Monthly Archives: August 2013

Campground Review – Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails – Gloucester, VA

2013-08-24 19.09.09.jpg I talked to a fellow the other night who said he has been a member of Thousand Trails for several years but has never been to any other TT campground aside from this one: Chesapeake Bay.  I think that if he’s going to settle for just one that he’s made a pretty good choice.  This is a nice place that has a lot to offer.

2013-08-31 15.53.40.jpg Without a doubt, the biggest draw here is the Piankatank River which borders the campground to the north.  This is a big river, probably a mile wide at the campground as it nears the Chesapeake.  The park’s marina is especially busy on weekends as people try their luck fishing or go for rides on speedboats or even go for a swim.

2013-08-31 09.47.20.jpg If river swimming isn’t for you, there are two nice pools plus a big sauna.  There’s also a challenging mini-golf course.  The tennis courts have been pretty much taken over by “Pickleball” players.  We’ve seen this game being played elsewhere, but so far this feels the most like “pickleball central.”  I won’t try to describe the game aside from saying it’s a cross between ping-pong and tennis and is way more active and challenging than you might think.

2013-08-22 17.31.09.jpg There are a lot of campsites here with both 50 and 30 amp sites available.  I think all sites except maybe the tent only area provide sewer hookups.  The sites are pretty level and provide a reasonable amount of space.  If you want to have a view of the river during the busy summer season you’ll have to arrive mid-week.  Also, there are a lot of seasonal residents here, but they seem to like E-loop which is across the lake from the rest of the campground.

We have been here through two weekends, including Labor Day weekend and the park has been quite busy with lots going on.  The place is packed out for the holiday.  In fact, there have been very few empty campsites through our entire stay.

There’s an active church group here.  I think they are locals like the fellow I met the other day.  They operate almost as an organized church – they even provided Vacation Bible School for the campground earlier this summer!

As you can tell, I like this campground that has so much going for it.  A minor negative is that we’re a long way out in the country.  The nearest Walmart is 15 miles to the south and the biggest local draw, Colonial Williamsburg, is around 40 miles distant.  Then again, for most people, this is the destination rather than a place to stay while visiting the area.

2013-08-24 10.02.31.jpg When you come to Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails be sure to visit the camp store and get an ice cream.  Warning…you only want one “scoop.”  The serving is huge and two of you might just want to split a single scoop!

If you are a member of Thousand Trails and looking for a place to camp in the Tidewater Region, look no farther: this is it!

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Colonial Williamsburg – Yorktown, VA and area

P8269075.JPG Scott and I had a wonderful time at Colonial Williamsburg!  The first thing we did was tour the British Governor’s Palace with a docent.  It is luxurious and decorated fashionably according to 17th century England’s styles. I was surprised that the red and white slip covers on the chairs are consistent with high society in America’s colonial days.  When I asked about it I was told that they were used to protect the seat covers from fly spots.  When a person desired to use a chair a nearby servant would quickly remove the cover.

image-007.jpg  There were many people dressed in colonial style and were willing to talk with us about their trade.  We met a gardener, silversmith, a milliner and others.  I really enjoyed seeing the simple dresses along with a very dressy dress in the milliner’s shop which also stocked thread and fabric for those who desired to sew for themselves.

We enjoyed seeing a short movie about Martha Washington and how the war affected her.  Following the movie a very accomplished actress came on stage as America’s “first” First Lady.  For nearly an hour she talked about “her” life.  She described her joining General Washington at various camps and how she gave up wearing her British silk dresses and wore “colonial” clothes.  She spoke of how she and other officers’ wives mended clothes and knitted socks for the soldiers.  She also told of how her son died of camp fever.

image-043.jpg Later on we heard a Black slave preacher called Moses preach and pray for the colonial soldiers.  He had an exchange with a member of the local militia and also a chaplain from the local colonial militia.   The spiritual element was very strong and we were reminded of the faith of our national forbearers.

The last house we toured was the Randolph Peyton House.  It’s a big place — painted a deep red. The oldest part of the building was constructed in 1715.  The house has been added onto several times and various out buildings such were added through the years.  We entered through a side door into the oldest part of the house and were directed on a tour through the house, seeing the Mr. Peyton’s office and various other rooms. I was impressed by the trunks that were stored in one room.  They were antiques even when the house was new, dating back into the 1600’s.

P8269082.JPG  We concluded our visit to Colonial Williamsburg by watching a great presentation of the Fife and Drum Corps and a review of the troops by General Washington on his white horse. Following the review there was a demonstration of shooting loading and firing rifles, use of bayonets and then, the very loud and impressive firing of the cannons.

IMG_1333.JPG  The other highlight of our time here was a visit to Yorktown.  We began our visit at the Yorktown National Park Visitor center where we watched and introductory film that helped us understand the driving tour.  We were surprised to see how close the two armies actually were as they prepared for to do battle.  The fact that Washington was able to march his forces, build the redoubts and do battle show determination and stamina on the part of the Colonials.  Of course, having the French fleet hold off the British Navy was a turning point, contributing to Cornwallis’ inability to retreat across the York River to Gloucester.

During the driving tour we saw the restored Moore House where the terms for the surrender of Yorktown were worked out.  It’s a lovely home originally on 500 acres with a view of the York River.

Finishing our trip we rode the free trolley from the NPS visitors center to Yorktown and walked along Water Street by the River then took the trolley back.

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Gloucester, VA County Public Library

Name: Gloucester, VA County Public Library

Location:  6920 Main Street, Gloucester, VA  23061

IMG_1325.JPG This Library has a beautiful mural by Michael Kirby on the side of the building depicting the Life and Legend of Pocahontas.  It is in the vicinity of Gloucester that Captain John Smith is believed to have been rescued from certain death at the hands of her people by Pocahontas.  Inside this lovely library the furnishings are bright and colorful but not overwhelming. There is a place and an activity for everyone in the community.  There are tables where people can sit or stand to work with their electronic devices, a comfortable area for teens, and a reading area for those wanting to read current magazines and newspapers.

IMG_1316.JPG The Children’s area offers space for children to come and play, read, and use computers.   Not only are there books and other materials available to take home but there is also a computer area open to everyone when classes are not in session.  For those needing privacy or group meetings there are conference and study rooms. The library partners with local groups to everyone’s benefit.   A local quilting group has a display  and other groups provide containers for recycling cell phones, flags, and glasses.

The Virginia Room houses a special collection of family histories, genealogy, and reference material along with books by Virginia writers that is open to all.  The library website has more information on this special collection.  Finally, this library system is continuing to reach out by providing a bookmobile to carry materials to those who cannot come to the buildings.

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Places to get information on Full Time RVing

IMG_20130727_111606_090.jpg As we began planning our transition from a “stix and brix” lifestyle to being retired full time RVers I did considerable research on everything from budgets to campgrounds to RV upgrades.  I searched the internet for information and, happily, found quite a bit. I gleaned a lot of specific information from people’s blogs.  If you aren’t comfortable searching Google you are missing out.  I was especially helped by several people who posted their expenditures information.  It is because of their willingness to open the door a bit to their personal lives that we’ve been willing to share a bit of ours. There are several RV forums that contain a wealth of information.  However, in my opinion there is none better on this topic than one provided by Escapees.  Escapees is a camping club specifically for full time RVers.  I spent hours reading old threads and then began asking questions of my own.  I gleaned a ton of information there and still read the posts there every day. John and Kathy Huggins of Living the RV Dream are another great resource.  Their weekly podcast is positive and informative.  They have written a book about full time RVing named “So, You Want to be a Full-Time RVer?” (paperback or ebook) that I recommend. Facebook has a great deal of full time RVing information.  There’s a Living the RV Dream group, a Full Time RVers group, and probably another 20 groups that provide support for this lifestyle. When one is planning exactly where to camp, a terrific resource is RVParkReviews.com.  You’ll find lots of information on campgrounds across the country.  We spend a lot of time in Thousand Trails preserves and, in addition to RVParkReviews, we get a lot of campground information from the Thousand Trails unofficial Facebook group. 2013-08-16 10.34.07.jpg Finally, of course, I hope you’ll consider this Here and There blog and it’s Facebook page as a good resource for campground reviews, sightseeing information, and all things related to full time RVing.  As I’ve researched potential campgrounds I’ve often been frustrated that the only photos I can find are either “glamor shots” posted by the campground itself or people’s photos of their kids or pets, etc. at the campground.  I have nothing against such photos, but I want to see some candid photos of the campsites and facilities.  I’m focusing on those sort or photos for this blog while Jackie focuses on where we went and what we saw while at that campground. As it is when one is trying to thank everyone for their support in winning some reward, I know this post leaves out some great resources on full time RVing.  In fact, I started out to name just a couple and have had trouble finding an off ramp.  Still, the resources I’ve named here are my primary ones and I hope you find them helpful.

Skyline Drive, Front Royal, Udvar-Hazey Air and Space Museum

P8178913.JPG On Saturday of our stay at Front Royal we drove about an hour to the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy National Air And Space Museum near Dulles Airport, Washington, DC.  The museum is a large hanger with an impressive front on it.  The first thing we did as take the free Highlights tour which lasted about 90 minutes.  It was well worth the time and we highly recommend it.  Our docent took us in chronological order starting with early winged flight.  We saw originals that are preserved, replicas made up of several planes, and some planes that are in the process of being restored.  One of the restoration projects is from WWI.  It has the original cloth wings and even has marks where it was hit by bullets — amazing!  We saw spy planes, as well as many military planes,crop dusters, racing planes and even the baskets from several hot air balloons. I enjoyed seeing the Spirit of Columbus, a Cessna 180 flown around the world in by Jerrie Mock in 1964. The final and best stop of our tour was the Space Shuttle Discovery. It has been left as it was upon completion of it’s final journey into space: somewhat dirty and “bruised” and, of course, awesome to see.

P8209002.JPG Our day at Shenandoah National Park driving Skyline Drive was a fun day trip.  We drove down a state highway south around 60 miles and then entered the park to travel the two lane twisting Skyline Drive back to Front Royal. The views are amazing all the way along. There are many pull offs where one can absorb the views and take lots of photographs.  There are welcome areas with restaurants with gift shops along the way but we opted to pack a lunch and eat at one of the overlooks.  We were lucky enough to see a few deer and actually saw a black bear.  By the time we could get turned around in hopes of getting a better look the bear had moved back into the trees. Scott just loved the drive and I agree that it is a great way to spend a day.

Being in this historic area I had to visit a little of the Civil War History.  There’s a full driving tour but we chose to see a very small portion. We saw the cottage of Belle Boyd who was a Confederate spy, Williams Chapel CME which was finished in 1845, and the home of a young woman named Lucy Buck who daughter of a prosperous planter and kept a diary throughout the Civil War.  We also visited Prospect Hill Cemetery where in 1882 the remains of 276 soldiers of the former Confederacy are interred. Ninety of the soldiers are identified and buried in a circle and the others are buried in a common grave in the center where an 18 foot high monument is erected above them.  The cemetery is a sobering reminder of the tragedy of war.

Our stay in this area has been quite enjoyable stay and we recommend it for both it’s scenery and it’s history.

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