How to Find the Perfect Ranch in Bandera Texas

While in San Antonio we found out that a close by town called Bandera was the “Cowboy Capital of The World” and at last minute decided that we had to go! We struggled finding somewhere that would take an RV, and emailed the Visitors Center. (Email director@banderacowboycapital.com) They were extremely helpful, and kindly emailed back with a list of a few good local ranches. We looked through them all, and of them was Twin Elm Ranch which luckily takes RVs (also has other accommodation so anyone can stay) After looking at their website we booked up straight away, as they looked absolutely AMAZING!

http://www.twinelmranch.com

A Typical Day at Twin Elm Ranch in Bandera

A typical day at a Ranch is totally up to you, there are a number of activities you can book, one of which is a 1 hour horse ride with the Wrangler through the forest and river. This is for Adults and children aged 6 and up, so we opted for pony rides for both of ours so Maisie aged 4 didn’t feel left out.

“There are many activities to enjoy here at the Twin Elm Ranch, from horseback riding to evening campfires and hayrides.. you are sure to have fun filled days without the stress of your typical daily life.  Take a cool dip in the swimming pool, play volleyball, horseshoes or basketball.  Hike the trails looking for arrowheads or spot wild life.  Maybe even a nice stroll to the river to dip your toes! We also have a game room for your enjoyment equipped with a pool table, ping pong and air hockey.  Relax on the couch and read a book, play a board game or watch your favorite cable TV show.  Fun for the whole familyTwin Elm Ranch

http://www.twinelmranch.com/activities.html

We only spent 24hours here, so we didn’t get to do all of the amazing things that they had to offer.

Our experience at Twin Elm Ranch

We arrived at Twin Elm Ranch mid day hooked up our RV, and took a short stroll to the horse stables. Ellie and Maisie has a pony ride booked for 1pm, and were all dressed up in cowboy hats ready to go. We had a friendly welcome from the Ranch Wranglers Nancy And Shirley, taking both the girls by the hands leading them to their horses. Both of them had help onto their horses, and were taught how ride…in just 10 mins both girls had control of them! Absolutely amazing how much children can learn in such a short space of time. All the horses were extremely well behaved, calm and friendly, and we had a lot of trust in them. We enjoyed the experience so much we booked another horse ride later in the day.

The Ranch has a calming effect, and extremely peaceful. We all felt part of the family straight away, everyone is so friendly and welcoming! We could of stayed forever!

We took a stroll after lunch, and was lucky enough to watch a horse being re-shoed by the local Farrier. He had his own mobile workshop built into van that he drove around all the local ranches. Ellie and Maisie were both fascinated and made sure they asked many questions!

Later in the day we walked back to the horse stables, the sun was setting, the light was casting over the horses- perfect opportunity for photos! Again the girls had an amazing horse ride and loved every minute.

We booked a campfire for the evening, which was worth every penny! And highly recommend that you book one if you stay at Twin Elm Ranch.

Is it worth booking a campfire at Twin Elm Ranch?

Absolutely! Twin Elm Ranch have an option of booking a camp fire- this MUST be on your to do list! We arrived at the campfire at 7pm, the logs were burning and we were greeted with a warm smile. Others join you at the campfire, so you get to make new friends and talk about your day. We had s’mores, listened to the guitar playing before being invited to try lasso throwing!

We all spent the rest of the evening being taught how to throw a lasso on a metal bull- we had so much fun!

Is it noisy at a Dude Ranch at night?

Twin Elm Ranch is probably the quietest RV stay we have ever had! Not a pin drop, or a dog bark, or a horse neeeey! Absolutely perfect! Most peaceful night yet….and a wonderfully magical morning watching the sunrise in this calm tranquil ranch.

Would you stay at a Dude Ranch again?

YES YES YES! We have a special space in our hearts for ranch life now, and could easily stay somewhere like Twin Elm Ranch forever….The most memorable experience on our whole trip yet!

We would highly recommend a Dude Ranch experience, if you like to get involved, find out about new cultures and different ways in which people live this is a must. Our whole family was welcomed with open arms at Twin Elm Ranch, And we thank each and everyone of them for an experience of a life time!

We will never forget our 24hours at Twin Elm Ranch, Bandera Texas

http://www.twinelmranch.com

810 FM 470, Bandera, Texas 78003

P. O. Box 117, Bandera, Tx 78003

Ranch: 830-796-3628    

twinelmranch@hotmail.com

Best day out in Louisiana with Children….

Looking for a cheap day out in Louisiana? Head down to Avery Island. There’s a spectacular little place called Jungle Gardens where you can get lost for hours in miles of peaceful, breath taking scenery. Want something more adventurous? Don’t worry about that, you’ll be on your toes looking out for alligators, and they will be within feet of your RV! Its an experience like no other and only cost us $26 (Adults $12.50/ Children $5). Also at Avery Island you can visit the famous Tabasco Sauce Factory, but we just visited Jungle Gardens this time.

https://www.junglegardens.org

Where to stay near to Jungle Gardens with your RV?

You can’t stay on Avery Island unfortunately, but we stayed on an RV park called Koc kampground www.kockampground.com New Iberia, Louisiana. Koc kampground is around 8 miles (15 minutes drive) into Avery Island, and is probably one of the most welcoming camp grounds we have ever stayed on. The reception staff were very welcoming, we made friends with the locals and they made us feel at home! On site they have a massive field for the children to run around on, a fishing lake, swimming pool and a park for the kids. We would highly recommend this RV park.

Can you drive through Jungle Gardens with an RV?

If you have a car you can drive around the whole park, but with an RV you have to take a different route, park up and walk around some of the spots – reception will show you where to stop on the map they give you. This walk isn’t long and well worth it, the views are just breath taking.

What is there to see at Jungle Gardens?

Following the map from reception you will see 170 ache semitropical gardens, beautiful flowers, birds, a Buddha Garden, Snowy Egrets of Bird City, alligators, turtles….we were even lucky enough to see a few snakes! Take your time and take it all in, this is the most spectacular place we have ever been to.

 

Can you see Alligators?

If you are planning to visit Jungle Gardens plan to spend all day at there (maybe pack a picnic); take your time to soak up the atmosphere, and make sure you see everything. We felt peaceful and calm within the jungle, and before we knew it we had been exploring for hours. As we spent long there, we were lucky enough to see a few little alligators in the water (they are hard to spot as they look like logs!). Later in the day we drove around again, and to our excitement, sitting there on the bank was a long 8 foot armoured body of thick scales; a huge alligator! Slowly and quietly we got out of the RV to take look, quickly took some photos and ran back into the RV! Probably the most memorable time of our RV road trip yet, being able to see this monstrous but beautiful beast!

Are Children welcome at Jungle Gardens?

Yes! Defiantly, children will absolutely love it here. So much to see, lots twists and turns and variety of different things to explore. The excitement on their little faces when they spot an alligator is absolutely priceless.

 

This is why you must go to Jungle Gardens!

Jungle Gardens is a must see, and must be top of your list of places to visit if you are going to Louisiana. We had the most memorable day here, our whole family was calm and bedazzled by the beauty of this place. This is not just for families who like nature this is for everyone, as it’s a fusion of peaceful beauty, and thrilling wildlife.

 

Are you planning your exciting adventure around the world? Left your job, sold your house and starting to pack all the things you might need for your long journey? With children it’s a bit harder, as they take up more space then you realise!

Since being on the road for 3 -4 weeks now there are some essential items that we as a family could not live with out! I hope you find this blog helpful! Please comment below if you have any of your own that you can’t live with out!

1. “Lush” Solid Hair Soap

Yes it sounds extremely weird to have solid hair soap! But believe me, it’s an absolute life saver! It foams up just like usual shampoo, your hair feels amazing after a wash, and it saves lugging around heavy bottles. So save some space in your rucksacks ladies, get your self down to Lush – also online https://uk.lush.com/article/mighty-shampoo-bar “These highly-concentrated bars, packed with powerful natural ingredients and essential oils, do the job of three 250g bottles of liquid shampoo” highly recommend and all three of us have used one of these for three weeks and still going strong!

2. Dry Shampoo

For them days where you just haven’t got time to wash your hair but it really needs a spruce up- try Batiste Dry shampoo. I find “Clean Classic Original” best as any other brands or fragrances makes my hair really itchy and sore. If your planning on staying in an RV for a while, dry shampoo is an absolute must; you don’t get a lot of shower time so hair washing isn’t top of the list.

https://www.batistehair.com

3. Comfortable Loungewear OR pyjamas

This again, along with dry shampoo is an absolute must if you are planning on a long road trip! You spend a lot of down time in the RV driving for miles, and I feel it’s important to feel comfortable. Pack them baggy old PJs, and get cosy – you’re in for a long ride!

4. BB Cream or a Light Foundation

You haven’t been able to wash your hair as regularly as you’d like, and wearing baggy old PJs to keep you comfortable during them long road trips – so it would be nice for us ladies to make sure we look a little presentable. If you want a quick fresh face I absolutely recommend an Australian brand called NATIO, I use a foundation called Flawless, Full coverage. I can tell you now, this goes on beautifully like a BB cream, extremely light but gives you a lovely coverage – for that quick morning pick me up we all need! You can grab your self one of these in Tesco In the U.K. otherwise ebay. https://www.natio.com.au/makeup

5. Portable Charger

We have all been there, out of battery at 4% and desperate to google something important! Get your self on eBay/ Amazon and buy yourself an “EasyAcc Charger” It takes 3 leads at once (three USB ports) and charges all three devices up full charge with in an hour! This has been an absolute life saver! Especially with an iPhone, I have used this to charge my iPhone up 3 times YES people THREE TIMES in one day since we have been away! Taking photos/ videos uses lots of battery, and you do not want to miss that amazing photo.

https://www.amazon.com/TNSO-Portable-13000mAh-External-Smartphones/dp/B01N4M1XG6/ref=asc_df_B01N4M1XG6/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309973029349&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=2657985404483236040&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9028102&hvtargid=pla-351865615395&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=60473698983&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=309973029349&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=2657985404483236040&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9028102&hvtargid=pla-351865615395

6. Amazon Fires

This one is for those of you travelling with children, call us mad for deciding to it in the first place! It’s hard work believe me, all cramped up in an RV there are times when us adults need some down time. If you have children like ours that do not sit still, and like to run jump and play – 1 hour screen time is seriously needed. Make sure you download apps that work with no WiFi, and download films from Netflix and Amazon to work offline. As WiFi in RV parks (even though they say it’s included) can be hit and miss.

7. Wine/ Beer Glass (plastic)

Last but not least, the most important, and most needed essential while travelling in an RV! Get yourself down to the local grocery shop, and get a decent drinking glass. It will come in handy- especially those of you with children. You will definitely need a large glass of wine/ beer at the end of the night. It’s an absolutely amazing experience being able to be together as a family, and work as a team but it’s hard work! Being in such close perimeters for long periods of time can cause a lot of sibling arguments….by the time it’s bed time – for them an adult drink is needed.

So there you go! My 8 essentials for travelling in an RV I hope this helps! Are there anything you could suggest or that you found helpful in your travels? Please comment in the comments

Xxx

PS- I’m editing this and adding a new essential- hiking / walking shoes! We all have a pair and have worn them most days! They are heavy wearing, waterproof and absolutely perfect for all them little adventures you have planned.

 

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So after the -30 weather conditions at Chicago had settled down we decided it’s safe to leave the hotel after 4 days cooped up in there.

So we grabbed our very first Uber(ever!) to take us to pick up our RV, our Uber driver was a lovely lady called Roz she was a lot of fun. The 20 minute ride we shared with Roz was full of laughter, and excitement about our trip, she said a blessing for us for our travels – right there in the car park of ARTS RV’S.(www.artsrv.com) Roz is a great lady, and that’s a great service right there thank you Roz.

So we dragged our bags through the snowy car park and into ARTS RV’S, throwing them down as soon as we were through the doors. We watched the tutorial video, sign all the paperwork then from around the corner appeared our RV, (the moment we have all been waiting months for) a brand spanking new 28ft long RV pulls up.

It’s even better than we imagined, it turned out that the bad luck with the weather was a blessing in disguise, we got a brand spanker of an RV, first people to use it with 181 miles on the clock, thank you very much.

So we had the grand tour of this big beast and they explained how everything worked, and once they were satisfied that we understood  everything, we were free to hit the road in this thing and we couldn’t wait.

As we pulled out of ARTS RV’S we all felt that this adventure had truly begun, and what better way of showing it, than us all shouting YEEE HAAA as loud as we could all so excited to have finally hit the road in our RV, and heading away from the snow.

First stop Walmart. We drove for about 20 minutes till we see a Walmart and we couldn’t wait to get in there and stock up the RV with all the things we were going to need for this adventure , we spent a small fortune in that hour we were in there, we got food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we got things to make the RV homely like a door mat, towels, table mats, potpourri (you know all the essentials).

So once we’d done our 60 minute make over we were back on the road, and heading south on i-55 for DOUBLE J’s RV park (www.doublejcampground.com) in Chatham Illinois. It was about 3 hour drive on a nice straight road, just what we needed to get use to driving the beast, set cruise control to 70mph hold on to the wheel and enjoy the views.

We arrived at DOUBLE J’s around 5pm, it’s the first RV park any of us had ever stayed at so we wasn’t too sure of how it all worked, we pulled up to the office and was greeted by Liz who was so helpful and friendly. Liz explained how the site runs, where we are staying, and offered to help set us up. We drove around to our plot, and thankfully remembered the tutorial from 4hrs ago about how to set up the RV when arriving at a campground. First thing check the RV is level with the spirit level they provided, plug the electric in, plug the cable TV in (would of hooked it up to the water but our RV had been winterized, this means the water tanks on this RV were filled with anti freeze due to the winter weather in Chicago so we had no on board water facilities, no shower, no tap water etc)

But as soon as we get to better climates we would have it de-winterized to give us full use of the facilities.  So we were starting to get the feel of this RV life, was pretty good to drive, easy to set up, and it felt like home, hey this is easy, and a lot of fun.

We stayed at DOUBLE J’S  for 2 nights , it was a great RV park and it could not have been a better starting camp for us beginners.

 

So it was time to hit the road again, and we had MEMPHIS in our sights, we just had a 5 hour journey to concur first, again we got on   i-55 south set cruise control and enjoyed the view, this time singing Elvis Presley songs for most of the way.

We stayed at the MEMPHIS K.O.A JOURNEY RV (www.koa.com) campground on i-55 which is actually in Arkansas but bordering Tennessee, what a fabulous campground this is. The staff there were very friendly and helpful and gave us great tips on where to go and what to see, the campground was very well looked after and we really enjoyed staying here. We had a fire in the evening which we all enjoyed sitting around roasting marshmallows.

The next day we went to THE CHILDRENS MUSEUM OF MEMPHIS,(www.cmom.com) which we had a lot of fun at, they have some great things for the kids here to play with from real police cars and fire engines, airplanes to climbing frames, disco rooms, milking cows, shopping experiences, and air tubes which were really fun. The best part was the carousel, this  was in pristine condition and had so much history behind it, it was a pleasure to ride such an amazing work of art.

After that we drove to a little place they call Graceland (Elvis Presley house)                        (www.graceland.com),  we cannot believe we had the pleasure of visiting Elvis Presley house, (how crazy is that) one of the most famous if not the most famous person ever to have walked this earth and our little family is at his house, it’s something we are never going to forget, we truly appreciate that moment. We signed the wall and floor of Graceland as many millions of others have, but seeing THE ENGLAND FAMILY TRAVELS wrote on the wall of Elvis Presley house was truly a magical moment, and we are truley thankful……. “thank you, thank you very much

The next day we went to the Peabody Hotel in Memphis                    (www.peabodymemphis.com) to witness a daily tradition they celebrate called the “March of the Ducks” which is where you can watch duck’s come down an elevator at precisely at 11am EVERYDAY from the penthouse suite where they live in this 5 star hotel. They march from the elevator on a red carpet to a very grand water fountain, where they spent the day swimming around until 5 pm where they then hold another ceremony where the duck’s get out of the fountain! They march back up the red carpet to the elevator, and up to the penthouse suite where they live in absolute luxury until 11am the next morning, it’s absolutely barmy but a lot of fun to watch. There’s a great story behind all of this as to why they do this, check out the Peabody hotel duck story it’s pretty neat.

After that we went to Beale Street (this is the main party street in Memphis) full of neon lights, bars, street performers, and live blues, soul, funk, and rock music. We stopped in Silky O Sullivan’s bar (www.silkyosullivans.com) for a bite to eat and listen to the band, we had a great time and food was fantastic. The band played great music which we all sung and danced to and believe it or not they had goats in the back garden, we KID you not. So a lot of fun was had by all.

So our time in Memphis Tennessee was great but it was time to hit the road again, so we have packed up, got the RV de-winterized and we are heading South for NEW ORLEANS.

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