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.

 

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.

Our RV Journey to Louisiana

June 17th – 20th – Eastbank Campground, 153 Eastbank, Bainbridge, GA

We arrived at Eastbank Campground on the 17th a little before 5:00 pm. We had site A01 with a waterfront view. Unfortunately the place was covered with Mayflies, which attacked our rig and truck and would attack you when you got close to them. Despite the annoyance, we still enjoyed our view and gator watched every day we were there. I know most people prefer whale watching and when I finally get a chance to do that, I’m sure it will be more thrilling than watching gators. 

Mayflies

The first day we saw at least 4 different ones floating around going back and forth in front of our site. Being that we didn’t get up close and personal and because they were in the water the whole time, I can only guess how long they really were, but based on the size of their head and the length of the body that rose out of the water, I would say they were anywhere from 3 feet on the small size up to about 10 – 11 feet long. On the second day, we didn’t see as many, but there were still some floating about.

Alligator floating at Eastbank Campground

Alligator floating at Eastbank Campground

Another shot of Mr. Alligator

Our stay ended on Monday when we headed for Fort Pickens, Florida to spend a few days on the beach.

June 20th – 24th – Fort Pickens Campgrounds, Fort Pickens, Florida

We left around 9:30 (CST) on the 20th headed for Fort Pickens. We arrived around 1:15 PM at the registration station, but had to wait until 1:30 for them to open up as they close for lunch every day. While waiting we got to see the Blue Angels practicing. Check-in was a breeze. Our rate here was only $13/night using our Access pass discount. Not sure going without sewer for several days is worth it, but we’re learning to use less water so we can make it through our stay without having to go dump. One thing we learned as soon as we got to our site is we really should have bought a shorter rig. This thing gets bigger when you try to put it on what they tell you is a big enough site, but when you have trees on both sides, a 38.6 ft. fifth wheel is not going into that space. Luckily they found us another site a little further down and we were set up in no time. We spotted a dog park on the way in on day one and took the dogs by to walk in the sand. We found out real quick like that our dogs are not water lovers. They did not like the sand, nor the water. Can’t blame them, I don’t really like the sand and salt water either. I prefer pool water. With that being said, why did we come to the beach? I have no idea! My husband said he wanted to stay here, so I made it happen. 

Beautiful sunset at Fort Pickens

Another shot of that beautiful sunset

We did spend one night down on the beach watching the sunset. It was quiet and serene. The pictures above really don’t do it justice. We saw several families having family portraits made. Being a photographer myself, I love to see families preserving their family memories.

June 24th – 29th – Bayou Segnette State Park, Westwego, LA (New Orleans)

Once we left Ft. Pickens, we headed towards New Orleans. This was my second trip to the city, but the first since Hurricane Katrina. The main place I wanted to go to was Café de Monde to taste some beignets. My husband had never tasted beignets before. I don’t think he was really that impressed with the place. I have to admit they weren’t as good as I remembered them the first time. The weather was extremely hot and humid during our entire stay, which made enjoying our time almost impossible. On Saturday, I drove to Baton Rouge to meet up with my daughter that I hadn’t seen in over a year. It was great catching up and I hated to leave, but we will see each other again soon.

On Sunday, we made our way to New Orleans to see what we could. We were there during the heat of the day and it was miserably hot. We parked at Algiers and took the ferry across. We were able to see one of the Carnival Cruise lines, which was cool. Once we landed at Canal street we strolled to Café de Monde and ate our beignets, then strolled the streets some more. My husband wanted to drink a beer on Bourbon Street and he got his wish, but I have to say that street was so gross. The smell was absolutely disgusting. I could not get back to the ferry soon enough. I came to the conclusion that for me I have not lost anything in New Orleans and have no intentions of going back. 

On the ferry headed to New Orleans

On Monday we drove to Cabela’s about an hour’s drive away. This was our first time ever being in one and it was very interesting and entertaining with all the animals. I have no idea if all the Cabela’s are decked out this much with animals, but this one was very unique. In the evening a huge storm with thunder and lightning came and we lost power until the next day around noon. Lucky for us we have a generator, so we were able to have power. By the time power was restored on Tuesday, I was in no mood to get out, so we stayed at home. I was more than ready to leave on Wednesday headed for West Monroe. Some shots from our time in New Orleans.

St Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

Dog on curb just sitting there. Owner wanted money if you took pic.

June 29th – July 2nd – Jimmie Davis State Park, Chatham, LA (West Monroe)

From New Orleans, we headed towards West Monroe. I had found another state park in the town of Chatham about 30 minutes south of West Monroe. Once we got off I-49, we were on back roads with miles and miles of nothing. We got our worse scare in trying to find diesel, so much so that by the time we got to the park, dropped the rig and found diesel, it was saying “0” miles left of fuel. I’m sure we had driven at least a mile with it saying “0”. I was doing some major praying hoping God would watch over us and thankfully he did and we got fuel before we ran out. 

Across the street was a mom and pop restaurant, J&H that we got dinner at. The food was decent and the sweet tea totally delicious. The atmosphere inside was that of an old-time diner with scriptures on the wall, family pics and many, many servicemen and women who have served our country for many years. 

On Thursday, we headed to West Monroe to find Duck Commander. It was easy to locate as it’s right off the main road. They have an area where you can make your own duck call and get a bobble head. We didn’t do that; we only got a picture made and viewed all the stuff in the store. From here, we went to Willie’s Diner for lunch. It was much bigger than what I expected. The food was good. We tried boudin for the first time. They talk about it on the show and we had no idea what it was. I have no idea what was in it and I probably don’t want to know, but it wasn’t bad. We also drove to the neighborhood that the boys all live in. Although you can’t get to their front door, we could see the back side of Jep and Jessica’s house. As for Si’s place, we drove right in front. I tried to get my husband to stop, but he wouldn’t. I told him I wasn’t scared to knock on their door. Maybe next time.

Duck Commander RV

Duck Commander 18-wheeler

Willie’s Diner, West Monroe, LA

Martin from Duck Commander

July 2nd – 5th Okatoma Resort & RV Park, Hattiesburg, MS

After West Monroe, we were headed back towards Florida, but we made two stops in Mississippi before getting there. Our first stop was at Okatoma Resort. It was an interesting place. They have several sites and at first wanted to put us in a back-in on the lake, but it was way too small for our rig, so we got a pull-thru, which is what we prefer. We were literally parked in what looked to be a dirt parking lot that they added extra sites to as an afterthought from the original park. It has a lake that you can fish in, a swimming pool and more, but even with all that we probably wouldn’t stay here again. The best part about this location was the farmers market located on the left side of the road when driving towards Hattiesburg. It was beautifully decorated with nostalgic decorations that reminded me of the good ole’ days and the fruit and veggies were delicious.

Okatoma Resort

July 5th – 7th – Davis Bayou Campground, Ocean Springs, MS

Our second Mississippi stop was in Ocean Springs which was just south of the bridge to Biloxi. We wanted to spend a little time at a casino, just for the sake of saying we had been. Luck was not on our side and it just made me think why do people spend hours and hours playing on slots losing money. It was crazy. The park we stayed at was the best place we had been in the past 3 weeks. We ventured out the first night for a good place to eat and found McElroy’s. I thought I was going to bust by the time I got through eating. I had shrimp and grits and they were the best I have ever eaten. The hubs had an oyster po’boy, which was not so good. He said the oysters should have been fried more for his taste. 

Hard Rock Cafe, Biloxi, MS

July 7th – 9th – My Parents

This journey was supposed to land us back in Molino, Florida at my parents to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. I won’t bore you with all the details that took place. I’ll just say that things didn’t go quite the way I had hoped. But I was able to see my two-year old grandson who I hadn’t seen in over a year. It made this trip worth all the bad we went through especially when that little man give his Nana much-needed hugs and kisses. He really knows how to make this Nana feel loved. On the 9th, we left my parents around 5:00 pm and found a little “hole in the wall” place about an hour away off exit 83 on I-65. It was perfect for an overnight. The pull-through was long enough we didn’t have to unhook and we could begin our 4 month journey the next day.

Let the journey begin……

Rain, Rain Go Away

On Wednesday, we moved 51 miles east to be on a river hoping the weather would change to sunny skies so we could do some fishing, but so far all we have had is rain, clouds and fog.  Our time at my parent’s was spent mostly waiting on the rig to get repaired. On our last morning there, I took time to take some pics even though it was cloudy; I still wanted to document our time there as each place we visit will always have memories.


The view out our front door was great with a view of the pond.   The water garden area has crawfish, minnows, and tadpoles.  Some of the tadpoles are huge bull frog tadpoles.

Our drive took us all of an hour. We arrived at our new location; River’s Edge RV Campground, around 2:00 pm and got set up inside and out rarely quickly. Our site is a back in site on the corner, so we only have a neighbor on one side, but we can see several other rigs in the park from our location. We are within walking distance to the river, which we took advantage of on our first day to see what it looked like. The river we’re sitting on is the Yellow River. We also took the opportunity to play a little horseshoe game. Unfortunately we couldn’t get our satellite to work, so no TV for the first couple nights. We soon rectified that when we bought an antenna that was able to pick up local channels, which our satellite doesn’t do, as it still airs Nashville channels, when it works that is.



The temps have been in the 70’s each day, but with rain, fog and clouds, it makes it hard to enjoy any outdoor activities. But being the optimistic people we are, we headed for Pensacola Beach on Thursday to buy kayaks, hoping the rain will go away soon. We want to be able to use them on the river or any other body of water we might be near to go fishing and get in some photo opportunities as well. Hopefully the photo ops will not include me capsizing. I have never been in a kayak before, so I’m sure it will be an experience.

Today is Friday the 13th and another day of rain. We had hoped to get the kayaks out on the water, but the only thing we accomplished was getting them off the truck. We’re here till Monday and then we’ll be headed for another location. Hopefully the weekend will be promising in regards to better weather, but I’m not betting on it, after hearing the weather report earlier.

Hope to see you on the road…