Category Archives: Campground Reviews

cumberland bay ny state campground- review

Sometimes, just a “short get away” is the perfect stay!

That was the case when Kevin and I chose a camping trip to Cumberland Bay State Park this autumn. We were super lucky to even get a beach front site with only a week advance booking! Then again, it was September so weather in this part of NY can be chilly—but we had great weather in the 70s during the day and 50s at night. Perfect!

This NYS campground is part of the (Reserve America) NYS system in nearby (2.5 hours north of us) Plattsburgh, NY. This campground sits just north of the city and directly on the huge Lake Champlain which serves as the link boundary between NY and VT to the east.

CLOSE IS NICE SOMETIMES!

We love basically where you see the word “Falls” on the map above. That is Glens Falls NY.

Getting there from our home in Queensbury, NY is a beautiful and easy drive north on I-87 “The Adirondack Northway”. If coming from VT you can take the Ferry that leaves from Grand Isle, VT. FYI- the Adirondack Northway, RT 87 is also our direct way to Montreal, Canada just 3 hours from home. The Northway itself is a beautiful road passing exits for Lake Placid, Ausable Chasm and other notable and beautiful scenic trips in their own right. Those locations really deserve their own dedicated camping trip.

Here are links to the campground and reservation system.

RESERVATION WOES

Please note, unfortunately NYS in trying to do a “nice thing for campers during Covid-19” opened up their reservation booking window through 2021. In my opinion it would have been OK to allow NYS residents to do this, but it was opened for anyone to do. What has resulted is 99% of all decent campsites in the state park campground system have been already booked through next year and I suspect many by out of state campers who may or may not ever really use that reservation. Sadly, i think most of this was to grab up sites…but in reality I bet many of these reservations will be unused or cancelled. I am not alone in this perception. What it has done is closed out many NY state residents from enjoying camping in campgrounds our state tax dollars pay for. Many fulltime RVer’s are discussing this same thing on their YouTube channels and blogs so NYS campers are not alone.

ABOUT THE CAMPGROUND:

Our front yard at Site #46.

The campground sits right on Lake Champlain but also includes a day-use beach area so we suspect during peak summer months this place is going to be a lot busier, noisier and bustling than our sublime autumn getaway. There are only really 6-7 sites that are “direct waterfront” and we were thrilled to get one of these. There is a large 4 foot “sea wall” style barrier between the campground and the beach. There are some places where there is a set of stairs to get down onto the beach as well. The beach is very wide, very well kept. Along the wall there is a walkable sidewalk which many folks used too. We honestly feel that our adolescent grandsons will have more fun at this campground with the beach and bike riding than they did at Jellystone!

Sites 43 to 48 are the only sites that are truly water front with no obstructions of this beautiful view!

We had site #46 which was a great site for our 32 foot travel trailer. It was also the widest of all of these beach front sites too. Our top choice recommendations here are in order: 46, 43 or 47 due to their length, width and scenic value. They are also on lawn but do not have really any privacy buffers between sites.

The sites that are on the same road but directly opposite our site are ok but beware they are quite sandy and not very well kept up as of Fall 2020. Also, some of the sites in this campground are very short so do trust the “max length” notation they have when you are making a site selection.

These sites along the beach row are NO HOOKUPS! In fact, most of the sites in the campground are no hook ups. They have built nice new bath houses around the north end of the park up on the hill. The southern end still use a large older bath house that was OK. The campsites opposite from the beach front sites (shown above) do have electric only. These tend to be where you will see a lot of large 5th wheels.

We boondocked with no issues at all. There is a water fill spigot on the way into the park on the right side of main drive and a very modern, 2 lane, dump station as you exit, or if you are there for longer and don’t have your own porta-dolly and need a mid-stay dump, the access is very good and easy.

While camping we used the main beach house toilets quite a bit besides our own RV bath. The public day use bath house is only a couple years old, very ADK looking, beautiful and very clean and modern. It was only a short walk from our site. there is a very nice children’s playground there too with rubberized ground pad which is always very nice.

The fellow campers at the campground were very nice, all were very cognizant of the need for face masks and social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation. It was very quiet, reserved and peaceful and we really enjoyed just relaxing watching the throngs of Canada geese who came in in the morning then the other water fowl who came in at other times of the day. They seemed to be taking turns!

We stayed four nights (thurs through Sun) and while there is not much to see and do directly around the campground itself or within walking distance, just a 5-10 minute drive you are in the City of Plattsburgh a great place to check out!! The city is home to the State University of NY at Plattsburgh (SUNY Plattsburgh) and also an international airport due to its proximity to Montreal so this creates a nice downtown vibe.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN DOWNTOWN PLATTSBURGH!

A DAY TRIP OR OVERNIGHT TO MONTREAL IS CLOSE-BY!

Also, for those who may be staying a little longer and looking for a super terrific full “day trip” Montreal, Canada is only a 1 hour 15 min easy drive by highway. The border crossing will add a little time to this but if you avoid commuter times you should be ok. Downtown historic Montreal is fabulous with great shops, dining, the underground and more! There are not a lot of easy access campgrounds near Montreal so this might be a great day trip or even overnight option! (if you bring your RV over the border, remember there are in-bound and out-bound food restrictions on things like beer (limits) and restrictions on fresh meats, veggies and fruits, etc. Check the border crossing sites before you end up having to throw good food into a bin at the border!)

NOTE: We did not go to Montreal on this trip since the borders in/out are closed due to Covid-19. Besides, we live only 3 hours south of Montreal so we can go anytime once the borders re-open.

Besides…why go anywhere when we saw this each evening while enjoying our own wine, beer, cheese & crackers while we warm up around our portable Outland LP fire pit! This was literally our view from our site. Deep breath……ahhhhhhhh.

We left our picnic table where it was, though they are moveable. We loved meals right next to the waterfront!
Our evening sunsets every night were like this. Simply beautiful!

Just a few more photos of our stay at Cumberland Bay State Park. We had a wonderful time, in fact, we tried to book a stay for next summer and should not have been surprised all of the waterfront sites are booked solid from June through mid-September. Bummer! but we will be back!

Reddy loved Cumberland Bay State Park too!
Trying to show here that the beach is literally at the end of that grass line that you can see!

We hope you do check out Cumberland Bay State Park for yourself and enjoy the relaxation of the park, but also the great offerings in downtown Plattsburgh.

Looking for awesome “Avion-branded” gifts, clothing, camping gear or decor? please check out our exclusive designs at MyAvionMarketplace.com

Let us know if you go! We would love your feedback!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman proud owners of a 1987, 32S Avion!

CAMPGROUND REVIEW: Hapgood pond CampGround, Green Mountain national forest, Peru, vt

We ventured about 2.5 hours heading east from our home near Lake George NY to spend a long weekend (3 nights, four days) in the Green Mountain National Forest of nearby Vermont in late August 2020. The drive was over hill and dale from our home in eastern side of upstate NY, peaceful through quaint NY and VT villages and bucolic farmscapes. Closer to our destination, we passed Bromley Ski Area which now also has a full compliment of summer activities including chair lift, bike trails and more. There are several notable ski areas along this route in an easy to reach too.

Sometimes its really nice to just have a short hop, skip, and jump to a pretty local place but that feels worlds away from your normal backyard.

Our destination was Hapgood Pond Campground which is under the management and inside the Green Mountain National Forest. The campground is located in Peru, VT. Peru is a very small backwater village with a town green, one quintessential VT general store ( see slide show below) , an 18th C. church on the green (of course) and a handful of beautifully restored 18th and 19th century houses dotted here and there. Just off Route 11 heading NE out of Manchester, VT, this sleepy town is the perfect and close get away. I have a slide show of the general store and more info below.

Nearby, Manchester Vt offers outlet stores, boutiques, ample varieties of unique, locally-owed restaurants and of course, the Northshire Bookstore which is a destination unto itself. This large store is worth the stop even if you are not a bibliophile….they have wonderful unique gifts, new age, inspirational and spiritual gifts and accessories and some quirky retro gifts and great unique kitchen accessories too! Warning, Manchester can be very touristy and busy on summer weekends, we hit it right because of an anticipated rainy Saturday–the rain cleared out by noon and there were not many folks downtown yet.

Hapgood Pond Campground is beautifully set with surrounding pine and forest lands, it has a beautiful and ample pond with great beach for swimming (sadly the one weekend we were there it was a late August cold snap and only in the 60s during the day so too cold for a swim). It has a 1 mile nice hike trip around the pond is worth the adventure. We did the hike on Saturday starting out at 6 PM and the lighting was beautiful and we had the whole thing to ourselves…quite magical. I suspect in peak seasons of summer weekends the trail could get busy as there also is a day picnic area as part of this 27 campsite park. The campground access road is dirt/stone dust, level and well maintained road which is a little narrow but certainly do-able for our 32 footer. Just watch the one right hand bend. We would not recommend anything larger than 35′ for sure. Please also avoid the sites 17-20 which are in a dead end loop unless you tent or have a small pop up trailer. You will not get in or out with anything bigger.

Site # 2, First come, First Served site. No Advance reservations on this one. A great site, easily could fit our 32 foot Avion travel trailer and tow vehicle! No hookups but easy access to vault toilet bath house, public beach and water spiquot.

Campsites: Sites 1-8 are first come first served only for RV/Tent sites. You simply arrive, claim an open site that works for you, fill out the ticket from the main map display and put your payment info and contact info into the lockbox and your reserved ticket on the clip on the site # post. There is an onsite volunteer Camp host whose site is clearly marked as you enter the campground side of the site to the left on the main drive. To the right is the day use only which is also for a small fee.

Most of the first come, first served are very short sites, ok for lets say under a 20 foot camper, perfect for tenters, pop ups or van campers. The creme de la creme for us is Site #2. It is a first come first served but in a great location by the vault toilet building #1, has a water spigot in the site and a really easy access walk to the public beach, pavilion and walking trail, etc. We will definitely look to get this site once we become full timers and with our Senior Pass can book it for like $10 per night…great deal! The rest of the sites are reservable in advance through Reservation.gov website.

This Summer of 2020, Covid-19 and all…..We had reserved Site 26 for three nights, Fri/Sat/Sun in late August ($68.00 total through Reserve.gov) . We needed a restful get away. For our 32-foot length trying to do the online reservations they said they had only 2 sites that could accommodate 30-35 foot rigs. Looking around once we got there, we believe that at minimum sites 24, 26 and 27 (has some overhanging pines we like to avoid) could handle our size of travel trailer.

Below is a photo of our site 26. Nice site, and we would book it again! Amazingly…this is the FIRST campsite in 8 years of RVing that after Kevin backed in, I turned on our LevelMate Pro app and it was PERFECTLY LEVEL SIDE TO SIDE! Wow! that never happens! We only had to level front to back. That was awesome…bravo to the campground staff for their maintenance! Our Verizon hot spot provided some decent upload and download speeds, my cell was pulling 3 bars consistently at our campsite.

Our site #26. Spacious, no pine trees to drop unwanted sap. on a bend in the road so more privacy space on sides than some sites. Directly opposite the toilet house (very clean vault toilet house) and potable water spiquot. Easy, grassy walk to the beach, nice areas to walk a pet.

Site 26 was very comfortable for us. Nice large, deep fire ring, huge long picnic table in very good condition, the site was clean, cleared and with just a little maneuvering Kevin got it backed in. NOTE: the water spiquot and bath house/very clean vault toilets are directly opposite the campsite and close to the road edge enough so you do not have the flexibility of going a little “off road” to angle into the site. But he managed fine. We did take our front hitch storage tray that holds our generator off before trying to do the back in angles.

FYI- You are in a National Forest so…..These sites are NO HOOKUPS! The campground is pet friendly. There is no electric, sewer, cable hook ups! if you are used to these conveniences, this is not a place for you. Our site was quite shady with some beautiful sunny rays during the morning through late afternoon hours, but enough shade that we suspect even in hot summer days the shade would greatly help keep the camper interior heat level down. We did run our generator a few hours each day just to keep the batteries topped off since the are a bit on the old site and not lithium ions. Due to the cold snap and rainy day on Saturday, we never had use of our AC nor even a fan. Open windows and nice breeze was perfect.

Every other camper in the park was super respectful of all Covid-19 mask and other precautions. There was no noise issues, everyone kept their manners and cleanliness in the vault toilets which were cleaned daily, no smells, no trash and very well built *aka no spiders, etc) and ventilated. The best we had seen so far in “government campgrounds”. It was truly one of the most peaceful and restful camping weekends we had in a long, long time. Bless you Vermonters!

There is a palpable difference when you are camping in a National Forest or State campground with very little amenities or activities versus a private campground hell bent on having every bell and whistle, every type of kid oriented activity, playground, pool slides , etc. This National Forest campground was bliss!

Saturday after we ventured into nearby Manchester (about 20 min drive) for lunch and about a 1 hour stroll around to shop. On our way back, we also stopped at the adorable general store in “downtown” Peru where the campground is located. Clearly the store knows its prime clientele is the transient campers. It was the quintessential Vt general store with lovely fresh foods, baked goods, local and Vt made gifts, basic housewares, RVer last minute “whoops I forgot this!” items. I loved it–its cozy, well kept, modern of inventory but quaint in style. The locally made VT smoked cheese we bought was delicious as was the shared chocolate cupcake. They boast take away sandwiches and pizzas to order. Next time!

BTW Hapgood pond is a result of an early industrial revolution era dam put in place to power a mill. A typical story in New England and outlined in the story board near the beach and rustic, nicely maintained pavilions where larger family groups could have a nice picnic together.

Here is a photo slide show from around the park and our hike.

While spending an enjoyable rest, we got a little itchy after a rainy Saturday so by Sunday afternoon the weather was beautiful and we wanted to explore more of the Green Mountain Forest itself. So using our maps we found at the end of Hapgood Pond Road, heading north, then west you come onto Forest Road #10 which is a nicely maintained, unpaved road. It is ample in width and in super good condition (better than some RV parks!) but with very little pull offs and definitely NO TURNAROUNDS FOR RVS! We did this as a day venture just in our tow vehicle, our 2011, GMC 2500 Denali,4WD, Crew Cab and had no issues. However about 1/2 way through thinking this would be a great place for a dispersed camping site persay.. the RED FLAG happened!!!

CAUTION!! midway through our 1.5 hour back road Forest Route #10 there was a very high pitched replacement cement bridge (see in slide show below) that literally went up on an 75 degree angle over a span of maybe 6 feet!! Our RV and anything shy of perhaps a small camper van would have bottomed out royally or gotten stuck on the top of the crest!

That being said, the ride through the forest is one we would recommend. There is an access point to the “long trail” of the Appalachian Trail inside the park and many other trail heads that looked inviting! There are 4 dispersed Tent sites that we saw but none of them were very remarkable or nice. One along the stream was ok, it was at the eastern most end of the road.

The pristine greenery kept us in awe, the long forgotten apple trees in one area reminded us that at one time, perhaps 100 years ago this area was finely tended and was cleared farm land…all now reclaimed by Mother Nature into a thick, native woodland.

This bridge pitch may not look super steep in this photo but it was! Your RV would turn into aTeeterTotter with NO where to turn around and go back!

Our last little adventure was to take a trip up to the NE to Weston, VT which is along Route 11 North from Peru. It took us perhaps 25 minutes tops. Weston is home to the ORIGINAL VERMONT COUNTRY STORE! Since the 1800s the same family has operated this store in this little village. (They do have another store nearer to Brattleboro but it is more touristy I think, they also have a huge website and publish a catalog. They are known for selling long forgotten housewares, candies, cleaning items and hard to find health and beauty items)

We enjoyed our Sunday morning there, with little crowds, a yummy lunch outdoors in their picnic area (restaurant closed due to Covid). They are known for their homemade Mac n Cheese and I had the “Northerner” with BBQ pulled pork or’ top mac and cheese deliciousness. It was enough to have a full portion for dinner later that night. Kevin had a Reuben special and ranked it well among his many tests of this culinary delight from around the country he has had. I dropped some coinage in the store, always willing to support local businesses and off we went to our trip on Forest Road #10 into the depths of the Green Mountain National Forest itself.

Our trip came to a relaxing close on Monday morning as we savored our final breakfast meal and began our pack out regime after I checked my emails for work and did some correspondence. Getting out of the Site 26 was far easier than getting in, but again, we would book this site again now that the “angling” to get in was mastered on the first try.

It cannot be underestimated that sometimes, just a 2.5 hour drive can bring you such a new perspective, new vistas to see, new moon shots to honor and the peacefulness of the forest to reinvigorate the soul.

We will definitely will make Hapgood Pond Campground in the Green Mountain National Forest an annual (or at least biennial) stop on our camping itinerary in the future. We may even stay a week or two once we are retired and spending our summers in New England…so don’t take our Site #2!

Stay safe, enjoy the journey! Reddy certainly did-below she is sacked out on MY lounge chair just like the Queen of the campground she is!

BE well,

Kevin and Luisa

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Adirondacks Jellystone Park- Campground Review

August 2020

By our  grandson’s “popular demand” we booked another weekend trip to our local (45 min north) Jellystone RV Campground ( formerly known as Paradise Pines Jellystone I think).  It had been two years since we had taken them there.  This park is located just off RT I-87 in North Hudson, NY.  Very easy access.  Close enough to visit area attractions of a Buffalo Farm, Lake Placid, The North Pole, Lake George and Fort Ticonderoga on day trips as well as other small lakes and rivers that dot the eastern side of the Adirondacks.

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We booked especially to go on their “SPOOK-TACULAR” Halloween themed weekend which was awesome to say the least.  I did get our site and Avion all decked out and it was a big hit with the grandsons and nearly everyone in the park threw us mega compliments and thumbs up!  Right from the entrance point to the park and all over the park they had huge blow up halloween themed decor which was really great. Many of the campers also decorated their campsites and rigs.  We all got in the mood!

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This campground is a favorite for those with small families, afterall who can shrug a hug from Yogi or Boo Boo right??

The park is a simple 45 minutes north of us into the Adirondack Mountains on Route 87/The Adirondack Northway.  Once you exit for North Hudson, the campground is a minute up the road on the left.

We had site # 15 and were very pleased with this site for our rig.  It easily accommodated our 32 foot long Avion and had full hook ups. There we are on the right

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SITE # 15 ON THE RIGHT…THAT IS OUR SILVER 32 FOOT 1987 AVION!

** We originally booked site 137A online based on the online map.  WHOA!  do not go by that map and do not book that site or site 137 which everyone will walk through!  We did a reconnaissance trip 2 weekends before and 137A is what we would call an “after thought site”.  It appears there are a few of them at this campground where they are trying to SQUEEZE every last inch of turf to fit some level of RV into it.  Not good.  However—The staff was extremely accommodating and very pleasant as we did a drive around the park to view on my phone app to view what was still available.  She gladly rebooked us for Site 15 (there were only 3 sites left!) and we were very pleased with this customer service.

This pricing below was reflective of a 2 night stay.  
Premium Water/Electric/Sewer 1 $206.00
Adults on Site 2 $0.00
Children on Site 2 $0.00
Pet(s) 1 $10.00  (yes, Reddy costs extra, but we love her enough to pay!)
VIP Site Lock-in Fee 1 $15.00  (I opted to get locked into our site, no surprises!)
BYS Fee 1 $10.00  (this is an extra fee paid to the online booking company)
Subtotal $241.00
Total $241.00
Deposit Paid $133.90  (required % when booking online)

We actually ended up adding Thursday night (special rate deal only $50, so we could arrive then or earlier than 2 pm check in on Friday) so we ended up having a slightly higher bill in the end.  But we love getting in there on Thursday before everything fills up and we can set up and relax before the family comes too!

PRO’s:

  1. Very kid friendly park  (lots of kids–hey, its a Jellystone so expect that please!)
  2. Our Site 15 had easy access to bath house/showers and in the other direction the game hall, pool and other amentities (though not much doing because of Covid19 restrictions)
  3. Close to home for us- nice for a change!
  4. Their camp store is one of the best we have every seen for not only gifts and food incidentals, but their supply of RV gear, parts, light bulbs, and all sorts of hardware is better than some RV dealerships we have been to.  Seriously!  they do a great job with that!

5.Decent hook ups, though at this park their sewer runs slow during dumps so be careful!

6.Nice level site, large area in front for kids to ride bikes and play.  Our “lane” was a dead end this time which was much better than 2 years ago when we backed up to the playground (nice) but were on the main entry road for all rigs to come and go (not nice)

7. They pick up your trash at  your site.  Someone is always patrolling and that is a great perk they offer.  We love that feature at campgrounds.

8. We totally enjoyed their adult, larger pool again this timeTip- go early when it opens at 9, stay till about 11 then hightail it back to your campsite before it gets super busy!  Evenings it will calm down again too over dinner time and later.

9. If you do not want to cook, the owner does a lot of BBQing of hamburgs, hot dogs, sausages, etc. and I think even breakfast sandwiches at the main store area.

10. Totally AWESOME Haunted Forest Trail!!!  We cannot say enough for this themed “spooktacular” weekend.  Wow…the trail was long, very high caliber of actor volunteers, scenes and set stages.  The kids were petrified (ages 7 & 5) but we adults LOVED IT!  It also was no extra charge or tickets required.

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CONS:

Overall, this park is tired.  Most of the outbuildings really need repair, roofs cleaned off and a freshening up.  

  • The main bath house and shower pavilion for our whole northern section of the campground is old, still has the same missing formica counter top pieces from 2 years ago and really sorely needs a total upgrade.  The shower area is a little better and at least does have private doors to each stall with changing areas, etc.  NOTE:  there is NO handicap toilet stalls or accessibility features in this bathroom building, perhaps the newer one near the snack bar and main office does have H/C features–so you should check on this if that is a need.

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This is looking WEST from the end of our dead end lane. They do have small Yurts and nice log cabins that line the opposite side of our lane.

  • COVID-19 CAUSES LESS ACTIVITIES….Not their fault but many of the activities that our grandsons LOVED last time 2 years ago like the “bubble party”, the Hey Hey Hey rides with Yogi and the bounce pillow and, dance party, etc. were either not happening or were really transformed and toned down due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.  The hey rides, little train ride and bounce pillow did not run at all this weekend.
  • TIRED MINI GOLF….The boys did get in a round of Mini-golf with us.  But the mini golf area is also not maintained the way it should be.  There was debris and garbage on the ground that clearly had been there for a long time.  The boards of the various # holes were moss covered, rotted away in some sections and so slanted now you cannot take a good hit.  But it is in the shade and they had fun…so we played along.

  • LOTS OF STAFF BUT WHAT DO THEY DO?  Ironically we saw tons of staff at this park.  Not sure why the maintenance seems so lacking.  The Activity Director, Meghan was bright, bubbly and did a nice job with the bingo game that Sarah and I treated ourselves to.  Not sure why they held it on the front porch instead of the open air rec hall but whatever…I WON coverall and took home $21 so whose complaining right??!!
  • DEFERRED MAINTENANCE- again, our picnic tables both at the Yurt and at our site had rotten boards, not maintained. Some adjacent sites to ours did have the metal base tables which looked better.  Our premium site did come with a raised charcoal grill if you needed it.  we used it to set our Weber on!
  • YURTS ARE NOT UP TO PAR FOR THE COST…Our daughter and her husband rented one of the Yurts just across from our camper.  It was small, stuffy and had horrid air fresheners going to mask the musty, closed in smell, 2 sets of bunk beds, a small kitchen kind of set up (no running water) with a microwave, refrigerator (quite big) and a plastic table/chair set.  It did have A/C and also did have zip down window curtains with screens.  They said the beds were like sleeping on boards. They had deep hard foam mattresses.  You have to bring everything else.  They determined the Yurt was definitely not worth the money they are charging.  Also, they had NO privacy since a tiny tenting site was squished in on the side of their Yurt space and they were not quiet campers.  There was no housekeeping done to the Yurt between renters it appears and we felt like we had to do a once over sanitizing.  Yurt renters have to walk to the bath house for all their needs, washing dishes, showers, etc. too.

 

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My daughter Sarah and I snuck away from the kids for some Bingo!

  • KIDS POOL AND SLIDE AREA VERY HECTIC AND FULL….We did not use the kids pool area.  It was WAY over crowded for our personal feelings about Covid protection and need for social distancing.  I did hear someone on staff taking names later on in the day while we were at Bingo so it does sound like they were doing what they could to “schedule” folks to use the pool to avoid too much close contact. They did have sanitizer in the pool area with rags asking each person to wipe down any chairs and tables they used when they were leaving (to be honest, we totally did not remember to do that!)  Perhaps one of those staffers could have been assigned to do this and monitor behavior in the pool areas too??   The children’s area pool with swirling large tube slide is really way too small for a family/kid oriented themed campground like this.  Almost seems like they need to invest in a new large kids pool area, or build another pool ONLY for adult swimmers.  A hot tub would be nice too…but only if it is “adult only” restricted.  We will often search for parks that have those amenities for adults only (yes, ok, we are getting old and crabby!)

Like I had said from the start, we booked this trip to Jellystone because our grandsons asked for a camping trip here again this summer.  Will we go back? Probably not and that was the consensus from my daughter too.  If you do go, any of those sites along the side we were on at site 15 are we believe the best sites in the park.  There are a  lot of other kid-friendly campgrounds that have as much if not more to offer and are better maintained.

Hope this review helps….We appreciate any comments you may have.   Safe journeys!

Kevin & Luisa

Campground Review: Erie KOA HOLIDAY, McKean, PA

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July 2020: We stayed one night as a stop over enroute from attending our annual Silver Avion Rally in Elkhart, Indiana headed home to upstate NY. We wanted to just pull in, (not unhitch), but enjoy a restful evening…and a dip in the pool after a very hot rally week!

Erie KOA HOLIDAY is a very nice campground, and made a perfect respite stop for us after a 6 hr drive heading East from Indiana.

Reasons to like this campground:

  1. The online reservation system of the KOA franchises is very good. Easy to use and you get instant confirmation online. I booked our Monday night site on Sunday afternoon. 🙂
  2. Beautiful lush plantings, expertly maintained. (check out that front of the main building! By far the nicest landscaping we have seen at a campground around their main buildings.
  3. Super easy access directly off the Interstate, but far enough to be very quiet
  4. Sites are well maintained, though they are close together. We were site 42 (yellow right by the office) SITE MAP
  5. They have a small to medium sized in ground pool which was open and the temperature was perfect! It was one of the cleanest pools we have encountered in years!20200720_182815
  6. Very efficient and friendly reservation staff at check in (I believe we had the owner)
  7. They pick up your trash at your site (we love and appreciate that feature!)
  8. They have a beautiful quite large catch and release “Rainbow Lake”…below is the shot I took giving Reddy a walk…..beautiful at sunset!

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As mentioned, we chose this campground because it fell right into our plans to go 6 hours and stop for the night. We arrived around 4 PM. Our site was a pull through (#42) with 30 amp, W & S. MAP It was just down from the main check in building and quite tight among the other trailers on either side but since we do not have slides, and Avion’s are narrower than most we were just fine. I do not think I would want a weekend or week in that site due to lack of lawn or privacy for relaxing outside of your rig, but it did have a fire ring, wood picnic table if desired. for our overnight rest stop and pool dip it was perfect. Price for one weeknight in July 2020 was $62.00 inclusive.

We had a short happy hour after getting set up, then headed to the pool for a cool dip. It was luscious! The Covid-19 pandemic has caused some changes in operations and the owner noted when she gave me our instructions that there is a limit of 25 in the entire pool area allowed at a time. They are going on the honor system during the week (this was a Monday evening) as long as they could but staff would enforce if needed. There is a nice covered pavilion area just off the pool area with tables and chairs and I suspect during “normal activity” times this is a popular spot, perhaps a snack bar, etc.appeared to be there too-but not functioning when we were there.

Their camp store in main building was pretty basic. Some nice selection of tee shirts and some kids trinkets, but the rest was a bit scant, certainly very limited if you were looking for any repair items for your RV. You would need to go shopping elsewhere for them. Their map and website says they have a petting zoo area and snack bar. In our brief walk around we did not see these, but according to their map they do have them. (not sure if open due to pandemic issues)

This is a KOA and therefore, they do cater to families with children. There were plenty visible in the pool and playground area, but we managed to only get splashed on by jumping in kiddo’s a couple times. There were no issues with kids making too much noise in the campsite rows that we experienced.

For Kids they have:

  • playground
  • giant lawn checkers
  • jumping pad
  • rental pedal go carts, hot wheels
  • mining activity, panning for “gems”
  • tether ball
  • volley ball
  • of course…the pool

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Would we stay again?? YES! we do plan to make this a regular stop when we are heading to or from our Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart, Indiana in July each year!

KOA Holidays

Erie KOA

Open April 17 – October 18
Reserve: 800-562-7610
6645 West Road
Mckean, PA 16426

Moose Hillock Camping Resort, NY-Review & Suggestions for Improvements

SNAPSHOT REVIEW:   1= poor……5 stars = Outstanding

  • Location (ease of access, things to do in the area) = 4 (Lake George is 10 miles away)
  • Camp Site Quality (ease of getting into site, surface, hookups quality, privacy) = 4
  • Campground Amenities (onsite pool, laundry, common areas, snack bar, etc) = 4
  • Kid-Friendly = 4
  • Adult-Friendly Amenities/Adult getaway  = 2
  • Pet Friendly (amenities like dedicated dog park, trails, activities) = 2
  • Cell Signal = 1  (2 bars on 4G, Verizon), (Wifi only around pool area)
  • Site # we had this trip  #704
  • Cleanliness:  excellent.  Sites are cleaned after check out, public buildings are very clean, modern and in good working order
  • Cost  $96 per night, 4 night minimum in Summer season (all sites are FHU)

We are fortunate to live in an area of upstate NY and at the base of the Adirondack Mountains where there are a plethora of campgrounds and RV resorts.  Some are older, a tad run down but usable, others are newer or have kept up with upgrades and attract huge numbers of RVers with tons of amenities and great sites.  To name some of the better, largers ones; Moose Hillock-NY, Lake George Escape, Lake George RV Park, King Phillips Campground, Riverbend Campground.  The first two being large resorts with tons to offer, others being more modest but very decent traditional campgrounds but with great access to all that the Lake George region has to offer.

For our annual “grandson getaway” weekend this summer we chose to do a stay at Moose Hillock Camping Resort on RT 149 in Fort Ann, NY. (they say Lake George on their marketing  materials only for marketing purposes, it is not located in Lake George)

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There were several reasons for selecting this campground, one of which was our kids have to drive right by it to get to our house when they are coming from their home in VT- so this made the trip easier for them to drop off and pick up the kiddies.  Secondly, we knew from pictures and reports from friends who had stayed here that their pool is amazing, heated and large and the kids would love it.  Lastly, that the sites are super huge (room for kids to play) and very private from each other.  We hate feeling stacked up like jets on a runway which has unfortunately become more the norm in many RV campgrounds these days.

I am just going to cover a few key things for us about this campground in this review.  Certainly we encourage our readers to check out our review on Campendium, or others in Trip Advisor and other online review sites.

SITES:  Moose Hillock opened about 8 years ago and sits on 182 acres.  It has 749 sites and each one is thoughtfully carved out of the woods with a ton of privacy woods, bushes and topography between each site.  90% of the sites were definitely laid out with big 5th wheel trailers in mind.   We loved all the room around our rig as it made a great space for the kids to play and for us to even park our extra car (was handy to have to shuttle up to pool and to Lake George, or drop off garbage-more on that later).

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A drawback for us regarding the site was that all the roads in the park and the sites themselves are all hard pack gravel.  This surface prevented me from pushing in my lawn flags and also was not a soft, nice ground for kids to play on.  Even walking on our patio mat bare foot was a bit uncomfortable.  On the positive side, the drainage is very good, so no muddy sites like we have experienced elsewhere so i guess comfort versus mud is a worthwhile trade off.

There were no issues with the electrical hook up (50-30-20), but we always use our Progressive Industries monitor regardless to ensure no issues.  Cable worked well.  Cell signal was nearly non existent and only Wifi is available up at pool area.  Sewer hookup was set up for 5th wheelers and was closer to front of site and higher than normal for us.  This caused us to have to pull further forward in the back in site than we normally would have because we have our discharge valve towards rear of our rig versus 5ers who typically have their mid way on their curbside.

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A barely visible neighbor to our north

Site privacy was excellent and certainly the best we have ever had at a privately owned for profit campground.  We could barely see our neighbors curbside a little from our site, but it was not an issue.  The site pad is huge and hard pack gravel with good drainage. We were on site #704 and would use again but it would be nice if we did not have the skunk smell every day and night–so maybe he will move?!  Not sure if skunks were a problem in other sites and we do not leave any food out, nothing in campfire area either but wow…the smell at night even caused me to have to close my bedroom window one night- the skunk had to be right underneath me!

AMENITIES:  Their pirate-themed pool area certainly is the claim to fame for this campground.  I would argue, compared to other campground “resorts” we have stayed at ….this is their ONLY real claim to fame.  The pool is lightly salted water, no eye stinging and hey, salt water is far better for you than chlorine!  It is heated just enough for us to take that initial chill off when dipping in, but not so hot that you feel like you are in a bathtub-which we do not like either and is in our opinion a breeding ground for germs especially when loaded with kids.  So we were all good with pool temp and salt water.  The large 2 story rock backdrop with skull head was a “wow” for our grandsons but they were intimidated by the water slides and would not go down either one.  Kevin and I did go down the big one…gotta say, had been many many moons since I one, but I wanted to show the kids that I could do it!  It was fun!  The pool has a whole side that is a gradual walk in so perfect for any age toddler to grown up.  One side has a nice ledge for adult sitters too which we liked.  There are some faux rocks around the edges shooting streams of water which we and the kids liked.  A night, the whole “mountain” and skull are lit up as well as nice colored lights in the pool.  See best photos of this on their website.

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The max depth of the pool is 4 feet so our 6 year old grandson could touch bottom almost 3/4 of the way in.  There are lots of kids in the pool, this is after all a family resort to be sure.  There are no “adult only” hours or areas sectioned off.  This might be a great idea for them to do as the pool certainly is large enough.  Most of the kids were actually very respectful of the adults but I was surprised at the allowance of floats, tubes and ball play which the latter sometimes got a bit out of hand.  The weather during our stay was not super sunny or hot, so the pool was not to capacity but i can imagine when it is, that ball play could be downright dangerous and maybe they curtail it.  There are NO lifeguards on duty but there are staffers atop the two slides to ensure no foul play or too young venture down where they should not.

Their playground area in our opinion was very lacking considering this is clearly marketed as a family, kid friendly resort.  The playground consisted of one piece of traditional swings and then five or so pressure treated climb on items like a ship, train, tractor with hay trailer.  These were nothing unique or that captivating for our 4 & 6 year olds to be sure.  They spent all of maybe 10-15 minutes in the playground and were bored.  Thankfully there was one bench that we adults could at least sit down on to watch.

They do have a large 400 seat pavilion which is near the pool area and set on a large swath of nice grass.  Due to intermittent showers the whole weekend we did not partake in any of the planned activities but we will assume they were still held underneath the pavilion.  This is not closed in, but since the park has a pretty short season Mid May to Mid October, as long as you bring a jacket in shoulder seasons you should be warm enough.  Their planned activities seem to definitely focus around weekends.  The activities include live bands, musicians, magic shows, science projects and of course the proverbial bingo!  This area is also the only part of the park that has nice paved trails and we saw several kids really taking advantage of it and going round and round this small rotary just to get some bike riding in.  A further testament that the resort gravel and dirt roads are not bike friendly.

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Laundry Facilities:  There are two very clean and modern facilities, again near the main hub of the pool, pavilion and golf cart rental area.  The cost was $3.00 for a wash and again for a dry.  There were no signs for how long the dryer ran for that amount, but this rate is quite a bit higher than other parks we have visited.  The facility I photographed was very clean, nice new machines which had an app feature that you could download, use and directly pay via a stored credit card-thereby avoiding the need to spit dollars into a change machine or carry around tons of quarters to meet the $6 it was going to cost you for one load.  We did see one person using the dryer, i suspect more to just dry soggy beach towels.  This park definitely attracts more regional visitors who are staying a week or so and in fact, many 5ers have their own W/D so i suspect this laundry really does not get a lot of use.  There are NOT a lot of seasonal sites here that are used every day but rather they are weekend get away’s for folks living in the Albany/Capital District area which is only 1.5 hours to the south.

Main Lodge:  The main lodge is located right at the main entrance to the campground.  Registration lines are ample to pull off to go inside to check in.  The staff was very friendly and helpful and reviewed all necessary information.

Also inside this building to the right is an arcade which features top line thrill rides like motocross, Jurassic Park, several shoot em up military modern games (my son in law would have loved) and of course several of those grab the toy game machines.  They also have 2 skee bowl lanes which I love but the signs on them clearly say that they are NOT for prize tickets, so you are just playing for scores, not prizes.  This deflated Lucas, our 6 year old and he moved on.  At least the bells, sounds and lights of other machines were more reward for his $1.  Kevin amused the boys for nearly 2 hours and $20 later on Saturday when I had errands to run into town.

Their snack bar sits off the back side of the building and overlooking the pool which you can see in the photo above.  Pricing was pretty typical for a captive audience (we are talking pirate theme here afterall!) and so for the four of us for lunch, burger, chix fingers, and two grilled cheese sandwiches, one fry and 1 soda was around $33.  Sawyer and I had the grilled cheese @$4 which was decent I thought and the cheapest thing on the menu.  It was fun for the kids to eat at the pool area and under the Hawaiian style palm laden umbrella tables for one time.

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They have a pretty decent camp store full of all the expected essentials and basic RV supplies.  Their gift line focuses around a pirate theme as well as their own logo items which include their signature moose.  Speaking of moose….they do have a mascot but we did not see him/her anywhere the four days we were there.

My suggestion would be they take a cue from Jellystone Parks and do a tractor pulled hayride type of thing through the park at least one x per day on weekends and have the mascot on board for the kids.

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Hay ride with Yogi the Bear at Paradise Pines, Jellystone Campground, North Hudson NY (2018)

(if they do something like this I did not see it on our schedule)More of my suggestions for this park to follow below….

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT: (these are ranked in order of importance in my opinion of importance and ease of adoption)

#1  Provide trash pick up at campsites on a daily basis.  This is fairly routine at most campgrounds we go to these days both large and small operations.  Garbage pickup prevents hoarding of trash outside (we do not do) which begets skunks and other varmints (could be reason for our invasion each night).  Surely at $96 per night and seemingly more than enough staff and workampers this could be done.

#2  Post an adult only swim time in the evenings even if only for one hour, or better yet, cordon off a section of the pool that is for adult swimming only at all times.  Easy peasy to do.

#3  Pave at least the main roads in and out of each loop in campground.  Thankfully it was pretty rainy during our stay, but the roads here must be so dusty when dry.  The rigs along the main loop roads must get filthy (outside and in) and their towels out to dry must as well!  yuck!

#4 Provide some sort of “quiet inside wifi and libary area” either in main lodge or separate building.  There is no table game room, no where to visit if bad weather with a bunch of friends.  Have this also have adult only times so adults that may need to do work while traveling can get good signal and peace and quiet.  There were no area we say with a book lending, dvd lending, etc. either.  Most campground all have something.

#5  Do a tractor pull wagon ride through the camp 1 x per day at least and feature the Moose mascot on board.    The moose could also do cameo showings at the arcade now and then too.

#6 with 182 acres, perhaps they could create a nice paved bike trail system through the grounds for means to safely get to the activity areas or to just enjoy the woods without fear of being hit by a car or falling on sharp, hard gravel.

Some readers may think I am being overly critical of this campground by venturing suggestions for improvements.  Those who know me, know my background in regional tourism.  I am a former Executive Director/CEO of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB and have been deeply involved in operating both my own local tourist guide service as well as involved in other tourism attractions and have consulted local and regional businesses in tourism marketing, etc.  Add onto that an RV camping background grown over 20 years off and on and staying in many parks in the northeast especially…So my suggestions come with a background of knowledge of what today’s marketplace consumer is looking for and how a business could position themselves from being good, very good…to spectacular!

Hope you enjoyed this candid review.  We did enjoy ourselves at this park? Yes.  Will we stay here again?  maybe, but I would bring the grandsons to other “resort” campgrounds in our area first for their expert opinions to be the judge of which is the best!  The kids did say they would love to visit the NH Moose Hillock to see the pirate ship pool….it does look cool!! 

As always, we welcome your feedback.  If you like our blog, please follow us, check out our other blog posts on how to’s, reviews, must see’s and other tips to RV travel.

Safe Journeys!

Luisa and Kevin Sherman

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Inaugural “Race to the Rally” TCT Supported Event in Eastern Upstate NY

We love rallies…we love folks who appreciate “vintage”…but what we really love (now and then) is NOT having to travel through four states and over two days to get to an event.  So you can imagine our utter glee when Beth Holcomb, a brand new TCT (Tin Can Tourist Club) member took on the mantle of responsibility to create and host a brand new vintage trailer rally only 35 minutes from our home!  Yeah!!!

The event was supported by the national TCT club which also provides its members who are hosting events ideas on hosting a successful rally as well as some required guidelines to ensure that their TCT members get what they expect from great TCT events.  Beth and her husband and events helpers did not let us down!  It was a super rally.

The event was held from August 1-4th at the Whispering Pines Campground in Greenfield Center, NY.  This location was only 8 miles north of Saratoga Springs which of course was humming at full steam in the middle of its annual Saratoga Race Track Season–but our campground was quietly nestled off the beaten track, tucked into a woodland setting complete with a couple nice ponds (bullfrogs were even respectfully quiet to my surprise!)

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Since it was so close to home, Kevin was able to get Thursday off and arrived to set camp already on Thursday afternoon.  I arrived after work on Thursday and commuted back to work on Friday.  It was really nice for me even though it meant I went from my normal 1 mile commute to a 40 minute drive!

All total for this first rally there were 12 vintage trailers!!  WOW!  That is terrific for a first time rally and we all congratulated Beth for her efforts.   She had done a terrific job of providing a lovely goodie bag for each site as we checked in…complete with Saratoga sparkling water, signature chocolate and bag of Saratoga Potato Chips-all yummy!

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Thursday evening there was a welcoming pizza party.  Most units were in by then, with a couple still arriving on Friday.  We were thrilled to meet up with several attendees we knew already from the TCT Sampson State Park rally we have attended now for the past two years.  Ellie and Gail were both their with their rigs.  Ellie has a 1973 Airstream that she has renovated, and Gail set up an adorable outdoor display on her rig and has a terrific set of flags on display.   Gail also was a hit when she wore a poodle skirt during open house on Saturday! (below is Gail winning a trophy too)

Friday was a free day where gallivanting around the area, heading to the track or shopping on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs was encouraged.  Several intrepid hikers also took a hike up to a local historic fire tower(one attendee’s dog decided to go AWOL and take a hike all by itself causing Ellie and several others to go hiking just for him for over an hour!)  I missed all the excitement since I was at work.  Kevin enjoyed camp, relaxing, taking Reddy for walks- oh how she loves camping and meeting other dogs, people and sniffing every blade of grass and tree!

Saturday morning we had a very nice Continental Breakfast with fresh homemade baked  goods made by the campground owner.  The husband and wife team here did a lot to make us all feel very welcomed and comfortable.  Whispering Pines is an older campground but they do have a nice looking pool and although we did not see any, they have a cool fire truck that gives rides around the campground on select days.  As with many campgrounds today there are a fair amount of seasonal sites, but where our rally was “down below” in the flat area adjacent to the small pond and near the main camp store and registration area. Site sizes were decent, some back in sites were short but just fine for the shorter vintage trailers.  We took site 25 since it was a pull through as we were definitely the longest rig set up with 50′ overall between our trailer and tow vehicle.   Their Tamarack Room was a perfect location to have group meals, meetings, etc. and very comfortable and worked perfectly for our rally size.  Their camp store is minimal but in a pinch I am sure you can find most “forgot to bring that” items.  Kevin and I did not use their bath facilities, but I understand that showers are $.

Saturday during the day we did host a “open house” from 12-4 where folks who were in modern campers as well as our rally attendees were invited to tour any of the vintage trailers/campers who were open.  We loved having JP & Sue Barber visit us for the afternoon since they live minutes away.  The Barber’s are fellow living history reenactors (but we tried hard to convince them that vintage camping is where its at- and far more comfortable in dog days of summer!) Open House time is always fun and we love chatting about and showing off our Pewter Palace, but as usually happens, we get so busy we end up not getting to tour other rigs ourselves!  Not to fear most rally go-ers will gladly open their door to other attendees anytime.  We are all extremely proud of our rigs and love to show them off.

We were so thrilled that there was LIVE MUSIC during the open house time.  This was a first for us to have and it really added a festive atmosphere to the day!  You wil see a bit of the music going on in the video down below.

Here is a slide show of some of the other rigs that were present at the rally:

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There was a judging component to the rally and taking away first place was Chad Sherman (we are still checking to see if the other Sherman family there are relatives…probably!)  Here is a video of Chad.  We were blown away by the fact that his parents, his other brother and he EACH have their own vintage rig.  So cool!

Saturday evening we were treated to a yummy Pork BBQ dinner complete with all the fixin’s and a “Historic Saratoga” presentation by the director of the Saratoga Historical Association.  The awards presentations were fun and everyone joined in.

Sunday, for a change since we did not have a long drive we enjoyed the morning.  There is nothing better than enjoying breakfast, fresh brewed coffee outside under our awning in a bathrobe.  I love camping in our Avion!

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We look forward to even more events hopefully happening in our area or into VT or even MA in the future.  Not sure Whispering Pines will be able to handle this rally as it gets bigger since the area we camped in has only water/electric and their bathroom and shower facilities were up the hill a ways for those who are not self-contained.  Having the campground’s Honey Wagon pump us out Sunday morning was a big help and saved us having to weave up into the back end of the campground just to pump before heading out.  But there are plenty of campgrounds in our area and we are sure with the great turn out of this inaugural event that there is pent up demand for more rallies in eastern upstate NY!

Great job to all involved!

Spring- 2019 NY-OH-MI Trip, Part 1 (NY-to Frankenmuth MI)

After a very slow start to spring 2019 (still dipping into mid 30s each morning!), we headed out to Michigan and the Tin Can Tourist Centennial Vintage Trailer Rally in early May.  We did a few stops along the way first though!!

This PART 1 post covers our trip to the Finger Lakes Region of NYS and then on to Frankenmuth MI which is a favorite of ours.  Part 2 will cover from Frankenmuth to the Tin Can Tourist Centennial Rally at Camp Dearborn in Milford MI and our return trip overnighting at a Harvest Host Winery site off RT 90 in NYS.

First destination camping overnight was to the KOA in Watkins Glen NY where we met two of our very favorite bloggers, Steve & Courtney Adcock of “AStreaminLife.com” who are full time RVers in a 30′ Classic Airstream.  We have followed them since their decision to go full time and watched them sell their “house” possessions, prioritize and fit up their Airstream for full time living.  We have learned SO much from them and along the way built an online friendship “off line” that now will be realized in person!  We will be meeting them at the KOA in Watkins Glen as they make a NE trip from their home base of AZ this spring.

Heading out on Weds, May 9 we wanted to beat the weekend rush and travel more in the evening hours en route to Watkins Glens so we did not chew up our entire check in day with driving.  We overnight boon-docked on 5/9 (weds) at a “TEXT” rest area on the NY Thruway/I-90.

NOTE:  The NYS Thruway is a toll road.  We highly recommend using EZPass when in the northeast.  Not only will you save a boodle of $$ on tolls but more and more toll plaza’s are nearly exclusively EZPass and makes getting through them with far less jockeying trying to cut over lanes to the cash lane!  We use EZpass all over the Northeast and Mid Atlantic states!

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If you have to stay in a parking lot, along a highway, we feel these text stops are far better than the large official rest areas.  Typically the lighting is not as bright but still sufficient lighting for safety, there are fewer large trucks, they are more quiet and you tend to not have the “sandwich” feel of being between two behemoth 18-wheelers in a parking slot.  This was the case at this stop as we pulled off at Mile post 256 /west bound.  There are no services in these “text” rest areas and while it does have highway noise, we found it really dies down after 11 pm and stays pretty low key until about 6 am.  This text rest area is just AFTER Exit 33 for Verona NY (which we have stayed at the Turning Stone Campground before, see prior post for review on that).  The rest area offers a nice grass area for walking our dog.  No picnic tables had been installed yet, but there are pads for them, so assuming we perhaps were just too early in the season. It has been a very cold, and wet spring in NYS.  We felt safe here, cell signal was 4 G with Verizon.  No services, so you must be completely self contained.

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Essentially 20 more feet to the left is the 3 lane NYS Thruway, I-90.

After getting a good breakfast on the fly in our camper, Watkins Glen KOA was only another 2 hours away.  Perfect since check in was not until 2 PM.

FYI-I have mentioned this before but we absolutely LOVE our non-electric, stove top powered toaster.  Whether you are a bagel lover, regular toast or toasted muffin affectionado, this little beauty does it all and NO need for full hook ups or for tons of space on your counter (I store two of these in my oven)!  If this photo does not do it for you…here is the video!  Here is the link to the blog post where I include the link to the item where we ordered it off Amazon.

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So on to Watkins Glen NY KOA.  But first…a stop just south of Geneva NY where we visited Fox Run Vineyard in the town of Penn Yan, NY on the side of the rolling hills overlooking Seneca Lake (one of the Finger Lakes).  This whole area is loaded with vineyards and wineries that welcome tourists.  You do have to be careful regarding access and parking areas because after 3 PM these places get really busy and full.  I always look for ones that say they “welcome tour buses” as this is pretty much a key to know their road, driveway and parking areas will be able to accommodate you and your rig. Careful….some want tour bus business, but really are not set up to handle the egress needed.  Using Google Maps in satellite mode does help.  Calling ahead and also checking their website is important.  Fox Run welcomes tour buses and limos up until 3 PM–so that includes RV;s!!.  so their parking lot entrance sign states clearly.  We arrived at about noon with no issues for parking at all.  After my wine tasting, we had a terrific lunch outdoors .   Kevin had fresh baked pretzel with cheese dip, I had:

FLX Tacodilla $11   Two folded flour tortillas filled with taco seasoned bison and Razzle’s Choice cheese, with a dollop of fresh salsa verde and sour cream. Served with a side of mixed greens and Riesling vinaigrette.  It was totally yum!!!

and of course we took advantage of the first day of sun we had seen in weeks and dined on their elevated deck with lake views (they are on WEST side of the main road, so not technically lake side).  This winery business is actually directly opposite Sampson State Park (east side of lake) where we camp for our September vintage RV rally.  No issues at all with pulling through their beautiful gate, or pulling straight around and through in their parking lot.  Their tasting room was well done, pretty basic selection of wine lover gifts, etc., wines are a little more pricey than a stop on our return trip.  Most bottles were around $22-26 per bottle.  I loved their Merlot (so did Courtney when we opened it at happy hour later that evening!) and their Cabernet Sav. It was a great stop and we would recommend it!

Continuing our drive south on RT 14, we arrived just after 2 PM (check in is at 2 PM) at the KOA Watkins Glen.  Of course, this is a Thursday, we were doing a one nighter and the park was essentially empty.  Did i mention that spring has been way delayed??  Its cold, damp, barely spring foliage has started. Check in at campground was fine.  I had requested a pull through since we were only staying one night.  They ended up putting us far, far to other end of campground, way far from any facilities, AND right next to a class A in a diagonal parked slot.  Seriously??  with an entire empty park, our trailer patio would be 2 feet from their slide out.  So we kept going, pulled around to another site with some breathing space on both sides and notified the camp office we relocated ourselves.

TIP:  We tend to always try to book a site on an END of a ROW so that at least you have no one breathing down your back on your patio side.  So we found site #138 and that was fine.  Nice concrete stamped patio, bolted down ADK glider rocking love seat (we knew Steve & Courtney would like that!) and sufficient privacy for sure, plus not too far from the bathhouse, etc.  Soggy, puddles-they could use some more gravel and drainage, but fine, did I mention this was one of the wettest Springs that we have seen in decades??  

We settled in by 3 PM, Steve and Courtney came by for happy hour and we thoroughly enjoyed terrific conversation and sharing of some of our local to us favorite “Oscar’s Smokehouse” brand cheeses, salami, and horseradish mustards.  Time flew and before we knew it is was 8 PM and time to turn in for the night.  Mother Nature agreed, as rains came down again!

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The first photo in the slideshow below is Steve & Courtney’s Airstream.  They had a back in site which was nice, pretty shaded but close to bathhouse and main building.  The site was too short to keep their rig hooked up.  Several of the sites have paved patios.  The sites with white gazebos are back in only and “only for motorhomes” as the map indicates.  I am sure once the weather turns better, this campground is super busy with families. There is a lot to do for kids with water park, paint ball and many activities. We paid $66 for one night, essentially off season for full hook up.  Not cheap by any means.  Camp store was well outfitted, bathrooms and showers nice.  Nice penned dog park too.

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Steve and Courtney were on their east coast national “waterfall tour” of the USA and were staying in Watkins Glen for a few days to catch all the beautiful waterfalls.  Check out their amazing videos and photos here!

We headed out the next morning with Frankenmuth Michigan in our sites.  First, drive through rest of NYS on 390 West to 86 South to pick up I-90 just northeast of Erie PA.  Nice drive, not a lot of truck or vehicle traffic and some beautiful rolling hills.  Not a lot of services, but scenery was beautiful and road conditions very good.  Our co-pilot Reddy was right on the job…ever watchful!

 

Originally we were going to overnight with 2nd cousins of mine in Fremont OH but those plans fell through so Kevin decided he wanted to push through and get to Frankenmuth so we had a full day, fresh start on Saturday morning.  This meant about 9.5 hours of driving for him but traffic was not too bad and he is a professional driver essentially, working for NYSDOT. We don’t recommend more than 5-6 hours if you can help it.

I found a free overnight parking spot in Frankenmuth using my OVERNIGHTRVPARKING app since we were not due to check into Jellystone Campground in Frankenmuth till Saturday.

The parking lot of the Birch Run Premium Outlet Mall was identified, parking lot P  off 12240 South Breyer Rd.  Easy enough to find, dark, empty at 10 PM (overhead parking lot lights are turned off at 11 PM automatically) and we were leaving by 8-9 AM in the morning before stores would be opening up. This app is a little touchy and not very android friendly.  NOTE:  I noticed the last review on the app was from 2017 so I did call the outlet mall # 989-624-6226 to verify they still allowed overnighting with an RV in Lot P.  The person at customer service I spoke to was very nice, said it would be fine and told me that they no longer require formal check in with registration or plate info (like the 2017 reviewer had noted) and that it is “park at your own risk” and they basically turn ta blind eye and simply allow it to happen with out inviting RV overnighting openly.  We did fine, of course, we kept a very low profile, nothing outside, no awnings, we dont have slides, but would not suggest you put them out if you do.  We were not bothered at all.. No one else was in the lot, it backs up to greenery and woods.  You are in between the Viper Bridal Shop and the VF Outlet. (sorry forgot to take pics in early AM before pulling out!).

We headed out of the outlet mall lot by 9:15 AM and drove literally 15 minutes to Bronner’s Christmas Store which is the largest such store in the world!  Over 5 football fields chock a block full of every conceivable Christmas and holiday decoration, decor, clothing, etc etc you can imagine.  Plus the exterior of their lot is very large and they specialize in tour bus business all year long and at night, it is a spectacle unto itself with huge lighted displays.  We had seen the night displays during our visit in 2017 so did not do that this time.  They open at 9 AM so this was our first stop to browse and do a little shopping.  I was good, again, and did not go nuts–though Christmas and especially Gingerbread is MY THING!  I found a really cute vintage trailer ornament and then also a very nice (and light weight) carved wooden ornament that looked very Bavarian so it will fit nicely with our overall theme.  Kevin gave the nod as both were light, and relatively unbreakable!

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After about 2 hours wandering around Bronners, we relocated our parking to a large public parking lot on the east side of Frankenmuth and part of the Bavarian Inn Hotel complex (off Weiss Street) and right adjacent the beautiful, quaint wooden covered bridge that leads to main street.  The weather was decent but cold.  But we took the walk in and did some shopping on Main Street district.  Frankenmuth MI is a big tourist town and so their parking is well equipped for tour buses.  Just keep an eye out for such parking.  Getting there earlier in the day helps too…just be sure you situate yourself in a parking lot so that non-RVers do not block you in. We always choose the furthest most point away from the store or attraction, and at times, we may even put a few orange cones (with our name on them) out in front if in doubt.

We do love Frankenmuth MI!  This is the second time we have been back in two years.  (Our retirement bucket list includes visiting all the towns in the USA and BC that have European themes).  Last time we visited was in August 2017 and it was definitely a prettier time to visit with tons of blooming sidewalk and street planters overflowing with flowers and warmer to sit outdoors, etc. and just people watch and enjoy the architecture of the main street.  But nevertheless, this time, since it was early season, school not out yet and quite chilly the stores and restaurants were not nearly as crowded…a bonus!

TIP: We tried German food this time at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant (where the working Glockenspiel is) and really loved it.  Way too much food, but nice variety and the ambiance in the Edelweiss room where we were was far superior to Zender’s where we ate in 2017. So far, all the restaurants we have tried (and the Cheese house) are great.

This is where I will end Part 1 of our Spring 2019 RV trip to Michigan.  We enjoyed two nights once again at the Jellystone RV Camping Resort in Frankenmuth.  We stay on site 143 {Site Map}which is an end site, opposite the dirt road where dog walking is also possible.  It is far enough from pool area to be quieter but everything in the campground is an easy 2 minute walk.  We totally enjoyed taking a dip in their heated indoor pool at hot tub on Monday morning before we left for our Tin Can Tourist Rally 40 minutes south.  This campground is very walkable to downtown too which we love.  We can walk on sidewalks to downtown and all the shopping and restaurants within about 8-10 minutes.  Easy walk, no hills, all sidewalks and crosswalks and has street lighting if going at night.  We did this walk at least one time daily.

All for now….please visit our Spring 2019 Part 2 post which showcases the many dozens of vintage trailers at the Tin Can Tourist Centennial Rally as well as a free Harvest Host boondock overnight we did at a winery on our way home!  I will have a link to our Harvest Host referral program in that post to save you 15% and gives us a small finder fee which helps pay for the next bottle of wine we buy during a Harvest Host overnight!

Safe travels!

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This trip we took a 1-hr ride on the Bavarian Belle paddlewheeler that goes on the Cass River through Frankenmuth.  Nice little cruise to learn about local history, etc.

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

 

 

Campground Review: Village at Turning Stone RV Park, Verona NY

October 2018– We have just come back from a five-night stay at the Villages at Turning Stone RV campground which is owned by the Oneida Indian Nation who operate the Turning Stone Casino and Event Center complex a half mile down the road. I have a nice short video further down in this blog post that will give you a great idea of what the individual sites look like!

I have posted a very comprehensive review on one of our favorite campground review sites of which I am a member–CAMPENDIUM.COM. You do not need to be a member to check out reviews…only to post them!

Here is the link for my review of the Villages at Turning Stone RV Campground.

I have gone to Turning Stone each fall for the last three years for a convention for work and I have to say this was by far the most enjoyable stay yet! I loved being able to cozy up in my bathrobe by the open campfire at night after being in windowless conference rooms all day! Plus it saved a boat load of $$.

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BEST fire ring ever!!

The RV park is very affordable (our rate, $39.95 including taxes with Good Sam discount) at this time of year. This was for a full hook up paved site overlooking one of their small ponds with tons of room and privacy. Cable TV and very decent internet service.

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PLUS BONUS!! they offer their campers access to their 24/7 shuttle service to get you back and forth to the casino/hotel/convention center complex. More about this in my Campendium review (see link at end of post). So you can gamble (if you like that, sorry but we do not) and go to their restaurants (The Tin Rooster BBQ Restaurant -below photo-has a full size vintage Airstream International inside fitted up with lounge seats for drinks and snacks you can sit in!),

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live shows, cafes, bars/nite clubs etc and never have to drive no matter what time of day or night. They make it easy with a phone call or via the main valet at the casino. They picked me up right at the end of our loop driveway every morning to go to my sessions.

There is not a lot else to do in the immediate area. Rome has good history, Fort Stanwix National Historical Park is there with large recreated fort and wonderful visitor center. Rome also has movie theaters, live theater, restaurants, shopping, etc. and is less than 20 minutes away by car.

We stayed in Loop 100 (1) and site 121 which was awesome, wide and private and backed up to the boat pond area.

Here is a video shot from our campsite.

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Please check out my full review on Campendium so you can also see photos of the bath houses, showers, common buildings, and more. We definitely will be back to this RV park in the future. Oh…by the way, visit my review to hear about the train!

Happy travels from Kevin and Luisa in the Pewter Palace!

One Life….Live it!

Campground “Scope Out” Missions

Maybe it is because we really would love to be camping every day if we could…but we are finding that when a weekend comes where we are “home-bound” we get antsy and all we seem to want to do is watch travel video’s, You Tubers who are living the full time life (oh we are so jealous!!!)…and plan for projects, trips AND CAMPGROUNDS that we want to bring our Pewter Palace to!

Some of these campgrounds are literally in our backyard.  We are fortunate to live just outside of NY’s Adirondack Park.  A public/private land mass of 6 million acres.  Much of it is designated Forever Wild, Wilderness Land and also there are vast tracks of beautiful woodlands, mountains, rivers, lakes and ponds.  Sounds heavenly?  it is!!

virtual tours link promo  check link here!

So this past weekend we hopped in the car (it was supposed to be rainy on Saturday anyway) and took off to explore about 2 hours north of us-some of the NY State Campgrounds to see what potential they may hold for our camping getaways…that are not too taxing on the budget or with limited time off.

Here is our check list to help you when deciding to check out campsites and campgrounds for future reference:

Before you start hunting for the PERFECT site in a campground scoping mission:

  1.  When to Scope?  Do  not go off season….go peak season so you can see what the campground is like in full swing!  If you are going to be there in slow or off season then it only gets better….not worse! (more on specifics to watch for later in this blog)
  2. Bring your camping guide book (I like to write directly in the margins what sites and comments we want to remember) and printed maps.  We have learned that there is very limited, if any cell coverage in the ADK areas where campgrounds are located so your GPS and ability to access their websites when on site is nil.
  3. Bring a pad and pen to jot down notes on things you observe along the way, restaurants that look good or that you stopped at for a meal and enjoyed.  Note interesting side trips or shops (for me its Antiques and Local Crafts!) along the way that you were unaware of.
  4. Note things like very steep inclines/declines getting into some places.  (Far easier to monitor this buzzing around in just your car than when towing your rig!)
  5. Bring a Tape Measure if you want.  Does not hurt to even bring a 50′ or longer (depending on your rig size) retractable tape measure if you really want to be sure you can fit your rig and park your tow vehicle in a site you have fallen in love with (of course, please do not do this if the site is taken when you visit—you might get some wild looks!)
  6. Stop at the ranger station, explain you are there to do a pre-camping check of sites to select a few that you would want to book in future.  Let them know what size/length rig you have so they can forewarn you if some areas are not for you.
  7. Pick up the site map at the ranger station, double check on their daily and weekly rates, length of max stay, and how far in advance you can book sites.  I say this because not all websites are always up to date.  NYS is pretty good and in fact they are doing some reconstruction of specific sites in every campground and have a list online as well as have them marked in the campgrounds–so you don’t get your heart set to find out its unavailable!
  8. REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: you really cannot do this MISSION by yourself.  I have tried and it is really unsafe and not easy and far more time consuming. So grab a buddy and one of you drives and watches out for pedestrians, bike riders and pot holes and the other one of you read the map, jot down site numbers and orients the driver on where to turn next!

So we planned strategically, using the point to point method and we were going to follow a continuous path in a northerly direction checking out any and all state campgrounds along the way on our path.  We had two specific ones we had checked out online and they were the main target.  But we like free wheeling a bit too so we also planned for a few stops at shops, for dining and for any other private campgrounds along our way that seemed interesting.  For this trip, we were checking out specifically Lake Eaton and Fish Creek.

 

PREVIEW TIP- VLOGS, BLOGS AND PHOTO MONTAGES:

Many campgrounds, even state campgrounds have video’s on line now done by either amateur You Tube camping folks or in some cases by somewhat professional folks who have done a great job noting campsites themselves within parks.  Here are a few of our very favorite ones that we always preview ahead of doing any “Scope Mission”.  It is definitely worth the time to do!

VLOGGERS:  These Full Time RVers do great campground reviews and incorporate a terrific bike ride with Go-Pro style narrated tour of the campgrounds that they visit.  They travel all over the USA.

WheelingIt   (online and on YouTube)  Paul & Nina have now moved to Europe to begin RV adventures there, but their website remains an excellent resource of Vlog posts and videos from all over the USA.  They even did a review on Sampson State Park in NYS where our Tin Can Tourist Rally is each September!  Cheers!!

 

These folks are just one of many who do campground reviews, so just search You Tube for the campground you are thinking about and check out what shows up.

PHOTOS COLLECTIONS of campground actual # camp sites from around the country close up and by number for easy reference are awesome.  This site below is by far THE BEST resource to get a feel for campsites and to armchair surf specific campsites by Site # before you even go through the gate!  They categorize by public and private campgrounds, have numerous links, etc. and it is our GO TO site before we travel to anywhere with our camper.

Campsitephotos.com  (online and on You Tube)

Once You Are In the Campground:

  • What to look for…leave no rock un-turned!
  • What to avoid….
  • How to know what is best for you, your preferred camping experience
  • Trust your gut!

Again, be sure you have a buddy doing this with you so one can drive and the other is navigator.

What to Look For- Positives and Negatives–BE OBSERVANT!

  1. How friendly is the person staffing the entrance booth?
  2. What is the physical condition of buildings, pavilions, bath and shower houses?  If they are not maintained well, then chances are the campsites are not either.
  3. Is the signage directing you around the campground adequate?  one way roads to lessen traffic is always preferred.
  4. Check out the public spaces like beach, pavilions, communal fire pit, playgrounds.  Are they in good repair?  being used?  Dip your toe in the water, or at least look to see if it is a sandy beach or slimy.
  5. fish creek canoesIs there a boat or kayak access area?  Can you find a campsite waters edge and be able to launch your kayak right from there?  Boat rentals? Do they have life preservers available or do you have to bring your own?  Place to park your boat trailer if you are bringing one?  Fishing dock?
  6. Do they sell fishing licenses at office (NYS they do not so you have to purchase at a local store…how far away is that??)
  7. Visit at least ONE of the camper bath houses with toilets.  Are the flushable?  pit?  condition?  smell?  hot and cold water?  soap or at least sanitizer?  Bugs/spiders, critters?  ditto for the shower buildings- do they have lockable doors?  separate showers for each person?  or one room with stalls with curtains. (Lake Eaton, Fish Creek, Luzerne Campground and Scaroon Manor all had very nice to very decent facilities)
  8. Other campers…do they wave hello or at least a nod when you drive by them walking or in their sites?  no one wants an unfriendly campground—at least we do not.
  9. State campgrounds do not have planned activities for the most part but some will have specific scheduled nature talks or history walks by a camp host or ranger. Check into that.
  10. Dump Station.  Is it working?  easy to access with length of your rig?  away from where your campsite is….(wafting fumes is not our idea of a pleasant weekend!)
  11. Garbage Dumpster Area.  Is is cleaned up?  accessible?  do they recycle?  Some note in their rules they REQUIRE Clear bags!  remember to bring them!

 

What to AVOID!

roadwaysRig Length and Width:  We have a 28 foot bumper pull travel trailer.  Add to that our 3/4 Ton Pick Up Truck and we are over 50 feet in total length.  We are narrower than many modern rigs…only 8’5″ wide.  The size of your rig and total length needs to be an important consideration.

Campsite roadways and sites themselves:  As you drive through the campground, be very mindful of sharp turns, narrow roadways.  How are people parked?  Are tow vehicles left to park on side of the road because the sites are too shallow?  Are visitors cars to spend the day with camping friends making getting around the campground difficult?  Low hanging tree limbs??  (again we are far lower than most modern rigs so we always feel sorry for Class A’s and 5Vers because they are so tall and a ripped rubber roof is a real bummer!

lk E-typical campsite with car, pop up

LOOK FOR THESE CAMPSITE SPECIFICS:

A site that is on a bend in the road.  This site will be easier to back into because the angle of the road creates an automatic angle for backing in rather than having to angle your rid and tow vehicle.  You therefore can drive just past your site and then put her into reverse and back in nearly straight back.  We prefer sites on the right with the roadway bearing a curve to the left.  That’s just us and what we prefer.  Remember that angling may not always be possible due to trees, neighbors vehicles or a large rig parked in a site opposite yours.  MOST of the campsites we saw at four state campgrounds this weekend were back in sites with very narrow roadways.  Fifth wheels and motor homes have it a little easier with this, but at 50 feet in length for us and a bumper pull, maneuverability is key to getting into a site without pulling your hair out before you even get started camping!

Is the firepit/fire place and picnic table in good condition?  Not insurmountable but nice to have something useable.  We have had to balance our Weber grill on a boulder before because there was no where to put our grill.  And our evening fire was on the ground with that same boulder as a spark shield and backing plate.

What is the land like at the site?  Sand?  soft loamy mulch from leaf and bark rot?  What is the drainage pattern?  We find that going to look at sites right after there has been some really good rain is a great thing to do!  See which ones are in “flood zones” and avoid!  Are there a lot of rocks protruding up where you will be constantly going back and forth from your rig to your chair and tables??  that will wear you down, is a trip hazard and could also wreak havoc to your patio mat if you chose to put it down.  If sandy or soft, you may wish to bring a few boards to put under your leveling blocks and/or stabilizers.  This site below at Jellystone Campground in North Hudson NY was very sandy and after a week there, we had become slightly unlevel because of it despite having boards and levelers, pads.

2018-07-04 10.59.01Sun or Shade?  Which do you prefer?  We like trees but we also like to get sunlight through each day if the sun is shining.  We find that being in too dark of a site with tons of trees brings us into melancholia a bit, and also nothing ever dries out like swim suits, damp cushions or chairs, etc.  I also have solar powered fairy lights and other lanterns and without sunlight they will not work.  Also,  you run the risk of rolling up a damp awning.  Not good!

Room for your unhitched vehicle or visitor vehicle to be safely parked?  We have a long truck and always are sure to look where we can park our vehicle for easy access but also so that more times than not, it also provides a privacy screen for us from road noise.  Especially when we have the grand kids with us, we like to have a bit of a wall between the roadway and our “outdoor living room”.

Where is the Water?  Where are the Bathrooms?  always important to locate and see how far away they are from the site you are selecting.  All of the NYS campgrounds we visited (and most all others) have NO hook ups at all so you will be using a portable water jug to refill water tanks if needed or use from atop your picnic table and using the public toilets for “big business” to cut down on filling your waste water tanks too quickly.  You can also get one of those rolling portable honey wagon tanks and take that to the dump station.  We are going to look into this because we do plan to camp for a week or more and know that our black tank can only handle about 6 days if we use our camper bathroom exclusively.

Pine Pitch?  We try to avoid heavily wooded sites that are covered with pine trees. They leak sap onto your rig and your awning.

Low Hanging Limbs or dead limbs and trees (widow makers)– these may prevent your tall rig from fitting in, or any rig from being able to extend your awning.  Dead or rotted limbs or trees could be literally the downfall of your camping experience if they crash into your awning or worse…your rig!

How close is your neighbor?  We prefer ours way more than arms length.  There is a trend at private campgrounds to pack folks in like sardines.  Luckily, most state campgrounds that we have here in the ADK’s at least have very decent space and privacy between sites.  But always good practice to really see how close your neighboring sites are.  Again, our ideal site backs up to the woods, and has perhaps only one neighbor on our street side of the camper so we get the most privacy.  Not that we are not friendly, I just like to have my coffee in my bathrobe when camping!    Obviously if you are camping next to already known friends with their own camper then close is nice!

Cell Signal? is that a deal breaker for you?  check it out during your Scope Mission from a variety of sites that look good to you.  or is there a booster somewhere near the ranger station or public gathering areas- chances are no but worth checking out.  Along these lines, telephone??  we saw a good old fashioned telephone booth today at the Luzerne Campground.  You need to know how and who to reach in case of emergency.

campfireFire Wood Restrictions?  Bans?  in NYS you are only allowed to bring your own wood in from a max of 50 miles from the campground.  This has created quite the cottage industry for small time entrepreneurs who you will see dot the roadway leading to the campground entrance.  They often are selling a bundle of decent stuff for $3-7.  Stock up.  You can bring Kiln-dried wood with you from further away but it should say it is on the wrapping.  Also, when checking into your site day of your trip, be sure to be aware of any fire bans or restrictions due to dry conditions.  They normally have that posted at the gates.

S’Mores…..remember you cannot deface, remove or tamper with any trees in a state campground or most private ones…so bring your own S’More Sticks…and enjoy!

Hope this blog has been useful to you and welcome your tips and tricks to picking great campsites!

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Safe Journeys….ONE LIFE…LIVE IT!

Luisa

Campground Review: Alpine Lake RV Resort-Corinth, NY

We were looking for an easy, close get-a-way camping weekend and chose Alpine Lake RV Resort campground in Corinth NY which was literally 14.4 miles door to door from where we store our Avion.

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Things went well….till check in….then backing into site……Not for the faint of heart!

Website:  Alpine Lake RV Resort (Note:  this is a Thousand Trails/Encore resort but accepts non-members-like us)

  • Dates of Stay:  July 27-29, 2018
  • Site # 221– “elite” category FHU site, waterfront to Alpine Lake.
  • Price points:  $62-70 per night
  • Arrival time:  around 3-3:30 PM. Friday, (too late-read post to find out why)  Check in rules are 1PM, check out is noon (nice!)
  • Discount programs:  they only accept Thousand Trails or Encore member discounts. They do not accept AAA, Good Sam or Passport America.
  • Pets and kids.…friendly to both, and there are lots of them.

Monday.... we decided the weather forecast looked decent enough for the upcoming weekend to catch a quick camping trip just to relax and so I could finish putting up and installing all the decor goodies, etc. I had purchased over the winter months for our trailer.  Tuesday we went on a scope out mission to tour the campground and to jot down various # sites at this campground.  It is a nice, rural drive about 40 minutes from our home.  We make it a practice to try to visit campgrounds first when possible IN SEASON to get a real feel for what the park is like in full bloom (people and rigs that is) rather than off season when sites are empty, facilities winterized, etc.

So we came up with about five sites that truly interested us for their views, size and privacy to some degree.  The sites we would recommend are:  parallel sites 218-220, 223, back in sites 207, 208, then along the lower south shoreline, back in sites 15, 16, 17- all these having water frontage.    I have only two basic requirements or must haves for most of my camping excursions….water or mountain views or preferably both in the same venue from my campsite!  To me, then it really feels like a relaxing change of pace.  We tried to book our top pick on Tuesday night while we were there,  but were told by a nice staffer at reservation desk that she has to keep those waterfront “elite” sites open until Friday mornings in July and August in hopes of getting someone to book at least a 7 night stay. Ugh…ok, so we were told to call back on Friday morning and if one of our choice #’s was available we could book it for the two nights we desired.

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This is what the site road looked like Tuesday evening during our “scope out” mission.  Our Suburban is on right in site 220. Yes, the Airstream was vintage and from PA.

Friday came around, weather forecast still looked good.  Reservation desk opens at 8 AM.  At 8:03 AM I was dialing.  BINGO!  our site #220 was available!  Yeah! “book it Danno” (those of you old enough will understand that phrase).  We were happy campers….till we got there around 3 PM. 

Hmm….no check in packet was ready for us..a sign all may not be well.  Oh, ok, found us on the computer….site 221.  Ah….no, that is not the site that is on my email confirmation or that we wanted and was told was available at 8:03 AM this morning and confirmed by Susan (who by the way, ended up we find out was the assistant manager).    So now I am upset, I just had my heart set on a water view for the weekend.  In luck!!…says a new and very pleasant young desk worker who was trying very hard to calm me down and doing a good job of it.  She had two other sites in the same locale available and we could have our choice of either one (221 or 223).  So, ok, not prime, but comparable with a few more trees blocking the lake, but livable and not sandwiched in like other parts of the park or among the many, many seasonal set ups that have everything from Tiki bars to 8 person fire pits to full blown landscaped (some nice, some junk) or the topper…the triple length dining canopy with count ’em four picnic tables together end to end right next to the road (whoa, that must sound like a rock concert or a NASCAR Tailgate party when they get ripping on a Saturday night!).

 

So off we go to our site road which is on a narrow peninsula causeway with a pond on north side and Alpine lake on the south side.  We stop shy of the first site, 221 to scope it out and also look at 223 which was to be available.  Whoops…no, someone with a large trailer had already claimed 223 and it was no longer an option.  (still wondering how the computer did not know this and wonder if they actually were supposed to be at another, less priced, site and hijacked the site to be next to their friends in 222)  So, #221 was it, or go home.  Home was not an option for me at that point—but then again I was not going to be the one to have to “thread the needle” trying to back our Avion into our site with TWO HUGE 5th Wheels as bookends on either end.   Wait…it gets better.

We got attitude from the lady in the 5er that was in 222 because she had to fold up her “rear porch” because it literally extended into our site where our tow vehicle was going to be parked.  Mind you, they already had their awning out facing the water and each campsite does come with a very nice cement patio which they already had their dog pen and chairs on.   To quote her, “this is why I wanted lake view so i could sit on the porch and see it”.  Oh well, pack it up folks- which they did with some grumbling.  About this time, a staffer from the campground showed up to assist Kevin with backing in instruction—I am sure it helped that we figured out, he also was the owner of the campground so our 5er figured they better not push things.  Hey, all the campers on the street pay the same price for their sites.  If a huge fifth wheel with 4 slides and towering what seemed like a full story above our Avion needed or wanted a porch (which is like four feet off the ground!)…they certainly always have the option to purchase two sites…then no issue right??

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Us on left in between two monsters!  After Kevin stealthy “thread the needle” back in and got us in position.  A Mighty Midget Among the Monsters is what I call this photo!

As it was, if we had allowed them to keep their porch down, we literally feel like we would be having them for breakfast, lunch and dinner under our awning each meal. Not to mention, we would not have been able, nor any one else save a mini Rpod get in to 221.

The folks in 220 (the site we had reserved) were actually really nice.  They explained they had booked the site back in January.  We suspect that they had actually booked 221 but because that big “porch” 5er was already parked, our nice neighbors could not maneuver their 5 slide huge fifth wheel there either. They let it slip that when trying to get into the site they backed over our sewer hook up.  Nevertheless, they were nice and good neighbors for the weekend.  We were impressed that with four teenagers we did not see them all hunkered down over ipads or cell phones or blaring music.  Instead the kids were out fishing, kayaking or biking–nice job raising kids to disconnect during camping (LOL…wish i could get Kevin to do that—he was on his ipad a lot and I am just as guilty on my phone posting photos, etc. to facebook)!

Well so now to the good part.  The campground is nice (busy…but it is summer afterall) and the amenities are nice.  So many of the other campgrounds in the region are minimal, run down and do not offer much.  There are a couple higher end resorts, this one is kind of upper/upper middle but not quite at the top.  The pool is well kept, there are two of them.  One is only max 3 feet deep.  Graduates from 1 foot to 3 foot. Great for toddlers, our grandkids would have loved it…..we did too because we were the only ones in there for a while and even once some young kids came in it still was less busy than the main pool  The main pool is a little wider, same length but deeper.  Nice thing is this is one campground that actually posts there are “Adult only” hours from 8-9 PM nightly.  Sure wish more campgrounds did this rule!  The chairs, lounges and umbrella tables were plentiful and the entire area was very well maintained and landscaped.  In fact, the landscaping throughout the campground was very good for this region.

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The main lodge, which is waterfront has a very decent snack bar restaurant with everything from pizza to quesadilla’s, ice cream to jalapeno poppers.  I had a chicken 2018-07-28 11.49.56Caesar salad, $9 which was very decent.  Kevin had a burger with toppings and chips, again, $9.

They serve lunch and dinner x 7 days per week and breakfast starting at 8 AM on Sat/Sun only. The breakfast special was two different kinds of omelets for $7, add homefries and bacon for an additional $2. Not bad, but we prefer breakfast in camp and relaxing in our PJ’s and bathrobes enjoying the quiet view of the lake.  The pizza smelled good later that night as we took a 7 pm dip in the nearby pool.  The restaurant was packed for dinner from what we could tell on Saturday night.

Other amenities:  The laundry facilities were just OK.  Did not seem large enough for the amount of total sites on property but when we were there on Saturday afternoon, none were being used so perhaps its fine. As I mentioned there are a lot of seasonal sites and I suspect a lot of folks do laundry mid week at their homes, not at camp.  The main shower room was a hike from our campsite and next to the laundry room.  It was decently clean but not spotless.  What i did not like was that the shower stalls only had flimsy curtains for privacy.  They did each have a bench to put your towel, but that was right next to the shower so not sure how dry your towel is going to stay.  I prefer showers to be separate with their own exterior entrance with a lockable solid door rather than feeling somewhat like a high school locker room.  The shower stalls were clean.  Kevin said he tested one of them and it ran 6 minutes before you would have to reach outside the curtain to reactivate the button to turn it on again.  Not a great system but I understand why they must be timed to prevent from being left on by pranksters or absent mindedness.

Beware of visitors! The sites along the lower lake level, southern edge of Alpine Lake are all back in’s and because of their being literally on grade with the lake I would be careful when tons of rain is forecast. You may end up with a very soggy site, or worse, your tires sinking.  You will most likely always end up with two legged visitors….Canada geese.  There is a large flock of them on the lake and while they look majestic gliding smoothly along the lake, they make a total mess with their poop along a lot of the walkways, roads and yes….lakefront low lying campsites.  We could see from across the lake on our high ground, many of the low lying sites having to constantly shoo away the geese who were coming to visit their campsite.  Signs everywhere say please do not feed them.  No kidding-they might try to hop onto your picnic table if you are not careful and put on a bib!

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Beach and fishing areas:  We did not try out the beach area- it is large and roped off so fishing folks do not enter, but one thing is for sure, both lakes (or some may call them ponds) on either side of our site road are good for fishing. We could see the little devils rabidly groping at flies as the sun set in front of our campsite.  Not sure if they stock but there were lots of folks enjoying fishing.  Some put their bass boats in the pond on our north side and could use the beach to pull them up for mooring.  The campground does have kayaks, peddle boats, sail boards for rent as well as golf carts if you are so inclined.  BTW a lot of the seasonal folks have their own golf carts and the roadways are quite busy with back and forth traffic.  I can’t say I blame them.  This is a large park and if you have one of the seasonal sites far back it is a long hike to the pool, lodge and other activity areas which are clustered near the main entrance.

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Roped off beach area.

Other amenities at the site include a few activity pavilions, a camp store (not the best we have seen, but decent) staff is friendly and do their best to make you feel welcomed.   The park does offer a daily trolley ride service ($4 pp) if you want to spend the day in Lake George without bringing your car and dealing with parking meters, etc.  In July and August the trolley also goes to nearby Saratoga Springs in case the horse race track is your thing.  Saratoga also has awesome boutique shopping and really good restaurants in their downtown.  We did not partake in any of their organized activities but could hear the DJ clear enough on Friday night (was on the calendar as a movie night with DJ on Saturday night- so not sure what happened there).  Quiet times appeared to be enforced while we were there however other reviewers have said that noise after hours has been a problem…I suspect they were on that seasonal row with the four picnic table freight train!.

Oh, BTW…yes, they have dinosaurs too….but honestly they are out of place in the ADK’s and they need a bit of TLC at this point.  Not sure why they are here, but could be a throw back to when the park first opened in the early 1970’s when kiddie themed type stuff was big in this part of upstate NY.  (There is a giant chipmunk next to the lodge restaurant too).

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So despite a rough start not getting the site we paid for, we still enjoyed a lake view site, relaxing time and will plan to come again to Alpine Lake RV Resort.  Next time though we are going to hold out for sites 207 or 208 which are opposite the beach, on the high ground (sans Geese) and back in sites.  This will make for a far easier in and out no matter how packed the park is.

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The park and weekend was also “Reddy approved”.  She loved the nice breeze from the lake!

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This makes my heart sing!  This is view from the high ground sites 218-223.  Each does have a nice sized cement pad as well so no muddy tracks into the RV.

Hope you enjoyed this review!  Let us know if you plan to visit this campground in the future!

One life…Live it!