beach is definitely not ranked 3rd. In my book the beach at Matagorda is just superb. Grassy dunes, great surf, awesome fishing if you want that…what a great spot.

Terry Ross, Flickr Creative Commons

Padre Island National Seashore

Now this is not the Spring Break Padre you have heard so much about. No, this is a protected and undeveloped portion of the island that is a natural beauty. Padre Island National Seashore is managed by the US National Park Service and the best spot for a family getaway is probably Malaquite Beach which has bathrooms! The rest of the park is fairly primitive yet enchanting. There are the seas turtles, hundreds of species of birds, camping, hiking, and of course all the aquatic activities. A family trip here will feature something for every member of your group.

Don’t forget to swing by the website and say hello before you hit the road, we’re standing by to help with any parts or accessories you’ll need to make your trip a success!

Gold Stars Remembered

David/Flickr Creative Commons

I come from a military family and one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve seen these past 15 or so years are all the gold star stickers on the back of trucks and the gold star banners hanging in peoples windows. Possibly more heartbreaking is the fact that the majority of folks don’t seem to know what that means anymore.

The Service Banner is a rectangle with the long side vertical and the short side horizontal, red borders, white center and from one to several stars. The stars represent immediate family members currently serving in the US Military. The color you want to see is blue. Originally only blue and gold stars were used, but as more and more people are hurt and wounded in these never ending wars silver stars have been used to represent those who were invalided out or discharged from service due to wounds.

The tear jerker is to see someone’s banner be replaced with a gold star. That means their family member was killed in action. The phrase Gold Star Mother should 100% of the time hammer home to you that this woman lost a child who was defending your right to live your life with the freedom of choice to choose how you live it and they deserve your profound respect and gratitude.

With the wars heading into their 15th year, unfortunately Gold Star Families are becoming more and more common. For the first time since Vietnam, we our sending our loved ones overseas in multiple deployments with no real definable goal of when their jobs are done or their mission complete. Triangular Flags in display cases are in more and more living rooms, and these families have given more than their share

So this memorial day, whether you see that white haired old man in his “WWII Veteran” ball cap, or you see that kid who barely looks old enough to be out of high school but he’s mature beyond his years…those are the Blue Stars, they came home, and their family breathes a sigh of relief every day.

I May Love Galveston a Little More Now

scott feldstein/Flickr Creative Commons

So… Galveston. Man, I love it. Texas’ favorite island getaway just got a little better than I ever thought it could get. Do you know why? I just found out they’re hosting THE TEXAS MARGARITA FESTIVAL! Holy Mackerel, if that doesn’t sound awesome I’m not sure what’s wrong with you…but I bet it’s hard to pronounce! Haaa!

I’m not sure if there is a more Texan drink, especially during those long hot months we have coming up, than the good ol’ margarita. We’ve talked in previous blogs about margarita recipes, where it may or may not have been invented, wether or not Peggy Lee the singer was involved…but I can tell you this: if the Margarita really was invented at the Bali Room in Galveston, what better place to have a durn margarita festival than in Galveston, TX?

So here’s the deal, the festival is happening at Moody Gardens Hotel there in Galveston the weekend of June 19-20. There will be live music, fajitas, and margaritas by the gallon. There will be tequila tours, Sauza and Herradura will be in the house, there will be tastings, and the Texas Tornadoes headline the music side of things. This couldn’t be cooler if they resurrected Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

Have you tried all the different flavors of margaritas they have these days? It’s not just triple sec and limes these days, they’ll have cantaloupe, mango, strawberry, and watermelon flavored margaritas just to name a few! At this point I think we ought to all be glad that the fest will be held very very very close to lodging, and if you intend to go you might as well go ahead and book your room now. Think strategically and get that room, so your festival experience remains the most positive it can be.

I love you Galveston, thanks for hosting this!


Heated Water Hoses In Texas?


OK, I’m going to be completely honest, when I first saw the heated water hoses for sale at PPL RV Parts superstore, my first thought was “what in the world would we use those for
in Texas?”. I mean, this IS where I do a majority my RVing.

Boy, I have sure changed my thoughts about these. Now,  Texas is known to have some pretty unpredictable weather throughout the seasons, but we have had some absolutely crazy weather, not only in Texas, but across the country this year as well. There have been early hard freezes in places where it was totally unexpected in particular.  From warm and sunny one day, to weather in the teens the next day It just goes to prove that an RVer has to be prepared…always.

This happened to us one Thanksgiving when it went from a sunny balmy day to below 20 the next morning with a cold, cold wind. That’s when we discovered we had no water in the 5th wheel.  The water pipe outside was frozen solid.  At that time, I had never even heard of a heated water hose. Let me tell you, I have one now, as do many of my fellow RVers. These hoses are absolutely fantastic and can be used for so much more than just your RV.  For example, if you live in an area where freezing temps can and do happen, this hose is a life saver! It’s great for your RV as well as for your barn or outdoor faucets for animals.

Check these out because they are a “MUST HAVE” for the winter RVer!!  Who knows, if you have one of these hoses, you may be the only one in the park
with water!

-Stay warm, folks!

RV Nana

Upcycle Those Plastic Shopping Bags

Rick Cooper/Flickr Creative Commons

How many of y’all have noticed all the plastic bags stuck to cactuses on I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix? I love Arizona, and I love driving through the desert, but that stretch of road might just be the ugliest spot on I-10. I had a friend in Arizona scoffingly tell me that a discarded plastic shopping bag stuck to a saguaro cactus ought to be the Arizona State Flag because there are so darn many of them out there. So what can we do to help eliminate what has become one of the biggest blights on the landscape?

Some towns like Austin, TX have a instituted a total ban on plastic shopping bags, but that doesn’t really solve the problem of these super handy, super cheap, and super proliferated little eyesores. So today I thought we could talk about some ways to repurpose or upcycle those pesky shopping bags and prevent them from blowing across the parking lot or highway like the modern day tumbleweed.

One of the most obvious uses for these little Shopping bags is as a trash can liner for your smaller trash cans around the RV, but you can also uses them as a mitt when you’re cleaning or polishing your furniture to keep your hands clean and have a better sense of touch than you would have with those thick rubber kitchen gloves. You can tie them around your knees and use them  to keep your pants clean when you have to crawl under the RV for any reason.Another awesome use they have it to help keep ice off your mirrors if you’re expecting that good old freezing rain we have here inTexas during the wintertime. Just tie one of those bags around each mirror and when you wake up in the morning, it’ll take less time to get out of the driveway. What do you use these bags for when they’re not toting groceries? Drop us a line in the comment section below and tell us about it! And remember, come say howdy to us at the website for all your parts and accessories!

RV Your Way To Inks Lake State Park

Anthony George/Flickr Creative Commons

Inks Lake State Park is one of those true Texas Hill Country gems. It’s located in Burnet County north and west of Austin, TX. It’s one of Texas’ older state parks so it has that awesome 1930’s CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) look where the buildings from that era are made from the native materials and almost blend into the surroundings in a very natural way. As state parks go, it has a lot to offer in terms of outdoors activities.

The lake of course is right there in the title! So if you’re interested in a late summer aquatic trip, then Inks Lake offers the opportunity for boating (be advised, there is a rather large no-wake area), swimming, diving, and of course fishing. Kayaks, paddle boats, and canoes are available for rent at the park store. Fishing gear is available to BORROW, including rods, reels, tackle, and boxes! There are two fishing piers available for use and the lake is stocked with bass, catfish, and sunfish. Next to the piers are fish cleaning stations and the boat ramp. If you’re fishing from the the shore or out on one of the piers, you don’t even need a license! How cool is this place?

As for camping and land-based activities, there are over 200 campsites and over 20 cabins available for use. A sizeable chunk of the campsites are lakeside or within easy reach of the lake. If you’re planning a family reunion or company picnic, there is also a large picnic pavilion available. The usual activities are to be found as well: hiking, backpacking, birding, etc. There are bird blinds available for rent, as well as over 7 miles of hiking trails throughout the park. There is a self-guided, easy hike across Pecan Flats which is just over 3 miles. One of the most picturesque spots in the park is the hike to Devil’s Waterhole which is also available for swimming. Remember to come visit us at the website for parts and accessories before you hit the trail for parks and fun!

Texas Handgun Laws For Driving

photo credit: D. O'hearn

photo credit: D. O’Hearn

I realize in today’s hypersensitive America that a discussion of firearms and firearms law will automatically raise some folks’ hackles, so if you find yourself upset at the mere title of this blog, please refrain from reading further.

As for the rest of us, let’s face it: our world ain’t getting any more sane these days. Goofiness abounds out there and more and more of us feel like we need something a little stouter than the locks on our doors to feel safe in certain portions of our country. For example, the border areas of our fine state are beautiful with many natural outdoor activities to enjoy, but at the same time cartel activity is on the rise, there are DPS gunboats on Falcon Lake for a good reason, and cross border gunfire happens all along the Rio Grande.

Fortunately, if you are a citizen of Texas, or are traveling through Texas, you can carry a handgun legally in your RV. Here are the rules as they are currently applied per the actual law (section 46.02):

  • According to Texas law a person who can legally possess a firearm, may possess, carry, or transport it in their motor vehicle.
  • The firearm must be concealed in your motor vehicle.
  • You are also covered under the law when carrying the firearm while you are directly en route to or from your motor vehicle or premises

You are in violation of the law if:

  • The handgun is in plain view
  • If you are engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic or boating
  • Prohibited by law from possessing a firearm
  • a member of a criminal street gang, as defined by Section 71.01

The above bullet points are direct quotes from Texas law, and I need to point out to our interstate readers that these are only applicable in Texas! For laws pertaining to your state, there are several websites that have up to date legal guidelines in a state by state manner that are easily accessed by Googling “handgun laws state by state”. The above points are good as of today but who knows what the next legislative session will bring? Please keep yourself current on the law if you’re going to carry a handgun in your RV, it’s part of your responsibility in owning it (the firearm and/or the RV) in the first place.

Memorial Day and What It Means To Me

Afghanistan Matters/Flickr Creative Commons

Memorial Day began after the Civil War as Decoration Day and was used to remember the fallen on BOTH sides of that tragic struggle. The South started recognition as early as 1866, with the North following suit two years later. It became Memorial Day at the end of the 1800’s, but it wasn’t until after WWII that it became more and more commonly celebrated. Further, it wasn’t instituted as a full federal holiday until 1967.

Now, sometimes, when we think of Memorial Days from the past, we tend to imagine images of parades with red white and blue bunting on pickup trucks with the beds full of old men in VFW, or American Legion caps. I’m sure we all can picture the newly planted American flags on veteran’s graves in the local cemetery. What I’ve noticed over the past few years is that  people are recognizing that Memorial Day isn’t just about old folks anymore. The Vietnam vets are the gray haired men now. The WWII generation is losing Vets every year. And, with the War on Terror stretching into it’s 14th year, we have many, many younger veterans. Everyone knows someone who had/has a family member in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Somalia or Kuwait. I myself come from a military family, a lineage that I am quite proud of. My husband served in Vietnam and my son has been in the Air Force for 14 years.

To the Vietnam era, one of the symbols of toughness was the statement “Oh him? He did 2 tours.” The Vietnam generation’s kids and grandkids are pulling multiple deployments to multiple countries and fighting in multiple conflicts with ever-changing rules of engagement. There is no doubt that the Vietnam generation raised some very, very tough kids. However, this isn’t about who’s tougher though, my point is we’re living in an era where the fallen are younger than we are, so it’s not enough to just tip your hat to the gray haired guy in the VFW, or US Army Retired ball cap anymore. Today, your cable guy, your mechanic, the guy who runs the grocery store…any of them could be veterans and deserve our respect. Or, at the very least, they are likely the friends and family of the fallen.

Written on the Confederate Memorial in the Arlington National Cemetery are these words:

“Not for fame or sword
Not lured by ambition
Or goaded by necessity
But in simple obedience to duty, as they understood it.
These men suffered all
Sacrificed all
Dared all — and died.”


Motorhome Racing!

meridican/Flickr Creative Commons

Now that spring has fully sprung here in Texas, as evidenced by the lakes of pollen coated water laying about state-wide, some of us look at the old RV we’re meant to be dusting off and getting ready for the 2015 touring season and our thoughts go something like this:

“The ol’ girl is well…and I mean WELL…over 100,000 miles now, the galley needs some upgrades, the propane system has that slow leak, the water tanks have that slow leak too. Time to upgrade to something a little more comfortable, a little more modern. But I just can’t say goodbye to my old baby!”

Granted, the above is a dramatization and probably not everybody is thinking those thoughts at all, BUT, that probably is the mindset behind one of motor-sports dare I say coolest ideas: RV RACING!

Whether it’s on the drag strip, the oval, or even hauling a classic (read super tired and wore out) camper trailer around a figure eight track, motorhome racing adds a bit of comic drama and demolition derby style ethic to what can sometimes become a fairly routine and rule-soaked day. I read an article recently about a classic GMC Motorhome get together at a Florida drag strip. Not only was it a chance for the owners of a certain type to gather together and compare and contrast each other’s old-school RV’s. They also had a chance to talk about mods, parts, BBQ, beer, etc while awaiting their turn to go head-to-head down the drag strip! Apparently a new record was set for front-wheel drive GMC 1/4 mile speed: 22.514 seconds, which equates to 62 miles per hour, set by Bob Heller in a 1974 GMC with  a 455 and 110,000 original miles! The article also noted that Mr Heller performed all his own maintenance.

So the long and short of it is, if you have an adventurous mindset and you’re feeling like maybe it’s time to pasture Ol’ Bessie, maybe give some thought to cleaning her up, painting her all NASCAR style (we’d be glad to supply some PPL Motorhome stickers as well as parts and accessories), and taking her out to perform before the public in hair-raising style!


sixpounder/Flickr Creative Commons

March 2, 1836 was the day Texas proclaimed itself a republic and independent from Mexico. While the forty five delegates to the Convention of 1836 were signing the Declaration of Independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos, the defenders inside the Alamo were already under siege. Santa Anna’s troops would make their final assault on the Alamo four days later, ending the battle with the massacre of the survivors. Shortly after the fall of the Alamo, Col James Fannin’s men were defeated after running battles along Coleto Creek near Goliad, TX. They too were executed after surrendering. Sam Houston withdrew the demoralized and exhausted Texian army until the final stand at San Jacinto. San Jacinto proved to be the decisive conclusion to the Texas Revolution where over 600 Mexican soldiers were killed and over 700 captured at the cost of 9 Texians killed. The prize jewel of the battle was the capture of the self-styled “Napolean of the West” General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna Himself.

Further scuffles with Mexico ensued as Texas sought to defend her newly-found and hard-fought independence, but ultimately the Republic joined the United States as the 28th State admitted to the Union in 1845. 16 years later in early 1861, Texas seceded from the United States and joined the Confederate States until, oddly enough, the last battle of the Civil War was fought on the banks of the Rio Grande outside Brownsville, TX in May 1865.

Since then we’ve had a pretty rough-and-tumble history of Indian wars, range wars, famous outlaws and bandits, oil booms, oil busts, a couple revolutions south of our Rio Grande border, an economic Depression or two, droughts, and at one point or another cotton, cattle, railroads, and oil were king. These days, we’re still a pretty independent minded, tough, resourceful, and very proud folk. We’ve led the world in technological development, space exploration, energy development, and even guitar playing! So anytime y’all feel like coming to Texas, please come say howdy to us here at PPL!