Discover Texas’ Magical Holiday Lights Displays

This morning, I was reading fellow RV traveler Vickie Medley’s funny Bah Humbug post about her latest trip to Walmart. The holidays often turn into a full-contact sport, and it made me wonder, “Is there still a place where it still possible to skip the chaos and soak in the magic of the holidays?”

Photo credit: Johnson City Chamber of Commerce

I didn’t have to think long before I realized that for me, the magic is still there in the colorful lights that transform our everyday yards, courthouses, and parks into wonderlands. So yes, there are lots of places to enjoy in Texas!

I looked up three of my favorite lights displays and included them below. And I’m also including some links to other festivals and light displays from our friends at Texas Co-op Power Magazine and Texas Highways.

 

Snowman in lights

Photo credit: Marshall Wonderland of Lights

Marshall’s Wonderland of Lights

This was the courthouse that came to mind. I’ve spent many memorable evenings at Marshall’s Wonderland of Lights, and I know there’s a full schedule of festival activities planned through the end of December. Maybe you’d want to try taking the travel trailer to Caddo Lake State Park on this trip?

Hill Country Regional Christmas Trail

If you’re traveling the Hill Country this month, you’re in luck. Several communities have collaborated to create the Hill Country Regional Christmas Lighting Trail.

I haven’t done the whole trail, but I’ve spent time in Johnson City. I think it’d be great to take the camper to Pedernales State Park or Blanco State Park and venture out from there!

 

Kemah Boat Parade

Photo Credit: Claire Kemah.net

Kemah Boat Parade

When I lived in Houston, one thing that added excitement to my holiday was the Kemah Boat Parade. There’s just something weird and wonderful about seeing a boat decorated with holiday lights. I haven’t camped there, but just looked online and found Marina Bay Resort and it looks wonderful!

And there’s so much more going on across Texas this month! The events posted on the Texas Highways and the Texas Co-op Power sites list lights and festivals from Galveston to The Colony, so there’s plenty of holiday spirit to go around.

Try to relax and re-discover the magic! Have you decorated your RV for the holidays? Send us a photo! And, feel free to send us your favorite events and lighting displays to add to our list!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Celebrating Veteran’s Day with Warriors RoadTrip

Camper Clinic II launches its latest campaign to provide outdoor experiences for America’s heroes

American Flag

 

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.
~ Elmer Davis

 
This Sunday, November 11, is Veteran’s Day. And I’ve been thinking about ways that those of us in the RV community can celebrate our veterans’ bravery, not only on Sunday, but all year long. With this in mind, Camper Clinic II is launching a new campaign to support Warriors RoadTrip Network.  This incredible organization offers outdoor opportunities for veterans, as well as our dedicated men and women of law enforcement, fire departments, government agencies, Veterans and children with special needs.

Photo credit: Warriors RoadTrip Network

I look forward to sharing their stories during the coming weeks, and you can help make these outdoor experiences possible with a simple click. For every new “Like” on the Camper Clinic II Facebook page between now and December 9, we’ll add $1 to a donation to Warriors RoadTrip. Please “Like,” and “Share!”

Every day, we have valuable opportunities to honor and support our veterans, both active and civilian, and here are some ways we can show our appreciation:

Say “Thank You”

Simply thank the veterans in your life and your community, with words or even with a handshake or a hug. I find veterans among my fellow campers at almost every stop. Another simple yet profound way to thank our service men and women is through Shutterfly’s Thank the Troops Campaign. Shutterfly’s Facebook App lets you send a free thank you card to service members overseas and in VA hospitals. You can also send a care package to troops, and there are a number of organizations that help make this easy. Google “send a care package to troops” to get a comprehensive list.

Arlington National Cemetery

Take part in a local Veteran’s Day observance or ceremony

From parades, to moments of silence, to terrific deals especially for vets, there are fun and meaningful events planned across the U.S. for the whole family. Vetfriends lists hundreds of ceremonies happening all across Texas or wherever you happen to be on your road trip.

Support military charities or service organizations that directly support our veterans and other heroes

From outdoor experiences to clothing to educational opportunities to mental health services, there are a wealth of opportunities to help make a difference in the lives of active-duty and retired military personnel. Warriors RoadTrip is a great place to start!

To all of our American veterans: Thank you!

~ Contributed by blogger G. Elaine Acker and

 

 

 

 

F1 Fever in Austin

RV Camping at the Newest Formula One Track Puts you at the Heart of the Action

Mario Andretti

Photo Credit: Circuit of the Americas

After last month’s ribbon-cutting ceremony and a lap around the track, Formula One racing legend Mario Andretti pronounced Austin’s new Circuit of the Americas F1 track “absolutely fantastic.” Competing drivers will make their way around the 20-turn, 3.4-mile track for the first time on November 16 with the race scheduled for Sunday, November 18 at 1:00 pm Central time.

Race-day ceremonies will include a pre-race tribute flyover by four iconic fighter aircraft symbolizing the history of the United States Air Force. This Heritage Flight, an aerial display of U.S. combat history, will include: Captain Garrett Dover in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, Dan Friedkin and Tom Gregory in two vintage P-51 Mustangs and Steve Hinton in a vintage P-38 Lightning.

Historic Aircraft

Photo Credit: Circuit of the Americas

At the heart of the action will be a few lucky people in travel trailers who nabbed prime, track-side parking spaces. “There’s been a huge amount of interest since the inception of the project,” said circuit spokeswoman Ali Putnam, talking about the RV parking options. “The demand is there. It’s something people are looking forward to — watching the race from that perspective — so that’s something we wanted to offer.”

Andrew Booth, a spokesman for Florida’s Daytona International Speedway, which hosts NASCAR and other races, echoed Putnam’s sentiments. “It’s a great way to experience 100 percent of an event,” he said. “You really feel like you’re in the middle of the action. It’s almost like you’re tailgating during the entire race.”

Race Car

Photo Credit: Circuit of the Americas

This heart-of-the-action tailgating experience doesn’t come cheap. $15,000 buys a secured RV spot with hookups for up to four races a year and includes eight tickets to each race.

When I called for the latest info, Circuit of the Americas officials declined to say whether the RV sites were sold out or whether there was a waiting list – don’t ask me why – so if you’re interested, you’ll have to give them a call: 512-301-6600. Then tell us what you learned!

And if you’re camping at the track on race day, be sure to take a few photos and send them our way!

Ladies and gentlemen… start your engines!

~G. Elaine Acker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Air Balloon Rides at Balloon Fiesta

What would it take for you to feel like a kid again?

Balloon RideYesterday, my friend Lydia and I walked from the RV park to the the balloon field by 5:30 to check in for our hot air balloon ride. We were hopping from one foot to the other land grinning like 10 year olds. I can’t think of any place else where adults can so completely revert to childhood and just enjoy the moment!

Pilot PatrickWe climbed into a basket with 12 of our new best friends who also booked their rides through Rainbow Ryders. Our pilot, Patrick, is the head pilot for Hot Air Expeditions out of Phoenix,and he’s one of the best pilots I’ve ever met. Plus, he’s got a comic streak, so it’s like a balloon ride and stand-up comedy all in one.

More words won’t do the experience justice, so here are a few pictures from a fabulous morning!

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Yesterday, I set up my Airstream at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s RV park. It’s rally-style parking, which means it’s cozy. But on the bright side, you make lots of new friends fast!

This morning’s flight was a no-go because of rain and wind, but the sun has since come out, so we’re hoping for a fabulous balloon glow this evening, along with some fantastic fireworks.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures that prove there are plenty of ways to stay entertained, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate!

 Are you hanging out at the Balloon Fiesta this weekend? What’s your favorite thing so far?

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

 

Heart & Sole Epilepsy Walk

Saturday, September 15, Lakeway, Texas

One of the things I enjoy about working with Camper Clinic II is learning more about the great causes they support – especially when the cause affects one of their own.

Cathy PearlsteinCathy Pearlstein manages the Camper Clinic II offices, and will be participating in the Heart and Sole Epilepsy Walk in Lakeway, Texas on September 15.

“My daughter’s husband has epilepsy, so our family is walking under the team name, ‘Sieze Epilepsy’,” says Cathy. According to the Epilepsy Foundation of Central and South Texas, which is hosting the walk, every four minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with epilepsy. The Foundation emphasizes that learning to cope with and manage epilepsy takes a coordinated effort by family, friends, teachers, and the community.

Over the years, I’ve had friends and co-workers with epilepsy, but it’s been a long time since I really stopped to consider how epilepsy affects families in their daily lives. Even simple joys like camping require a little extra caution and planning.  “Our family loves to camp,” says Cathy, “and we always do one big campout in the spring to celebrate birthdays. But while we’re camping, my son-in-law needs to be sure to eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and take his daily meds. Missing just one dose can cause a seizure.”

Precautions when planning a camping excursion could include setting reminders for medications, wearing life vests when participating in water sports, or wearing protective headgear when cycling or horseback riding. Polarized sunglasses can help minimize reactions to flashing lights such as reflections off the water or sunlight filtering through the trees.

Kudos to Cathy’s family for not letting epilepsy slow them down, and to the Epilepsy Foundation for serving the more than 100,000 people affected by the disease in Central and South Texas.

Epilepsy Walk LogoTo participate in the walk, donate, or volunteer, visit EpilepsyRun.com.

Do you have any tips to share managing epilepsy or other conditions during camping? Or, do you have a great story about someone who’s not letting a disease stand between them and the great outdoors? Let us know!

Texas Wine Trail

VIsit 32 Texas Wineries in 31 Days

Texas wines have come a long way over the last few years, and there are now more than 30 vineyards scattered across the Hill Country.

If you like wine and you’re taking your camper out anywhere in the Texas Hill Country over the next few weeks, check out the wine tastings, grape stomps and live music at several of the vineyards. According to Texas Hill Country Wineries, there are 17 events next Saturday alone!

Photo credit: Texas Hill Country Wineries

Out of curiosity, I looked at the vineyard map, and then checked out the Texas State Parks map too. There are plenty of vineyards with great camping spots nearby!

Texas Hill Country Wineries

Texas Parks

Texas State Parks Near Texas Wineries

And if you wait until October, which is Texas Wine Month, you can plan your RV road trip along the Texas Wine Month Trail: 31 days, 48 tastes, and discounts at participating wineries. Tickets are on sale now.

Let us know if you hit the trail and discover some great new Texas flavors!

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

 

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

RV Camping at one of the World’s Most Spectacular Events!

Balloon FiestaThis October, you can feel like a kid all over again at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  I’ve been three times, gone up in a balloon at the Fiesta once, and this year, I’ll be camping in my Airstream right there at the balloon field. I can’t wait! (And yes, I’ll be blogging about the Fiesta and posting pictures right here!)

 

Imagine 54 football fields put together and covered with 600 colorful hot air balloons. Oooooh! Ahhhhhh!.

If you’re thinking about bringing your travel trailer to the Balloon Fiesta, you need to make plans now. Here’s what you need to know.

Dates: October 6-14, 2012

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

RV Sites: There are four types of sites – STANDARD (dry camping), PREMIUM (electricity with 20 Amps minimum and water provided), VIP (dry camping adjacent to the Launch Field with entry passes included) and PRESIDENT’S COMPOUND (premier sites on a bluff overlooking the Launch Field with city water pressure and 30 Amp minimum electricity).

Elaine Acker with Fiesta Balloon

I’m hanging out waiting for the official Fiesta balloon to take off ahead of the special shapes balloons during the Special Shapes Rodeo!

Availability: I just checked, and it looks like there’s still space available in the STANDARD camping areas, and the VIP area, which is the one I chose. Both accommodate rigs up to 55 feet long. And even though there are no hookups, a water vendor will be around to refill your tanks and on-site pump outs are also available for a fee.

Pig hot air balloon

The Special Shapes Rodeos feature witches, bees, stagecoaches, Darth Vader, and this little pink pig!

Check In: You’ll be able to check in between 12 noon and 7 pm on the day you arrive, but the Fiesta staff strongly recommends that you arrive before 3 pm on days other than Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday to avoid the heavy traffic congestion.

Weather: The weather is usually incredible in October, but be sure and bring a heavy jacket for those early morning events. It’s chilly! Expect spectacular sunrises over the Sandia Mountains and memorable sunsets to the west.

Events: Where do I start??? There are mass ascensions at sunrise, special shapes rodeos, balloon glows after dark, and fireworks. Check out the full event schedule for a list!

Happy Face BalloonBalloon Rides: If going up on a balloon intrigues you, do it! Even if you’re a little skittish about heights, I’d still say go for it! It’s a memorable experience and everyone I’ve known who’s tried it loved it. I believe I may have to go up again, too! Get the details on Balloon Rides here!

Bring your camera!

What do you think? Are you coming? If so, let me know so I can look for you!

~ G. Elaine Acker