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Monday

A Digital Eye in the Sky

While sitting by the fire with some guests this past week and talking "geek," you know,  ipads and new ways to edit photos and get WiFi in the boonies - an RVer introduced us to the wonderful world of the starry sky and planet, comet and constellation location with a handy app that works by pointing your smartphone towards the sky.  

GoSkyWatch Planetarium - the astronomy star guide

GoSkyWatch Planetarium - app icon



So simple and full of animations that make sky gazing a fun experience even for new astronomers.  No matter how remote the location (the remoter the better if you want to escape city lights) you can still access the app since it will work even without an internet connection once you have it downloaded.  


It's available on iTunes for iOS for $3.99, CLICK HERE (you'll need to sign into your iTunes acct for iPhones and iPads) and there's  

A compatible app for androids called SkEye for free on the Google Play Store CLICK HERE


Constellation Screenshot from the iPhone appGalaxy Screenshot from the iPhone app 

   Screenshots from the iPhone app

















So the next time YOU'RE out by the campfire - share this great and easy to use app with your friends.  Do you have any favorite apps that you couldn't live without?  Please share them with us in the comments.


Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

Saturday

Your 2015 San Antonio Event Calendar

As we're finishing off 2014 in San Antonio with a bang, 2015 is almost upon us and most of us RVers are already planning an itinerary for winter, spring and beyond.  The Hidden Valley RV Park Calendar is also coming together and we urge you to click on over to it so you can make your RV site reservations during your favorite park activity whether it's our Cowboy Breakfast on January 23rd, our Mardi Gras Happy Hour or one of our special potluck get togethers.

If, like many, Hidden Valley RV is one of your regular stops, you already know that we share all kinds of local and nearby happenings with our Hidden Vallian guests too.  December is one of the fullest months on the calendar locally and the Riverwalk Lighting Ceremony and River Parade the Friday


The Riverwalks all Lit Up for the Holidays
The Riverwalk during the holidays

after Thanksgiving is always one of people's favorites.  If you prefer to visit the Riverwalk during a more quiet time, you can still view the festive lights all the way through December.  La Villita and El Mercado downtown are a buzz with hundreds of unique gift ideas if holiday shopping is still on your mind and we'll be glad to help you get your gift packages mailed home from the park.  After the holiday rush is over, treat yourself to a New Years Celebration on the Riverwalk, San Antonio style with fireworks, music and entertainment.

If you'll be here the weekend after Thanksgiving we invite you to our Harvest Potluck on that Saturday.  The Hidden Valley facebook page has posted a great link to some potluck recipes to die for in case you're at a loss for ideas.

Post by Hidden Valley RV Park.







Wanted to share this great San Antonio Calendar infographic by  VisitSanAntonio.net.  If you need a reminder of some of the unparalleled reasons to visit SA, bookmark this post to keep it handy.



Thanks to VisitSanAntonio.net for this fantastic graphic.
18 reasons why to Visit San Antonio
Thanks to VisitSanAntonio.net for this fantastic graphic.


We'd like to know what activities interest YOU.  Do you like organized nature walks, hobbies and crafts, tours, festivals, etc.?  Drop in a comment and let us know.


Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

Thursday

How to Find New Friends on the Road



Traveling like we do, it is difficult to find people to do things with that share your  interests.  I am not referring to dating but to a network of people that get together to enjoy and support each other in whatever they enjoy doing.   

I have found a solution to this dilemma with a couple of websites that specialize in helping people meet up with other people out there enjoying life.  I also talk about one site to stay away from    There are so many interest groups to check out.  Like groups for  foodies, knitters, road cyclers, Mt. bikers, Harley bikers, poets, photographers, winers, beer lovers, natural plant lovers, gardeners, etc.  The list is almost endless.

1. MEETUP.COM

Probably my favorite website is called MEETUP.COM.  After a very simple registration process, you will find that no matter where you travel in the US (and probably in the world) you can choose from thousands of interest groups with invitations posted for you to shop through.

For example, just today in San Antonio there are 2,483 different interest groups meeting up to do fun, interesting things!  This is what the home page looks like.  There were so many groups to pick from I could not show all of them so here is a sampling.

Meetups.com home page
Home Page of Meetup.com Groups
 

2. RVILLAGE.COM

For those that are RV diehards and want to find and meet up with other RVers near their location check into the RVILLAGE.COM site.  I love this one and it is very easy to use.   

Most sites are so protective of their member’s privacy that you never get to communicate with any of them.  However, the express purpose of this site is to help members locate each other.  From that point you will be able to find out where the parties are, if someone is going on a tour or if anyone wants to do an evening walk by checking out the get-togethers posted on the site.  

I am located at Hidden Valley RV Park just south of San Antonio, TX.  As you can see by all the bubbles on the map below I found so many other RVillage members near me I couldn't count them.  All I would have to do is click on one to get their contact information then sail out a message to find out if there is anything fun going on that I could join. There is also a button to help you locate people you have put onto a "friends" list.  


RVillage Sample Friend Page
RVillage


3. YAHOO GROUPS

I would stay away from this choice.  After signing up for a "5 string banjo group" and getting accepted as a member, all I found was a chat room that was 100% sex and filth.  The OTHER kind of hooking up.  Not one post was about banjos.  Then they tried to sell me the "advanced membership".  Ha Ha Ha, I am afraid to know what that might get me. 

As always when meeting new people and groups please use common sense and keep yourself safe.  Those tips may be for another time. 
Are there any ways you've found to meet people while you travel?  Tell us below in the comments or join the conversation on facebook. 

Happy travels; get out there and enjoy life!






Janice has recently become a solo RVer. Having Oregonian roots she now is a "6 time across the US" RV traveler and enjoys yarn crafts, hiking and biking and everything horses. Guest blogging is a new addition to her interests.

Saturday

Thinking About Texas Vehicle Registration and Inspection?

Many of us travelers share blog and newsletter articles with each other and greatly benefit from the research of our fellow travelers and RVers.  On of the ezines (email magazines) that I read twice each month comes from Jaimie Bruzenak over at RV Lifestyle Experts.  She recently interviewed an Escapees staff member.  Escapees have been working with Texas officials to keep policies convenient for RVers.  With her permission I have reprinted the article here. 

 *******


"There has been some confusion as to whether RVers who have registered their vehicles in Texas must get them inspected prior to being able to renew their vehicle registration. Depending on what office and person you talk to, you may receive differing information.

In the past, RVers could renew their vehicle registration online and then take care of their inspection when they returned to Texas. That changed with the passage of a new bill. However, Escapees has been working with officials to continue the former policy. This is what Jim Koca, Advocacy Director for Escapees, replied when I asked him how RVers could handle this.

I have talked to Polk County Tax Office this morning where vehicle registration takes place. They assured me that it is not their office that tells people that RVers will have to return to the state for the inspection.

The clerks are instructed to tell the citizens that a process will be in place to allow the registration of vehicles without the need to return to the state for the inspection. The “DMV” is sometimes called the DPS office where people get their drivers license. The Tax Office says they get confused with DPS sometimes.

RVers, students, military, truckers and contractors will be able to renew their vehicles while out of state. This process can be done by mail or online. The individual will do a “self-certification” process stating they are out of state at the time of renewal. Polk County or really any county tax office, will be able to override the need of the inspection sticker requirement. Once the vehicle is back in the State, owners will have 72 hours to get the vehicle inspected. Even the inspection stations are not up on the new process and they are also telling the RVers that they will need to come back to the state before re-registering.

I am trying to get the word out to them also."    Jim Koca
 *******

So note the point of confusion mentioned:
  • the DMV, (TX Department of Motor Vehicles)  handles registration of vehicles, title transfers and license plates
  • DPS (Department of Public Safety) oversees the issuance of drivers licenses and although they make the regulations regarding vehicle inspections, the inspections themselves can be self-certified online with the DMV. 
  • Go to the DMV here to register your vehicle online

Department of Motor Vehicles Registration Link

Hope that clears up some seeming discrepancies in the requirements.  Remember to check the DMV website before completing any online forms just to verify that no new laws have been put into effect.

Have you had any difficulties in getting your vehicles registered in Texas?  Comment below if there are any other Texas residency or registration questions you may have and we'll research them for you.

The text within the asterisks is from Jaimie Bruzenak.  The opening and closing comments are mine.

Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV


Jaimie Hall Bruzenak is an RV lifestyle expert, specializing in getting started in the RV lifestyle, life on the road, working on the RV road, and solo RVing. She has been RVing since 1992. She and her late husband weren't retired so RVed on a budget and worked on the road. She is the author of Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider's Guide to Working on the Road, Retire to an RV: The Roadmap to Affordable Retirement and other RV books. Find out more at RetiretoanRV.com and RVLifestyleExperts.com.

Monday

Your San Antonio RV Park's New Logo

Many of you Hidden Vallians, our readers, guests and friends, have already noted the new Hidden Valley logo.  Our Facebook page, Instagram, twitter, pinterest and google plus pages have all had surveys in early September asking for your choice of several options with different colors and features and the votes were pretty heavy on this one:

Hidden Valley RV Park's New Logo


 Now we're in the process of replacing the old logo with this new one on all our handouts, literature, websites, blog, etc.  This redesign represents a new face for Hidden Valley.  Over this year and next we will be focusing on adding features to make the park more modern but still keeping it's quiet country atmosphere and rustic outdoors feel, intact.

In early 2014 we had our grand opening of the new "Top of the Valley" premium RV sites. We plan to add to that area progressively with more new sites.

We are almost finished construction of the Medio Corner RV sites, a cozy, quiet area for extended stay guests, nestled among some mature shade trees and on a terrace above the Medio Creek. 
Our new RV Site Map with the Medio Corner and Top of the Valley Sites

We have improved our bandwidth for our WiFi systems and are adding WiFi to all of our sites and areas.

Although our entrance road will always be a gravel road, we've instituted a heavier maintenance schedule for it's upkeep and have recently topped it with over 200 sq yards (12 large loads) of road gravel.

In early 2015 we will begin construction of a new registration center, laundry and restroom/shower facility.

We've been joined by a few camp hosts to our team and are very excited to have them begin their stay with us in only a couple days.  Watch our following posts for a formal intro to our new team members.

With our Winter Texan friends about ready to arrive we are very anxious to share our new projects and also to continue to build features that our guests are interested in.

As always we are very attuned to your needs and greatly desire to get your suggestions.  I's like to take this opportunity to encourage all our visitors to use any of the RV review sites they prefer to  inform other RVers of our "Little Piece of Country in San Antonio."   Many of our guests have told us that park reviews are the biggest help in assisting them to find a park to fit their needs.  In case you've never posted a review, here's a list of choices where you can do so:

Trip Advisor

Guest Rated.com

RV Park Reviews.com
(note:this is the Von Ormy, TX page, you need to scroll down to get to Hidden Valley RV Park)

Google Review

Yelp 

Feel free to choose any other review sites as well or to suggest your favorite in the comments below.



Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park
Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV


Saturday

A Travel Tip to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Ever seen that Seinfeld where Jerry's girlfriend uses his toothbrush that had fallen into the toilet?  That's what came to my mind when I heard it said the other day that our toothbrush has more germs and bacteria than the toilet.  Ewww.  That reminded me that I hadn't cleaned my brush in a while so I headed it over to the dishwasher, my usual fix to disinfect my toothbrush.  Then I wondered if the hot water alone would really get rid of all those streptococci, staphylococci and treponema denticolas that were hopping around on my brush.  Hmmm, I think not.  I also got to thinking that when we travel, our toothbrushes are often 'in touch' with a lot of surfaces instead of being stashed in their normal holder. So this fix is especially important when traveling or RVing.  So what WILL get rid of those harmful, tooth decay causing bacterias.

I've heard of several options.  I saw advertised a special UV lamp that claims to ward them away.  Some people use bleach, (...in my mouth?) rubbing alcohol or dish washing soap.  After a few clicks around the internet I found this natural 'make it yourself' idea over at The Natural Singer blog.

Now, when we travel in the RV, "make it yourself" cleaners are often not practical unless you plan and make them ahead because unusual ingredients are often required and you can only carry around a small number of 'unusual ingredients' in an RV.  But every RVer has these simple ingredients in the cabinet.  And it's cheap and easy to make.
Ingredients, baking soda, water and vinegar

Need: Baking soda, water, white vinegar
Pour about 1/2 cup of water into a glass. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 2 tsp of baking soda and mix well. Place your toothbrush (es) into the glass and leave for about 30 minutes.  
Rinse well (unless you want pickled teeth.) Now you have a happy toothbrush!

Vinegar and baking soda are both effective disinfectants and, in addition to disinfecting your toothbrushes, can be used throughout your RV or home as an alternative to toxic commercial household cleaners.

Do you have any easy to make and travel with natural concoctions?  Please share them below then check out all the other comments for ideas.



Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV



Monday

Some Timely RV Water Safety Tips

If you're a seasoned RVer or full-timer, these simple tips are probably "old hat" to y'all but if you're a newbie, or like me...if you've always let hubby set up the rig, these may be helpful tips to know.
RVs Need a Water Pressure Regulator

Recently we've added several new sites to our RV Park and found that the water pressure there is very high, especially in the quiet season when we have only a few campers. So we've been advising all our RVers to take note of these few important steps. 

First, always use a hose approved for RVs and drinking water.  they are usually white.  Regular garden hoses add a not so sweet rubber flavor to your water and chemicals can also leach into the water from a hose made for other purposes.

An RV Hose, approved for drinking water

Just noticed a great video outlining how to safely hook up RV Park water to your RV and what you need to know for safety.  Mark Polk from RV Education 101 makes it very simple.

In this video you'll learn:
  1. What a water regulator is and how to hook it up
  2. What kinds a regulators are available
  3. Ways to filter water entering your RV if desired
  4. A few other water safety tips for when you RV       




        


Keep in mind that most RV's safely handle 40 to 60 psi (pounds per square inch) but city water systems tend to spike at much higher rates - as high as 120 psi here in Texas.  A regulator will keep the water at a balanced rate. At Hidden Valley we do have a regulator at the entry point of water into our park but these can fail so we still recommend that each RV has their own regulator.  We have seen some who install the regulator at the RV itself rather than at the water source and experienced a bulging hose and eventually a spraying, wet mess.  Of course the worst scenario would be water getting through your hose safely but flooding compartments or rooms of your RV.

Fortunately, an little advance preparation and know how can prevent this from happening and lead to a much more enjoyable RV experience. 

Happy Trails from your San Antonio RV Park!



Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

Are you Losing Money on Your RV Trips?

It's no secret that the faster we drive the more gas our vehicles guzzle.  Without a doubt there are always going to be times that we are in a hurry and without thinking our foot is a little heavier on the pedal.  But consider these few facts and try to keep them in mind while driving and you may have a bit more control over what you pay at the pump.

Is it really that big a deal?


Your driving habits, like speeding and rapid acceleration, can cut into your fuel use by up to 30%!
The graph below from from fueleconomy.gov shows the direct effect of speed on the miles per gallon your vehicle maintains. 
Note that at 55 mph a vehicle runs at optimum efficiency but that each 5 miles above 55 shows a distinct decrease in a vehicles miles per gallon. This works out to paying 10 cents more per gallon for fuel if you travel 60 mph or 20 cents more per gallon if you go 70 mph. 

Why?


According to MPGforSpeed.com this effect happens for two reasons:

1) Increasing air resistance. According to CNN, "Pushing air around actually takes up about 40% of a car's energy at highway speeds. Traveling faster makes the job even harder...The increase is actually exponential, meaning wind resistance rises much more steeply between 70 and 80 mph than it does between 50 and 60. "

2) Engines are designed for specific speed, temperature, and rpm ranges. Driving out of these ranges goes against the fundamental design of the engine.
Interesting Facts If the national speed limit were reset to 55, it would save 1 billion barrels of oil per year.
Click here to get your own calculator


Remember back in the 70's when they made the national speed limit 55 mph?  There was much research behind the theory that this would help the energy crisis and applying it personally can still address the cost of fuel for us today. Savings on fuel can give us an extra night eating out on the road or a fancy gadget for our RV.  Happy RVing!


Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park
Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

Are You a Good RV Neighbor?

These reminders were shared from Jamie Bruzenak's RV Lifestyle Ezine:
 
"Have you thought about what it takes to be a good neighbor in an RV park? If not, you probably do recognize when someone parked near you is not! Good etiquette includes:
                                                      
1. Keep arrivals and departures low-key.  If you come in late, dim your lights and turn them off as quickly as you can. Use flashlights or lanterns if necessary to hook up to utilities. If you will be leaving early, get prepared the night before by putting chairs, etc. away so you can minimize noise. Owners of diesels should know they do not need to be run for more than a few minutes before leaving. If you are hooking up, do so, then turn off your engine until you are ready to pull out.

2. Do not walk through other’s space. Stick to the roads and walkways so you don’t violate someone’s privacy. If you have children with you, teach them to do so also, and to keep their toys or bikes on your own site. Make sure all your possessions including awnings and slideouts are on your own site.

3. Keep the volume on your TV, radio or stereo down. Your neighbors don’t want to hear your noise. Step outside your RV and listen. If you can hear it easily, it is too loud.

4. Keep any pets on your site on a leash or penned. When you walk them, keep them on a short leash and under control. Many people are allergic or afraid of animals and do not want to pet your animal. It should go without saying, that no matter how small your pets are, pick up after them and dispose of their waste in the dumpster or provided container.

5. Respect quiet hours. Others should not hear noise coming from your RV site during quiet hours. If you are camped in a campground with no hookups or are boondocking somewhere, do not run your generator after 10 p.m. or before 8 a.m. (Unless other quiet hours are posted).

6. Using facilities—share. Do not hog all the washers and dryers! Be mindful of how long you take to shower. Little things like this make everyone’s stay more pleasant.

7. Clean up when you leave. Make sure you pick up all your items as well as any trash before leaving. Try to leave the area cleaner than you found it. This will be a good time to double check that you are completely disconnected from any hookups!

Camping is a lot of fun. Following these few guidelines will make everyone’s stay nicer."


 
Jaimie Hall Bruzenak is an RV lifestyle expert, specializing in getting started in the RV lifestyle, life on the road, working on the RV road, and solo RVing. She has been RVing since 1992. She and her late husband weren't retired so RVed on a budget and worked on the road. She is the author of Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider's Guide to Working on the Road and other RV books. Find out more at RVLifestyleExperts.com 
 
Thanks, Jamie, for your timely reminders for all us seasoned and new RVers.
 

Friday

Sparkling Light Craft for Your RV


Are you looking for a fun and inexpensive way to dress up your RV? Here is a fun activity the whole family can help with.

:  
All you will need is:
  • A stapler  
  • 50 9oz soft plastic cups 
  • 100 mini lights string (different color combos can accompany different seasons or holidays)
  • drill 
1. First, drill a hole in the bottom of 50 cups big enough to fit two of the lights from the string of lights.
2. Then, place 12 of the cups in a circle stapling each cup twice to secure them together.

3. Next, form the next layer which is going to be a circle of 9 cups. This time each cup is going to be stapled 3 times on each side and then to the bottom layer of 12.
4. The next layer is going to be 4 cups attached to each other and also the bottom layer. It should have the shape of a half sphere.

5. Then repeat steps 2-4 and form the bottom half of your sphere.
6. Then you are going to take one end of the string of lights and start inserting 2 lights in each cup working around, zigzagging from outer cups to inner cups. End up at the cup next to one you started with. Then repeat this step in the second half of the sphere starting at the other end of the string of lights.

7. Finally you are going to connect the two halves of the sphere by stapling the bottom layer of each half.

This sparking light sphere is perfect for decorating the outside of your RV. You'll be the envy of the entire RV park with your festive lighting.   




 

Contributed by Bethany Castillo. 
Bethany enjoys writing about a variety of topics including travel, animals and food. She is also an avid reader of magazines, 
novels, and blogs.  
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