Houston Leisure RV Resort Blog - Latest Camping News

20
Mar

What’s the Difference Between Pine, Spruce and Fir Trees?

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree! When you think of a Christmas tree or any “evergreen” tree, do you ever wonder what the difference is between the types, or species?  You may have heard the terms pine and spruce, hemlock and fir but never really could tell one from the other.  Well, let’s take a look.

Common “softwoods”, these trees are relatively less dense than their hardwood counterparts, such as oak, maple, hickory and ash.  What makes a hardwood versus a softwood is a little more complicatedly and can be found here, but let’s consider the cone-bearing, or coniferous, trees as softwoods and look at some of the differences.

You will find a variety of what are often called “evergreen” trees, but are actually types of pines, firs, spruces, and hemlock trees.  All these trees are evergreen, meaning they are never without some green “leaves”, no matter the season, but not all evergreen trees are pines, spruces, firs, etc.  To be more accurate we will refer to them as conifers.  Common across the US and Canada, these trees are the traditional “Christmas Tree” types with needles and cones and mainly shaped like a pyramid.  Most of Canada’s trees are conifers.  In fact, over 50% of all Canadian trees are spruce species and if you’ve ever flown over Canada, you may have found yourself in awe at the sheer number of the green spires that stretch from coast to coast.            

The woodlands of the United States are somewhat more diverse in composition and distribution.  The eastern half of the United States has a greater percentage of hardwoods, led by oak and hickory forests, whereas the western states enjoy a majority of pines, firs and spruces covering their woodlands.

To tell the difference between a pine tree, a fir and a spruce, you can start by looking at the needles.  Needles are found either in clusters or individually attached to the stem of a branch.  Also, they will be either round or flattened.  Further, you will find them either attached to the stem or to a small wooden peg.

Pine trees will have needles grouped in clusters- either 2, 3 or 5 needles.  Interestingly, a red pine will have three needles and a white pine will have five needles, which can be remembered by the fact that RED has three letters and WHITE has five.  Pine cones are very hard, woody and rough.

Spruce trees are the most numerous conifer in North America.  They can be distinguished by their needles, which are squarish, rather than flat or round and which attach to little wooden pegs.  Spruce cones are smoother and more flexible than pine cones and usually “drape” downward from the trees.  Allegedly, the oldest living tree in the world is a Norway Spruce tree in Sweden, at over 9,500 years of age!

Fir trees have cones that stand up on branches instead of hanging.  The cones are similar to spruce cones, softer and more flexible than pine cones.  The major difference can be found in the needles of the fir which stick out individually from the branch.  The Douglas fir is the most numerous of the fir tree varieties in North America and is a popular choice as a Christmas tree.

A couple other conifers of note include the hemlock and the sequoia.  The hemlock tree will have branches that stick out horizontally from the trunk.  The needles are typically much softer and laid out is a flat pattern.  The sequoia is the family to which the Coast Redwood belongs.  These redwood trees, found on the west coast of the US produce some of the tallest trees in the world including one named Hyperion, which hold the current record as the tallest know living tree, at more than 380 feet!

20
Mar

Types of Trees in North America

A big part of the camping experience is being outside, close to nature.  Being surrounded by woods and fields, lakes and stream can bring a sense of peace and well-being to many a camper.  While it used to be common for every child to be familiar with the plant and animal life found outdoors, it is now much more common that a child may go years, or even most of their childhood never experiencing a walk through a forest or seeing the animals and animal tracks that are found near lakes, rivers and streams. 

It is not surprising then, that most people grow up not knowing the different types of plants and trees that can be found near their homes.  There are literally thousands of types of trees worldwide.  In fact, one non-profit group called the Botanic Gardens Conservation International has documented over 1,400 species of tree in North America alone.  And while that may sound like a huge variety, North America ranks rather low in the number of types of trees compared with other parts of the world.  South America, for example boasts more than ten times as many tree species.

North American trees can be divided into many groupings.  Botanist catalogs will show classifications such as Families, Genera, and Species.  For our purposes we will look at some basic groupings, starting with the difference between hardwoods and softwoods. 

Hardwoods, as the name suggests, are more dense and “harder” than their softer cousins. This is generally because they are slower-growing so the woody material is packed more tightly together.   Some North American hardwoods include oak, beech, and ash, which is so hard that it is the traditional choice for baseball bats.  North American softwoods include mostly pine tree varieties. The scale of “hardness” for trees is relative.  For example, white ash may be three times harder than redwood (which is the softest tree in North America), but Brazilian Ebony is three times harder than white ash.

With hundreds of species of trees in North America, let’s look at just some of the more popular ones that you might encounter while camping or strolling a tree-lined avenue.  Looking at common softwoods, you will find a variety of what are often called “evergreen” trees, but are actually types of pines, firs, spruces, and larch trees.  Common across the US and Canada, these trees are the traditional “Christmas Tree” types with needles and cones and mainly shaped like a pyramid.  The majority of Canada’s trees are of this “coniferous’, or cone-bearing type of tree.  In fact, over 50% of all Canadian trees are spruces!             

The woodlands of the United States are somewhat more diverse in composition and distribution—from the oak-hickory and maple-beech-birch forests dominating the North Eastern sections to wide expanses of pine forests in the Southern states and the primarily pine-laden forests of the West, heavy with Douglas firs and ponderosa pines.

In the hardwood category you are likely to find oaks, maples, hickory, beech, birch and ash trees most prevalent.  In the Eastern half of the US you are more likely to find oaks and hickory trees and other hardwoods, while the Western half has relatively few hardwood forests.

Next time you find yourself in the woods, see if you can identify a few of the most common trees shown here.

8
Jan

7 Classic Campfire Songs from the 60’s and 70’s That you Should Know

Sitting around the campfire, listening to music can be one of the best evening activities at camp.  But sometimes listening is just not good enough, so we’ve compiled a list of some classics that are well-suited to be played on guitar or sung around the fire.  They may be old, they may be a little corny, but there’s a reason why these songs have stood the test of time for over 40 years.

 

1) “Blowin’ in the Wind” Written by Bob and released as a single in 1962 and then on Dylan’s 1963 album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The song has been re-recorded hundreds of times and even featured in a scene in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWwgrjjIMXA

2) “Leaving on a Jet Plane” Written by John Denver, the most popular version was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary for their 1967 album, Album 1700, becoming that group’s biggest hit, the only Number 1 on the United States’ Billboard Hot 100 chart.  It’s a little sad and sweet but has a very catchy tune.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVEATF7VNTk

3) “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds in 1962.  A song, which on its surface simply highlights the uniformity of life in the suburbs of the United States, has sparked many philosophical discussions, was featured in AP US history textbooks in 2018, and was played on the TV show Weeds.  We just think it’s a fun little song!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_2lGkEU4Xs

4) “Take Me Home, Country Roads” Another John Denver song, released in 1971,  it made it to number 2 on Billboard‘s US Hot 100 singles that year.  It is a tribute to the beauty of the state of West Virginia and is John Denver’s most downloaded song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vrEljMfXYo

5) “Mr. Bojangles” Written by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1968, it’s most famous version was released by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1970.  Walker said that he wrote the song after meeting a homeless man in jail who told the police his name was Mr. Bojangles, so that he could remain anonymous.  The song has been recorded by dozens of artists including Billy Joel, John Denver, Neil Diamond, and Bob Dylan!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyS4V1QMKJM

 

6) “California Dreamin’” – The most popular version, recorded by the Mamas & the Papas in 1965.  Listed on the Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, it is intended to give warm visions of Los Angeles from the perspective of a colder New Yorker in winter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhZULM69DIw

 

7) “Let It Be” This famous Beatles song was written and sung by Paul McCartney, the last single before McCartney broke the news that he was leaving the band.  As the title track for the album of the same name, “let It Be”  held the record at the time of the highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100, starting at the number 6 spot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xDzVZcqtYI

 

If you play guitar and would like the lyrics and guitar chords to these and others, they can be readily found online.  If you prefer, each of these songs is available for download or on streaming platforms, such as Spotify, so you can simply sit back, enjoy the campfire and stroll down memory lane.

8
Jan

How to SAFELY Enjoy a Campfire and Cooking Fire

For millennia, people have been drawn to fire for its warmth, security and usefulness.  Today, camp fires are often synonymous with camping.  Whether it’s a cooking fire to roast your favorite camp meal or roasting marshmallows over an evening campfire with family and friends, it can often be the highlight of a day at camp.

To get the most enjoyment out of your fire, it is important to do a little preparation up front.  The last thing a camper wants is to see someone get hurt or their personal belonging get burned through carelessness or accident.  Luckily, with a little forethought, you can prevent most fire incidents.

Here we can take a tip from the Boy Scouts of America who have an “outdoor Code” which says, in part, “… BE CAREFUL WITH FIRE— I will prevent wildfire. I will build my fire in a safe place and be sure it is out before I leave.”

The first step is to familiarize yourself of the policies for any open flame on the campground and be aware of any postings or warnings about high winds or high risk of fires each day.

Always know the emergency numbers to call in case of an out-of-control fire, including any after hours procedures.  Sometimes this might be a call to 911 but in other cases the campground has more immediate resources to handle an emergency so it’s important to ask the camp office ahead of time.

Prepare the spot so it can’t spread, won’t catch on clotheslines, won’t disturb your neighbors with either the heat or smoke. Camp chairs can melt or burn if left unattended near the fire as embers can fly 10 to 15 feet away.  Awnings, outdoor rugs, picnic table and anything flammable should be at least 15 to 20 feet away from the fire area.

Only use the fire pit provided be or allowed by your resort or campground.  Makeshift fire pits can be very dangerous.  The pits and areas provided by the campground are chosen specifically for safety.  IF you have any question about the fire area, types of fires allowed, ask the camp office.

Before you build a fire in the fire pit, make sure that it is clean and free from garbage or rocks.  Stones and rocks can shatter when super-heated as moisture trapped inside tries to expand and eventually bursts the stone apart.

Whenever possible, cover the fire pit with a metal grate.  If possible, a second grate can be placed on top of the first at a right angle to it so that it forms a grid that will stop more sparks and embers from flying out of the fire pit.

Always have enough water nearby to dowse the fire.  You should have at least 3 to 5 gallons of clean water within arm’s reach at ALL TIMES.  This water can be used for emergencies but also to soak the pit when you are leaving the fire area for any length of time.

Always have a pair of canvas or leather work gloves available to protect your hands if you need to put out a flame or ember.

Children are especially drawn to fire.  It can be mesmerizing and tempting to play with.  Make sure that you take the time to explain to any children at your site how to keep safe near the fire.  Children should NEVER be left alone near open fires.

If you are cooking with oil or fats have a container of baking soda (do NOT use flour) or sand as water will actually make an oil fire spread.  Ideally, a Class B Dry Chemical fire extinguisher near enough to grab easily, but not so close that it gets noticeably warm from the campfire.  

If a pan or griddle does flare up with a grease fire, your first step should be to simply cover it with a metal lid to suffocate the flames.  Do not use glass as it can shatter.  If that fails you can pour baking soda on it, but only if it is small enough.  It will take a good amount of baking soda to extinguish a large grease fire.  When applying the soda, try to pour it on the pan itself, not the top of the flames.

Only use the fire extinguisher as a last resort as it will contaminate any food in the area.

If you are using a gas grill or propane burner, take extra precaution and actually read those labels that are plastered on them- they really are there to save your life (and your possessions).  If a fire gets out of control and is near a propane tank, gas tank, or any highly flammable material, get away and get help immediately.  If ignited, propane tanks can easily shoot flames over 20 feet into the air, hot enough to melt the siding off a building 30 feet away!  When in doubt, call for help.

Never go to bed with a hot fire pit.  You should completely douse the fire and coals with water, stirring the water in so that the hot coals at the bottom of the pit get soaked.  This only takes a few minutes but will let you sleep well knowing that a stray ember or falling leaves or debris will not flare up unattended.

If you are leaving your site and will want a fire again when you return, it is best to fully extinguish the fire and restart it when you return.  One of the biggest reasons for out-of-control fires in campgrounds is from someone leaving “just for a few minutes”.  It only takes one spark to ruin the day.  If you must leave, ask a neighbor to stay watch by the fire until you return.

With a little planning, a campfire can be a wonderful addition to any day.  Be safe, have fun and enjoy!

8
Dec

Holiday Recipes

Happy Holidays! ‘Tis the season for giving, laughing, loving, and eating — lots of eating. We’re eating at restaurants, cooking old family recipes, spending time together in the kitchen, making memories all season long. But what are we eating?

We’re dedicating this post to holiday recipes to help you in deciding what to cook for your family this season. They’re simple, easy, and delicious — plus, we link to each detailed recipe so you know exactly what to buy, how to prep, and how to cook. Easy peasy so you can spend more time enjoying the holidays with your family and friends, and you have all the tools you need to make a wonderful holiday meal!

Check out some of our favorite holiday recipes below!

DINNERS:

  • Nothing says holidays like a citrus glazed ham, are we right? This ham recipe is a little tangy, a little sweet, and a little savory — such a great choice for your family dinner. Click here for the recipe.
  • Hello roast beef! It may sound fancy but this recipe makes it just so simple! The perfect main dish to adorn your dinner table. Click here for the recipe.

DESSERTS:

  • They’re the obvious choice but they’re also so good. Enter a fan favorite holiday dessert: gingerbread cookies! You can include the whole family in on this one. Click here for the recipe.
  • Red velvet…reminds us of Santa’s festive suit! This red velvet cake recipe is just what the doctor ordered. Yuuum!! Click here for the recipe.

DRINKS:

  • Your favorite dessert with a little kick — here is the pumpkin pie martini! Drink responsibly. Click here for the recipe.
  • Is it even the holidays if you don’t have eggnog? Yea, we agree — that’s why we’re adding in this delish homemade eggnog recipe. Serve as-is for the kids and for those not drinking alcohol, or add your favorite spirit to spice things up! Click here for the recipe.

What are YOU making this holiday season? Let us know and share your pictures with us — we want to see all the family fun you’re having! Happy Holidays to all of our wonderful camping families!

16
Nov

Thankful Thanksgiving

Hello, November! Halloween was amazing — it is always is! And not only because it’s spooktacular, fun, and brings out the kid in everyone. It is also the start of the joyous, festive holiday season. It may be the “off-season” in the camping world, but it’s a wonderful season to celebrate with family and friends!

The last couple of months of the year always seem to fly by, don’t they? We want the train to slow down a bit because there are so many holiday parties, family time, and togetherness that we’re really looking forward to.

This month we celebrate Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving means different things to different people, but I think we can all agree that it’s a wonderful time to just BE THANKFUL. So, we’re dedicating this blog post to that exact topic!

WE ARE THANKFUL FOR (in no particular order!)….

–    Our Staff: Everyone who keeps our resort up, running, and awesome. Everyone who spends their time and energy making our resort the place to be! WE ARE THANKFUL!
–    Our Resort: The amenities, accomodations, activities, serene landscape, and so much more. Some people’s fondest memories are born at our resort. WE ARE THANKFUL!
–    Our Camping Families: Every single person that comes to stay with us is special to us. Our camping families are a part of our camping family. WE ARE THANKFUL!
–    Our Health: The fact that we can wake up and spend each day together. WE ARE THANKFUL!
–    Our Friends & Family: All of their love and support is truly amazing. WE ARE THANKFUL!

We want to know: What does Thanksgiving mean to you? What are your Thanksgiving plans? What are you thankful for? Happy Holidays from all of us to all of you!

27
Oct

Happy Happy Halloween

Happy Happy Halloween! We have been having so much fun around our resort — have you been here taking part in all of the spooktacular fun and games? We hope so!

Since the big day is right around the corner, we’re popping in with some fun Halloween-themed activities to help you celebrate long before the holiday even starts.

  • Plan a spooky scavenger hunt. Make your way around the resort looking for specific Halloween-themed items — like a witches hat or a carved pumpkin. Set a timer and try to find everything on your list; the person with the most check marks at the end wins!
  • Decorate your RV, camper, or cabin. The spookier, the better!
  • DRESS UP! Click here to see this year’s most popular Halloween costume! Is it your pick??
  • Carve pumpkins. Here are some carving ideas and templates that you can use.
    • Don’t throw out the seeds! Scoop, rinse, and dry all of those pumpkin seeds! Toss in a little olive oil or butter and salt. Then, roast at 350*F for 20-30 minutes. The whole family can enjoy this nutritious, delicious snack!
      • Here’s a tip: sweeten up your seeds by adding cinnamon and sugar while roasting!
  • Bake Halloween treats. Whip up some sinfully sweet desserts that every ghoul and goblin will enjoy!
  • Trick-or-Treat…and then have a candy sorting party. What is the most popular Halloween candy in our neck of the woods (literally), you ask? Check it out here.
  • Dance to some Halloween tunes. Check out this playlist from Spotify — Thriller & Monster Mash are a must!
  • Watch a Halloween movie. We know the new Halloween is already out in theaters (and we’re too scared to go see it!), but you can play some oldies but goodies at home. The original Halloween — or any of the sequels, Hocus Pocus, and The Haunted Mansion are just a few to get you started.

Please share your spooktacular time with us! Visit our Facebook page, upload some pictures, and tag us in your Halloween fun. We can’t wait to see everyone’s costumes, favorite candy, and big smiling faces (even if we can’t recognize you behind your mask)!

Happy Halloween! Be Safe & Have Fun!

15
Oct

Helllllo, Fall!

Hellllllo, Fall! We can’t believe that it’s already October. This year is just flying by — but we’re still so happy that autumn is here because we love all things fall. {You know that if you read our last blog post!}

It’s a fun, festive time and a lot of people are laughing, skipping, and playing at our resort, enjoying the beautiful camping season. We want to help you make it an October to Remember. Here are a few ways that you can help, give back, and celebrate this month!

  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. In fact, one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Awareness, prevention, and early detection are three very important factors in giving every woman the greatest chance for a healthy, happy life. Talk to your doctor, visit them for routine checkups and screenings, and schedule a mammogram today!
  • Adopt a Shelter Dog Month: You’ve heard the phrase, “Adopt. Don’t shop.” You can make the difference in a sweet, innocent dog’s life by choosing to adopt! If you’re not ready to take on the responsibility of a new pet, and it’s a BIG, long-lasting responsibility, consider fundraising or donating to your local ASPCA chapter or shelter. You can donate your time, money, food, or supplies. There are so many ways to help out and get involved!
  • National Pizza Month: Raise your hand if you celebrate National Pizza Month EVERY month!! {*Raises hand*} In fact, statistics show that over 90% of Americans eat pizza AT LEAST once a month. It’s inexpensive, easy to get, and DELICIOUS to eat! The only question we have is: cheese, pepperoni, or meat lover’s — which one are you voting for??

We hope you’re having an awesome October. Happy Camping!

Sources:
National Breast Cancer Foundation
ASPCA
Pizza.com

1
Oct

Fall Is Here

Can you believe it? It may not feel like it yet, but fall is in the air! Fall camping is AWESOME — we celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving, we eat and drink Pumpkin spice everything, and we enjoy the cooler temps and changing colors.

Here’s our take on FALL:

F is for FESTIVE! Halloween, Thanksgiving, colorful leaves, root veggies…we love it all. Take part and decorate your site or simply enjoy the autumn decor around the resort. It’s about giving thanks and being grateful, dressing up and being a kid again, eating everything that makes your belly smile! F is for festive!
A is for AUTUMN! When you think of the word autumn, what comes to mind? Campfires, hot drinks, big, delicious meals with family & friends, colorful trees, falling leaves, crisp air, themed activities, and Halloween night. This season is full of so many wonderful things. A is for autumn!
L is for LEAVES! DID YOU KNOW? Leaves make their own food. This food-making process takes place in the leaf in numerous cells containing chlorophyll, which gives the leaf its green color.  In the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.* L is for leaves!
L is for LANTERN! As in Jack-O-Lantern!
Carving silly, scary, or spooky faces into a pumpkin is part of the Halloween experience — and is a fun activity for the whole family. As a
bonus: scoop up, clean, and roast those pumpkin seeds for a delicious (and
nutritious!) snack. L is for (Jack-O-) Lantern!

We love FALL — and we know it’s a fun, exciting time for our camping families, too.
Tell us: What is YOUR favorite thing about camping in the fall?

1
Sep

Ways To Celebrate Labor Day

WHAT IS LABOR DAY? Labor Day is a very important American holiday. Yes, we spend it “closing out” the summer, spending time with family and friends, BBQing, swimming, and having fun. But it’s about more than that. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. Now, Labor Day is always celebrated on the first Monday of September; it is a day dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

HOW CAN YOU CELEBRATE? Family picnics, community parades, and festive get-togethers are all great ways to celebrate this special holiday.

HOW CAN YOU MAKE IT AN AWESOME HOLIDAY? Make your Labor Day Weekend a CAMPING ADVENTURE! Grab your family and friends and spend the holiday at our resort.

DID YOU KNOW? Here’s a fun fact: Americans worked A LOT in the 19th century — 12-hour days every day of the week! Thank goodness for the Adamson Act, which was passed in September of 1916, which established a more reasonable eight-hour work day.

CAN YOU WEAR WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY? We say, why not??

WHAT CAN YOU COOK? Well, anything, really! But we found some recipes that we felt like we just had to share!
–    These Dijon Chicken Wings are sure to pack a big punch!
–    These Philly Cheesesteak Foil Packets can be cooked almost anywhere — BBQ, open fire, oven…so easy to make and so yummy to eat!
–    Best is in the title so these must really be the Best Campfire Baked Beans; perfect for any occasion!
–    Make a festive cocktail — or 10! You deserve it!

We hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend with family & friends — at our resort! Happy Camping!