Wiener Dog Races in Buda, Texas

This weekend, Buda will host the 16th Annual Wiener Dog Races. The event, created by the Buda Lions Club to support its programs to assist visually impaired children, has grown into a full weekend of country fair festivities that attract visitors from across the U.S., including some 600 dachshunds!

This year, Camper Clinic II is proud to provide a travel trailer for the event, where heath professionals will offer eye exams for kids. After all, we want to be sure the kiddos can see the pet parade, and watch their favorite doxie cross the finish line!

For your entertainment, here’s the funny saga of dachshund Dudley O. Selleck’s training regimen and performance in 2012. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing Dudley again this weekend!

Come and see us this weekend, whether you come by the store to browse the best rvs in Texas, or head over to the Buda Wiener Dog Races!

Smokey Bear’s Campfire Safety Tips

If spring inspires you to hitch up your travel trailer and go explore Texas’s state parks, here are 12  safety tips for the whole famliy courtesy of Smokey Bear.

Fire

1. Find out whether the park is currently allowing open campfires. Many regions are still experiencing drought conditions, and there are burn bans in effect.

2. Use the fire pits and fire rings already established in the parks whenever possible. check to be sure that the fire pit is at least fifteen feet away from the RV, shrubs, trees or other flammable objects.

3. Clear a 10-foot diameter area around the site. Remove any grass, twigs, leaves and firewood.

4. Fill the pit with tinder – small pieces of dry wood. Never pull branches from living trees, and check park regulations. Many parks prohibit gathering firewood and tinder.

5. Place your firewood upwind and away from the fire.

6. Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby.

7. Build your fire. Smokey Bear offers tips for building a campfire, and I recently wrote a blog post about easy, homemade fire starters.

8. Keep the fire to a manageable size. While roaring bonfires may be tempting, they’re much more likely to get out of control and can quickly spread to nearby forests.

9. Supervise children and pets at all times.

10. NEVER leave the fire unattended.

11. Completely extinguish the fire when you’re done, preferably by pouring enough water on the fire to drown all ash and embers. (Pour until the hissing sound stops and stir the fire with your shovel to ensure that all ash and embers are soaked.)

12. Alternatively, if you extinguish the fire with dirt, mix dirt or sand thoroughly with the embers. Continue adding dirt and stirring until all materials have cooled. DO NOT bury the fire as the fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.

Wherever you’re camping this spring. we wish you a safe and happy trip!

~ G. Elaine Acker

P.S. If you’re thinking about buying a new or used camper this spring, be sure to give Camper Clinic II a call. They’ve got great deals!

 

Homemade Dog Biscuits

Take Homemade Dog Biscuits on your Next RV Road Trip!

I’m gearing up for my next RV road trip through Texas, and decided some homemade dog treats were in order. Now, I won’t have to worry about questionable ingredients or reading the fine print to find out where the treats were manufactured!

Cricket and Max

Cricket often uses Max for a pillow…

With that in mind, I’d like you to meet two of the most rotten, furry, Airstream road warriors on the planet: Cricket and Max. They’re looking forward to taste-testing some of the new recipes I just found.

The first is a peanut butter blend from Paula Deen. Her human recipes have never let me down, so I’m assuming her dog, Bodeen, has an equally refined palette and has approved this recipe.

bodeen-treats-291x437

Photo of Bodeen’s treats from PaulaDeen.com. Yum!

One of Paula’s tips is that most homemade dog biscuits do well with 1 part liquid to 3 parts dry. Using that guideline, you can customize your recipes by adding and subtracting your dog’s favorite ingredients.

There’s another one with cheese from Allrecipes that looks like a winner. And for variety, check out “Cookies for Canines,” on TheKitchn.com. Their recipes range from vegetarian versions to bacon-flavored yummies.

Dog people tend to bond quickly once you’re set up at your RV campsite, so if you’d like to surprise your new friends, here’s another Paula Deen tip. Buy inexpensive bowls, add a few treats, wrapping the bowl in newspaper, and tie the top with ribbon.

MaxMax just called shotgun! And it looks like I’ve got a plan for the weekend! If you have a favorite dog-biscuit recipe, feel free to share!

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

 

 

Spring Festivals in Texas

When I’m planning a trip in my Airstream, two of my favorite places to search for upcoming events are Texas Highways, and Texas Co-op Power magazines. Both have great lists of upcoming festivals, as well as a library of articles on cities and events around Texas.

Just out of curiosity, I checked to see what’s coming up in the next few weeks, and here are three that caught my eye.

tomato festThe first was Jacksonville, which is the “Tomato Capital of the World,” and is home of the “World’s Largest Bowl of Salsa.” That alone is enough to make me want to run and hitch the Airstream to the truck. This year’s Tomato Fest is scheduled for June 8 in downtown Jacksonville. With a car show, tractor show, and salsa contest, there’s something for everyone.

If music is your thing, head out to the Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics April 25-28. More than 150 fiddlers will soon descend upon Hallettsville to compete for $25,000 in prize money. They’ve got camping with hookups at the Knights of Columbus hall and a dump station on site. Call 361-798-2311for reservations. 2009_fiddlers_frolics_001

V8_loFinally, just down the road from Camper Clinic II in Buda, you might check out the Circuit of the Americas V8 Supercar event scheduled for May 17, 18, and 19. That weekend, 28 V8 Supercars will hit the track at speeds of up to 185 miles per hour – just a little faster than your average Texas RV!

Wherever you go this spring, be sure to send us photos of you and your rig on the road! We’d love to know what our Texas RV fans are up to, and share it with our Facebook friends!

~ 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!

 

Muleshoe, Texas

Last week, while one of my favorite road-trip friends, Lucy, and I were driving through West Texas, I was reminded just how many endearing (and amusing!) landmarks are out there to entertain those of us who do lots of RV travel in Texas.

MuleMuleshoeTXDOT

Photo from TXDOT archives.

The whole conversation started because Lucy grew up in West Texas, and we were approaching Muleshoe.

Suddenly, we were on a quest to find the World’s Largest Muleshoe and the mule statue itself that she remembered from childhood, as well as other West Texas roadside attractions.

Lucy spent some time browsing on her iPad as we rolled between freshly plowed cotton fields.  There are a couple of websites that mention the mule and the giant muleshoe, but… apparently times change.

250px-Muleshoe_sign_IMG_0421What we did find was the Muleshoe Heritage Center on Highway 84. The complex of buildings includes an old railroad depot, a ranch house(which was purchased as a kit in 1915 for $2,763 and shipped Muleshoe on a train), a log cabin, and much more. There’s also a large, 15-ton muleshoe at the front entrance, so it’s easy to find, and there’s a huge parking lot, so it’s an easy stop even when you’re pulling your travel trailer.

Today, I found the vintage photo from TXDOT of the mule statue. I tried to call the Chamber of Commerce, but, no answer. If anyone knows exactly where to find the statue or what the heck happened to the original, famous muleshoe, do tell!

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

 

Have you seen the new 2013 Airstream Bunkhouse model?

Wednesday is the first day of Spring! And along with spring fever, I always get the urge to shop the new Airstream models! No, I’m still not ditching my beloved International, but I can’t resist a visit to Camper Clinic II to check out their inventory of 2013 Airstreams.

BunkWhile I was browsing online this morning, I found this brand new bunkhouse floorplan, which I haven’t seen in several years. I previously owned a 25-foot International, and the one I have now is a 27-foot. This Airstream Flying Cloud Bunkhouse model is a 30-footer, and it seems to combine the very best of my other two Airstreams.

c2t0516-06I like that there’s plenty of space to sleep six people – not that I usually want six people in my trailer, but at least it’s possible! There are several color packages. I love the honey-colored interior cabinetry, which blends beautifully with the soft, golden ultraleather upholstery, and the kitchen and bathroom offer just enough extra elbow room.

c2t0515-07The ultraleather has already sold (figures!) but there’s a gorgeous mocha blue one in stock.

If you pop over to the Camper Clinic II website, you’ll find the slideshow with all the photos. If you’re feeling the spring fever, like me, surf on over and check it out!

Happy Spring!

~G. Elaine Acker

How to Prep your RV for Spring

Here’s a 13-Point Checklist for Preparing your RV for Spring

StabilizerBelieve it or not, the first day of spring is just eight days away! Which means it’s time for a little travel trailer spring preparation. I made a quick checklist of the items on my to-do list. Let me know if you think of anything else I’ve missed!

  1. Did you winterize your RV? If so, you’ll need to de-winterize it, drain any antifreeze from the tanks and lines, and flush and sanitize the entire system. (You really do not want leftover antifreeze in your drinking water.) I could spend an entire blog post on this process, but you should be able to find the best recommendations for your RV in your owner’s manual.
  2. Inspect the water system by checking the water faucets for leaks and checking the operation of the toilet.
  3. Give your camper a good scrub.  This does two things. First, you’ll look good rolling down the road, and second, you’ll be able to check for little details like leaks around window seals and doors, and leaks in the roof around any roof vents.
  4. Lubricate everything that needs lubricating. This includes window seals, stabilizers, jacks, hinges, steps, etc.
  5. Open the awning and clean it and inspect it for any wear and tear.
  6. Check out the tires. How’s the tread? Any signs of rot? How’s the tire pressure?
  7. Consider greasing the wheel bearings now. If you don’t want to do it yourself, schedule service with Camper Clinic II.
  8. How are the batteries holding up? Do they keep a good charge? Or is it time to replace them?
  9. Give the interior a good, detailed cleaning.
  10. Test the appliances.
  11. Test your heat pump and air conditioner. Clean or change the filters.
  12. Test any smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, and check out your fire extinguisher? Is it out of date?
  13. If your state requires an inspection sticker, is yours up to date? (Hint: Texas does require an inspection!AwningAlternatively, you can take the easy way out on your RV maintenance checklist for spring, as I sometimes do. The good folks in the Camper Clinic II service department are always standing by to help. Every so often, I have them do a full inspection on my Airstream so I can keep it in tip top shape. Their experienced eyes can always detect little minor repairs before they become big issues out on the road, and I figure that’s money well spent!

Here’s to a fun-filled Spring! And be sure to let me know of anything else you’d recommend including on the checklist!

~ G. Elaine Acker

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