2018 – Homestead on the River Campground, Biddeford, Maine

We enjoyed our time at Homestead by the River Family Campground, at Biddeford, Maine. The campground is on the Saco River and has a variety of campsites including many seasonal sites, grassy water/electric sites, FHU back-in sites, and a number of tent sites near the river. We opted for a 30 amp, FHU spot and really liked it. Our site was spacious and bordered by evergreens on both sides, providing a nice level of privacy. The campground has several farm animals, including horses, and a large children’s play area. There’s a nice swimming area on the river that got a lot of use over the weekend. The campground wasn’t cheap, but compared to many in the area it was as good or better than most. We think Homestead is a nice campground and we recommend it to those looking for a spot in the area. My Verizon data was good and I had no problem getting satellite TV. The free campground WiFi was usable, but a bit slow. You can pay for an upgrade to campground WiFi if you want.

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2018 – Sightseeing Portland, ME and area

We had a wonderful time sightseeing Portland, Maine and south along the coast. We started by visiting Lenny, a life-sized chocolate Moose at Lenny Libby Chocolatier. There was also a bear and two cubs made of chocolate in the diorama. This candy shop has a wide variety of chocolate, salt water taffy, fudge, ice cream and gift items. Of course I bought some chocolate to take with me. From there we went to the Holy Donut shop for a unique experience. We bought a maple bacon and a potato donut with chocolate icing topped with coconut flakes. A tasty treat!

We then caught the city bus and enjoyed seeing the historic homes and buildings we passed on the way to the wharf. There we caught the Casco Bay Ferry Mail boat and rode along on a three hour mail run to several of the islands in Casco Bay. During the summer there are two of these runs a day and many people buy tickets to ride along. We heard a description of the historic lighthouses and other features along the route. It was interesting to see the crew load and unload the cargo and watch the people meet the boat to pick up their items as they were unloaded. Much more than mail was included in the cargo. For instance there were several mattresses and box springs that were loaded into the back of a pickup on delivery as well as a golf cart. A couple of times the sea fog rolled in adding to the adventure.

We also spent a fun afternoon seeing the beautiful coastline and visiting a few lighthouses just south of Portland, Maine. They are all historic but one that stands out is Portland Head Lighthouse. It’s construction was begun in 1787 at the direction of George Washington. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the parks and beautiful homes in the area.

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2018 – Shortstop: Quinebaug Cove Campground – Brimfield, MA


We stopped off at Quinebaug Cove Campground in Brimfield, MA for just a couple of nights as we worked our way on north. One of our campground memberships is with RPI and this campground is included in that membership. We are supposed to be able to stay in RPI campgrounds for $10 but booking costs another $2 and, upon arrival I was informed that since I wanted electricity there is another $3 a night tacked on. It’s still a low price but a surcharge for electricity seems a bit over the top to me.

Anyway, our campsite was reasonably level and very close to our neighbors on each side. Really, there is barely room for an awning to be put out. Also, since the campsites are rather shallow, the only place to park our pickup was between us and the folks next to us. This makes the “packed in” feeling even more pronounced.

There are other sites for travelers at the top of a rather steep hill. I saw several campers up there, and the sites are roomier, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to pull our 5th wheel up such a steep hill. Since our stay was only two nights I was okay with the tight quarters where we were.

The campground has a nice big pool and several kids were enjoying it. The nearby town of Sturbridge is historical with lots of shops. We opted to spend our day going to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, about 40 minutes away.

My Verizon signal was great and I was able to get satellite TV by putting our tripod just outside our front door and raising it to its maximum height. This was one of those rare times when having a roof mounted dish would have actually been an advantage.

Everyone I talked to in the campground, especially the staff, was friendly and helpful. I think this place is okay for travelers who want a brief stop or for those who want a seasonal spot to get out of the city. As a traveler it wouldn’t be very high on my list as a place to spend anything beyond a night or two.

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2018 – Bonus Review: Sturbridge, Massachusetts Thousand Trails

2018 – Sturbridge Thousand Trails, MA

Since we were in the area we decided to check out Sturbridge, MA Thousand Trails. We didn’t stay there so I won’t really do a review, but I did take some photos. Our general impression was that this is a crowded campground! Here are some photos so you can get an idea of what the place looks like. Obviously, a lot of people want to be there!

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2018 – Sightseeing the Basketball Hall of Fame – Springfield, MA


We had an interesting visit to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. We saw many photos and artifacts starting with the very beginning at the Young Men’s Christian Association where, in 1891 James Naismith invented an indoor game to be played at the YMCA. We followed the evolution of the sport from events like the introduction of the sport to women up through the most current inductees. Along with the many displays are interactive sites where you can check your height and arm span compared to famous athletes or see what one’s vertical jump is. My favorite displays were the early women’s uniforms and the peach baskets.

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2018 – Rondout Valley Thousand Trails – Accord, NY

We didn’t come close to seeing all the attractions within a reasonable driving distance of Rondout Valley Thousand Trails, located near Accord, New York. The campground was a nice base of operations for our exploring and I think the best thing about Rondout Valley is its location. While most attractions aren’t exactly close, they are nearby. The campground, itself, has a big pool that stays quite busy. There’s an Activity building with a café, a rather worn Adult Lodge, a camp store, and a few sports venues. We saw many children having a wonderful time biking the roads and enjoying all the campground has to offer.

Rondout Valley has many seasonal and permanent campers. That does limit the number of sites available for others, but, from what I could tell there were a few vacant spots available most of our stay. The big rigs prefer the spots along the main road in. These are 50 amp/FHU sites. Those on the north side of the road have a chance at getting satellite TV. The sites are plenty deep, but are pretty close side to side. There are also 30 amp/FHU sites that would work for bigger rigs. Really, things are spread out to the point that I’m not sure I got a handle on what sites are where.

The main roads in and around the campground are nicely paved. Other roads are gravel with potholes. The restrooms are older and often in need of attention, especially over the weekend when the place was packed out. If anything, I’d say this campground is being loved to death and that leaves an overall feeling of it being too well used.

Overall we liked it at Rondout Valley. I often say that, like real estate, how I feel about a campground is all about location, location, location. In this case, we got a nice back-in site with our preferred hookups. I was able to get satellite TV without any problem and my Verizon data was solid.

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2018 – Sightseeing the Hudson River Valley of New York

This is such a beautiful and interesting area with many things to see with the scenic backdrop of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. There are waterfalls, dramatic landscapes, and also many farms and historic homes in the area.

We took a day trip to visit two Historic Homes in the famous Hyde Park area of New York. We started with Springwood, the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd President and the only one elected to office four times. We started our tour at the gardens and saw where he and Eleanor are buried. We went in the front door and into the large entryway. I was impressed by the huge grandfather clock and beautiful wooden furniture. FDR was especially fascinated with birds and sailing ships. The entry way had some of the many birds he collected as well as some of the navel paintings that he acquired across the years. We walked down the hallway to the library-living room on a clear glass floor that allowed us to see the ramp used by FDR with his chair on wheels. The room is filled with books, beautiful carpets, and items collected around the world. There were also board games for family and friends. We were unable to see the 2nd floor because the air conditioning was not working and there is no ventilation. We exited through the kitchen area where we were reminded of how much manual labor was need to serve this household. The servants did everything from grinding the coffee beans to washing up after the meals. The nearby stable has the stalls with names of the horses and a display of the various ribbons won by his prize horses across the years.

We also visited the FDR Presidential Museum. The USA was in the Great Depression when he was first elected President. The museum shows some of his childhood but focuses on his election, his work to bring the US through the depression, efforts to improve the lives of the American people, and leadership through World War 2. As you might guess, considerable attention is given to World War 2. There is also information about Eleanor’s work as a reformer and her appointment to the United Nations after FDR’s death.

A short distance from FDR’s house and museum is the Vanderbilt home which was completed in 1899. It is considered a prime example of the “Gilded Age.” We entered through huge doors and stepped into a grand entry hall filled with marble statues and heavy furnishings. Amazing tapestries adorn the hall walls. On one end of the main level is a huge dining room where the family could entertain a large number of guests. On the opposite end of the main floor is a large library and living room. The master bedrooms are on the second floor. The lady of the house had an impressive, French inspired bedroom with an attached setting room where she met with the housekeeper and took care of her letter writing etc. Guest rooms for married couples and single women were on the opposite end of the house and there was a door leading to a servants’ stairs that allowed them access to the rooms.

We had fun visiting the Rosendale, NY Street Festival. Some of the local shops were open and there were vendors of all kinds: commercial, crafts, face painting and henna art along with booths offering a wide variety of food. Of course I had to have a funnel cake! The main feature of the festival is music and there are multiple stages and wide variety music be heard at all times. According to the advertising there are 100 bands performing during the two day festival – truly something for everyone. We really liked the woodwind and horn orchestra we heard immediately on arriving and the smooth jazz group performing as we were leaving. We enjoyed this local event.

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2018 – Sightseeing the Poconos of PA

We are spent a week in the Pocono’s of Pennsylvania; an area I’ve heard of all my life. We especially enjoy exploring areas that are new to us and this was new territory for both of us. Near our campground was Bushkill Falls. It’s advertised as the Niagara of Pennsylvania. This is a commercial park with other things to do but we came for the main attraction: the waterfalls. There are four trails and hiking these trails takes from 15 minutes for the easiest one to two and a half hours for the longest. We took the 2nd level trail that focuses on the main falls. Our path was well kept and included several steps and viewing platforms. The falls are quite impressive and well worth the effort and expense to see them. There are many other activities available for families including a Native American exhibit, a wildlife exhibit, gift and snack bar, a fudge kitchen, and ice cream bar. Near the entrance is a pond with paddle boats and fishing gear, a playground with picnic tables, and a mini golf course.

We also enjoyed touring Grey Towers National Historic Site. This palatial summer home was planned and built by James Pinchot who was not only the first Chief of the National Forest Service but also was twice elected governor of Pennsylvania. Grey Towers was also used by his son Gifford and his wife Cornelia and her touch is evident throughout the home and across the property. The home was modeled after the Marquis de LaFayette’s home. The grounds are open and free of charge. We paid to take the guided tour and saw several rooms on the main floor. The rooms are filled with family heirlooms and items brought home from their vast travels. Our guide also talked about the landscaping and the gardens created by Cornelia. There is a long narrow pool built in such a way as to make it seem longer than it really is. The one area I found especially interesting was “The Finger Bowl.” This outdoor dining area is beautifully shaded by a wisteria covered arbor. The “bowl” is a raised pool surrounded by a flat ledge that served as a sort of counter or table top. People were seated around the pool on comfortable chairs and food was served from wooden bowls floating on the water. The diners would “pass” the food by floating it across to one another. The entire property is a beautiful, quiet place with many benches and gazebos where a person can enjoy the landscaping and scenery.

We ate at a couple of good places, but no place with a “finger bowl.” Our favorite was Philly Steaks in Stroudsburg. We split a cheesesteak and fries and were glad we did! The portions were huge.

There’s enjoyed driving around this area, seeing the beautiful Pocono’s and lush forests. It is easy to see why this area has drawn people from the nearby big cities for many decades.

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2018 – Timothy Lake South Thousand Trails – Marshalls Creek, PA


We enjoyed our time at Timothy Lake South Thousand Trails, near Stroudsburg, PA. This is a large campground with plenty of nice, full-hookup, 50 amp sites. The roads are all paved and wide enough for RVs. There are many pull-through spots as well as a great number of back-in sites around the parameter. Generally speaking, the campsites are plenty long enough for even the biggest rigs. While they aren’t exactly on top of each other, the sites are pretty close side to side.

Many big rigs head for the “top” where there is plenty maneuvering room and no trees to block rooftop satellite dish usage. If you pay attention many of the shady pull-through sites will also work just fine.

The pool is a nice one and well used, especially on the weekends. While the restrooms in the Activity/Store building are nice and well-kept I was disappointed in the condition of the others. They were worn and often in need of cleaning.

My Verizon data was slow but usable most of the time. However, we opted to pay for campground WiFi for the week. It was fast and reliable. Also, I was able to get my Dish satellite signal with no problem.

While there are plenty of campsites, it should be noted that a lot of sites have been taken by seasonal campers, especially around the outside roads of the campground. The area just to the southeast of the office has many park models, although if you look through that area you will find a few campsites scattered among them. I wouldn’t bother looking for a spot there unless the campground was especially full.

The drive in (and up) from Hwy 209 merits a mention. The roads, Winona Falls and then Timothy Lake are narrow and pretty steep. When coming in pay particular attention when turning off of Winona Falls onto Timothy Lake. Oncoming traffic on Winona Falls isn’t visible until you are right at the the left hand turn. That traffic doesn’t have a stop sign. When leaving the campground that same intersection puts you at the bottom of a steep hill, requiring a full stop before turning right onto Winona Falls. In other words, keep your transmission in a low gear and keep your speed way down. Then, be sure you can see traffic coming from your left before committing to the right hand turn. Having said all that, I don’t want to scare anyone about coming to this campground. The route in from Hwy 209 is only 3 miles and literally thousands of RV’s have made the trip in.

We really like Timothy Lake South. In fact, we’ll stop off at this campground again in a bit over a month as we head south again.

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2018 – Woodland, PA Campground


Our stay at Woodland Campground, near Clearfield, PA, was for just four nights. Really, the area has enough to offer to make a longer stay tempting. However, for us, this is a bit more pricey stay than we are used to. No doubt, Thousand Trails has spoiled our bank account!

The campground is a former KOA and is close to I80 but I don’t think we could hear the traffic at all. There are several pull-through sites tiered on a hill as well as a number of longer term back in sites plus many seasonal spots in the trees on the north side of the campground. Our pull-through site was level and utilities convenient. The WiFi was good. I have to admit that the higher price, in this case, resulted in a superior campground.

The primary feature is a small, but pretty lake that is filled with bluegill. We watched several fishermen catching and releasing small fish as fast as they could reel them in, re-bait, and cast. We got a kick out of watching one little guy, about three years old, catch his first fish. The campground has fishing gear to loan to anyone who wants to get in of the fun.

On Saturday the campground was full and there were activities for campers of all ages with wagon rides, a corn-hole contest, and other events. Then, since we were still close to Independence Day there was a fireworks show over the lake.

I had no problem getting my satellite TV signal and my Verizon data was good.

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