Our Experience with Thousand Trails

I was very skeptical about buying a membership with Thousand Trails (TT) as I wasn’t sure we would actually get our money’s worth. One thing I learned right away is to read the fine print. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting into.  I understood that I was only buying certain zones, but one of the things I didn’t realize was that you couldn’t book more than 60 days out. I had bought our membership in May in hopes that I could start booking for our big trip north well in advance. Instead I had to wait until 60 days prior to the first day of my stay at each place I wanted to stay at.  In the end, it didn’t seem to be a problem as I was able to make a reservation for each place I wanted to be at once I reached the 60-day prior mark. However, it wasn’t until we got to the first Thousand Trails park that we booked that we found out that even with a reservation, it doesn’t mean they will have a spot for you. What’s the purpose in making a reservation, if there not going to have a spot? In all our months of RVing we have never run into this problem as it makes sense that if you make a reservation you expect to have a site waiting for you.

The first TT we attempted to go to was Gateway to Cape Cod RV Campground located at 90 Stevens Road, Rochester, MA. It was our first experience and the worse. The first thing we learned was when you arrive at a TT park, you get to choose your campsite. That is, if you can find one. Driving around looking for a site is not something we have ever had to do as all campgrounds/resorts we have visited always direct us to where we are to go even if I have picked our site out online, the host still directs us as to where to go and how to get there. The host at Gateway was of no help and very rude. She didn’t even have a clue as to which sites might be available. Just said drive around until you find something and then come tell me where you are. I’m sorry but this is not the way to manage a campground. After this experience I was ready to cancel our membership and never recommend them to anyone. This is when we discovered that even though we had a reservation made for over 60 days, it didn’t guarantee us a site upon arrival. Luckily we were able to find another campground to stay at; however, it ended up costing us $200. 

Our second TT was at Sturbridge RV Resort located at 19 Mashapaug Rd in Sturbridge, MA, which wasn’t too far from Rochester. Our experience was better as far as the campground having space available, but the spaces were so close together we couldn’t even open our awning. If we had, it would have touched our neighbor’s RV who had come in on the same day we had. They were supposed to stay for 10 days, but they left the next day, which I assume was due to lack of site space. There ended up being a water leak at our door on day two and they didn’t even consider fixing it until the day we were to leave. They wanted us to leave by 9:00 am so they could get started, but I’m pretty sure check out was not until noon. I understand the leak needed to be fixed, but we had already been inconvenienced with lack of space and having to walk through water, so what would another hour or two hurt.

The third TT was at Timothy Lake North at 6837 Timothy Lake Road, E Stroudsburg, PA. As for the ranger, she was great. She told me several sites that were opened and showed me how to get to them.  As for space, well let’s just say it was much better than the last place; however, the grounds needed a lot of care. They were trimming trees and cutting grass near the check-in, laundry, pool and up front areas, but they failed to manicure the rest of the property.  We parked on an end site in a pull-through only to discover that we would have to back up to get out as we couldn’t make the turn to the right pulling a fifth wheel and the entrance/exit to the left was blocked off.

We finally made it to our fourth TT park in Lebanon, PA at Hershey RV & Camping Resort located at 493 S Mt Pleasant Road and found the best park of all.  Not only was the ranger full of information and a breath of fresh air, but everyone else we have had contact with during our stay was as well. Our stay was during Labor Day weekend for eight nights and being that we were arriving on Friday before the holiday, we were afraid there wouldn’t be any spots available. However, we arrived right before noon and luckily there were several. We lucked out with a spot that no one can park behind or in front of us, so we are more than happy with our site. There is so much to do here to entertain yourself, from a pool and spa, to tennis and volleyball courts and so much more. Our only complaint is the Wi-Fi, which when it worked was very slow. Liking this place makes coming back to this area a big possibility in the future.

If you’re considering purchasing a membership to Thousand Trails make sure you read every word of the contract before you obligate yourself. If I had known then what I know now, I would not have bought the membership and because of the issues we had in the beginning I will not renew when the times comes.

 

A Couple Weeks in Pennyslvania

After we completed our visit through the New England states we spent a couple of weeks in Pennsylvania. Our first stop was only for a couple of days in the Pocono area so we could visit the Pocono NASCAR track. At some point we plan on chasing NASCAR all over the country to see the races live, but in the meantime we’ll keep visiting the tracks along the way. We actually got to ride in a pace car from the fan store to the track for a tour. 

NASCAR Pace Car

NASCAR Pace Car

On days that the track is not hot, they actually take you on the track, but unfortunately the track was being used on the day we visited. At this particular track you can drive a stock car by yourself around the track. They put you through a training session before they put you in the car, but then your strapped in and able to drive as fast as you want to go. Our tour guide said an 84-year-old lady had done it and went 135 MPH around the track. Neither of us participated in this activity, but it was tempting and something we might give into in the future. I mean why not what have you got to lose?

More pics from our trip to the Pocono Raceway…

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From here we headed to Lancaster county. I was looking to see some Amish country and more. We took a day to head to Lancaster where we went on a buggy ride that took us through farmland, a working farm and more. We both enjoyed the tour and wished it had actually been longer. If you ever get a chance to go, do yourself a favor and do the private ride, so you don’t have to share your time with others as some people are not always polite during events like this and when you pay money for something, if your like me, you want to get your money’s worth, which means I like to hear the tour guide talk, not the others on the tour.amw_9782

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At the farm, we stopped and got to walk through several of the barns, one being where the calves are stored once removed from their momma. Some were barely a month old. As you can see from the pics below, they were completely adorable. The next barn was the milking barn, which had all the milk cows. The milk cows produce as much as 10 gallons of milk per day. The Amish use a machine on the udders to gather the milk, which goes into a big vat that houses the milk until the trucks show up to get it and take to the factory for further processing. The cows are only given an hour of outside time per day.amw_9793

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In addition to the cows, we saw chickens, mules and miniature horses. The children attach a wagon to the miniature horses to be pulled around. One of the things that sets an Amish property apart from others is the long clothesline in the yard. I miss having an outside clothesline as when I was growing up that was the only way we dried clothes. 

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I put the pics below in black and white as it gives them that ole’ time look and reminds me of days gone by.

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Chocolate World

We spent a day at Hershey’s Chocolate World. We were thinking the tour would be more of a behind the scenes type of tour, instead it’s a narrated ride telling you how things are done. There are several types of tours you can do as well as a trolley ride through Hershey; however, we opted to spend money on gifts for the grandkids, no chocolate, but something just as good.

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We spent time looking at covered bridges, the farmlands and just resting up for the rest of our journey. Overall it was a great stay and one that I could do again. From here we head back to Ohio to pick up the new RV before getting back on our journey in Washington DC and then down the eastern coastline.

A Day in New York City

While staying in New Jersey for a few days, we took a day to go into New York City. Like I’ve said on previous posts, this country girl needs to go back south as these northern states are just not for me. The traffic on the way there was easy on our side, but people coming into NJ were backed up for miles.

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Luckily we went into the city before lunch because on our way back home around 6:00 PM the traffic going into NYC was now crazier than ever. Traffic was backed up again for miles and miles. The photos below show what I’m referring to.

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We drove into Staten Island, which was about an hours drive from the great park we were staying at, which was a campground in Colts Neck. There’s only about 20 sites and you have to be military to stay there. Once we arrived in Staten Island, we took the ferry over to the city. The ferry from Staten Island is free and so is the parking on Sunday. The rest of the week it’s only $8.00, which isn’t bad especially compared to how much they charge to cross the bridge into the city itself. We were under the impression it would cost $15.00 from what I had read on another blog, however, because our truck has double tires in the rear they charged us $42.00. 

You can see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the ferry and although I would have liked to tour both of them, it just wasn’t in the cards for us to go to either place on this trip. Truth is we probably never will tour them because I don’t anticipate us ever coming back this far north, but like the old saying goes, “never say never!”

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Being that we only had a few hours to spend in the city, we had to make the most of our time. There were two things we definitely wanted to see; the 9/11 Memorial and B&H Photo. Everything else would be a bonus and we would just take in the sites along the way.

Once we arrived via ferry, we walked to the 9/11 Memorial. It was a somber moment standing there thinking about what took place. The pools that sit where the twin towers use to be include the names of those lost. Flowers are placed on a person’s name when it’s their birthday. From there we braved the subway and headed to Central Station. Standing there in the middle looking up at the ceiling and all four corners remembering back to all the movies I’ve watched that featured that exact same spot. Of course it wasn’t smooth going the whole time, but we survived and live to tell about it. The other main place we went to was B&H Photo, which is a huge photography store that I’ve never been to. I discovered them online many years ago and never thought I would have the opportunity to actually visit the store with their one and only location being in New York City. 

If I had to do it over, I probably wouldn’t do it anytime soon; however, ask me in a couple years if I want to go back and I might say yes. Until then we’ll just keep heading south back to Florida and then out west. Many more pics from our time there is below. Please enjoy and feel free to share your own memories of New York City in the comments below. (Click on any pic for a larger view and to scroll through all of them).

Our Visit to Wahlburgers and Fenway Park

After our time in New Hampshire and Maine, we headed to Massachusetts.  While there, we would visit Rhode Island and Connecticut to round out the final three New England states.  I know several people who love the New England states, but we are not two of those people.  We met more rude and obnoxious people than we’ve ever seen in the south.  The traffic was horrendous and don’t even get me started on how much stuff cost.  Let’s just say this will be my first and only trip to the upper states.

The main reason for going to Massachusetts was to go to Boston.  We were supposed to have stayed at a Thousand Trails (TT) campground, Gateway to Cape Cod, in Rochester about an hours drive from Boston.  However, when we arrived, even though we had made our reservation back in June, there were no spots available. This made us have to search for something else and pay out of pocket, which we would not have had to do at the TT place as it’s part of our membership fee.  We found a nice little place about 30 minutes away in Plymouth, Pinewood Lodge Campground. Even though they had several perms and seasonal campers, it was still a nice little place to put down and we had a pull-through site, which is always a plus as well.  Unfortunately, our satellite didn’t work under the trees, but they have cable, which we opted for as opposed to sewer. 

Wahlburgers

Wahlburgers

On Friday the 19th of August we headed for Boston for two things: a burger from Whalburgers and to tour Fenway Park.  I mean really who goes to Boston for a once in a lifetime trip and not go to Fenway.  Good news:  we got to enjoy a great burger and hope that many more Whalburger restaurants will go up throughout the US so others will get to taste them as well.  Bad news:  a concert had played at Fenway the day before and another one was scheduled for the next day.  Not only did we have to pay more to do the tour, but we didn’t even get to see the damn field because it was covered in chairs and concert set up.  What pissed me off the most about this is the ticket taker didn’t bother to tell us that we would get jipped on the tour so we got screwed twice, once on the price and again on the tour. 

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Fenway Park Entrance

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The seat I sat in that happens to be one of the original seats in the park.

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The red seat marks the longest homerun ever hit in Fenway Park. Batter was Ted Williams.

In order to get around Boston, we took a trolley, so we could hop on, hop off at any of the 16 locations they stopped at.  This made it possible for us to see more of the city and not have to fight crazy traffic in the process.  One of the places I wanted to see was Cheers, “where everybody knows your name”, which is the bar that inspired the beloved television show created in 1982.  There was lots of memorabilia and episodes from days gone by playing on the screens throughout the gift shop area.  We didn’t eat there as we were saving up for burgers elsewhere.  I just wanted to see where it all originated from.

Cheers, Est 1895

Cheers, Est 1895

The original Cheer Restaurant

The original Cheer Restaurant located in Boston

We spent a day driving to the cape to see a few lighthouses, but other than that I wasn’t impressed with Cape Cod.  I’m beginning to think this country girl just needs to go back south, find a beautiful lake and stay put. However, I did enjoy some great lobster and crab claws at the Lobster Hut in Plymouth, but I also discovered that live lobster is not for me as I prefer just the tails.  Seeing that head laying there and breaking into an unclean lobster is just not my cup of tea.

Massachusetts Lighthouses (click on a pic for a bigger view and to scroll through all)

 

After four nights, we headed over to our second Thousand Trails campground hoping we would have a better experience than the first.  Well let’s just say I’m beginning to realize that a TT membership was not worth the price and I will not be renewing and will be trying to sell the one I have as it is just not for us.  The second campground, Sturbridge RV Resort, located in Sturbridge, MA has the closest sites I think I have ever seen.  We could not open our awning as it would have touched our next door neighbors camper who arrived the same day as we did.  They only lasted one night and had told us they were to be there for 10.  I have no idea where they went as they left while we were on our trip through Rhode Island.

Our trips to Rhode Island and Connecticut were pretty much both a bust.  We didn’t see any lighthouses in either state as they were either too far off shore or on private land that was inaccessible.  The scenery we did see was no different than what we had seen in Maine and Massachusetts. Like I said before this is our one and only time driving up here as there is nothing that has inspired us enough to ever come back.

Below are pics of Massachusetts and Fenway Park.  To get a bigger view, click on a pic and scroll through the slideshow.

Exploring the New England States in an RV

After we left Niagara Falls, we traveled east across New York and stayed at Lake Lauderdale Campgrounds in New York close to the Vermont border. It made it convenient to go explore the Vermont roads and explore we did. We went looking for covered bridges and found several on some back roads. We ended up at the Vermont Country Store located in Weston. It was an interesting store and had lots of stuff most of us liked back in the 70’s. Plus, it had nostalgia items that dated back further than the 70’s. We enjoyed big fat burgers and delicious ice cream before heading back home.

The sunsets out our front yard were beautiful. I think you’ll agree based on these pics. (Click on any pic for a bigger view and scroll through)

The next stop was in New Hampshire at the Circle 9 Ranch & Campground for 7 days. The campground has a lot of permanent residents and is somewhat run down. The location was convenient for us to explore New Hampshire and drive into Maine to explore as well. However, there are other campgrounds in the area that I would look at staying at if we were to ever come back to the area.

New Hampshire is home to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which for those that don’t know, that means NASCAR. My husband is a big fan and this is one speedway he hasn’t been to, so a visit was definitely going to happen. I didn’t realize you could pop in and view the speedway on non race days, so I was excited to see what the raceway looked like as well.  On the day we visited, the speedway was actually being used by some motorcyclist that were zooming by at speeds unheard of for my liking.  Our visit was pleasant and I’m actually looking forward to visiting some more speedways and even sitting in on a real NASCAR race one day. Below is few of the pics I took. (Click on any pic for a bigger view and scroll through)

The first day we attempted to drive through the White Mountains to see waterfalls and covered bridges ended up being a bust and after an hour or so we turned around and went back home as the rain would not let up. On day two, we had much better weather. We only stopped at one of the falls as we had the dogs with us and I don’t like hiking through the woods by myself and our wiener dogs are lazy and wouldn’t have made it too far and carrying them is not an option. We saw several covered bridges and lots of mountains. The drive was nice and seeing what other states look like is always interesting.We have pretty much given up on seeing a moose. We’ll wait until we visit Alaska for that. The pics below show just how beautiful the landscape is as well as the waterfalls and covered bridges we saw. (Click on any pic for a bigger view and scroll through)

Sightseeing in New Hampshire

Waterfall in New Hampshire

Covered Bridges in New Hampshire

We took a day to head into Maine for two things, lighthouses and some good lobster. I had really been looking forward to tasting some Maine Lobster for months now. I chose a restaurant that was listed on the Maine map and had good reviews. However, the food was not good at all. Luckily, the trip wasn’t a total waste as we saw a couple lighthouses and got to see the Atlantic Ocean. Not sure what I was expecting in the way of the beach, but I was definitely shocked to see how black the sand was compared to the white sandy beaches of Florida. The lighthouses were definitely more impressive than the beaches.  Guess it depends on a person’s taste as to what you like more. Here are the pics so you can see for yourself. (Click on any pic for a bigger view and scroll through)

Sightseeing in Maine

Lighthouses in Maine

From here we head to Massachusetts. While there we’ll cross over to both Rhode Island and Connecticut. Our main reason for visiting MA is to go to a Whalburger’s for a burger and fries and tour Fenway Park. Hopefully the next stop will be better than this one.

My Obsession with Covered Bridges in Vermont

Covered bridges have so much history. When I see one, I think about who might have crossed through and did they have to walk, ride a horse and buggy, a car or just what type of transportation carried them over to the other side. In the last couple weeks, we have driven through several of these magnificent bridges. Most of them dating back to the 1800’s. The ones in Ohio and Kentucky had been vandalized by people spray painting and writing all over them; however, the ones we saw in Vermont and New York had not been.

Our covered bridge ride through Vermont took us on many roads, some paved and some not so paved. There were some that made us think twice about doing this, but when you come around the corner and see views like this it makes the drive better. Had we not been on some back country road we never would have seen this beautiful pond. 

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We kept hoping we would see some wildlife especially when we were driving through the national forest, but we didn’t even see a squirrel. We did see lots of old cars, barns, farmhouses and other things that reminded us of the old days. After seeing a half-dozen bridges, we headed back home to prepare for our next journey. I wanted to provide more than just pics of the covered bridges, so here’s a little history on each one we saw.  

The West Arlington Covered Bridge a/k/a Bridge of the Green is located in West Arlington, Vermont off Route 313 in Bennington County. It was built in 1852, is 80 feet long and 17.5 feet wide. Although the bridge was damaged by flooding due to Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011, it was fixed and reopened to traffic in the months following.

West Arlington Covered Bridge

West Arlington Covered Bridge

West Arlington Covered Bridge

The Burt Henry Covered Bridge, also known as the Henry Covered Bridge or just the Henry Bridge was originally built in the 1830’s, however it was completely rebuilt in 1989. It is located near Bennington, VT and spans the Walloomsac River. The bridge spans 121 feet and is 18.5 feet wide.

Burt Henry Covered Bridge

Burt Henry Covered Bridge

Burt Henry Covered Bridge

The Paper Mill Village Covered Bridge, a/k/a the Paper Mill Bridge or Bennington Falls Covered Bridge was built in 1889 by Charles F. Sears. It spans 125 feet and is 18.5 feet wide and is located on the south side of State Route 67A, northwest of downtown Bennington, VT.

Paper Mill Village Covered Bridge

Paper Mill Village Covered Bridge

Paper Mill Village Covered Bridge

The Silk Road Covered Bridge was built in 1840 and is in close proximity to both the Burt Henry and Paper Mill bridges. It spans 88 feet long 15 feet wide. It is located between downtown Bennington and North Bennington on Silk Road, which connects Vermont Route 67A and Vermont Route 279.

Silk Road Covered Bridge

Silk Road Covered Bridge

The Creamery Covered Bridge was built in 1879, is located in Brattleboro, VT and was closed to vehicles in 2010. The bridge spans 80 feet long and 19 feet wide. A sidewalk was added about 1920. The Creamery is the last covered bridge in Brattleboro, is visible from Route 9 and a great tourist attraction.

Creamery Covered Bridge

Creamery Covered Bridge

Creamery Covered Bridge

Creamery Covered Bridge

The West Dummerston Covered Bridge was built in 1872 and is located in Dummerston, VT. This is the longest covered bridge I have ever seen coming in at 267 feet. It was built in two spans, with the westerly span being 143 feet and the easterly at 124 feet. The bridge is 22 feet long and opened to traffic. Locals enjoy going for a swim under the bridge as there were many families enjoying the beautiful day when I stopped for pics. 

West Dummerston Covered Bridge

West Dummerston Covered Bridge

West Dummerston Covered Bridge

West Dummerston Covered Bridge

West Dummerston Covered Bridge

The Rexleigh Covered Bridge was built in 1874 and is located in Salem, NY. The bridge spans 107 feet over Battenkill River in Washington County. It is just under 18 feet wide and is still operational to vehicles today.

Rexleigh Covered Bridge

Rexleigh Covered Bridge

Rexleigh Covered Bridge