2014 Adventure Lessons Learned

Some of our lessons learned during our 2014 Adventure are:

  1. Our Thousand Trails membership was especially valuable on the west coast where there are many nice TT campgrounds (some are excellent, others not so much).
  2. Having said that, this year I concluded that I had to make peace with camping without a sewer hookup. Way too often we found ourselves picking a campsite, not because we liked the spot, but because it was one of the only spots with full hookups.  By buying the macerator pump I increased our campsite potential.  That really paid off at places like Ponderosa Thousand Trails where we were able to camp right along the river.
  3. When one camps in the Pacific Northwest they should probably accept the fact that they won’t have satellite TV all the time. Often the biggest challenge I faced when arriving at a campsite wasn’t parking and leveling the camper but finding a hole in the trees where I could get the satellite.  At a few places we had to give up and do without.  No biggie, but still an inconvenience.
  4. On a related note, my Verizon cell and data did pretty good, especially when using the Wilson Sleek booster. We did without a few times but not often.
  5. From my records both this year and last, it appears I can generally estimate that we will drive the same distance sightseeing/living as we will towing. That’s helpful for future planning.
  6. I learned that I need to do a bit more weather research as I plan our schedule. I knew it would be cool along the coast but didn’t realize how hot it would be in the Sacramento area!
  7. I learned that you can’t see it all. No matter how much you sightsee someone will ask you I’ve you’ve been to some feature you didn’t see.  I’ve decided that’s a good thing – now I have reason to go back!
  8. I learned that I did, indeed, have enough pickup for the mountains. In theory I knew I was good to go, but it takes actually descending and pulling up some grades to be fully convinced of it.  There were several steeper roads, but I think the New Priest Grade near Yosemite was the biggest challenge we faced.   Jackie adds that if one suffers fear of heights they had better be ready to deal with it on this itinerary.  She says chocolate helps.

Now we’re ready to start thinking about 2015 which already has a couple of interesting wrinkles – I’ll post about them another time.

2014 Adventure Wrap-Up

It was with some sadness that we turned east and headed for Arizona because that meant we were now winding down our big Adventure.  Still, we’re talking about Arizona here; long one of our favorite states.  We spent a month there, working our way from the northwest corner of the state to ultimately exit at the southeast corner.

Before long we were back in Texas – enjoying the splendor of the state’s southwest.  We’ve always liked the Texas State Parks and it was a pleasure to visit three of them, especially Davis Mountains State Park, as we worked our way east.

After almost seven months we’ve now arrived back where the Adventure began: Lake Conroe Thousand Trails. We towed the 5th wheel about 6300 miles and then drove about the same distance sightseeing and “just living.”  We stayed in about 40 different campgrounds, generally for a week and a half at a time with several shorter stays when we were in “repositioning mode.”  In January I’ll release our budget figures but we pretty much stayed on target through the year.

It was a great trip and I’m already looking forward to return visits to and through these areas.

Sightseeing review: Columbus, TX

Columbus, TX is a lovely town with a historic downtown with several historic homes and buildings. There’s plenty of shopping and all types of eating places. The town is divided between the I10 commercial area and the old town area. We happened to visit during the Folk Fest 2014. Two of the streets by the courthouse were blocked off and there were vendors selling crafts, clothes, food and other items. The funnel cakes were, as always, a big hit with me! Our grandchildren, Sarah and Matthew, were fascinated by the glass blower at work. We could hear folk music being performed onstage as we walked and enjoyed the booths and looking inside the old Opera house. We toured the local museum which is located in the original water tower and fire house. The Vintage car show was fun. We enjoyed seeing the work that had been done to make the classic cars look new again. We especially enjoyed going to the City park where a small military camp was set. We chatted with the re-enactors there who told us about their weapons and uniforms. We then watched a re-enactment of an 1836 battle between the Texas army and the Mexican army. They shot off cannons and black powder guns giving us an idea of how the battle might have looked and sounded. I always enjoy small town events and having our grandkids along made this one especially fun for us.

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Campground review: Colorado River Thousand Trails – Columbus, TX

We’ve enjoyed hearing the coyotes and watching armadillos and many deer. The campground has a “no feeding” policy so while the deer aren’t especially afraid of people they do want to keep their distance. We also took advantage of the many pecan trees, picking up pecans for future use. By the way, if you are in the campground in the fall, check out the tangerine tree near the Activity Center. We picked a few of those too.

We liked it at Colorado River Thousand Trails and look forward to future visits to this easy going campground.

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Campground Review: Medina Lake Thousand Trails – Lakehills, TX

What the campground lacks in water it makes up for in deer. They are everywhere and rather tame – hanging out in campsites expecting the humans to feed them. Being around these graceful animals is a treat. At the same time having so many so close at hand means that their droppings give the campsites a bit of a barnyard feel – if you get my meaning! Also, one has to wonder just how healthy it is for this dense a deer population.

San Antonio with all it has to offer is around an hour away. Bandera, which is called the “Cowboy capital of Texas” is nearby. Also there are several nice Hill Country drives and destinations a reasonable distance away.

Were Medina Lake full this campground would be a real gem. As it is, I’d say it’s “okay” without being “especially special” in any way.

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