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Month: January 2014

Czeching Out La Grange

January 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Czeching Out La Grange

We headed to the Central Texas town of La Grande to “Czech” out what might just be the “Best Little Day Trip in Texas.” Texas Quilt Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The events of La Grange’s famous Chicken Ranch inspired the stage play, movie, and the lyrics of a popular song, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Then there’s the ZZ Top song that still fuels Texas folklore. The brothel is no longer around—it was officially closed in 1973 after operating for more than 130 years. The building was sold and hauled to Dallas where, for awhile, it served as a restaurant that served—what else? Chicken. Later, the building burned to the ground. All that’s left these days is the legend and some fading memories. However, there’s still plenty to do in this town. For starters, we Czeched out the Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center. This museum gave us a feel for the culture and early days of Fayette County when thousands of Czech immigrants populated the area. The... [Read more...]

Taking it easy in Monroe, Louisiana…

January 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Taking it easy in Monroe, Louisiana…

We recently spent two weeks visiting Louisiana.  We were pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do there.  We spent a few days in Shreveport, where we stayed in a Louisiana state park, went bowling, visited a local nature center and a great science museum, and we found a yummy Cajun restaurant and even got to hold a gator! Next we took I-20 over to Monroe, where we found a few more fabulous stops! Monroe is home to the the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum. This free museum covers military history from WWI through Vietnam and specializes in covering aviation-related service members. The museum features displays on individual service members, including their story and memorabilia from their lives. The museum is small, but there is so much history packed into it! When we visited, there were two gentlemen there who acted as guides. They were very knowledgeable and had a passion for their topic! We spent about an hour and a half there but didn’t even visit all the exhibits... [Read more...]

Top 6 Birding Hotspots in Southeastern Arizona

January 27, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Top 6 Birding Hotspots in Southeastern Arizona

Southeastern Arizona is an ecological crossroads, where the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts all come together. Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is home to 260 species of birds including the vermilion flycatcher. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The abrupt rise of mountains like the Huachucas from the surrounding arid grasslands creates “sky islands” harboring rare species and communities of plants and animals. If you are a birder, Southeastern Arizona is the place to go. Birding enthusiast are attracted to this unique region with many arriving in recreational vehicles. The following are our suggestions for where to find the best birding spots. Generally, they are located along streams and rivers or in forested mountain canyons. Some will have nearby RV parks or forestry campgrounds but will require a drive in your toad/tow vehicle. 6. Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve Between the majestic Santa Rita and beautiful red Patagonia... [Read more...]

Conquering a Demon–Part 2

January 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Conquering a Demon–Part 2

In my last post (see January  19, 2014) I was sharing an experience I enjoyed in early December 2013 after two miserable downhill skiing adventures. Deciding to face my demon, I undertook a Yellowbird Group Ski Lesson at the Taos Ski Valley. My instructor, Karen, was not only competent and professional, but she was nurturing and kind as well. After starting on the bunny hill, we moved on to another gentle, but slightly longer slope. We skied there until lunch, took a break, during which Terry and I had a sandwich at one of a number of restaurants at the resort. It was only then that I noticed how cold my hands had become. I had been so focused on skiing, I had not even felt cold. After lunch, I met Karen at a new ski lift as she had decided I was ready to take on yet another challenge. I should mention that as the temperature was only 20 degrees, it was very early in the season and it was snowing significantly during the entire lesson, I was Karen’s only student that day. Therefore,... [Read more...]

How Pinterest can transform a dreadful trip with kids into a fun one for everyone.

January 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling with kids.  Some friends of mine dread it and wait until their kids are much older before taking the road for long distance. Others like us don’t hesitate one second to embark in an adventure.   What is the difference between these families?   I think it can be summed up in one word – ORGANIZATION. When you travel with you kids you need to be creative in order to keep them entertained on the road. My husband’s parents used to live about six and a half hour from our home in Northern Ontario.  When we had our first born, we learned quickly to keep him busy while driving and how to adapt to life with kids. Within six years, three siblings joined him and our trips are fun (except when one child got sick in the truck once or twice…). Organization is a skill that you can learn – particularly if you travel long distance with kids. And when I say organization I don’t think only about packing clothes and preparing a lunch for the road.  No, I am thinking more of planning... [Read more...]

A Holding Tank Primer

January 21, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The following is an excerpt of an article that appeared in CyberSam, the Good Sam Club’s e-newsletter. One of the most common mistakes new RVers make when visiting an RV park with full hook-ups is to connect the sewer hose, and then open the black and gray tanks. Bad idea–at least for the black tank. When you use the toilet, the liquids will drain away down the sewer hose, but solids and tissue will be left behind. In the short term, this creates odiferous build-up, but in the long term it can create deposits that can be difficult to remove, and may even require tank replacement. Instead, keep the black tank valve closed, and watch the monitor panel like you would when dry camping. When the tank is 1/2-3/4 full, go out and pull the handle—now there’s sufficient force to flush the tank clean. Since the gray tank primarily handles soapy water, you can leave it open without fear of problems. One of the most frequent letters or e-mails we receive are on the subject of tank monitors—more... [Read more...]

Eat My Words: Top BBQ Joints

January 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Eat My Words: Top BBQ Joints

Each of the four iconic barbecue regions—Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, and North Carolina—serve a different style of barbecue. Lockhart, the official Barbecue Capital of Texas, is home to four major barbecue restaurants including award-winning Black’s Barbecue, which has been owned by the same family since 1932. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved Typically, Memphis, St. Louis, and Kansas City are all about the ribs. In North Carolina, pulled pork dominates the menu, and Texans love brisket. Of course, you’ll also find chicken, turkey, and sausage along the way. Some of the biggest differences in cooking methods involves the type of wood such as oak or hickory, and direct or indirect heat. Then, there is the wet versus dry debate because some pit masters baste their meat while it is cooking and others use a dry rib. And of course, an entire book could be written on barbecue sausages alone. Vinegar-based sauce is preferred in the Southeast, while the Midwest and Western regions like... [Read more...]

Pickleball…Does it have anything to do with pickles?

January 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The first question you may ask yourself if you’re unfamiliar with this sport might be: does it have anything to do with pickles? The short answer to that is no. Originated in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington, Pickleball got its namesake after the family dog, Pickles, who would run off with the ball whenever it would come his way. The ball was affectionately nicknamed Pickle’s ball, which eventually turned into the current name of Pickleball. This up and coming sport has been gaining popularity in recent years and is a fantastic activity for all ages. Pickleball is very similar to tennis, but everything is on a smaller scale. The court is about one-third the size of a tennis court and has a net mounted two inches lower. The equipment used to play this game includes a hard paddle a whiffle-like ball. Hidden Ridge RV Resort, MI Sun RV Resorts features several properties, such as Hidden Ridge RV Resort, an all ages resort in Hopkins, Mich., that offer multiple courts... [Read more...]

Conquering a Demon–Part 1

January 19, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Conquering a Demon–Part 1

On a snowy day in early December I decided to face my demons, well, one of them anyway. Since we moved to a downhill skiing Mecca nearly two years ago, I have been terrified of the sport. I begrudgingly went skiing with my husband and two of my children the Friday after Thanksgiving the past two years, but was tense and terrified the entire time. After my most recent experience this past November, I decided I had had enough of the fear and I was going to conquer it. I have always been a take the bull by the horns kind of person; in fact I started hiking up mountains due to my fear of heights. Now you can’t keep me away. What does this have to do with camping, you ask? Only that it is about enjoying the out of doors in all types of weather and I am thinking there may be other campers who share my fear and/or my interest in skiing. Also, the Taos Ski Valley, where I took my lesson, not only has one of the most competent and exceptional ski schools in the United States, they also have... [Read more...]

Planning family travel with Pinterest

January 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The other day, I stumbled on a post about using Pinterest as a tool to plan family travels. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I have started “pinning” things on a board titled Homeschooling on the Road, which contains a ton of fun activities for our kids to enjoy while we travel. Some of you might be wondering what Pinterest is about. Well, it’s essentially a tool for collecting and organizing things you love.  You will find many “pins” out there, but the beauty of Pinterest is that your own board can be personalized with your own interests. Today, I will talk about using Pinterest to incorporate geography activities while driving with the kids. While traveling, you can interest the kids in a destination if you plan carefully and strategically. With Pinterest, you can excite their interest by downloading maps, coloring pages and gathering information on where you are going. Here are some links that I find particularly interesting when... [Read more...]

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