Posted on February 25th, 2015 by Brenda
When we left Texas heading east we took a different route to change things up a little bit. We ended up in Little Rock, Arkansas and decided to spend a couple nights there. We found this great rv park, Passport America park no less, right on the water, over looking downtown Little Rock. The Downtown Riverside RV Park offers full hook-ups, wifi, a great location as well as a great view. We would definitely stay here again.
While it is located right next to a major traffic bridge, the noise is not bad. Inside our coach we didn’t even hear it. On the other side of the park is an old 1600-foot railroad bridge that the city of Little Rock has repurposed into the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge. Their is an access point right from the rv park to the bridge so that you can walk across the Arkansas River to the Clinton Presidential Library, among other things.
While the weather was chilly and very windy when we were there, this bridge would have been a great way to explore the city without having to deal with traffic. Alas, it was way to windy and cold for us to attempt this.
And yes, while it was too windy to fly the quadcopter and get some great views of the city, river and bridges, that didn’t stop us from throwing the copter up for a couple of nighttime pictures.
The nights are spectacular here. The city has a bunch of bridges crossing the river and at night they light them up for all to see. It truly is beautiful. I love when a city really shines and thinks about how it showcases itself.
Little Rock is not what we expected. I guess I really didn’t know what to expect but this city was surprising. Not only is it the Capital of Arkansas, so you can explore all the historical buildings and such, but it also boasts a bunch of award winning restaurants, a large outdoorsy environment and the award winning Arkansas Trail, which includes the Big Dam Bridge. The Arkansas River Trail System is a tribute to outdoor recreation, conservation, wellness that creates an expansive 88-mile loop through the Natural State. According to the Arkansas River Trail Website, The Big Dam Bridge is a famous 4,200 foot structure is the longest pedestrian/cyclist bridge in the world built solely for recreation. It reaches up to 90 feet above the river, and its state-of-the-art linear “wall-wash” LED fixtures illuminate its exterior and can create more than 16 million color schemes.
All I know is there were a lot of bridges here in Little Rock and they truly showcase them well.
We didn’t have time to explore everything there was to see and do in Little Rock. One of the top things to explore is the Clinton Presidential Library. The building itself is striking and earning a Platinum LEED Certification which was important to all who built it. You can read more about the building and it’s design from concept to reality here.
While it does not matter whether you were a fan or not, Democrat or Republican, the library has much to offer and I highly recommend you visit one if not more around this great country of ours.
Like most museums, there is an introductory video that is pretty informative. You then can choose to explore the museum yourself, take a tour with a guide or have an audio tour spoken to you through a headset with Clinton himself narrating. We chose to just explore ourselves.
One could easily spend all day here reading everything and looking over everything. We did not. A couple hours and we were on information overload, so to speak. It’s a lot of information in a two-story structure. And this is only a small portion of all the documents and such that went through the White House.
The library was broken up into manageable sections. Between the different years he was in office and what happened to the various gifts he had received from around the globe. This section was very interesting. Some were very ornate while others were very simple. All look like they were cherished.
There was a life-sized replica of the Cabinet Room and a life-sized replica of the Oval Office, the only one in the country, according to there website.
While you cannot enter the Oval Office, you can look in all the windows and doorways. David had a little fun with this one.
Don’t worry, no one was harmed nor arrested in the making of this picture.
The Library was very informative but after spending a couple hours there, we were ready to move on.
Right around the corner, literally from the Clinton Presidential Library was the Heifer International Headquarters. While being so close, we had to go check it out.
Heifer International has been a staple in my family’s gift giving for decades. Dan West, a simple farmer in the American Midwest, started it over 70 years ago. He started by giving cups of milk to the refugees of the Spanish Civil War. As the refugees kept coming back for more cups of milk, he Realized that he really was not making a difference and he started thinking about why. Why give a cup of milk when you could give a cow? It’s the old say, “Teach A Man How To Fish”. That is how Heifer International got it’s name. The idea was so simple. With such a great story behind this organization I encourage you to read all about it here.
Heifer International may have started small, with that one cow; however, they have grown into an international relief foundation. All over the world they not only give away cows but chickens, goats and many more animals.
The thing I like about them is they are not all about a handout but a hand up. They teach the recipients how to care for the animals and when it comes time to breed them, the recipients give back to the community to someone else that may need the off spring. It teaches a cycle of helping each other out of poverty. To give back to your community. To help yourself earn an income to send your child to school and put food on the table. To get the nutrients that one needs just to survive.
So Heifer International does not just throw money at the problem. They have people on the ground within the communities, helping them out and teaching them and yes, screening them as well to make sure all is a good fit. Their goal, to end poverty and hunger around the world.
You can go and visit the headquarters in Little Rock, take a tour of another LEED Certified building and learn all about sustainable living. If you have kids there was a great hands on learning center there.
It did not take long for us to explore the learning center. We did find interesting the display of the grain usage of the United States vs the developing world. We use a lot of corn. I’m thinking that’s not such a good thing.
The tours of the headquarters, another LEED Certified building, however we given every hour on the hour and we were not there at the right time and we didn’t feel like hanging around just for that.
If you have more time, a short drive away is the Heifer Farm. There are more in Maryland, Maine and Michigan. You can see some of the animals up close and learn all about farm life and sustainability first hand.
We did have some time to explore the gift shop of course. The gift shop was full of Fair Trade items from all over the world. A great place to pick up some gifts. The real gifts I like to give though are the animals from the gift catalog. A popular gift item for the holidays no matter what your budget, you can give your loved one a chick, honeybees, trees, water buffalo or even a cow. Heifer will distribute said animals to whoever is in need. I find it a great way to give back a little.
After all, do we really need more stuff? I think not.
When we left there we drove over, but you could easily walk, to the River Market area.
While this was listed as a great place to visit, we found it disappointing. The actual River Market was nothing more than expensive little deli’s and restaurants with the seating all indoors. It was nothing more than one big giant food court. I was hoping for more specialty shops and cute boutiques. Alas, there really was very little. We didn’t even eat there, as it was pricey. More for the tourists I’m sure. There is a Farmer’s Market and music during the warmer months. So maybe it was just not a good time of year to explore the River Market area.
We walked up the street and found a great pizza shop. Iriana’s was the place to be. Excellent pizza and the left overs were great the next day cold. Sorry to say I didn’t get a picture. We both were really hungry at that time as it was late afternoon by the time we got there.
All in all, we had a nice time in Little Rock. We can see ourselves coming back and spending more time here. It’s a great city to explore. Great walking/biking trails all over the city and the surrounding area. We didn’t have the time to truly explore all that Little Rock had to offer. For only having one full day though, I feel we did all right.
We have to leave something for next time after all.
Posted on February 17th, 2015 by Brenda
Last winter, as you may, remember that we spent a couple months at the RV Ranch in Keene, Texas. This is a great stop if you are passing through the area. Big enough pull throughs for our 45-foot motor home and tow vehicle. You can, in a few spots, easily stay hooked up if you’re just passing through, however, I recommend staying a few days and checking out the area. This rv park makes for a great launching off pad for exploring the Fort Worth area, just a quick 20 minute drive away.
We became good friends with the rv park owners, Ronnie and Ginger and their mother Annette whom runs the front office. The RV Park of Keene is actually off Interstate 35 about 7 miles west and 20 miles south of Fort Worth. However if you are driving through some of the northern part of Texas Hill Country and you find yourself needing a place to stay, this park is easily within reach.
Stopping here not only gives us time with our friends but we can also visit the great food that is in the area. I know we are not the only ones that enjoy finding mom and pop restaurants that make the town what it is. We have a few favorites in this area.
Del Norte Taco is a great Mexican restaurant located in Godley, TX. Just a quick 20-minute drive and I’m in heaven. Their secret? The chef. Yes, I know this is a small town Mexican restaurant and you wouldn’t expect much, but you would be wrong. He uses only the finest seasonal local vegetables and slow cooked mesquite meats the way his grandmother showed him. Oh my. I have not found anything else in our many years of travels that can come close to Del Norte Tacos.
We just happened to be driving right past there on our way to the RV Ranch of Keene, we of course had to stop for lunch. I wrote more about it here the last time we were in town. There truly is nothing that we have tried that was not excellent.
Another favorite of ours and just 5 minutes away from the RV Ranch is Sweet Peppa’s. They are only open for breakfast and lunch and it’s all good here. Oh, you HAVE TO checkout their Facebook page. It is SO funny with sayings almost every day on a chalkboard. Sweet Peppa’s Facebook.
Being so close to the rv park it is easy to just roll out of bed and get a great breakfast. Everything is home made and they have pies that you can pre-order and take home with you if you so desire. I’m not confessing that we actually did that, but one could.
Make sure you treat yourself to lunch there as well. Just not on the same day as you will be stuffed from breakfast. The menu is not huge but let’s face it, some restaurants you could spend all day perusing the menu just from the sheer size of it. They have a good variety of healthy and not so healthy, eat it once in a while kinda meals. Like the above picture of David holding that half a burger. Yes, that’s only half. We ended up sharing this burger, as it was huge. Picture a fresh meat hamburger sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches for the buns. No, my arteries did not close up upon eating said meal. However, this is one of those afore mentioned meals that is good once in a while, not once a week.
Let’s just say it’s a good thing we don’t live here. We did have to stop one last time on our way out of town for breakfast. On Friday’s only, they make French Toast, one of David’s favorites. So we parked across the street and had one last meal at Sweet Peppa’s.
So, other than eat our way through our two week stay in Keene, what else did we do? Well, our friends Ronnie and Ginger also own The North Texas Jellystone RV Park just a 10-minute drive up the road. It’s a great park if you are traveling with kids. It’s easily accessible from Interstate 35 and they have some large pull throughs that would easily fit our 45-foot motor home. They also have a good-sized water park attached to the rv park along with many other activities. Ronnie and Ginger were anxious for us to see the large water park expansion that they were constructing.
When they said it was a large expansion, boy, were they not kidding.
What better way to draw some excitement for the new water park expansion than to make a video! So David promptly got out his quadcopter and made a great video of it. We certainly have done our fair share of rv park videos along with various parks and activities. However a construction video is definitely a new one for us.
All the guys came out and watched the quadcopter fly around. They all got a kick out of passing around the goggles and watching the flight from the air. It was great for them to get to see the construction from a different point of view.
Then David and Ronnie each donned a pair of goggles and off they flew. It was a blast shooting this project.
It was a wonderful day to fly and we were lucky we flew when we did because the weather turned down right cold and rainy after that.
We can’t wait to see the water park when the construction is finished and everyone is able to enjoy it. A lazy river, multiple slides, various water dump areas and a stage for entertainment are only a few of the new features that are going in.
You can see they really poured their heart and soul into this project along with A LOT of concrete. We feel it will really pay off for them and we’re glad we were able to help out in the little way that we can.
We think the video turned out great and David found the perfect music to accompany it. Hope you like it as much as we do!
We really enjoyed our visit with our friends. We were sad that we could not spend more time with them. We really didn’t get to see them as much as we had hoped as there was a nasty flu bug traveling around their family. So we all stayed away.
Our last evening Annette had invited us out to dinner.
She took us out to Charleston’s Steakhouse in Fort Worth. It was a great evening with great company. Good food was had by all. Now we have another restaurant to add to our ever-growing list of places to go.
Thanks Annette for a great evening and we promise, next time we’re in town we’ll let you pay for dinner (crossing my fingers behind my back).
It was great seeing everyone again and hopefully it won’t be so long next time our paths cross. Oh, maybe the water park would be another good place for a Outside Our Bubble meet-up. :) We could have the park to ourselves after 6PM. :) Ok, Ok, one thing at a time, Quartzsite meet-up first.
Posted on February 2nd, 2015 by Brenda
When packing your RV for a trip, or living in it full-time as we do, you tend to lean towards thinking about the essential items you will need for your trip. What kitchenware and food will you want, clothing, toiletries, etc. However one item that can easily be over looked is a great fire extinguisher.
RVs are required to come with a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher.
PSA: Please remember to check your batteries in your detectors.
The fire extinguisher however is, in most cases that we’ve seen, mounted by the front door and is usually filled with powder. Well, let’s think about that for a minute. While traveling down the road, bouncing around, the powder from that extinguisher can get so compacted down into the canister; it will render the fire extinguisher useless. How many times have you taken that fire extinguisher and shaken it to loosen up the powder? I bet most reading this never have. We try to do it monthly but yes, we have forgotten as well to do this.
A great fire extinguisher to have in a motor home is one that is foam based. The foam will handle wood, grease and a bunch of other types of fires. It cannot compact down to into a hard, unusable mass like the powdered ones. And they don’t have to be expensive. We did some research and now we personally use this foam extinguisher on Amazon for around $17.00 for a two pack or a single one for around $11.00, even with Prime shipping no less! It is recommended that you have several of these throughout your coach for easy access. What would happen if you were in your back bedroom and a fire started in the kitchen? It would be dangerous and cost precious time to run all the way up front to grab that one fire extinguisher by the door that might not even work. So please make sure you have one in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or anywhere else you feel one may become of use. These are so cheap (and small) that it’s easy to buy multiples and place them all over. Don’t forget the outside compartments and your car as well.
Another great thing about the foam is that it is biodegradable. So if you need to use this inside your RV, it easily cleans up with a wipe and will not harm the surfaces it may have contacted that was not on fire. Have you ever seen the mess that is left behind with the powdered extinguishers? Not something I’d like to clean up as it gets EVERYWHERE.
They are super easy to use. Just break the seal, aim and fire. It’s best to aim towards the base of the fire to get right to the source. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the instructions before use.
Side Note: Unlike the powder extinguishers that can only and should only be used once, these foam extinguishers can be used a couple times. For instance, if the fire that you are putting out is small, you can use this same can again. But why would you want to cut yourself short? These are so inexpensive that it’s safer and easier just to replace it and be safe.
So we thought we would spend $11 to show others this extinguisher in action in the short demo video below. (We spare no expense when it comes to our readers.) In the video David demonstrates this fire extinguisher on our campfire that was VERY HOT as it had been burning for about four hours. Sorry for the darkness but we wanted you to get the full effect and be able to see the flames. (Ok, we did it because it was there and had thought of this helpful blog post.) So now on to the demo so you can really see how quickly this foam fire extinguisher works on a well established fire….
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please keep in mind that we are not fire experts. We do not assume any responsibility for any fire that you can or cannot put out. Anything that we state in this post is of our own opinion and resources. We just feel it is vitally important for all RVers to be aware of the fire dangers while traveling in an RV. After all, we’ve all seen and shared the videos online showing how quickly these things go up in flames.
Quick Amazon Links:
Posted on January 25th, 2015 by Brenda
As you may or may not already know, Quartzsite, AZ is a top gathering place for RVers in January and February. Why you may ask? What makes this town with a population of just over 3600 people (according to the 2010 census) turn into a town of hundreds of thousands, even millions every winter? Well, on top of the great weather (average 60′s and 70′s during the daytime), great scenery and a great spot for friends to meet up and hang out, Quartzsite has a large Sports, Vacation and RV show that happens every year in January. Simultaniously there is a Rock, Gem and Mineral Show that happens every January and February. The Desert USA website, explains: “Eight major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors and enthusiasts.”
With so much BLM land (both 14-day limit, free sites as well as long-term fee sites) that surround Quartzsite, it makes it an ideal place for large groups to gather. With people’s travel schedules and lives that get in the way, this can be a great place to meet up once a year and catch up with friends. Potlucks, bon fires, crafting lessons and a movie night (that we put on) are great ways to enjoy each other’s company.
Since most choose to park out in the desert, with all of the vastness of dirt, rocks, tumbleweeds and cacti, everything can really start to look the same.
David did a great video of where we were parked to get an idea of the vastness around us and to prove that yes, you can boondock with an all electric, luxury motor coach out in the middle of nowhere. Also to prove to our family and friends that we actually did take our coach off road.
We ended up lasting 12 days before we left. However, with the state our tanks were in, we could have easily lasted a few more days, but alas, it was time to move on for us. We filled up our diesel before we parked for those 12 days and also filled back up after we left to get an estimate of how much it actually cost us to boondock in the desert. When we filled up we were surprised that we had gone through 42 gallons of diesel (we have a 150 gallon tank). We filled up at $2.70 a gallon, which came out to $113.40 bucks. Divide that by the 12 days we were out there and we spent $9.45 a day to boondock. Certainly less than an rv park would have cost. Now, we had not done any serious boondocking since we bought this coach, so this was a test of our tanks as well as our 2 solar panels that we have on our roof. We do not have the capability of tilting them, nor did we position our coach for maximum exposure, as we didn’t remember to when we parked and set up. With that in mind, we still believe that our solar panels were not working properly. So, under different circumstances, we may have faired better.
Unless you park in a large group, like the Montana group above or you park in town at one of the various rv parks, you may need a little help in finding your spot when coming back from town. Flags are a great way to help identify where you are parked. Not only are there various flags (American, sports, military, etc) that you can adorn your coach with, many flagpoles can have solar lights and such added to the topmast. So if you happened to not park in a large group, when trying to find your way back home in the dark, and it gets really dark out here, these lights can be a nice addition as well as landmark. But don’t fret if you don’t have a pole, flag or lights, it can all be found here under and around the tent during the show.
Speaking of vendors and the tent event, this place is huge! A great, and FREE, event for Rvers, you can find everything and anything you ever thought you might and sometimes might not know you ever needed, here in one place. There are vendors selling new items such as expandable ladders, LED lights, chairs and yes, the ever-popular flagpoles, flags and lights for said poles. Other wares such as crafts, specialty foods, camping memberships, surplus tools, rv parts and everything in between can also be found all over. The tent is not the only place for shopping. Oh no, there are vendors set up around the tent, across the street in the Tyson Wells area, all around town on Main Street as well as across highway 95 (which runs north/south through town).
Let’s not forget one of the favorite stops for all of us, I’m sure, the food vendors. Can I just say the “Carny” food is always a good choice for something to indulge on.
The food vendors are as vast and different as the rv vendors. You can find hand-made ice cream, wood fired brick pizza, BBQ, fresh mini donuts, hand dipped, beer battered onion rings, fried dough, fresh cut curly fries. The choices are endless. I can feel my arteries clogging as I type this.
After indulging, or (clearing my throat), over indulging, a nice long hike may be in order. If you have not walked the tread off of your shoes yet while shopping around town, you can always get out and walk around the desert and the various hiking trails that can be found. Being that most people park outside of town on BLM land, you can just step outside your coach and take off.
Sunset is a great time to be outside enjoying the desert. The sunsets out here in Arizona are simply spectacular. You can see all around you for miles, surrounded by mountains, they can be breathtaking.
It’s also a great time to get some video of the sunsets with the quadcopter.
Speaking of the quadcopter, this has to be the most quadcopters we have seen, in one area, flying around. The desert can be a great place to fly because you don’t have to worry about trees or wires getting in the way. You can do some really great long distance flying and the odds of having a signal interrupted out here are minimal. There really is nothing around to get in the way of some good flying. David had a personal best of 1.86 miles away and thus back totaling 3.72 miles round trip, with a top speed of 63 MPH! Whew!
David did a great quadcopter video showing the surrounding camping areas and the tent event around town. This should give you a good idea of what to expect and the shear scope of things if you have not been to this area before.
This area is ripe for outdoor sports. Off roading, ATVing, paragliding, even hot air ballooning can all be found around town here. Enthusiasts from all over the country come here to fly and 4×4 and such. You never know what you’re going to see. Just the other night David was out flying his Phantom quadcopter (because it’s easier to see with it’s lights) playing with another Phantom quadcopter pilot who was at another coach at another part of the desert, while watching a paraglider land in the sunset, while people were outside starting up there campfires and grills.
It may be the desert. Life may be harder out here. You may have to tweak your habits a little to boondock longer periods of time, for example taking “Navy” showers and such.
But the rewards are endless.
Sunsets are spectacular.
New and old friendships are made.
The peacefulness is priceless.
Life Is Good!
Even if it comes with a layer of dirt.
Care to join us next year? We’re considering getting a group together. A campfire talking, outdoor movie-watching, cook out happening kinda group.
Some quadcopter flying may be involved.
I’m just sayin.
Just comment below if you’re interested. I know it’s difficult to plan that far in advance. That’s why it’s just a thought right now. (Be sure your email address is entered in when you make the comment. Not in the comment, but in the email field which only we see. We than can make a list to use later.)