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RV Travel Tales: A Gem in My Hometown

The Gem Theater in my hometown of Heber Springs, Arkansas, has been the center of my social life since I was a child. I cannot remember the first time I saw a movie. But before I started first grade, a neighborhood friend and I could walk down Main Street and pay five cents to see a double feature on Saturday afternoon. And we did! Times change; traffic increases, and we no longer know every person living in Heber Springs. My children, who grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s in a house only two blocks from my childhood home, could not walk to the movies. And certainly my granddaughter, who lived as a child in my old home, could not even walk the two blocks to my house. 

The Gem has gone through transformation, as well. In my girlhood, my Great- Aunt Lucy Dial sat every Saturday afternoon and all evenings in the ticket booth, monitoring who came and went and how one behaved during the movie. An old-fashioned popcorn popper rolled outside the theater each evening. Different people who worked at the theater over the years started the corn popping at least a half hour before movie time. Golden, light kernels fell from the popper with a mouthwatering smell that wafted up and down Main Street. Residents not attending the movie stopped their cars in front of the Gem long enough to spend ten cents for a bag of the warm buttery treat to munch on their evening drives. That was something else we did in Heber Springs: “drive around” for entertainment. 

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The Healthy Traveler:  Smart RV Cooking On the Road

Part of the appeal of any recreational vehicle is the ability to cook your own meals. Yet many campers limit themselves to what can be fixed on the grill outside. There is no reason to limit yourself to hamburgers and chicken. Here are some ways you can enjoy healthy, home-cooked meals when on the road.

Menu Planning

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The Silver Gypsy:  In the Fullness of Time

While I feel very strongly about this subject, I know that times have changed.  When my kids were growing up, at least until the youngest was in high school, I was a stay-at-home Mom.  That didn’t exactly mean I didn’t work mind you, but beyond my housewifely duties, I didn’t have to be gone long from home or I could take the girls with me.  From time to time I painted houses inside and out, worked part time at a food-testing lab and sometimes did office work for my sister-in-law.   There were also all the non-paying jobs which were paid for in love, hugs, good will, and brownie points like taking turns cleaning my grandmother-in-law’s house every other week with my sis-in-law or helping my folks take care of theirs.  All of it took time which is what most working parents don’t have. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_BAKING-COOKIES-RV.jpgThe advice still stands, within the realm of your possibilities, I would advise all parents, young or old, to never clean house, mow the yard, or start a garage project, if it is a perfect time for a back yard campfire with the kids, a walk on the beach, hiking, canoeing, swimming, a weekend of tent camping or some other activity you would all enjoy.   Choose doing things together as a family. 

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Adventures in RVing:  Do Your Part

Do you love to boondock? Did you make a New Year's resolution for 2015? If you answered “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second question, then make a vow to do your part to leave each bookdocking campsite better than you found it in 2015 and beyond. What does that entail? For starters, it means taking everything that you brought to the site with you when you leave (aka Pack it in, Pack it out). That includes things attached to trees and other vegetation, making sure you pull all of your awning and patio stakes out of the ground and, most importantly, taking your garbage with you. I am sure most of you reading this blog practice what I just detailed. However, if we want to continue enjoying the freedom of boondocking, doing your part also includes picking up after less thoughtful people that left their garbage behind, stuff hanging in trees and just a general mess. If we fail to take care of our public lands, then we are very likely to find access restricted the next time we visit. 

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Great Escapes: California State Capitol Building

The California State Capitol Building in Sacramento is a blend of many architectural styles— Roman, Renaissance Revival, Neo-classical, and some that are unique to the region. Since the Golden State was the 31st state to join the Union, the design of its capitol was influenced by various styles used in public buildings that preceded it. What’s unique about this capitol, though, is that on the top of its dome is a gold ball, reminiscent of a gold nugget, which honors California’s Gold Rush heritage. In 1860, the legislature set aside $500,000 to build this capitol, and a local architect named Reuben Clark drew the original plans. When it was finally finished in 1874, the total cost was about $2.45 million. Today that would be more than $46,000,000! Whether you take a formal guided tour, or just wander the north and south wings on your own, it’ll be an hour or two well spent. 

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The Full-Timing Nomad: Free Camping Stinks

Everyone loves a bargain and some of us are more willing to sacrifice for discounts than others. Take for instance the many free and cheap RV parks and boondocking sites that are still available to RVers around this country. From the Upper Midwest's large array of city-sponsored RV parks to free desert camping in the Southwest, these bargain RV accommodations are great places to save money when you're on the road to somewhere else or fleeing winter's wrath. However while the parks might look good on the surface, once you arrive you'll often uncover the truth about free camping: the smell. 

As my momma said, there's no free lunch in this world and everything comes at a price. In the case of free campgrounds, the price is often an assault on your olfactory senses. For example, the Texas Panhandle is lined with quaint city parks located up and down the I-27 corridor. Most are shady respites from a long day's driving and some even offer free water and electric hookups with a central dump station for overnighters. I'm so grateful for these spots, since they're perfect places to stay when you're ready to get off the highway for a day or two. For example, the city park in Denver City, Texas, has a nice view of a golf course, a pond, and wide open fields that make any dog's day. Unfortunately, this park is situated smack dab in the heart of oil country. Although the locals are immune to the sour smell of petroleum production, visitors like us haven't become numb to its effects and after 24 hours of sucking in the fumes, you'll want to flee. 

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The 19th Hole: Super Golf in Phoenix During Super Bowl Week

With Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix just over a week away, visitors should not forget their golf clubs when headed to the sunny climes of the Grand Canyon State. Featuring nearly 200 golf courses and dozens of RV parks in the greater Phoenix area, staying and playing is not a problem in Arizona, although it may be a little more challenging during Super Bowl weekend. Phoenix offers more than 300 days of sunshine annually, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s at this time of year. With that gorgeous weather, here are several golf courses to consider during your Super Bowl visit to Phoenix. 

Home of the largest-attended tournament in the world, the fan-favorite Waste Management Phoenix Open, TPC Scottsdale is a masterful blend of challenge and playability. It attracts top players and recreational golfers alike. As Arizona’s only PGA Tour property, TPC Scottsdale is set in the rugged Sonoran Desert and features stunning views of the McDowell Mountains. TPC Scottsdale boasts 36 holes of inspiring golf. The par 71, 7,216-yard Stadium Course was designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf; the Champions Course, at 7,115 yards, offers undulating Bermuda fairways, pristine greens, and challenging bunkers. The final round wraps up on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1. 

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RV Travel Tales: What I Learned at the LBJ Ranch in Texas

When Lyndon B. Johnson took office as president of the United States in the wake of the tragic death of President John F. Kennedy, I was a young wife and mother, rocking a baby in the small den adjoining our kitchen. With two preschool daughters, a home business as a piano teacher, continuous piles of laundry and bills, and daily meals to prepare, I had little time to think about history or politics. As the years of Johnson’s presidency followed, somehow, I lacked respect for the man. I had no idea about his personal life, the ideals he held for our government, or the passage of bills he pushed concerning education and civil rights. All of those things lived only in the shadows of my busy life. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_ARLINE-Johnson-Family-Cemetery.jpgIn 2015, the movie, “Selma,” is playing in theaters. Clips on television have shown President Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King at odds over a bill for voting rights. Other news reports gave bits of transcribed taped phone conversations between the two men, shedding light that the President supported Dr. King in his endeavors to seek voting rights for the black population of our country. While watching these segments on morning news, I said to Lee: “After our visits to the LBJ Ranch and Johnson’s boyhood home in Texas, I changed my mind about Lyndon Johnson—as a man and as a president.” I had to grow and gain exposure to a larger world in my “elderly” (I often bristle at the word in reference to my age!) years. After the age of 50, I had the opportunities to travel and visit many places in our country—places that opened my mind and heart to differing viewpoints, landscapes, and cultures. One of those places is the Texas Hill Country where Lyndon B. Johnson grew up and where he conducted a major part of our nation’s business in his ranch home that the press named “The Texas White House.” 

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The Healthy Traveler: Make an RV First Aid Kit

Every RVer absolutely must have a first aid kit that either stays in our RV permanently or comes with us when we leave home to head out on the open road. There is a wide variety of first aid kits available for purchase online, at drugstores or at stores like Target and Walmart. Alternatively, it is easy to put your own do-it-yourself first aid kit together, which also allows you to customize the contents to fit your family’s specific needs. 

If you would like to make your own travel first aid kit, you will need a container that is easy to carry and will fit nicely in your RV without taking up too much room. Soft-sided ice chests or lunchboxes work well for this, as do fishing tackle boxes, small toolboxes and tool bags. 

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The Silver Gypsy:  Holy Inspiration

In my years as a full-time RVer, I tried to be in a position for going to church on Sunday morning and if I wasn’t, church was on a rock beside a rushing stream or near the huge incoming waves of an ocean or maybe on a mountaintop where scenery went on forever.  Sometimes the peacefulness of nature was more soothing than the inside of a church, but then you miss the community of people. 

In my first sojourn into Baja California Sur Mexico, I visited two churches that I remember distinctly.  The San Javier Mission was well off the main road south of Santispak Playas where I lived for five months.  I went with friends to visit this dramatic dark grey stone Moorish style building.  It was begun in 1699 by the Jesuits and completed in 1758.  It is surrounded by trees with a very small courtyard cemetery.           

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