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!

Father’s Day Gifts for RV Dads

XLR Hyper Lite RVLast weekend, we took a brand new Forest River XLR Hyper Lite and an Aspen Trail 2710 Bunk model over to Cabela’s Family Day in Buda. All day long, the kids fished for catfish, tried kayaking with a group of Texas Parks and Wildlife volunteers from Ink’s Lake State Park, and visited with the local K9 Unit’s feisty German shepherd.

K9 Officer at Cabela'sIt was great to see kids grinning and families thinking about ways to spend more time together outdoors. And I can’t imagine anything the RV Dad would love more than family time outdoors.

So, with that in mind, here are three Father’s Day gift ideas for the RV dad.

Texas State Parks Pass1. How about a Texas State Parks Pass? You’ll get unlimited access to more than 90 state parks and never pay an entrance fee! It’s $70.

Zero Gravity Recliner2. A recliner is always a favorite gift, but this year, you can choose this large, Zero Gravity recliner that lets Dad rest in comfort in the shade! Whether you’re on enjoying the Gulf breeze in Rockport, lounging beside the river in San Marcos, or resting in the high desert in Big Bend, this chair will be Dad’s favorite. It’s only $99.

Cadac Grill3. Finally, you can’t miss with a new Cadac Carri Chef Deluxe grill. This 5-in-1 portable gas grill weighs less than 10 pounds and is versatile with interchangeable cooking surfaces: camping stove, BBQ, non-stick reversible griddle, and a wok/dome. It’s $250. (Don’t forget to buy the gas cartridge – it’s sold separately.)

Remember, whatever gift you choose, it’s the gift of good times together that matter most!

~ G. Elaine Acker

P.S. If you’re in the mood to look at new RVs for Dad, we’ve got a huge selection at both the original Camper Clinic RV Super Store in Rockport, or Camper Clinic II in Buda. Come see us!

 

 

 

Sloppy Joes and Creamy Potato Salad for Memorial Day

RV camping this weekend? Here are a couple of recipes for your cookout menu!

Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and that means it’s time to try out a few new dishes that are easy to prepare in your Texas RV!

As always, The Food Network provided lots of inspiration. For instance, there’s a Creamy Potato Salad that can easily be made ahead of time, and the horseradish gives it a new kick.

CREAMY_POTATO_SALAD_009.tifInstructions:

Boil, peel and cube 1 pound potatoes. Toss with 1 tablespoon cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix 1/4 cup each mayonnaise and sour cream and 2 tablespoons each horseradish and chopped chives. Toss with the potatoes, 1 chopped celery stalk, and salt and pepper.

Sloppy Joes can be a great main dish with your potato salad, and whether you’re cooking outside on the camp stove or inside your travel trailer in the comfort of your air conditioning, it can be fixed in less than 30 minutes. This video from Rachel Ray demonstrates the fresh, easy recipe.

Where will you take your camper this weekend? The beach? The Piney Woods? We’d love to see photos from your road trips, so come join the conversation on Facebook and feel free to share!

~ G. Elaine Acker

P.S. Is your RV trailer ready to go for Memorial Day weekend? Or are you still shopping for the perfect Fifth Wheel, Toy Hauler, or Airstream? There’s still time to visit our Rockport or Buda locations, buy your new or used travel trailer and go RV camping this weekend!

Mother’s Day Picnic

1-KabobsSome of my favorite family memories are simple picnics in Texas State Parks. When I was little, any time we made a road trip, my mom would pack a basket of fried chicken and potato salad.

Since then, our family has celebrated almost every holiday with a picnic, and even though I still love fried chicken, I’m pleased to say our menus have gotten a lot more exciting.

Food blogger Lisa Rawlinson write the blog "Full and Content," and created a perfect picnic dish:  Mango Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Food blogger Lisa Rawlinson writes the blog “Full and Content,” and created a perfect picnic dish: Mango Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

With Mother’s Day coming up on Sunday, why not take mom outdoors? Whether you’re RV camping for the whole weekend, or just spending Sunday outside, a yummy picnic will make the day even more fun.

This month, Texas Parks and Wildlife, which is ever-popular with the Texas RV crowd,  is celebrating the art of the picnic; and yesterday, I had a chance to reconnect with some of our TPWD friends at McKinney Falls State Park. Chef Kevin Quinn, a lead instructor with Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, grilled luscious kabobs, and several popular food bloggers brought side dishes ranging from a slaw made with Ramen noodles to sugar snap peas with basil. These and lots more intriguing recipes are posted on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

Lisa Rawlinson, who writes the blog Full and Content, brought her famous Mango Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps, and even the kids give this one a thumbs up! Lisa recently wrote a nice blog post about Picnics, Parks and Mamas, and it included not only recipes, but photos and artwork showcasing several state parks. Be sure to check it out.

1-KEYE

James Seppi and Taylor Cook (left) write the blog, Coseppi Kitchen: kitchen.coseppi.com, and Bill Leamons collaborates with TPWD to showcase outdoor activities on KEYE TV. As they say, “Life’s Better Outside!”

Maybe you were thinking about flowers for Mother’s Day? Instead of bringing the flowers to Mom, you can take Mom to the flowers. Brilliant bouquets of wildflowers line the roadsides at almost every state park. And, KEYE has posted Texas Parks and Wildlife’s video offering several suggestions for creating sweet, Mother’s Day memories in the parks. All that’s missing, is YOU!

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The wildflowers are in brilliant bloom at McKinney Falls State Park.

~G. Elaine Acker

Camper Clinic II is the #1 Airstream Dealer in Texas, and has an RV to fit every budget. If you’re thinking about an RV for your family, come by and see what’s right for you!

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Fresh Limeade

Limeade

Photo of Rachel Ray’s Limeade courtesy The Food Network.

This coming Sunday is Cinco de Mayo this coming Sunday, and the Camper Clinic II crew was just talking about new ways to celebrate. Any excuse for exploring weekend camping spots in your Texas RV, right?

We’re thinking about setting up camp in one of our nearby Texas State Parks, and serving some fresh squeezed limeade for the kiddos using a simple recipe from Rachel Ray. Of course, we may have to whip up some frozen tequila limeade a la Bobby Flay for the big “kids” too!

By the way, check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife Events Calendar for lots of Cinco de Mayo activities.  An RV trailer, good food, and fun times with the family – that’s what it’s all about!

G. Elaine Acker

 

Easter Egg Hunts in Texas State Parks

The Easter Bunny will be hopping through several Texas state parks this weekend. If you’re planning to hitch up your travel trailer and enjoy a long Easter weekend, check out the events at these state parks!

Photo (c) Texas Parks and Wildlife

Photo (c) Texas Parks and Wildlife

Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, Jasper, Texas
The thick forests of East Texas offer plenty of interesting hiding spots for the Easter Egg hunt scheduled for Saturday, March 30 from 10:00 -11:00 a.m. There will be colorful eggs filled with candy and prizes for the younger ones, while the park will offer games and prizes for the older kids. Bring your basket and join the fun!

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, Pittsburg, Texas
On Saturday, March 30, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., the day-use area on Lake Bob Sandlin will set the stage for their annual Easter Egg Hunt, with candy and some extra-special eggs with gift certificate prizes inside! Located near Pittsburg in northeast Texas, the park is a great home base while you explore the area, stock up on the world-famous Pittsburg Hot Links, and discover a little aviation history by visiting the Ezekiel Airship (maybe the first flight really DID take place in Texas!)

Cooper Lake State Park, Cooper, Texas
Located in north central Texas, the park’s South Sulphur Unit has plans to hide more than 1,500 eggs filled with candy and prizes, and kids ages 1-10 are invited to come out for the hunt. There are separate areas for the 1-4 year olds, and the 5-10 year olds, just to keep it fun for all. The Easter Egg Hunt begins promptly at 1:00 p.m., and the park is even offering free admission from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. for the hunt. But plan to be there early! When the kids start the hunt, they can clean out the place in no time!

Mission Tejas State Park, Grapeland, Texas
Located on the northern edge of the Davy Crockett National Forest in East Texas, the Mission Tejas Easter Egg Hunt will begin at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 30. The park asks that all the kiddos bring their own baskets.

Then, on Easter Sunday, the Friends of Mission Tejas State Park will host an Easter Sunrise Service at 6:45 a.m. at The Mission – the first Spanish Mission to be built in Texas. Park admission is free for everyone attending the service.

Indian Lodge Easter Feast, Fort Davis
The Black Bear Restaurant, located at Indian Lodge in the Davis Mountains State Park in West Texas, is serving a full Easter Feast from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. Reservations are strongly recommended, and guests should call the Lodge directly at (432) 426-3254 ext. 330. The cost is $25 for Adults, $9 for Children under 12, and park admission is free for restaurant guests. Check out the mouthwatering menu!

Photo (c) Texas Parks and Wildlife

Photo (c) Texas Parks and Wildlife

Dinosaur Valley State Park,

If the kids prefer dinosaurs to Easter bunnies, head over to Dinosaur Valley in Glen Rose, just a few miles southwest of Fort Worth. On Saturday morning, March 30, they’re hosting a workshop on the migrating Monarch butterflies, and also a Native American Play Day, with programs about the life ways of the Caddo Indians.
Then, on Sunday, March 31, the park will host its “Eggstraordinary Eggstravaganza,” beginning with a special surprise at 2:00 p.m.
Better Homes and Gardens has all the information on creating tie-dyed eggs!

Better Homes and Gardens has all the information on creating tie-dyed eggs!

Finally, if you’re looking forward to coloring and hiding your own Easter eggs, Better Homes and Gardens offers tips for tie-dying Easter eggs. I’m fascinated, and may have to give that one a try!

It’s easy to reserve your RV campsite at Texas State Parks online. Just visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.
Wherever you go, have a fabulous Easter! And don’t forget to send us photos or from your Easter Egg hunts, or share them with us on our Facebook page!

 

Happy Texas Independence Day: March 2

Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word. ~John Steinbeck

This Texas Parks and Wildlife Photo portrays the Battle of San Jacinto where Texian troops defeated the Mexican Army and won Texas's independence from Mexico.

This Texas Parks and Wildlife Photo portrays the Battle of San Jacinto where Texian troops defeated the Mexican Army and won Texas’s independence from Mexico.

March 2, 2013, marks the 177th anniversary of Texas’s declaration of independence from Mexico.

March and April,1836, were busy months in Texas. The Alamo was under siege, and early settlers were fleeing San Felipe de Austin where Stephen F. Austin had established a colony and began planning the Texas Revolution. Austin’s fellow revolutionaries were making their way to Washington, Texas (now Washington-on-the-Brazos) to formally declare their independence, and General Sam Houston was soundly defeating Mexican General Santa Anna at San Jacinto.

If you’re looking for a reason to hook up the travel trailer this weekend, try celebrating Texas Independence Day by visiting the San Jacinto Battleground, or maybe Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site near Brenham.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is hosting a two-day festival at Washington-on-the-Brazos with music, historic demonstrations and re-enactments, and all admission fees will be waived during the celebration weekend.

While you’re out and about in your RV, you can also check out the Washington-on-the-Brazos Loop, one of the Great Texas Wildlife Trails. And don’t forget, Brenham is one of the best spots in the state for wildflowers!

For more ideas on RV camping, check out the Brenham website.

However, and wherever, you celebrate, Happy Texas Independence Day!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Happy Valentine’s Day!

ABC_ChocolateToday we’re celebrating Chocolate Month! Do you pack chocolate on your RV trips? The good news is that chocolate has health benefits! Don’t believe me? Check out all the latest info from the American Botanical Council.

And next time you hook up your camper and hit the road, you can even make discovering America’s chocolate hot spots part of the journey.

From March 29 through April 14, you can visit “the sweetest place on earth,” Hershey, Pennsylvania, for “Hershey in the Spring.” They’ll have rides, entertainment, and of course, plenty of chocolate!

There’s camping close by at the Hershey Highmeadow Campground.

Or check out San Francisco’s Chocolate Festival, September 14-15, 2013. The festival is a two-day Ghirardelli chocolate celebration that has transformed into a true San Francisco tradition.

Here are the highlights from 2012!

If you go to San Francisco, check out the RV park reviews before making your reservations. There are several luxury resorts with gorgeous views, as well as more economical options.

Happy Valentine’s Day! And I vote we celebrate chocolate all year ’round!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Plan your Valentine’s Day RV Trip Now!

Photo Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife

Photo Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife

Newsflash: Valentine’s Day is exactly 10 days away. It’s on a Thursday this year, which makes this the perfect time to plan a long weekend for two in your travel trailer.

Texas is a romantic place, with plenty of hideaways for picnics, stargazing, sunsets, and long hikes. I could go on and on, but here are three ideas to jumpstart your imagination as you plan the perfect Valentine’s Day RV road trip.

1. Spend the weekend in Fredericksburg. There are several terrific RV parks to choose from, and Enchanted Rock is nearby.  You can hike to the top and have a picnic for two with sweeping vistas of the Texas Hill Country. To make life easier, just stop by the Clear River Pecan Company on Main Street and ask them to make sandwiches and pack a few sweets for your for that picnic.

2. If the beach is more your style, spend some time on South Padre Island. You can make memories watching dolphins in the wild on a Dolphin Watch tour, or meeting a sea turtle in person at Sea Turtles, Inc. You can also stroll hand in hand along the Laguna Madre Nature Trail, a boardwalk that crosses four acres of marshland that’s home to many species of coastal birds. For camping, check out the South Padre KOA!

3. One more option is paddling trip through East Texas, exploring the sloughs along Spring Creek near Martin Dies Jr. State Park on the edge of the Big Thicket. Texas Parks and Wildlife has three, well-marked paddling trails that lead you through the old growth, river bottom hardwood forest. They also offer guided tours. You can camp right there at the park, and canoes and shuttle services are available.

What do you have planned for Valentine’s Day? If you’ve got other ideas about some of Texas’s most romantic spots for Valentine’s weekend, let us know! We’d love to add them to our list!

Groundhog Day!

PhilSince 1887, the legendary Punxsutawney Phil pops outside to have a peek at the weather on February 2nd.

After a long winter sleep, he’s taking a look around for his shadow. If he sees it, it’s a sign that six more weeks of bad weather are on the way, and returns to his hole. If there’s no shadow, he says, “Ah! Spring is here!” and stays above ground.

I’ve been reading all about groundhogs (cute little critters!), but especially Phil and the events planned on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It looks like a fun, quirky slice of Americana, and if I lived closer, I’d hook up the Airstream and head that way. There are several RV parks nearby, and if you’re within driving distance, you can find one on GoErie.com!

Cargo RackSo if Phil were the RV-loving type, what would that shadow say about the next few weeks? If he sees his shadow, we should probably spend the next few weeks making plans for all the fun things we’ll do when spring does arrive. Maybe you can get out that maintenance checklist and get your rig ready to roll. Or, maybe you can stock up on a few new gadgets and accessories. I know there are lots of goodies like this cargo rack to hold all the extra toys online in the Camper Clinic II online store.

And if he doesn’t see his shadow, it’s time to roll! I say break out the maps and plan a sweetheart’s road trip for Valentine’s Day, or look ahead to spring break. It’s just a few weeks away!

Have a great Groundhog Day weekend!

~ G. Elaine Acker