Friday, July 1, 2016

NOW we like our Thousand Trails Membership

from Williamsburg Thousand Trails - Williamsburg, VA
by SeeingTheUSA

On July 6, 2016, our average cost per night to stay in a Thousand Trails campground will have dropped to $19.97.  We have attained our goal of it dropping below $20.00 per night.

Our Thousand Trails membership has been a good deal financially for us.

It will have taken 3 years, 4 months and 3 days using our membership to attain that goal.

We are pleased with the Elite Basic membership we purchased in January 2013 before going full-time in March 2013.

Our contract is 21 days park to park, unlimited nights per year.  Florida in season is two weeks.  We can make reservations 120 days in advance, but only one holiday at a time.

Our Max Pass gives us 6 additional parks in Florida for a total of 9 in that state.

There are 5 Encore parks that have a designated area for Thousand Trails that are part of our contract.  We just wintered in one...Tropic Winds in Harlingen, TX.

The lowest price I've heard that someone has paid for a membership is one half the transfer fee.  The highest price I've heard that someone has paid is $13,000.

Therefore, everyone's time table to recover their investment is very different.

We paid $4895. for our membership, plus taxes and processing fee.  Our annual membership dues are fixed at:

199.00  Max Pass
  62.82  Taxes
  65.00  Assessment (our contract requires the assessment be paid - NO fine print
_____                        stipulating we don't have to pay them)

We have paid $494.80 in extra fees primarily for 50 amp electric.  We have included cable TV charges in that figure.

Dividing what we have paid into our Thousand Trails membership by 459 nights that we've stayed in Thousand Trails campgrounds, gives us our per night cost.

As we continue to use Thousand Trails campgrounds and figuring in what we eventually sell our membership for,  we will be WELL BELOW our $20.00 per night goal.

Making a Thousand Trails membership a "good deal" takes time.  It must be used.  The less the membership costs, the shorter the time table to recover the initial cost.

As my broker tells me..."It's not the price at which you sell, it's the price at which you BUY"

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Spring in Virginia

from Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails - Gloucester, VA
by SeeingTheUSA

Three weeks in Gloucester, VA is a time for relaxation.

Adult pool

We immediately resumed our water aerobics exercise with the annual resident Jackie Hild.  We used her CD player, but if there are only Kris and me, we have our own also.

Homemade "water weights" - Kris and I use two each for resistance in the water

Jackie introduced us to Leslie Sansone's "Walk Fit"  This will be a great substitute to water aerobics when a pool isn't available or unsuitable weather.

We did "Walk Fit" with Jackie on a rainy morning here. It's more cardio than water aerobics.  AND it's much less boring than an hour hike around the campground.  

Our only touring while here was a 15 minute drive to...

Four miles southwest of Gloucester Courthouse in Belroi, Virginia (Gloucester County), the birthplace is only open the second Saturday of each month May through October with a contact phone number.  We drove in and found Mr. Hawkins with his ground crew cutting the grass.  He explained that tours are by appointment ONLY.  Well, 40 minutes later we not only had the tour we enjoyed getting to know Mr. Hawkins.  He was introduced to the birthplace when his son chose to use it as his Eagle Scout project.  Hawkins has been a volunteer here ever since.  


There is nothing original here with the possible exception of a baby rocker. However, everything inside is from the mid 1850's.  There are two rooms downstairs and a bedroom upstairs.  

The above is a painting of the original structure not showing a detached kitchen and servant's room.  

The Medical Society of Virginia purchased and renovated the place in 1926.  It was given to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities in 1968. In 2013, it was transferred to the Gloucester Preservation Foundation.


 Surgeon Major Walter Reed

The last of five children, born on these grounds in 1851 to a circuit preacher, Walter Reed.  He stood third in his class and was the youngest graduate of the Medical Department of the University of Virginia.  He was appointed to the Medical Corps of the United States Army.  

Dr. Reed knew of the suspicion that insects could carry disease when he headed a commission of doctors to Cuba to search for the cause of the yellow fever then prevalent among American troops stationed in Havana.  In 1881, Dr. Finlay had made public his theory on the transmission of yellow fever by means of mosquitoes in a paper before the Royal Academy of Havana.  That theory waited for twenty years for Reed's proof.  

Dr. Reed's commission ran the risk of human experiment and successfully produced an unmistakable case of yellow fever from the bite of a mosquito. There was now proof positive.  Within 90 days Havana was free from yellow fever and in 1902, not a single case was found on the island of Cuba.  

Walter Reed, came to fame in 1900 and died in 1902. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery with a bronze plaque.."He gave to man control over that dreadful scourge, yellow fever."

The Walter Reed National Medical Center, established in 2011, is a combination of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center.   

We had a potluck with our fellow Virginia friends, Steve and Karen Fischer.

They also joined us for one of our two trips to ....

York River Oyster Company 
Gloucester Point, VA

This campground becomes quite busy on Saturdays.  

Family Pool

Piankatank River


Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Wedding and Glamping

from Shenandoah Crossing - Gordonsville, VA
by SeeingTheUSA

Kris and I were in central Virginia to attend the wedding of our great-niece at The Inn at Willow Grove in Orange, Virginia.

Elizabeth and Dillon

My brother and sister-in-law, Bert and Betsy, have 3 children.
Today that family is 16.

Our Family...
Grant - our son
Laura - Grant's fiancee
Kris and I
Jennine - our daughter
Lane - grandson
Morgan - granddaughter

A special bond between a boy and his first niece
Amy is the mother of the bride.

The most convenient "campground" to Orange, VA was Shenandoah Crossing Resort 18 miles south in Gordonsville. 

This "campground" was very foreign to our coach.  She is used to Thousand Trails campgrounds.  

When a site is called "Presidential" expect it to be NICE.

Hot Tub

Pull Thru...

By the way...these sites have FULL hookups...water, sewer and 50 amp...after all.."Presidential"

As you saw, our site was not "Presidential"..we only had concrete, table and chairs AND a gas grill.  


Front of the Lodge

Rear of the Lodge

The Lodge has its own pool.

The Manor House

Edward Izac, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Medal of Honor recipient and Senator raised thoroughbred cattle here and restored this house. He was responsible for the Corp of Engineers forming the lake.  

Lake view

While visiting the horses here, a young couple arrived for their carriage ride appointment.  I couldn't help but notice that they obviously "liked" each other. 
I approached them to ask if I could take their picture together for them.  He was very appreciative.  With his phone I took three pictures of them standing beside the carriage.  THEN he asked me if I would take another picture. He got on one knee, opened a ring box and proposed to this lady.  She said "YES" He put the ring on her finger, stood up and they "Sealed it with a Kiss".   

He has several pictures that captured the event.  I am so pleased that Kris and I were part of that experience.  What a "cute" couple.  

Kris and I were excited to have Jennine, Morgan and Lane visit us at our place today before heading back to Virginia Beach.  

THEN, we got a phone call...our niece, Ellen, and her family were at the gate.  I walked up to open the gate with my card.  We have a card like you would use to open a hotel room door.  

This is the first time we have had 8 visitors at one time.  

It was absolutely wonderful!

This is our granddaughter, Morgan, with our great-niece, Carley. 
They share a birthday...2 years apart.

We were invited to attend a sales presentation by bluegreenvacations. We did that to receive a $100 cash card, which will make the $56. per night cost for 3 nights more palatable.  The presentation was very professional - NO pressure. It's not like the "timeshare" that we were familiar with...this was about points that could be used internationally.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Up in the Air

from Williamsburg RV Resort - Williamsburg, VA
by SeeingTheUSA

Mike Likavec flew into Williamsburg-Jamestown airport to visit this morning. I give Mike the credit for my becoming a flight instructor.

Mike's newly painted Cessna 172

Takeoff Roll

The Ghost Fleet in the James River is MUCH smaller than 20 years ago.


Two VIP Blackhawks
Don't know who they were transporting.

Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey

In 1980 there was a failed Iran Hostage Crisis rescue attempt (Operation Eagle Claw) that left eight American service personnel dead and wreckages strewn across the Iranian desert.  As a result, in 1981, the U.S. Department of Defense enacted the "Joint-Service Vertical Take-Off/Landing Experimental" (JVX) program intending to secure a specialized aircraft with vertical take-off and horizontal flight capabilities. 

These Ospreys were in Williamsburg today to transport the Chief of Naval Operations.  Higher ranking personnel require a "backup" aircraft.  

Colonel Sarno is retiring soon after 26 years in the Marines.  He was in the Osprey program during its development stages and is described by a crew chief as somewhat of an Osprey guru.   

Osprey front office

This blog post made possible by Mike Likavec.  THANK YOU, MIKE!!

More pictures from Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport at Google Photos