Tom Bennet, Flickr Creative Commons
Everybody knows about Inks Lake, Garner State Park. Lost Maples when it comes to fall foliage, but Texas has some breathtaking spots off the beaten path that do not get the kind of traffic that those other “calendar page” parks receive. So today I thought we could talk about some of these other places and what they have to offer.
Hueco Tanks State Park
Hueco Tanks is a truly awe inspiring place. Located just outside El Paso, Hueco Tanks is an amazing rock formation that did one truly amazing thing…they trapped rainwater. People for millennia have traveled to these rock basins to collect the rainwater stored inside. These days you can clamber over the rocks, hike, ride you bicycle, and marvel at the more than 200 petroglyphs that have survived.
Copper Breaks State Park
Located in far north Texas within a couple hours drive from Caprock Canyon and Palo Duro, Copper Breaks State Park is home to rugged scenery, a portion of the Official Longhorn Herd of Texas as well as being an internationally designated Dark Sky Park…which means they take light pollution seriously. RVs are welcome and there are campsites aplenty!
Palmetto State Park
Palmetto is one of those places it’s kind of hard to believe are in Texas. If you hike through the park on a misty morning you’d swear you were in dinosaur country. I mean it looks ancient in there with all the ferns, the dwarf palm trees which give Palmetto its name. They have a small spring fed Ox Bow lake available for boating, fishing and kayaking, and of course there are numerous campsites.
Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
If you’re in the Houston area, the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to get away from it all closer to home. Located down near Freeport and Lake Jackson, the refuge is a fairly large (44,000+ acre) allotment that is home to most of the coastal species of birds located here in Texas. Hike, camp, and wander to your heart’s content!
ctj71081, Flickr Creative Commons
Fall here in Texas is one of my favorite times of year y’all. The edge comes off the heat, the humidity rolls back…just a little bit, and you know the days will eventually get cooler. Another great thing about fall is the beginning of football season. Everyone knows how big High School, College, and yes even pro football is here in Texas. For those big-time fans that means tailgate season is here as well. So today I thought maybe we could talk about Fall Cocktails. They work especially well if you’re not as big a fan of the game as everyone else at the tailgater!
Apple Cider Mimosa
There’s something almost Martha Stewart-meets-Texas with this drink. You have that Northeastern apple cider flavor and I don’t know very many people down here who don’t enjoy a Mimosa. So here’s what you do: wet the rim of a champagne flute…or heck a keg cup will do…and then dip the rim into a sugar/cinnamon mixture (2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon mixed together). Fill the glass about a quarter full of apple cider and top off the glass with champagne and enjoy the game!
Apple Pie Bourbon
Now lets mix together two great symbols of America: Apple Pie and Bourbon! This drink requires a little bit of dwell time so plan accordingly. What you do is get yourself a Mason jar and put a cup and a half of Bourbon in it. Then chop one green and one red apple and put the pieces in the jar. Add 4 cinnamon sticks, 3 sugar cubes, 1 slightly shaved nutmeg, and a one inch piece of fresh ginger and let it sit for two to four days. Yes, please taste it after 2 days to see if it is ready. Once it had achieved the level fall flavors you prefer, pour the bourbon through a strainer and into as many different glasses as folks you have whom you are willing to share it with. Then…enjoy!
Rodents in the RV is a problem. Someone sent the picture above to our Boyde today talking about their RV and a problem they had. Like many RVers, they parked their trailer or motor home next to their garage or barn out in the country or at a storage facility. Of course, we all go into our units at least once a month, clean the floor, start the engines, check the batteries, but none of us really check out the compartments. These critters must have been having a party for months. It made me think that we all do need to take time to check the compartments, refrigerator, water heater, LP systems and all the storage compartments.
Amazingly, critters can and do get into the smallest crevice. Think of it this way: If the hole is small enough to fit their head through, they’ll figure a way to get the rest of themselves in too.
Of course, I have heard all kinds of preventative measures…
- Steel wool tucked into every pipe crevice under the sink
- Moth balls or moth ball flakes in the compartment (if it doesn’t scare off the rodents it is still guaranteed to make your RV smell like your grandmothers closet)
- Tucking Bounce fabric softener sheets in every drawer, cupboard and closet tends to keep them away
- Putting a dog flea color in the refrigerator and water heater compartments tends to repel pests and rodents
- Even sprinkling fox urine inside of compartments
All good hints. Except for that last one. That one I think I’ll pass on for now. Of course the best way to stay rodent and pest free is to routinely check ALL of your compartments and look for any signs of activity: Food, Footprints or Feces…the 3 Big “F’s”
What is your helpful hint? I’d love to hear how you keep your RV pest free! Please share them with us.
Jon Lebkowsky, Flickr Creative Commons
I love fall. I mean, I really love fall. When fall arrives here in Texas, it’s the surest sign I know that the heat wave is over. Although…Texas has pulled a fast one from time to time where we’ve gotten those gorgeous colors on the trees, and it jumped back into the 90’s. That’s just so wrong, on so many levels. But the fortunate thing about us folks in this RV lifestyle is that we are mobile. I remember a trip once where we decided that our destination was 65. Folks would ask us, “65? Where’s that?” I’d smile and say, “65 F. And it’s probably around 7000′ elevation!” But I digress. Fall is coming and all the Norman Rockwell colors that go with it, so today let’s talk locations where fall is on best display here in Texas.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
This little park gets kind of busy on the weekend during the fall foliage season, so play your trip accordingly. Weekdays during business hours are quieter, and the trails uncrowded. Located on FM 187 in Vanderpool, TX Lost Maples is a kaleidoscope of natural beauty. And their website even has a Fall Foliage Report (click on it) from October through to November so you can play your trip accordingly.
Garner State Park
This is another of those breath taking natural areas in the Texas Hill Country. Located on Hwy 83 in between Leakey (pronounced Lake-ee, thank you) and Uvalde, this beautiful spot has the Frio River running straight through it. Fall colors are on their best violently bright behavior during our cruelly short Fall, so get out and enjoy them while you can! This park doesn’t have a fall foliage report but it’s fairly close (in Texas miles) to Lost Maples to at least get a hint or two off of the Lost Maples Foliage report.
And remember, before you hit that trail this fall be sure an hit our website for all your parts and accessories!
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.
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.
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!
Sometimes I need to be drug kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and other times I’ll gladly jump in all by myself and this is one of those products that makes me fully appreciate the technological advances that are popping up all the time. Y’all, this thing is amazing and I’m so glad somebody thought to do this. Late last year King introduced a combination awning/porch light with included Bluetooth speakers!
Needless to say, if you’ve read this blog with any kind of regularity, you’d know how much I enjoy music and being at Matagorda with the awning out enjoying an evening. Now I can have a sip outside, enjoy the sunset, listen to some Eagles, then not trip over anything when I’m ready to go inside. How cool would it be to be able to have your music with you as you enjoy being outside with your friends and family?
The light fixture is a simple replacement of your existing exterior light, and utilizes LEDs which are the 21 Century’s “longer lasting lightbulb” aren’t they? The speakers are weatherproof, and can be controlled via Bluetooth from a downloadable app on your smartphone. You can even control the light dimmer from your phone or tablet! Even better, the speaker and light hard wire into the RV with just two wires so you don’t have to worry about charging it up like a regular Bluetooth speaker, or even worse, pulling it down off the wall to change those batteries because you forgot to turn it off. And they come in stunning white, or black.
If you’re interested in learning more, please click HERE to be redirected to our website. We have them on sale until September 17th. They are a truly remarkable and useful accessory that will indeed make your next trip just that little bit more enjoyable!
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!
theturquoisetable/Flickr Creative Commons
Hatch Green Chiles are all the rage these days, and justifiably so…they’re darn tasty! A friend of mine just returned from a trip to Hatch, NM and brought me some Hatch Green Chiles straight from the source. He’d had a Green Chile Cheeseburger at Sparky’s BBQ there in Hatch and was so enthusiastic about them I thought I’d try and cook up a more Tex Mex version, so here’s the four steps you need to take: make green salsa, make cheeseburger, combine, consume!
Hatch Green Chile Salsa
- 7 tomatillos
- 3 Hatch Green Chiles
- 1/2 white onion
- pod of garlic
- half bunch of cilantro
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
Husk the tomatillos and place them in a pot. Add enough water until the tomatillos are covered, and bring to a boil. Once the water is actively boiling, reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Chop all the other ingredients and throw them into a blender. Add the tomatillos after they’ve cooled a bit and puree for 6-7 seconds. THAT, my friends, is good salsa. Bee sure and save a dollop or two for your cheeseburger.
Now on to the cheeseburgers. Today we’re cooking burgers in the skillet, so add some butter to the skillet and set it to medium. Make your patties however you like them in terms of weight and diameter and style of ground beef…whether it’s ground chuck, sirloin, or just regular ground beef. Be sure to work the patties as little as possible to get them to shape, but add some black pepper while you’re shaping them. Once the patties are made throw the buns into the skillet for a minute or so to toast them and set aside. Toss the patties into the skillet and cook to you preferred level of “done-ness” and add a slice of you r favorite cheese on top. Once the cheese has begun to melt onto the patty, pop the patties out and onto the buns and add a scoop of your Hatch Green Chile Salsa. Enjoy responsibly.
Flickr Creative Commons/John Flannery
There is something fantastic I love seeing every year in Texas, and that’s the remarkable migration of the Monarch butterflies. However in the Rio Grande Valley, their numbers are in steady decline because their natural habitat is disappearing due to the economic growth of the area, increased corporate farming and the use of pesticides and defoliants like Roundup. However, there is one RV park in the Rio Grande Valley that has done something to help promote and stimulate the success of these winged beauties. Oleander Acres RV Park, with the help of funding support from the Rio Grande Valley Garden Club and the Native Plant Society of Texas has planted 200 milkweed plants of 7 different varieties during the past 6 months.
Monarchs will actual drink nectar from almost all flowering plants that produce nectar, so why is milkweed important? Because milkweed is actually the only plant that Monarchs will lay their eggs on. Even though they don’t really provide a direct commercial value like honey bees do, seeing clouds of of migrating butterflies every year is worth quite a bit in human experience. It was Oleander Acres RV Park that decided that they would be able to provide a great spot for them to rest on their long journey.
Visitors are welcome to come out to Oleander Acres to see the butterfly gardens which in turn will help the butterfly population in Texas just in time for the next Butterfly Festival. For more information, check out Oleander Acres website and plan a trip out to the Rio Grande Valley for a really unique an beautiful experience.
There are many causes and foundations that I hold dear to my heart and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation is one such organization. It’s no secret that I am absolutely in love with the great state of Texas and it takes a massive amount of mobilization to help provide support to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. That is exactly what this non-profit does. By helping to provide key resources aid the TPWD manage and conserve natural and cultural resources of Texas. Because of member’s donations to the this fantastic foundation, the TPWD is able to provide better hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities for all residents and visitors and not to mention the generations to come. Below you’ll find an excerpt from the foundation’s website that further explains the importance of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF), our nonprofit funding partner, supports enhancing park experiences for Texans all year long. From the spectacular acquisition of Powderhorn Ranch on the coast to providing equipment for introducing families to camping, TPWF treasures the state parks of Texas.
TPWF leverages public funds with private philanthropy to provide quality parks for all. We invite you to consider supporting TPWF’s efforts by becoming a member today.
As a member, you’ll receive exclusive benefits like insider information, invitations to special events and other members-only perks. And, you’ll be supporting Texas State Parks, now and in the future.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation was founded in 1991 and has raised over $100 million since its inception. This non-profit is overseen by 21 trustees, ten full-time and three part-time staff members all working very hard to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife department. The bottom line is that with your membership funds and donations all Texans can continue to enjoy, explore, and “be inspired by the incredible wild things and wild places in Texas”. Show your love for this great state and become a member, or make a donation. The importance of your participation can’t be stressed enough. Join me in keeping Texas beautiful.