Enter the 2014 Texas Parks and Wildlife Photo Contest

If you love being behind the camera, there’s still time for you to pull your camper trailer to a state park and take photos for this year’s Texas Parks and Wildlife Photo Contest.

Photo Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife

Photo Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife

Between March 1 – April 15, 2014 enter photos of your most playful moments in a Texas State Park. Winning photos will be published in Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine and three will receive a $300 high-performance video camera – the HERO3+ Silver Edition GoPro®.

Contest categories are: Photos by Kids 17 and under; photos by Adults 18+, and Instagram photos.

For all the details, visit Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Photo Contest Page.

And if you’re looking for a new travel trailer, fifth wheel, or toy hauler that will bring you even more family fun, visit Camper Clinic in Rockport, or Camper Clinic II in Buda. Both offer a LIFETIME WARRANTY on every new rv!

Airstream Interstate Best Selling Touring Coach

AIRSTREAM INTERSTATE REMAINS TOP SELLING TYPE B MOTORHOME MODEL FOR THIRD YEAR IN A ROW

Jackson Center, Ohio (February 19, 2013) – Airstream announced today the brand’s popular Interstate is the #1 selling Type B motorhome in the U.S. for the third year in a row, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.

2014.5_Interstates_Color_Choices_Web

In 2013, Airstream Interstate unit sales increased 48 percent over 2012 – nearly three times the overall segment growth which was up 15.9 percent year over year. The Interstate now has nearly 23 percent market share in the touring coach segment.

“The momentum we gained in 2011 and 2012 has carried us for another year,” said Airstream CEO and President Bob Wheeler. “To keep things rolling, we unveiled a new Interstate model at the end of 2013 in an effort to enhance the product and experience for our buyers. We think these changes will only magnify interest as we move into 2014.”

The Airstream Interstate motorhome continues the tradition of extraordinary design and handcrafted quality that has made Airstream a style classic for 82 years. It serves as a fuel-efficient, luxurious and safe way for travelers to explore the open road and includes nearly two dozen “Best in Class” Mercedes-Benz features, enhancements and a renewed commitment to safety and refined luxury. The Interstate has a MSRP of $146,300, and $149,006 for the EXT model.

Our dealers are also very instrumental to the success of the Interstate, and we appreciate their hard work over the last three years in helping Airstream maintain the top retail spot for B Vans,” said Wheeler. Camper Clinic II is proud to be one of those dealers, and among the top dealers in the nation.

Airstream had a record-setting 2013, making it the best-selling year in the company’s 82-year history. The demand for Airstream’s design-driven products led to the company’s largest backlog in more than 30 years.

Get a Lifetime Warranty with your New RV

Camper Clinic II now offers  a Lifetime Warranty on Every New RV

Campfire_and_Guitar_WebWhen I bought my first Airstream RV in 2008, I’d have loved to have had a lifetime warranty for my new RV. I was new to the RV lifestyle, so I had lots of questions and concerns. But I knew I loved travel and the outdoors. I also knew I was at a point in my life where I would appreciate a few creature comforts. I quickly learned how to operate and maintain my RV, and that RV gave me lots of happy family memories I wouldn’t trade for the world. But the peace of mind that came with the warranty would’ve been awesome.

The great news is that my next RV will come with a lifetime warranty, because starting today, Camper Clinic II will be including the RV Warranty Forever program with every new RV they sell (including Airstreams!).

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering, “What does it cost?” and “What’s the catch?”

RV Warranty Forever Lifetime Warranty

The warranty is included at no additional charge, and there is no catch. It’s very straightforward. Here’s how it works:

  • You do have to perform annual maintenance on your RV. (Yes, it has to be done professionally. No, it doesn’t have to be done at Camper Clinic II, although they’ve got a great service department.) We all do it for our cars and trucks – we can certainly do it for our RVs as well.
  • Send your Annual Maintenance Record Coupon to RV Warranty Forever.
  • That’s it. You’re now covered for as long as you own your RV. There’s no deductible, and the program pays 100% parts and labor for the covered components.

Check out the details of what’s covered in the video below!

This lifetime warranty is backed by the largest A-rated insurance company in the automotive industry, so you can buy your next RV from Camper Clinic II with confidence.

To learn more, call Camper Clinic II: 800-781-7848, or visit them at 15855 South IH-35 in Buda, TX. They’ll also be at the Boat and RV Show in Austin January 16-19!

~ G. Elaine Acker

How to Carve a Pumpkin

It’s not too late to head out to the local pumpkin patch, grab a pumpkin, and create an impressive jack-o-lantern to decorate the house or RV. Using a stencil, you can carve like a pro, and impress everyone at the RV park!

Pumpkin Stencils1. Shop for a stencil and tools. You can find these at almost any drug or discount store.

2. Cut the pumpkin topUse a large, sharp butcher knife to carefully cut the top out of the pumpkin. You can create a circle, angling the knife toward the center of the pumpkin so that the lid fits snugly, or use a zig-zag pattern.

3. Remove the pumpkin seeds and “guts.” Scrape the inside of the pumpkin on the side where you intend to carve your design to make the wall thinner and easier to carve.

Choose a pumpkin stencilStencilScrape the pumpkin

 

 

 

 
4. Choose a stencil. How ambitious are you? There are easy designs for beginners and complex patterns for experts.

5. Tape the stencil to your pumpkin and use the small plastic hole punch to transfer the design to your pumpkin.

6.Carve the pumpkin Remove the stencil and carve, carve, carve. Refer to your stencil to determine which parts of your design are cut away from the pumpkin, and which remain intact.Carved bat pumpkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Put a candle inside the pumpkin and impress your RV neighbors!

Glowing PumpkinsP.S. Fall means there are great deals available at Camper Clinic in Rockport, and Camper Clinic II in Buda. Shop online right now!

Discover Texas History in your RV

As autumn arrives and leaves begin to turn, you’re probably thinking about your next RV road trip. As you plan your route, don’t forget that the colorful and unique story of Texas – from its prehistoric times through Spanish colonialism, the republic’s fight for independence from Mexico, post-Civil War era and into the 20th century – unfolds through guided tours and special events at more than 50 historic sites within the state parks system.

October is Texas Archeology Month, which celebrates the state’s archeological heritage through  demonstrations, lectures and dozens of public events held at historic sites throughout the state, including a number of Texas State Parks.

Photo: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Photo: Texas Parks & Wildlife

When you take your RV to state parks this month, you’ll find not only some of the best Native American pictographs in the nation at such places as Big Bend Ranch State Park, which on Oct. 12 is hosting a guided hike to one of the Big Bend region’s best rock art panels, but also compelling presentations on archeology (Lockhart , Oct. 5), flintknapping (Copper Breaks, Oct. 5) and 19th century pioneer and ranching life (Caprock Canyons, Oct. 19).

The video below features historic Fort Leaton.

On Oct. 4, Houston area families, friends, veterans and others can play air/sea/land games aboard the historic Battleship TEXAS. Others who prefer a more literal “taste” of living history in the outdoors can experience a slice of early Texas farm life at such historic sites as Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site’s Barrington Farm, Lyndon B. Johnson State Park’s Sauer-Beckman Farm and Cedar Hill State Park’s Penn Farm.

Many state parks and historic sites this month also offer guided tours of 19th century missions, military frontier forts and Civilian Conservation Corps structures or host special history events reflecting such topics as state’s ranching heritage. On Oct. 19, Hill Country State Natural Area near Bandera will host its annual Ranch Heritage Day and Copper Breaks State Park near Quanah invite the public to “Meet the Longhorns,” member of the official State Longhorn Herd.

For a full list of featured October state park events and their locations, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s activities calendar.

Visit Texas Parks and Wildlife online to reserve your RV camping spot today!

Volunteering for Parks and Campgrounds

If you’ve been enjoying your RV for any time at all, you’ve probably noticed “Park Host” signs in your favorite state parks and campgrounds. These kind people are usually volunteers who live in the park, make life easier for the park staff, and are a huge help to RV travelers.

TPW Volunteer

Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife.

If you’ve considered volunteering, here are some resources that may be helpful.

1. Texas Parks and Wildlife has an extensive volunteer program. Whether you’re interested in a Park Host position, or want to offer your services as a tour guide, your gift of time can help stretch the parks’ budgets!

2. Likewise, the National Park Service has opportunities available at parks across the country through their Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program. Download their brochure and read all about it.

3. Finally, many private parks offer volunteer opportunities. For example, KOA has a Work Kamper program for seasonal volunteers. Like the National Park Service, KOAs offer opportunities to work anywhere in the country.

Besides making a difference in the great outdoors, RV volunteers also enjoy discounted or free camping fees.

Are you a volunteer? Where are you volunteering? What’s your specialty? Be sure to post a pic or send us a postcard from the road!

~ Elaine

TPWD’s Youngest Elite Angler

Keatyn Eitelman of Pottsboro became Texas’ 25th Elite Freshwater Angler—and the state’s youngest—on August 2, 2013, less than two weeks before his eleventh birthday. He finished this task when he caught a 21.25-inch, 5.5-pound largemouth bass from Lake Texoma on July 23 and submitted it for a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Big Fish Award.

11-year-old Keatyn Eitelman is Texas's youngest elite angler. (Photo by TPWD)

11-year-old Keatyn Eitelman is Texas’s youngest elite angler. (Photo by TPWD)

An Elite Angler is a one-time achievement award for an angler who catches trophy-class fish of five different species, and it’s the perfect pursuit for those who enjoy RV camping in Texas State Parks. There are freshwater and saltwater categories. To be eligible, an angler must earn five freshwater or five saltwater Big Fish Awards. A Big Fish Award is given for a fish meeting or exceeding a minimum length for each species.

Keatyn began his quest on November 28, 2012, when he caught a blue catfish measuring 39.25 inches from Lake Texoma.  Encouraged by his father, Nailen, Keatyn proceeded to collect Big Fish Awards from Lake Texoma for white bass (16.5 inches, December 2, 2012), smallmouth bass (18.5 inches, December 11, 2012), and his largemouth bass.  He also caught a white crappie (18.25 inches) from Lake Fork on March 10, 2013.

The fishing can be good at South Padre. And the sunrise isn't bad either. Photo by Earl Nottingham, TPWD

The fishing can be good at South Padre. And the sunrise isn’t bad either. Photo by Earl Nottingham, TPWD

TPWD offers plenty of prime RV camping spots statewide, and many ways to be recognized as an angler: state and water body records by weight, catch and release records by length, First Fish Awards, Outstanding Angler, Big Fish Awards, and Elite Angler. Visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishrecords for all the listings and an application.

 

If you catch a fish you think qualifies, remember to take good pictures of the fish to aid in identification. If the award is based on length, one of the pictures must show the fish on a ruler. Don’t forget to take pictures of yourself holding the fish, too. You’ll want them for TPWD, and it would be fun to post them for your RV friends on Camper Clinic’s Facebook page too!

Your local TPWD fisheries biologist will be happy to help you obtain forms, identify your catch and weigh it on a certified scale. Search for the biologist nearest you at http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/management/biologist/.

Some grocery stores will weigh fish for you, and bait shops or feed stores may have certified scales. Locations of certified scales can be found at https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/programs/fishrecords/scales.phtml.

Official Toyota ShareLunker Program Weigh and Holding Stations also have certified scales; locations are listed at http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/sharelunker/holding/. The fish must be weighed within 3 days of the catch. However, weigh the fish as soon as possible to prevent any weight loss due to regurgitation or dehydration.

If you’re working on your saltwater categories, be sure to visit Camper Clinic in Rockport for all your RV needs. Or if you’re fishing the Hill Country lakes, drop by Camper Clinic II in Buda. We’re here to help you with all your RV needs so you can stay focused on the fish!

RV Camping at your Favorite Swimming Hole

Take your RV to your favorite Swimming Hole!

Tubing on the Blanco River. (Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife)

Tubing on the Blanco River. (Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife)

With temperatures around the state hitting the 90’s and 100’s, our friends at Texas Parks and Wildlife just reminded us that there are lots of great swimming opportunities while you’re RV camping in Texas State Parks.

From spring-fed rivers, to Hill Country lakes (near our Camper Clinic II store in Buda), to the Gulf (don’t forget to visit Camper Clinic RV Super Center in Rockport!), you can play in the water and keep cool while getting back to nature.

In the Austin area, state parks such as McKinney Falls, Inks Lake and Pedernales Falls offer an array of rivers and lakes in the heart of the Hill Country.

Swimming at Garner State Park

Fun times at Garner State Park! (Photo: TPWD)

In East Texas near Houston, Huntsville State Park and Lake Livingston State Park are ideal destinations for river and lake swimming. If wading close to shore on the open ocean seems more ideal, Galveston Island State Park offers beach access to the Gulf of Mexico.

Near Dallas, Eisenhower State Park, Fairfield Lake State Park and Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway offer park visitors a chance to swim in the soothing waters of those lakes, cool off and enjoy a break from the bustle of the city.

In the San Antonio area, Guadalupe River State Park and Palmetto State Park give park visitors a chance to go for a dip and beat the south Texas heat.

In West Texas, Balmorhea State Park is the home of one of the world’s largest spring-fed pools, with water so clear that many people bring their snorkel gear to experience the underwater world first hand.

For a whole list of State Park RV camping facilities, swimming holes and swimming safety tips, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

Happy splashing!

Tour Texas Chili Cookoffs in your RV

Experience Texas’s chili cookoffs from the comfort of your RV.

Judging Chili Cookoff

Who knew judging chili could be such hard work?

Last Saturday, my hubby and I served as judges for the Lone Star Resort‘s annual chili cookoff.

Held in Austin, it was a Chili Appreciation Society sanctioned event that allows participants to earn points that will enable them to compete in the International Chili Championship in Terlingua.

I never fully appreciated the complexities of chili judging before last weekend! My hat’s off to our host and event organizer, Ken Rodd. I learned a lot, and thought you might enjoy a few fun facts about chili cooking and judging, and the drama of chili cookoffs.

Frank Tolbert, who published the book, A Bowl of Red, in 1953, was one of the founders of the Terlingua cookoff.  Click on the photo for Frank's recipe.

Frank Tolbert, who published the book, A Bowl of Red, in 1953, was one of the founders of the Terlingua cookoff. Click on the photo for Frank’s recipe.

Rules for the Chili Cooks

CHILI MUST BE COOKED FROM SCRATCH – “Scratch” is defined as starting with raw meat. No marinating is allowed. Commercial chili powder is permissible, but complete commercial chili mixes (“just add meat” mixes that contain pre-measured spices) are NOT permitted. (Right. If I’m at a chili cookoff, I’m expecting something far more exotic than I can whip up at home with the help of my friend Wick. No offense, R.I.P. Wick.)

NO FILLERS – Beans, macaroni, rice, hominy, or other similar ingredients are not permitted. (I guess there really is a rule about NO beans in Texas chili!)

PYROTECHNICS – No chili contestant may discharge firearms or use any pyrotechnics or explosives at a chili cookoff. Contestants discharging firearms and/or using explosives or other pyrotechnics will be disqualified from the chili cookoff. (I don’t even want to know what happened that resulted in this written rule!)

Rules for the Judges

JUDGING CRITERIA AND SCORING – A single score takes into consideration the five criteria for scoring chili: Aroma, Consistency, Red Color, Taste, Aftertaste.

TABLE MONITORS – Each judging table will have a knowledgeable table monitor to instruct judges, control table talk, answer questions, and enforce CASI judging rules. Discussion of the chili will not be permitted at judging tables. (And as we learned, spouses are not allowed to sit together.)

INSPECTION OF CUPS – It is the responsibility of table monitors – especially on the preliminary tables – to remove each lid, look at the chili, and check each cup for interior marks and fillers before placing the chili on the table for judging. (Chili judging IS an exact science. If you want to read even more rules and try to understand how the chili cups are assigned to judges and distributed, good luck! Here’s the link to the rules!)

The Drama

It took three years, from 1967 to 1969, to crown the first cookoff winner. Held in Terlingua, the first cookoff was declared a draw, and the results of the second were never known, since after a secret ballot vote, the ballot box was stolen at gunpoint and thrown into a mine shaft. In 1969, C.V. Wood, Jr., the man who built Disneyland for Walt Disney, entered and was crowned champ.

As is usually the case with human nature, chili politics eventually split the cookoff into bickering groups. Today, the two main groups that have evolved are: The Chili Appreciation Society, and the International Chili Society, which is based in California.

From the Texas RV traveler’s perspective, I think I’d rather leave the politics at home. I just want to enjoy the road trip, have fun camping, watch the showmanship, and taste some awesome chili. If you agree, you can check out the upcoming chili cookoffs on both societies’ websites above and start planning!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Lone Star Resort Front BuildingP.S. If you’re planning a trip to the Austin area, be sure to make a reservation with our friends at Austin Lone Star Resort. They did a fantastic job with this year’s chili cookoff – as always! The park is conveniently located right off I-35 in South Austin, and once you’re under the shade of those gorgeous oaks, you’ll forget the freeway is even there.