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RE: Texas Hwy. 21 from San Marcos to Sommerville

I have only done the run on TX 21 from where it joins TX 71 west of Bastrop to where it crosses US 290 near Paige. It is a fine road, towed my 5th wheel on it. I have found that state highways of Texas (as opposed to Farm to Market roads, which are generally OK, but more twisty-turny and more narrow) are very good, with perhaps a few exceptions, exceptions which I personally have not experienced yet.
one_strange_texan 10/16/20 02:39pm Roads and Routes
RE: las vegas

Stayed at LV RV Resort Nellis Boulevard for 3 nights at a great price and very comfortable = security excellent. Walked back and forth to Sams Town Casino, but as a woman one night coming back on my own felt very uncomfortable with a couple sketchy folks stopping and waiting for me to pass, albeit I slowed down my pace to try and avoid catching up to these guys. Upon finally getting into the CG, the lady offering drive me back to my site, said she advises all ladies to ensure they don't carry a purse or anything valuable in plain site at night along that stretch for sure. Just sharing and saying, and I don't scare typically easily. We would stay there again, but I wouldn't feel comfortable walking in the dark back to the RV Park from the Casino any more, unless in a group of several together. We also would recommend Las Vegas RV Resort on Nellis. It is a well-kept park which has good security. We have stayed there twice now. On our last visit, we walked to Sam's Town and walked the return trip after dark, but only once. We decided not to repeat this method and drove over & parked after that, both to be at Sam's or to catch one of the free shuttles from Sam's to downtown or the Strip. Nothing happened on the walk, but we did feel a little uncomfortable. One piece of advice. If you do stay in that area of town, the park owners advise you to lock up bicycles and valuable things of that sort at your site.
one_strange_texan 09/17/20 07:14pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Orlando to Los Angeles Good Sam Trip Planner

Being fairly familiar with most of that route, except the westernmost stretch of I-10 from Phoenix to LA, I would not take the I-45 to I-20 diversion and can't imagine why it is being recommended. You may wish to consider looping to the north around San Antonio using TX-1604. You can also loop north around El Paso using TX-375 unless you are inexperienced in driving motorhomes. 375 does cross the Franklin Mountains north of El Paso. I agree with taking I-12 on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain rather than going on I-10 through New Orleans.
one_strange_texan 09/14/20 07:38am Roads and Routes
RE: COE

I suspect those aren't all campground parks, COE manages boat ramps, picnic areas and other sites around these lakes. I'll have to figure out where the other FL COE site is, maybe up at three rivers. There are two active ones around Lake Okeechobee. We have a reservation at the one on the west called WP Franklin South, Ortona is on the other side of the lake and has very few RV spots making it very hard to get into. These also have the highest prices of any COE CG I've ever seen. Here is more detail from the original data: FL Ortona South "FL Corp of Eng 863-675-8400" Port St. Lucie "FL Corp of Eng 561-287-1382" W P Franklin "FL Corp of Eng 239-694-8770" All 3 are part the Okeechobee navigation system, related to locks built by the COE. Since the dataset is billed as "US Federal & State Campgrounds," I am pretty sure it does not include sites that are just boat ramps and picnic sites. This is where I put in a plug for the POI Factory website. You must sign up for a free account to use it, but it contains a wealth of information (some useful, some less so) of points of interest (information and geographic coordinates) many of which I have found to be useful, whether you RV or just travel. The individual POI files are developed and maintained by individual users. All POI files on the site come with revision date information. The one I used here is somewhat dated, so it may be missing some newer ones, though I doubt many new COE projects have been done in the last 10 years or so.
one_strange_texan 09/07/20 07:21pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: COE

Here is a table from filtering a list of government campgrounds on the website poi-factory.com I have not verified the accuracy. State Count of COE parks AL 26 AR 117 CA 3 CO 2 CT 1 FL 3 GA 44 IA 24 ID 4 IL 20 KS 50 KY 32 MN 9 MO 51 MS 21 MT 3 NC 4 ND 10 NE 6 NM 5 OH 2 OK 76 OR 2 PA 15 SC 7 SD 3 TN 25 TX 88 VA 11 VT 2 WA 7 WI 5 WV 12 Grand Total 690
one_strange_texan 09/07/20 11:23am RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: First Fifth Wheeler

I use Garmin RV 770 LMT-S GPS. It is set up for RV's. You enter your 5th wheel height, length, width and weight. It will help plot you around the country, but like all GPS you still have to be alert, especially on secondary roads. Also be careful at fueling stations with low canopies. I too have a Garmin 660 LMT RV, meaning I get free updates on maps (new ones issued ~2 times a year) and it routes me knowing my 5th wheel's dimensions, especially height. It has saved my behind on at least 2 occasions involving low overhead clearances. They are not common, but it is sometimes surprising where they turn up, like on US highways and on loops around medium sized towns. If you see it routing you weirdly onto some secondary roads, it is often some hazard like a low clearance you would not have known about otherwise. Yes, the clearances are often marked, but sometimes not with enough warning where you can easily "back out" (sometimes literally) of the situation. It seems to dislike traffic circles as well, sometimes when I would not consider them a problem. I also like the fact that you can use BaseCamp to completely plan your route, including stops, on your computer and load them into the Garmin. There are frequent complaints that it is hard to use, but I have found it quite useful once you get the hang of it. I especially like that you can export the planned routes to navigation apps on tablets or iPads and your co-pilot can follow along and assist you. As for the fuel stops, I plan them and check them out for ingress/egress as well as clearances on my iPad using satellite views and ground level views courtesy of the inRoute app which links to Google Maps.
one_strange_texan 09/05/20 07:18am Roads and Routes
RE: Camping Suggestions for Florida Keys

Decide and reserve sooner than later. As ford truck guy has said, you should have better pickings this year at this time, but that could change as things progress this fall. I once decided to go to the keys in February. In November, we got a February vacation slot for my wife who is a RN. I found very limited February availability in southern Florida, east and west coast as well as the Keys. I had to take basically the last slot available for whatever days were available and actually had to move around some. Most RV parks where I wanted to stay had no availability at all. I was told that if I waited until March I would have much better luck, but that was not an option with my wife's work schedule. Nonetheless, we really enjoyed the vacation. Very nice area.
one_strange_texan 08/16/20 07:07pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Las Vegas RV Parks

I would recommend Las Vegas RV Resort on Nellis Blvd. about a block from Sam's Town. It is a little less tight and a little nicer than the Sam's Town RV parks. It has pretty good security and you can walk or drive over to catch the shuttles at Sam's Town to the Strip and Downtown.
one_strange_texan 06/16/20 08:17pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Galveston - Bolivar Ferry

As others have said, the attendants at Bolivar Ferry handle a lot of RV's and will direct you to the right lane or even occasionally pull you over to the side if the boat is almost full so you will have room to board on the next one. My close calls have been my own extended side mirrors when towing. The lanes are somewhat narrow and the drivers coming into the lanes beside you may not be careful when pulling alongside. Retract the mirrors as soon as you reach your parking spot if you can.
one_strange_texan 05/12/20 07:17pm Roads and Routes
RE: New Truck 4x4 or 4x2 ??

Even If I didn't plow snow, I would have 4X4 .. Only needed it 2-3 times, I look at it like insurance, don't like to pay it, but darn glad you have it when needed.... I bought my first truck for 5th wheel towing, a 4x4, on the advice of a coworker who told me if I ever really needed it, I would be glad I had it. That came true on a couple of occasions, most prominently when I had to pull my trailer up a steep, wet road to escape suddenly rising waters. Everyone must decide for themselves how much risk or inconvenience they are willing to take or experience. One only knows in hindsight. I am not sure there is any one "right choice" for everyone, looking into the future.
one_strange_texan 04/27/20 12:04pm Fifth-Wheels
RE: Bridge height apps

It is interesting to note that a dataset of low clearances was available some time back on a handy site I use called "POI Factory," a free site which is a repository of free lists of points of interest. As I interpret what I read, the low clearance POI data was taken down at the request (or demand) of the owner of the data since it was considered copyrighted information. I do not know if the data came from lowclearances.com or if that was the data owner in question. Maybe the lowclearances.com site or the information itself will return at some point. To be most useful, the data needs to be refreshed and kept up to date. Also note that, in addition to the Garmin resource I mentioned in my earlier post, an app on Apple devices named "ParkAdvisor" contains low clearances on its maps in addition to RV parks (including individual park information), fuel stops for RV's and major outlets like Walmart. Other similar apps may have the information as well. I do not know how up-to-date the information is. I know Garmin issues map updates around 2 times a year but I cannot verify if low clearance information is updated with the same frequency.
one_strange_texan 04/15/20 07:51pm Fifth-Wheels
RE: Bridge height apps

Not a direct answer to your question. Garmin includes clearances into its North American maps. You put the dimensions of your rig into the device as well as the route planner and it routes you and also warns you if you are coming up on one. It has saved my behind a couple of times. There used to be a site called "Low Clearance POI" that allowed you to download into your GPS, but I just checked it and it seems to be defunct. If you Google something like "low clearances" you will see some possibilities, I can offer no first hand experience other than the above. The Motor Carrier Atlas would be a good tool for planning, but less helpful when you are underway, unless your navigator has it open. My near misses were due to either missing a turn or "winging it." The Garmin warned me in time on both occasions.
one_strange_texan 04/14/20 03:27pm Fifth-Wheels
RE: Flat towing vehicle list

Motorhome.com downloadable dinghy towing guide
one_strange_texan 03/27/20 05:23pm Dinghy Towing
RE: fifth wheel gas stops

Plan your route and determine, as best you can, at what mileage interval you should plan on stopping for fuel (leaving the appropriate reserve amount still in the tank - don't run it near empty). Use Google Maps or Google Earth around the points you identify to find and check out the satellite view of potential fuel stops (search for "gas stations near . . ." the town where you plan to stop). You can even go down to ground level in Maps & Earth to check things out from the highway. There is a distance ruler in Earth you can use on the satellite picture to check out turns and clearance if need be. There are several apps for smart phones & tablets that can identify fuel stops on routes and maps. Good luck.
one_strange_texan 03/12/20 07:24pm Fifth-Wheels
RE: New Orleans LA

If your trip includes going onto town and the French Quarter, I'd recommend French Quarter RV. You can walk most places. Staying out of town, you will find that parking anywhere near the quarter is very expensive and hard to fond a spot. We have used French Quarter RV and will return. It is a nice, well run park within walking distance of the Quarter. All sites are back in, so getting into your site is much easier if you arrive during the week before it fills up for the weekend. Your plans probably should also include the use of Uber or Lyft. We walked over to sites downtown during the day, but always caught Uber over or to return after dark. Keep an eye out for the taxi if you call them, because they often have trouble finding the pickup point. Also study the routes in and out prior to arriving or departing, depending on how maneuverable your rig is.
one_strange_texan 03/07/20 09:19am RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: getting trapped inside a park

This quote has probably been cited here before: "Having a 4x4 allows you to get in trouble a lot further away from home than you ever could before. Having a 4x4 along with a winch allows you to get in trouble in places where perhaps no one will ever find you."
one_strange_texan 02/22/20 09:41pm Fifth-Wheels
RE: Florida toll charges

I second the idea of getting the SunPass. I got one for a trip to Keys as well. I do not recall having to get it in person. The SunPass site indicates it is still available on line at a price of $4.99 and will be mailed to you 4 to 5 days after you apply for one. I am referring to the "Mini-Transponder" which goes on the windshield below the rear view mirror alongside, and in addition to, any other toll tags such as the TxTag, which I have here in Texas. You preload the account with $20 or so and give them a valid credit card, which allows them to replenish the balance as needed while you use it. After your trip, I recall you can request your account be closed and the balance refunded, usually something on the order of $10-$20. I have left mine open and used it again on the another trip to the Orlando area. It basically works in similar fashion to turnpike networks around the country, such as Texas, Kansas and the Northeast. I found that having one is handy, not only on the Florida Turnpike, but on several of the toll roads around Miami and Alligator Alley (I-75 between the Miami metropolitan area and Naples).
one_strange_texan 02/08/20 05:44pm Roads and Routes
RE: Florida to Texas

I've thought about getting on/off I-10 in Denham Springs LA. Baton Rouge traffic has always been a nightmare for me. I'm going that way in April and might try it. I'll see how bad 190 can get going through Baton Rouge. I think you mean getting off I-12 at Denham Springs, though I-12 is definitely the "non-New Orleans" alternative to I-10. US-190/US-61 is the Airline Highway. I used to go to a trade show located on it several years ago and seem to recall it is stop-and-go heavy traffic. I actually got off I-12 with a pop-up over 20 years ago at the Airline Highway exit and had a horrendous time moving around and getting back on the interstate around rush hour. I can't say I have found any good way through Baton Rouge, though I have not tried it in the middle of the night ;).
one_strange_texan 01/30/20 05:48pm Roads and Routes
RE: Galveston area things to do

There are a lot of good restaurants in Galveston. Though Gaido's is good and is an old favorite, I usually eat elsewhere due to the crowds. Good seafood at several other restaurants and very good Mexican food as well, especially at some of the more out of the way family run restaurants. 2112 pretty much covered the bases of things to see.
one_strange_texan 01/27/20 05:29pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Florida to Texas

I have mentioned on previous similar posts that I tend to jump over to US-190 from I-10 using LA-415 just west of the Mississippi River right after Port Allen, LA. I continue on US-190 west to Ragley, LA and continue west on LA-12 in Ragley when US-190 turns north. LA-12 turns into TX-12 at the Texas state line and TX-12 rejoins I-10 in Vidor, TX. This route avoids the long Atchafalaya bridge, which still may be under construction and occasionally is closed if there is a traffic incident, a very rough stretch of interstate in Sulphur, LA and construction in Orange, TX. It is not a controlled access highway, so there are occasional traffic lights. The roads are fine and the towns are not large. It may take a little longer, unless there is an incident or heavy traffic in the bigger cities on I-10, but I believe it is much less stressful. Definitely get off I-10 at Winnie and take the ferry via the Bolivar Peninsula, as others have suggested. You may go through a security check and may also have to valve in your LPG tanks prior to boarding the ferry. The crossing doesn't take long and is interesting, not to mention shorter and minus the traffic of the Houston metropolitan area. On weekends and other peak times there may be a wait to board, but most of the time the wait is not very long.
one_strange_texan 01/27/20 05:17pm Roads and Routes
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