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Some folks navigate by BBQ joints. Some folks navigate by hamburgers. Some folks navigate by Tex Mex restaurants. Well it’s summer out there people. It’s a hot and humid Texas summer now, so maybe it’s time to navigate based on ice cream shops!
If you’re headed down to the beach in Galveston, you’ve got to hit La King’s Confectionery. It’s located down near the Strand on the corner of Mechanic St and 24th. They’re actually an old fashioned candy maker but they also feature ice cream in their 1920’s style soda fountain. The ice cream they serve is made right on the location and is the oldest ice cream company in Texas!
If you’re headed through Austin, you’ve gotta go to Amy’s. Amy’s is an institution and they now have locations all over town. It’s summertime in Austin though, so expect traffic and long lines. Their ice cream is worth the wait though!
If you’re headed up through Dallas, stop in Denton, TX for an ice cream at Beth Marie’s. The original location is right on the square, and Beth Marie’s is another of those old-school soda fountains. They feature over a hundred different flavors, all made by themselves…and they even sell some of their ice cream at Central Markets in TX. So if you can’t make it to Dallas, swing by a Central Market for a taste.
If you’re coming through Houston, you’ve got to hit the Fat Cat Creamery. They’re located on N Shepherd between 19th and 20th streets in the Heights. They call themselves a small batch ice cream maker and all their ingredients are locally sourced. This place is amazing!
So if just reading this has given you cavities, or spiked your blood sugar, then my work here is done. You’ve probably heard more than one person say, “It’s the journey, not the destination that matters” well…while you’re journeying, stop for an ice cream and that will sure make the destination matter just a little less for a while.
Come say howdy to us over at the website.
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Happy Summer everybody! The heat and the humidity have truly rolled in to stay. I mean it’s been so darn humid I’ve been thinking about bringing a change of clothes with me to work. So naturally one’s mind drifts to less humid areas…and one of my favorite in Texas is Alpine!
Alpine, TX is the county seat of Brewster county which I delight in reminding people is 500 square miles BIGGER than Connecticut. It’s so big you could fit Delaware in there three times over. Matter of fact I reckon you could have a fire the size of Delaware in Brewster county and never even see the smoke. Ha! But back to Alpine.
Alpine is a wonderful place to use as your home base for exploring the Texas Big Bend country. It has a population of around 6000 (which is almost half the entire population of Brewster County) which means it has all the amenities you’ll require. From Alpine you can head south into the Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park (which naturally is bigger than the National Park), the “ghost town” of Terlingua, Lajitas, and on into Mexico if that’s your thing.
Or you can head north up to Ft Davis and see the old cavalry fort, eat some absolutely deeeeeeeeeee-licious Tex Mex, or visit the McDonald Observatory. If west is more your thing, why then Marfa is your place! You can check out the quirky art scene it’s got happening, there’s a permanent fake Prada shoe store out in the middle of the desert for example. Kind of like a shoe version of Cadillac Ranch. And of course there are the famous Marfa Lights. Head out there some evening and see if you can spot them. There is a dedicated viewing area right there on the highway.
This portion of West Texas is particularly beautiful this year because of all the rain, so if you think of desiccated, dusty, and dirty when you think of W TX…you’re occasionally right. But not this year. The creeks and rivers are running, the vegetation is beautiful. AND IT’S NOT HUMID.
Mike Renlund/Flickr Creative Commons
If you have traveled around, or have lived in Texas this past month then you know you need some high water boots, or a boat to get around. The floods in Texas are some of the worst in history with the Brazos and Trinity rivers rising to record levels. The devastation has been horrible. People and animals stranded and trying to escape rising water and property destroyed.
The rain in the Houston area has stopped for a few days, but the news media tells us the worst is yet to come for many in the path of the rising waters. How can we help? What can we do? Count your blessings if you were not affected by this natural disaster then take time to reach out and help others. So many organizations have opened their doors to those left stranded and are accepting your donations of supplies and funds. Take time to give your time if you can. From handing out supplies to helping clean up these disaster areas, there is something for everyone to do to help.
Of course you all know that the RV lifestyle is near and dear to my heart. I have seen pictures of flooded RVs and trucks that simply did not have time to get out before the waters started rising. Many of these were more than a recreational vehicle for their owners. They were their homes. In the Rio Grande Valley storms ripped apart several RV parks and residents sought shelter at local churches and community centers. Many of my park friends have suffered great losses and are working to help their guests restore some normal signs of life. The RV community is a giving community. RVers help each other and are there for their fellow campers.
I am heading down to the Brazoria area to pitch in and help because people have always been there to help me. I urge all of you to look around and see what you can do to help, too, and thank your lucky starts that you are a part of this great RV lifestyle!
Darlene Hildebrandt/Flickr Creative Commons
Do y’all remember the lines at gas stations during the 1970’s? Do y’all remember President Jimmy Carter coming on TV to explain how tire gauges work? Well we’re going to talk fuel economy a little bit today. The summer driving season is upon us and granted, RV’s aren’t like driving a Prius…but…there are several things you can do to squeeze more miles out of a tank of gas and that’s what we’re going to discuss today.
Oddly enough one of the biggest influences on the range of your fuel tank is your right foot. For those of y’all who are lead foots or think your RV is a dragster, I’ve seen figures that show a negative effect on your range from five to thirty three percent! For the same reason, use your cruise control whenever possible. That constant speed, and constant RPM equates to a more efficient way of converting your fuel to miles. On the other side of the same coin, don’t just let the RV idle for long periods…just shut off the engine if it’s going to be more than a few minutes.
Sometimes an increase in economy can be achieved just with regular maintenance. Something as simple as a broken oxygen sensor can impact you by forty percent. And the same goes for the rest of the emissions systems, remember these engines are basically air pumps so anything that affects the air flow through the engine will affect your gas mileage. So with that said, air filter maintenance is also a key component to maximizing your mileage. Keep it clean or replace it often especially if you’re driving out west where there is a higher level of airborne dust.
So to recap…by all means check your tire pressures, don’t drive like a teenager, and keep up with the maintenance on your RV and the cost per fuel stop won’t be any higher than it needs to be. Also, we can help you get down the road with parts and accessories over at the website, so come say howdy!
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The Gulf Coast is often portrayed as the ugly step sister to the Pacific Coast and the Atlantic Coast, but I’m here to tell you…it just ain’s so. Every Coast in America has miles of ugly and beauty, and today we’re going to talk Gulf Coast Beauty Spots. So since beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say, what makes a beautiful part of a coast? Clear water? Isolation? Hotels and amenities? To each their own, but for the purposes of today, we’re going to talk beautiful water.
Here in the Lone Star, I’ve got to lead off with Port Aransas. This is that point on the gulf coast where the river silt finally starts fading out and the water becomes a clear sparkly blue/green. All the usual amenities are located here from deep sea fishing to hotels and great seafood. Boat rides over to Saint Jo Island are available as well if you’d prefer a more isolated beach experience.
Grand Isle is the place to be. It’s about a two hour drive south from New Orleans. The fishing is world renowned, the birds are incredible, and for a barrier island next to the mouth of the mighty Mississippi, the beaches are great!
Gulf Shores, AL is probably the most well known beach in this thin strip of coast that Mississipp and Alabama occupy. This portion of the coast is more along the typical spring breaker idea of a great beach with abundant hotels and entertainments,
St George Island is one neat spot y’all. It’s a barrier island off the coast off Florida near Apalachicola. It features over 9 miles of undeveloped beach so if you’re looking for a spot more natural in Florida, this is your place! Lots of fishing and charter boat tours, as well as the usual seaside diversions.
Don’t forget to hit our website before you hit the road, we’ve got everything you’ll need!
DoD News/Flickr Creative Commons
Pow-Wows are an great opportunity to see and experience Native American culture. Singing, dancing, cooking, and just good old socializing is what Pow-Wows are all about. They are also very educational and exciting too. Needless to say there are Pow-Wows all over the country throughout the summer, so if you find yourself on a summer driving trip, finding a pow wow near your destination is a perfect way to present some American history to the kids and grandkids. If you’re in Texas and aren’t traveling too far this summer, there are a couple good ones nearby.
Bandera, TX – Circle Of Life Pow-Wow
Bandera is located in the heart of the hill country and can be reached best from I-10 by either taking 173 south out of Kerrville, or 46 south out of Boerne until it intersects 16 and you turn west. The Circle Of Life Pow-Wow is not limited to any one tribe, and features a few spiritual ceremonies you can view.
Kinder, LA – Coushatta Pow-Wow
For those of yall who don’t want to wait until the end of the summer, nearby Kinder, LA hosts the 21st Annual Coushatta Pow-Wow the weekend of June 11. The Coushattas in Louisiana are a fairly small tribe now, and estimated 400 people still live on the reservation, but they are rich in heritage as you can see at the Pow-Wow.
East Falmouth MA – Mashpee Wampanoag 95th Annual Pow-Wow
If you’re headed up to the east coast, this is an amazing pow wow to see. It’s help 4th of July weekend, and is one of the oldest continuous P0w-Wows held east of the Mississippi. The Mashpee Wampanoag are a federation of tribes who came in contact with European settlers as far back as the 1600’s and have still maintained their identity. If you’re in New England this summer, check them out!
And as always, please wing by the website and we’ll be only too glad to get you squared away before you hit the trail this summer!
All of you who know me, know that RV Nana would not leave home without my Coach-net Roadside Assistance membership card in my wallet. Yes, there are many really good roadside assistance plans on the market, but this one is, in my opinion, the best for the RV owner. At PPL Motorhomes we have been selling the Coach-net Roadside Assistance plan for years and have heard some great stories from our customers. In addition, many of us have the coverage ourselves and have experienced, first hand, how good it is. Needless to say, my team believes in this product. In addition, we have all seen that there is one thing that sets Coach-net apart from many other roadside assistance plans… They seem to really care about their customers… and it shows.
I received the following tire safety information from Coach-net in a recent email and wanted to share that with all of you. Tires are often the most needed and most neglected parts of our vehicles. I hope the following information will help you travel safely.
(Re-printed with permission from Coach-net via RVDailyReport.com)
Coach-Net offers the following tire maintenance fundamentals for all motorists, particularly drivers of RVs and other heavy-duty vehicles:
Check your tires’ air pressure – Check the air pressure every two weeks, or at least once a month and before any major trip. Look for over- or under-inflation. Proper tire inflation is essential for safe and efficient vehicle operation. Vehicles with properly inflated tires experience optimum ride and handling characteristics, shorter braking distances, longer tire life and improved fuel economy.
Inspect your tires’ tread – Inspect your tires for abnormal wear or damage. Look for fraying, scalloping, cupping or any kind of uneven wear, and take it as a life-saving warning sign. Inspect tires for uneven wear patterns on the tread, cracks, foreign objects or other signs of wear or trauma. Remove bits of glass and other foreign objects wedged in the tread, and be sure there are no leaks after removing any debris.
Rotate, align and balance your tires – Regularly rotating your RV’s tires will help you achieve more uniform wear. A bad jolt from hitting a curb or pothole can throw your front end out of alignment and damage your tires. Have an RV dealer check the alignment periodically to ensure that your vehicle is properly aligned.
Don’t overload your vehicle – Overweight RVs lead to axle problems, accelerated suspension wear and failure, and tire failure. Be aware of the recommended size and load range of your tires and whether they are suitable for your weight needs. If you are unsure, check your owner’s manual or tire information placard. Aim for even weight distribution throughout your RV. If for some reason that’s not possible, tires on the same axle should still be inflated to the same pressure.
Invest in tire covers – Over time, the sun’s heat rots your tires, creating cracks; tire covers are a great way to protect this damage from happening. During long pit stops, throw on the covers to give the tires a break and use them on your RV during the off season.
Keep track of your tires’ age – RV tires age out before they wear out in most cases. Once a tire reaches five to seven years of age, they should be inspected by a tire professional annually for signs that they’re failing. The industry generally agrees that after 10 years, especially when the tires are heavily loaded, they should be replaced regardless of wear.
“Eighty-three percent of U.S. motorists do not properly check tire pressure, and each year, there are nearly 11,000 tire-related crashes nationwide resulting in nearly 200 fatalities,” he added. “Now is a good time for RV owners and other vehicle drivers to perform checks on their vehicle’s tires, including the spare, and to get into the habit of taking five minutes every month to repeat those checks.
There you have it folks. I don’t have to tell you that you have a lot riding on your tires. They are the only physical connection between you and the road. Apart from the large amount of money you have invested in your motorhome, travel trailer or fifth-wheel, safety for you and your family while driving begins where the rubber meets the road.
If you have any questions, or concerns about the tires of nor RV, don’t hesitate to contact PPL Motorhomes.
RicanGeek/Flickr Creative Commons
Summer is creeping up on us…kind of slowly this year, but never the less headed our way. The humidity is going to rise after all this blankety-blank rain we’ve been drowning in. You know it’s a wet year when you overhear farmers worrying about root rot and the cost of fungicide instead of the usual drought and pestilence talk. Anyway, the thought of a long hot and humid Texas summer got me thinking about cool refreshing tequila drinks, and there are a bunch of them. That aren’t margaritas.
Boy this is tasty. Pour an ounce and a half of your favorite tequila into a glass, then cut a lime in half. Squeeze out the juice from one of the halves into your glass, and add three quarters of an ounce of creme de cassis (which is a dark red, kind of sweetish liqueur made out of blackcurrants) and then top it off with club soda. Wonderful, refreshing tequila drink that isn’t a margarita.
Texas Two Step
This one is a for-real mixed drink, so it’ll probably require a trip to the store unless your RV has a fully stocked bar! And you’ll need that super cool James Bond cocktail shaker. So what you need to do is pour an ounce and a half of your favorite tequila into the shaker, add three quarters of an ounce of Texas Grapefruit Shrub, a quarter ounce of Pineapple juice, quarter ounce of Yellow chartreuse, a little wildflower honey, a couple drops of bitters, and a pinch of salt. Stir so the honey gets mixed in, then add ice and shake shake shake senora! Pour into a glass and enjoy!
These two not margaritas ought to do the trick for you folks that enjoy a sip of tequila from time to time. They’re easy to make, smooth to drink, and are thoroughly refreshing after a long hot Texas day!
Remember to swing by the website and say howdy, we’ll be glad to get you sorted!
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As Memorial Day Weekend approaches, perhaps an interesting trip to take with your young folks would be to one of the many war memorials here in Texas. Texas has played a huge part in every conflict the United States has been involved in since the Civil War. From being the site of the last Civil War battle, to sending troops to Cuba to fight Spain, chasing Pancho Villa throughout northern Mexico, being the site of America’s first Air Force Base, to providing training grounds for generations of troops, we here in Texas have proudly down our part.
Every County Courthouse, it seems, has a war memorial listing the men and women of the county who fell in battle during the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq and Afghanistan…but there are some dedicated memorials as well with a broader scope, and I’m going to list some below that you can visit.
The Battleship Texas, located near the San Jacinto Battleground east of Houston, is the last surviving dreadnaught battleship in existence. She fought proudly in both World Wars and is a testament to those generations of men who defended our freedom.
The Lexington is an Essex class WWII aircraft carrier built to replace the original carrier Lexington which was lost during the Battle of Coral Sea. She is located in Corpus Cristi and is a monument to the WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam generations during which conflicts she served.
Museum of The Pacific War
Formerly known as the Nimitz Museum, this world class museum in Fredericksburg TX is one of the best monuments to the men and women from all across the country who served in the Pacific.
These men and women who chose to serve, as well as those who were drafted, risked their futures to ensure ours…Memorial Day is more than hot dogs and parades, it’s about gratitude and remembrance.
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.