4 Places To Go Camping This Summer

Summer is peak season for RVers to travel the highways and byways and experience the wonders of the US and Canada.

Fredericksburg, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Fredericksburg, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But where to go?

Following are four great summer destinations for RVers to make memories that will last a lifetime.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Trade the customary Howdy! for Willkommen! and head to Fredericksburg, a community in the Texas Hill Country that celebrates its German heritage. Settled in the 1850s by immigrants from the Old Country, the town retains much of its Germanic influence through shop and restaurant themes, seasonal festivals including the annual Oktoberfest with its oom-pahs, polkas, and bratwurst.

The Marktplatz in the center of town commemorates the peace treaty between the German settler and Comanche Nation. Shopping in the Historic Shopping District on Main Street offers art galleries, restaurants, and unique boutiques.

Don’t leave Fredericksburg without a visit to the Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site and National Museum of the Pacific War. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief in the Pacific during WWII, grew up in Fredericksburg.

Holmes County, Ohio

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.
Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

The clip-clop of horse hooves is a familiar sound in the historic town of Millersburg, founded in 1815. Along with Berlin and Walnut Creek, it makes up the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country.

What makes the area unique is that they have the largest concentration of Amish in the US.

They made their living primarily through agriculture, but today the Amish cottage industry is growing. The area has a large concentration of hardwood furniture builders. They’re also a huge producer of cheese, especially Swiss cheese, with several of their cheese houses using only locally produced Amish milk. A visit to Heini’s Cheese Chalet, home of the original Yogurt Cultured Cheese, or Guggisberg Cheese, home of the Original Baby Swiss provides a glimpse into how cheese is made. Plus, at Heini’s you can sample more than 50 cheeses, purchase Amish foods, smoked meats, fudge, and more while Guggisberg offers 60 verities of cheese.

Redding, California

Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the renown Sundial Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the renown Sundial Bridge, Redding © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With mountains all around, miles of hiking and biking trails, a river running through it, and national parks nearby, Redding is an outdoor paradise for all ages.

Cradled by Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen, Redding has 300+ sunny days per year. Redding is also home to the famous Sundial Bridge, world-class fishing, and 200 miles of hiking and biking trails for all abilities. Head out on a day-trip to see the bubbling mud pots and boiling lakes in Lassen Volcanic National Park, or get refreshed by the waterfall at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. Eight miles west of Redding, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is located at the juncture of the Klamath Mountain range and the northern edge of the Sacramento Valley. The park features Whiskeytown Lake, Shasta Bally mountain (6,209 feet), and numerous waterfalls, providing outdoor enthusiasts opportunities for water recreation, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

Urbanna, Virginia

Framed by a protected cove on Urbanna Creek off Rappahannock River, the charming, historic Colonial port town of Urbanna is a Tidewater Virginia gem. With the open waters of Chesapeake Bay a few nautical miles away, Urbanna has more boats than people, according to locals.

Urbanna’s marinas, boutique shops, restaurants, galleries, and trove of 18th century historic buildings are all within an easy stroll through town, making for an enchanting visit and stay.

Rosegill Plantation consists of an impressive range of 18th century buildings: a washhouse, the dwelling house, the kitchen, and a storage house. The buildings standing today stylistically date between 1730-1750 and are a significant example of colonial plantation architecture.

Urbana: Historic Port Town With Old-fashioned Flavor © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Urbana: Historic Port Town With Old-fashioned Flavor © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Seven buildings in town have been in continuous use since the colonial period. Four of them are on the National Register of Historic Places. All are located in Urbanna’s historic district.

Worth Pondering…

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

—Gandalf the Wizard, Lord of the Rings

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Visiting LBJ Ranch

The Hill Country rises out of south-central Texas like an island out of a vast ocean.

The Texas White House is open for public tours including the President's Office, living room, dining room, and the Johnsons' bedroom suites. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Texas White House is open for public tours including the President’s Office, living room, dining room, and the Johnsons’ bedroom suites. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

East of Fredericksburg on Highway 290, is the not-to-be-missed complex of Lyndon B. Johnson historical parks. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park has two distinct visitor areas separated by 14 miles.

The LBJ Ranch is in the heart of the Hill Country on the banks of the Pedernales River.

Operated jointly by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the National Park Service, the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall and the Boyhood Home and Johnston Settlement in Johnson City constitute a remarkable historic preservation.

In Johnson City you will find the National Park Visitor Center, Boyhood Home in which President Johnson spent his childhood, and the Johnson Settlement where the President’s grandparents first settled in the 1860s.

Junction School, the one-room schoolhouse where LBJ learned to read. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Junction School, the one-room schoolhouse where LBJ learned to read. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park tells the story of America’s 36th President beginning with his ancestors until his final resting place on his beloved LBJ Ranch. This entire “circle of life” gives the visitor a unique perspective into one of America’s most noteworthy citizens by providing the most complete picture of any American president.

Between the day he became president in November 1963, and the day he left the White House five years later, Lyndon Johnson returned to the Hill Country 74 times.

President Johnson had a deep attachment for place and heritage. The LBJ Ranch was where he was born, lived, died, and was buried. In 1972, the Johnsons donated their home and 690 acres for a national park. After the President’s death in 1973 at age 64, Lady Bird Johnson continued to live at the Ranch part time until her death in 2007.

Visitors are now able to tour the Ranch at their own pace in their private vehicle with the ability to stop at sites along the way such as the President’s birthplace, Johnson family cemetery, and the Johnson’s ranch house known as the Texas White House.

Hanger on LBJ Ranh with Air Force One. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Hanger on LBJ Ranh with Air Force One. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Obtain a free driving permit at the LBJ State Park and Historic Site Visitor Center in Stonewall. You will also receive a ranch map indicating the tour route. No Permits are given out after 4:00 p.m. A CD containing narrative audio for the tour is available for purchase in the bookstore and comes with a bonus DVD filled with videos and photos.

Then, just like LBJ did over 50 years ago in his white Lincoln Continental, drive through the main gate—but not as fast as the heavy-footed president liked to speed through himself.

After leaving the visitor center, continue to Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, where visitors can see how the Johnson family’s German-Texan neighbors lived.

After touring Sauer-Beckmann head for Ranch Road 1 along the Pedernales River. The right guardhouse on the left, once manned by uniformed Secret Service agents, marks the previous low-water crossing on the ranch.

As part of the self-guided Ranch Tour, you may stop at the Texas White House for a ranger-guided tour.

You’ll see Junction School, the one-room schoolhouse where Johnson learned to read; the reconstructed LBJ birthplace, and the Johnson family cemetery, here generations of the Johnson family are buried, including the president. You’ll also see the ranch house, known during the Johnson presidency as the “Texas White House”.

This is MY ranch and I do as I please! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
This is MY ranch and I do as I please! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once you arrive at the Texas White House, obtain a ticket for a house tour at the Airplane Hangar. House tour fee for ages 18 and older is $3.00.

The Texas White House was officially opened to the public on August 27, 2008. The entire ground floor is available for public tours. Rooms on the tour include the President’s Office, living room, dining room, and the Johnsons’ bedroom suites. The majority of rooms have been restored to their appearance during the presidential years (1963-1968) while the bedroom suites retain their appearance at the time of President and Mrs. Johnson’s deaths.

A few miles east is Johnson City, named after LBJ’s family. Here, there’s more fine historic preservation, including Johnson’s boyhood home and the Johnson settlement, featuring several 1800s barns and cabins, an old windmill, and a water tank and cooler house.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

There’s something different about this country from any other part of the nation.

The climate is generally pleasant.

The sun is generally bright.

The air seems to be always clean.

And the water is pure.

The moons are a little fuller here.

The stars are a little brighter.

And I don’t how to describe the feelings other than I guess we all search at times for serenity.

And it’s serene here.

—Lyndon Baines Johnson

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Junction: Texas Hill Country Hospitality Starts Here

Watch some birds, take a leisurely stroll, tube down the river, enjoy a sunset—and relax.

Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Junction boasts first-class outdoor recreation, a big-rig friendly RV park with true Texas hospitality, and all the mouth-watering Texas BBQ you can eat.

I expected the fresh air and open sky. After all, Junction is located on the western edge of the Texas Hill Country, elevation ranging around 2,000 feet. The abundance of outdoor activities was no surprise, either—the town is named for the junction of the north and south forks of the Llano River. Junction is ideal for fishing, tubing, and related activities, and there are scores of low-traffic roads for biking and a sprawling state park and wildlife management area checkered with hiking and biking trails.

What I hadn’t planned on was great Texas BBQ. Junction is a good place to work up an appetite, and, as it turns out, to satisfy it, too.

Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As we exited I-10 (Exit 465) for Junction North Llano River RV Park my heart skipped a beat as it jumped for joy! There to the back of a large parking lot was a huge BBQ pit surrounded by many, many, many cords of firewood piled higher than a man’s head like fortress walls. And an outdoor area with picnic tables under the spread of an enormous oak.

The food gods were really smiling on me. Heading west to Arizona with limited time and no hope of seeking out Texas BBQ, I lucked upon Cooper’s. Yes, Cooper’s Bar-B-Q & Grill is a happy accident food-wise on any road trip.

The Cooper family opened its original barbecue joint in Mason in the early 1950s, and Cooper sons later took the tradition to Llano—a location eventually sold outside the family—and here. Roy and Sheila Cooper, their son Mark and daughter-in-law Kim and their children all work at the restaurant, which has been in its current location for 16 years.

Texas Hill Country is the Lone Star State’s prime outdoor destination. But it’s not mountaintops and dramatic views that make this a vacation mecca—it’s water. More than 800 freshwater springs percolate to the surface in crystalline rivers and lakes, and the spot where the North and South Llano rivers meet spawned the town of Junction in 1876. One of the town’s first civic projects was a dam for power and irrigation, and Junction eventually became the commercial hub of Kimble County, named for an Alamo defender, George Kimble. But that has never meant many more than 2,500 people enjoying life in the county seat. Canoeing, kayaking, and tubing are the most popular ways to pass a day in Junction these days.

The dawn of another day along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The dawn of another day along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rolling hills and open spaces still define Junction. Wild turkeys also are a big part of the landscape. The largest concentration of Rio Grande Turkeys in the American Southwest gather in South Llano River State Park south of town. The gregarious birds winter in large flocks around the cottonwood riparian areas growing by the river. Turkeys can be spotted year-round, especially along the scrubby brush and open grasslands of the Fawn Trail that loops up open slopes for three miles.

The 524-acre park and adjacent 2,155-acre wildlife management area were donated to the state by cattle rancher Walter Buck Jr. Two miles of park front the river, but most folks congregate around the bridge near the entrance.

Activities include camping, picnicking, canoeing, tubing, swimming, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, bird-watching, and nature study.

The park offers approximately 20 miles of hiking/biking trails—15 of them prime for mountain biking—58 campsites with water and 30-amp electric service, six walk-in tent sites, and five hike-in primitive campsites.

Rest at one of the park’s top-notch bird blinds. These comfy shelters overlook water and feeding stations frequented by birds pretty much all day, although morning and evening are prime times. Common sightings are flycatchers, swallows, wrens, warblers, hawks, and hummingbirds.

Big-rig friendly North Llano River RV Park at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Big-rig friendly North Llano River RV Park at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next door, the Walter Buck State Wildlife Area is a destination to hike, watch birds, and polish wildlife photography skills.

Planning a Visit? Experience true Texas hospitality with welcoming smiles at Junction North Llano River RV Park. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a clean, spacious site nestled in a natural pecan grove along the banks of the North Llano River. Big rig sites over 80-feet in length are available; spacious full hookup sites with 50/30-amp electric service, free cable, and Wi-Fi.

There’s something for everyone whether you’re staying for one night, a week, or more—water sports, birding, fishing, hunting, scenic hill country drives, restaurants, golf, shopping, and good Texas BBQ! We’d be back in a Texas minute!

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

No matter how far we may wander, Texas lingers with us, coloring our perceptions of the world.

—Elmer Kelto

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Enchanted Rock: Sitting on Top of the World

The Texas Hill Country begins a little way west of I-35 between San Antonio and Austin, and from here extends a large area of rolling hills and valleys with limestone canyons, clear-water rivers, and a few scattered small towns.

Enchanted Rock is an impressive geological feature with an estimated age of one billion years, making it among the oldest exposed rock in North America
Enchanted Rock is an impressive geological feature with an estimated age of one billion years, making it among the oldest exposed rock in North America. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most of the area is quite densely wooded and can look rather featureless from a distance, with every hill covered with trees. One exception is Enchanted Rock, an enormous, pink granite dome located between Llano and Fredericksburg, about 90 miles north of San Antonio and 18 miles from Fredericksburg along ranch road 965.

Enchanted Rock rises 425 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres.

It’s part of the Llano Uplift, a large region of granite bedrock that rises out of the surrounding limestone. Over the last several million years, erosion has exposed this billion-year-old dome and its smaller sister domes. It’s some of the oldest exposed rock in the world and is a prime destination for hikers, photographers, and rock climbers.

Boasting the best view in Texas, Enchanted Rock has long been a useful landmark for cross-country travelers. The rock is one of the largest batholiths (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) formed from molten magma deep below the earth’s crust and part of an underground mass of 62 square miles, one of the largest such features in the US.

Although Enchanted Rock appears to be solid and durable, it continues to change and erode.

Visitors to Enchanted Rock enjoy numerous activities, including hiking, backpacking, technical and rock climbing, primitive camping, picnicking, birding, geological study, stargazing and nature study.
Visitors to Enchanted Rock enjoy numerous activities, including hiking, backpacking, technical and rock climbing, primitive camping, picnicking, birding, geological study, stargazing and nature study. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enchanted Rock was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1970 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Enchanted Rock is part of the state park system, one of the most popular sites in Texas for several reasons—the scenery is unusual, the summit is easily reached and has fine views over the countryside, different habitats harbor varied wildflowers, cacti and other plants, and there are good hiking trails and rock climbing routes. Occasionally visitors are turned away if the carpark reaches maximum capacity. There are actually several different summits, and a few days could be spent exploring the area.

The park offers 7 miles of hiking trails, including the popular 6/10 mile Summit Trail which involves a 425-foot elevation gain hike to the top of Enchanted Rock.
The park offers 7 miles of hiking trails, including the popular 6/10 mile Summit Trail which involves a 425-foot elevation gain hike to the top of Enchanted Rock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are two main trails. The steep and heavily traveled Summit Trail leads directly to the summit of the main rock, while the Loop Trail makes a four-mile trek around the entire complex of domes.

A more relaxed and more scenic—but longer—hike, the Loop Trail presents a completely different aspect of the park. Along the way you’ll pass through a couple of different ecosystems—through woods and brush, by a pond, over exposed rock—and you’ll see several unusual eroded and lichen-encrusted rock formations that those who do climb the face of Enchanted Rock never get to see.

A good combination is to walk half the loop trail to the far side of the Enchanted Rock summit, use a short cut along a ravine (Echo Canyon) to link with the summit trail then take this up to the peak. The southern part of the loop trail climbs through pine woodland and past large granite boulders with many colorful wildflowers during spring. There is a short side trail to a viewpoint of distant lands to the west, while the main path continues past a primitive camping area and a large pond (Moss Lake) with fish and turtles, then meets the Echo Canyon junction. The trail through here passes one of the main rock climbing areas, then meets the summit trail half way to the top.

Details

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Elevation: 1,825 feet (high point)

Address: 16710 Ranch Road 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624

Phone: (830) 685-3636

Directions: From Fredericksburg 18 miles north on Ranch Road 965; from Llano, 14 miles south on SR-16 and then west on Ranch Road 965

Entrance Fees: $7; children 12 years and younger, free

The 4-mile Loop Trail, a favorite among hikers and backpackers, winds around the base of Enchanted Rock.
The 4-mile Loop Trail, a favorite among hikers and backpackers, winds around the base of Enchanted Rock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Note: Park closures are possible on weekends and holidays. The number of people in the park is limited to protect its fragile resources. When parking lots are full, the park will close for up to two hours. This can happen September through May, sometimes as early as 11 a.m.

Worth Pondering…

I am humbled by the forces of nature that continuously -mold our great state of Texas into a beautiful landscape complete with geological diversity, flora and fauna. It is my goal as a photographer to capture that natural beauty and share it with others.

—Chase A. Fountain

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RVC Re-flags Outdoor Destination in the Texas Hill Country

Koyote Ranch Resort is now Medina Highpoint Resort, an RVC Outdoor Destination.

Medina Highpoint Resort, an RVC Outdoor Destination
Medina Highpoint Resort, an RVC Outdoor Destination

Memphis, Tennessee-based RVC Outdoor Destinations, a leading provider of high-quality outdoor resort properties in the United States, announced that it has completed renovations and additions to Koyote Ranch Resort located in Medina, Texas and the property is now Medina Highpoint Resort, an RVC Outdoor Destination.

The 95-acre Texas Hill Country property sits at one of the highest points in the region and provides guests with spectacular views, two ponds, an infinity pool, a restaurant, a retail store, a fueling station, a meeting pavilion, and hiking trails.

Existing lodging options include 33 cottages, 46 RV sites, 3 luxury suites in the Ranch Estate and eleven new cabins in a new section now known as “The View”, all of which feature expansive views of the Hill Country.

The property was developed as an outdoor destination and opened in 2003. The original ranch house was converted into a spectacular luxury Ranch Estate surrounded by mature Pecan trees and a modern pool area.

It’s location near Kerrville, between Austin and San Antonio, provides access to a large population of travelers seeking a first-class outdoor retreat.

“We’re so pleased that the best parts of the existing property have been further improved

Medina Highpoint Resort, an RVC Outdoor Destination
Medina Highpoint Resort, an RVC Outdoor Destination

while we were able to add beautiful new cabins,” said Pete Cook, Medina general manager, in a news release.

“Guests are already excited about the improvements and we all are so excited to be part of a family of similar properties throughout the country.”

“Medina Highpoint Resort is setting the standard for high-quality outdoor hospitality in the Texas Hill Country,” said Andy Cates, RVC’s President.

“In addition to improving the overall presentation of the property, including adding new beds to existing cottages, we are excited about the completion of eleven new cottages that give guests stunning views of the surrounding natural beauty.”

In addition to Medina Highpoint Resort, RVC currently operates Outdoor Destinations and RV Resorts in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

It added Lake Raystown Resort in Pennsylvania in July and River Plantation RV Resort in the Smoky Mountains in April.

Details

RVC Outdoor Destinations

RVC Outdoor Destinations develops, owns, and operates a portfolio of high-quality outdoor hospitality properties located within some of the country’s most beautiful natural settings and offering upscale services and amenities.

Memphis, Tennessee-based RVC is redefining the traditional camping experience with its original Outdoor Destination concept and upgraded RV resorts that provide guests with a comfortable, customizable, outdoor vacation through a variety of affordable lodging options, including RV sites, yurts, cabins, and cottages, all with enhanced guest amenities and recreational activities.

RVC operates nine Outdoor Destinations and RV Resorts in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Address: 429 N Main Street, Suite 100, Memphis, Tennessee 38103

Phone: (901) 432-4748

Website: rvcoutdoors.com

Medina Highpoint Resort

Medina Highpoint Resort, an RVC Outdoor Destination
Medina Highpoint Resort, an RVC Outdoor Destination

Medina Highpoint Resort is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country on Robertson Creek, between many natural wonders that provide various outdoor activities.

The resort sits on Edwards Plateau and has an elevation of 2,000 feet at its high point, meaning you haven’t truly experienced breathtaking views until you’ve vacationed here.

All RV sites offer a concrete patio and full hook-ups including 20/30/50 amp power, as well as dedicated side parking for your chase vehicle.

Sites are 40 feet wide and pull-through sites are 90 feet long. Back-in and head-in sites are 55 feet. All sites are spacious, comfortable level sites with a 15-foot wide parking area of crushed native granite. They offer unobstructed views of the gorgeous scenery, while still encompassing a degree of privacy not usually found in an RV park.

Rates: $39.99–$44.99/day; $299.99–$324.99 + electric/month

Address: 23195 St. Hwy 16 N, Medina, TX 78055

Phone: (800) 225-0991 (toll free)

Website: rvcoutdoors.com

Worth Pondering…

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.

—Peter Drucker

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Texas RV Parks Anticipate Strong Winter Season

Campgrounds and RV parks that cater to Winter Texans in South-Central Texas anticipate a stronger winter season than last year, thanks in part to the Eagle Ford shale oil pipeline project, which has brought scores of construction workers into the area, according to a news release from the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

“Last winter was about the best we’ve ever had and we’re going to be about 20 percent ahead of that this winter, so we’re looking really good,” said Doug Shearer of Parkview Riverside RV Park in Rio Frio.

In addition to seeing the return of their Winter Texan visitors, campgrounds in the Texas Hill Country and other areas of South-Central Texas are filling up with construction workers involved in the Eagle Ford shale oil project, which is boosting campground occupancies during the fall shoulder season, Shearer said.

Other Hill Country campgrounds and RV parks also anticipate a strong winter season, including Hill Country RV Park & Cottage Rentals in New Braunfels.

“We have a waiting list for both RV sites and park model rentals,” said Bryan Kastleman, the park’s manager.

Other parks are similarly upbeat.

“We did well last winter, but we’re doing better this winter,” said Teri Blaschke of Hidden Valley RV Park in Von Ormy.

Hidden Valley RV Park near San Antonio is family owned and operated by Mark & Teri and the Coleman Family since 1973. Officially in Von Ormy, the heritage of the two towns has long been intertwined.

“People are making reservations further in advance, so we’re being able to tell sooner what our vacancies will be. I do have spots here and there for travelers, but our long-term sites are already booked.”

Blaschke added that she is putting in eight new campsites for the winter season and they are already reserved.

Further to the north, La Hacienda RV Resort in Austin is already booked solid for the winter season.

“We’ve got a waiting list and we’re turning people away for the 2012-2013 winter market,” said park owner Ken Butschek, who added that his year-to-date revenue is up about 15 percent over last year’s figures.

La Hacienda RV Resort has a mix of sites that are owned by RVers as well as elegant park model cottages that are available for rent. The park also has about 30 sites that are available for overnight use.

“We have a loyal group of repeat Winter Texans. But we’re also seeing a lot of people who are trying out our park models,” Butschek said.

Further east, Rayford Crossing RV Resort in Spring and Timber Ridge RV Village in Tomball are already booked for the winter season, said Gwen Craig, who co-owns both parks. She said she has waiting lists for her seasonal sites, although she has kept a few overnight sites available for travelers.

“Every year we’ve outperformed the prior year in occupancy and revenue,” she said, adding that this year is again shaping up to be stronger than last year.

Thousand Trails RV Resort at Lake Conroe is also seeing a strong winter season, fueled both by Winter Texans as well as families from Texas that come to the park on weekends to take part in organized activities and special events.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We’re seeing younger crowds,” said Terry Munoz, resort manager of the 360-site park.

“Even during the winter the locals come out on weekends, so long as we have mild weather. We do a lot of themed weekends and activities.”

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

There’s something different about this country from any other part of the nation.

The climate is generally pleasant.

The sun is generally bright.

The air seems to be always clean.

And the water is pure.

The moons are a little fuller here.

The stars are a little brighter.

And I don’t how to describe the feelings other than I guess we all search at times for serenity.

And it’s serene here.

—Lyndon Baines Johnson

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RV Space Still Available for Winter Texans

Most Winter Texans who plan to spend all or part of the next two to four months in campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts have already made their reservations.

"Remember Goliad"! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But for those who have waited to the last minute, the task of locating a park that still has room for short or long-term winter visitors just got a little easier: The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) has surveyed its members and assembled a list of parks that still have room for Winter Texans.

As of early January, the association had identified 20 campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts that had yet to fill up for the season.

“Generally speaking, our parks are busier this winter than last winter, but there are still a number of parks that have room for snowbirds,” said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners. Parks that still have vacancy for short- and long-term winter visitors include:

Advanced RV Park in Houston-Pearland: This park offers hot showers, a tree at every campsite, a clubhouse, playground, swimming pool and spa and shuffleboard courts.

Bay View RV Resort in Rockport: This park, which features two outdoor swimming pools and an activities director, is walking distance to Copano Bay and Aransas Bay fishing piers.

Rockport-Fulton! The Charm of the Texas Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Columbus RV Park and Campground in Columbus: This quiet park offers its guests free cable TV and wireless Internet service as well as a video and book library. The park is popular with Winter Texans who want to be in a central location for day trips.

Corpus Christi RV Resorts in Corpus Christi: This is a network of parks in the Corpus Christi area, including Colonia del Rey RV Park, a Best Parks in America affiliate; Padre Palms RV Park; and Greyhound RV Park.

Dixieland Mobile Home and RV Park in Harlingen: This Rio Grande Valley park has a heated pool, billiard tables, shuffleboard courts and a recreation hall.

Fig Tree RV Resort in Harlingen: This park, purchased by new owners last year, has undergone remodeling in the pool, laundry and bathroom areas. Wi-Fi service has also been added throughout the park.

Explore the historic homes of Galveston. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hidden Valley RV Park in Von Ormy: This park near San Antonio has sites available with 30- and 50-amp service as well as dry camping areas and sites with partial hookups.

Jamaica Beach RV Park in Galveston: This park offers free wireless Internet service, free cable, free Continental Breakfast with homemade waffles, and a free daily newspaper. Other amenities include pull through sites, an exercise room, a swimming pool and hot tub, a splash pad for the kids, a game room and planned activities.

Koyote Ranch in Medina: This Hill Country park offers RV and tent sites as well as cabin rentals. Other amenities include a restaurant and grill with “all you can eat” fried catfish on Friday nights; a camp store; a beer and wine garden; and an infinity edge swimming pool.

Magic Valley Park in Welasco: This Rio Grande Valley park has 24 shuffleboard courts, a pool hall, swimming pool and hot tub and numerous activities, including morning exercise classes, square dance lessons, painting classes, a quilters group, a golf group, a wood carving group, a computer group, bingo and potluck suppers. The park also has a dance band and organizes tours to nearby points of interest.

Mission Bell and Tradewinds RV Resorts in Mission: These resorts are 55+ retirement resorts with numerous activities, classes as well as live entertainment.

Palmdale RV Resort in San Benito: This Rio Grande Valley park has a 6,000-square foot recreation hall, shuffleboard and horseshoe courts and a full-time activities director.

Rollin Homes West RV Park in Donna: This Rio Grande Valley park features pull through sites and wireless Internet service.

The Old Hildalgo Pumphouse and World Birding Center in the Rio Grande Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spring Branch RV Resort in Spring Branch: This Hill Country park features ADA compliant family restrooms, onsite propane delivery service, pet walking areas and a recreation hall with a large kitchen. They are just minutes from San Antonio.

Valley Gateway RV Park in Edinburg: This park offers organized activities in its clubhouse, including card games, shuffleboard, ping-pong and billiards as well as occasional dances.

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Canyon Lake: This family friendly Hill Country park has both RV and cabin accommodations available during the winter season. Park activities include gem mining, hayrides, laser tag, arts and crafts, horseshoes, pedal carts, karaoke and themed weekends.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Details

Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO)

The Texas Association of Campground Operators (TACO) publishes and distributes the Texas RV Travel & Camping Guide each year.

Website: texascampgrounds.com

Note: This is the first of a 2-part series on RV space availability for Winter Texans

Part 2: Fewer Winter Texans at Valley RV Parks

Worth Pondering…
Wasn’t Born in Texas, But Got Here as Fast as I Could

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Po Po Family Restaurant: A Texas Tradition

Bright neon letters spell “CHICKEN, STEAKS, SEAFOOD” across the rock exterior of Po Po Family Restaurant, just off I-10. A notice posted on the front door warns: “We are not fast!…For fast, go to New York….” The neon and the notice tell you what to expect at Po Po’s: a menu that requires no translation, featuring traditional American and Southern fare, cooked to order.

Bright neon letters spell “CHICKEN, STEAKS, SEAFOOD” across the rock exterior of Po Po Family Restaurant. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Po Po is not just your ordinary restaurant. This eatery has a unique history with a cast of unique characters and circumstances, a matchless plate collection, as well as some of the best food in the Texas Hill County. It is located about six miles north of Boerne and about ½ mile off I-10 at the Welfare exit #533, 37 miles west of San Antonio.

The warmth and hospitality are hard to beat. If you have ever been to Po Po’s, you will never forget the outstanding food and the nostalgic experience.

The structure was first built as a dance hall in 1929 by rancher and dairyman, Edwin Nelson. There were just gravel roads in the area then. First he built a gas station and then the dance hall. Nelson City was put on the map at that time.

Edwin’s son, Harold, said he was twelve years old at the time and his job was to cook hamburgers at 5 cents.

Since it was during prohibition no alcoholic beverages were allowed inside the dancehall. That didn’t seem to be a problem however outside the building, because bootleggers peddled moonshine for 25 cents a shot. You could buy larger sizes of moonshine up to $3.00 a gallon.

The Nelson Dance Hall started out with a dance every two weeks. The orchestra—when there was one—played from 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. and was paid $25.00. Sometimes there was just old-time music with a violin and a guitar and the two were paid a total of $5.00.

A notice posted on the front door warns: “We are not fast!…For fast, go to New York….” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Admission started out at 25 cents but as the Great Depression worsened, the price dropped to a dime and then finally just to the passing of a hat. People didn’t have the money to buy gasoline to get there and the dance hall failed.

The dance hall was sold in 1932 to Edwin “Ned” Houston, a colorful rancher across the road, who was well known for his large export operation of cattle, mules, and other animals to Latin America. His children Rena and “Fritz,” have said that he sold to Pancho Villa in Mexico, Batista in Cuba, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, and Somoza in Nicaragua.

Ned Houston started a restaurant and named it Po-Po Cafe. “Po Po” might seem like a child’s pet name for “Grandpa,” but tradition tells that Ned named his café after Popocatépetl, the great Mexican volcano. This was well known to him from his Mexican ventures and it is said that he wanted a short, punchy name.

Houston sold Po Po to Willie Reinhard in 1934. It changed hands several times and had some hard times until it was sold to Luther and Marie Burgon in 1950. This is the time that the great restaurant days of Po-Po began when it became a family restaurant.

They began operating Po Po, developing the reputation of its being one of the finest restaurants in the area. It was the place to go for the well-known families in San Antonio and residents of the Hill Country alike.

Luther and Marie traveled one month a year and were not satisfied with photos as a reminder of their many travels. They began collecting plates which now adorn the walls of the two large rooms of Po Po. They now number more than 2,200 on display, many of which were donated and each with a special story behind it for their patrons to see and enjoy.

More than 2,200 plates are on display, many of which were donated and each with a special story behind it for their patrons to see and enjoy. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Burgons kept Po Po as a family restaurant until 1981. In 1983 it was sold to Jerry and Jenny Tilley and son, David, and is now open as a fully operating family restaurant. With the addition of a sound stage and covered dance area, outdoor patio area, and a complete kitchen, Po-Po is capable of serving up to 200 people outdoors for private parties.

As of June, 2004, the restaurant was sold to Sam Bournias and Mark Admire; with “the hope and desire to continue this Texas Tradition for another 75 years.”

Details

Po Po Family Restaurant

Po Po Family Restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner

Location: 6 miles north of Boerne, ½ mile off I-10 at the Welfare exit #533

Address: 829 FM 289, Boerne, TX 78006

Contact: (830) 537-4194

Website: poporestaurant.com

Worth Pondering…
The only tome to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.

—Julia Child

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