Monthly Archives: November 2014

2014 Adventure Lessons Learned

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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

image_map.gif We’ve now wrapped up our 2014 Adventure.  Our destination was the great northwestern United States with a focus on the Pacific coast.  It was a wonderful trip – really, everything we hoped it would be.  Early in our journey we found southeastern Utah to be a pleasant surprise.  We’ve heard so much about the vicinity of Moab; especially Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.  These were even better than we expected and some of the most beautiful spots we’ve ever been.

P8019712.JPG We spent a couple of months visiting different places along the Washington coast and then another month along the Oregon coast.  We loved it all and I especially enjoyed the splendor of the Oregon coast.  If a person loves nature they will love that area.

We continued into northern California and soon moved inland to the Sacramento area and points east and south.  After wearing jackets and even needing heat in the camper the warm temperatures were a shock to the system.  Still, camping along the whitewater of the American River and then staying in the high country of Yosemite was a real pleasure.

P9259743.JPG 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

100_3651.JPG 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

PHOTO_20141103_154520.jpgColorado River Thousand Trails is just outside Columbus, TX a few minutes drive north of I10. If you are looking for a quiet, pastoral campground this is it. Really, it’s hard to believe that the hustle and bustle of the interstate is only 10 minutes away. The grounds are fairly wide open with a several oak and pecan trees that provide some nice shade. We liked the fact that the property is all mowed and not overgrown.

100_3657.JPG There are two RV areas. Section A is closest to the entrance and near the small pool and hot tub. The pool isn’t heated but the hot tub is inside a small building. Sections C and D are closer to the river and also have a nice playground. You can see the river only from a few sites and river access is via a small, and little used, boat ramp at the corner of the campground.

100_3603.JPG The campground offers a wide variety of RV site options ranging from water/electric only to full hookup/50 amp sites. You’ll want to pay attention to the campground map as you select your site because the site across the road or even right next to the one you are looking like may offer different amenities: 50 or 30 amp, no sewer hookup, etc. I think the only two pull through sites are water/electric only.

The roads in the campground are in poor repair and for some reason this year the area is suffering a bumper crop of grass stickers. There’s no telling how many of them we’ve picked out of our camper’s carpet!

100_3599.JPG 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

PHOTO_20141025_151057.jpg Medina Lake Thousand Trails is located in the Texas Hill Country, one of our favorite parts of Texas. This is a large campground, a bit rough, but with lots of campsites – many of them with full hookups and large enough to accommodate most any rig. The route to the campground includes driving down some residential streets in an area that is a bit run down. Be sure to watch for the big “turn before this sign” sign on Park Road 37.

PHOTO_20141101_170852.jpg There are three primary sections of this Thousand Trails preserve. One section is near the front gate and the large pool. The sites closest to the pool (Section A) are water/electric only but nearby is full hookup Section R which is popular with those with big rigs. About a mile in from the front gate is Section F which is closer to the big Activity Center and mini-golf. These sites are full hookup. Adjacent to that area and still farther from the front gate are Sections B and C. These are water/electric sites. At one time these were very popular sites due to their proximity to Medina Lake.

100_3581.JPG Alas, these days Medina Lake is more valley than lake. Nearer the dam and a distance from the campground there’s a bit of water, but at the campground there’s no water to be seen. Medina Lake has a history of going through dry spells but the current one has lasted over 10 years now. I wouldn’t count this lake out. Someday it will make a comeback but for now this is a campground overlooking a valley and offering zero lake access.

100_3572.JPG 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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