Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SeaWorld San Antonio August Deals

SeaWorld San Antonio & Aquatica have some fan pretty fantastic deals going on this last month of summer.  If you haven't had a chance to get down to spend the day at either of these parks, how's this for motivation??

Sesame Street Breakfast:

Start your day at SeaWorld with breakfast with Elmo and all his Sesame Street friends. Think of all the fun picture opps!!  Receive a FREE child’s reservation with the purchase of a full-paid adult reservation. Available through August 17, 2014.

Dine with Shamu: 

How much fun would it be to have lunch with Shamu?  You are in your own private area that is usually reserved for SeaWorld trainers too!  Receive a FREE child’s reservation with the purchase of a full-paid adult reservation. Available through August 22, 2014 (excludes Saturday reservations).

Aquatica Splash Pass:

Each SeaWorld Texas Fun Card holder and SeaWorld Texas Annual Pass Member can log on to PassMemberUpdates.com with their barcode to purchase (1) $15 Splash Pass for unlimited visits to Aquatica through the end of the 2014 season. Once they purchase and print their Splash Pass, they will not have the option to purchase any more. Available for purchase through September 1, 2014.

Bring a Friend FREE to both parks!

SeaWorld + Aquatica Fun Cards/Annual Passes & Platinum Passes Members  can log on to PassMemberUpdates.com with their barcode and print one (1) FREE single day admission ticket for a friend to visit both SeaWorld AND Aquatica on the same day (Must be purchased and redeemed by August 24, 2014).

Additionally, Pass Members can SAVE $25 on tickets for friends and family! Login now through August 16, 2014 to purchase these discounted tickets. Limit 6 per order. Does not include Aquatica, SeaWorld's Waterpark™.

If you are planning to go, make sure you check out my friend's great list of tips for SeaWorld too!

Monday, July 28, 2014

10 Tips to Enjoy Garner State Park ~ Concan, Texas

For years, I have heard how great Garner State Park & the Frio River were.  My mom went as a child, my aunt goes each year for a family reunion, and I have countless friends who flock to the cold waters of the Frio.  It was time for us to check it out.

So as we planned our #darlingroadtrip in an RV this summer, we knew that Garner State Park was a must.

Garner State Park and the Frio River area that surrounds it are beautiful.  Stuck out where the Hill Country stops and West Texas begins, this oasis pops up and surprises you.  The lush trees, green grass, and cold waters of the Frio River completely take you by surprise.  It’s no wonder it gets called “a little slice of heaven”.

We headed to Garner with one plan – to sit in the cold waters of the Frio River.  We packed a few tubes, some water shoes, and a cooler full of beverages.  That was all we needed, right? Nope.

Garner State Park has a large access to the Frio River, but it’s not a rapidly flowing river, like you may picture. This is like a big, natural pool to float around in, let the kids swim and play on the beach, or if they are brave enough, jump from one of the many rope swings.  This is a place you spend the whole day relaxing, laughing, and having great family time.

Here are 10 Tips to Enjoy Garner State Park:

1. Bring a Tube for each person: The Frio River at Garner State Park is deep and at times I wasn’t touching the bottom.  Each of us wanted to float in our own tube. You will pay a quarter of the price for a tube if you just buy your own and bring them rather than buy or rent them there.

2. Personal Floatation Devices for Little Ones: As it can be deep, it’s best to put non-swimmers in a life vest or some form of floaties.  Even in a tube or float that has a bottom,  they will feel much more comfortable with one on.  Mom will too.

3. Water Shoes are a MUST!: Unless you like the squishy mud/leafy bottom feeling, buy an inexpensive pair of water shoes.  These will come in handy when you are trying to climb out of the river to get to a rope swing too.

4. Rope the Tubes together: Most people kept their tubes together with ropes and a few carabineers.  This makes it easy to float around in one group.

5. Be Brave & Try a Rope Swing: Along the river in Garner State Park are several rope swings to play on.  They are on the other side of the bank from the park, and are constantly in action. My 11 year old son immediately hopped on them, but it took a day or two for mom & dad to brave it.  I’m so glad we did – it was such a rush to swing out over the river and drop into the cold water.  What an experience!

6. Take a Ball or Frisbee to Throw Around: I didn’t think we would actually play with it, but ended up playing hot potato and catch for a few hours.  I’m so glad we brought it.

7. Consider a Floating Cooler: It’s not a necessity, but it was nice to have our cooler with us at all times as we moved up and down the river.

8. Get there early and claim your spot on the water’s edge: Depending on the day, most people arrive early and set up “camp” for the day.  They brought a canopy, tables, chairs, coolers, and food.  And again, had all they needed to spend the entire day relaxing in the water.

9. Take a walk past the spillway to play in the rapids: My 5 year old really enjoyed this area.  We played in the low water rapids and then floated/walked down to a pool that was about waist deep. Because he was able to walk around in the water and play while touching, he felt more comfortable here.  We threw the ball around and sat in the sun with the cool water rushing over us.  Make sure you check this area out.

10. Get up early to Hike one morning: I am so thankful that my husband & I got up early on the last day we were there to hike up Baldy – the tallest bluff that overlooks the park.  Since we were there in July, we got up early for the half-hour hike and I’m glad we did.  If you hike up to right side of the bluff, it’s a pretty steep climb, but so worth it.  The view from several vistas and the top are breathtaking.  It reminds you just how gorgeous Texas is!

This was our view from the first vista:

And this was our view from the top:

Our family really enjoyed our time at the Frio River. We put away the electronics, our phones, our cameras, and spent quality time together.  We laughed and talked and did some family bonding.  Every Texan needs to spend atleast one day floating in the Frio, relaxing and appreciating this little “Slice of Texas Heaven”.

While on our #darlingroadtrip, we camped in a 2013 Jayco Redhawk Class C RV.  Woody RV Rentals in Georgetown, Texas provided us with our home on wheels.  They specialize in renting RVs of every size to help you have a memorable RV vacation. 

Find out more about Woody RV Rentals and some tips for camping in an RV here. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Woody RV Rentals, LLC ~ Austin, TX

This is a part of our Camping for Beginners series. Click here to hear about the Myths I thought about Camping, here to see how comfortable camping in an RV can be and here to see what was on our menu for 7 days.  Lastly, here are 10 Tips for first time RV campers. 

I am soooooo not a camper.  I really want to be, but the thought of sleeping on the ground just freaks me out.  The potential for bugs crawling on me is too high (even if I am in a tent, bugs are there....).  No can do.  But camping RV-style, now that is another story.

And as you have read this week, I got over my fears of sleeping outdoors and camped while on vacation. Many of you may say that "camping in an RV" doesn't count.  But who says you can't have a little creature comfort while you are spending time in the great outdoors?  I know having a clean potty and a bed with sheets made camping much easier for this gal!  My brother calls is "glamping" - no, it is CAMPING in my book.

Camping is not a regular sport in this household, but my kids enjoy it so how can I say no?  That's why I wanted to tell y'all all about this great company that allows you to "camp" in this comfortable fashion without having to buy the RV.

Woody RV Rentals is a locally owned business here in Central Texas that offers many makes & models of RVs and campers for rent.  They have Class A and Class C MotorhomesTravel Trailers, and Pop-up Campers.  Whether you want to camp a few days overnight in a local campground or take a big one to the beach, there are several reasons to go with Woody RV Rentals.

Locally owned means friendly faces.  For a non-camper like me, I needed someone to walk me through  the camper.  I spoke with Mike, who put me immediately at ease and answered all my silly questions.  You know....like "do I have to have a special license to drive it?" And the answer to that one is NO!

There are so many choices to pick from at Woody RV - their website lists them all with pictures.  You can rent a smaller Class C, which is great for a family and drives like a "15-passenger van" or rent the decked-out bus, and tour like a rockstar!  

When you rent an RV, you will walk through the rental with a technician who will explain everything to you, such as how to use the generator, the kitchen appliances, set up water, etc.  All of the rentals are meticulously cleaned and come with some forms of entertainment (TV. DVD, Radio,etc).  

And renting an RV is reasonable if you were to compare it to the price of staying in a hotel and meals.  Plus it's a really unique experience for the family....call it family bonding.

This was such a FUN way to visit some amazing sites in Texas - we took it out for a 1300+ mile road trip.  But Mike suggested if you wanted to try out camping, someplace close and local is great.  They are a big fan of Camp Jellystone, located down by Canyon Lake.  

Having a company so close and easy gives me no more excuses when my kids want to camp. Now I guess I am going to have to insist we rent the Rockstar Bus for our next trip.

10% Discount at Woody RV Rentals: Julie is providing all my readers who mention my blog a 10% discount on their rentals.  Just mention R We There Yet Mom when renting to receive it!

Disclosure: Woody RV Rentals invited us to try camping and provided us with the 2013 Jayco Redhawk for the week. I was not compensated to write this article. These are my true thoughts and opinions.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

10 Tips for First-time RV Campers

This is a part of our Camping for Beginners series. Click here to hear about the Myths I thought about Camping, here to see how comfortable camping in an RV can be and here to see what was on our menu for 7 days. 

Yesterday I received the comment, "Sorry, that's not camping - that's its a traveling hotel room." on one of my articles about camping in an RV.  At first, I took a little offense to that.  Just because I choose to not sleep in a tent while outdoors doesn't mean I'm not camping. All the campgrounds we stayed at had spots for tents AND RVs.

Quite frankly, I'm proud to have camped in an RV all week - I know my boundaries and what will make me miserable and sleeping on the ground at night is one of them.  And I love the fact that I can take my moving hotel room with all the amenities I want and need to the lake, to a river, to the beach, to the mountains - any where I want to go.

So to that comment, There are different ways to camp.  I choose to camp in my traveling hotel room and love every minute of it.

That said, there were a few lessons we learned along the way last week that will help us in a future camping trip - ones that I won't forget and may help any other first time RV campers.

10 Tips for First Time RV Campers:

1. Over Pack: It rained. The temperatures were in the 60's one morning. And the A/C in the camper worked so well that I froze each night.  There is plenty of room in the camper for all those things you "might" need.  We had empty cabinets to pack away rain ponchos, umbrellas, jackets, and blankets.

2. Don't forget your first aid kit: I packed a whole slew of "just in-case" medicine (tylenol, zyrtec, pepto bismal, etc.) but forgot the basics - no bandaids, no neosporin, nothing.  So when my daughter stubbed her toe, I broke my toenail, and my son scraped his knee, we were not prepared.

3. Make your outdoors functional and pretty: We were so worried about making sure we had everything for inside the RV, that we forgot that we would like to have a nice area outdoors too.  A big outdoor carpet to roll out just outside the door of the RV creates a nice place to sit in the shade of the awning, take off your shoes, & leave the dust and dirt behind before heading in.  Also, you can set up a portable table to do your outdoor cooking on right next to the RV, rather than 10 feet away on the picnic table. Lastly, experienced RVers all have flags and lights to decorate their campsite - made it look fun & homey.

4. Bring a canopy for shade: Not all campgrounds and campsites have shade.  Even if your camper has an awning, a portable canopy is nice to provide shade over the picnic table.

5. Bring a portable charcoal grill: What we found was that the fire rings/grills in most of the campsites we visited were not in the best shape to cook on.  We bought an inexpensive portable grill that worked beautifully for us.

6. Drive around & look for the spot you want if you can: If the campground is not busy, see if you can pick your own spot out - don't just accept the one they give you.  Or ask the advice of the person checking you in. Tell then what you want and ask for the spot that has those amenities.

7. Have an easy meal already prepared so you can heat it up on a day you don't feel like cooking: The last day of our trip, I was tired.  And we still had to cook.  I put a status up on Facebook and a friend came back with this advice.  Genius!  Next time, I will have my prepared meal - mac & cheese, soup, etc. ready for that last day.

8. Don't forget condiments: Silly advice, I know - but try eating pancakes without butter & syrup.  Yep, I'm that mom.

9. Park your RV with the door facing the picnic table: Again, another bit of silly advice - but we almost made this mistake once...or twice.....

10. Don't try to do it all: We are that family, you know - I want to try everything that is available at a campsite or state park, even if we are exhausted.  On this trip, with the exception of a few items, we decided on the fly - we did what sounded fun and interesting.  And if we didn't get to that last hike but decided to read for the afternoon, that was great.  I tend to be the type of person who needs her agenda for the day filled, so it was nice to sit and do nothing - talk, read, stare at the fire.  We came home refreshed and relaxed - and you don't always do that after a vacation.

I have mentioned this a bunch this week, but I will say it again - we really enjoyed this trip and will definitely camp in a RV again for vacation.  But if you are on the fence, I encourage you to try camping by renting a RV.  It is not a big investment to take your "traveling hotel room" around to see the sites you want to see!

We rented from Woody RV Rentals in the Austin area.  They have a big lot full of RVs to choose from and they will set you up in the RV that fits your family the best.  They will give you great advice and help you with set-up and driving.  It was one of the most relaxing vacations we have ever taken, certainly not stressful to drive or set up!

10% Discount at Woody RV Rentals: Julie is providing all my readers who mention my blog a 10% discount on their rentals.  Just mention R We There Yet Mom when renting to receive it!

Disclosure: Woody RV Rentals invited us to try camping and provided us with the 2013 Jayco Redhawk for the week. I was not compensated to write this article. These are my true thoughts and opinions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How Do You Cook for a Whole Week of Camping?

This is a part of our Camping for Beginners series. Click here to hear about the Myths I thought about Camping and here to see how comfortable camping in an RV can be. 

One of the biggest concerns I had when we decided to head out on a week-long camping trip was how to feed my family 21 full meals from a small RV kitchen.  Ok, maybe that’s not an overwhelming task for most moms, but it was for me.

I wanted to attempt to cook outside as much as I could – either over the campfire or a grill.  Being that it is summer, the last thing I wanted to do was heat up the RV with cooking.  And as it turned out, we had no oven in the RV to cook in anyways.

Research & Plan

I did lots of research online – poured through Pinterest recipes for creative yet easy ideas. I asked my camping friends for their best recipes. And I made a menu on Excel, went over it with family to get buy in, and printed off a copy to tape up in the RV pantry.

Shop & Borrow Before Heading Out

Since this was our first venture at camping, we didn’t want to invest in a bunch of equipment. So, we borrowed a campfire stove and portable grill. And we made a big list of all the food we would need for all the meals.  We didn’t know how much space we would have in the RV, so we planned on a grocery shop halfway through the week to restock.

Are We Sure This is Enough Food??

Prep Work

One of the best pieces of advice I received was to do as much prep work on the cooking that I can at home before we go. I cut up & marinated chicken, cooked taco meat, washed and cut up fruits & veggies.  I placed everything in individual ziplock bags and froze what I could. 


Here is our 7-day menu with a few thoughts:

Lunch: Late start = pull through for What-a-burger
Dinner: Hot Dogs, Chips, Watermelon
Dessert: SmoreCones

We roasted the hot dogs over the fire, so it was hard to judge when they were ready.  We all agreed this wasn’t our favorite way to cook hot dogs. The Smorecones came from a friend  – mine certainly did not come out as pretty as her's did, but they were delicious.

Breakfast: Pancakes & Bacon
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken Kabobs, Potato Packets, grilled veggies
Dessert: S’mores

I cut up and marinated the chicken in an herb vinaigrette before we had left, so all I had to do was put the chicken on the kabobs.  Potato Packets are sliced potatoes, cooked in foil packets over the fire with a little oil and sea salt.  We added shredded cheese to melt over them right before we ate.  We all agreed this was our favorite meal of the trip. 

We used the BIG marshmallows (Campfire Marshmallows) for the s'mores and we all thought it was TOO much marshmallow - stick to the regular size.

Breakfast: Mini-Donuts (a family favorite)
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Frito Pie & grapes

We love mini donuts, so when we planned an early morning hike this morning, this was the day for donuts. We stopped at a state historic site for lunch. And we arrived pretty late in the day to our campsite, so we heated up the taco meat I had already cooked to make frito pie (layer fritos, taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, & cheese). Dessert was our favorite today – we roasted Starburst candy over the campfire – YUM!

Breakfast: Breakfast tacos
Lunch: Chick-fil-a
Dinner: grilled cheese

We scrambled eggs with leftover taco meat for breakfast tacos for breakfast.  We toured a museum on this day and got out late for lunch so drove through our favorite (Chick-fil-A) to get back on the road.  

Today was the day we went grocery shopping to restock before heading down into Palo Duro Canyon for the next 3 days.  We took a bit longer to get to the Canyon, so we ended up making grilled cheese for dinner.

Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Burgers at the Palo Duro Trading Post
Dinner: Kielbasa sausages, mac & cheese, grapes & cherries

Nothing easier for breakfast than a bowl of cereal – especially if you have an early horseback ride to get to.  And we had to check out the “world-famous burgers” at the Palo Duro Trading Post for lunch, right?

We grilled the sausages and made mac & cheese inside on the stove. Easy but filling. 

Breakfast: Scrambled bowls – eggs, bacon, hash brown potatoes
Lunch: sandwiches on our 10 mile hike
Dinner: Grilled pork brisket, potato packets, grilled veggies, fruit

I found scrambled egg packets on Pinterest but we didn’t want to make a fire in the morning, so we modified this idea.  We cooked bacon, eggs, and hash brown potatoes separately and then mixed it up with a little shredded cheese – yum! We found these thin pork briskets to cook on the grill and made the yummy potato packets again.  

Campfire Pineapple Upside Down Cake
But the highlight of today?  Dessert – these Campfire Pineapple Upside Down cake was great and so easy – pineapple, cut up pound cake, butter and brown sugar heated up in foil packets on the fire!

Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: sandwiches while driving down the road
Dinner: hamburgers, chips, fruit
Dessert: Campfire Peach Cobbler

One thing I love about roadtripping in the RV is the ability to make lunch as we are flying down the road.  I premade hamburger patties and froze them ahead of time for dinner and we finished up the chips & fruit.

Again, another yummy dessert – we made our own peach cobbler – peaches, cubed pound cake, butter & brown sugar heated up over the campfire – another winner.

Were we sick of sandwiches? Yes

Was our favorite “meals” dessert? Yes

Did this mom successfully feed my family all week while camping in an RV? OH YES!

If you have been reading our posts this week, you will see that we rented our RV for the week from Woody RV Rentals.  They have so many different RVs to choose from, each having different amenities for the kitchen.  Again, renting an RV is a great option to try camping if you are on the fence.  It turned out to be one of the favorite vacations we have ever been on!

10% Discount at Woody RV Rentals: Julie is providing all my readers who mention my blog a 10% discount on their rentals.  Just mention R We There Yet Mom when renting to receive it!

Disclosure: Woody RV Rentals invited us to try camping and provided us with the 2013 Jayco Redhawk for the week. I was not compensated to write this article. These are my true thoughts and opinions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How Comfortable is Camping in an RV?

This is a part of our Camping for Beginners series. Click here to hear about the Myths I thought about Camping and how they all went away.

I've received a lot of questions about our RV Road Trip over the past few days, the biggest one being all about comfort:

Tell me the truth Rebecca, was it comfortable?  How did you all sleep in there?

Yes, the thought of a family of 5 sleeping all in the "same room" for 7 days may seem a bit crowded, but honestly, it wasn't at all.  And all of us in the "same room" - that was part of the adventure of camping in a RV!

So I thought I'd take a moment to show you just how comfortable we were.

At Woody RV Rentals, the RVs come in all shapes and sizes.  Our family of 5 (mom, dad, teenager, tween, and 5 year old) fit perfectly in the 2013 Jayco Redhawk.  We wanted to be in a RV that we could drive and not tow.  We wanted the experience of getting up and moving around, going potty, eating lunch, etc. all while cruising down the road.

Our camper had 2 slide outs when we were parked - the couch and the bunk beds moved out, giving us more than enough room to walk around it.  Did we ever feel like we were on top of ourselves? Sure - but you can feel that way in a 4000 sq. foot home too.  Again, this was all about the camping experience.

How was Sleeping?

Our Redhawk had the capacity to sleep 9 (maybe 10):
- Queen bed in back
- 2 bunk beds
- Couch folds out to a full bed
- Dining table makes into a bed
- Full-Queen sized bed over the cab

Our kids had plenty of options to sleep but they really enjoyed sleeping in the bunk beds and over the cabs.  My 5 year old chose the upper bunk and kept all his toys and books there through the whole trip.  It had a curtain that he would close and call it his "room".  He even figured out how to open his window.

The mattresses are not meant to be the most comfortable ones you have ever slept in (it is called camping folks!) but we added an egg crate to our queen and it was just fine.

We slept very comfortably.

Did the RV Keep Cool?

Lucky for us, a big storm system moved through the state and cooled it down to the 80s each day.  That said, we ran the A/C each night and I was COLD.  I wished I had packed more blankets for the bed but when you are loading up in the heat of the day, the last thing you think you will need is another blanket.

We cooled off just fine.

Was there Enough Storage Space?

We used all the drawers in back to pack all the clothes we would need for 7 days (family of 5 remember!) and still had cabinets that were empty.  There was a full pantry and cabinets over the sink, couch, and dining table that we filled with food, dishes, and games.  There are storage spaces underneath the RV that we packed our ice chests, chairs, tools, and more. We even added a bike rack in the back to take our 5 bikes. Everything, I mean everything fit perfectly and we still had room to take more!

There was plenty of space for everything we packed.

How did you cook?

The Redhawk had a nice-sized fridge & freezer that everything fit in nicely.  It had a four-burner stover than ran off the propane.  And a convection microwave to cook. I think we made popcorn one night in the microwave and mac & cheese another night on the stove.  Other than that, we cooked outside on a propane camping stove, over the campfire, or on a portable grill.  We wanted to keep the heat and smells outdoors and it felt more like camping this way.

We washed dishes in the sink.  It had a water heater, so we had warm water to wash in.  The only thing I wish it had more of is counter space.  Pretty much all the cooking prep was done on the table or outside.

Cooking was no problem - we all ate just fine!

What was the bathroom like?

The bathroom was small - but it had a sink, potty, and shower.  And lots of space to put your toiletries, which for a family of 5 seemed to be a lot.  There was enough room to turn around in the bathroom, so we of course, limited our time in there.  We took showers at the campground and used the potty sparingly - that was more for Dad's sake having to empty the black & grey tanks.  I can't really speak to that job.  I made sure I was hidden away in the camper every time he emptied them.  He said it was easy to do but fairly gross.

The bathroom was small, but just what we needed.

Was it easy to "turn on"?

Hubby did all that work, and he says yes. All you have to do is plug it in!

Here is a quick tour of our RV:

The RV experience was very comfortable - it's a house on wheels essentially and we were never uncomfortable.  I chose to camp in a RV because I do not think I would enjoy a tent. For too many reasons to list here.   And there were certainly moments where I wished I could just go to my room and shut the door - just being real here folks - but again, that was a part of the camping experience.

If you are worried about being comfortable or not having enough room, there are many RVs that will suit the size of your family.

Woody RV Rentals has plenty of options to choose from - you can tow a trailer or drive one - and most sleep six people and up.  Take a visit to their lot and tour a few different campers before choosing one.  Owner, Julie Woody and her staff will be happy to "fit" you in the perfect camper and be able to answer any questions! I loved working with them before, after, and even during our trip.

10% Discount at Woody RV Rentals: Julie is providing all my readers who mention my blog a 10% discount on their rentals.  Just mention R We There Yet Mom when renting to receive it!

Disclosure: Woody RV Rentals invited us to try camping and provided us with the 2013 Jayco Redhawk for the week. I was not compensated to write this article. These are my true thoughts and opinions.

Monday, July 21, 2014

5 Myths about Camping {How to Turn this NON-Camper into a Camping Queen!}

For years I have said that “I will NEVER camp.” Seven days this summer in a little RV completely changed my mind. I went from a non-camper to a Camping Queen! Here's 5 Myths I always assumed about Camping and how non of them were true!

I camped as a child – first in a tent and later we graduated to a pop-up tent trailer.  It was great as far as I could remember it.  I was a kid and I got to explore the wilderness.  But as I got older and I started wanting the comforts of home, i.e. a mirror, a curling iron, and a big can of hair spray, I stopped camping with my parents.  And then I think I just assumed I wouldn’t like it anymore.

But recently, we took a 2013 Jayco Redhawk Class C Motorhome out on a 7 day roadtrip across West Texas and I realized that I didn’t hate camping.  In fact, I really liked it.  And all those myths I thought I’d hate about camping, slowly went away.

Myth #1: It’s Not Comfortable to Camp
Truth: Take the Comforts of Home With You

We chose the drive-able RV to experience the road trip in a moving home.  I wanted to be able to make my kids sandwiches as we drove down the road.  I wanted the kids to be able to lie in their beds and read or play with toys.  And I wanted the freedom to use the potty when we needed to. 

Lunching "On-the-Road"
We packed up our little RV with pretty much everything we could need, from an over-flowing refrigerator to my Keurig for coffee each morning. This baby slept up to 10 people, so my little family was more than comfortable in it. We brought outdoor chairs, a portable grill, 5 bikes, and 3 ice chests.  And we had room for even more!  It was not uncomfortable to live like this for 7 days.

What about sleeping?  I thought it would be uncomfortable sleeping in one tiny RV – but we were worn out each night from all the fun activities – ever hiked 10 miles with a 5 year old? - we slept like babies most nights.  Even through a torrential thunderstorm in Palo Duro Canyon.  

So we were not uncomfortable.

Myth #2: It’s Noisy Outdoors
Truth: We Observed Peace & Quiet

I thought campgrounds would be crowded and noisy.  But we lucked out and chose the perfect time & spots to camp in. Every campsite we went to was pretty empty.  And it’s not that I thought it would be noisy and we couldn’t sleep, I just didn’t want to share my “space” with other people.  With the exception of one night, we didn’t have anyone next to us.  Maybe it was a timing thing, but it turned out pretty sweet for us.

Hearing the birds tweet at you in the morning when you drink your coffee and the crickets chip at dusk is pretty cool.  Even my kids noticed that they couldn't hear any cars - my son said these were the quietest places he had ever been at. 

Myth #3: There Nothing to Do When You Camp
Truth: See Nature’s Beauty

This wasn’t a full myth on my part, but if you saw the way I packed, you’d think it was.  I brought myself 5 books thinking I’d read them all.  I packed a whole sleeve of movies for us to watch in case we “got bored”.  And I packed 20+ games to play.  With the exception of a hour or 2 of game play one rainy morning, we didn’t get to  any of it.

Hiking in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
What did we do? We hiked (a lot). And we geocached. And we swam in the river.  And we rode horses. And we rode bikes. And we ziplinned. And we laughed and enjoyed each other, all while seeing some of the prettiest country Texas has to offer.

Myth #4:  I Can’t Potty in the Public
Truth: Yes you can.

I don’t like a public potty but I’m not going to let that stop me from taking my kids camping.  Grin and bear it. 

And use the RV when you can.

Myth #5: There’s No Where Nice to Camp in Texas
Truth:  There are so many Beautiful Places to Camp in Texas

Being a non-camper, I haven’t been to many state parks in Texas.  But after last summer’s trip to 6 National Parks, I saw how gorgeous this land was.  Heading out on this trip, I still thought that camping in Texas could be a major bust – hot, no trees, bugs galore, and did I mention HOT?

The beautiful Frio River in Garner State Park, Texas
I couldn’t have been more wrong.  We were overwhelmed with how beautiful some of the parks & areas of Texas we visited on this trip were.  The Frio River & Garner State Park is lush and shaded and just pretty – “a Little Slice of Heaven” is what it’s called.  Abilene State Park had many trees – each campsite was surrounded by them – not at all what you expect for West Texas. And our last night, we picked Fort Griffin State Historic Site as a halfway point and had the gorgeous, tree-filled park to ourselves.  Again, every place we camped surprised me with how beautiful it was and I have committed to see as many parks as I can now – I even bought a Texas State Parks Pass. 

Ok, but let’s be honest, there are still a few things I did not enjoy and probably will never about camping.  Public showers are not fun. I learned this week to always wear my shower shoes, take a quick shower, and just not care about what I looked like.  

I still can’t stand the smell of campfire smoke.  I hate how my hair & clothes smell like it for days, and I doubt that will ever go away.  But I’m going to just deal with it, because we had more fun trying all the different campfire desserts we found on Pinterest (have you roasted starburst candy before??). And some of our best conversations were sitting around the campfire.  I won’t ever understand why that smoke likes to follow beauty though…..

Quiet morning in Abilene State Park, Texas
But I can confidently say that these 7 days, though a lot of work, was one of the best vacations we have ever been on as a family.  We unplugged from the world (as best we could – you know I was still posting pictures to Instagram!) And there is something so relaxing about spending the day outdoors and enjoying the land that God created.  I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to have seen some of these beautiful places in Texas.

So, do we still have some non-campers out there?  Still on the fence like I was?  My advice to you is to rent an RV for a few days – take one for a 3 day trip if you just want to try it – and find a park near you to see what you think. 

If you live in the Austin area, I want you to consider trying Woody RV Rentals.  They set us up in our Jayco Redhawk and coached us through the trip.  From the planning stages giving us advice to where to go to working with us on the dates we needed, owner Julie Woody is so easy to work with.  She her self loves to be outdoors and encourages everyone to get out and have some fun.

She has a huge fleet of RVs – from little tow trailers, to 5th wheels, to full-sized motor coaches – her site lists her inventory and even has floorplans to help you choose.  Even when we were doing a few walk-thrus, she pointed out which ones would be best for us to take to make sure we have the “best time possible”.  She knows that making it an incredible family vacation is important, so they work hard to ensure that.

The RVs are clean and all in top notch working order. To rent one, you have to pay a security deposit, daily rental fee and milage over 500.  But we found the rates to be reasonable - especially compared to taking a variety of other vacations.  Julie and her staff are extremely helpful and they always answer the phone - even if you need help while you are out on the road.

10% Discount at Woody RV Rentals: Julie is providing all my readers who mention my blog a 10% discount on their rentals.  Just mention R We There Yet Mom when renting to receive it!

This camping trip took me completely by surprise. 

I never thought I would have as much fun as I did or be as relaxed as I was.  But I was. 

I never thought it would compare to trips to Walt Disney World or New York City. But it did.

And I never thought I would want to camp again.  But I do. 

We are already planning our next trip.

Disclosure: Woody RV Rentals invited us to try camping and provided us with the 2013 Jayco Redhawk for the week. I was not compensated to write this article. These are my true thoughts and opinions.