Posts Tagged With: Thousand Trails

Amish Country and Chocolate World

We enjoyed 3 great weeks in Pennsylvania! The first week we spent in Lancaster, also known as Amish Country. As soon as we pulled into town we started to see horses and buggies on the roads. I was completely fascinated by this and the Amish way of life. It was like stepping back in time but with a strange 21st century feel since there were also many cars on the road. I found myself actually being afraid that the horse and buggy carts would get hit by a car. It’s hard to describe but it literally was like being in a town where the 19th and 21st centuries exist side-by-side.



An Amish cart even rode through our campground one day selling homemade goodies. We purchased some chocolate chip cookies and fresh-squeezed lemonade that were delicious!


I know the picture above is a little fuzzy. I took it as they rode by our site. When we purchased some goodies from the man he told me he doesn’t mind that I took a picture of them riding by, but they don’t believe in having their picture taken where you can recognize their face. I really wish I could have talked with him and his family and learned more about their lifestyle, but they really seemed to value their privacy and do not want to be exploited by tourists.

It was fun to spend time with another Fulltime Family while we were in PA. We met the Bauman family over 2 years ago and have been able to meet up with them a few times since then. We met them for a field trip to Lapp Valley Farm one day.



Gorgeous peacock roaming around the farm




I had no idea that Pennsylvania was so beautiful!


The boys enjoyed playing with their friend Austin a few times and were excited for him to join us when we visited Dutch Wonderland. This amusement park was connected to our campground. We happened to be there for opening weekend and spent a Saturday enjoying that park.





From Lancaster we moved on to Hershey and stayed at the Thousand Trails park there. Thousand Trails parks do not reserve specific sites in advance, but all sites are first-come-first-served. I was very happy to snag this awesome site right next to the pond the day we got there, and we were visited by a family of geese several times during our stay.



Aren’t they so cute??

Of course our main purpose for visiting Hershey was to visit Chocolate World and Hershey Park. Chocolate World has a free ride tour that was interesting, although it went too fast to really be able to fully absorb what they were teaching. On the ride you learn the process that goes into making a Hershey candy bar. At the end of the ride you get a free candy bar and then enter a store with an overwhelming amount of Hershey candy, including my favorite Reese’s.



Milton Hershey



We got a good deal on 2-day tickets to Hersheypark which included a 2.5 hour preview the night before our first visit. We had a blast riding all the thrill rides at this park!


Jesse just reached the Twizzler line which meant he was tall enough to ride everything!


Chris and Jake at the end of Fahrenheit


Jake and I were on this ride near the back row — it was scary!


All of us agree that the ride behind us was our favorite — it’s called Great Bear

We got to meet up with the Bauman family one more time to visit Troegs Brewery. They had delicious food including a cheese fondue that was so yummy! And we tried a few different beers that were really good.


The adult’s table


The kid’s table

We had such a wonderful time visiting Pennsylvania! Next up, we headed to New York City. Stay tuned…


Categories: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

North Cascades National Park

After we left Port Angeles we headed over to the little town of Concrete, Washington to visit North Cascades National Park.


This park is known for mountains, glaciers and lakes. The glaciers are a beautiful turquoise green color like in this iconic view of Diablo Lake.


Diablo Lake


A park ranger explained to us that the glaciers moving against the rocks over time result in the stunning green color in the water. I was curious why the glacial melt in Glacier National Park results in blue water while this park’s glacial melt results in green. The ranger showed us how rubbing 2 rocks together from this area creates a fine green dust, while the rocks in Glacier must be somewhat different in the color resulting in a blue dust.



We started the day at the Gorge Powerhouse, walking across the suspension bridge and then a short hike up to Ladder Creek Falls.





Ladder Creek Falls


Then we hiked the Thunder Knob Trail to see Diablo Lake. This hike was 3.6 miles round trip and to be honest it wasn’t really that interesting except for the end. There was not much to look at for the hike up, but once we got to the top we were rewarded with this view. This was an out and back hike so the hike back down was just as uninteresting, but easier of course as it was all downhill.




If you’re short on time I wouldn’t bother with this hike. You can get a much better view of Diablo Lake from the Diablo Lake Overlook (the pictures from the beginning of this post were taken at the overlook). I don’t mean to sound negative about this hike, but my personal preference is to hike trails where you have amazing views throughout the hike, not just at the end.

Next we drove further down the scenic North Cascades Highway to hike the Rainy Lake Trail. This was a short 2 mile out and back hike to a beautiful lake. Again, the hike wasn’t all that interesting, but it was short and paved, and ended at this awesome view.


Rainy Lake



A few more miles down the road we stopped at the Washington Pass Overlook for some spectacular mountain views.





Lastly, on the way out of the park we stopped at Cascadian Farms for some organic ice cream. I thought the blueberry ice cream was delicious!


We stayed at the Grandy Creek Thousand Trails while we were in this area, and also celebrated Jesse’s 11th birthday that week. We had been so busy sightseeing and exploring while Gramma and Grampa visited, and I think everyone felt the need for a break. Jesse requested that we stay home for his birthday and not go anywhere. So that’s what we did. We spent the day at the campground, playing games and mini golf. I made his favorite ice cream cake and one of his favorite dinners — lasagna, meatballs and homemade bread. I bet you didn’t think we could bake all that in an RV, did you? ūüėČ Last Christmas my dad and Chris switched out our microwave oven with a combination convection/microwave and I love it! The standard oven that comes with an RV is pretty useless since hardly any pans even fit in it. The convection oven fits my lasagna pan and bread pan perfectly. And I cook meatballs in our Instant Pot, one of the best kitchen appliances for an RV.



I wasn’t sure how we could possibly top his 10th birthday that was celebrated at Mall of America, but he said this birthday was just as fun. Sometimes it’s the simple things in life I guess. ūüôā

Categories: National Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Bend, Oregon

We absolutely loved Bend, Oregon! We spent 2 weeks there at the Bend/Sunriver Thousand Trails and it wasn’t long enough. I was amazed at how many awesome recreational opportunities there are in that area. The Deschutes River is really popular for summertime water activities like kayaking, tubing and river rafting. There are so many parks and bike trails, as well as many places to go hiking. It’s also very dog-friendly; we saw people with dogs just about everywhere, including restaurants. There are even ski resorts nearby for all the wintertime fun you could want. Crater Lake is less than 2 hours away. The weather while we were there in July was very pleasant, although I’ve heard that since we left that area it has gotten quite hot.

During the 2 weeks we were there, we got to spend time with several other Fulltime Families (FtFs). We joined some other families for a field trip to Newberry National Volcanic Monument where we visited Pauline Falls which was gorgeous!


Pauline Falls


We also hiked the Obsidian Flow Trail which is a lava flow covered in obsidian and pumice stone. The pumice stone was so light while the obsidian was like black glass and very sharp and slippery. I slipped and fell on it and a couple of others cut their hands on it. You have to be really careful with this stuff!


Obsidian Rock



Roadschoolers Rock!

These 3 were inseparable at the campground, playing Minecraft all the time.


Jake and the 2 Jesse’s


After the Obsidian Flow we relaxed at one of the lakes where the kids enjoyed playing in the water and kayaking.


Jake out in the kayak


Jesse is always up for a game of ball (any kind of ball)

Later that weekend we went back to Newberry to explore some more with Chris. We hiked through a Lava Cave which was really cool, but too dark for pictures. We also hiked the Trail of the Molten Land and the Lava Butte Trail.


Lava Butte


Lava Butte


Trail of the Molten Land





The boys earned Junior Ranger badges here and part of their activities was to interview some of the park rangers.



The last trail we hiked that day was to Benham Falls.



There are other areas to explore at this park but we ran out of time. Such a wide variety of places to visit like waterfalls, caves, lava lands, lakes, etc. We really enjoyed this park!

I saved the best for last. Our absolute favorite thing we did while in Bend was tubing down the Deschutes River. We liked it so much we went twice, and also a third time at the Little Deschutes River at our campground. We went with some other FtFs which made it even more fun! On our second trip we had 16 people, and we all made a train by hanging on to each other to go down the rapids together. That was a blast and so funny when some of the group wiped out and fell in, including poor little Jesse. He took it like a champ though!







We all really liked this house and decided if we wanted to live in Bend we’d like to live there. Just kidding, we couldn’t afford that house, and besides it doesn’t have wheels. I’m not ready to stop traveling and I still want a house on wheels. ūüėČ


During the week we enjoyed the float down the Little Deschutes at the campground.




We really enjoyed the time we spent in Bend, and hope to return again someday and stay for much longer!


Categories: National Parks, Oregon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Texas Hill Country Part 2

Our next stop in the Texas Hill Country was at Thousand Trails Medina Lake. ¬†This lake is quite different from Canyon Lake because there is no water in it! ¬†The lake is totally dry except for a very small section by the dam. ¬†It’s actually quite sad to see the area and hear the stories about how the lake dried up about 8 years ago. ¬†The campground has photo albums of years when there used to be a lake and how it even flooded one year. ¬†It’s amazing to think this area was once covered in water and now it’s totally dry. ¬†The picture below was right near our campsite and believe it or not it used to be a lake:


There are several boat docks and ramps that are falling apart, and it’s hard to imagine there used to be water holding up the docks:





The kids found a little cave:


There are several homes around this lake that have boat docks that are falling apart and the homes used to be lake-front property.  It really is sad to see this and I feel bad for the people who live here and used to enjoy living on a lake.

We heard there was a little bit of water left down by the dam which was about 8 miles away so we took a drive to go see it. ¬†We found the dam but the entrance was all gated up and we weren’t allowed to go out to it. ¬†A little further down the road we saw a sign for Joe’s Marina so we decided to go down there and see if we could see the lake from there. ¬†We got to the entrance and the gate was open, but there weren’t any people around. ¬†There was a parking lot, a picnic area, a playground and a restroom so it looked like a public place and nobody was around to tell us otherwise. ¬†We parked and Chris & Jesse decided to use the restroom. ¬†While they were in there this guy comes up and asks me what we’re doing there. ¬†I immediately felt so uncomfortable like we had just trespassed on someone’s private property, but there were no signs anywhere indicating that. ¬†I told him we just wanted to see what the lake looks like, and he told me we have to pay him $5 for using his restroom. ¬†Seriously?! ¬†$5 to pee? ¬†Okay, so when Chris came out he paid¬†the guy $5. ¬†Then he told us we could look at the lake for 5 minutes, but if we give him another $5 he’ll let us look for 20 minutes. ¬†Definitely not the Texas hospitality that we had gotten used to! ¬†We decided to just hurry up and take a couple of pictures of the lake and get out of there. ¬†Below are some of the pictures we took. ¬†I guess we’ll always remember the story behind how these pictures cost us $5! ¬†ūüôā





Strange Man was no where in sight when we got back to the truck. ¬†I still felt really uncomfortable though. ¬†When we first got there he was nowhere in sight and then shows up right¬†after Chris went into the bathroom. ¬†Then when we were leaving he was nowhere in sight again. ¬†Just felt kind of creepy to me! ¬†I looked up the website of that place and it sounds like it was a campground and RV park at one time, and some website testimonials mentioned how welcoming and hospitable they were. ¬†Not anymore! ¬†We won’t be back.

Anyway, in spite of the lack of water in the lake, this place is so beautiful.  The view from our campsite was amazing, and we had the perfect view of some spectacular sunsets.



And the best part of this park was all the deer! ¬†So many deer — one day Chris¬†counted 22 at our site, and on the day we were leaving he counted 33! ¬†And they were so tame and friendly and would eat right out of our hands. ¬†Chris got lots of deer feed corn throughout the week for these new pets of ours. ¬†I think he’s going to miss them!








Jesse wanted to make sure I included the story about how he tricked a deer into petting it. ¬†They didn’t start coming up to us and letting us feed and pet them until we had been there a few days. ¬†The first day, Jesse put some deer food in a pail and waited until the deer had its head buried in the pail eating, and then he snuck up on the deer and pet its neck. ¬†The deer quickly ran away from him, but he thought it was funny how he tricked it so he could at least pet it for a second. ¬†He was pretty happy once the deer got used to us and started letting him pet them without having to trick them.

We really enjoyed our time in Medina Lake. ¬†I think it’s so beautiful even without the lake, I can only imagine what it must have been like when they still had water.

Categories: Texas | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Traveling around Texas

We are spending several weeks in Texas, and so far we are having a great time! ¬†Our first stop was Thousand Trails Lake Conroe which is north of Houston. ¬†My very dear friend Judy who I knew when I lived in Charlotte, NC now lives in The Woodlands, TX which is just about 20 minutes from the campground. ¬†We got to spent a lot of time with her and her little girl Kylie. ¬†Jake and Jesse used to love when Judy and Kylie would visit us in Florida, but since they moved to Texas 3 years ago we haven’t seen them. ¬†So it was really fun to get to spend some time catching up with them. ¬†They stayed with us for Easter weekend in Lake Conroe. ¬†The campground had visits with the Easter Bunny and an Easter egg hunt on Saturday that was really fun for the kids:




The campground also had a really nice pool, playground and mini golf area:




Judy and me… it’s funny how years can go by without us seeing each other, but once we get together it’s like no time has passed:


We also got to visit with my uncle John and his wife Patty while we were in Lake Conroe. ¬†I usually only see them at weddings and funerals so this was a very nice treat! ¬†ūüôā




Next we moved onto Thousand Trails Colorado River in Columbus, TX. ¬†Our campsite backed right up to the river which at the beginning of the week was mostly dry. ¬†I wasn’t all that impressed until we got some rain and suddenly it’s a real river again!


One thing we loved about this site is all of the deer! ¬†There are so many of them and it was an everyday occurrence to see several of them eating in our yard. ¬†It might have something to do with all the deer feed corn that Chris and the boys scattered all over. ūüôā





The kids also enjoyed the playground here:




A few weeks ago when we were in Mississippi, I mentioned how nice it was to meet the Newschool Nomads; well once we pulled into this campground I was so excited to see the rig of another Fulltime Family that I had been following since last year on their blog. ¬†The Ticknor Tribe¬†is a family that travels with 8 kids, but before some of them grew up they traveled with all 12 of them I think. ¬†Anyway, since I started following their blog last year I have been amazed at the things they do. ¬†One thing they do that I think is so awesome is they work with Samaritan’s Purse to help with re-building efforts after hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters. ¬†I’ve always thought it was so neat that by traveling they had the flexibility to go where they were needed when they were needed. ¬†If we are still traveling when our boys are old enough, I would really like to get involved with something like that. ¬†I had the privilege of talking to Dana Ticknor at the pool one day; I’m very thankful that they happened to be here at the same time as us so I could meet her.

In case you’re wondering why we stay at so many Thousand Trails campgrounds, it’s because we bought a zone pass at the beginning of the year to save on camping fees. ¬†Thousand Trails (TT) is a camping membership where we buy a pass that is good for one year and we can go to any of the TT parks in the zone we purchased and stay the first 30 nights free, and each night after that is only $3. ¬†Utilities are included too! ¬†This makes camping really cheap. ¬†I was able to buy one zone and got two free, so we can go to any TT park in the Southeast, Southwest and Northwest zones. ¬†I chose those zones because those are the locations we plan to visit within the next 2 years. ¬†We don’t always stay at TT parks, but when there is one in the area where we are traveling we try to stay there to cut down on camping fees.

One thing that I am really enjoying about this lifestyle is the constant change of scenery. ¬†It is really neat to go from one area/campground that has lots of activities and things to do to another that is more secluded and closer to nature. ¬†TT Lake Conroe is¬†a very big park with lots of amenities and fun things to do, while TT Colorado River is really out in the sticks with lots of wildlife and pecan trees. ¬†I enjoyed our stay at each of them. ¬†It’s fun to have all those activities to do, but sometimes it’s nice to just have some down time and enjoy nature.

The sale of our house was finally closed this week! ¬†It seemed to take a really long time for that to happen. ¬†I don’t know if all mortgage lenders are the same but from my experience they just can’t seem to get their jobs done on time. ¬†When Chris & I bought that house 12 years ago, Chris had to literally go sit in the lender’s office the day before our scheduled closing to make sure she got her job done. ¬†We still almost didn’t close on time; it had to be pushed back by a few hours. ¬†Well it happened again with the sale of our house. ¬†The buyer’s lender couldn’t make the closing date either, which was only made more complicated by both us and the buyers closing from out-of-town. ¬†I guess there’s a lot to be said for buying a house with cash and bypassing the lender altogether! ¬†Anyway, after a few delays and mishaps (like our closing package not arriving via FedEx until after we moved onto the next campground!), it finally closed and I could not be more relieved. ¬†It’s an odd feeling knowing that our house is now sold. ¬†I wasn’t as sad as I was when we left our house for the last time which I¬†wrote about in an earlier blog post. ¬†I guess now that we’ve moved on it didn’t feel so emotional, but it was still a weird feeling to know that we don’t own that house anymore. ¬†We can’t go back there now even if we wanted to. ¬†Since we started traveling and still owned the house, I always knew that if we changed our mind about doing this, we still had a house to go back to. ¬†Not anymore. ¬†The good thing is we’ve had enough time to adjust to this new lifestyle and we have no regrets. ¬†I certainly won’t miss the mortgage payment!

So it’s onward and westward for us, there is so much more to see and do in Texas!

Categories: Texas | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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