RV Travels: 13 Ways You Know You’re in a Small Texas Town

I have spent almost ten years of my life living in Texas: a four-year stint in college, and nearly six years in my 40’s, due to a military move. My parents, my brother, and his family have lived there for more than two decades, so we’ve visited a lot too.

Plus, although we spend most of the year traveling, San Antonio is still our home base, and our younger son is a second-year physics and math major right up the highway at UT-Austin.

That’s my way of telling you that when it comes to small towns in Texas, I’ve got some familiarity. And after a truck breakdown left us stranded in one of them for two weeks earlier this year, I became an expert on observing the endearing quirks that make these places special.

1. The local tow truck driver doubles back after spotting you on the side of the highway with your hazard lights blinking, figuring you’re going to be his next call anyway. And he is correct.

If you’re gonna travel in an RV, get the best roadside assistance plan you can afford.
You will not regret it.

2. The RV park your 5th wheel is towed to is so new that nobody at the service shop knows the name of it, but they know exactly where it is and that it’s open for business.

The Wagon Yard RV park was nothing fancy, but wow, were we ever glad to have it!

3. You are very thankful that the RV park is new and unheard of because that means it has space available during spring break week in Texas. Every public grade school and university in the state gets the same week off for spring break, which makes last-minute lodging arrangements nearly impossible to obtain.

4. You become celebrities in the grocery store because you got there on bicycles instead of in a pickup truck. The clerk, upon hearing that our truck was in the shop, felt so sorry for us that she even helped load the groceries into our backpacks.

Of course we were all ready to go when we discovered the tires were flat.
Why wouldn’t they be?

5. All heads turn when someone walks through the door of the dinette.

6. And when that someone is a big ol’ farmer wearing denim overalls and work boots, the waitress greets him with a smile and a 2-syllable “Hey,” to which the farmer replies simply, “Sweet tea.” And the waitress sets it on the table by the time his fanny hits the chair.

7. Every store on Main Street, whether it’s open for business or appears to have been vacant for 20 years, bears a sign supporting the local high school team, with the obligatory incorrect apostrophe. “Go Zebra’s!”

8. Other than the dinette mentioned above, socializing occurs in one of two places: under the Friday night lights or in the Sunday morning pews.

9. You’re never allowed to forget which state you’re in here. Never. Not even in the bathroom.

Jesus ‘n’ Texas, y’all.

10. Your camera roll boasts photos of a BBQ plate, wildflowers, a road runner, and a spray-painted sign for a tractor pull — all from the same day.

11. And the tractor pull causes a significant uptick in traffic.

12. Being located right between two airports means nothing, as the options lack anything resembling a terminal or even planes. They are grass strips suitable for landing crop dusters, and there are cows grazing on them.

Someone out there in the country has a good sense of humor.
(source: Apple Maps)

13. Related: more of your neighbors have four legs than two.

The RV park where we stayed for that little “detour” was in fact 8 miles from one small town we visited (Grandview), and 10 miles from the other (Cleburne).

Of all the places for the truck to break down? That was the middle-of-nowheriest.

Author’s note: a version of this post appears at Heartland RVs. It is printed here with permission

Women behind the RV wheel: Solo journeys, full lives

For Women’s History Month, I caught up with three women who live and travel full time in recreational vehicles on their own, and by extension, on their own terms.

No, I didn’t actually follow them on the road and wave at them to pull over. I simply harnessed the power of personal connections, social media, and e-mail to learn more about these women, and why they chose this nomadic lifestyle.

Janet is a Heartland owner who tows a 2015 Cyclone 4114, with three canine travel companions (Abby, Boomer, and Freddie). She is a retired police officer, and has been full-timing since February of 2016.


Kelly, of www.rvchickadee.com, pulls a 24’ 2010 Crossroads Slingshot travel trailer, under close supervision of “the girls,” doggies Trixie and Gizmo. She has been on the road since May of 2015, working as a digital nomad, and is currently creating an RV review web site.


Viktoria, of www.smallrvlifestyle.com, has been traveling the country in a 20’ Ford Majestic Tourer II since April of 2016. She too works as a digital nomad, creating lead-generating web sites.


Each of these women took time off the road to respond to a few of my most burning questions, and to send me photos to help make this story more personal. Their answers have been edited for length and clarity.

So… why an RV?

Janet had an epiphany after a family tragedy. “About 2 ½ years ago,” she said, “my middle younger brother passed away from a heart attack. It occurred to me at his memorial that no one in our family, Mom or Dad’s side, has lived past 66.” That, plus an untenable situation at work then caused Janet to realize that maybe waiting until 65 to retire wasn’t such a good plan for her. “I decided I did not need to be tortured for 7 more years to die a year later. I spent a year researching RV’s and the lifestyle, and decided it would work for me! Took another 6 months to find the right RV, then 5 months to prepare and sell the house. Escrow closed and I was on the road!

Kelly, in keeping with her minimalist approach to living, went with the most direct response.Because I can!”  Boondocking (self-contained camping, without power, water, or sewer hook-ups) is a key part of her travel strategy. “There’s no better or cheaper way to live nomadically,” she said. “I only boondock, so I get to live rent-free. Also,I love to wake up and only have to take about 5 steps to get all the way across my house to open the blinds! It’s awesome. I am not sure I could ever live permanently in a house again.”

Viktoria is originally from Hungary, but has lived in four states since moving to America 16 years ago, eventually ending up in California. “I always loved road trips, and I’ve been to most of the states by car,” she said. “RVs are very popular in California, and I really wanted one, but it seemed so inaccessible and expensive.” After a romantic relationship broke up, Viktoria knew she couldn’t “live the normal everyday life anymore,” and decided to buy an RV she’d found on Craigslist. “It was a big purchase, and I was so excited, but everything went smoothly.”

What is your favorite resource for RV information?

Janet: The Heartland Owners’ Forum has been a lifesaver for me, as I had never RV’ed before and have had questions on everything!

Kelly: I would have to say Campendium.com. It’s the resource I use the most to look for my next stop.

Viktoria: I use RVillage and Xscapers.

Describe your most triumphant RV moment.

Janet: Accomplishing things “experts” told me I could not do. Best feeling was re-designing the living room of my RV. I love how it is now!

Kelly: I have two. The first was boondocking all by myself in the middle of nowhere with no other RVs or lights in sight. My only company was my girls. It gave me the heebie-jeebies but I wasn’t scared of people — it was the boogeyman! The other triumphant moment was when I had a mouse in my trailer. I didn’t want to kill it, so guess what? I simply let it out.

Viktoria: When I first started going on weekend trips, and I learned how to handle my RV, it was pretty much a great feeling that I can do this.

Viktoria and Kelly really did meet up on the road!
Both are on Instagram: Small RV Lifestyle and RV Chickadee

How about your most embarrassing RV moment?

Janet: It was my very first trip, pulling into the RV park, at night, having 4 spotters I did not know and, while focusing on them and trying to interpret what they were signaling me to do, unknowingly cutting the corner of the roadway and sliding the driver’s side of my RV along a light pole and knocking it catty-wampus! Fortunately, they were able to straighten it with someone else’s truck.

Kelly: This would have to be the time I crossed Snoqualmie pass in a blizzard with a friend. I was totally positive my truck had front wheel drive, so we put the chains on the front tires. All went well in the blizzard until the incline got a little steeper — and my truck’s butt end started sliding. That’s when my error hit me. We had to stop in the middle of the interstate and put them on the back tires with traffic whizzing by us at about 35 mph. Totally embarrassing!

Viktoria: I guess I don’t have a very embarrassing RV moment. I don’t like it when things are moving around in the RV, and sometimes I leave doors open by accident. Once my 2-gallon water pitcher fell and broke while I was driving on the highway, and water was all over the place. That was not my favorite moment.

What do you see as your legacy for other women seeking an independent and/or adventurous lifestyle?

Janet: My legacy is just being part of this group of women who demonstrate you can do it on your own successfully, even though I think we have a harder time dealing with both sales and service at RV dealerships. That being said, I am also ever grateful for all the RV’ers who have been there to help me when I needed it. They will be proud to know I have been able to pay that forward as I learn.

Kelly: Well, I certainly don’t see myself as a leader or a trailblazer. However, I am aware that I am in the minority as not many women do this solo. If you are a woman looking to do this, just know that it will likely be the best decision you’ve ever made. You only regret the things you don’t do in life!

Viktoria: Legacy? I just want more working age people out there. I want them to see how free life can be. Even if you are solo, it is fun. If you have a wandering soul, don’t be afraid to try it. You will never know how it is without trying it.

Well-behaved women seldom make history.  ~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

(Author’s note:  a version of this post appears at Heartland RVs. It is printed here with permission.)