Five Travel Resolutions for the New Year

I think New Year’s is my favorite holiday! It’s the one time of year everyone dreams BIG!

Do you need a few travel ideas for 2013? Here are five of my favorite destinations and outdoor pastimes!

1. BalloonsThe Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. I’d been to the Balloon Fiesta before, but this past year, I stayed there in my RV. I LOVED IT! There’s nothing like camping right there on the grounds of the Fiesta where you don’t miss a single minute of the action! I WILL be at this one in 2013, too.

2. Big Bend. Those two words cover a lot of territory, because there are scenic views, gorgeous hikes, and rafting experiences to be had at nearly every turn. If you can’t decide what to do, call my friends Greg and Valynda Hennington at Far Flung Outdoor Center for advice. They’ve helped create some awesome memories for me and my family, from ATV treks to moonlit nights on the Rio Grande.

Photo copyright Mike Sloat. Thanks, Mike, for sharing your amazing work with us this past year!

Photo copyright Mike Sloat. Thanks, Mike, for sharing your amazing work with us this past year!

3. ZiplineZiplining. I tried this for the first time while camping at the KOA in Branson, MO a couple of years ago. If they have zipline tours anywhere near your next destination, try it!   (P.S. If you’re in Branson, DO NOT MISS the show SIX!)

4. Become an outdoor chef. I love outdoor cooking, and in particular, love Dutch oven cooking. There’s just something empowering about putting a bunch of ingredients in black cast-iron pot, putting it over a fire, and serving a bunch of hungry campers.

5. Mix it up. If you love going to the mountains, try a trip to the swamp! If you love meat and potatoes, try some tofu! (Ok, that might be a stretch…). If you’re dreaming of owning a RV, go for it!

What’s on your personal bucket list? Plan at least one grand adventure for you and your family this year. It’s 2013, and there’s no time like the present!

E+AirstreamHappy New Year to All!

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

10 Favorite Texas Hikes – Part 2

Earlier this week, I shared my top 5 favorite hikes. Here are hikes number 6 – 10. Be sure to send us photos from your favorite Texas hikes and you’ll be entered to win a free one-year Texas State Parks pass!

Grapevine Hills

Photo credit: Mike Sloat. Thanks, Mike!

6. Grapevine Hills – I first discovered Grapevine Hills on a Jeep tour with Far Flung Adventures. Grapevine Hills is an easy, 2.2 mile hike, which I think a lot of people overlook. That’s one of the real advantages of a Jeep tour. You’ll have a guide to show you those undiscovered nooks and crannies!

Camping: You can stay at the Basin Campground  if your trailer will fit, or, head over to Big Bend Resort & Adventures.

7. Big Bend’s Hot Springs Historic District – For years, Big Bend’s Hot Springs have attracted people who believe that the warm waters can “cure what ails you.” The buildings that served as a store and post office in the early 1900s still stand at the trailhead, and along the path, you’ll see pictographs, proving that the waters have attracted people since prehistoric times. Plan to soak in the 105-degree waters yourself, and you’ll see why!

Camping: The Rio Grande Village is a great place to set up camp if you want to visit the Hot Springs. There are 100-sites, but no hookups, and the park only accepts reservations during certain months of the year. It’s first-come, first-served, from mid-April through mid-November. Alternatively, a paved campground operated by Forever Resorts has 25 sites with hookups.

8. Hill Country State Natural Area – Located near Bandera, Hill Country State Natural Area is an undeveloped haven for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Although the park offers 40 miles of multi-use trails, one of the best is the Comanche Bluff trail, which is a 4.2 mile loop through classic, Hill Country terrain, ranging from clear, flowing streams to rocky slopes and historic ranch buildings. My favorite memory from this park is of walking through an oak motte during the monarch butterfly migration one crisp October afternoon. Have you ever been surrounded by a swarm of butterflies? Magical.

Camping: You can camp near the the old Bar-O ranch house (no hookups available) or, if it’s not booked, in the Chapa’s Camp group camping and equestrian area where there’s electricity and water available.

9. South Rim – The trailhead for the South Rim is at the Chisos Basin, and at 13.5-miles, it’s Big Bend’s longest trail. This hike will take you a full day, and you’ll need to take plenty of water with you. I guarantee that the diverse meadows and forests along the way, combined with the panoramic views of the Chisos Mountains from the top, will make it worth the effort.

Camping: If your rig is 24-feet or less, you can plan to camp in one of 60 available sites at the Basin Campground. The winding roads to the basin and the small campsites make it challenging for longer trailers to make it to this camping area. As an alternative, check out Big Bend Resort & Adventures.  They have 131 sites and full hookups.

10. Boquillas Canyon  – A fit of nostalgia puts this one on the list. It’s a short, 1.4-mile round trip hike, but Boquillas Canyon on the list because I’m remembering the days when it was possible to hike the canyon without a care in the world, and freely cross the border. Here, I waded in the water with my sisters, visited a Mexican cantina, and practiced my Spanish with patient villagers.

With any luck, the border will be open again soon (it was originally scheduled to reopen last Spring, and my fingers are crossed for this fall) reconnecting Boquillas with its extended Big Bend family on the other side.

Camping: The Rio Grande Village is a great place to set up camp if you want to visit the Hot Springs. There are 100-sites, but no hookups, and the park only accepts reservations during certain months of the year. It’s first-come, first-served, from mid-April through mid-November. Alternatively, a paved campground operated by Forever Resorts has 25 sites with hookups.

Those are my favorites. What are yours?

Be sure to visit the Camper Clinic II Facebook page and click “Like” to add another dollar to our donation to help protect Texas State Parks! AND, be sure to share the campaign link with friends!

~G. Elaine Acker

National Trails Day

Trailwork

Celebrate National Trails Day by helping maintain your favorite hiking trails! Photo by Leigh Scott.

Some of my most memorable moments outdoors have been spent on hiking trails near some of my favorite RV camping spots.  From the sweeping desert vistas of the South Rim in Big Bend to the coastal marshes of Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge just east of Houston, I love the way hiking brings me face to face with nature.

If you’d like to play outside and get up close and personal with nature next weekend, The 20th anniversary of the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® is scheduled for Saturday, June 2.  Billed as the nation’s largest “TRAILgating party,” more than 2,000 events will be happening all across the U.S.  And, if you happen to be leading an event that weekend, there’s still time to register your event as well.

TRAILgating PartyEvents include trail maintenance projects, hikes, paddle trips, bike and horseback rides, wildlife viewing activities, trail dedications, and much more. “Twenty years ago, AHS built National Trails Day around the idea that for one day each year we should come together outdoors and give back to our favorite trails,” says Gregory Miller, American Hiking Society president. “Since then, people from all walks of life have been coming out in increasing numbers on NTD to celebrate our trails and the great outdoors.”

AirstreamIf you’re anything like me, it seems easier these days to enjoy the great outdoors when I know I can come back to my Airstream and comfortably crash for the evening. Some of the best camping spots I know are in Texas’s State and National Parks adjacent to some spectacular hiking trails and scenery. Check out the State Park Guide or the the Recreation.gov site for more info on the parks and facilities.

Most of all, I love hiking, because of the surprises. I just never know what I’m going to see along the trail. Really.

Cactus and fork

I saw this "art installation" along the trail in Central Texas at last year's Acker Family Reunion. Hmmm.

 What’s your favorite hiking trail? Any National Trails Day events happening in your area?

Contributed by G. Elaine Acker