Sunday

The Only Good Snake...

Yes, we've all heard the axiom "The only good snake is a dead snake."  Unfortunately it is so far from the truth.  While not knowing if a snake is venomous or not could instill a goodly amount of fear in us when we see one, that is the best reason to learn more about them. 

Very few people LIKE snakes but they are a fact of life in many parts of the US, especially South and West USA.  Hidden Valley RV Park has even been graced by an occasional reptile of the long and slender type. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous bites in the United States, and about 5 of those people die.  http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/snakes/.   Incidentally, Florida has the most cases.


Two main groups in the US, coral snakes and pit vipers.  


The Corals hail from Texas to the Carolinas with the exception of the Arizona Coral which inhabits its name state and New Mexico.  These pretty babies bite with small teeth instead of fangs.  Although there are snakes that are similarly colored, a coral can be identified by the alternating bands of red, yellow and black stripes, the red always touching the yellow.  The very similar Scarlet King Snake is nonvenomous.  The axiom "when red meets yella it's a dangerous fella," is one we've employed here at the valley.
Notices the red stripes bracketed in yellow identifying the venomous variety
Notice the Venomous version with the red bracketed between yellow


Pit Vipers include, rattlesnakes, water moccasins and copperheads and they can be found anywhere in the US.  Their name comes (I always thought it was because they liked pits) from the tiny "pit" between their eye and nostril.  The pit makes it so they can detect heat enabling them to find prey at night.  These more drab looking reptiles have retractable fangs which shoot venom into their prey or an unsuspecting human. There is the possibility of receiving what's commonly called a "dry bite" meaning one without venom.  Bites from old and small snakes have less venom.  Some have felt that venom from smaller snakes is somehow more poisonous or dangerous however recent studies have refuted that belief.
Distinguishing Marks of a Rattlesnake
Notice the "Pit" and the "Rattle"


Bites from both types can range from hurtful to debilitating to death dealing if not treated immediately.  Symptoms can range from a merely a stinging pain to inability to breath due to swelling to affecting the brain and spinal cord.

Treatment, Old and New


Over the years, methods of treatment have included tourniquets, making "X" cuts at or above the fang marks and sucking out the venom (eeww) and icing the site to slow down the venom.  These have proven highly ineffective and currently experts advise
  • washing the bite area with soap and water 
  • keeping the affected limb still and placed lower than the heart 
  • Keeping the victim calm
  • seeking medical help immediately.  

Just as with other allergic reactions the site may become swollen or bruised looking and bleeding could exist.  Even with a small amount of venom you may experience faintness or numbness of the tongue.  These are evidence of shock and need quick attention.

When you get medical attention, a doctor will use and antivenom serum that is produced by injecting a small amount of serum into an animals blood (usually a horse) which then causes their immune systems to produce antibodies to combat the venom. The antibodies are then harvested from the animal in a concentrated form so that it can act quickly to neutralize venom in a person bitten by a snake.  Many persons can have an allergic reaction to the serum itself and are usually given epinephrine to counteract the allergy.
Infographic of Snakebite Do's and Don'ts

Can Snakebite Be Prevented? How?


As with many emergencies, preparedness is the best policy.  The Center for Disease Control (and some years living in snake country myself) provides these tips for prevention whether enjoying the outdoors, boondocking, camping or hiking in the wild or even in residential areas:
  • Do not play with or aggravate snakes
  • Keep landscape clear of brush and debris
  • Wear shoes (even in your RV and house-we found a coral snake in our closet once)
  • Wear boots when walking in snake country
  • Develop a habit of watching where you step and place your hands (even/especially when gardening)
Especially are these tips essential for RVers who are involved in gateguarding since the sites are in virtual snake playgrounds.

Live and Let Live


Whereas some may go by the adage "the only good snake is a dead snake," there are at least four  reasons to just let them be.
  • They will most likely just leave YOU alone
  • Many snakes are non-poisonous and benefit society
  • Snakes prey on rodents that can be a damaging nuisance and health risk themselves
  • Snake venom, when extracted, is used for various applications including treatment of breast cancer as well as stroke victims and it can also help in heart attack treatment. Venom is also used in the medicines of blood pressure. 
If you need a quick guide to help you identify snakes and prevent and treat bites, pin the following infographic onto pinterest or somewhere on your computer for future reference.  It's printed by permission from it's designer Alex Smit who's got a blog of his own with lots of unique outdoor and travel tips.  http://www.sniffoutdoors.com/

Snake Types, Bite Prevention and Treatment
Zoom in on Infographic to enlarge


So, in all, snake venom is very helpful for mankind.  It'd be wise to think twice before hating any snake.  If you have any snake experiences or other tips for our outdoor enthusiast readers...drop us a note in the comments.  Look forward to your feedback.



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 , Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV and our RV Country Daily Magazine and don't forget to Say hello to the voice of Hidden Valley 


Tuesday

A Testimonial For RV Testimonials or Why Bother To Write Reviews?

Regarding reviews or testimonials, they are most often given when we are unsatisfied with part or all of a customer experience.   A normal transaction and even those that exceed our expectations, often go unreported.  Now us full time RVers are a different sort and we love to share our hidden and new found RV places but for all the RV travelers and weekenders out there...don't hesitate to take a few moments and summarize your overall experience at each stop on your RV journey.  We like to include many attractions in our reviews as well but leave at least a few words about every Park we visit, no matter how small or large.  

RV Park Reviews
Hidden Valley RV on RV Park Reviews
Imagine yourself traveling in an unfamiliar state or city and searching online for an RV Park to rest for the night and seeing scores of them.  If you have signed on with RV Park Reviews, a forum for reviews administered by RVers themselves, you could know in a moment which one is liked by RVers like yourself. Yes the Park website itself can be invaluable to choose the amenities you want and the features you need but what if your RV peers have the restrooms rated badly or they post the pool as being top rate? If those features are important to you, their comments and reviews can be very helpful in making a decision that will greatly improve your stay in that area.   Other RVers also post helpful hints  on review sites like an easier route to a particular park or and entrance with better clearance, invaluable info if you've got a 13" high fifth wheel.

Guest Rated Reviews
Hidden Valley's Survey Page
There are also survey sites that many parks affiliate with that can be of value to campers and parks alike.  Any RV park is always looking for ways to improve and learn what their guests are thinking.  A wide variety of questions are combined into reports that give parks letter or number ratings that can benefit RVers when planning their travel parks or on overnight stays.


facebook iconFor many, the easiest way to spread the word or voice your thoughts on ANY place is Facebook.  Since you're on there anyway, search for the facebook page of the place you're at and look for a review tab on the left side of their page.  (Note: that's where the tab is now - it used to be on the top and next week it could be on the bottom so just hop around the page till you see it.
Hidden Valley's Review Tab on FB
Hidden Valley RV Park's review Tab on facebook

Have Your Own Blog? Play With "Symphony"



I know that many of my readers have their own blogs. I keep up with several of your travel blogs, personal blogs and business blogs.  I'd like to share a publishing tool I recently began using that I think you'll like.  It publishes my blog posts simultaneously to twitter and facebook.  The “Symphony” publishing tool  posts onto facebook with a photo from the blog post directly to your fb page.  It can be posted as a link with a photo OR as a photo with a shortened link in the text above the photo.  The same is true for Twitter, AND it’s automatic…nice touch.  While there are other tools that accomplish this and some blog platforms make automatic publishing possible, the appearance of the share with Symphony is superior and can be highly customized.  I have not found any other tool that will publish a photo on twitter in an automated blog post share. And that’s just the start.

Symphony Dashboard
Symphony Dashboard
It is also possible to queue or schedule your posts to space them out more evenly or have them post at the most convenient times for your readers to catch the post.

My favorite feature is being able to insert a BLOG link on my Facebook page in the new left sidebar.  If your page still has the tabs (the new fb sidebar is not out for everyone yet) you can insert a BLOG tab. It offers a quick and easy way for my readers to access the company blog. A reader can view the article introduction with an accompanying photo, without leaving the facebook timeline. Once a reader hits the READ MORE link they are redirected to the blog page.  They can even share it on facebook, tweet it or email any of your blog posts to friends.
Blog Tab on the facebook Page
A Blog Link on the Facebook Page Sidebar


An analytics tab provides pie charts, line graphs and charts detailing your engagement and reports can include short or expansive date ranges.  You can follow the stats for one particular post or all your posts together.

An inbox tab lists all your social media activity from both social media platforms included, Twitter and facebook. The date range goes WAY back so you can use it as an easy way to search for past mentions, posts, comments and messages.

I also liked the Crosspost feature. This is especially nice if you want to post a particular blog post on social media again, after the initial share.  A convenient tab is located on your header on the tool or you add a crosspost tab right on your browser so you can crosspost from anywhere.


Set up was very simple for connecting your social media sites.

There are also some freebie widgets that allow you to perform several tasks and add some neat features to your website or blog. My favorite is a toolbar feature that inserts a Call to Action button on your sites top bar. The button text, color and title are completely customizable.  (Check it out above in the header of this blog.)  These freebies are available if you include the Symphony logo on your webpage/blog sidebar – a simple copy/paste of an html code snippet.

There are several plans to choose from that include varying combinations of features mentioned above.  The cost is based on several criteria including how many will be using the tool.  The least expensive plan is currently $14 a month and if you pay it on an annual basis there is a discount.  I would like to see a plan that is less if you post, say, only 2 to 3 blog links per month since that is more my custom. However the plan cost is not prohibitive if you stay determined to publish more blog content.  There's no contract and you may cancel at any time.

                              This is how the crosspost appears on Facebook

For my social media habits, Symphony is awesome because I primarily use facebook and Twitter.  You can set up personal profiles and pages. I would imagine that some who spend a lot of time on Google+ may want to see this social platform included as a possible venue for blog posts to be syndicated with.  Pinterest photo pins may also be a good platform to add since photos can be given a prominence in the republished material.  I just noticed that LinkedIn is also included for sharing possibilities. This can be a benefit if you want to share helpful and related business info and articles on your business or personal profiles.  I was disappointed though that LinkedIn would not allow posting in groups to get conversations going regarding certain posts you share.  I won’t personally be syndicating LinkedIn because the articles I post on my blog are not generally ones I would share on either my LinkedIn personal profile or business page.  

So while one or two of these features can be found in other tools, having them all incorporated into one, simplifies crossposting and brings added exposure to your blog. Symphony's motto is certainly appropriate: “Spend less time publishing your content and more time creating it.”  When you take advantage of all the features of the Symphony tool, just like in a real musical symphony, all the different parts work together to form a unified and well performed piece.  I truly believe this platform will make me a more consistent content creator to the benefit of my blog readers. They offer a free trial - no credit card required. What do you have to lose? If you use Symphony or try it out, tell us your experience in the comments or on my crosspost on my facebook page.

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned Hidden Valley 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 , Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV  and our RV Country Daily Magazine


Monday

Best Fireworks in San Antonio

Each year as July 4th nears many of us are anxious for the biggest and best Fireworks.  So if you'll be in San Antonio, here are the options - all great shows and all not far from Hidden Valley RV Park.


Fireworks behind theTower of the America's

Fireworks:

Seaworld

When: July 2nd, July 3rd and July 4th at 9:45 p.m.
Where: Ski Lake
On July 2-4, in honor of Independence Day, guests will get in the patriotic spirit when they witness a colorful fireworks display at Ski Lake. This stunning mix of pyrotechnics set to a triumphant musical score will begin at 9:45 p.m. both days. This jaw-dropping show will illuminate SeaWorld’s skyline and captivate guests with its spectacular display of colorful flames and twinkling sparks. Prior to the show, guests can enjoy live music and entertainment for all ages.

This event is included with your park admission. No additional ticket or fee required.

SeaWorld San Antonio from San Antonio on Vimeo.

San Antonio's Official Fourth of July

When:  Monday July 4, 2016 - 8am to 11pm fireworks at 9:30

Where:  Woodlawn Lake Park, 1103 Cincinnati, San Antonio, TX 78201
Join the San Antonio community in a free 4th of July celebration for the entire family. The event will include games, the Children’s Parade, live music, Rio San Antonio Cruises Carnival Rides, Family Pavilion, 5K, Zumbathon and, of course, fireworks. The festivities take place at Woodlawn Lake Park starting at 8:00 am and ending at 11:00 pm, so be sure to bring the family for a day of fun and celebration!  Schedule is as follows: - 8:00 am Zumbathon & 1K - 8:30 am 5K - 11:00 am Salute to the Red, White and Blue Parade - 12:00-2:00 pm Rio San Antonio Cruises Free Carnival Rides - 12:00-6:00 pm Nationwide Family Pavilion Activities - 12:30 pm-10:00 pm  Military Appreciation Zone - 12:00 pm-10:00 pm Live Music at Thomas J. Henry Family Stage - 9:30 pm  Fireworks Extravaganza

Genius Fix for Normally Pricey Repair - Windshield Chips

Problem

While a windshield chip or crack can occur anytime and is never convenient, it often happens while traveling.  Getting it fixed when away from home is a major pain because you often don't know the area and who wants to spend the time on a vacation or have to drive a motorhome to an insurance approved shop for the day.  (Good luck finding one of those!)

There are those mobile fix-it locations that will repair a crack for you but they may not be easy to locate in the desert, near the beach or in the middle of nowhere while traveling.  Just leaving it till you get home can sometimes turn a chip into a larger feathering crack not to mention the danger of a crack turning into a safety risk. 

Solution 

I saw this great video  on you tube that I'd love to try although I'm not anxious to need the opportunity, if you know what I mean. This fella demonstrated how to use these Windshield Repair Kits that have evidently been around for a while.


This is one of several brands I found on Amazon.  They range from $8 to $20.

What? Have I been living under a rock.  Wow, I was really impressed.  The DIY video is only 6 minutes long.  The whole process added another hour maybe for drying and waiting between steps but it was all done quickly, by a non-professional and with no special tools except what is readily available online through Amazon and elsewhere in that little kit.

                                              ChrisFix's Video at https://youtu.be/QjuWqBzO7qY

This little Fix it was just too easy to pass up and may keep me from crying over a few hundred dollars the next time a speeding semi throws a pebble my way.

Has anyone tried this personally?  I'll update the post if I have the chance to try it myself and y'all do the same in the comments below. 


Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned Hidden Valley 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 , Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV  and our RV Country Daily Magazine

Friday

Do Away With This Slimy Cleaning Chore Forever

Well, almost forever.  I'm talking shower curtains or shower curtain liners.  For years I took mine down a few times a year, standing on the tub side to unhook the 12 impossible to open hooks and risking a fall to the floor while I was wrestling with that big, ungainly piece of plastic.  Then I washed it in the washer with bleach and thought I was getting rid of all the bacteria and hopefully the sometimes colorful mold and mildew that so quickly forms from all the moisture and soap scum in a shower.  No matter how well I kept on top of cleaning it IN the shower, it always needed this, at least quarterly, super cleaning.


RV Shower Curtain


Then an RVer who came through Hidden Valley shared with me the vinegar trick.  I was skeptical and thought bleach would be much more sanitizing but it turns out that this vinegar trick has been all over Pinterest and google for some time...I was just in the dark.  It works like a dream and you don't even need to wear all white to avoid bleach splashes on your duds in the process.  But alas, the silly thing STILL needs to be wrestled down off the pole several times a year.  Till now (or even much earlier if you discovered this trick before me.)  Best of all this trick involves no harsh and mysterious chemicals.  This method will clean and prevent mildew from returning.
So how does it work? SO simply! After washing your shower curtain, you soak it in salt water to give it a layer of mildew resistance. That’s it. Here’s the step-by-step process.

What You’ll Need

 

– Table salt
– Laundry detergent
– Vinegar

How To

  1. Wash your shower curtain in your washing machine. I use a mix of ½ the recommended amount of laundry detergent and 1 cup of vinegar, and add towels to the load for extra scrubbing.
  2. Put the washed shower curtain in your clean tub. Cover with hot water, and add 1 cup of salt to the water as it runs.
  3. Stir the water so the salt dissolves and covers the shower curtain. Soak for three hours, then hang to dry.
It's one extra step but it keeps the curtain clean for a year or longer with just a water spray down after use. The salt forms a barrier that fights and prevents mildew.

Have you ever tried this trick before? Do you have methods of your own for keeping the shower curtain clean? Share your tips with us.




Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned Hidden Valley 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 , Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV  and our RV Country Daily Magazine 

Monday

There's No Place Like Home Base - Why We Chose Hidden Valley RV Park To Be Ours


Welcome Guest Blogger: Susan Fellows


At the San Antonio Riverwalk

My husband, Chris, and I  made the decision to become full time RVers about two years ago and that dream became a reality last March (2015).  We are both prior military and so, were infected with the travel bug at an early age. Chris retired from the Air Force after 20 years and we settled into a less nomadic life but continued to explore this beautiful country of ours on holidays and weekends.  We planned, as many people do, to travel more extensively in our golden years.  We thought there would be time.  In 2014, when I was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we quickly decided that if we were going to realize this dream we would have to do it soon.  And here we are:   A year into our full-time RV life and loving every moment.

Many people who decide to become full timers do not chose a home base, they simply travel wherever the wind may blow them. But, as amazing as that sounds, we knew we had to choose a location to return to each year due to my need of ongoing medical treatment.  San Antonio was an easy choice.  Not only is the weather suitable to living in a motorhome but our youngest, and according to her, most adored, daughter lives here.  

Upon arriving in San Antonio we stayed at a luxury RV resort close to our daughter’s apartment but knew we would be moving to something more affordable and less crowded.  We started exploring the local RV parks and found Hidden Valley RV Park.  We are so glad we did.

Hidden Valley is a small RV park in a quiet country setting.  If you’ve never been to San Antonio, it’s a huge city and the rush hour traffic is horrendous.  The highway noise was constant at the other RV parks we looked at and the sites were tiny with few places to walk our dogs.  Not so at Hidden Valley.  What it lacks in more luxurious amenities it gains in serenity.  The location is also excellent, under 30 minutes from downtown and the major attractions and 15 minutes from Lackland AFB for those coming to visit loved ones in the military.   The managers, Teri and Mark, are amazing people and we plan to return yearly for the winter months and are even workamping.   Teri has asked if I want to contribute to her blog and, here I am, submitting my first article.  See you next week.  Enjoy! 




Susan Fellows, a full time RVer, took up the nomadic lifestyle in 2015. 
After retiring from a job with the Social Security Administration,
she and her husband Chris traded their house for an RV home.   
They will be spending the winters work camping at Hidden Valley 
RV Park in Von Ormy, TX and the rest of the year traveling this 
great nation of ours.  Susan has volunteered to send blog 
contributions for Hidden Valley about her experiences as a new RVer.

Thursday

San Antonio, Get Out in the Cool, Wild Outdoors



Spring in San Antonio is a wonderful time to visit our outdoor nature attractions.  The animals are much more active when the weather is cooler, especially earlier in the day during the month of April.  Our guests, Cheri and Dave, visited a couple of San Antonio's Wild Spots, and we'd love to share them with you.

zebra, orynx, emu at Natural Bridge Wildlife Park


Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch offers a very unique experience because it's a wildlife safari that you are able to drive through without leaving the comfort of your vehicle.  When you purchase your ticket, you are given food to feed the animals.  They come up to your vehicle for the food, but feed with caution. Visitors are warned to keep hands inside the vehicle’s windows.  We found the emus to be the most aggressiveThe photo opportunities are abundant as there are no fences or bars to worry about getting in your way.  Daily admission information is Adults 12 and over are $22.00, Seniors (65 and over) are $20.00, Children 3-11 are $13.50, Military/Policemen/Firefighters are $18.00.  Children under 3 are free.  (See discount coupon below.) Another nearby attraction (just next door) is the Natural Bridge Caverns...an easy do on the same day as the Wildlife Park.




Flamingo, Monkey, Snake and Lion at San Antonio Zoo


The San Antonio Zoo 

The San Antonio Zoo celebrated its centennial “Zootennial” in 2014! For one hundred years, the Zoo has provided remarkable

Tuesday

San Antonio Family Attractions: Low Cost or Free

On our "Ask Us" Pinterest page we recently had a request for ideas on what to do in San Antonio with kids that's free or close to free. Here's a list of several activities for families, kids and visitors to San Antonio that won't break the bank and will keep the kids happy.  There are several that kids of ANY age can take advantage of.  If there are others that you know of or find, please share them in the comments!

Free or discounted summer activities in San Antonio for the kids, families and travelers too.

Thursday

How to Make a US Map of the States You've Visited

Ever wanted to make one of those cool maps you see all the other RVers sporting on their RV, travel blogs and on the RV forums?  You know the ones that show all the states you've visited.  A quick google of "US state visited maps" lead me to several options but by far the easiest is this one.


visited 21 states (42%)
Create your own visited map of The United States


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