2014 Palomino Puma 32DBKS

The past few days, in between rain showers, I’ve been trying to catch up on photographing all the new 2014 travel trailers  that have been arriving on the lot. The one that really caught my eye this week was the 2014 Palomino Puma 32DBKS.

2014 Palomino Puma Many families who have come through Camper Clinic II recently have been looking for a Texas RV dealer who can recommend the right model for their family. After all, they’re looking at traveling with a passel of kids and their friends. So it struck me that this 2014 Puma, with the double bunks, seems to have that perfect balance of practical and stylish features for the whole family.

2014 Palomino Puma Sidepaw KitchenFor example, it sleeps 10 (TEN!) but there’s still a comfy queen bed in one end that offers a private place to relax for mom and dad. It’s got a fully decked out kitchen inside, but also has the Sidepaw Kitchen outside with easy access to a fridge, sink, and microwave. The slide-outs give everyone extra elbow room at the end of the day, and all the finishes, from the flooring to the upholstery, are tastefully done and easy to clean.

2014 Palomino Puma 32DBKS FloorplanHere’s a peek at the floorplan! See what you think. The 2014 Palomino Puma Travel Trailer is made by Forest River, which is known for its quality products. Come visit the lot and you can check out the Palomino’s as well as 17 other brands. Camper Clinic II will show you how to choose the the right RV for your family!

~G. Elaine Acker

How to Choose the Right RV

Answer these 7 questions to help choose the right RV for you!

Ever_Green_tt_cover_10_07_10With 18 different brands of RV trailers in all shapes and sizes on the Camper Clinic II lot, how in the world do you decide which one is best for your family?

In my family, I’m traveling in my Texas Airstream, my sister is in her Fifth Wheel, and my cousin is in her Motorhome. So that alone tells you that RV choices are as different as the personalities towing (or driving) them.

To choose the right RV, you might want to start thinking about the following questions:

  1. How big is your family? Whether you’re traveling solo or taking a big family with you, you’ll need a trailer with enough space for everyone to sleep comfortably.
  2. Where do you want to go? There are places that just aren’t suited for a large motorhome or trailer. For example, to camp at the Basin in Big Bend National Park, you’ll need a rig that’s less than 24 feet to make it up the tight curves. Of course, if your heart isn’t set on camping right there at the Basin, there are campgrounds in Terlingua or at Rio Grande Village that can accommodate campers of all sizes.
  3. Are you going for a weekend? Or extended trips? Or RVing full time? For simple weekend trips, you’ll find basic models that will suit you just fine. But, if you’re taking long RV trips (trust me), you’ll start to wish for creature comforts before you’ve logged very many miles. It’s better to begin with a slightly larger, more comfortable rig from the beginning.
  4. What are you going to do when you get there? If you’re planning to spend lots of time in and around your RV, then that’s yet another reason to choose a more luxurious model. If you’re spending most of your time on the hiking trail or paddling on the rivers and in the bays, maybe you just need a comfortable place to rest your weary but happy bones at the end of the day.
  5. Do you need to take your toys with you? As one of the sales folks once told me, when you go on an RV road trip, you’re taking everything you need, and nothing you don’t. It’s great to stock the trailer with everything you’ll need on the road, and if that “must have” list includes canoes, kayaks, four-wheelers, mountain bikes, or other toys, then the toy hauler is no doubt right for you. There are lots of new and used toy haulers on the Camper Clinic II lot.
  6. Do you like to buy new, or used vehicles? If you like the idea of a brand new travel trailer that no one’s ever used before, then go with a new one that fits your budget. If you don’t mind buying one that has been down the road a time or two, then you’re in luck. Camper Clinic II takes in clean used RVs in great condition every week.
  7. What’s your budget? You can get a brand new travel trailer, such as an Aspen Trail, for as little as $11,000, or you can spend $130,000+ on an Airstream Interstate Van. And there are plenty of travel trailers, toy haulers, and fifth wheels waiting in between.

So even though the choices might seem a little overwhelming at first, the good news is that there’s something for every lifestyle and every budget. And if you need help thinking things through, the Camper Clinic II staff are always here to help.

See you on the road!

~ G. Elaine Acker

P.S. If you’re looking for the best deal on RVs, Camper Clinic II has an amazing variety of travel trailers, campers, fifth wheels, and motor homes in its clearance inventory. You can check it out online!

 

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!

1-photo

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!

Texas Wildflowers 2013

1-Bluebonnets2While folks in the northeast are still struggling with record snowfall, our Texas RV campers are already enjoying their first glimpses of spring as wildflowers begin to bloom.

Before you go…
In Texas, more than 5,000 species of wildflowers line the highways, and April is usually considered the prime month for the ever-popular bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes. But this year, the flowers seem to be popping up early. If you’re planning a Texas RV tour to see the wildflowers in Central Texas this year, you may want to visit the Texas Department of Transportation’s website or call the wildflower hotline at 800-452-9292 in advance of your trip to get the most current information on the best viewing spots.

1-PaintbrushPhoto tips…
As many of you know, my hubby, Bill Reaves, spent the better part of three decades photographing Texas for Texas Parks and Wildlife and for Texas Highways. One of his all-time favorite drives is the 13-mile long Willow City Loop near Fredericksburg. If you go, you can set up camp at one of Fredericksburg’s top-notch RV parks, and if you want to take photos, Bill shared four tips for photographing wildflowers:

  1. You’ll get your best photos on a cloudy day.
  2. Experiment with using your flash and decide which photos you like best.
  3. Don’t be afraid to move in close on your subject.
  4. Photograph early or late in the day to avoid harsh shadows.

1-BluebonnetsWatch your step…
And, here are a few more things you may want to think about before you pack up the travel trailer and take to the roadsides:

  • Watch for traffic. It’s easy to get distracted by the vibrant flowers and forget to watch for oncoming traffic when you’re crossing the road or opening your vehicle door.
  • Before you plop your child or grandchild into the flowers for photos, check the area for fire ants and rattlesnakes and copperheads. The snakes have been known to rest in the shade of the flowers.
  • Be aware that Willow City Loop roadsides are privately owned. Do not trespass to get the shot. Make sure you’re on public right-of-ways or consider visiting cultivated fields such as those found at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center http://www.wildflower.org/ or Wildseed Farms http://www.wildseedfarms.com/.
  • Don’t trample the flowers. While it’s not illegal to pick them, it’s important step lightly and not to damage flowers. They need to go to seed and create a whole new crop for next year.

Be sure to share your wildflower photos on our Facebook page! We’d love to see your smiling faces!

~ G. Elaine Acker

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

How to start Geocaching

I’ve mentioned geocaching a couple of times in posts, but I’ve never really explained it in detail. Because it’s lots of fun and a good RV road trip activity, I thought I’d give you a few more details about how to get started.

The simplest definition of “geocaching” is “treasure hunt.” Using a GPS device (which can be your smart phone), you navigate to a specific set of coordinates and then search for the hidden geocache, a container hidden at that location.

Here’s a 30-second intro from Geocache,com.

A traditional geocache is a container with a a logbook for you to sign, and often, small items inside. You can take an item as a souvenir provided you leave another goodie for the next person. It would be fun if we all started traveling with little mini RV models and adding them to the caches we find! And there are nearly 2 million geocaches worldwide, so that could keep us busy for awhile. Here’s a quick video highlighting all the places you can find geocaches around the globe.

Another type of geocache – one of my favorites because I like rocks, and we often see interesting formations along the roadside and on hikes –  is an EarthCache. It’s a special place that people can visit to learn about geological features of our planet. The EarthCache pages include a set of educational science notes along with cache coordinates, which make it a great way for families to explore together and learn about nature at the same time.

If all this sounds fun, this spring, in Port Aransas, you can participate in the Texas Challenge 2013. This is the 11th annual event, which attracted 500 visitors last year. You don’t even have to participate in the challenge to attend, you can just go and be part of the fun! (It’s a great excuse to get away to Port Aransas… hint hint…)

So grab the kids or grandkids, hook up the travel trailer and go stay at one of several RV parks. The kids will love the treasure hunt, and you’ll drive away with lots of great memories.

~ 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

Go Fishing for FREE in Texas State Parks

father_and_son--Camping in your travel trailer is all about making memories: long walks, time by the campfire, or sitting along the bank of a lake with a fishing rod in your hand.

If it’s time to teach the kids or grand kids how to fish, you can head to one of Texas’ State Parks and do it for FREE. There are lakes and parks conveniently located all across the state where you won’t need a fishing license, and some of the parks even have loaner gear.

 

Near Dallas, check out Cleburn State Park and spend a few lazy hours on Cedar Lake. Or, if you live near Houston, visit Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center, which just stocked one of their ponds with rainbow trout.

DipNetWherever you decide to take your RV, it’s the time spent together that counts! Go make a memory and savor every moment!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Mardi Gras 2013: Texas Style

Mardi Gras may be the biggest party of the year, but it isn’t just for New Orleans, anymore. If you fancy a road trip in your camper this weekend, you’ll find Mardi Gras done Texas style in Galveston, Dallas, and Port Arthur.

Momus float courtesy Galveston.com

Momus float courtesy Galveston.com

In Galveston, you’ll find the third largest Mardi Gras celebration in the nation. It’s grown a lot since I was last there, and now offers 38 concerts, 24 parades, 20 balcony parties and five elegant masked balls. If you’re taking the RV, there’s a lovely KOA overlooking Galveston Bay in nearby Baytown, or, visit Galveston.com for six more options!

In Dallas, you’ll find 28 bands and lots of benefit events, ranging from a mask auction benefiting young artists to Mardi Growl, which benefits Operation Kindness. There are plenty of Dallas-Fort Worth RV parks to choose from, including several featured in USA Today. Or, you may have seen my recent post about the Vineyards Campground, in Grapevine, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Photo courtesy Galveston.com

Photo courtesy Galveston.com

Finally, you can head to Port Arthur, which is celebrating its 20th Mardi Gras anniversary with parades, motorcycle events, and concerts for the whole family. Don’t miss the snake encounters and performances by “Sonny the Bird Man” Carlin! Their spaces for RVs and travel trailers inside the festival grounds are all booked (sorry!) but the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau lists several other parks in the area.

Wherever you go, enjoy a great Mardi Gras celebration – Texas style!

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

 

 

 

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