Featured

Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire

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Franconia Notch State Park is located in the White Mountain National Forest between the towns of Lincoln, New Hampshire and Franconia, New Hampshire. This park has much to offer in the way outdoor adventures, just to name a few:

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  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Scenic Drives
  • Waterfalls
  • The Flume Gorge (fee required)
  • The Basin
  • Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway and Ski Resort
  • Lakeside beach

We had limited time to spend at this park, however, we felt that we got to do most of the things we wanted. We wish we would have had time to take the tram to the top of Cannon Mountain, but it was raining or overcast the whole time we were there. A little rain and a few clouds have never stopped us before, so come along as we do some hiking and see some of the sights at Franconia Notch State Park.

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We made a late afternoon stop at The Basin. It was a relaxing walk from the parking lot to the trail, and then a nice little hike along the trail above The Basin.

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The Basin

Although it looks man made, this granite pothole started being created by rushing water from a melting glacier after the last ice age 25,000 years ago! The Basin is thirty feet across by fifteen feet deep, and the water is almost perfectly clear. Swirling water continues to shape The Basin today.

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As we hiked the trail above The Basin, we found more small waterfalls and a small flume. The forest in this part of the park was gorgeous.

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At just under four miles round trip, the Flume Gorge trail was the most strenuous hike of our trip, but it was well worth the effort. As you will see in our pictures below, the scenery is outstanding.

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Visitor center and trailhead. Food, a gift shop, and restrooms can be found here.
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And, we’re off…
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From the trail: the Pemigewasset River
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Covered bridge over the river, built in 1986

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Avalanche Falls
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Mosses, plants and trees growing right out of the rocks

Many different types of trees, shrubs, ferns, mosses, and fungi, made for beautiful scenery in the woods.

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View of the trail
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Ferns growing on this moss covered log
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Ferns
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Moss and mushrooms growing on a stump in the middle of the trail
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A pretty view of the river from the trail

We’re going to wrap this post here. Thank you so much for joining us at Franconia Notch State Park. We hope you will stop by our site again for more posts from New England, lots of other destinations, and some tips to help make your travels easier. If you’re not already a follower, become one. Follow us on Facebook, and tell your friends about us. We want to be friends with them, too!

We will close this post with a photo of the cloud covered White Mountains of Franconia Notch.

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Ghostly clouds dance above the trees at Franconia Notch

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road (or at a state park!) 

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

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Park boundary with El Capitan (left) and Guadalupe Peak (far right) in the background
  • Website Link: Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  • Cost: $7.00 per person (ages 16 and up) for 7 day pass – seniors free with senior pass
  • Pine Springs Visitor Center: open daily 8:00 – 4:30 Mountain Time
  • McKittrick Canyon day use area: gate is open daily 8:00 – 4:30 MST and until 6:00 MDT
  • Frijole Ranch Museum: open daily 8:00-4:30
  • Salt Basin Sand Dunes day use area: no overnight parking or camping, picnic tables and pit toilets available – located approximately 50 miles southwest of Pine Springs Visitor Center – no services
  • Williams Ranch day use area: high-clearance vehicle required for one lane dirt road access – keys must be checked out at the Pine Springs Visitor Center and returned the same day
  • Camping spaces available at Pine Springs Campground – open year-round – no hook ups and reservations are not available – restrooms and potable water are available
  • Dog Canyon Campground: open year-round – located 110 miles from Pine Springs Visitor Center, and approximately 65 miles from Carlsbad, New Mexico – tent and RV campsites available – restrooms are available – no services
  • Backcountry and equestrian camping also available in the park
  • Hotels, additional camping, food, and gasoline available in Carlsbad, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas
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View of the mountains near Guadalupe Pass

Getting There:

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Cholla cactus blooms

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located approximately 53 minutes southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico and approximately 1.75 hours northeast of El Paso, Texas via US Highway 62/180. El Paso has a major airport.

⇒Travel Tip: there are few services between El Paso and the park. It’s a good idea to have plenty of gasoline, water, and food on hand before beginning your journey. The only services between the city of Carlsbad and the park are 32 miles northeast of Guadalupe Mountains in White’s City near the entrance of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, but the services there are limited. There are no services available in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Recommended RV parks in Carlsbad:

Carlsbad RV Park & Campground – 4301 National Parks Hwy, Carlsbad, NM 88220 – (575) 885-6333, which is closest to the national parks. 

Carlsbad KOA Holiday – 2 Manthei Rd, Carlsbad, NM 88220 – (575) 457-2000, which is about 30 minutes farther but is close to the state parks in Carlsbad. 

Destination: Guadalupe Mountains National Park

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The Guadalupe Mountains are the remains of an ancient reef – beautiful!

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of two national parks in Texas, the other being Big Bend National Park. Guadalupe Mountains, however, is home to Guadalupe Peak, which is the highest point in Texas at 8,751 feet. The Guadalupe Peak trail, at a little over eight miles round-trip, is a popular and strenuous hike.

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Pine Springs Visitor Center

There is an interesting museum exhibit inside the Pine Springs Visitor Center. Guadalupe Peak hikers can check in here. Restrooms and a water filling station are available. Outside, there is a short nature trail (the Pinery trail) leading to the remains of the historic Pinery Station, which was a Butterfield Overland Mail Station (pre-Pony Express) used in the mid-1800s. The remains of this station are some of the only ones left of any Butterfield Station in the US. Learn about some of the plants found in the park while walking the paved Pinery trail.

The Pinery Station

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The crumbling walls of the Pinery Station with El Capitan in the background

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Highway access and parking for the Pinery Station is approximately .5 miles northeast of the Pine Springs Visitor Center and is clearly marked with signs along the highway. The parking lot here also serves as overflow parking for the Guadalupe Peak trailhead which is located at the Pine Springs campground near the visitor center. The short trail to the Pinery Station is paved and is wheelchair accessible.

Frijole Ranch

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The Frijole Ranch house, originally built in 1876 and expanded in the 1920s, is now a cultural museum. The ranch was established in order for its owners to raise cattle near several springs located here in the foothills of the Guadalupe Mountains. Subsequent owners grew vegetable gardens and tended large orchards along with raising stock. Click the park website link above to read about the interesting history of the ranch.
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The orchards are behind the white building (which could be an outhouse) on the left. The tin roofed building on the far right was used as a bunkhouse and schoolhouse.

Access to Frijole Ranch is via a well-marked exit off of the highway northeast of the Pine Springs Visitor Center. A short gravel road will lead to a parking and picnic area (with restrooms) next to the Frijole Ranch house/museum. Equestrian corrals and overnight parking for stock trailers are available at Frijole Ranch. This is also the trailhead for Manzanita Spring trail and Smith Spring trail. The Manzanita Spring trail is an easy 4 miles round-trip on a paved, wheelchair accessible trail. Smith Spring trail loop is classified as moderate at 2.3 miles round-trip.

Hiking McKittrick Canyon

Here you can see a wide variety of plants, and possibly some animals that call Guadalupe Mountains National Park home. That, on top of the breathtaking beauty of the mountain scenery, makes McKittrick Canyon a wonderful place to hike. Oak, maple, walnut and many other types of trees can be found in this desert-turned-riparian hideaway. When the trees turn in the late fall, the canyon becomes an even more popular place for hikers. Check the website for the fall colors report in October and November.

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Starting off on the trail leading from the ranger station/contact station where all hikers must check in. Didn’t we have a gorgeous day for hiking?
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A cool creek is a welcome sight on a hot day
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Pratt Cabin – note the stone roof

Wallace Pratt, a Humble Oil Company geologist, first came to McKittrick Canyon in 1921, and eventually acquired about 5,000 acres of the canyon. In the early 1930s he hired Houston, Texas architects and local workers in need of jobs to construct the cabin also known as the Pratt Lodge. Mr. Pratt referred to the cabin as the Stone Cabin, which was constructed of locally quarried limestone. Pratt eventually built another home in what is now Guadalupe Mountains National Park. His second home, completed in 1945, is known as the Ship on the Desert. In 1960, the Pratt family donated their land to the park service. The cabin is open intermittently for ranger guided tours, and there are a couple of picnic tables nearby but no restrooms or water.

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View from the front porch of Pratt Cabin – we could have stayed on that porch all day
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This little lady was as curious about us as were about her
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A shady part of the trail leading to The Grotto

The well-marked turn-off for McKittrick Canyon is located 7 miles northeast of the Pine Springs Visitor Center. Although we went on a hot day, this was one of our all time favorite hikes. It is rated moderate, however, we thought it was an easy, family friendly trail. We turned around at The Grotto (6.8 miles round-trip), but the trail continues to McKittrick Ridge which is a steep and strenuous 14.8 mile round-trip hike from the ranger/contact station trailhead. Restrooms and water filling stations are available at the station. Park passes/admission fees can be paid at the station, however, they require exact change in the form of cash only. Park passes can also be obtained at the Pine Springs Visitor Center.

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Cute and colorful – we saw several of these guys along the trail

One of our favorite things to see on this trip was the blooming New Mexican agave plants, even though the only ones we saw were in Texas!

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We visited the park during the latter part of May when many of the plants were in bloom. Desert plants are magnificent when in bloom, and if you’ve never experienced the refreshing summer rain scent of the creosote plant, you’re totally missing out!

Agaves and yucca plants produce tall stalks that can grow several feet overnight. Many desert animals eat the blooms and the stalks. We watched a mule deer in McKittrick Canyon gobble up an entire century plant stalk in about five minutes.

The normally scraggly-looking cactus plants put on a show during the spring with their brightly colored blooms, such as the cholla cactus shown at the top of the page.

Some of the other plants that were in bloom included:

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Soap Tree Yuccas
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Butterfly Weed
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Prickly Pear Cactus
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Apache Plume with its white flowers and feathery pink plumes
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Delicate Prickly Pear “rosebuds” about to burst into bloom
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Bright orange Ocotillo blooms and a bee
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Cardinal penstemon growing straight out of a rock at The Grotto
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Another agave shot – not sorry. This was a large “agave forest” (our words) just outside the park.

Below are some of the plants and sights that we saw along the road in Lincoln National Forest on the way to Dog Canyon. Some of the plants looked like they had been purposely planted, but that didn’t bother us. We loved taking the back roads and seeing these plants off the beaten path!

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Creosote Bush – and oh, did it smell heavenly
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Yellow Bird of Paradise Bush
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Sweet Acacia
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Free range cattle jam on the road – and this wasn’t the only one we encountered
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This is the state line marker on the gate going in to Dog Canyon campground. Most of the trek to Dog Canyon is through New Mexico, but all of Guadalupe Mountains National Park is in Texas. Remote Dog Canyon is THE place to camp if you want to get away from it all.

We will close this post with a shot of a spectacular Texas Madrone.

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Texas Madrone trees shed their bark to expose their smooth pink wood

Thank you for hanging with us through this long post. There is just so much beauty in Guadalupe Mountains National Park we wanted to share it with you! (And we barely scratched the surface.) We appreciate you traveling along with us on our journeys, and we hope you will stop back by soon for more great road tripping and RVing tips and more exciting adventures. Until then…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

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Scenic Highway 112 aka the Kancamagus Highway aka the Kanc is a National Scenic Byway that traverses 34 miles of the beautiful White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.

You’re probably wondering why we chose to do a New England road trip when the leaves weren’t turning. The simple answer is: we didn’t want to fight the crowds.

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The White Mountains

As crowded as some of our destinations were during non-leaf peeping season, we can’t imagine what it is like in October when the trees turn. With that said, we were not disappointed in the least about seeing Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont on the cusp of autumn. Although we did see a few trees showing their colors, we thought the foliage was beautiful as it was – green. So now that we’ve cleared that up, hop on board, buckle up, and let’s do the Kanc.

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The Kancamagus (Can-cuh-ma-gus, sort of rhymes with August) Highway begins in Conway, New Hampshire, if you’re driving West, but a few miles up the road in North Conway, we decided to stop for lunch. Our pick: Muddy Moose Restaurant & Pub. The weather was perfect, so we were able to sit on their patio, have a great burger, and enjoy the fresh air in the White Mountains. We are giving them a high five because their food and service was great. Thanks, Muddy Moose!

Back on the road in Conway, we stopped to see our first covered bridge.

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The Saco River Bridge was built in 1890 and spans – you guessed it – the Saco River.
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The Saco River as seen from the bridge.

Our next stop was the Saco Ranger Station. While a drive on the Kanc is free, a special pass is required for parking at the scenic areas. The ranger gave us a great map of the highway along with some other information, and he told us about the can’t-miss sights along the road. After that quick stop, we were off on our adventure.

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There are six National Forest campgrounds along the Kanc. All have potable water, bathrooms, parking, open fire places, and picnic tables. None of the campgrounds have RV hook-ups. Campsites are generally available from mid-May through mid-October, and most are only available on a first-come basis. Wood for campfires cannot be brought into the national forest. For information about camping on the Kanc, contact the White Mountain National Forest Ranger District. Additional campgrounds and hotels are available in Conway, North Conway, and Lincoln.

Albany Covered Bridge

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The White Mountain National Forest Covered Bridge was constructed by the Town of Albany in 1858 and renovated in 1970.

Lower Falls Scenic Area

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Scenic falls on the Swift River

Rocky Gorge Scenic Area

We spent about an hour at Rocky Gorge. The area had well maintained walking trails, a bridge, rocks, pools, and even a small flume. This was one of our favorite stops along the Kanc.

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A small flume at Rocky Gorge
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The (rock filled) Swift River at Rocky Gorge

Russell-Colbath House Site

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The Russell-Colbath House, a historic farmhouse that sits near the Kancamagus Highway

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Across from the house is a small cemetery that is still maintained by the Town of Albany. What is it about old cemeteries that piques our interest? The age of the graves, perhaps, or maybe it’s the interesting headstones. Doesn’t it make you wonder who these people were, and wouldn’t you like to know their stories?

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Many of the graves in this cemetery are marked simply by fieldstones, such as the two in the right foreground.

And, here is the interesting but sad story of Ruth Russell Colbath, the wife of Thomas Colbath. For the rest of her life, Ruth maintained her family home and the farm with the help of her children and a local handyman. No one ever solved the mystery of what Thomas was doing for all those years.IMG_7632 (1)

Sabbaday Falls

This was our favorite stop on along the highway. The hike to the falls was wonderful, and the falls… well, see for yourself.

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Sabbaday Falls

The earthy scent of the lush, green forest and the crashing of the water on the rocks. That’s our kind of hike, and we loved every minute of our time here. The US Forest Service has added bridges, stairs, and viewing areas for ease in accessing the falls. There is also a picnic area near the parking lot. The hike is about .6 miles round trip with a 75 foot elevation gain.

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Serene scene
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From Sugar Hill Overlook. A few of the trees are about to start changing into their fall colors.
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Here’s one getting a head start on its autumn colors.

Lincoln Woods

This is the trailhead into the Pemigewasset Wilderness and the Franconia Mountain Range. Apparently, this strenuous trail is not for the faint of heart.

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Suspension bridge over the Pemigewasset River
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The Pemigewasset River as seen from the bridge
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Look who we found near the parking lot!

At the end (or beginning, depending on which way you’re going) of the Kanc is the town of Lincoln, New Hampshire, which was our stop for the night.

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In Lincoln, we had dinner at Gordi’s Fish & Steak House. Does roasted beet salad sound good? Homemade clam chowder? Steak and baked potato? We loved their atmosphere, food, and service. This restaurant came highly recommended by the folks at our hotel, Holiday Inn Express. High fives, to Holiday Inn Express and to Gordi’s!

We’re at the end of this journey, but stop by again for more of our New England road trip, tips and tricks, and other exciting destinations. Become a follower on our site and on Facebook, and we would very much appreciate it if you would tell your friends about us.

We’re going to close this post with one more look at beautiful Sabbaday Falls.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

RV Tips and Tricks: Outfitting the Kitchen

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When we bought our travel trailer, we decided that in order to get the most use out of it we would implement what we call “minimal trip prep”. Minimal trip prep for us meant outfitting the trailer with everything we needed so we wouldn’t have to pack or unpack every time we went camping. Now, with the RV completely outfitted, all we have to do is throw a few clothes in the closet, round up our food, and hit the road. Hopefully, by seeing how we roll, you will be able to do the same!

Here is a list of the basics that we keep in our RV kitchen:Image result for Grayline plate racks

Dishes – 4 place settings (Corelle – dinner plates, salad plates, and bowls kept in racks, like the Panacea Grayline rack shown here and purchased from Amazon, with squares of non-slip shelf liner between each plate/bowl)

Grayline 40222 Garden, Green

Coffee mugs – 4 (we use this holder, by Grayline and purchased from Amazon, for our mugs and we’ve never had a broken one)

Silverware – 4 place settings

Serving bowls – 2 medium-size Corelle

Cookie sheet – 1

13 x 9 pan – 1

Dish towels – 4

Assorted kitchen knives

Easy Carry Bbq Picnic Caddy Utensil Holder

Paper plates, paper bowls, plasticware, napkins, salt and pepper kept in a picnic caddy for easy indoor or outdoor use. Ours is wicker, but this one by WeRdeals from Amazon looks great.

Sauce pans – 2 qt and 1 qt with lids

Toaster

Medium-size cutting board

Cabinet and refrigerator bars

Gallon, quart, and sandwich size zip top baggies

Aluminum foil and plastic wrap

Coffee maker – 4 cup

Collapsible colander – medium-size

Squish 3 Qt Collap Mix Bowl
Squish Mixing Bowl

Collapsible mixing bowls – 3 quart and 1.5 quart (we like the Squish brand bowls that we purchased from Amazon)

Collapsible food storage containers for leftovers and for heating in the microwave

Collapsible measuring cup set

Measuring spoons

Folding silicone trivet 

Fruit bowl for the countertop

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Ice cube trays with lids – 4

Plastic container for ice – 1 medium-size lidded food storage container

Refrigerator and freezer thermometers- 1 for each compartment

Long lighters – 2 – to light stove, oven, and outdoor grill

Potholders – 2 Image result for images for microfiber dish drying mat

Dish drying mat (we tried using a plastic dish drainer, but we found this to be much easier and it definitely takes up less space)

 

 

Featured

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

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  • Website link: Palo Duro Canyon State Park
  • Cost: $8.00 per day per adult – free for children 12 and under
  • Tent and RV camping, cabins – various fees
  • Hiking on trails and backcountry, biking, backpacking, seasonal horseback riding stable or bring your own horse – equestrian campground available
  • Visitor center/museum
  • Nature interpretive center
  • Trading post with gasoline, fast food, groceries
  • Large group/event pavillions
  • Summer musical “Texas” in the amphitheater and catered dinner available
  • Wildlife watching/birding
  • Additional accommodations/restaurants in Canyon, Texas and Amarillo, Texas (see our Amarillo post)
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View from the CCC Overlook near the visitor center. One of the red “Spanish Skirts” is seen at the center of the photo.

Our favorite place to camp, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is the crown jewel of the Texas park system. That’s our opinion, anyway. The canyon is not only breathtakingly beautiful, it is the second largest canyon in the US. The name Palo Duro comes from the Spanish phrase meaning “hard wood”. The park is located about 30 minutes south and east of Amarillo, Texas. IMG_5244 (1)The sun was in the right place at the right time for this shot. That usually doesn’t happen for us – we just got lucky this time. No filters. Look at those spectacular colors!

Highlights…

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Can you see him? Well camouflaged, he blends in with his surroundings. The Longhorn Pasture is next to the park entrance.
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El Coronado Lodge. Built in the mid-1930s by the CCC, the lodge now serves as the visitor center and museum. Three CCC-built cabins on the rim of the canyon, just west of the visitor center, can accommodate four people each and can be reserved through the Texas State Parks website.
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This fireplace is all that remains of the CCC camp recreation hall which served as a place for the men to socialize and relax after a hard day’s work.

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The summer musical “Texas” has been performed at the Pioneer Amphitheatre since 1966! The production features outstanding music, singing, dancing, and special effects, all while telling the story of ranching in the Texas Panhandle in the late 1800s. “Texas” is a treat for the entire family. Tickets can be ordered online.

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The cave is a popular destination for those who are brave enough to climb the rocks up to it.

Hiking Palo Duro…

Lighthouse Trail, the most popular hike in the park, is just under six miles round trip, and it’s our favorite! Below are some scenes from Lighthouse Trail.

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Interesting geology
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The Lighthouse
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Capital Peak from Lighthouse Trail. We love the hoodoo at the far left side of the picture.
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Rojo Grande Trail – moderate, although we thought it was easy. About 2.5 miles round trip.
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Kiowa Trail. Easy, peaceful, pretty. About 1.4 miles one way.

Palo Duro has many miles of trails with varying levels of difficulty. Some trails are multi-use, some are for hiking only, and some are for biking only. Mountain biking is very popular in this park. Check the website for all trail details.

Wildlife…

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These deer were about 50 feet from our campsite.
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Looking for love in all the wrong places. Apparently he was hoping for a date, but she totally ignored him.
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Roadrunner

Campgrounds and cabins…

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One of the campsites at the picturesque Mesquite campground.
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Sagebrush campground. This is our favorite campground, and it is within walking distance of the Pioneer Amphitheatre. (How about those dumpsters?) Okay, ignore the much-appreciated dumpsters and check out the gorgeous scenery!
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Cow Camp Cabins. Yep, you guessed it…these were built by the CCC, too.

Palo Duro Canyon has several campgrounds for tent and RV camping, day use areas, and an equestrian campground. This park is also pet friendly, but pets must be kept on a leash and are not allowed in the park buildings. See the website for details and reservation information.

Cool stuff nearby…

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West Texas A&M University wind turbine. It is the tallest (653.5 feet from the ground to the tip of its most upright blade) wind turbine in the US. Located east of Canyon, Texas, south of Texas Highway 217 off of Osage Road. It’s hard to miss this behemoth on the way to the park!

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Charles A. Smith sculpture about a half mile west of the park entrance. These arrows mark trails all over West Texas.
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Tex Randall – 1400 N 3rd Avenue, Canyon, Texas.

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Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum – 2401 4th Avenue, Canyon Texas. This is one of the best museums we have visited. Exhibits include Texas oil production, ranching, art, and paleontology, just to name a few. A visit to this museum is well worth the time and entry fee.
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T-Anchor Ranch Headquarters at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. Its Texas Historical Commission marker is below.

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Parting shots…

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Another pretty scene in the park.
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Old barn, silos, and attached living quarters (?) found on FM 1541 east of the city of Canyon.
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Randall County Courthouse – centerpiece of the delightful town square in Canyon, Texas
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Meandering river – Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River – on an overcast day in the park
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Another amorous Tom

Well, that covers our overview of Palo Duro Canyon State Park, folks. Please join us next time for another great road trip, and become a follower so you never miss a post!

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

RV Tips and Tricks: Things We Can’t Live Without

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When we bought our travel trailer, we decided that in order to get the most use out of it we would implement what we call “minimal trip prep”. Minimal trip prep for us meant outfitting the trailer with everything we needed so we wouldn’t have to pack or unpack every time we went camping. Now, with the RV completely outfitted, all we have to do is throw a few clothes in the closet, round up our food, and hit the road. Hopefully, by seeing how we roll, you will be able to do the same!

Everyone needs the inevitable sewer hose, water hoses and filters, electrical paraphernalia, grill, chairs, etc., etc., etc. We enjoy having a few convenience items when we camp, whether it’s simply an indulgence or a time or space saver. In random order, here are some of the things we don’t camp without:

Picnic caddy. This is so handy for indoor and outdoor use. We use this to store our napkins, paper plates, paper bowls, plastic ware, and our salt and pepper shakers. It frees valuable cabinet and drawer storage space and is easy to carry right outside to the picnic table. While there are many similar models out there, this is a very nice model sold by Amazon. (We also like having pop-up mesh food covers when serving and eating outside.)

Headlamp and good flashlights. Okay, headlamps don’t look very cool, but man are they great when you need both hands free. We can’t count the times we’ve had to set up camp in the dark, and let’s face it, most parks are very dark! Good lights are a great investment and a necessary safety tool. As for flashlights we like the smaller tactical grade type.

Cordless vacuum. This one might be a budget buster, but hear us out. The Deik Cordless Vacuum, purchased from Amazon, is the one we use at home, and we take it with us when we go camping. It is lightweight, takes up very little room – we store it behind the little trash can in our bathroom – and it’s rechargeable. The best part is that the top part comes off and becomes a hand held mini vac. For such a small vacuum, this thing picks up just about everything. How many times have you stepped barefoot on one of those tiny pieces of gravel that got tracked into your camper? This little vacuum works on vinyl and wood floors, and carpet, too. LOVE IT! By the way, we aren’t getting paid for our recommendations, so this is not an ad, and we never recommend anything that we don’t use ourselves. Jeff Bezos, you’re getting a lot of free advertising, buddy.

Sound machine and ear plugs. Yes, we’re talking about the same kind of sound machine used in babies’ nurseries to soothe them to sleep. Ours has settings for several different sounds, such as waterfall, ocean waves, rain, etc., and it runs on electric power or batteries. Have you ever tried to sleep while parked near a busy highway, or at a truck stop, or even a Walmart? If you have, then you know what we’re talking about. A sound machine will help drown out the background noise so you get a better nights sleep. As a side note, we will admit that we sometimes use ear plugs, too.

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Weather radio. We live in Tornado Alley, and our weather can sometimes be pretty scary. Our weather radio runs on electricity or batteries and is just one more safety precaution for our travel trailer. Heavy rain and hail pounding your camper in the dark and not knowing what to expect does not make for happy campers.

Battery operated flameless candles. These are great for inside and outside. If you don’t have a campfire, a few of these sitting around will certainly give the campsite some ambiance. We use them on every camping trip. Beware these will melt if stored in a hot place.

Body wipes. We admit that we don’t always shower every day when we’re camping. Shocking, we know! Anyway, we love the convenience of using body wipes for a quick sponge bath. Our favorite are these Epic Wipes that we purchased from – you guessed it – Amazon. While they are not inexpensive, they are almost as large as a bath towel and are very refreshing. These are also great to use after hiking or being in the lake or to wipe down grubby kiddos.

Britta water pitcher. The one we use for the camper is a 5-cup pitcher. We drink a lot of water, and with the Britta pitcher, we can refill water bottles with filtered water and not have to carry so many bottles, which just adds to our towing weight. The pitcher we have is shown here, and it fits in the bottom shelf of our refrigerator door.

Flag and flagpole. Yep, we are proud Americans, and we like to fly our colors. We have an American flag and a couple of others. Our FlagPole Buddy brand pole, which we purchased from RV Upgrades, is a 16′ telescoping fiberglass pole that attaches the ladder on the back of our trailer. It can be seen (sort of) in the picture at the top of the page. We also have a garden flag stand with an American flag and an assortment of seasonal and decorative flags that we sometimes use to pretty up our campsite.

Inflatable ottoman. Like the one shown here from Amazon. These are also available from Bed, Bath & Beyond and catalogs. Most cost around $25.00 and come with a pump for easy inflation. There are tons of colors and patterns to choose from, and the covers zip off for washing. Dirt and grass does not stick to them so they’re great to use outside.

Space heater. Camping during colder weather prompted us to include a space heater on our “can’t live without” list. Ours is small enough that we can store it in one of the cabinets above the dinette, but it’s powerful enough to heat our 26′ trailer. Using the space heater instead of the furnace saves on propane, too.

Extra set of sheets. We thoroughly clean our camper before we leave a campground to go home, and that includes changing the sheets on the bed. With two sets of sheets, we can rotate them as we camp, and we have clean bedding for every trip. (We also keep pillows and a few extra blankets in our camper.)

That’s going to do it for our things we can’t live without. This is a constantly evolving list, so we will update you when we find more awesome items. Leave us a comment and let us know what you can’t live without. Thank you for stopping by, and we hope you will come back again for another great tip, trick, or trip.

Happy camping, y’all!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true products, vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own. Photo copyright infringement is not intended. Our written content and photos are copyrighted, and may not be published without our permission.

©2019

 

Featured

Albany, Texas and the Fort Griffin Fandangle

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Shackelford County Courthouse, Albany, Texas, built in 1883.

We’re in love! Albany, Texas has captured our hearts. Not only is it a beautiful small town, it sits amid rolling hills covered in mesquite, pecan, and oak trees. The town is surrounded by ranch land, and the Clear Fork Brazos River flows nearby. Albany has a rich history, proven by its thirty-five historic landmark designations, as well as historic Fort Griffin fifteen miles north of town.

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This sunflower field near Albany just makes us happy!
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This classic sits across the street from the courthouse
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Historic buildings in downtown Albany
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Restored Gulf gas station

During the last two weekends in June, the town of Albany puts on the Fort Griffin Fandangle, which is the oldest running play in Texas. This year (2019) was the eighty-first production. People come from all over to see the townspeople tell the story of the settlement of the area. This wonderful show will delight the whole family, and we highly recommend going to see it!

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IMG_5474 Fort Griffin is home to the Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd, and a few of them star in the show! We had never seen a more well behaved bunch of cattle before. Plus, they’re just kinda awesome. For more information about Fort Griffin, please see our Abilene, Texas post. Here’s a link: Abilene, Texas

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Some of the Fandangle cast

Also during Fandangle, there are many events around town, including a catered barbecue dinner, tours of historic buildings and homes, and baby longhorns on display on the courthouse lawn.

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Precious!

We bet this calliope is something you haven’t ever seen, and if you have seen one, we bet it was a long time ago. We were enthralled. This one is about 76-years-old, and they play it for thirty minutes before each show. Beware it is loud, but so intriguing! Turn up your sound and check out the video.

 

While there is a hotel and RV park in Albany, there are also hotels and campgrounds in Abilene, 35 miles south. Since we love camping in our RV, we chose to stay at Fort Griffin. The campground is not only pretty, it has clean showers and bathrooms, a playground for the kids, and full hookups. We woke up to birds singing, longhorns mooing, and a couple of spectacular sunrises. In the evenings, cicadas, tree frogs, and crickets chirped, and the dark skies afforded breathtaking views of the stars. Frankly, it was hard to leave the place.

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Fort Griffin Sunday sunrise
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This guy was singing his little heart out next to our campsite. Isn’t he gorgeous?

We’re going to close this post with a couple of shots of the old Highway 183 truss bridge over the Clear Fork Brazos River near Fort Griffin.

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From the new Highway 183 bridge. Yes, we stand in the middle of highways to get the shot.
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Standing in the middle of the old Highway 183 while looking up. No traffic on this one though.

That’s a wrap, folks. Be sure to make plans to attend the Fort Griffin Fandangle in 2020. We hope you will return to our site for more great trip ideas, tips, and tricks, and if you’re already a follower, THANK YOU for your support of our site. We do this for you. If you’re not a follower, become one so you never miss a post. We would love to have you aboard on our journeys. Until the next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019