PPL Motorhomes: Recognizing Venomous Spiders in Texas

PPL Motorhomes and many of our consignment RVs are ready to hit the road and head into the full rush of the RVing season. Of course, that means more opportunities to engage with nature are headed our way. I’ve recently written a post about knowing your venomous snakes, so I figured one about spiders would be just as appropriate. I’ll be honest here, I’m not a big fan of spiders. However, spiders play a major role in our ecosystem and are under appreciated. Either in our homes, or our RVs, most of our widespread fear of spiders is unjustified, as Texas is home to just two that are venomous, the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow.

Of course just hearing their names sends shivers down our spines.

The Brown Recluse Spider:

Bites and Medical Significance

Like other spiders, the brown recluse is not aggressive. It is quite common, in fact, to live in a building that is heavily infested and never be bitten. Most bites occur in response to body pressure, when a spider is inadvertently trapped against bare skin. Some people are bitten when they roll over one in bed. Other bites occur while moving stored items or putting on a piece of clothing that a spider has chosen for its daytime retreat. Brown recluse spiders have remarkably small fangs and cannot bite through clothing.

The initial bite is usually painless. Oftentimes the victim is unaware until 3 to 8 hours later when the bite site may become red, swollen, and tender. The majority of brown recluse spider bites remain localized, healing within 3 weeks without serious complication or medical intervention. In other cases, the victim may develop a necrotic lesion, appearing as a dry, sinking bluish patch with irregular edges, a pale center and peripheral redness. Often there is a central blister. As the venom continues to destroy tissue, the wound may expand up to several inches over a period of days or weeks. The necrotic ulcer can persist for several months, leaving a deep scar. Infrequently, bites in the early stages produce systemic reactions accompanied by fever, chills, dizziness, rash or vomiting. Severe reactions to the venom are more common in children, the elderly, and patients in poor health. Persons bitten by a brown recluse spider should apply ice, elevate the affected area, and seek medical attention immediately.

Source: www.ca.uky.edu/University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

The Black Widow:

Of the spiders capable of inflicting a poisonous bite, black widows are the most notorious. The female is about 1/2-inch long, shiny black and usually has a red hourglass mark on the underside of the abdomen. In some varieties the hourglass mark may be reduced to two separate spots. Spiderlings and male spiders are smaller than the females and have several red dots on the abdomen’s upper side.

Widow spiders belong to the cobweb spider family and spin loosely organized trap webs. The webs are usually found under objects such as rocks and ground trash or under an overhanging embankment. Black widow spiders are not as common in homes as the brown recluse. When found in homes, they are usually under appliances or heavy furniture and not out in the open like other cobweb spiders. Black widow spiders are timid, however, and will only bite in response to being injured. People are usually bitten when they reach under furniture or lift objects under which a spider is hiding.

Black widow venom is a nerve toxin and its effects are rapid. The victim suffers painful rigidity of the abdomen and usually a tightness of the chest. Blood pressure and body temperature may rise, and sweating, localized swelling, and nausea may occur. In about 5% of the bite cases, the victim may go into convulsions in 14 to 32 hours and die if not given medical attention. First aid for black widow spider bites involves cleaning the wound and applying ice packs to slow absorption of venom. Victims should seek medical attention promptly. Most black widow spider envenomizations respond to intravenous administrations of calcium gluconate or calcium salts. An antivenin is also available for severe cases.

Source: www.ca.uky.edu/University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

As you probably already know, we live side by side with these two spiders in our homes as well as in the outdoors. You can just as easily encounter either of these spider species in your closest as you would under a rock, or fallen tree. When out in the wild, or even your own home, remember that we share space with a lot of other living creatures. When left alone, the Brown Recluse and Black Widow pose no threat, but when disturbed, they can be dangerous. Remember, to “look before lift” and “shake it before you put it on”. Follow this link for ways to avoid potential spider bites.

Have and creepy crawly stories of your own? Share them here, or give RV Nana a call at PPL Motorhomes…maybe your story will make my blog!

 

PPL Motorhomes: Protecting Texas Lakes And Rivers From Invasive Species

At PPL Motorhomes, we all love our rivers and lakes. In fact most of us take our Houston RVs far out of the city limits to places where the main attraction is a river or lake. So, there is no doubt that boating and fishing go hand in had with Houston RVing. However, how familiar are you with the invasive species of plants and animals that are destroying those same lakes and rivers?

According to texasinvasives.org: Zebra mussels are having a devastating effect on the state’s natural resources. They negatively impact native fish and mussels and foul beaches with their sharp shells. They wreak havoc for boaters by damaging boat hulls and reducing the performance of boating equipment. Zebra mussels can clog water intakes, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Zebra mussels have already invaded Lake Texoma, and could take over all freshwater sources in Texas.

Hello invasive species…Goodbye Texas lakes

If you are a boater, or fisherman her are some tips for you: (Source texasinvasives.org)

Stop the Spread

There are many things you can do to help stem the tide of invasive species. One of the most effective ways to manage invasive species is for recreationalists such as boaters, fishermen, pet owners, and gardeners to Take Action. Here are some easy everyday things you can do to meet the Invasive Species Challenge:

Boaters and Anglers

You can “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” by following these tips for preventing the transportation of aquatic invasive species:

  • CLEAN, DRAIN AND DRY YOUR BOAT, TRAILER AND GEAR EVERY TIME YOU LEAVE A BODY OF WATER!
  • Inspect your boat, trailer and gear and remove all plants, animals and foreign objects from hulls, propellers, intakes, trailers, and gear before leaving a launch area.
  • Drain all water from your boat, including the motor, bilge, livewells and bait buckets before leaving a lake.
  • Wash your boat, trailer and other equipment before traveling to a new waterway.
  • If you are leaving a water body that is known to have zebra mussels, leave your boat and trailer out of the water for at least a week or wash it at a commercial car wash using high-pressure, hot (140 degrees F) soapy water to kill microscopic zebra mussel larvae that may be hitching a ride.
  • Never transport water, animals, or plants from one waterbody to another — either intentionally or accidentally! Do not release live fish, including bait, into a new body of water.
  • Anglers should be sure to remove material from and wash all fishing tackle, downriggers and lines to prevent spreading small, larval forms of aquatic invaders.
  • Before leaving any body of water, examine all your equipment, boats, trailers, clothing, boots, buckets etc and remove any visible plants, fish or animals. Remove mud and dirt and even the smallest plant fragments.
  • Whether you have obtained bait at a store or from another body of water, do not release unused bait into the waters you are fishing. If you do not plan to use the bait in the future, dump the bait in a trashcan or on the land, far enough away from the water that it cannot impact this resource. Also, be aware of any bait regulations, because in some waters, it is illegal to use live bait

What if we aren’t boaters or anglers? Do we have to worry about the spreading invasive species? Absolutely! Here are some things you can do to be a good steward of the land and protect our foliage and natural habitats. (Source texasinvasives.org)

Travelers, Hikers, Bikers, Birders, and Campers

If you engage in terrestrial recreational activities like camping, hiking, biking or birding, take care not to be an unwitting vehicle of dispersion.

  • Don’t transport items such as fire wood, hay, soil, or sod from one area to another. They may contain seeds, diseases, insects, or other potentially invasive organisms that are not yet found in Texas.
  • Prevent carrying invasive species on your cars, bicycles and motorcycles. Check vehicles for seeds and pieces of plants.
  • Wash your boots and socks before you hike in a new area. Invasive weed seeds are common hitchhikers.
  • Abide by local laws to prevent the spread of serious insect pests (like the Emerald Ash Borer), weeds (like Cogongrass), and diseases (like Oak Wilt).

PPL Motorhomes wants to remind you that as new, used or consignment RV owners and campers to protect our natural habitat to the best of our ability. We all need to be hyper aware of the damages we can cause to our surroundings, even if we can’t see that damage. have a conversation with the Park Ranger the net time you enjoy one of our State Parks, Lakes or Rivers and educate yourself on how you and your RV can make less of a footprint.

 

Consignment RVs Houston: Fighting Back Allergies While Camping

As many of us here at PPL Motorhomes can attest to, having allergies and loving the outdoors is a real bummer. Since we are handle a lot of consignment RVs in Houston, we’ve heard countless stories and complaints about loving the outdoors, but being highly allergic to the flora and fauna that cover our great State. The fact is that there are a lot of outdoors type people who suffer through allergy season so they can go camping, or RVing during the milder months…you might even be one of them. This seems unfair, but what can you do? Well, I did a little looking around and found this nice little checklist to help curb allergy attacks while camping.

Source Allergiesguide.com

Allergy Prevention Tips

  • Air out your equipment before you leave, look for mold in tents and tarps and wash off any you see with a hot water and bleach solution.
  • Bring along your allergy and/or asthma medication, so you are prepared for any trigger that may cross your path.
  • Remember to pack food that is friendly to people with food allergies, check with your group to see what people are allergic to and do not bring that item.
  • Check out your camp site for ragweed, poison oak or poison ivy and other plants that may cause allergic reactions. Bring ointments and medications just in case.
  • When building a fire, make sure that people who have asthma sit farther away and out of the wind so the smoke does not irritate their lungs.

There are ways to conquer your allergies so you can enjoy your RV and camping outings more. The video above offered some good tips that can be used while out on the road and while there are no real “cures” for allergies, you can curb some of the symptoms. If you know of any home remedies we can all use, share them with us. All of us at PPL Motorhomes and even those who consign their RVs with us could really benefit from your knowledge.

PPL Motorhomes: Do You Know How To Use The Jacks On Your RV Properly

OK, it’s time for RV Nana, to be just that. Recently we were on a trip on the San Marcos river. As I was walking around some of the camping areas I, noticed a Class A motorhome that looked a little peculiar. I really wasn’t sure why at first. Then I noticed that,  in what I can only assume was an attempt to level out the motorhome, the jacks had the front tires off of the ground at least 5 inches. This is a “No-No”! Leveling jacks are not meant to function in such an extreme manor.

Take a look at this. You can really see how high the tires are off of the ground in this picture. I’m sure these good folks didn’t have an issue this day, but there really is no telling when something will happen that can cause a catastrophic disaster to your rig and possibly injure family or friends. Use your heads folks. If you think it is even remotely unstable, it probably is.

This is the perfect time to use Lynx Levelers. Lynx Levelers are interlocking blocks you can arrange in a variety of configurations to meet any need. Stack into a pyramid shape, place in front of the tires that need to be lifted and drive on. If not level the first time, add or subtract height as needed and drive on again.

If you have any questions on how you can keep your Houston RV level without jeopardizing the stability of your rig, Just give PPL Motohomes a call and we can give you some tips and hints on ways to make your RVing adventures both fun and safe.

 

 

PPL Motorhomes: Buying a Consignment RV

Buying a consignment RV is a lot like buying a car; there are some features and options that you’re going to want, and there will be some others that you don’t have a need for. But, buying an RV on consignment gives you a whole new list of options to choose from, and if this is your first recreational vehicle, take a look at the list I put together below before you start shopping. I think it will put you on the right track when it comes time to pick your first RV.

How many people will I likely be traveling with?
RVs come in all different shapes and sizes, so you want to be sure that you have adequate space and seating room for everyone who will be traveling with you. Plus, if you don’t take in account for sleeping room, you might end up sleeping outside!

How much stuff am I planning on traveling with?
This question goes hand-in-hand with the one above. The more people who travel with you, the more stuff that is coming along for the ride. But, with all of the extra people and belongings, you’re adding more weight to the RV, and that could be a problem. You don’t want to overload your new RV with too much weight bearing down on the chassis and wheels.

What climate will I be using the RV in?
Most modern RVs are well equipped with insulation, but if you’re planning on vacationing to colder climates, you want to know that you’re getting enough insulation to keep you warm when the temperatures drop at night. Also, make sure that the heater and air conditioner are equipped to cover the entire inside of the RV. When it comes to vent placement, notice where they are located throughout the RV’s floor plan — especially in the bathroom when it comes to a heater vent!

How many items will I need to plug into an outlet?
Different RVs have different numbers of outlets depending on the floor plan, and the locations of the outlets can vary, too. If you plan on bringing a lot of electronics along with you, remember that when you’re shopping and take note of the quantity and locations of the outlets. Also remember, you only have 30or 50 AMP service and you cannot plug in and turn on everything you have at your home.  Forget using the toaster, electric skillet, hair dryer, both AC units and outside lights all at the same time.  It just won’t work!

The bottom line is that if you are looking to join the RV lifestyle, you’ve already made a step in the right direction. The world is a pretty big place and the best and most affordable way to see it is in an RV! Come and check out all of the great consignment RVs we have here at PPL Motorhomes, I know we’ll have one perfect for you and your family.

PPL Motorhomes: Thoughts On Mother’s Day

As  I sat down to write about celebrating Mother’s Day, I wanted to approach it from a lighthearted perspective. You know, maybe recounting a story or two about going RVing with my family on Mother’s Day. Maybe a funny story about how my husband and kids virtually destroyed our pre-owned 5th wheel’s galley all in attempt to make me one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. Which they did, might I add. I thought maybe I’d spin a yarn about being surrounded about the majesty and beauty of the great outdoors as I watched the kids bounce and frolic in the woods collecting pine cones, sticks and creepy crawlies. Then I thought, maybe I’d write about spending my first Mother’s Day with my grandchildren on the road and how, even though things were different, they were actually quite similar to when my kids were their age.

…and then it hit me. The real reason for celebrating Mother’s Day is to not just to remember, but celebrate all of the wonderful things our mother’s did and continue to do for us. What would the world be without our mother’s love and guidance? What would the world be without her there to take you to your first Little League game, or make that skinned knee feel better, or teach you how to spell. I can literally sit here for hours on end and not run out of stories, or things to say about the the strongest woman I’ve ever known. I can only hope that my children see the same things in me.

There is no doubt that we’ve all taken advantage of knowing that we’d always have someone there for us who is always at their best, even when we are at our worst. Have you thought to yourself, “What would the world be like with out Moms”? Watch the video.

So, what do you plan on doing with Mom this Mother’s Day? Let me recommend that you continue making memories with a nice trip to one of our amazing State Parks. Don’t just get Mom out of the house, get her out of the city. Take her some place where she can bask in the silence of her surroundings. Pack up that RV and take her to a place where she can rest, relax and enjoy her family. You have to give of yourself just one day a year, while she gives all 365 days. Take her RVing.

Don’t have an RV yet? What a great opportunity to give her the gift of travel. You can find great consignment RVs here at PPL Motorhomes which would make a perfect first “home away from home”. Owning a new, or used RV will open up doors for Mom that she never even knew existed.

PPL Motorhomes: Thank You Park Volunteers

PPL Motorhomes wants to say, “Thank You” on behalf of our staff and all of those who buy parts, or leave their consignment RVs with us. We all have one thing in common, we all love our State parks. However, I think that most of us forget that before we ever visit one of our beautiful State Parks there are volunteers already there cleaning up, beating paths, painting facilities and running tours. There are there day in and day out making sure that our experiences are nothing but memorable. They also stay long after we’ve left the park to ensure that the experience is the same for other RVers, campers and hikers time and time again.

The bottom line is that without State Park volunteers, we would not have the parks.  They meet, greet and curtail the visitors making sure to take care of the park and the visitors.  In fact, the park hosts can be some of the greatest assets to the parks.  Many are out there to make sure your camping, or RVing experience is terrific.

Here’s a little insight as to what they do.

Remember, the next time you are out at a State Park, take the time to thank a volunteer for their commitment to making Texas Parks beautiful through what amounts to nothing less than 8 hours of backbreaking work daily. State Park Volunteers are the backbone of our Parks System and without them, well, I’d hate to imagine what sate our parks would be in.

If you are retired and looking for something to do on your RV vacation, consider volunteering at the State Parks you are visiting. Visit this link for more information: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/involved/volunteer/spdest/ There is little more rewarding than knowing your made a significant difference by being a steward of the great State of Texas.

PPL Motorhomes: Clearance Height…Know It

Here’s something that you don’t see every day. RV vs. Bridge, who do you think will win? The bridge will, of course. If there is one thing that all of us here at PPL Motorhomes know, it’s the height of our RVs in relation to the bridges and low hanging tree limbs and powerlines along our routes. You should always know the clearance height of your RV before attempting to navigate under anything. A good idea is to write it on an index card and tape it directly to your dashboard.

Low bridges like in the picture above are rare, but can be found across the state – usually off of the beaten path. I’m really not sure how such an extreme miscalculation could have happened other than to speculate that the driver either forgot he was towing his rig (which seems unlikely), or he wasn’t paying attention to signage that usually precedes a low overpass. When venturing into rural areas, there is a possibility that you will encounter a low bridge, so watch for warning signs.

Keep in mind too though, that’s it’s not just bridges that you have to think about while in tow.

The bottom line is that you always need to be extra aware while towing your rig. It’s very easy to get lazy and start assuming that you will fit under every bridge, overhang or protruding tree. When you stop paying attention is when these things creep up on you and chances are you are going to do irreparable damage to your beloved Texas RV.

We all know someone who has either had an accident of this nature, or has come really close to having one. It can easily be our rig that is the next victim of us not paying attention to our surroundings and knowing our RV’s height. They put measurements on over passes for a reason folks, don’t ignore them. PPL motorhomes wants you to enjoy that RV for many more years to come, so go and put the height of your RV somewhere obvious on your dashboard for future reference.

 

PPL Motorhomes: Brazos Bend State Park and Observatory

All of us at PPL Motorhomes are always looking for new adventures and places to visit and last year RV Nana and her bunch visited an amazing place: The Brazos Bend State Park and Observatory. For those of you who haven’t been to this amazing place you’ll be please to know that this destination isn’t short on things to do and see. You’ll find really great bike trails, beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife.  In fact, we had a bag of marshmallows out for S’mores one evening and a raccoon scurried down a nearby tree, grabbed the entire open bag and ran back up to enjoy his snack.  Within minutes it looked like it was raining giant marshmallows as he tore into the bag.

On that same trip, we were riding our bikes along the lake and came right up on an alligator (10’ long – no exaggeration).  He was peacefully sunning himself.  At that point, I was on the lead bike and I motioned for everyone to just keep peddling and move to the left quietly.  He acted as if he had never even seen us, but it sure spooked all of us from my 9 year old grandson to myself.

Check out the sights in the video below:

Check out the Texas Parks And Wildlife webpage for more information like what you’ll read below.

Brazos Bend State Park, approximately 28 miles southwest of Houston, covers roughly 5000 acres, with an eastern boundary of 3.2 miles fronting on the Brazos River on the southeast border of Fort Bend County. This was the area of Texas’ first Anglo colonization. It was purchased by the state in 1976-77 and was opened to the public in 1984.

Archeological materials show that prehistoric people visited this area, possibly as early as 300 BC; in early historical times, the Capoque band of the Karankawa Indians roamed between the mouth of the Brazos River and Galveston Bay and may have traveled inland as far as Brazos Bend. In the early 19th century, this area of Texas was the site of Stephen F. Austin’s first colonial land grant from Mexico, and present park land was included in a grant to Abner Harris and a partner named William Barrett in 1827. Most of riverfront was sold shortly after the Texas Revolution, and records show that in 1845, part of the park and 2400 feet of river frontage were in the hands of cotton brokers who lived in Brazoria. At the time, the Brazos River was one of the principal routes of commerce, and it may be that the brokerage firm used the area for one of its riverboat landings. In recent times, the land on which the park is located was used for cattle grazing, pecan harvesting, and as a private hunting preserve.

Texas is filled with amazing parks to visit and Brazos Bend State Park is only one of them. In fact, that is one of the greatest things about Texas, we have all types of terrain from mountains, to hills and valleys to seas, we have it all. So much so, that sometimes it can be difficult to decide where we want to go next and the best part is, these places are virtually in our backyard.

What are your favorite places to visit in Texas? Where should we go for our next family outing? RV Nana and PPL Motorhomes welcomes all suggestions, just drop us a line.

PPL Motorhomes: RVing Is More Popular Than Ever

If there is one thing that RVing affords the RVer, it’s freedom. The freedom to do anything and go anywhere you want, any time you want. At PPL Motorhomes, we’ve had the pleasure and joy of talking to hundreds of RVers about the lifestyle daily. The one notion that rings true with every one of them is the very real sense of not being tethered, or tied down.

The fact that we can hook up our fifth-wheel, hit the road and go as many miles as we want is why we RV. One morning I can watch the sunrise in Big Bend, and then watch it set the next night in the Gulf of Mexico. That is a testament to the the freedom that RVing gives us. It’s not so much that we HAVE to go somewhere as much as it is knowing that we CAN go somewhere, and do so without ever leaving the comfort of our own home.

There are some things where it would be appropriate to say: “Now (insert activity here) might not be for everyone…”, however RVing isn’t one of them. It truly is for everyone. From the very young to, those of of us who have seen millions of miles of highway, RVing is more than an adventure, it’s a way of life. Just ask anyone of us at PPL Motorhomes and you’ll hear the same thing: “I LOVE RVing”!