Volunteering for Parks and Campgrounds

If you’ve been enjoying your RV for any time at all, you’ve probably noticed “Park Host” signs in your favorite state parks and campgrounds. These kind people are usually volunteers who live in the park, make life easier for the park staff, and are a huge help to RV travelers.

TPW Volunteer

Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife.

If you’ve considered volunteering, here are some resources that may be helpful.

1. Texas Parks and Wildlife has an extensive volunteer program. Whether you’re interested in a Park Host position, or want to offer your services as a tour guide, your gift of time can help stretch the parks’ budgets!

2. Likewise, the National Park Service has opportunities available at parks across the country through their Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program. Download their brochure and read all about it.

3. Finally, many private parks offer volunteer opportunities. For example, KOA has a Work Kamper program for seasonal volunteers. Like the National Park Service, KOAs offer opportunities to work anywhere in the country.

Besides making a difference in the great outdoors, RV volunteers also enjoy discounted or free camping fees.

Are you a volunteer? Where are you volunteering? What’s your specialty? Be sure to post a pic or send us a postcard from the road!

~ Elaine

National Thank You Month

¡Gracias… Merci… Danke… Grazie… Thank you!

Guess what. It’s National Thank You Month. And I’m thinking about you, the people who take the time to stop by our blog, as well as all the people who make life fun and just a bit smoother when I’m in my travel trailer, out on the road.
With that in mind, here are a few shout-outs:
A_S-125x1251. Thank you to the amazing service team at Camper Clinic II who keep my Airstream in tip-top shape and ready to roll!
2. Thank you to the emergency roadside assistance crews at the Good Sam Club who are always on standby should the unexpected occur!
3. Thank you to the tolerant and patient wait staff at those terrific “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” that Food Network star Guy Fieri helps us discover along the highways!

Photo credit: Mark Peterson; The Food Network.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson; The Food Network.

4. Thank you to the owners staff of all the KOA parks, Texas state parks, and other RV hot spots for giving us beautiful, clean sites to use as a home base while we go exploring in your neck of the woods!
5. Thank you, our fellow camping enthusiasts, Facebook friends, and Camper Clinic II customers, for sharing the journey. You make it fun!

If, like me, you’re thinking about ways you can say thank you and surprise those wonderful people in the list above, here are a few ideas. Try leaving a note and an extra-large tip for a deserving waiter or waitress; bake something yummy for park or service staff; and post a photo or note on our Facebook or Pinterest pages and give a shout out to the people you’ve met on your travels.

Any other ideas about great ways to surprise someone with a Thank You? Let us know! See you on the road and as always, thanks for stopping by and spending time with us online!

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

Favorite Camping Desserts

October is National Dessert Month: let’s finish our State Parks campaign with a great dessert treat!

All month long, we’ve been celebrating Texas State Parks. For every new “Like” on the Camper Clinic II’ Facebook page, we’ve added another dollar to our donation to protect the parks. If you clicked, “Like” or sent us a photo of you having fun camping, we’ve also added your name to our drawing for a one-year Texas State Parks Pass!

October is also National Dessert Month, so we thought we’d go beyond the s’mores and cook up a special dessert (or three) to celebrate with all our new RV friends and fans!

First, here’s one that in some circles could be considered healthy.

Apple in foil

Photo credit: Allrecipes.com

Campfire Cinnamon Apples

Ingredients:

1 apple per person (Fuji or Granny Smith apples both work well)
1 tablespoon of butter per apple
½ teaspoon cinnamon per apple

Instructions:

Cut a “well” into the apple from the top, removing the core and seeds, but not cutting all the way through the bottom. If you do cut all the way through, don’t worry about it. You’re camping! Add 1 tablespoon of butter and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Wrap the apple in heavy-duty foil and find a cozy place for the apple to rest among the coals. If it’s covered on all sides, it should be ready in about 10 minutes. You can also make this on the grill, turning the apple after 5 minutes to ensure that it’s cooked all the way through.

I picked this next recipe because it just looks like big fun by the campfire.

Campfire Eclairs

Eclairs

Photo credit: Donna Kelly/Mom Click

This recipe came from blogger Donna Kelly on Mom Click. Donna takes a tube of crescent roll dough, wraps it around a water-soaked wooden dowel, cooks the dough over the campfire, adds a chocolate pudding filling, and tops it all with whipped cream from a can. Dreamy!

There’s a variation on these on the KOA website  where Rus Scherer and Jamie Thompson have used vanilla pudding and chocolate frosting. I vote we all go experiment and share our favorites!

Finally, I always know I can rely on my Dutch oven for a special, tasty treat. I’ve shared my peach cobbler recipe here before, but if my hubby is tagging along, it helps if the name of the dessert has the word “chocolate,” in it. I’d love to claim this chocolate cake recipe for my own, but it’s from Hershey’s Kitchens (who else?) that I adapted for the Dutch oven.

 

Chocolate cake

This pretty slice came from the Hershey Kitchens. No, yours won’t look like this out of the Dutch oven, but it’ll taste even better because you made it outside!

Dutch Oven Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 container (16 oz.) dairy sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare your coals. You’ll need about 25 coals, including 8 on the bottom and 17 on the lid.

Line a 12-inch Dutch oven with heavy-duty foil and spray with cooking spray. You can also use parchment paper.

Mix together the dry ingredients. You can make your life easier by putting all the dry ingredients together in a baggie before you head out on your camping trip. When you’re ready, dump the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients and beat until you have a smooth batter. If you’re in your trailer, you may have a hand-mixer available, but good old-fashioned muscle works too. The batter will be thick. Pour the batter into your Dutch oven and smooth it across the bottom.

Arrange your coals evenly – 8 on bottom and 17 on top – and allow the cake to bake for about 30-40 minutes. Use caution when you remove the lid. Ashes don’t make a tasty topping. The cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the Dutch oven for about 15 minutes before lifting it out using the edges of the foil. You can then turn it onto a plate. Gently remove the foil and frost the cake with canned frosting, or use a dusting of powdered sugar.

So glad you could join us for dessert! Do you have any favorite road trip desserts you’d like to share?

~G. Elaine Acker

 

 

Santa Fe Indian Market

Trip Planner: Santa Fe’s Indian Market

Summertime in Santa Fe offers RVers an incredible high-desert climate to escape the oppressive heat in other parts of the country. It’s also one of the most artistic climates in the country, with festivals throughout the summer.

Indian Market Photo Collage

Photos courtesy Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, which organizes a full week of Native art and cultural celebrations.

Organized by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, the Indian Market is a 91-year-old Native art market. More than 1,100 Native artists from 100 recognized tribes across the U.S. and Canada converge to sell their high-quality, authentic Native art ranging from jewelry and textiles to pottery and paintings.

If you’d like to attend this year’s Indian Market, here’s what you need to know:

When: August 18-19, 2012

Where: Santa Fe, New Mexico on the Plaza

What: Artwork and Native cultural celebrations

RV Parks: I’ve stayed at Los Campos RV Park  in the past. While it’s not the most scenic, it’s clean and convenient, located just 4.5 miles from the Santa Fe Plaza on Cerillos, one of the main roads through Santa Fe.  It’s tucked back behind a Penske lot, so you’ll have to follow their directions closely to find them. Just across Cerillos from Los Campos is Trailer Ranch. While I haven’t personally stayed there, I’ve driven through and it’s charming. I’ve also heard great things about them from others. Finally, there’s a pretty little KOA campground.  It’s further out from town, but offers a great mountain setting.  Another great bonus for the KOA is that it’s just down the road from Bobcat Bite, which in my opinion has the best hamburger in the world! When you stop by, say hello to Bonnie for me!

Advice: Plan ahead. This is one of the most popular events of the year, attended by more than 100,000 people (more than doubling the city’s population). You won’t be able to just drive up to the market and park. Watch the local newspaper for information about park and ride options. Also, if you have a special interest in a particular type of artwork, such as pottery, spend a little time learning about the artists and use the market map to plan your shopping route. It’s easy to get overwhelmed once you’re there.

Have you been to the Indian Market before? What’s your favorite thing about Santa Fe?

~ G. Elaine Acker

P.S. If you visit the market, be sure to share some photos! And, if you’re enjoying this RV blog, just enter your email to subscribe. You’ll be notified every time we write a new post!