The Top 6 Healthiest Fast Food Menu Items on the Planet

We live in a rural area miles away from fast food restaurants, but do enjoy the convenience of such dining when we are on a roadtrip or pressed for time in a city.

Fast food has a reputation for being unhealthy and high in calories, salt and fat.

Thankfully, there are exceptions. Although many fast foods have been processed, refined or deep-fried, some fast food restaurants now offer healthy options.

To make a healthier selection, look for items that include vegetables, lean sources of protein or whole grains. Additionally, opting for foods that are grilled or baked rather than fried can significantly reduce the calories and fat in your meal.

Here are the top best menu meals for healthier eating.

6. KFC Grilled Breast and Sides. Most of Kentucky Fried menu items are filled with grease and loads of sodium. This is not too surprising since the word “Fried” is in the fast food restaurant’s name.

5. Wendy’s Ultimate Chicken Grilled Sandwich. While many of their burgers are high in calories, this Wendy’s offering is relatively low in calories.

4. Baja Fresh Wahoo Fish Taco. At just 230 calories, this taco is a good way to include some seafood in your diet. You can even add avocado.

3. Taco Bell Grilled Steak Soft Tacos. They have added a more lightened variety of menu items for healthier options for their customers. These are the healthiest from these menus.

2. Chipotle’s Salad Bowl. With a good reputation for fast healthy food, they are good about using organic meats and vegetables. They offer build-your-own options too.

1. Chic-fil-A Grilled Market Salad. They have a variety of meal options most of us would enjoy, but this is their healthiest option.

Bonus Options

Although not in the top six, here are some healthy choices at other fast food chains:

🔹Culver’s: Beef Pot Roast Dinner.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be all salads and chicken breast. If you enjoy pot roast, opt for the beef pot roast dinner option from Culver’s, then choose steamed broccoli and a side salad (or a double portion of either) as your two sides.

🔹Jack in the Box: Chicken Fajita Pita

This Jack in the Box pick is basically a handheld salad—fresh veggies, flame-grilled chicken, and zesty salsa are all nestled into a whole grain pita pocket.

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Tips and Secrets for Better Internet in Rural Areas: RVers, Campers and Country Living

It’s no secret Bidenflation has forced millions to seek out ways to reduce food, travel and living expenses.

In 2020, we moved to a rural area in the Texas Hill Country away from congestion, traffic and rising crime. We have no regrets about living a far less expensive and peaceful life. It allows us to work and write from home or on occasional road trips.

Due to the high cost of just about everything, including rentals and housing, more Americans are:

🔹Living in RVs and Campers.

🔹Using tents instead of hotel rooms.

🔹Taking “staycations” and limiting travel closer to home.

🔹Working remotely on the internet from home instead of commuting to and from a work location.

🔹Becoming Digital Nomads, wandering the country taking miscellaneous work and temporary employment.

We loved Guadalupe River State Park in April 2022

In 2022, the United States should break records with over 305 million internet users within its borders, which accounts for this rise in numbers of digital nomads and remote workers all over the country. 

Unfortunately, as practical as this may sound, these remote workers and  digital nomads, along with over 25 million Americans, continue to struggle with slow internet speeds and lack access to high-speed internet facilities due to the rural locations they may find themselves in.

Slow internet speeds can affect work deliverables, hamper productivity, and even jeopardize employability, especially if the job requires high internet speeds for effectiveness. 

These tips may improve your internet connection if you are living in a rural area, are on the road, or just camping out.

Tips for Rural Residents 

Turn off your router for some time. Giving your router a break can help refresh your internet connection and improve your speed issues. Doing this daily stimulates your internet connection, especially when experiencing a lag.  This fix won’t take your speeds to NASA levels, but it should help.

What’s your Data Capacity? A data cap may be responsible for slowing your home speeds. Your ISP allocates the amount of data you can use every month. Once exceeded, your internet speed drops drastically. The cap limit is outlined in your bill.

Move your Router. Where is your router positioned? That may be why your internet speed sucks.  Moving the position of your router to a higher point or more central location in your home will ensure the Wifi signal from your router reaches every corner of your building. With most wireless modems, the closer you are, the higher your internet speed.

Get Wired. Ditch wireless connections and get wired to eliminate any lags in speed you may be experiencing. Many people don’t know this, but cabled connections like Ethernet are safer, more reliable, and faster than most wireless connections.

Ads are a Drag. Literally. Every time you are online, you see ads. It’s everywhere, on every website; you can’t escape it. Or can you? Ads slow down your internet speeds, especially those heavy, annoying auto-play videos. You can fix this by installing an ad blocker in your browsers.

Scan regularly for Viruses and Malware. Viruses and malware may also be responsible for your crawling internet speeds. Install software that scan your device and connections for viruses and malware, set it up to scan regularly, and you should be fine.

Tips for Campers

Stay centered. Or as close to the center of the camp as you possibly can. The range for RV parks and Campground Wifi signals, thanks to FCC regulations, is limited to just under 300 feet. The closer you are to the camp router, which is often set up in the center of the camp, the better your internet connection.

The less green, the better. Dense trees, foliage, and even high walls can reduce your internet connection quality. For the signal to get to you uninterrupted, you must ensure you are not being obstructed by greenery or other natural or artificial fixtures. Set up your camp in an open space to improve your connection quality.

Upgrade your receiver. A Wi-Fi reception booster or antenna can improve your internet connection and reduce lags. Both instruments can receive and upgrade your internet signals on all your devices. They are easy to install and set up, and you should get sorted out quickly.

Look before you Camp. Different RV parks and Camps use different ISPs for internet access. Do some research before you camp in that park or hotspot. Check reviews for internet speeds and plan accordingly.

Tips for RVers 

Choose your equipment carefully. The right equipment can mean the difference between consistent high internet speeds and slower speeds. Pick the right cellular equipment for your needs, the more powerful your router, the more powerful your internet connection will be.

X marks the Spot. Using a coverage map will help you navigate areas with spotty coverage and keep you informed about signal strength so you are never caught in the lurch.  These maps are not always accurate but are still great tools for planning your travels.

Avoid Congestions. Areas with many internet users can experience low internet speeds due to heavy data traffic. Congested areas like festivals, concerts, and even football games have tended to experience an overload on the internet infrastructure, resulting in slow connection speeds.

Less is good: The fewer devices connected to your network, the better. Make sure your devices are connected to the devices you are using at the moment. It is easy to lose track of background devices, leading to an increased lag in your internet speed as they update regularly.

Definitely not us. LOL.

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The Legendary Camels of Camp Verde, Texas

Nestled snugly in the Texas Hill Country, between Kerrville and the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” Bandera, is the delightful Camp Verde Store and Restaurant.

Today, near our home, Dodie and I enjoy passing through historical Bandera Pass to see bison, zebra and exotic wildlife on our way to dine at the site of the old fort, situated on Camp Verde Creek.

Known far and wide as Old Camp Verde, it was here, on July 8, 1856, the noted camel post was established by the U.S. government.

War Department records explained the camp was located “On the north bank of Rio Verde, or Verde Creek, a branch of the Guadalupe River, half a mile west of old Johnson Road, leading from San Antonio to Fort Terret; about four miles from Fort Ives; about 55 miles, direct course, northwest of San Antonio, but about 65 miles leading from San Antonio, through Fredericksburg to Forts Mason, McCavett, and Concho.”

When the camels first arrived from overseas, they entered in Indianola, Texas. The herd was driven to San Antonio grazing along the route, in about 14 days.

They were kept in the “headwaters of San Pedro” creek for a few days and then moved out to the ranch of Major Howard on the Medina River, twelve miles from San Antonio, where they were kept until they moved to their permanent home in Camp Verde on August 26 and 27, 1856.

Old Spanish maps identified this as “Verde Arroyo” (Green Creek). Before the thirty-three camels arrived in 1856, a sketch had been drawn of an Eastern caravansary in Asia Minor. This drawing was used to construct a detailed reproduction at Camp Verde.

The camels were used to transport supplies and dispatched to Forts Martin Scott, Concho, Griffen, Phantom Hill, Inge, Clark, Lancaster, Hudson, Stockton, Davis, Quitman, Bliss and other forts in West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

What was formerly the officers’ barracks is where the store and restaurant is. On March 26, 1910, the headquarters abode was destroyed by fire, which took the life of Tom Blair.

The camp was continuously garrisoned until March 7, 1861, when U.S. troops surrendered the post to the Confederates, and withdrew. After the Civil War, the post was reoccupied by Federal troops on November 30, 1866, and finally abandoned on November 30, 1869.

It was rebuilt by W.H. Bonnell as an exact replica using the stone structure that survived the fire.

History shows that camels roamed the Bandera hills and many pioneers in this area actually herded them.

🔹Amasa Clark, who died at his home near Bandera at age 102, herded camels. Among his possessions was a pair of pillows made from camel’s hair, which he sheared from the animals he tended.

🔹Jim Walker, who died in 1945, owned a bell worn by the lead camel at his time working there during the Civil War.

🔹Andy Jones, a pioneer citizen of Bandera who died in the mid 1940s, often saw droves of camels miles away from the old fort. When Camp Verde was handed back to the Federal Government after the Civil War, the original 32 camels had grown to a herd of over 100, under the care of the Confederate troops.

“When I was a boy on my father’s ranch, the government kept a lot of camels at Camp Verde,” Jones said. One day we hobbled three of our horses and turned them loose near the house, and fourteen of those old camels came lumbering along.”

“The horses took fright at the sight of them, and we did not see those horses for many days,” he continued. “My brother and I penned the camels, all of them being gentle except for one.”

“We roped the wild one, but never wanted to rope another,” he recalled. “For the old humpbacked villain slobbered all over us, and the slobber made us deathly sick. However, we had a jolly time with those camels, when we got rid of the foul, sickening slobber, and we often rode broncos and wild steers, we rode camels too…They could easily travel one hundred miles a day. The Indians seemed to be afraid of the camels, and of course never attempted to steal any of them.”

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

What to Know Before You Decide on Buying an Electric Vehicle

Can You Say “Range Anxiety?”

That is anxiety that comes from not knowing whether or not you will be able to make it to a charging station before the battery is depleted.

I talked with several Electric Vehicle (EV) owners and a mechanic to ask about the ins-and-outs of these cars and trucks.

“The first hard lesson I learned about owning an electric vehicle was the inconvenient charging,” Steve, who sold his 2018 model after just two years said.

Steve had to talk his employer into installing a charging unit at his place of work near downtown San Antonio, Texas to ensure he had enough power to make it home, 40 miles away in the Hill Country foothills near Boerne.

“Stop and start traffic on the highways made me nervous,” he explained. “I didn’t get home until close to midnight so I was constantly worried about power at night.”

“If I had it to do over again, I would have spent more time studying, but in retrospect, I can tell you as I experienced constant mechanical and electric maintenance and warranty issues, I changed my mind,” he continued. “When I began to read and hear about Biden’s Green Build Back Better policies, with impending demands imposed by the EPA and other governmental regulating bodies, I had enough. I took a $11,000 loss, but lessons learned, and now I’m relieved.”

“Charging ain’t free,” Ronald, another San Antonio EV owner announced. “I spent about $2,800 turnkey to install a high output (Level 2) charger in my garage. Before that, I had started by running an extension cord and trading the electrical socket back in forth for my kitchen stove and car battery. I couldn’t chance the possibility of needing to drive at night not knowing if I had enough charge in an emergency.”

“For long trips I had issues with ‘range anxiety for sure,” he said. “I’d plan to find a Wal-Mart or someplace to hangout while my car was charging.”

“I have a Mercedes-Benz EQS and get a bit over 400 miles on one charge,” Ronald added. “If I’m driving long distances it, of course, takes me quite a bit longer to get a full charge than those who just fill up with gas and move on.”

To get a real life estimate, using average KWh charging rates from Texas to California, CleverJourneys checked Tesla’s website calculator to compare cost and time between gas and electric charging.

It’s easy to understand why Joe Biden needed to get gasoline prices higher and availability more difficult. Two of his major campaign donors (over $200 million in contributions) profit considerably:

🔹George Soros bought heavily in Rivian EVs stock in Nov. 2021.

🔹Warren Buffet’s trains carry the oil that would have run through Keystone Pipeline that Biden cancelled on Day 1 of his White House term.

390 minutes (6.5 hrs.) charge time. $12 in charging fees + $128 in charge time = $140. At 34 mpg in our Honda Civic, it takes us 48 gallons of gas. At $2 per gallon (before Biden) = $96. At $3 per gallon = $144; 4 per gallon = $192; $5 per gallon = $240 (during Biden)
Charging stations availability. July 2022

Current prices for charging an electric car at Walmart range anywhere from 12 cents to 99 cents per kW across the U.S. Most charge somewhere close to 30 cents.

“It just really depends on which Walmart or place you go to and what type of electric car you have,” Gary, a newly certified service EV repairman, explained. “They usually charge a buck ($1 fee) per charging session.”

Although Walmart and other places have installed superchargers, “it is not good to use them every day or too often,” Gary warned. “Supercharging your car daily can damage your battery health, and wear out its lifespan.”

“There’s a fee if you stay parked after your car is charged. ChargePoint gives you a 5-minute grace period to move your car after it’s finished,” said Gary.. “After that, it charges you 14 cents per minute up to a maximum of $5 per session.”

🔹According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average U.S. household pays nearly 14 cents per kWh.

“An electric car gets 3 to 4 miles per kWh,” Gary stated. “So divide the total miles you drive each month by 3 to get the kWh you would use monthly. Multiply that number by your cost per kWh. The dollar amount you get could be less than what you pay each month to buy gasoline. I think this is why Biden is causing gas prices to go up.”

🔹If someone drives about 1,183 miles per month (Americans drive an average of about 14,200 miles annually), an EV, will use about 394 kWh in that timeframe.

🔹Using the U.S. household average from June 2022 of nearly 14 cents per kWh, it would cost about $55 per month to charge an electric car.

🔹Figure an extra $38.50 per month to charge an electric car at home if you pay the average 14 cents. This is a 33% increase on the average electric bill, according to stats from the Energy Information Administration. 

Prepare to wait.
Truck stop & EV station food.

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🔹Fully recharging the battery pack with a Level 1 or Level 2 charger can take up to 8 hours, and even fast charging stations take 30 minutes to charge to just 80 percent capacity.

LEVELS OF CHARGE

LEVEL 1 is the slowest and requires a regular 120-volt outlet, which you probably already have. Most EVs acquire roughly five miles per hour of charge when using Level 1 charging.

LEVEL 2 is a 240-volt electric circuit required for charging. This is commonly used for major appliances such as electric dryers, water heaters, and ovens. Installing one of these in a suitable location greatly increases charging capacity. With Level 2, most EVs can charge at a rate of about 35 miles per hour.

LEVEL 3 is the quickest charging station on the market, delivering massive amounts of power in a short amount of time. Modern EVs can charge up to 80% of their capacity in about 30 minutes. These should not be used often as it shortens battery life.

Not all DC fast chargers are created equal, as charger speed can vary from 24 kW to 350 kW, and not all cars are compatible with the fastest speeds or come close to their marketed capability in practice. 

CURRENT SAMPLE CHARGING COST (June 2022)

Georgia: EVgo network charges rates by state, and it varies for Level 2 charging. On its website, the pay-as-you-go approach costs 30 cents per minute in Georgia. However, if you’re an EVgo Plus member, the rate drops to 24 cents per minute.

Illinois: Electrify America bills 43 cents per kWh for guests and 31 cents per kWh for paid members; EVGo bills between 22 and 30 cents depending on membership status; those billing rates can change based on location.

Some studies show that you can save around $14,000 on fuel costs if you drive an electric car for about 15 years but sometimes this may not be enough to cover all the hidden costs that electric cars have. Some of these hidden costs that you may encounter could cost thousands of dollars, with a few costing over $10,000.

THE NOTORIOUS BATTERIES

At the heart of all-electric automobiles are batteries — literally, the entire car is designed around them, and they’re the most expensive part of the car.

🔹Currently, all EVs sold in the U.S. come with an eight-year/100k mile warranty. Keep in mind that the average age for a vehicle on the road in the U.S. is 12.1 years. EVs average age is unknown.

🔹At some point the cost to replace the battery is more than your vehicle might be worth — estimates range between $6,000 and $20,000 depending on the model.

“The most expensive repair made on an EV is most likely going to be the high-voltage battery,” Gary commented. “Not anyone can do this type of work and it’s something that should only be done by a trained specialist at a proper repair facility.”

“This is due to the very high-voltage danger as well as maintaining proper repair procedures,” he added. “These replacement parts will come directly from the dealer. There’s just not much competition among parts manufacturers to drive prices down.”

🔹These lithium batteries are benign when compared to Nickel-Cadmium cells or even other automotive compounds like brake fluid. This means it’s considered toxic in our waste stream, and no one is prepared for the volume of used batteries headed to scrap yards.

🔹The EPA reported in 2021 that at least 65 landfill fires were caused by lithium-ion battery waste.

🔹These batteries are extremely heavy with some weighing up to 1,400 lbs.

🔹EVs have a shorter range than gas-powered cars. Most models only range between 60 and 120 miles per charge and some luxury models might make it to 300 miles per charge.

For comparison, gas powered vehicles will average around 300 miles on a full tank of gas, and more fuel efficient vehicles getting much higher driving ranges. This can be an issue when looking at EVs if you take long trips. Availability of charging stations can make AEVs less suitable for activities like road trips.

HIGHER INSURANCE PREMIUMS

🔹According to bankrate.com, the average annual premium in the U.S. for a gas car is $1,655. The much higher EV premiums are mostly due to the high purchase price and the high cost of repairs. 

🔹Steve said he shopped around a paid $2,300 a year for insurance his last year of ownership before he sold his EV.

🔹Electric vehicles will generally cost 25%-40% more than a gas car in terms of the insurance. 

CHILD LABOR & ENVIRONMENT CONTROVERSIES

🔹Modern batteries require lithium, which can only be mined in a handful of countries.

🔹There is much controversy about young children being used to hand dig cobalt out of mines for long hours, 7 days each week.

🔹Once mined, this cobalt is used to produce thousands of small cylindrical cells, each of which must be carefully monitored—no trivial matter.

🔹You must add the cost of environmental and crash protection to prevent battery fires.

VEHICLE REGISTRATION

🔹Finding a vehicle inspection could be a challenge.

🔹A quick search across 12 states from California to Texas to Georgia to Michigan revealed EV registration fees to be between $50 to $250.

🔹This is primarily due to there being a tax on gas that is used to pay for new infrastructure. Many states want electric car owners to contribute to providing the services needed.

Random Notes

🔹Electric cars have a low center of gravity due to the placement of the battery pack, so tires can wear down more quickly than on gas-powered cars.

🔹Some EVs have a powertrain that needs to have its fluid replaced at periodic intervals, such as the Tesla Model S.

🔹EVs are especially at risk of battery issues in high and low temperatures. Cold weather can reduce your range in the short-term, while hot weather can reduce the overall battery life of your vehicle.

🔹Because the battery pack is located in the underbody of the vehicle, corrosion can be more damaging to EVs than to conventional cars. Wash off any road salt and other corrosive materials as soon as possible, and keep an eye out for corrosion on the charging port and other electrical components.

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

See below in comment section

The Misguided Investment of Mark Twain’s Samuel Clemens

Like so many writers, one of my early literary influences was Samuel Clemens, the guy who successfully branded himself as Mark Twain and gained unprecedented worldwide recognition as an author.

So inspired by him, that on my only two visits to Connecticut, I made certain to visit The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford.

The museum was the author’s home, where his family lived from 1874 to 1891. Twain wrote his most important works during the years he lived there, including Adventures of Huckleberry FinnThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

One of my favorite bloggers, Phil Strawn from Granbury, Texas, who reminds me of a cross between Clemmons and the founder of Luchenbach, Texas, an old Hill Country storyteller of yesteryear that I met in the ’70s. Strawn’s observations in TALES FROM THE CACTUS PATCH have a Mark Twain from Baby Boomer Texas type feel to his posts.

Anyway, I digress. Clemmons was driven to financial dissolution in a bid to develop an efficient mechanical typesetting machine.

It was called a Paige Compositor and was designed to eliminate the need for human intervention while typesetting.

The result? It was a debacle and the only working model with 18,000 separate parts. It ended up as a museum piece in the Twain House.

Clemens’ career included a stint as a journeyman printer and compositor. He clearly understood the potential of the machine. From the moment Clemens encountered the typesetting machine in James Paige’s workshop, he was dazzled by the possibilities and convinced that this revolutionary device represented a golden financial opportunity.

While the Paige Compositor was truly an engineering marvel, and could successfully and precisely set and distribute type, Paige was fixated on enhancing the machine so it could create justified lines of type.

His insistence on including this complex feature (that he could never get to work reliably) fatally delayed its release. A simpler machine from Linotype grabbed the market.

In the meantime, Clemens’ investments in the project topped $170,000 by the close of the 1880s, leaving him in deep financial straits, exacerbated by other bad investments.

To pay off creditors and restore his financial equilibrium, the 60-year old Clemens, his wife Olivia, and daughter Clara set off on a five-year tour, dubbed the “Round-the-World Comedy Tour” by author Richard Zacks, delivering stage performances to welcoming audiences in India, South Africa, Australia, and other countries.

The tour, however, was capped by tragedy upon the family’s return to London: the death of daughter Susy at the family home in Hartford, CT during their absence.

With long time friend John Lewis, who inspired “Jim” in Tom Sawyer

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Clemens recorded in his notebook, “The cloud is permanent now,” and Olivia, exhausted from the travel, was traumatized to the point that she would never return to their Hartford home and never fully regained her health.

Clemens did not forget the role Paige played in his misfortunes, and wrote in his autobiography: “Paige and I always meet on effusively affectionate terms; and yet he knows perfectly well that if I had his nuts in a steel-trap I would shut out all human succor and watch that trap till he died.”

With the proceeds from his round-the-world tour and the release of a book of his collected works, Clemens successfully turned the corner on his financial woes. He died, debt free, in Redding, Connecticut in 1910.

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Jack Dennis often reports on politics, crime, history, travel, nostalgia, entertainment, immigration, drugs, gang activities, and human trafficking. Please support our efforts to provide truth and news that corporate media will not. 🔹Dodie Dennis, retired RN and health instructor, writes about health, nutrition, Big Pharma, nature, travel and everyday hacks-tips-hints.

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The Dress Code to Enter Johnny Cash’s Bar & BBQ

John and June Carter Cash

Now this is a place for good ol’ red blooded Americans and patriotic country music lovers from around the world to enjoy.

The Johnny Cash Bar and BBQ is located at 121 Third Avenue South, right next door to the Johnny Cash Museum in Nasville, Tennessee.

The food, drink and decor is impressive. We especially like posted dress code and house rules.

DRESS CODE & HOUSE RULES

  • No extra long t-shirts or hoodies that hang below pockets.
  • No excessively low or baggy pants/shorts such that a person’s undergarments or buttocks are exposed. 
  • No athletic style pants/shorts (sweats, nylons, joggers, etc.)
  • No sleeveless shirts to be worn by men after 8PM.
  • No large chains. 
  • No clothing that management considers vulgar, offensive or otherwise likely to cause a disturbance.
  • No motorcycle club or gang affiliation displays of any kind. 
  • Sandals and flip flops are permitted, but not recommended.
  • Footwear must be worn at all times. 
  • No outside food or beverages. 
  • No large bags, backpacks, suitcases or gym bags after 6PM. 

*Management reserves the right to deny admission to anyone suspected to be intoxicated or deemed likely to cause a disturbance or for any other reason at its sole discretion. 

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.
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Elvis Presley’s Texas Home During Basic Training in 1958 Still Visited by Fans

In 2020, defying lockdowns and wearing masks, we took a 32 day roadtrip from the Texas Hill Country to Washington DC and back.

Our first stop was near Fort Hood in a central Killeen Texas neighborhood. If the walls of the circa 1950 ranch-style house at 605 Oakhill Drive could talk, they’d sing!

Photo by Loralyn ‘Dodie’ Dennis

It’s a nice house but doesn’t have any visual features that dramatically set it apart from the other homes in the area not far from Conder Park. It’s a one-story, brick home with a rather large mailbox out front.

As big Elvis Presley fans, we thought there might be a landmark sign designating it as the house the most famous entertainer in history lived while going through Army training.

At the height of his early fame, the Army drafted Elvis in 1958, and at the Memphis induction center, he received his shots, his buzz cut, and his orders. On March 28, he and others were sent by military bus to Fort Hood, the Second Armored Division, General George S. Patton’s “Hell on Wheels” wild bunch.

Enroute the new troops stopped for a restaurant lunch break in Hillsboro causing “a small riot” when teenage customers recognized him. 

Elvis didn’t want any special treatment offered. His desire was to be just another G.I. His fellow soldiers saw that in him and Elvis became one of the guys.

Private Simon Vega recalled, “I thought he was gonna get special treatment but he did KP, guard duty, everything, just like us.” 

When basic training was completed, the Army allowed soldiers to live off base as long as they had dependents living in the area. It was not long before Elvis’ parents, grandmother, and a friend traveled to Killeen where they found a three-bedroom home to rent from Chester Crawford, an attorney who charged an outrageous $700 a month.

Soon crowds began showing up on Oakhill Drive to catch a glimpse of Elvis. It was common for him to stand outside and talk to fans for hours. Occasionally, he detoured through neighbors’ backyards to avoid the crowds, and according to neighbor Janie Sullivan, the clothesline in their yard once caught Elvis and the dog bit him. 

Elvis with friend Red West (far right)

Not everyone was thrilled by Elvis’ presence in the neighborhood. Some Oak Hill residents called the police to complain about the clouds of dust stirred up by the cars and the carnival-like atmosphere.

While completing an additional ten weeks of advanced tank training, Elvis had to take emergency leave to fly to Memphis to be with his mother, Gladys, who had returned home to be hospitalized. She died two days later on August 14.

After his mother’s funeral, Elvis returned and put in long days at Fort Hood learning to be a tanker. During his final days at Fort Hood, large crowds gathered outside his house, and some nights a hundred people kept vigil. The last night, on September 19, 1958, Elvis and his gang gathered at the home to make the drive to the troop train that would take him and 1,360 other G.I.s to Brooklyn to sail for Germany.


Biographers and friends reported that Elvis’ time at Fort Hood and in the Army was among the happiest of his life. For a time, he was almost “just another soldier.” Everyone agreed that Elvis was a good soldier, one of the best in the company.

His longtime girlfriend, Anita Wood, said, “he had finally found himself.”

Elvis said later, “I learned a lot about people in the Army. I never lived with other people before and had a chance to find out how they think.” 

In 1958, longtime Killeen resident Edith Carlile lived four doors down from the house Pvt. Elvis Presley lived in with his parents, Vernon and Gladys. Presley rented the home for seven months from a local lawyer when he was stationed at Fort Hood.

“The street was extremely crowded with cars going by,” said Carlile, who lived next door to the house Presley lived in before she passed away a few years ago. “People were standing in the yard, wanting to touch him, kiss him.”

Carlile was a mother of four at the time, and wasn’t really into the rock ’n’ roll music that Presley is famous for.

“I’m not a fan of music of that age,” Carlile told a local news reporter, adding she was more into the tunes of the big band era.

Her children did get autographs from Presley, but Carlile said she threw the signed pieces of paper away years later.

She said the rock ’n’ roll king dated a few of the local girls when he was here, and his presence made a big impact, especially in the Oakhill Drive neighborhood, which in 1958 was home to lawyers, business owners and other upper-middle class families.

More than 64 years later, the house is still standing, and although it’s aged, the outside doesn’t look dramatically different from when Presley lived there.

Surprisingly, more recent owners of the Presley’s rental house indicated they didn’t even know the house had once been lived in by Presley when they bought it some years ago.

To this day Elvis fans regularly pop by the house to take a video, some puctures or inquire about the former home of the King.

On display at Graceland complex in Memphis, Tennessee

Some drive hundreds of miles to do so. Others want to peep inside or look at the backyard.

Although there has been updated renovations (exterior windows and roof) owners are reluctant to offer details.

In November 2006, the 2,400-square-foot house was placed for purchase on eBay.

The owner at the time, Myka Allen-Johnson, a sales representative for CenTex Homes, said she wanted to sell the home to someone who would understand the historical significance.

“I didn’t buy the house with the intention of selling it on eBay,” Allen-Johnson told the Killeen Daily Herald in 2006. “I just don’t want people to forget that he lived here in Killeen.”

Ft. Hood front gate 1958

Penny Love was 3 or 4 years old and lived around the corner in 1958. She recalls her family seeing Presley sneak through her backyard to avoid the crowd that waited out front. She said she would sometimes sit on Presley’s father, Vernon’s lap on the front porch.

The community has missed out on any significant tourism and marketing opportunities over the years. In August 1958, Presley fans petitioned the Killeen City Council to change the name of Oakhill Drive to Presley Drive, bringing nationwide publicity to the area. Today, however, Oakhill is still the name of the street.

The owner said she allows Presley fans to take a quick picture of the front of the house. But those who try to pry closer are not totally welcome.

The backyard has a steep incline, she said, which can be dangerous, and a German shepherd patrols back there, too.

Favorite Fan Photos

Elvis Presley, The Rockin’ Motorcycle King in Photos

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/07/04/elvis-presley-the-rockin-motorcycle-king-in-photos/embed/#?secret=mCsDyQTdl8

More Rare or Unseen Elvis Presley Pictures From the 60s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/06/10/more-rare-or-unseen-elvis-presley-pictures-from-the-60s/embed/#?secret=OrH73oXJB4

25 MORE Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/09/16/25-more-rare-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-army/embed/#?secret=QM7UuXuv5W

20 Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the U.S. Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/20-rate-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-u-s-army/embed/#?secret=aoCYSwtQ3k

20 Elvis Presley Photos You May Have Never Seen From The 1960s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/20-elvis-presley-photos-you-may-have-never-seen-from-the-1960s/embed/#?secret=dQQFfwxfNP

Elvis Presley: Rare Shots From the 1970s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/23/elvis-presley-rare-shots-from-the-1970s/embed/#?secret=4h7ZdpV2LL

Elvis Presley Movies Ranked

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/elvis-presley-movies-ranked/embed/#?secret=4IUVI49WXl

10 Rare Elvis Presley Photos in the 1950s

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Visit Graceland

Lessons From Noah’s Ark We All Need Right Now

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, we went on a 32-day roadtrip. We refused to lockdown.

Jack & Dodie Dennis at Ark Encounter

One of the most fascinating days was spent at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. It is a type of historical and biblical theme park centered around a life-sized reconstruction of the massive ship, built at God’s command, that saved Noah, his family, and representatives of every kind of land-dependent, air-breathing animal from a global flood.

“The ark was 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high and it housed the several thousand animals God brought to Noah,” their literature reads. “The global flood lasted about one year. The ark came to rest on the “mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4), and Noah’s family, with all the animals that were saved from the flood, eventually spread throughout the world.”

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

Genesis 6:11-13

Years ago, I came across this poster in one of my son’s Sunday School classrooms and always thought the lessons applied to adults as well as children. This wisdom is worth applying and sharing.

1. Don’t miss the boat

Ask for guidance from the Almighty, He will help you get through whatever obstacles you are facing right now.

Matthew 11:28 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

2. Remember that we are all in the same boat

As the old saying goes “No Man is an Island” just means were are connected with each other. Some people will leave a huge amount of memories, and others will cause us pain, both though will contribute to our learnings for us to become a better person. Every time you meet new people, it will become part of you forever because it can leave good or bad memories that will stay on your mind for the longest time.

Ephesians 1:3. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark

Ephesians 5:16 (KJV) “Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days.”

Lay down plans about your future regarding what you want to become in life. Make room for errors. Do not just rely simply on Plan A. Make some sort of Plan B and Plan C to deal with setbacks.

Ark Encounter (Jack Dennis)

4. Stay fit. When you’re really old, someone may ask you to do something really big

1 Corinthians 9:26-27

26 “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Work to remain healthy physically and mentally. You might need to be part of something amazingly big that is life-changing at least for the people around you.

Stay fit so that you may be able to live a longer life to see your children and grandchildren fulfill their dreams and become successful in life. Many grandparents are not able to see because they lead an unhealthy life and leave this world too soon.

5. Don’t listen to the critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Be reminded not to listen to skeptics when you experience setbacks from time to time. Focus on what you want to achieve in life. Years after, the words that critics have said against you won’t even matter anymore.

6. Build your future on high ground

1 Corinthians 3: 10-11 10 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.” 11 “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Make your future to be foolproof. Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

7. For Safety Sake, Travel in Pairs

Romans 8:35-37. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

Ark Encounter (Jack Dennis)

8. Speed Isn’t Always An Advantage. The Snails were on board with the Cheetahs

James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Who remembers the race between the turtle and the hare? Consistency is more important than speed—or at least have both speed and consistency work together.

9. When You’re Stressed, Float a While

James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Having trouble dealing with your personal issues? Take a deep breath, and relax. Learn to unwind for a while to cool down. Afterward, go back to the drawing board and deal with the issue again. A rested mind is more creative than a weary one.

10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals

1 Corinthians 1:20 “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”

Be humble. It doesn’t matter how mighty you perceive yourself to be, know when to tame your ego. Sometimes a low profile is best as situations may backfire on your part.

11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

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Ark Encounter

Tent Camping Checklist for Couples by Clever Journeys

This is our go-to list for tent camping as a couple. It can be modified per trip –family, friends, ages, activities (toys, rafts, hunting, skiing, etc.).

We always have protection, a jack, spare, fix-a-flat, jumper cables, portable battery starter, small power unit with lights, stored energy, electricity, etc. in our vehicle.

No two people are the same when it comes to planning a camping trip. What is important to one person may not matter to another when it comes to camping gear. One of my sons prefers to go ultralight and another brings practically everything he can when they camp. As a family, we tend to bring more items. All this to say, there is no right or wrong answer to what you bring on your camping trip.

The Camp

🔹Tent (Coleman Sunbeam 7’×9′ 4-person) & accessories (stakes, bungi cords with hooks, rain roof, bottom footprint tarp)

🔹Mats (outside door, inside door)

🔹Sleeping bags

🔹Sleeping pads

🔹Pillows

🔹Electric extension cord

🔹Lighting: solar lights, head lamp, flashlights, lantern, extra batteries

🔹Camping chairs

Eating

🔹Cooler (We love our soft-sided 4-gallon capacity Kodi cooler from H-E-B Foods/Drugs)

🔹Camping utensils, plates, pans, cups

🔹Camping stove

🔹Can opener

🔹Charcoal &/or fire wood

🔹Insulated water bottles

🔹Matches

🔹Cutting board & knife

🔹Coffee maker

Hygiene

🔹Biodegradable wet wipes

🔹Shampoo & conditioner

🔹Hand sanitizer

🔹Towels & wash cloths

🔹Soap

🔹Deodorant

🔹Rash prevention/lotion

🔹Toothbrushes & toothpaste

🔹Lip balm

🔹Toilet paper

🔹Combs/brushes

🔹Shaving gear

Other

🔹First Aid kit

🔹Rx, prescriptions & supplements

🔹Campsite Reservation Copy

🔹Sunscreen & bug repellent

🔹Trash bags

🔹Duct tape

🔹Mallot

🔹Clothes pins & clothes line cord

🔹Rope

🔹Binoculars

🔹Dry bag (store electronics, etc in event of rain)

🔹Tool bag. Minimum: hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, multi-tool, folding shovel/saw, tin-snips, axe-hatchet, tent repair kit, tent pole repair sleeve

🔹Small fire extinguisher

🔹Emergency (solar/handcrank) weather radio

🔹Travel alarm clock

🔹Travel mirror

🔹GPS

🔹Cell phones

🔹Books, cards, games…

🔹Portable butane heater with extra filled tanks (in cold weather)

🔹Tent fan in warm weather. (We also have a portable “air cooler” we fill with ice cubes if it is too hot).

Clothing

🔹Bandana

🔹Flip flops or sandals

🔹Rain ponchos

🔹Swim/water/shower shoes

🔹Socks (wool or synthetic)

🔹Hiking boots/shoes, sneakers

🔹Hat

🔹Sunglasses

🔹Gloves

🔹Shirts, Jackets, Sleepwear, Pants, Shorts, Swimwear

🔹Underwear

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HEB FOOD DRUGS

What are These Giant Mississippi River Barges Doing in the Middle of a Farm?

Last night I received a curious email from Dave W. of South Dakota:

Before all else, I eminently took the bait to find out how a large barge about the length of Noah’s Ark would be stranded on a farm in Olive Branch, Illinois.

As the mighty Mississippi River snakes around Dogtooth Bend at the southern tip of Illinois, certain curved segments of the riverbank take the brunt of the river’s erosive power.

This especially occurs in Alexander County, where farmers and other hard working residents experienced major floods 21 times between 1844 and 2016. The Len Small Levee, named after the 26th governor of Illinois, was built in 1927 and expanded in 1969 to span the bend in the river and “deflect high velocity floodwaters” away from agricultural land.

Sherry Pecord, owner of the nearby Horseshoe Bar and Grill in Olive Branch, wasn’t prepared for the flood of 2019.

It was July, the monstrous river flowed back out of the hole in the levee and caused six giant barges to relocate via another raging flood.

One of the barges settled in the field just off Miller City Road in rural Alexander County, near the southern tip of Illinois.

“They just floated right on over and took out a utility pole and an irrigation rig and landed in the field right behind my house,” Pecord said.

Pecord and her husband, Sean, grow corn and soybeans acreage near the bend. They’ve been through floods before, but the couple never dreamed barges would land in their fields causing them to plow around them for years.

“I don’t even see them anymore,” she said. “They’ve just become part of the landscape, and I really don’t pay any attention to them anymore.”

These two barges remain stranded in a southern Illinois farmer’s field nearly two years after they were sucked through a hole in the Len Small Levee during high-water event on the Mississippi River. (Photo by Shelley Byrne)
These two barges remain stranded in a southern Illinois farmer’s field after they were sucked through a hole in the Len Small Levee during a 2019 massive flood on the Mississippi River.

The Pecord’s experiences with the floods began in 2011, when a massive storm of thunderous water caused an initial break in the levee. Although officials repaired it, that break also led to a government buyout offer for the surrounding land. Several neighbors took the buyouts. Sean, a third-generation farmer, elected to stay put in the home he built back in 1985.

On New Year’s Day of 2016, the Mississippi River overwhelmed the Len Small Levee again.

“It went over the top and just broke it down,” Pecord said. “It put a 3/4-mile gap in the levee right in front of our house. Over the years, the river has just been eating that away, and it’s probably a good mile now.”

In the 2019 flood, the water remained high enough that the Pecords boated to and from home for 137 days. The restaurant remained closed for seven weeks during that time because it was inaccessible to customers.

The barges floated in on July 3 that year. The day after the Fourth of July holiday, the barges’ owner, Hines Furlong Line Inc., sent representatives to take a look.

“They were going to try to move them and get them back across the road and out to the river,” Pecord said. “Well, the river dropped about that time, and they couldn’t get them back across. 

“In the next year and a half, they were trying to figure it out,” she continued. “First they were going to come in and put air bags underneath them and walk them across the road and maybe leave them on the other side and wait for the river to come back up. It’s a given the water is going to come back up because we have a mile-long breach in our levee. I don’t know what happened to that thought process, but that never happened.”

“Planting season comes and goes, and they’re sitting in the middle of my father-in-law’s field,” Pecord said. So he began charging the barge company rent for each day the barges were in his field.

Negotiations began, resulting in a settlement of Hines Furlong selling the barges to Mr. Pecord.

Two red bars mark the barges.

Map of Dogtooth Bend and surrounding area. (Kenneth Olsen, Impacts of 2011 Len Small levee breach on private and public Illinois lands. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, July/August 2013)

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Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

Clever Journeys in San Antonio and Texas Hill Country

A trip to San Antonio, the “Alamo City” isn’t just about the destination. The true beauty of this region can be found in the journey through and around it. Rolling hills, natural springs, meandering rivers and, come springtime, the beauty includes vibrantly painted landscapes of wildflowers up and down the highways and backroads.

As you head northwest west toward Boerne, Kerrville and  Fredericksburg, you’ll begin to see the landscape open up before you, with rolling tree-covered hills, exposed limestone cliffs and an array of colorful wildflowers.

In this area, known as the Hill Country, you’ll also find Johnson City, home to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. Here you can tour the family ranch and view artifacts such as his boyhood home and first school. This is also the final resting place of LBJ, our 36th president.

Johnson City is also the heart of the Hill Country wine region. Why not take a detour and sample some of the best wineries in Texas on the 290 Wine Trail? Ab Astris Winery and Kuhlman Cellars are a couple of our favorites.

In the quaint town of Fredericksburg, you’ll want to visit two unique museums: the National Museum of the Pacific War, dedicated to those who served in the Pacific Theater of World War II, and the Pioneer Museum, honoring the lives of the early German settlers of this region.

Heading back south toward San Antonio, a worthwhile scenic route offers serene Hill Country views through wildflower-lined back roads.

Look for Luckenbach. It’s a stretch to call it a town, but for country music fans, it’s a mecca. It was made famous in the ’70s by outlaw country musicians like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. You can still regularly catch country acts performing on the outdoor stage.

Continue on the backroads south around Canyon Lake on your way toward New Braunfels. Just outside the city, stop at Texas’ oldest continually operating dance hall, Gruene Hall.

Families will love a stop at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, but check their schedule online as they’re open seasonally. Families will also love exploring the vast caves at Natural Bridge Caverns and the exotic animals at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch about 20 minutes west of New Braunfels.

Back in San Antonio. The Alamo is the Spanish mission made famous as a battle site in the war for Texas independence. But it is just one of five historic Spanish missions in San Antonio that make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other four comprise the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. All five offer an incredible look back at the history and culture that still influence this proud city.

Just 10 minutes north of downtown, you will find the revitalized historic Pearl district. This area used to be the home of the Pearl Brewery. Today, you can walk the Pearl to explore trendy shops, delicious dining and even a weekend farmers market. Nearby is Brackenridge Park, Witte Muesum, Children’s DoSeum, Japanese Tea Garden and San Antonio Zoo.

Dating back to 1919 – and receiving major updates throughout the years – the Japanese Tea Garden features a lush year-round garden and a floral display with shaded walkways, stone bridges, a 60-foot waterfall and ponds filled with Koi. The garden’s entrance is punctuated by a moon gate created by a Mexican artist renowned for crafting wood-look concrete sculptures. Free admission.

When mean it when we say the River Walk is a must to experience. One of the nations’—most famous attractions is the vibrant River Walk. Restaurants and shops line the banks of the San Antonio River, which you can explore on foot or take a boat tour on one of the colorful river barges.

Sightseeing, shopping, food, and fun. All on this world-renowned 15-mile urban waterway. The River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, is a San Antonio treasure and the largest urban ecosystem in the nation.

Tucked quietly below street level and only steps away from the Alamo, it provides a serene and pleasant way to navigate the city. Explore by foot along the river’s walking path or jump aboard a river barge for a ride and guided tour. In the heart of downtown, explore nearby attractions like the Alamo, the King William Historic District and more. Or, shop local favorites along the river’s Museum Reach at the historic Pearl.

A good way to see downtown is by catching a ride with City Sightseeing San Antonio’s double-decker buses for tours and curbside drop-off to many of thw downtown attractions and landmarks.

If you missed the rodeo and February, be sure to end the night at Tejas Rodeo Company, where they hold live rodeos every Saturday night from March – November. You can also eat like a Texan at Tejas Steakhouse & Saloon and enjoy fun, and entertainment for all. 

If you are staying downtown, don’t miss Mi Tierra Café and Panaderia is the perfect place for a traditional Tex-Mex breakfast, with everything from huevos rancheros to breakfast tacos.  Schilo’s has been serving German-Texan fare since 1917 and is the oldest restaurant in San Antonio.  You can’t go wrong when you order the Pioneer pancakes or biscuits. In the mood for some schnitzel and homemade root beer? Check Schilo’s out for lunch. 

From this are you can take a walk through La Villita Historic Arts Village, San Antonio’s first neighborhood. Today La Villita is a cultural hub, home to local artisans, shops and restaurants. Walk down the river to the Briscoe Western Art Museum for stories of the cowboy, the vaquero, Native Americans and the western landscape. 

San Antonio also features theme park giants- Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld & Aquatica San Antonio.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Essential Camping Safety Tips for RVers and Motorcyclists

Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and to ensure your trips are safe, here are tips uniquely for RVers and motorcyclists.

RVers and motorcyclists should plan out all escape routes and discuss them with (RV occupants) and fellow campers when traveling. Ensure everyone is informed of the survival plans.

Basic Camping Safety

🔹Keep watch on children! You are responsible for the safety of your children. Make sure you know where your kids are and what they are doing.

🔹Be aware of the natural surroundings. There may be plants with thorns or stickers.

🔹You are a visitor in wildlife’s home. Keep a safe distance from wild animals. Although they may look cute, they are wild and can carry diseases.

🔹Never feed the wildlife! Feeding wildlife can encourage bad behavior by animals and is against park regulations.

🔹Be careful with fire. Never leave a fire unattended and be sure your campfire is out when you break camp.

🔹Axes, knives and saws are useful tools, but be sure you know how to properly use them.

RV Safety Tips

🔹Have more than one fire extinguisher and insure everyone knows where they are and how to use them. Make sure they have the right amount of pressure according to the gauge. In fact, anytime you use an extinguisher, it should be recharged or replaced to avoid future problems.

🔹Watch where you park. Heat from underneath your RV can catch grass on fire.

🔹Never use any stove or cooking appliance for heating space. Smaller space means less ventilation and the greater the chance of a fire.

🔹Keep any combustible items like paper towels or dish cloths away from the stove and remain near the stove when cooking.

🔹Install and inspect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Test alarms every two-weeks to ensure they work properly. This is a fast and easy test that can save lives and property.

🔹A dragging brake line can cause friction. This can easily be ignited by dripping brake fluid. Make sure to check the pressure in your tires regularly and spot check at every stop.

🔹Always be aware of your surroundings.  Be aware of who is camping next to you, across from you and behind you. Pay attention to what is happening.  Know when the weather is changing and who is moving about around your RV.

🔹Always lock your camper when you leave it.  Even if you are just going to the laundry room or the bathhouse in the campground.

🔹Use window locks so your RV can’t be accessed by the sliding windows.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

🔹Pack safe. Keep the center of gravity of your bike in mind and make sure the heavy items are lower down.  below the COV of your bike. Even up the balance on each side of the bike – don’t put all the heavy stuff in one saddlebag! If traveling solo, pack your gear so it acts as a backrest to support your lower back.

🔹Make sure nothing is touching the exhausts. Use the most effective ratchet straps, bungees or cargo nets to secure the load and carry additional items on top for easy access.

🔹Pack light. Space is limited so be efficient and don’t fill up every available space. Seasoned motorcycle campers overwhelmingly pack light and trim luggage down to the minimum. You can always buy stuff along the way.

 🔹Pack efficiently. Determine what you really need, and pack accordingly. Pack your tent and sleeping bag last so they are first things you unpack at camp site, and make sure the things you’ll need on the ride – sunglasses, sunscreen, waterproofs and maps – are easily accessible.

🔹A tent. If tenting, use one with a waterproof floor or groundsheet and take metal stakes to fix it down and a driver. Pick the size of tent according to your needs – even if you are travelling solo, a two or even three-man tent will give you the space you need to hold your clothes and luggage as well as you, and won’t take up much more space than a one-man tent. Vestibules allow you to strip off wet rain gear and store wet luggage without getting the inside of your tent wet. Make sure you have a waterproof fly- sheet for wet nights. Try setting it up at home rather than working out how to set it up in the dark at your first camp site.

🔹Use a sleeping bag in a grade for  the range of temperatures you are likely to experience. Down insulation is more efficient and packs down smaller than synthetic fillings. Use compression bags to hold your sleeping bag, tent and pad to make the most effective use of space.

Orange County Choppers in New York salutes fire departmens and emergency responders across the nation (Photo: Jack Dennis)

 🔹Before you set off, make sure your bike is serviced and in good condition. A day or two before departure do a trial run of packing and riding your bike – ideally an overnight trip if you can. You’ll almost certainly over pack so it is a great opportunity to check and reassess what you are taking, and to ensure everything is efficiently packed and you know where it is and how to get at it. Of course, if someone with you is travelling by car, put the campsite equipment in there and only carry essentials – it also means you can take more stuff you will find useful, such as camp chairs, extra food or a cool box.

🔹When you are on your trip, don’t leave too late in the day to find a site – when you are tired, it’s easy to make bad decisions and leaving too late will increase your stress levels and make mistakes more likely to happen. When you’ve found the site, choose the best area – sheltered and flat, not sloping or rocky, and not low-lying so you avoid pooling water if it rains, or falling cold air if the temperature drops. Be friendly with other campers, and when you leave make sure you leave no trace you have been there – kill any fire you may have made, and pick up any trash and clear it away.

🔹Finally, when you are back home, make a post-trip evaluation of your packing – what did you not use, what did you not take that you needed – and make a note of it, so next trip you will be operating at maximum efficiency, leaving you free to enjoy the ride.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.