RV content 1/14/21 – gtg

My dog, Rags, is part Jack Russel Terrier.

While we were at Medina Lake over Labor Day, I helped a dog that was suffering from heat prostration. It was a big beautiful black lab and I thought we were going to lose him! The owners had taken two dogs hiking (a golden retriever and the lab). It was close to 100 degrees and they did not take water on the hike. They barely got the black lab to the activity center. The golden was fine.

What you may do for heat prostration in dogs:

Give them tepid (NOT COLD) water to drink
Wet the dog down with tepid (NOT COLD) water
Put a fan on the dog so evaporation will help cool the dog
Give the dog a little salt in case his electrolytes are wacky
Take the dog to a vet as soon as you are able

Please share this post with your fellow dog lovers. If they are going to go hiking with dogs, the dogs need water too. The best way to handle this is to freeze a bottle of water and give the dog some as it melts. Be aware of how your dog breathes and pants.

Signs of heat prostration are rapid panting, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. Death can occur within 20 minutes, so you do not have much time to wonder if it is a heat stroke or not. After the episode, I researched heat prostration in dogs and found some good information:

Heatstroke is most common in the large breeds and in dogs with short noses. . . We have seen heatstroke in dogs who were swimming or who were merely excited but not obviously exercising hard. . .

For emergency treatment:

Any time that heatstroke is suspected it is best to get an immediate rectal temperature reading and to begin treatment immediately if the body temperature is over 106 degrees Fahrenheit or to stop all activity and move indoors if the temperature is less than this but elevated above 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Body temperatures over 107 degrees Fahrenheit are a critical emergency because organ damage can occur at this temperature and at higher temperatures.

What do you do if you cannot get the animal to a veterinarian? Here is the treatment a vet might use. You would have to improvise.

Treatment consists of cool water (not cold water) bathes or rinses. The veterinarian may want to use cool water enemas, cool water gastric lavage (rinsing of the stomach), corticosteroids, and specialized intravenous fluid therapy using colloids to maintain blood pressure.

So you would need a rectal thermometer for sure and perhaps an enema bag and some way to push fluids into the dog, either IV or lavage. Scary thinking about it? What if it happens?

I think the best action in this case would be proactive.

Do not take your dog walking in the heat of the day.
Carry water for yourself and your dog.
If your dog is displaying one or more symptoms of heat prostration, take the dog inside or out of the direct sun, take a rectal temperature, and cool the dog with water.
Take the dog to the vet, the sooner the better.
Be prepared to help your dog and yourself during the dog days of summer.

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For 20 years I have heard folk talk about dinosaur tracks in the Blanco River. Some people state they are downstream from Five Mile Dam outside of San Marcos. Others swear they are on the private property down river from Blanco State Park.

Following directions in the book, Roadside Geology of Texas (Spearing, 1996), we found the dinosaur tracks last weekend on our journey back from Fredericksburg.

The Sauropod tracks are in the Blanco River bed west of Blanco, Texas. To see the tracks, the water level must be low, so this summer is perfect for viewing!

Take US Highway 281 South from Austin to Blanco, turn right onto FM 1623, and look for County Road 103 on the left. Turn and park safely, at least 1500 feet from the low water crossing.

Stand on the low water crossing facing downstream. Walk to your left toward FM 1623 and enter the riverbed. Gingerly walk about 150 feet and you cannot miss these tracks! There are about 20 of them and they lead right into the water.

You must cross the river and walk quite a way to see the next sets of tracks. With the water low, there is a danger of slipping on algae-covered rocks, so walk carefully. It is better if you walk in the water rather than on the land. Snakes snooze on the rock ledges next to the river.

Look for the gravel bar that lies roughly in the middle of the river. You want to walk down the right side of this gravel bar.

You will know that you are heading toward the right place when you see the Cretaceous limestone outcropping depicted in the picture to the left.

Continue to walk toward the limestone overhang, looking toward the gravel bar. Soon you will spot tracks radiating from the gravel bar toward the bank and then curving back toward the sand bar.

While these tracks are not as numerous as the Theropod and Sauropod tracks in Dinosaur Valley State Park, these three Saurapod trackways in the Blanco River bed will amaze you.

Step into the footsteps of dinosaurs. Sit and ponder the time that has passed since these huge, herbivores walked the Earth.

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Jefferson: The Most Haunted Town in Texas

In 1811 one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history changed the course of the Mississippi River, making the river run backward. Massive amounts of trees fell during the earthquake and the aftershocks.

On a creek tributary to Cedar Bayou, trees piled up against a beaver dam, creating a logjam several miles wide and several miles deep. Impounded by this logjam, the waters of Cedar Bayou eventually formed a vast shallow lake along the Texas- Oklahoma border. American settlers in the area named it Caddo Lake after the tribe native to the region.

Jefferson, Texas, the county seat of Marion County, lies at the junction of IH-59 and SH 49, on Big Cypress Creek and Caddo Lake. Named for Thomas Jefferson, the town was founded in the early 1840s.

The most famous haunted spaces in Jefferson are the Excelsior Hotel and the Jefferson Hotel, a private home named The Grove, and the Oak Grove Cemetery. However, there are also ghosts from a Civil War battle, ghosts from a steamship that blew up on Big Cypress Bayou, and ghosts of black men that were hanged by the KKK.

Jefferson Ghost Walk meets in front of the Jefferson Historical Society & Museum. Stop by the Chamber of Commerce for detailed information or call.

You will spend an hour and a half walking the streets of historic old Jefferson, lamp in hand, hearing about the spirits that haunt this famous town. You may possibly meet a few on the trip!

You will need to save the .wmv file to your desktop or
open it with Real Player to view it.

Here is a nonverified list of ghosts, haunts, and specters that are said to appear periodically in Jefferson:

* Ghost security guard with a bullet hole in his head watches TV in living room
* Male haunt, dressed as a steamship captain, hitchhikes to town.
* Man with the head of a pig smokes pipe under a streetlight.
* Woman with a knife in her chest walks Jefferson Street before sunrise.
* Skeleton clothed in dark robes sits at a table in a home.
* Headless man sits in a chair in a house.
* Specter carrying a bloody ax walks a dog late at night on a dark street.
* A lady carrying her head under her arm looks through the fridge in her house.
* An army uniform, sans body, walks around in a deserted area outside town.
* Ghost of a hobo roams a dark street around midnight.
* Teenager in bloody prom dress peeps through house windows late at night.
* Woman without head stands in the middle of the road outside Jefferson.
* Young woman haunt in maid uniform drinks gasoline from a gas pump.

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More RV content – gtg for website

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RV Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance of your RV is the best way to keep it in good running order, save you money in the long run and prevent an untimely breakdown from spoiling a trip. These are some helpful hints that any RVer, regardless of mechanical ability, can do to help maintain the vehicle and ensure that each trip starts out on the right note.

Fluids, Filters, and Battery

A primary element of RV maintenance is regularly checking fluid levels. Fluids and filters should be regularly changed. Make it part of your pre-trip routine to check these important fluids. It’s also a good idea to check these fluids on a monthly basis if you haven’t used your RV lately or if it is in storage. Check your RV owner’s manual for its maintenance requirements and schedule.

Check engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid and top off any that are low.
Many motor home manufacturers recommend that in addition to regularly scheduled oil changes, you should change the engine oil and filter prior to storage and in the spring. During storage, the oil can separate causing a condensation buildup that may harm your engine.

Check the cooling system. You may need to flush and replace the old antifreeze with a proper coolant. Be sure to check for cracks in all hoses and fan belts and replace them if necessary.

Check the fuel filter and examine the fuel lines and fittings for cracks and leaks.

Check the spark plugs. Be sure to set the gaps to the recommended manufacturer’s setting using a gap setting tool.

Check and clean the carburetor or service the fuel injection system.

Check the air filter and replace it if dirty.

Check the battery. Clean the cables and terminals with a wire brush, grease, and reconnect. Depending on your battery, you may have to fill the cells with distilled water.

Check the air filter to make sure it’s clean.

Exterior Inspection

As part of your pre-trip routine, it is also important to examine the RV’s exterior.

Remove any protective covers and wash the exterior. Air out the interior by opening all roof vents and windows. Remove any pest control items you may have placed to protect the interior and exterior compartments during winter storage. Clean or replace air conditioner filters.

Check the exterior. Inspect the roof and body for signs of damage. Look for deterioration of seals around the doors, roof vents, and windows, reseal if necessary. Remember, the old sealant must be removed before the new sealant can be applied. Now is also a good time to lubricate hinges, locks, and other moving parts. If you have an awning, roll it out and check for damage, mildew, and insects. Inspect the headlights, including high and low beams, the taillights, brake lights, and turn signals. If you have a towable RV, be sure to examine the hitch system for wear, loose bolts, and cracks.

Check the tire pressure while also looking for cracks, uneven or excessive wear, and any objects stuck in the tire that could create a leak. Don’t forget to check the spare tire as well! Inspect the tires. Check the tires for cracks, worn treads, and correct tire pressure. Tighten the lug nuts to manufacturer specifications. Make sure the lug nuts are tight on both outer and inner wheels.

Look underneath the RV, taking a deep breath to see if you smell gasoline, diesel, or LP gas. If you do, shut down all pilot lights and get professional help.

Check the liquid propane (LP) system. Connect the tank, open the valve, and check the system for leaks by brushing soapy water on all connections. If any leaks are detected, close the valve and take your recreation vehicle to a professional repair facility.

Check for leaking fluids. If you discover a leak, move the RV and check again, noting the color and location of the leak in relationship to the RV. Have a certified RV technician at a dealer or service center inspect the vehicle if there is a leak. Be sure to relay the information about the color of the leaking fluid and the location of the leak.

Flush the water system. Close all faucets, including the showerhead. Drain and flush the nontoxic antifreeze you used in storing your recreation vehicle from your entire water system. You may have to flush the system several times to remove the chlorine taste.

Prepare for a safe season. Even after all the mechanical components have been checked, you should never set out on a trip without proper safety equipment. Install new batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Check the expiration dates on fire extinguishers. Restock the supplies in the first aid kit.

The vehicle’s owner’s manual should provide more detailed information and maintenance schedules. RVIA also has a number of enthusiast publications that provide more in-depth information on a wide range of RV topics, including maintenance.
RV owners should follow the maintenance schedule recommended by the manufacturer and have regularly scheduled maintenance and repairs done at an RV dealership or service center — no one understands RVs better.

Servicing Your RV

Here are some tips to help select an RV dealership or service center and ensure that you have a quality service experience.

No matter how good future technology becomes, periodic inspection of your vehicle by a professional will never be obsolete. A checkup by an experienced RV service technician can be a real lifesaver and money saver.

Read your owner’s manual and warranty so you’ll know what to expect from your RV, what your responsibilities are, and what systems and components are covered by whom.

Look for the red, white, and blue Certified RV Technician sign, which indicates the dealership or service center employs RV technicians certified through an industry-sponsored program conducted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and the Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association (RVDA), who are committed to customer satisfaction.

Research the dealer or service center by talking to current customers to determine the quality of work and record of customer satisfaction. It’s also a good idea to look for the state, local, or industry certifications, like the Certified RV Technician sign, throughout the shop.

It’s important that you feel comfortable with the professionals you entrust to service your RV. With confidence comes the ability to communicate openly about your concerns and needs.

Request written estimates for all service work and ask for written notification for any additional repairs not covered in the original estimate. Also, request that replaced parts be given to you for inspection.

Let the service manager know immediately if you’re not satisfied with the repair or maintenance work performed on your RV.

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34 Fire Facts That Can Save Your Life

At best, a fire in your RV can delay or ruin a vacation. At worst, it can mean injury, financial loss, and even death. Unfortunately, RV fires are one of the largest causes of motorcoach loss in America today. The following tips can help you recognize the most common fire hazards and protect yourself from the damage and injury fires are notorious for causing.

A pinhole-size leak in a radiator or heater hose can spray antifreeze on hot engine parts. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol concentrate and water. When the water boils off, the remaining ethylene glycol can self-ignite at 782 degrees F. During your monthly fire inspection, check all hoses for firmness, clamp tightness, and signs of leaking.

Rubber fuel lines are commonly used to connect metal lines to the electronic fuel injection system, or to the carburetor in older coaches. Check all the lines and connections between the fuel tank and the engine on a monthly basis. If there is any sign of a leak, have the lines replaced and the entire system inspected by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.

A hard-working engine manifold can get as hot as 900 degrees F. The heavy insulation in the compartment reflects the heat back to the top of the engine, and a fire can easily break out. Inspect your radiator and have any problems repaired by a qualified person as soon as possible.

Grease, oil, and road dust build-up on the engine and transmission, making them run hotter. The grime itself usually doesn’t burn, but if combined with a fuel leak or short-circuited wire, a fire could start. Keep your coach’s underpinnings clean, and it will run cooler, more economically, and longer.

A dragging brake can create enough friction to ignite a tire or brake fluid. Some of the worst fires are those caused when one tire of a dual or tandem pair goes flat, scuffs, and ignites long before the driver feels any change in handling. At each stop, give tires at least an eyeball check. When tires are cool, tap your duals with a club and listen for a difference in sound from one tire to the next. You can often tell if one is going soft.

Spontaneous combustion can occur in damp charcoal. Buy charcoal fresh, keep it dry, and store it in a covered metal container. Rags soiled with auto wax or cleaners that contain petroleum products or other oil-based cleaning materials can also spontaneously combust if disposed of in a combustible container. Put dirty cleaning rags in a metal container with a lid.

A hot exhaust pipe or catalytic converter can ignite dry grass.

Driving with propane turned on can add to the danger if you are involved in an accident or have a fire. Most refrigerators will keep food cold or frozen for eight hours without running while you travel. Shut the propane off at the tank.

If you store your coach, be sure to check the flue before starting your refrigerator on propane. Birds and inspects can build nests and clog the flue, causing a fire or excess carbon monoxide to enter your coach.

Batteries produce explosive gases. Keep flame, cigarettes, and sparks away. Be sure your battery compartment is properly vented. Keep vent caps tight and level. Check your battery monthly. Replace swollen batteries immediately. Use extreme care when handling batteries—they can explode.

Have any wiring in your coach done by a capable electrician, and use common sense in using any electrical aid. Check all 12-volt connections before and after every trip. Most coach fires are caused by a 12-volt short.

Gasoline and propane can pose an immediate, explosive danger. Though diesel fuel is less volatile, it dissipates more slowly, so it remains a danger longer. Deal at once with any leaks or spills, and use all fuels in adequately vented areas.

Even if the flame on your galley stove goes out, gas continues to flow and could result in an explosion. A stove should never be left unattended or used to heat your coach. Open propane flames release high levels of carbon monoxide.

In a compact galley, all combustibles—from paper towels to curtains—are apt to be closer to the stove, so use even more caution in your coach than you do at home. A box of baking soda—the ingredient in powder extinguishers—can be used in lieu of a fire extinguisher for minor galley flare-ups.

Develop a plan of action before a fire occurs.

Make sure all travelers know what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it. Test your smoke detector regularly.

Have at least two escape routes—one in the front and one in the rear of the coach. As soon as they’re old enough, teach children to open hatches and emergency exits.

Review with everyone the “Stop, Drop, and Roll” rule so they know what to do when clothing is on fire.

Make sure visitors can open the front door. Not all manufacturers use the same lock and latch assembly.

Choose a rallying point where everyone will meet immediately after escaping, so everyone can be accounted for.
Show travelers how to unhook electricity (screw-on cords can be tricky) and how to close propane valves, in case either of these measures is called for.

Practice unhooking your tow vehicle as quickly as possible to avoid spreading the fire to other vehicles.
Re-emphasize to everyone aboard that objects can be replaced, people can’t. Never stay behind or re-enter a burning coach to retrieve anything.

There are plenty of fire and life safety tools that can save lives, but for them to be effective, they must be in working condition and you must know how to use them properly.

You should have three fire extinguishers for your coach—one in the galley, one in the bedroom, and one outside of the coach in an unlocked compartment or in your tow vehicle. Make sure family members know how to use the extinguishers and understand which extinguishers are effective on various fires.

During your monthly inspection, check the fire extinguisher gauge to determine if there is pressure in the extinguisher. If the gauge indicates empty or needs charging, replace or recharge the extinguisher immediately. To test non-gauged extinguishers, push the plunger indicator (usually green or black) down. If it does not come back up, the extinguisher has no pressure to expel its contents. If you need help testing your fire extinguishers, check with your local fire department.

Do not pull the pin and expel the contents to test your powder extinguisher. If you use a portion of the powder extinguisher, have it refilled or replaced immediately. When you have a fire extinguisher refilled, ask to shoot off the charge first (most refill stations have a special place where this can be done safely). This lets you see how far it shoots and how long a charge lasts.
Invert and shake your dry-powder or dry-chemical extinguisher monthly to loosen the powder. The jarring of the coach does not loosen the powder; in fact, it packs the powder, which may make your extinguisher ineffective.

Deadly, invisible, odorless CO usually results from exhaust leaks or misuse of heating devices. Be sure to put your CO detector in the bedroom. The proper location is on the ceiling or on an inside wall at least eight inches from the ceiling and at least four feet from the floor.

Liquid petroleum gas, like gasoline fumes, tends to pool in low spots in the coach until a spark sets it off. Newer motorhomes are equipped with an automatic shut-off for when its sensor detects an LPG leak. If you have a leak, be sure to shut the propane off at the tank.
The first rule of RV firefighting is to save lives first and property second. Get yourself and your family to safety before attempting to extinguish a fire. Only if you can do so without endangering yourself or others should you use firefighting aids on hand.

Get help. Adults and older children should know how to dial 911 or 0, and how to get emergency help on any CB, VHF, or ham radio available.

It’s crucial to know your location so firefighters can find you.

If you have a quick-disconnect fitting on your water hookup, these hoses can be unhooked instantly to fight a fire. If a nearby coach is burning and you cannot move your coach but can safely stay close enough to keep it hosed down, you may be able to save it.

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Of interest to RVers:

Texas has over 3,700 streams, 15 rivers, and over 3000 miles of shoreline along the Gulf Coast. Texas offers many opportunities for paddling adventures of all types.

Texas Paddling Trails is a new program to develop public paddling trails throughout the state to provide well-mapped accessible day trips for novice to experienced paddlers.

Coastal Paddling Trails

Lighthouse Lakes Trail
The Lighthouse Lakes Trail meanders through a black mangrove estuary into sloughs and back lakes near the historic Lydia Ann Lighthouse on North Harbor Island, west of Port Aransas and north of Hwy 361 causeway.

Trails to Texas Tranquility: Kayak Fishing shines at the Lighthouse Lakes Trail by Robert Sloan is a wonderful article about kayak fishing on the Lighthouse Lakes Trail.

There is a wondrous wetland of Mangroves hiding fish darting in crystal waters under the watchful eyes of the majestic mavens of the coast: heron, spoonbill, and crane.

These sites below might be helpful to you if you want to paddle the Lighthouse Lakes Trail.

Order a map of the Lighthouse Lake Trails from Shoreline Publishing (713-973-1627). The Lighthouse Lake Trails are an incredible experience for fisherman, kayaker, or naturalist.

Download a free GPS map of Lighthouse Lake Trails from the Travel by GPS site. Evidently, you NEED a guide or GPS to find your way out of the maze that is the Lighthouse Lakes Trail.

TexMaps has wonderful aerial photographs of the Texas coast, in which the coast and barrier islands in the photographs appear as exotic jewels. View this trail from above.

View a close-up map of the Lighthouse Lakes Trail at the Sea Kayak Texas webpage.
Safety Notes: Pack hat, sunblock, water, map and life jacket, camera, and GPS optional. Check wind speed and tide while planning your trip. You do not want to paddle in high wind or to be left behind when the tide goes out. Access the trail from the north side of the causeway and paddle across Aransas Pass. Follow the trail markers.

South Bay Paddling Trail
South Bay Paddling Trail is an eight-mile loop through shallow, tropical water at the very tip of Texas. The trail is bounded by the Rio Grande River, the Brownsville Ship Channel, spoil banks, and Brazos Island.

Christmas Bay Paddling Trail
Christmas Bay Paddling Trail offers outstanding coastal angling and bird watching opportunities within an easy commute of Houston. Paddle loops of 3.8, 10.3, and 19.1 miles through the largest stand of seagrass on the upper Texas coast.

Galveston Island State Park Paddling Trail
Galveston Island State Park hosts three paddling trails. Dana Cove (Lake Como) Trail begins at the end of the main park and continues 2.6-miles through the seagrass beds. Jenkins Bayou trail begins at the western end of Clapper Rail Road and takes paddlers 2.8 miles along the bayou and out to the marsh restoration terrace field. The 4.8 mile Oak Bayou Trail, accessed from the park road, covers areas of natural high marsh.

Mustang Island Paddling Trail
The Mustang Island Paddling Trail consists of the North Trail (8.5 miles), the Shamrock Loop (5.24 miles), and the Ashum Trail (6.8 miles). All of the trails follow the western shoreline of Mustang Island in Corpus Christi Bay and cover some of the best shallow-water fishing areas in Texas.

Armand Bayou Paddling Trail
The Armand Bayou Coastal Preserve hosts the Armand Bayou Paddling Trail, which wanders through the Armand Bayou Nature Center. Where coastal flatwoods forest and a coastal tallgrass prairie meet. View 220 species of birds and alligators up to 10 feet long.

Port O’Connor Paddling Trail
The Port O’Connor Paddling Trail consists of three trails (25+ miles). The Fishpond trail (12.3 miles) travels the edge of Espiritu Santo Bay to Saluria Bayou, where it joins South Loop Trail (8.28 miles). From Mule Slough, the Fish Pond and North Loop (4.82 miles) trails continue east toward the Gulf of Mexico and Lighthouse Cove, near the historic Matagorda Island Lighthouse.

Inland Paddling Trails
Luling Zedler Mill Paddling Trail
The Luling Zedler Mill paddling trail the first inland paddling trail. Parking is available at the entry and take out points and a shuttle vehicle can be left free of charge at either site.

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Great place in Texas to visit in your RV:

Luckenbach
We drove the leisurely Texas Hill Country back roads ramble through Wimberley to Blanco to Fredericksburg. We sidetracked so that we could see Luckenbach. The town, really just a dancehall, post office, and a creek, was made famous by the song Luckenbach, Texas, sung by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg is a town built by German immigrants in the mid-1800s. The town is laid out with precision: Main Street will accommodate a U-turn by a wagon pulled by a team of 16 horses; from the center of town toward the west, the first letter of each street spells out COME BACK; to the east from downtown, the first letter of each street spells WELCOME.

The center of Fredericksburg is the Marketplatz, and the heart of MarketPlatz is the Vereins Kirche (community church). The Vereins Kirche is now a museum with exhibits focusing on the history of the area and rotating photographic exhibits.

The historic part of Fredericksburg is anchored by The Admiral Nimitz Museum. There are many historic buildings in the downtown area. Surrounding neighborhoods sport log cabins and homes with gingerbread trim, shake shingles, and huge trees. Fredericksburg is a very clean and beautiful town.

Willow City Loop
You can drive the 13-mile long serpentine Willow City Loop, one of the wildest roads in Texas. As you descend into the canyon, you can see huge gray and pink granite boulders tossed around like the building blocks of some giant petulant child.

There are smooth stones scattered about the landscape. Legend has it that the smooth rocks are stars that fell into this valley.

Tall cliffs shade the dense undergrowth, natural grasses, and pools of water left by the rain. Cattle guards rattle your undercarriage but protected the horses, sheep, and deer that wander freely in this protected valley.

Enchanted Rock
There is a millennia of geologic history, including a serpentine quarry, before the road ended at Highway 16. Where Willow City Loop ends is a short drive to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Enchanted Rock is the most famous of the formations in the Enchanted Rock batholith (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion), and the second-largest rock mountain in the US.

Take a Ride on the F&N RR
You can follow the route of The Fredericksburg and Northern Railroad (F&N RR). This railroad reduced the commute from San Antonio to Fredericksburg from two weeks by wagon to one day by train. Expensive to build and maintain, the railroad was shut down as soon as highways made train travel obsolete.

As you leave Fredericksburg on 290E, turn right on Old San Antonio Road to retrace the path of the F&N RR.

Many farm homes, log cabins, and rock walls that predate the railroad remain today.

You pass ghost towns that were once thriving railroad towns: Cain City, Grapetown, and Bankersmith, to name the ones whose remains you may still view today. After Bankersmith you will notice you are steadily climbing. This is the divide between the watersheds of the Pedernales and Guadalupe Rivers. Once past Bankersmith, you will see the raised roadbed of the railroad. For the next ten miles, the road and the rail bed will cross many times.

Stop at the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area, about four miles past Bankersmith. Rather than climb the divide, the railroad engineers decided they must pass through this hill. The tunnel is now home to over 3000 Brazilian Free-Tail Bats.

Bridge to Nowhere
As you continue, you will come to a junction with FM 473. Continue straight ahead towards Comfort. Turn left at the first small road, River Bend Road. Continue on as the road narrows and sweeps toward the Guadalupe River. Soon you will see a railroad bridge, still standing proud after 100 years.

Continue on this River Bend Road and you will come to a low water crossing over the Guadalupe. From this vantage point, you may appreciate the size of this bridge.

Notice there is not a rail bed nor road leading to or from this bridge. The bridge leads to nowhere. It is but a phantom of the Fredericksburg and Northern Railroad, left behind when the tracks were pulled up in 1944 and shipped to Australia and Alaska.

To return to civilization you may continue on River Bend Road until it ends at a T. Go to the left and you will return to FM 473.

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River Authority Parks

There are many parks and sites to see that are not affiliated with the government. Some places are quasi-agencies, like the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) and Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA).

LCRA Parks
The Lower Colorado River Authority is charged with storing and selling water, generating electricity, preventing floods, and implementing reforestation and soil-conservation programs on the Colorado River. The drainage basin spans more than 42,000 square miles-about 16 percent of the total area of Texas. The Colorado River is the largest river entirely within the state of Texas.

Impounding water has the added benefit of providing lake and riverfront recreational opportunities.

Matagorda Bay
The Matagorda Bay Nature Park is destined to become a world-class birding destination! The unique river channel, the wetlands of the bays and estuaries, and the Gulf Coast are home to thousands of shorebirds, and many migrating birds, ducks, and geese are enticed to spend a season here. Where there are birds, there are fish and shellfish.

This area is already known as an incredible fishing spot and a wonderful environment in which to study wetland soils, vegetation, and hydrology, bays and estuaries, aquatic organisms, coastal dunes and flora, organisms of the salt marsh, and shoreline shells.

The nearby town of Matagorda has restaurants, lodging, shopping, fishing guides, boat rentals and many other attractions. For area information, please view the Visit Matagorda County website.

Outdoor Programs

Guided kayak trips
Beginning birding
Angler education
Boater safety
Scouting and other youth development programs
Teacher workshops and grade-appropriate educational programs
Facilities

Natural science center with classrooms and exhibits
Fishing along the shore and from four free public piers – three on the river channel and one on the Gulf
Beachcombing
Bird watching
Tent camping on the beach
22-mile beach with vehicle access
Trails and shaded wildlife viewing areas
Group pavilion and covered picnic shelters
Half-mile pedestrian beach
Restrooms and outdoor showers
Facilities meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
This park will fill a void in coastal parklands created when Matagorda Island changed from a State Park to a State Wildlife Management Area due to budgetary concerns. While the Matagorda Bay Nature Park is not as remote as Matagorda Island, this park does have facilities such as potable water, showers and toilets, and road access that was lacking on the Island.
RV Facilities

A new 70-site RV Park with full hookups is open. The RV Park is located along the Colorado River channel, within walking distance of the beach, the hiking trail, and the fishing pier; close to the natural science center, the group pavilion, and the picnic facilities.

GBRA Parks
Coleto Creek Park
The Coleto Creek Park and Reservoir, located midway between Victoria and Goliad, is a joint project between Coleto Creek Power and the GBRA.

At normal pool elevation, it covers 3,100 surface acres with 61 miles of shoreline. The Coleto Creek Reservoir is clear and there are oyster and mussel shells on the sand bottom.

Lots of fishermen are at this lake in February and March because the warmth of the water moves up the date for fish spawning.

Westcave Preserve
Driving down a blacktop country road in the Texas Hill Country, you come upon a private road, marked only with a pile of native stone and the words, Westcave Preserve. Westcave Preserve is part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve system and one of the premier sites for viewing the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.

Journey down the dusty road, past the picnic area and into the parking area for the Warren Skaaren Environmental Learning Center (ELC). The ELC functions as a visitor center and also offers classroom space for educational programs that are part of the mission of Westcave Preserve. The ELC is a sustainable building that uses geothermal heating and cooling, solar energy, and rainwater harvesting, and features an aperture in the ceiling through which sunlight crosses a meridian at noon each day.

The Journey

From the ELC you follow a crushed gravel trail along a limestone bluff, past grasslands scattered with wildflowers, ash junipers, oaks and the cacti typical of the Hill Country. Stop to view the Pedernales River from the wooden deck. Continue on the path to the head of the stairs that will lead you down to another time and place…

…full of Indian legends about a spiritual place, with prehistoric blind fish and a bottomless spring-fed pool. When you finally made your way to the cenote-type opening, you leave behind the merciless summer heat for the magical coolness of delicate ferns and waterfall mist. Sneaking through the speckled shadows, you slip quietly over the mossy rocks down to the alluring blue-green pool. Huge stalactites and stalagmites formed a toothy opening in the mouth like the main grotto, a believable place for legends… Once you reach the bottom of the stairs, you will notice that the temperature is dropping and the humidity is increasing as you enter the lush, almost tropical canyon. This unique microenvironment permits the growth of lush vegetation, including cypress, sycamores, mosses, ferns, columbine, and wild orchids. The golden-cheeked warbler, cedar waxwing, nutria, and ring-tailed cat also find refuge here. Journey to the collapsed grotto with twin waterfalls tumbling over a fern-covered travertine formation into a deep pool. You may walk behind the waterfall and view the enclosure formed when mineral deposits left by eons of water capped a limestone overhang.

Location of Westcave Preserve

Westcave Preserve perches above the Pedernales River in the Hill Country, close to Hamilton Pool, 11 miles from Pedernales Falls State Park, 20 miles from Krause Springs, and 30 miles west of Austin.

Tours of Westcave Preserve

Visitation to the Westcave Preserve canyon trail is by guided tour only to minimize the impact on this beautiful and fragile natural site.

Accessibility

The trail is accessible by wheelchair until you reach the stairs to the canyon floor. Visitors who are unable to make the trip to the bottom should return to the ELC, from which there is a self-guided tour to the picnic area.

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Care and Maintenance of RV Holding Tanks

RV holding tanks include the freshwater tank (drinking water), the black water tank (toilet waste), and the gray water tank (wastewater). This is one area of RVing that we usually do not worry about until it is too late! However, the fun is over if your RV stinks like sewage, your gray water is black, and your drinking water tastes nasty. Do not let this happen to you!

Black Water Tank
This is the septic tank, which holds the solid and liquid waste from the toilet. You may add commercially produced additives that assist the natural process of organic decomposition and cut down odors, you may just dump your tanks and rinse the tanks at every opportunity, or you may explore other methods. Read your owner’s manual for suggestions from the manufacturer of your RV.

Freshwater Tank
The freshwater tank holds your tap water which you use to bathe, clean dishes, flush your toilet, and drink. Some locales have water high in sulfur, which tastes and smells bad, or calcium, which may eventually clog your water pipes. Campgrounds may have a break in the water service line that allows groundwater to contaminate the fresh water. You should use a filter, an inexpensive way to keep your water healthy and clean.

Empty and clean the fresh water tank when you store your RV for the winter (or summer for you snowbirds). Next time you add water, you may want to add a few drops of bleach to the first tank. You may want to bring drinking water with you until this first tank is emptied.

Gray Water Tank
No matter how you spell it, your gray water tank holds wastewater from all drains in the RV except the toilet. Although not as aromatic as black water, gray water has a smell. We suggest emptying your gray water tank before you leave the campground. First, you do not need the added weight of over eight pounds per gallon; secondly, gnats and mosquitoes can breed in the water. After you empty the tank, put a gallon or so of fresh water and a few drops of bleach in the tank. This will move around while you drive. Flush this mixture out with water pressure when you arrive at the next campground before you fill your tank.

Venting Waste Water Tanks
The bacteria breaking down the organic material in the holding tanks naturally produce gases. Ensure these gases vent to the outside and not up through your drains. Keep your drains closed when not in use. In addition, you may buy a special vent or use this T-vent that you may build yourself.

Note: I have permission to print this method. This man swears by it and he has taken heat on forums to defend it. I thought it might be worthwhile for you to read.

Black and Gray Water Holding Tank Maintenance
Using Water Softener, Laundry Detergent, and Chlorine Bleach

RV owners should be concerned with maintaining its wastewater tanks. Problems with wastewater tanks can and should be avoided. Wastewater tank repair is expensive. Due to health concerns, many service facilities will not work on wastewater tanks and lines until the tanks have been completely emptied and sanitized. This may be quite difficult when the tank(s) is in need of repair. So, common sense dictates that the tanks should be kept relatively clean at all times. Additionally, improper use of the wastewater tanks can lead to a build-up of solid wastes, which in itself may cause the system to fail.

I’ve discovered very simple, effective, and inexpensive methods of maintaining my wastewater tanks in a relatively clean condition at all times. I developed these methods myself through my understanding of chemistry, physics, and biology with a smidgen of common sense thrown in for good measure. I also read my RV owner’s manual. Although we are not full-time RVers we use our fifth wheel camper for at least one weekend a month. We never use public bathing and toilet facilities. In other words, our wastewater tanks are fairly heavily used. Since I’ve met a number of RVers who don’t seem to know how to maintain their wastewater tanks I thought many RVers would find my tips useful. If you have not been maintaining your tanks I believe you will be pleasantly surprised the first time you employ these tips. I do these things and they work.

RVs are equipped with wastewater HOLDING tanks; NOT septic tanks. Those holding tanks are nothing more than chamber pots. Chamber pots should be cleaned and sanitized after their contents are disposed of. The Geo Method is based on this fact.

1. DUMP A FULL TANK

When you are camping and your RV is connected to a sewer/septic intake, leave the drain valves closed until the tank is full and ready to dump. Dumping a full tank provides a sufficient quantity of water to flush solids from the tank. Leaving the drain valves open allows the water to drain off without flushing out solid waste. That solid waste will collect in the tank(s) and cause problems over time. If your tanks are not full when you are ready to dump them, fill them with fresh water first, and then dump them.

2. DUMP TANKS IN ORDER FROM DIRTIEST TO CLEANEST

In other words, dump the black (commode) water tank first, then dump the galley tank, then dump the bathroom tank. This way you will be flushing out the dirtiest water with progressively cleaner water.

3. USE WATER SOFTENER, DETERGENT, and CHLORINE BLEACH

This stuff is amazing and it works. Buy a couple of boxes of powdered water softener at the grocery store. You’ll find it located with or near the laundry detergent products. I prefer Calgon Water Softener because it dissolves quickly in water. Cheaper water softeners work just as well but dissolve more slowly. Dissolve two (2) cups of the water softener in a gallon of hot water. Then, pour the solution down the drain into the empty tank. Use two cups of softener for each wastewater tank in your RV. The tank’s drain valve should be closed otherwise the softened water will just drain out. Then use the tank(s) normally until it is full and drain it normally. Add a cup of laundry detergent to the black (commode) water tank at the same time you add the water softener. This will help clean the tank. The gray water tanks should already contain soap through normal use.

Water softener makes the solid waste let go from the sides of the tanks. If you’ve ever taken a shower in softened water you know that after rinsing the soap from your body your skin will feel slick. That’s because all the soap rinses away with soft water. Softened water also prevents soap scum from sticking in the tub. Get the connection? With softened water, gunk washes away instead of sticking. The same thing applies to your RV’s wastewater tanks.

I use a clear plastic elbow connector to attach my sewer drain line to the wastewater outlet on my RV. It allows me to see how well things are progressing during a wastewater dump. Before I began using water softener regularly the black water tank’s water was brown, the galley tank’s water was brownish, and the bathroom tank’s water was white. The first time I added water softener to the tanks the water coming from the black water tank was actually black (not brown) and the kitchen tank’s water was also black (not brownish). The bathroom tank’s water remained white. That told me that the water softener had actually done what I had intended for it to do and made solid waste, which had been stuck to the interior of the tanks, let go and drain away. I added water softener (and laundry detergent to the black tank) to all the wastewater tanks for the next few dumps to be certain all the solid waste possible had been cleaned away. The wastewater only appeared black on the initial treatment. I now add water softener and detergent to each tank once after every few dumps to maintain the system.

Too little water softener may not be of sufficient concentration to work effectively. Too much water softener will NOT hurt the tanks. So, if the amount you used didn’t quite do the job, then use more the next time. Don’t forget the laundry detergent.

Occasionally, I pour a half-gallon of liquid bleach into each tank to deodorize, sanitize and disinfect them. I add the bleach when the tank is about half full, and then continue to use the tank normally until it is full and ready to dump. I no longer use the blue toilet chemical because it isn’t necessary. I have no odors coming from my black water tank. The chlorine bleach kills the bacteria, which is primarily responsible for wastewater tank odor. Generic brand liquid bleach is cheap and very effective.

4. USE A WATER FILTER ON YOUR FRESHWATER INTAKE LINE

Most freshwater contains sediment. Sediment will accumulate in your wastewater tanks and your freshwater lines. It also tends to discolor your sinks, tub/shower, and commode. I use the disposable type and have found that they eventually fill up and begin restricting the freshwater flow resulting in low pressure. That’s how I know it’s time to get a new filter. It works, it’s cheap, it avoids problems, do it. When I fill my freshwater tank I attach the filter to the end of the hose and fill the tank with filtered water.

SOME OTHER THOUGHTS

WATER, WATER, WATER – and more water! The Geo Method assumes you are hooked up to a plentiful clean water supply, and that you have access to a sewer. The water softener will make the gunk let go. That’s only half the battle. After the gunk lets go it must then be flushed through the relatively small drain opening in the bottom of the tank. That takes water. Lots of water. I use a Flush King (Google it) to make rinsing more effective and faster.

CAUTION should be used when mixing chemicals. All I did when I came up with The Geo Method was use normal laundry products (water softener, laundry detergent, and chlorine bleach) and put them in the holding tanks which already contain water. I was NOT experimenting with chemicals. I simply applied laundry chemicals in normal combination to the wastewater tanks. There are chemical products under your kitchen sink, in your laundry room, and in your garage that can injure or kill you when mixed. If you can do your laundry without harming yourself you can successfully employ The Geo Method. Don’t go playing around with novel chemical combinations concocted from household products.

What was novel about The Geo Method was not in the combination of chemicals (all household laundry products intended to be used in combination) but in their application in cleaning RV wastewater tanks. Common experience, if you’ve done laundry, tells you The Geo Method is safe. Doing laundry doesn’t damage your washing machine, rot out your plumbing, or destroy wastewater treatment systems. The Geo Method won’t either. However, substituting other cleaning agents may not be safe.

There’s nothing special or fragile about the materials used in RV plumbing. RV plumbing materials are made from the same stuff that household plumbing is made from. The problem arises in figuring out how to clean and sanitize the inaccessible interior of a holding tank. Water softener prevents gunk from adhering to the inside of the tanks, detergent removes the dirt, and chlorine bleach kills germs/odors. Soaking gives the chemicals time to work. Agitating the mix by driving down the road helps the process. Think of it this way; you can put some really nasty stuff in your washing machine, yet the inside of the washing machine doesn’t get dirty. It stays clean – right? The same goes for your automatic dishwasher. The same thing applies to RV holding tanks.

Those people who claim The Geo Method is somehow harmful just plain don’t know what they’re talking about. Their objections defy common sense and common experience. Anyone who thinks The Geo Method is harmful has a simple solution available to their simple-minded concerns – don’t use it. At one time, daily bathing was thought by some to be harmful to one’s health, and they argued against it advising others to remain dirty. Those who object to The Geo Method fall into the same category of enlightened thought.

Will The Geo Method work even if most of the time I’m NOT hooked up to water and sewer? YES! Just use common sense. If you dry camp ninety percent of the time just keep water softener and detergent in your tanks (especially the black tank) while you’re dry camping. This will keep gunk from sticking to the tanks. When you are hooked up to sewer and water take the opportunity to fill the tanks with fresh water and flush the tanks. Keep flushing them until the water runs clear. I know it works because I’ve done it.

Never put regular toilet tissue in your RV’s black tank. Only use toilet tissue that is approved for RV and/or septic tank use. Regular toilet tissue may eventually dissolve, but not before causing a clog in your black tank.

Occasionally traveling with partially filled wastewater tanks containing softened water and detergent promotes cleaning by agitating the water. The same goes for chlorine bleach.

I believe this process works faster and more efficiently during warm weather. However, I know it works well even during cool/cold weather.

The process works best the longer the water softener and detergent remains in the tanks. So, I don’t add water softener during periods of heavy wastewater generation. I wait until I know we won’t be generating wastewater quickly so that the softened water remains in the tanks for several days before dumping.

If you have an older RV you may have to use water softener and detergent several times initially to completely clean the tanks of residue.

I add a small amount of chlorine bleach to the freshwater tank twice a year to disinfect and sanitize the fresh water tank and freshwater lines. A weak chlorine bleach solution will not hurt you. However, it certainly makes the water taste bad. When we have chlorine in the freshwater system we use bottled water for drinking and cooking until the chlorine is gone. YES, we drink the filtered water that we have in the freshwater tank. NO, it has never tasted funny or caused any problems.

No, I do NOT do the ice cube thing. The Geo Method works just fine without ice cubes.

My tanks are plastic and my pipes are PVC.

Don’t be afraid to use your tanks. Just use common sense about their care and maintenance.

These tips are inexpensive to do. Some of them don’t cost anything. You have nothing to lose in trying them and I encourage you to do so. I actually feel a certain amount of pride in the condition and cleanliness of both my waste and freshwater systems. Naturally, these tips make dumping a much more pleasant and sanitary procedure.

If you have odors in any of your water systems these procedures should eliminate them. Odors indicate a sanitary problem and degrade the enjoyment you derive from your RV.

When my RV is parked and not in use I place stoppers in the sink and tub drains. This forces the wastewater tanks to vent through the vent pipes to the outside instead of through the drains into the RV. Water evaporates. Once the drain traps dry out during periods of non-use, nothing is there to prevent gasses (odor) from venting into the camper. Use stoppers when your RV is stored.

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RV content – gtg for website

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RV tips/ Prudent Motorhome Tips

Many people think if they know how to drive a car, they know everything the need to handle a motorhome. Whether you buy or rent, there is much you should know in addition to basic car information.

1. Securing Your RV – If you are going to be leaving your RV to go exploring, make sure you secure all the entries. Most people do this for windows and such, but remember any openings on the roof.

2. RV Rush Hour Driving – You may be tempted to keep trucking along even if you are in a big city during rush hour. I highly advise against this. Frustrated drivers can be vicious. You will also put a lot of wear and tear on your RV.

3. Winter RV Storage – If you store your RV in the winter months, you need to take something into account – water. Freezing water expands. Empty everything in your vehicle that contains water or you could be in for a nasty surprise.

4. Shop Around For Your RV – Whether renting or buying an RV, it is important to shop around. The quality of vehicles and prices vary widely by dealer. In this case, it is buyer beware.

5. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating – When evaluating an RV, it is important to understand how much weight it can take. This is known as the gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR. Do not exceed it!

6. Fast Lane RVing – First off, going 80 in an RV is very risky. Stay out of the fast lane. Even if you can handle it, you stick out like a thumb, which means tickets from your friendly highway patrol.

7. Rest Stop Sleeping – For some reason, rest stops tend to attract strange people. If possible, try to avoid sleeping at them. If nothing else, you will not get much rest.

8. RV Internet Shopping – Before you ever go to a dealer, you should go RV internet shopping. Look at the various models and prices to figure out what you like and can afford without suffering under the pressure of a salesman.

9. Class B Motorhome Prices – Class B motorhomes are better known as camper vans. They are essentially vans converted to your living needs. Prices range from $30,000 to $65,000.

10. RVs in Big Cities – In general, you should avoid trying to drive in big cities, particularly in congested areas such as downtown. Use your common sense. Do you really think a 30 footer is going to do well?

At the end of the day, a motorhome is definitely a great way to get out and experience the world. It offers freedom at a moment’s notice and enough money to fill up the gas tank. If you get a chance, give it a go at least once.

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Buying an RV

This article is meant to be helpful to any buyer of any motor home, fifth wheel, or travel trailer. It has been compiled from personal experience as well as research that has been summed up from other RV owners. Maybe this article will help save some dollars.

I suggest that you do your research from different manufacturer’s websites. This will help you gather information and ideas on different models and floor plans that are to your liking. Be sure to read all the RV forums, as this can be another resource to gather valuable information. List your priorities. Listen to everyone, then weigh their opinion even if they may have different priorities than you do. Choose what is important for your wants/needs and priorities list.

Your requirements may be different than others, like those bunk beds for your children or the grandkids. Maybe you want slide outs or a specific kitchen floor plan. Maybe it is laundry facilities in the vehicle. You may want a motor home, fifth wheel, or travel trailer. Or maybe it is that sports toy hauler trailer. Carefully consider, what you and your family’s, priorities are. Remember to consider the grandkids or any other family member, who may be traveling with you. How many people do you think will be traveling with you at one time?

Whatever you do, don’t compromise your priorities list. Don’t get a smaller vehicle that fits the budget better, thinking that you will just trade up in a couple of years. Remember that you can lose a lot of money on depreciation and wear and tear.

Decide what kind of RVer, you want to be. You may want to be a snowbird site-seer who parks for the winter, or maybe it’s a road warrior who has to travel long distances to see family members. This kind of knowledge will help you decide what models to be looking at. Some floor plans are better suited for travel than for parking because they have slider outs which are only used when parked. Remember that once the slide outs are closed you may have problems accessing certain locations within the motor home while you are on the road.

There are larger vehicles that are more like your house because they have two or more slide outs. When you are parked and you have the slide outs, you will have more living space. In some cases, it might be more square footage than the condo at home.

As a couple, you should decide on what you are willing to pay for the vehicle itself. That will give you a good starting place for your purchasing budget. Discuss upfront exactly how much cash you are willing to use as the down payment and how much you are willing to finance. In today’s RV market, there are some really good low interest offers right now. But you should decide what your home budget will allow you to spend on monthly payments. After all, you want to have the vehicle for years to come. Here again, use caution and know what you are signing. Read the small print. You do not want to break the piggy bank as you want to be able to afford those long trips to see those grandkids.

In today’s RV market, there are some great deals to be had if you want to cross border shop. Do your research upfront, so that you know what you are looking for and what kind of deal you are getting. If you find that special RV vehicle across the border, you should know that before you can take delivery of the unit, the vehicle must be paid for in full. Before you do any shopping across the border, go to your bank manager and arrange for the financing upfront.

While you are waiting to take delivery across the border, allow yourselves enough time, to make the appropriate bank transfers. This process can take a few days for the financing to be put into place. If you have given yourself the time to take delivery there will be a lot less stress. Dealerships have to because once the vehicle has crossed over the border, it is very difficult to get the vehicle back if need be. Besides, you will need the actual bill of sale, when you cross over the border.

Before you leave home, I would suggest that you check with your local RV dealership’s service department to find out what kind of service, you can expect from them, once you bring the RV vehicle home. You will want to make sure that they will work with you in maintaining your vehicle so that it is always roadworthy.

I have a friend, who found a fantastic deal from an RV dealership in California. He flew there to take delivery and drove it back home to Texas. About six months later when a couple of parts needed to be replaced, he went to the local RV service department to get them fixed.

He found that the customer service that he was offered was negligible. He was convinced that it was because he had not bought the motor home locally. He had to order the parts from his dealership in California where he bought the motor home and have the parts sent to him. Not only did the parts cost double, but he also had to find someone who was willing to install the new parts. I cannot say that this happens at every dealership but truly it was a nightmare for him. So that is why I suggest checking with your local RV dealership to find out what their policies are. Who knows? They may be willing to match or beat any special deal you have been offered. It may save you money in the long run.

Good luck with your search for that home away from home.

Enjoy your road experience.

Drive Safe and see you on the road.

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Purchasing an RV? – Here are some helpful hints.

When you are making your needs and wants list, for your preferred vehicle whether it is a travel trailer or a full motor home coach, here are some points to consider.

How many people do you need to be able to accommodate in your vehicle?

Do you want the vehicle for just short trips where you will drive to your destination, then park for a month? What kind of RVer do you want to be a Road Warrior or one who parks your vehicle in one spot for months at a time?

If you have a family you might want to consider renting a motor home for a holiday just to see if you and your family enjoy the RV experience.

Do you want a vehicle with special air-braking systems or not. Driving a motor home with air-brakes in Canada requires the owner to be certified on air-brakes. (It is a short 3-day course)

If you enjoy long-distance holidays where you drive across the country, then park near family or friends for a two week period, then you will have to decide what features within your motor home do you need to have available while driving.

What size of a bed would be appropriate for you, regular or queen?

Are you a snowbird who will be using your vehicle for long periods (5 winter months) of time on your road experience or will it be just short weekend trips?

How much space do you require for kitchen counter space (island area), dining, and living area?

While checking the kitchen counter space note how much food storage you might need as well.

How often do you need to run appliances? (Example: oven, stove, and washer/dryer?

What would suit you best, a dining table with chairs or a dinette booth?

How much privacy do you wish in your bedroom, washroom, or shower/bath?

Does anyone in your travel party require any upgrades like a wheelchair lift or modifications to the width of the door entrance to accommodate wheelchair etc. or possibly access to the washroom? This would include an upgrade in special chairs and or beds.

On the performance of the motor home: Consider that you may lose speed while you are going up-hill because of the load you may be carrying or pulling like the car behind the motor home. Can you handle this?

Consider how much fuel your tanks can hold and what kind of mileage you may get between fill-ups. This would also bring to mind how much you should check maps and plan your trip for fuel stops.

How much does your water (black and grey) tanks hold?

Do you have long pieces of luggage that would require pass-through storage areas?

Do you want your storage doors to open a certain direction (i.e. to the side or up like a bus)?

How many televisions do you want and where would they be?

Your entertainment station (i.e. Stereo, CD/DVD player) location?

Do you require any upgrades to the soundproofing in your vehicle? Some people require their TV and stereo turned up because they may have a hearing problem? (HINT: You might consider wireless headphones for yourselves. This would also work for TV sound as well.)

You may want to note where your television location is. You want to be able to watch your TV at eye level and straight on, rather than around the counter space, cooking island, or table. You do not want to be looking up at the television when it is hanging from the ceiling. Your neck will get sore.

Do you like or need a kitchen plus a refrigerator and or an entertainment center outside the vehicle? This would be for use when you are parked?

Be sure to check other options that a specific manufacturer may have to offer that you like and may not be on this list. You can add them to your needs and wants list.

How far between fill-ups (for fuel and water) will you be able to comfortably go. Some people like to be able to travel for long periods of time, like 1000 miles, and be self-sufficient for up to 5 days.

Know that the more wants and needs that you have of course the price goes-up so be reasonable.

If you are someone who has found a fantastic deal across the border you can find all the information and tips on how to import a vehicle into the US. Do your research on how to bring a vehicle across the border legally and without any hassles. Find the right regulations and forms that you need. See regulations on importing a vehicle.

While you are considering storage areas, make sure that you choose one, with the easiest access and give you the maximum storage area. That is why a lot of people like the pass-through storage area which has doors that lift up as they do on a bus. Just think it might even have room to park that small scooter that one of your travel companions, may need while you are on your holiday.

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A great American humorist once said, “The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket.” But when RV living is your way of life, saving every penny may not be as easy as you might expect. The following RV tips are sure to help you save, and even earn, money while enjoying the RV way of life.

Ways to save money

Get more bank for your tank. Enjoy better gas mileage by practicing these simple driving tips:

1. Slow down – The faster you drive, the lower your fuel economy will be.
Inflate – Proper tire inflation is a sure way to improve your gas mileage.
Lighten your load – Eliminating excess RV weight increases your fuel efficiency.

2. Stop and shop. Forget about stocking up on everything you need for your entire trip by buying in bulk beforehand. Instead, shop often and locally. You’ll not only reduce the weight of your RV and get better fuel economy but also save money by skipping the national chains and shopping for produce, meat, dairy, and other items at a local discount and dollar stores.

3. Eating in is in. Skip the restaurants and eat in. Your meals not only will be more affordable but also they will be healthier than those bought at the fast-food restaurants and old-fashioned diners along the highway.

4. Go green. Use plastic, not paper. Although paper products are easy to use and even easier to throw away, why not go green while on the road? While the initial investment of purchasing a set of washable and reusable dishes may cost more upfront, not having to continually purchase paper plates, cups and utensils will save in the long run.

5. Try “boondocking.” According to Jack and Julee Meltzer, authors of The Smart RVers Guide to Saving Money: Have More Fun RVing For Less Money, boondocking, or “dry-camping,” usually entails staying somewhere that offers no hook-ups (water and sewer) at little or no cost. Whether it’s a parking lot or in the desert on public land, some RVers only boondock. Most RVers, however, stay at a campground every few days in order to empty their tanks, do laundry and fill up on freshwater.

6. Make house calls. If boondocking isn’t your style, why not turn your RV road trip into an opportunity to visit with family and friends? Be sure to be respectful and always ask before showing up; however, most close friends and family would be delighted for an impromptu visit that doesn’t involve clean sheets and extra towels. Parking your RV in the driveway shouldn’t be a problem; just make sure to ask if there are any city ordinances requiring parking permits in the neighborhood.

7. Join the club. RV membership clubs like The Good Sam Club, KOA, Passport America, Camp Club USA, Happy Camper, and Escapees offer a wide range of benefits to their members, including substantial discounts on campground fees. Do your research before embarking on your journey to see what deals and discounts you can find for the road.

8. Get online. RV forums can be found on numerous websites. And while you’re surfing, try finding online coupons, codes, and discounts for all of your other necessary RV purchases.

9. Save money on storage by selling your stuff. Save that monthly storage unit fee and make some money at the same time. Before embarking on your road trip, hold a sale, and eliminate all of your unused belongings, then donate whatever is left to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army. In addition to a little extra income, you’ll receive a deduction on your taxes.

10. Investigate your policies. Research your insurance policies to ensure you are getting what you need at a price you can afford. Whether you’re looking at your RV insurance options or trying to find discount RV insurance coverage for your vehicle, sometimes changing your provider or premiums can save you money.

The RV lifestyle is one of the most affordable ways to travel and experience all that the country has to offer. Utilize these helpful tips for RVing on a budget, and make every dollar stretch for miles.

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My mom and dad recently bought an RV and they already had a boat, so we got right on planning a long weekend getaway for the fall. Well, it’s fast approaching and I am getting ready-making lists and starting to pack.

Hitching up the boat and RV is the guys’ job, but getting everything else is up to us gals. We plan the meals, prepare for rain or shine and create the itinerary to get the most family fun out of every trip. Here’s what we have planned for our trip to boat and RV:

Meals

Even with all the conveniences of the RV, we still want to keep meals pretty simple. Who wants to spend their precious vacation time cooking, right? We have a beef brisket we will smoke, hamburger patties made up to grill, and pork steaks. We are making potato salad, pasta salad and cole slaw for a few side dishes and we’ll have some chips. This is the nice part about RV traveling-we have the fridge there to store the stuff ahead of time. For breakfast, we have mostly danishes, donuts, and other grab and go items. On the last day we have biscuits and gravy, which we can also make beforehand. We also got the ingredients for s’mores and my sister will make brownies and rice Krispie treats.

Clothes

A fall trip is simply wonderful. Often it’s warm enough to enjoy boating and playing in the water a little, but cools off in the evening to make a campfire just perfect. You don’t sweat through dinner and the mosquitoes are all but a memory. However, you have to pack for all seasons. You may or may not need swimsuits and it’s just as likely you’ll need sweat suits and rain gear. So, to summarize, bring it all. Again, this is when it is super-handy to have the RV, there is so much more space to keep it all.

Itinerary

Like the clothing, you kind of need to prepare for it all. What will you do when it’s pouring down rain or freezing cold? Or what if the mercury is approaching 90 degrees? We are hoping for the best and preparing mainly for somewhere in the middle, which means a lot of hiking in the mornings and boating in the afternoons. But, we’re also ready to shift gears if swimming becomes possible or if we are trapped under tarps to stay dry. Scrabble by the campfire anyone?

A boat and RV trip are all about rolling with the punches and we all have a great attitude about going. We’ll have a great time, rain or shine. Taking the boat and RV may just be our best family vacation yet!

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If you and your family are planning for a trip, an RV will help you. Rent one for your first outing and then figure out what kind of RV is right for your family. There are class A, B, C, and fifth wheels. Add to that those that have to be pulled and those with storage for “toys” like motorcycles, bikes, and watercraft. There are RV’s with bunk beds for the kids and RV’s with room for just two. You can spend as much or as little money as you have available.

Maybe you want to start just a step up and get a pop-up camper. That’s a big step up from sleeping in a tent. You have your own air conditioning and, sometimes, even a bathroom. From there, the sky’s the limit; literally. Today’s RVs can cost as much as one million dollars each. Some are even equipped with garden tubs or Jacuzzis.

Once you have decided how much to spend and on whether you are either renting or buying your RV, it is time to decide where you are going to go in it.

The possibilities are endless.

First of all, you will need to know where you are going and plan what highways to use. Remember that an RV is a lot larger than a car and more difficult to handle in traffic. You might decide you would rather take the interstates and use a car to check out the smaller roads. When you figure out where you want to go and how to get there, you need to know where you are going to stay. You can’t park an RV just anywhere. Cities have ordinances about stopping overnight in parking lots and, in some states; you can’t even stop to sleep in a state rest area. You will need to know where the RV parks are that can handle your particular type of recreation vehicle.

Some parks only allow Class A RV’s; some cater to pop-ups or small pullers.

You will need to plot your travel based on how many miles you plan to drive per day. It is a good idea to take the RV out for a few trial runs before you set off on the big trip. Always remember that an RV needs extra turning room and has to make a wide swing to turn into a road or a parking lot. There are blind spots that you cannot see without making use of all your mirrors and your rearview camera. Always watch the other guy as closely as possible because you can’t stop an RV very quickly. When you do have to put on brakes, make certain your family is strapped in tightly because it is possible for things to go flying through the body of the RV if they aren’t secured well before travel.

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Vacation is always fun. Minus the expenses that the adults have to cover, people go on vacations for various purposes. While flying is the faster way to go, traveling by land can be just as fun and you wouldn’t even notice the time passing by as you get to enjoy the sights. But if you’re tired of the whole sightseeing thing, there are other ways on how to make your road trip go by faster while you are in the car. Here are some suggestions on what you can do on your next road trip.

– Play games – Nobody is too old for fun games! Whether you are traveling with the family members in different age brackets or a road trip with your young at heart friends, there are games that you can do inside the car that can provide hours of entertainment, fun, and laughter. You can bring prizes with you too. They can be real prizes or just fun silly prizes.

The game can be about plate numbers you see, the sights you see outside the window, games about music, and many more.

– Music trip – You can have fun for hours listening, or better yet, singing along with your favorite tunes. Pop in a CD or connect your iPod and there will never be a sleepy moment inside the car. You can even turn this into a game similar to Don’t Forget the Lyrics, or the classic Name That Tune.

– Mini comedy club – Turn your car into a mini-comedy club! Have a round-robin of takes and have each other bring out his favorite jokes or tell some of your funniest stories.

– Food trip – All those laughs and singing can get you really hungry. Stock up on snacks in the car so you can immediately have a bite when you want to.

– Photo ops – If you see a great sight, and there will definitely be plenty, hop out of the car and take souvenir photos.

– Stopovers – Apart from using the bathroom, make your stopovers a food trip experience to try and explore the different food offerings from a different area.

Try to stay away from the typical fast food places such as McDonald’s. Take this as an opportunity instead to try out something new and exciting for your palette.

– RVs – Use RVs if you can so your road trip can have an element of camping adventure in it. Especially for long drives, RVs can provide homey comfort to some extent. With an RV, you can go just about anywhere, even the woods or the desert.

– Lastly, follow traffic rules. It’s not fun to be getting tickets in every city you run into so obey traffic laws and you should be well on your way to vacation and road trip fun.

As they say, sometimes it’s not about the destination, but it’s about the journey. Have a fun-filled road trip that family and friends will look forward to year after year. What is truly important on a road trip is your sense of adventure, and being able to say yes and have fun when the opportunity presents itself.

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Holy huge – Texas is massive. And there are actually signs as you go in saying don’t mess with Texas. We didn’t get to see anywhere near as much as we wanted in Texas due to weather, but it sure did deliver in terms of fun for what little time we were there. Big thanks to a friend for recommending Fredericksburg and to other friends for showing us a great time in Houston. We were a couple of hours outside San Antonio when we saw a sign for Fredericksburg and remembered our friend talking about it being a decent wine country. My wife quickly jumped onto harvesthosts.com to find a winery in the Fredericksburg area where we could stay the night. Harvest Hosts is an RV club that has relationships with wineries, breweries, farms, and museums across the country that allow people in RV’s to stay the night on their land free of charge. Pay the annual membership fee and you get access to the country-wide directory. It’s been a lot of fun so far and is nice to break up just staying in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Anyway, we stayed at Messina Hof winery and obviously went straight in to start tasting some wine after we parked. Several bottles later we left the Messina Hof cellar door, dropped the bottles off in the motorhome, and walked down the road to the next winery for another tasting. Another bottle later we made our way back to the motorhome. Hearing about some of the good German food in downtown Fredericksburg while in the wineries, we clearly had to go sample some of it for dinner. The weather was a little questionable so we just drove the motorhome into town and parked at the visitor center. That way, if we had a little too much to drink with dinner our beds would be walking distance away! We went to the Auslander Restaurant and it was awesome. My wife had some stuffed cabbage and I went straight for the brats.

While walking back to the motorhome after dinner, we walked past a sign pointing down a staircase to a basement advertising breakfast. So after looking at that menu, we were going to have to make a stop back through town in the morning for breakfast. What a fantastic decision that was! My wife ordered the duck hash; basically an eggs benedict but instead of English muffins and ham under the eggs and hollandaise it was a bed of homestyle potatoes with duck topped off with eggs and hollandaise. Now go get a towel because if you’re not drooling on your keyboard yet, you’re about to. I ordered a steak benedict. Yes, that’s right. It’s exactly what you’re thinking. Everything that’s great about eggs benedict was there except the ham was replaced with two medium-rare cuts of sirloin. If you want some good wine, good food, and a nice small-town atmosphere where everything is 5 minutes drive away, Fredericksburg is the place. We loved it.

Leaving Fredericksburg I remembered that a guy I went to high school with was living in Houston now. I hadn’t seen or talked to him in probably 8 or 9 years but I got his number from another friend and told him we were going to be passing through Houston late afternoon. I asked him if he was around and up for dinner or a beer and as luck would have it, there was a Wal-Mart less than a mile from his house for us to park the RV.

He picked us up on his way home from work about a half-hour after we arrived at the Wal-Mart and went to the Red Robin around the corner for a beer. While in the middle of catching up on what each other had been up to for the last 8-9 years, he read a text on his phone and said “I don’t know if you guys would be into it and it might not work out, but my buddy is trying to score 4 tickets to the Rockets game tonight through work.” Of course, we were up for it. Within about 15 minutes, he got another text saying that he got the tickets and that we were on for the game! My wife was going to get to see her first professional basketball game. Not a bad way to start our time in Houston.

What an awesome time that was. Free tickets, drinks, and food for the whole game then went out to a couple of bars after the game. It was a really close game and the only thing that would have been better would have been if the Astros could have closed the game out with a win.

The only downside was that it was a Wednesday night and my friend had a 7:30 meeting the next morning. It might not have been that bad but after we finally made it back to the RV, Luke and I decided that we’d stay up drinking and solving all the world’s problems until about 3 AM. He was hurting the next day but made his meeting. While that poor guy was sweating alcohol at his 7:30 meeting, My wife and I had the couch folded out into a bed watching movies, eating microwave pizzas, and drinking Gatorade. I’m pretty sure she saved my life that morning. She got up before me, gave me a handful of pills, and put me back to sleep. She woke me back up about an hour later with a bag of Cheetos, 32 oz. Gatorade, frozen pizzas, and a couple of Red Box movies…could somebody be any more perfect?! I suggest not.

My friend and I were texting throughout the morning while he was struggling through his work day when he remembered that his fiance was heading to the Maranda Lambert concert at the rodeo with some of her girlfriends. My wife had never been to a rodeo so of course, we were in. So night two in Houston we headed for the Astrodome where the Houston Rodeo was being held. We paid $18 for a full entry that got us into the carnival, rodeo, and Maranda Lambert concert. That’s a lot of entertainment for $18. Before we got into the rodeo, Luke took us down the food section which was about a 200-yard long section of southern BBQ vendors….I was in heaven. If somebody would have had a wheelchair handy, I would have let them all go into the rodeo and I would have happily wheeled my fat ass up and down that row to every vendor I could handle.

The rodeo was great and I got to see Chuckwagon racing for the first time which was awesome. During the concert after the rodeo was finished, my wife said she’d never been to a live concert before either! Two nights in Houston and we’d checked three firsts off for her. She has set the bar pretty high though with great seats and free entry to watch a good game, seats near the bull chutes at the Houston Rodeo, and her first concert being Maranda Lambert! Not a bad start. Again though, my friend and I took on another late night/early morning of drinking and problem solving with a group of his friends. At least this time he didn’t have a 7:30 meeting and was able to go into the office a little later. My wife was a little smarter than we were, not a big surprise there, and opted out of our shenanigans.

For our last night in Houston, my wife and I really wanted to get some good BBQ while we were in Texas so my friend and I figured we’d take Friday night a little easier and just head out for some dinner. Our friends took us out to Rudy’s. I thought they must have needed fuel when we turned into a gas station but then I saw the sign on the wall for Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ so we were obviously in the right place. I could not believe it. You order your meat by the half-pound, grab your beers out of the ice-filled steel tubs, and spread it all out on a piece of paper on the table to start eating. The four of us all had drinks and ate brisket, ribs, pulled pork, sausage, potato salad, and beans until we could hardly move. All that for only $15/person! The price was great and the taste was even better. Best BBQ I’ve ever had!

We went to a bar for a cleansing ale after dinner then finished the evening back at the RV bullshitting and having a few more cleansing ales for our last night in Houston. Just when we thought we were finished, they said we had to go get breakfast the next morning at Summit Donuts before we hit the road. We hadn’t been led astray yet, so of course, we were in! After a jalapeño kolache (pastry stuffed with sausage, egg, jalapeño, and cheese) followed by a melt in your mouth glazed donut that makes Krispy Kreme taste like a stale turd, we were ready to hit the road for New Orleans.

Thanks again my friends taking the time to show us around Houston and hang out while we were in town, especially on such short notice. Next time we’ll let you guys know more than two hours out that we’re coming. Looking forward to our next trip out your way!

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