2019 – Harbor View Thousand Trails, Colonial Beach, VA

We enjoyed our stay at Harbor View Thousand Trails in Colonial Beach, VA. This is a smaller Thousand Trails with only 144 or so sites. The campground is mostly level with decent spacing between the sites. However, campsites in much of the campground are “back to back.” There is room between sites, but the neighbor to the back will practically be bumper to bumper. I will mention that there are a few pull through sites and also some tent sites.

This is one of the Thousand Trails campgrounds that have started assigning spots based on rig size. We were led to our site by an employee on a golf cart. The site was, indeed, suitable for us. During the week there were a few vacant sites, but things pretty much filled up on the weekends.

The campground features a large pool, a basketball court with a new playing surface, and a mini-golf course which was being redone during our stay. From what I could tell the campsites are all 50 amp/FHU sites.

The place has lots of tree cover providing welcome shade on hot, humid afternoons. It also makes it practically impossible to get a satellite signal. It looked to me like the seasonals have chosen a few spots that offer a “hole in the sky” for satellite. I used all my satellite finding skill to spot one of the Dish Network satellites. We didn’t get most of the channels we usually get but we got the baseball games we enjoy and that worked out for us.

The nearest Walmart is nearly 30 minutes away but Colonial Beach has a couple of grocery stores and plenty of eating places. There are lots of historic attractions in the area and we enjoyed visiting several of them.

Harbor View doesn’t really offer a view of any harbor. There’s a marina adjacent to the property on Mattox Creek but it isn’t associated with the campground. No campsite has a view of even the creek although a few are close to a small fishing pond located in the campground. My Verizon signal was quite good giving us solid data service.

All in all, Harbor View is a nice place and worth adding to your Thousand Trails camping plans.

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2019 – Sightseeing the Northern Neck of Virginia

There’s a lot to see and do in and near the Northern Neck of Virginia and we’ve enjoyed visiting and revisiting several spots. I’ve already done sightseeing reviews of the George Washington Birthplace and the Museum of the Bible. I’m doing this post as a sort of wrap-up of the other places we visited. Some of these are big, well known places and others have more local flavor, like the nice beach in the town of Colonial Beach and the local Ice Cream stand.

It is amazing to realize that eight Presidents of the United States were born in Virginia and that of those eight, two: Washington and Monroe were born just a few miles apart near here. We visited both birthplaces. Then, the Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, who was first offered command of the Union Army by Abraham Lincoln was also born nearby.

Stratford Hall

Robert E. Lee’s birthplace is Stratford Hall. This was the home of his ancestors, two of them signers of the Declaration of Independence: Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee. We enjoyed an audio tour as we walked through the two story mansion. The grounds are extensive with many outbuildings including an outdoor kitchen and smokehouse. We drove out to the Potomac overlook with its cliffs and beach below. The River is an impressive 5 miles wide at that point. We also drove to the grist mill and saw where the wharf for merchant ships that traveled the Potomac brought the wares of the world right to this majestic plantation.

Westmoreland Berry Farm

Another sightseeing trip we took was a short drive to Westmoreland Berry Farm. There were more people there than I expected on a Friday morning. The store has in-season produce. At the time of our June visit they had blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. There are also a variety of jams and fruit salsas available along with BBQ sauces. We picked a small batch of blueberries to take home. Beside the store is a large lawn with a huge chair for photo ops, corn hole games, a swing set, and a long downhill slide using sacks. I think the main draw is the climbing goats who climb up a ladder, across the walkway over the road, and then pull a rope to get a cup of goat feed. There are also goats that people pet and hand feed. We had a fun time in the place with lots of local flavor.

Fredericksburg Battleground

In December of 1862 the Union Army attacked Fredericksburg, VA and crossed the river to meet Robert E. Lee’s troops who were holding Marie’s Height with its high ground and sunken road with a rock wall in front of it. The Confederate Army used that wall for cover and the hill above it for canon emplacements. The Union Army had to come across a wide open field. Although they had more men and sent seven waves of attackers they could not overcome the Confederacy that day. The Visitors Center has many displays and artifacts from the battle. It gives an idea of the people who lived there and how they felt about the war. It also gave us a glimpse into their lives and how the war impacted them. The National Parks Service Ranger was an excellent guide who gave us an overview of the battle as we walked along that sunken road. One house from that battle is still standing and is undergoing renovation to keep it available. We could see bullet holes in the walls from the battle. The nearby National Cemetery is where many Union soldiers are buried, many of them give up their lives trying to take that very hill in the battle of Frederiksberg. We were humbled to be on, what the Ranger said, was the most fought over ground in the entire country.

Father’s Day Colonial Beach Car Show

We just happened onto a great car show. We went into Colonial Beach for church on Sunday morning and just a few blocks from the church a big car show was going on. We had fun walking around, checking out all the cars that were on display. People come from miles around to see this car show, we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to see it.

As you can see the Northern Neck of Virginia has a lot to offer. We’ve enjoyed our time here.

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2019 – Sightseeing George Washington’s Birthplace, Colonial Beach, VA

This National Monument is in Westmoreland County on Popes Creek at Colonial Beach, Virginia. The short film at the visitors center is an excellent start of the tour. We walked up a trail to the barn, checked out the farm workshop where a wide variety of equipment and hand tools are on display. The weaving room was closed but I could see spinning wheels through the window and a huge cauldron in the backyard. The kitchen is staged as though they are almost ready to serve a meal. A nearby colonial garden is full of herbs and flowers.

The original buildings had fallen into ruin but in the 1920s and 1930s the Wakefield Memorial Association with help from John D Rockefeller built a Colonial-Revival style home at the traditional birth sight. Tours are given by Park staff and our guide was excellent. We learned about the early life and relationships of Washington as well as those involved in creating this wonderful monument to our National Leader.

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2019 – Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails – Gloucester, VA

We last visited Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails, Gloucester, VA in 2013 and we were looking forward to this return visit. The campground didn’t disappoint and we had another nice stay. Really, not much has changed since my previous review, so I’ll just post a few more photos and let them speak for themselves.

The previous review is here.

I will mention that we were disappointed that the hot tub was out of order this visit. Also, there was some kind of electrical failure that impacted a couple of sections of the park, including the one we were in. We decided to leave a couple of days early rather than just change campsites.

All in all we enjoyed this second visit to Chesapeake Bay and recommend it.

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2019 – Sightseeing: American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, VA

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, VA is a great place to refresh your memory and learn about the formation of our nation. Inside the Museum are galleries with dioramas, written and archeological information about the era, and movies and other multi-media telling the stories of both the Americans and the British during the struggle for freedom. I enjoyed the interactive exhibits and the videos. I especially liked the theater where I felt I was in the battle itself with smoke in the air and the feeling of the concussion of canon blasts.

Outside, we visited the Continental Army encampment with costumed soldiers and women who talked about their daily lives. We saw musket demonstrations and the firing of a cannon. We also toured a Revolution-Era farm with docents in costumes who talked to us about life on the farm. There is a farmhouse with separate kitchen, a tobacco barn with tobacco hanging in the rafters, and slave quarters.

We enjoyed our visit to the American Revolution Museum and came away with a greater appreciation for our heritage of freedom.

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2019 – Sightseeing Battleship Wisconsin, Norfolk, VA

We had a beautiful day for our tour of the USS Wisconsin, at Norfolk, VA. She was commissioned April 16, 1944 and served until September 30, 1991 – the last serving American Battleship. This historic ship served in World War II, Korea and Desert Storm. We did the self guided tour. The main deck immediately caught my eye because it was so smooth and clean. A volunteer told me that when it was teak wood laid on the steel deck. The weapons area was interesting especially the 16 inch guns and the missile decks. Several of the missiles that were fired at the beginning of Desert Storm were fired from those positions. I liked seeing the officers country and crew berthing; also the Galley and Mess. One thing that the older Battleships had was a designated head (toilet) for women who were visiting as there were no women assigned to this ship. The Wisconsin was an amazing floating city with all the spiritual, physical and medical needs of the men taken care of onboard.

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2019 – Williamsburg, VA Thousand Trails

I wasn’t sure what to expect at Williamsburg, VA Thousand Trails because of the mixed reviews on the campground. Our stay, though, was pretty good.

Let me tell you the bad first: narrow roads just wide enough for the motorhome with tight and often un-level campsites. Because of the considerable differences in site sizes the campground has started saving big rig sized sites for people coming in with bigger rigs. I can understand people with smaller campers being frustrated by this. On the other hand if a person with a small popup picks one of the “big rig” sites the person who arrives in a larger RV might just be out of luck, reservation or not. Also, I’ve been at this long enough to have seen that a bigger campsite isn’t necessarily a better campsite.

Still, having done my share of camping in a very small travel trailer I know that it can feel like you are being treated as a second class citizen when the campground personnel directs you to some postage-stamp, sloping campsite. Frankly, many sites have been taken up with permanent cabins and others are rented out for the season. If not for that, there would be plenty of campsites from which to pick.

Now, let me tell you the good: there are two nice pools, a nifty mini-golf course, and other decent amenities. Probably the best thing about Williamsburg Thousand Trails is Williamsburg. This area is a popular tourism destination and everything from Jamestown Settlement to a huge outlet mall is just minutes away.

If you have a larger RV and are coming to this Thousand Trails be sure to call a day or two ahead and let them know. It might help you get a spot you can fit into. Of course, the key to any Thousand Trails is arriving during the week when there are more spots available.

Our Verizon signal was good and I was able to get satellite TV with no problem.

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2019 – Sightseeing Berkeley Plantation, VA

I enjoyed touring the Berkeley Plantation on the North Bank of the James River, not far from Richmond, VA. In 1619 a group of settlers came here. The first thing they did was kneel and give thanks for a safe journey, declaring that a day of Thanksgiving would be observed here annually. There is a shrine down by the river as a memorial to this act of thanksgiving.

After an Indian uprising the plantation was abandoned for a time and through the years different people owned the land. In 1726 a two story mansion overlooking the James River was built by Benjamin Harrison IV. His son Benjamin Harrison V, who would be one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and governor of Virginia, was born here. His son, William Henry Harrison, was also born here. He became the 9th President of the United States (his grandson was the 23rd President). The farm changed hands several times through the years and suffered bankruptcy twice.

During the Civil War Union troops occupied Berkeley and President Lincoln came twice to meet with General McClellan. It was here that “taps” was composed and first played. The bugle first used to pay taps is on display.

In 1905 Malcolm Jamieson inherited the property. He and his wife restored the main house for his family to live in. In the 1960s the ground floor of the mansion was restored to its 1700’s splendor and opened for public tours. It is furnished with period pieces of furniture, replicas of paintings, and in the basement there are artifacts from the era. The two side houses are partially open to the public. One is the gift shop and the other is a kitchen.

There are gardens to walk through, a “taps” memorial, a Thanksgiving memorial, and a road that goes past the cemetery and down to the river. Benjamin Harrison V is buried in the Jamieson family cemetery.

I enjoyed our tour of Berkeley and the narrative of our tour guide.

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2019 – Sightseeing Jamestown Settlement – Williamsburg, VA

This is our second trip to this area of the country and we decided to visit Jamestowne Settlement and galleries. Our visit began with a short movie telling how the colonists came to this spot and also some of the history of the early days of the colony. From there we headed out to the villages. First we came to the Indian village where there were docents dressed as Indians explaining their way of life. We walked through the lodges seeing how they lived.

From there we walked a short distance to visit James Fort with it’s cannon emplacements, replica buildings, and “residents” who were happy to chat with us about life there. The guard house was where soldiers reported on arrival and got their armor, sword, musket and bandolier of gunpowder. The docent demonstrated how a musket was loaded and fired. Other buildings in the Fort included one for gunpowder, a storehouse with tobacco hanging in the rafters along with rope and barrels of provisions. The largest building was a church with bells, benches, a confessional, and altar in the front.

We continued on to the ships at dock that are replicas of the original ones that carried the people to Jamestowne. They were small considering how far they came and the number of people and supplies they brought. The docents talked about the ship and answered questions.

We also spent time looking through the very nice museum, learning more about the people who came to the New World. I enjoyed our visit to Jamestown Settlement and recommend it to all.

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2018 – Ft Chiswell, VA RV Park

Most people who come to Ft. Chiswell RV Park at Ft. Chiswell, VA only stop for the night as they travel I81/I77 across southwestern Virginia and it is a great spot for that kind of stay. The campground is just minutes from the interstate, but far enough from it that there is no sound of traffic. In fact, the campground is surrounded by pastures with several cattle and sheep. Most all of the campsites are pull through and long enough for even bigger RVs. The sites are all 50 amp/FHU and most are nicely level. There’s a small pool, a laundry, and large well-kept restrooms.

During the day there are few RVs – mostly the long term residents who are parked around the perimeter of the property. However, in the early afternoon a steady stream of rigs start arriving and by night the place is full. The next morning things are reversed and by 10:00 or so, it is empty again.

Our stay was for four nights. This gave us time to look around the area a bit; and there are a few attractions worth seeing. However, for most everyone, including us when we pass this way again, this is a good spot for the night with easy and convenient access along the way.

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See individual photos with captions here.