Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Whitney Lane
Searcy, AR
http://www.whitneylanervpark.com/
Stayed in Nov 2017

When we got Miss Emmy's air system worked on in Searcy, we needed an overnight campground in a pinch. We needed that electrical hookup to stay warm! Chris found this park via Passport America.

It’s not fancy. It’s is older and tired looking and has a lot of long term folks …however, everyone we met there was super friendly. Although it’s tired,  it seemed clean and cared for.

The owner gave us one of the few fully paved sites that was away from everyone and super level. He even gave us a pen and a key-chain. Sites overall appeared nicely spaced and level and we felt quite safe there.

And it was a wonderfully quiet spot after spending the night in RV Fog Doctor’s parking lot. I'm sure you can see all the noisy neighbors we had here. We did hear an occasional train, but it wasn't too bad.

 The campground was just outside of Searcy and only a few minutes from a nicer Walmart. For a one-night stop for us, it was fine, and if we should find ourselves needing to overnight again in Searcy, we would consider staying here.

If you would like to save on campground costs like us, check out Passport America.

Passport America, Save 50% on Campsites

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Gear Review-Instant Pot IP-Lux 6qt

As I type this, our Instant Pot (IP) is happily cooking away, making a pot of spaghetti for supper tonight (and tomorrow and possibly the day after.) That’s just one of the things we like about this kitchen appliance. 2-3 days’ worth of dinners in a fraction of the time it used to take.

And time saving is one of it’s biggest pluses. Meals that could take 4-5 hours start to finish now take 30-90 minutes.

Another is meals become one pot wonders (well, the ones I make anyway). Spaghetti for instance. Brown the meat, add sauce and pasta, hit the button and wait until it beeps. The turn it off and wait for pressure to release. Voila. One pot. Total time roughly 20-25 minutes.

Hard boiled eggs are a cinch in it and turn out great. Meats are super tender.

The unit draws 1000 watts, which may seem like a lot, but it’s for a much shorter time than stove top or oven cooking, so it does save energy in the long run.

The stainless steel inner pot seems much easier to handle and wash than the crockpot liner in a slow cooker. And it won’t break or chip. I've been impressed with how well it cleans up after use. The unit itself seems very solid and well-constructed.

The Instant Pot can replace multiple small appliances. We were able to get rid of our crockpot and rice cooker. (Donated them to a local thrift store). And while we probably won’t use the feature, you can even make yogurt in it.

In the box you get the IP with a cooking rack, small ladle, rice paddle/spatula, quick start guide and a small cookbook.

We found the cookbook that came with it pretty limited and not too helpful. However, anytime you need a recipe, just search the web…there are a plethora of them out there, ranging from basic to exotic. Or keep an IP cookbook on hand. Various IP accessories are also available.

The operating instructions/owners manual are also very basic.

For RVers, the biggest down side might be size. It’s a bit bulkier than a comparable sized slow cooker. But it’s worth making room to stow it. Remember, it will replace a couple other appliances.

All in all, this has been a great addition to our galley gear. Well, time for dinner. Hope you found our take on the Instant Pot helpful.


Friday, January 26, 2018

WGW and Wimberely

bright blue and yellow building with silhouette of a glass blower and the words art, glass, and lighting
 WGW is the Wimberley Glass Works in Wimberley, TX and is an Art Glass and Lighting Studio that actually welcomes people to come and watch as they create different items. Their website is www.wgw.com

How welcoming? They have a large viewing area with bleacher type seating all set up in the Hot Shop. There is no charge. Cold bottled water is available to purchase. There are restrooms. And you can bring in well-behaved dogs! (Have your furry friend check in first)

man loading glass into main glassworks furnaceHot Shop? Yup. That’s where they work the glass. The main glass furnace puts out 2100* F. That’s hot in any language, and as you can
imagine, it warms up the space quite a bit. They had a card that called it the “Hottest Spot in Texas”. We’re glad we were there in January!

It took us 2 trips to actually watch them work. We got there too late on a Friday. They had to stop work due to using up the available glass. Here’s a tip: Go earlier in the day to watch them work.

But by getting there late on a Friday, we had a few minutes to chat with Justin, the Hot Shop manager, who took time to explain a few things and show off a beautiful glass lampshade that would become part of a commercial installation in Dallas. And we got to watch him load glass into the main furnace from a pre-heat furnace.

Woman stretches hot class into the shape of a flowerThe raw glass has to be pre-heated in a smaller furnace, otherwise it would explode under the rapid temperature change in the main furnace. Once an item is finished, it goes into a cool down unit that allows it to take 15-24 hours to cool off. Again, to avoid exploding glassware. As they work the glass, they have about 60 seconds from the time they are done crafting the piece to get it into the cool down unit.

We went back on Sunday and got to watch the employees create some of their own pieces (versus the production work they do on weekdays) We were a little late to watch the first piece get started, but we got to watch as Amanda created a lovely vase. We stuck around a bit longer and she made some flowers, observing that Valentine’s Day is coming. Amanda has been working glass for 8 years.

A building mural that reads "Wimberley is a little bit of heaven"
Questions were welcomed, the glass items are beautiful, and if we weren’t full time in an RV that hits some pretty bumpy roads…I just might’ve picked something up.

After the glass blowing demonstration, we drove further up the road to the town of Wimberly. A little community in the Hill Country loaded with cute, funky, interesting, fun shops ranging from vintage to rustic to kitchen to tourist to upscale. Everywhere we turned there was another little shop nestled along the winding streets and alleys.

Street with collection of colorful, small shopsIt’s a small area, but very crammed (in a good way). Street parking is limited, but a large, free, public parking area is just a block or so from the central area. Additional businesses and cafes are open on the outskirts of that "old town" area. We browsed through some of the shops in this picturesque area before heading back “home”.

Texas Hill Country is pretty, even during January, and the locals tell us it is beautiful in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom., and Wimberley is well worth visiting.

In the meantime, we’ll make our way further south again for another dose of the Gulf Coast before we make our way to the PNW, SD, and elsewhere.

woman using blowtorch to help shape glass vase
Amanda shapes glass for a vase

woman shaping hot glass into a vase
The vase really is blue....the glass is just red hot

man and woman shaping glass vase
Sometimes 2 hands are not enough.
Justin, the Hot Shop manager helps shape the lip of the vase

woman shaping hot glass into a flower
Amanda start to shape flower petals.

showroom of glass artwork, plates, and more
Wimberley Glassworks Showroom

Man buying flavored popcorn from lady at counter
Who's Popcorn in Wimberley. That was REALLY good popcorn.




Thursday, January 25, 2018

Campground Review - Destiny RV Park

Campground entrance and main building

Destiny RV Park
Corinth, TX
http://destinyrv.com/dallasrvresort/
Stay Date: Late Dec 2017 into Jan 2018


We opted to stay here as it was the closest campground to Glory of Zion church where we would be attending a conference over New Year’s. Our original plan was one week, but the cold snap that dropped temps into the teens “encouraged” us to stay put a few days longer.

Destiny RV Park appears to be a former KOA (judging by the main building). It also seems to have a lot of looong term “tenants”. However, it is very clean and overall folks overall seem friendly.

Motorhome and Jeep in an RV park campsite
Our site...a prime one.

Sites

Spaces were nice with average space in between. We did get blessed with a lovely end spot on the row, so no neighbors outside of our door. Sites are gravel and you may need to do some leveling. They were plenty long for rig + toad. Sites have tables and ours had a grill. Power box was good, but spigot for water was very low to the ground. It had good pressure though. Wi-Fi was overall pretty good too.

Grounds

The cold has pretty killed off the landscaping for the season, but you can tell it is well cared for and some of the sites have nice shade trees.

Man reading a book at a laundromat
Laundry day. Yes, it was very cold.

Amenities

There is a laundry room on site as well as small restroom with showers. Propane is available, and they have a decent little store on site as well as playground, a horseshoe area and a pool. There is also a small exercise room and a recreation room that we didn’t check out. And something I did not expect to see…an on-site self-service car and RV wash! f it were considerably warmer, Miss Emmy would have gotten a bath!

Road Noise

While the neighbors are quiet, I-35, the service drive and the nearby construction is not. At least construction knocks off at night.

Would we stay here again? A definite maybe. It did stretch our budget a bit more than we wanted, but you know what they say. It's all about location and Destiny RV is quite close to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. And after all that’s why we chose it…location. Well, that, and full hookups.

It does seem to be a good park for someone who is looking for a base to explore Dallas/Ft. Worth.


This is one of the very few NON-Passport America campgrounds we stayed in.


Passport America, Save 50% on Campsites

By the way, if you would like to save on camping at Passport America Campgrounds, just click the ad banner. We are now affiliates for Passport America. By purchasing your membership through our ad you can support us and our attempts to share the RV Lifestyle with you.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Commemorative Air Force

WWII planes inside an airplane hangar
Commemorative Air Force
Imagine pulling up to a WW II era hangar. You walk across the tarmack and go through the door.

And before you stands a collection of vintage military aircraft in flying readiness, being maintained and restored by a handful of dedicated volunteers.

That’s part of what we got to see at the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force based at the San Marcos Airport.

WW II Japanese fighter plane
One of the planes used in the movie "Tora, Tora, Tora"

How ready to fly you ask? Well, if you have the cash, they’ll arrange to take you up in one. You may have seen these historic planes at air shows. There are over 80 CAF units around the world.

We got to walk around the hanger and check out things like the North American T-6 Texan Red-Tail, a Beechcraft C-45, a replica plane used in the movie "Tora, Tora, Tora" and the nose of the lead C-47 plane from D-Day, "That's All Brother" (The rest of the plane is on it's way) We did miss seeing their B25, Yellow Rose of Texas. She was down in San Antonio for some engine work at Boeing.

Man looking at window display about WWII Doolittle Tokyo Raiders
Chris looks at a display about Doolittle's Tokyo Raiders
And the various planes aren’t the only attraction. In one section is a great little museum full of a wide variety of artifacts. Very wide. And very cool. We spend a couple hours in the museum alone. The volunteers were very helpful (and busy working on planes). They welcomed questions.

And, it’s free (donations are appreciated). And we like free (and by donation) places. They have a gift shop with some unique items, including the ability to make vintage dog tags on a WW II era dog tag machine.
Only $295 for a ride in the T-6 Texan Red-Tail

There seems to be plenty of parking but keep in mind they are currently open only on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9 am-4 pm. And they are definitely worth the visit. And if you have the cash flow, by all means, let us know you’re your flight went 😊

You can learn more about Commemorative Air Force (CAF) at
https://www.centraltexaswing.org/
512-396-1943


Nose of an airplane
The nose of "That's All Brother Jr.", the lead plane for D-Day

airplane controls in a C-47
Cockpit of "That's All Brother Jr", a C-47

Man looking at a museum display about Women Air Service Pilots
Chris checks out the info on the WASPS.
Some were trained at San Marcos

Museum display case of WWII aerial photography equipment
I'm glad I don't lug these cameras around!

Museum display of captured Japanese WWII memorabilia
Some items about Japan during WWII
museum display of captured German Memorabilia
WWII German memorabilia 


classic WWII era Jeep
Checking out one of Sarge's kinfolk

antique flatbed truck with vintage fuel pump and gas can
How airplanes used to get their gas deivered

blue WWII airplane with red tail
North American T-6 Red Tail

Friday, January 19, 2018

Campground Review - Texarkana RV Park

Texarkana RV Park
Texarkana, TX
www.texarkanarv.com 
Stay Date: Thanksgiving week 2017

row of campsites, some vacant
Our first stay in TX as we worked our way south proved to be fairly new campground with paved roads, and fairly level gravel sites with a cement patio. They were more than long enough to accommodate Miss Emmy & Sarge and seemed to be average spacing in between.

There was a pond that some folks were fishing in and lots of room to walk. Restroom/showers were all an individual room unto itself (toilet, sink, shower in private room) and were super clean, as was the large laundry room. They also had a clubhouse space available for events.

There were some long-term folks there (contractors on a project somewhere), but everything was well-kept and clean. Staff was super friendly, helpful and accommodating. We had mail forwarded down to us, and the manager delivered it right to our door! And it was fairly quiet park.

Yes, we would stay here again. Hope you enjoy the photos below.

At the time we stayed there, (Nov. 2017) Texarkana RV was a Passport America member and we saved 50% on regular rates.



Passport America, Save 50% on Campsites

By the way, if you would like to save on camping at Passport America Campgrounds, just click the ad banner. We are now affiliates for Passport America. By purchasing your membership through our ad you can support us and our attempts to share the RV Lifestyle with you.

Pond, cabins, and small pavilion

several ducks and geese on a pond
A few feathered residents




Wednesday, January 17, 2018

San Antonio Day Trip

We did a day trip from San Marcos to San Antonio with 2 places on our "go-to list". The Alamo and the Riverwalk.

And yes, we know there's more to see and do in San Antonio than that, but we did only have a short time there as we wanted to get back to San Marcos before nightfall. But we are already planning on returning to the Hill Country sometime in the future.

(There are more photos at the end of this blog post)

Classic view of The Alamo in San Antonio Texas

The Alamo

“Remember the Alamo” becomes more than a phrase from a dusty history book when you walk on the ground that was hallowed by the blood of so many that gave their life as Texas fought from freedom from Mexico.

Some names are familiar, like Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. Others are more obscure, and some are completely unknown.

They held out against General Santa Ana and 6000 soldiers for 12 days in March of 1836. Santa Ana showed no mercy once victory was secured for the Mexican Army, though he did leave women, children and one servant alive to tell the story. The rag-tag group of defenders at the Alamo were only 200 men against an army of 6000. Before the Alamo fell, Santa Ana's forces lost 600 men. The final battle lasted about 90 minutes.

“Remember the Alamo” (and “Remember Goliad) became the rallying cry for the Texians, and the final Battle at San Jacinto won Texas independence from Mexico.

Man dressed in frontiersman style as an Alamo DefenderWalking around the grounds, you can see and fell the history, a feeling helped by several people in period dress. It's hard to put into words some of what you feel when there. But standing in the Long Barracks and hearing someone say "Remember the Alamo", you feel something.

We spent a few hours here, and did not see it all. (Tho we did come close) We did take time to watch one of the video presentations, which gave a lot of information in about 15 minutes. I recommend you take time to do that. It gives a good history of the Alamo though modern times.

300 years ago it was a church named San Antonio de Valera and served the area for over 70 years. The mission was later closed by Spanish government apparently due to population decline. The old mission grounds later became a military base and got it's now famous name form the Mexican Light Cavalry unit stationed there. The region of Mexico they came from, and the area around the Alamo had something in common. Cottonwood Trees. Alamo means cottonwood (according to one of the volunteers we chatted with)

After Texas independence was won, and the state later joined the nation, the U.S. Army used the Alamo as a supply depot until 1877 and in 1883 the State of Texas purchased the church building as a memorial to the Alamo Defenders.

And that's just the tip of the Alamo's history...

When we first arrived, we were surprised by a couple of things…

The Alamo is located right in the heart of San Antonio and is just a few blocks from the Riverwalk. We sort of thought it would be in a “park-like” setting surrounded by open space instead of city streets and buildings.

And this is a Texas Historic Site operated by the Texas General Land Office. It’s not part of the National Park System.

Being in the heart of town as it is, there is no official Alamo parking lot. Here’s a tip: If you go just a few blocks away, you’ll find the Hospitality Parking lot off of E street at the Presbyterian Church. $5 all day (There’s an “Early Bird lot” at Houston and Bowie streets, but you have to get in before 10 AM. No other rates were posted and the toll-free number was no help at all.)

To learn more about the Alamo, visit www.TheAlamo.org

view of riverwalk including stone footbridge and people walking on sidewalk

The Riverwalk

I'll be honest...we did not do the Riverwalk justice at all. We were pretty wore out after spending a few hours walking all over the Alamo and finally the few blocks down to the river.

O.K., I guess we didn't plan that one quite right. We walked a few blocks of it...and loved it. What an oasis in the heart of a city! And it has quite a European feel to it. It's on our go back to list for the next time we're in the area. And that time we'll be prepared. We already want to take the boat tour of what we found out is over 2 miles of waterway and maybe splurge and dine alongside it in one of the many restaurants.

We took the short walk from the Alamo to the San Antonio Visitor Center, and then down the steps and through the lobby of the Hilton to the river. After we walked a little ways, we found a spot to just sit and watch for a bit.

Like I said, it is a wonderful oasis in the middle of a major city and we look forward to getting back.

Here's where you can learn more: www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com

view through a Jeep windshield of road with old bridge
Love taking the back roads whenever we can.
Almost made it all the way to San Antonio that way!

2 older buildings in by the Alamo
Federal Building and the Emily Morgan Hotel on the left,
Alamo wall can be seen on the right

vintage newspaper office building
I just thought the San Antonio Express News building was neat.
The parking lot we used was just a block or so past it on the right.


large white memorial marker or statue
Memorial to the Alamo Defenders

Man in period costume as an Alamo defender
Never knew when you'd spot someone in costume

gray bird
Spotted this little one under some bushes


grey bird with seed in its beak
Obviously it felt we weren't a threat!

looking up through the branches of a large live oak tree
A live oak

tall hotel building
Right outside the Alamo walls...
Wonder how Davy feels about it?


Large cactus garden with a palm tree
A garden on the grounds of the Alamo

several large koi fish in water
The original mission irrigation ditch was later lined with
concrete and is now a koi pond

January 10 and some flowers were still in bloom

original well of the Alamo under a tree
The misson's well

walkway to the Alamo well under a large live oak tree
Huge live oak overshadows the old well

Man in period clothing as an Alamo defender
Another Alamo Defender

Man in period American Frontier clothing at the Alamo
Alamo Defender

He talked us into posing with him. Yes, he is that tall! He also
explained there were no uniforms for the Texians, it was a
"Come as you are" war.

manmade waterfall
On the way to the Riverwalk



2 ducks swimming
Rivers mean ducks, right?



view along the riverwalk towards a bridge
Our first view of the Riverwalk

several pigeons eating lunch leftovers on an outdoor cafe table
Free lunch anyone? I think that duck wants a piece of the action