Saturday, July 1, 2017

Mahlon Dickerson Reservation

We arrived here in Jefferson Township, N. J.  on June 28 to visit Aggie's sister Joanie, her brother Bob, and her husband John for 5 days.  Our site was relatively level, but I did put pads on one side to level because my jacks were not usable as they were off a small hill.  A very heavily treed campground, you could hardly see your RV neighbors.  I did not even try satellite reception, but was able to get over the air TV and we also had cell reception.  There are not many campsites in this park and not much recreation other than camping without fire rings and there were several hiking trails.  It was very quiet here and bear territory.  We had 50 amp electric and water, but no sewer.  There was a dump site on the property.  We paid $20 per night.  I rate this park P***.

Shortly after we parked I decided to pull our RV forward to level rig on pads, but the engine did not start.  Long story short, after spending the day waiting for a service tech, we now have a new starter and we are $1160 poorer.   I think I will ask my boss for a raise.  I guess 13 years on a starter isn't too bad and at least we were not sitting on the side of the freeway with trucks speeding by at 70 MPH like we were a week ago in Oklahoma with a blown tire.

You need a GPS to get around this area as we needed to change major highways like 6 times to get anywhere.  We did go to Wawayanda State Park one day and Joanie and I kayaked the lake.  It was a little breezy on the Lake and many stratocumulus clouds forming in the area.  We packed up just before a little sprinkle came down.  Buddy did go for two swims while there and enjoyed company of Joanie's Labrador Retriever, Maggie.

One night we went to Weequahic Park in Newark N. J.  to attend a free outdoor concert and fireworks.  The band had 3 female vocalists, one male vocalist, 2 saxaphonists, 2 guatarist, a drummer, and keyboard.  We really enjoyed the the Soul music which dated back to the 60's.  They had a police command center set up and many police officers patrolling the event.  I guess they expected a larger crowd as a news station was there taking video's and only about 300 spectators.

Washington D C

We took the Washington Metro train into Washington D C two days during our stay in Reston, Va.  The first day we visited several museums; all of which were FREE, our taxpayer dollars at work.  We also visited the Washington monument, Lincoln memorial, and the White House.  Lots of security around the White House where our president resides.  We must have walked at least 10 miles this day and I for one was feeling my age.  I would have chomped down a few Motrin, but I settled for a cold beer from a local brewery called Loose Cannon with our dinner in town before our trek back to our RV in Reston.  This could be my favorite beer and I stocked my fridge with a six pack before we headed for New Jersey.  There is a tour bus that you can hop off and on at all attractions throughout the city which seemed like a great idea.  I don't know how much it costs, but it would be well worth it's cost if we choose to visit here again.  There are many museums here and you could devote a full day to each one.
The second day we dedicated to one museum,

The International Spy Museum.  We paid $16 each after a $5 senior discount to enter this museum.  There are also some other optional add on's that we chose not to purchase.  We did spend at least 3 hours touring this museum and enjoyed it.

Lake Fairfax Campground

We arrived here on June 24 for 4 nights to visit Washington D C.  There are not many campgrounds in the area and the few here are pricey.  This park is a very large county park, located in Reston, Va.;  with a great water park for the kids and adults alike with water falls, water slides, and a man made river where you can raft on provided innertube's.  There is also a lake on the property where you can rent paddle boats; or for a fee of $5 launch your own kayak.  There was no swimming in the lake, but I noticed several people fishing.  Our site was level and quite nice with trimmed grass surrounding the campground.  Campsites here are either primitive or electric only.  We had 50 amp service and there was also a dump station with fresh water provided at a central location by the bath house.  There was also 20 miles of hiking trails throughout the park.  We were located about 2 miles from the Washington Metro Train Station and we used to commute about 20 miles into Washington DC on two separate days.  Our campsite was $40 per night after a $5 discount for seniors.  We had good cell service, TV over the air and I was able to get dish satellite reception for the first time on this trip.  Plenty of shopping nearby and the catholic church was located just outside the park.  I rate this park P****.

Friday, June 30, 2017

TA Travel Center Campground

We stayed here one night to take advantage of full hookups; dump holding tanks, refill water tank  and wash some clothes.  This campground located in Lexington, Va. is attached to a truck stop and it was muggy outside so we elected to keep windows closed and air conditioner’s on all night.  This also gave us relief from all the truckers running their engines all night below us.  We did have rain on and off during the night.  Our assigned site had very low electrical current, so I requested another site and we moved over two sites over which was better but still only 114 volts.  Low voltage can cause problems with electronics and appliances within the motor home.  There were obviously people living in this park with old beaten up trailers and much debris dumped around some of the sites.  We paid $35.37 with our good sam discount and our stay was un eventful.  Could not find a trash can in the whole park so had to hike to the truckers parking lot to dispose of our trash.  We typically do not use campground rest rooms, but Aggie noticed that the woman’s rest room had no lights.  I rate this park P**.

Cades Cove Campground

This campground is located within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.   It is one of the few national parks that charge no fee to enter.  It is a narrow and windy road for about 7 miles to the campground.  We arrived on June 21 for 3 nights, but decided to leave one day earlier as we had  a 500 mile trip ahead of us to Washington D. C. and  we thought it would be better to break it up into two days.  We stayed in a handicap site as there were no other sites available when we booked with the understanding that if someone requested the handicap site they could move us to another site.   This was dry camping so no electric, water, or sewer at our site or in the park for that matter.  There was a dump station and water available in the park, but we chose no to use it as we planned to stop at a full hookup RV park on our way to Washington D. C.  Our site was relatively level, but I did use jacks to pick up the back end of the coach.  No cell service here or over the air TV in this park.  I did not even try to get satellite reception at this park as it was fully treed.  The one way streets inside the park were quite narrow, but I managed to back into my site on the first try.  Of course, I had Aggie guiding me with our ham radios.  We paid $10 per night here with our America the Beautiful pass and I rate this park F****.
We took an 11 mile loop trail in our Tahoe.  There have been 30 black bear sightings this season so far on the trail, but we did not see one on our trip.  We did see horses, turkeys, Elk, and Deer; and Buddy enjoyed the trip as well.  There was a visitors center half way through the trail which we toured some old buildings built by settlers back in the 1800’s.  They also were making corn meal and flour out of corn, the way it was done in the 1800’s powered by a grist mill.   There was a ranger there with bear and otter pelts and discussed how to handle bear encounters in the Smokys’.  This is a very popular park and we enjoyed our stay here.

Nashville, Tennessee and the Grand Ole Opry

We visited Nashville, the country singers capitol of the world, specifically to attend the Grand Ole Opry.  We tried to visit this venue in 2005, but a flood had damaged the whole area, including the Grand Ole Opry building.  It has now been restored  and we booked the only show available while we were here on Tuesday night., June 20.  The entertainers we heard were Riders In The Sky, RaeLynn, T Graham Brown, Chuck Wicks, Bill Anderson, Danielle Bradberry, Dailey & Vincent, and Kelsea Ballerini.  Each artist or group played a set of three songs and this was live broadcasted on the Radio on stations across the country.  The MC who introduced the artists also provided the advertising for the radio station as well.  I must admit that I am not really a country music fan, but I enjoyed the entertainment.

Aggie really kept me hopping from one attraction to another as you can only see so much in one day.  We Toured the Parthenon, which is the only full size replica of the original Parthenon in Greece.  I am happy to say that I visited the original Parthenon ruins in Greece when I was in the Mediterranean Sea while in the Navy.  There is an art gallery inside which you can tour for a fee, we chose not to.  We toured Broadway Street downtown, and popped into a few bars with live music, including the Wildhorse Saloon.    We dropped by the Ryman Auditorium where the new musicians originally sang.  Those singers were very good, but we had a lot of territory to cover yet and parking downtown is very expensive.  The lots I understand are $30 to $40 dollars and street meters are $4 per hour.  We elected to park on the street, but only had 3 quarters which bought us 24 minutes.  We hunted down a local convenience store to get change for the meter and he would only give us 4 quarters, so we bought a $2.19 bottle of water and he gave us $2 in quarters.  We ran back to the meter which had already expired and fed the meter with our 8 quarters which bought us another hour.  We noticed that no one put money in the meters as the parking ticket was $11 (cheaper than the parking lots).  We returned about an hour late and all the vehicles along the street we parked had tickets on the windshield except ours.  They must have checked our street while we still had money on the meter.

We then went to the Opryland Gaylord Resort which was an impressive hotel under a huge air conditioned glass dome with restaurants, shops, exotic tropical plants, and water features with a boat ride all under this dome.  We also checked out the Opry Mills Mall to find a restaurant to eat at before the concert.  There were many restaurants to choose from, but the one that peaked my interest was the Aquarium.  This was a moderately priced restaurant, but the atmosphere inside was like dining inside an under sea aquarium with big salt water fish swimming all around you.  I would have liked to dine there, but we decided that we were short on time and had to get back to feed Buddy and take him out for a stroll before we lock him back into the motor home for a few more hours.  So we settled on a take out pizza from Papa John’s and it was terrible but it filled our tummy’s.

Seven Points Campground

We arrived here on June 18 for 3 nights.  This is a Corps of Engineering  (COE park) located on J Percy Priest Dam 35 minutes from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn.; and I have never been disappointed at any of their parks.  This one is no exception.  We had 50 amp electric and water.  No sewer connection at our site but a dump station was available upon exit of the park, although it was a little tight for my 40 foot rig.  I smartly decided not to hook up our toad until after dumping.  That said, we had a shared waterfront site on J Percy Priest Dam.  We had to back up about 60 feet on a shared driveway before it split into 2 separate sites.  Great if you are with friends in another rig, but still far enough away for privacy.  It was fully treed and I did not even try to get satellite, but did get programming on over the air TV and had cell service.   We had two private sandy beaches to choose from our site and a public swimming area was a short walk away.  I put my kayak in at our site and took it out 3 times while there.  The water was very warm, about 78 degrees.  (warmer than our pool when we left home).  We paid $13 per night with our America the Beautiful pass and I rate this park P****, a sewer connection at our site would bring it up to a full 5 stars.  I would love to spend a full week at this park.