Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Thousand Trails LaConner: Bad News, Good News, and Mediocre News

We've just returned from 6 days up at the Thousand Trails Preserve in LaConner, WA.

Bad News:  No cell service, no internet, no satellite reception.  Of course, this all came in the middle of a week of drama and urgent situations with family and friends.  To be totally out of communication was a big challenge for me.  Now it is not the park's fault that cell reception in the area sucks.  If we were lucky, we would get one bar of cell service, but the reception was horrible and calls were often dropped.  They do advertise wifi at the family clubhouse.  And we were easily able to connect to the wifi router, but the router rarely connected to the internet.  There was a sign in the clubhouse saying "The Internet Is Working" but it wasn't.  Only one morning was I able to get and stay connected.  The speed was equivalent to dial up.  To get a decent connection, we had the option of using free wifi at the LaConner Library, or driving to Starbucks in either Oak Harbor or Burlington.  It is about 5 miles into LaConner (and parking is not easy to find in my opinion) and 10 miles into Oak Harbor or Burlington.  You can pick up strong 3G or weak 4G once you hit Highway 20, and even better the closer you get to I-5.  We could not pick up any satellite signal from our site due to the trees.

Good News:  It is a beautiful park with lots of trees and shade.  Two playgrounds.  Mini Golf.  You will see squirrels, chipmunks, eagles, birds and bunny rabbits.  The grounds are well maintained.  There was a fair amount of privacy between the sites.  The sites were of varying size, but I think more than half of them would accommodate our 33' fiver.

Mediocre News:  There is no pool, but there is a hot tub/spa.  There is salt water beach access, but it is a rocky beach with many barnacle covered rocks.  One of our grandsons took a tumble and got cut. It is great for the kids who love to explore tide pools and look under rocks.  There is no place to really swim or play in the sand.

If you are familiar with Thousand Trails, you will know that although they advertise full hook ups, it really means that there are "some" full hook ups, but most of the sites are water and electric only.  In this park, I would say maybe one-third of the sites have full hook ups.  If you have FHU, you won't have a beach view or satellite reception.  If you want the beach view (they are limited as well) or satellite reception (also limited due to the trees), you will not have a FHU site.  If you know this ahead of time, you won't be disappointed.

I found the park staff to be limited, and not particularly friendly.  They were not rude by any means, but either they were just having a bad day when I asked questions, or they did not enjoy their jobs.

The bathrooms were clean, but could be updated.  Water pressure was low but that could have been due to the warmer than usual weather we are having in Western Washington, and water conservation in general.  I saw a notice about some septic back up issue they were having as well.

The Whidbey Island Naval Air Station is nearby, so there is noise from fighter jets, during the day and sometimes at night.  The Blue Angels were in town for Seattle's Seafair Celebration, so we heard lots of jets flying overhead.  For me, this was cool (although we rarely could see them due to the trees), but I could see how this may bother some people.

There were a few annually leased spots in this park.  Most were poorly maintained, and did not compare at all to the annual lease holders we have seen at Thousand Trails in Mt Vernon and Leavenworth.

Bottom Line:  If we decide to try this park again, we will wait until after the high season and the park is not so full.  We will try for a water view site, and hope for better cell reception.  Being totally off the grid did not work for me.  I can go without Facebook, Words with Friends, Candy Crush, and TV for a week, but I prefer not to.  What was really an issue for me was the lack of phone reception.  I had a few instances that week, where I needed to speak to family and friends, and I could get no signal.  That was a deal breaker for me.  However, I am willing to give it another try, during a less busy time at the park.

Some park photos:

I couldn't get a decent picture of our campsite, but this what I looked at from my chair outside each morning.  Lots of green (something I miss when we are camping in Arizona), big trees, and shade.

These two beach pictures were taken from nearby the family clubhouse, I think.

From of the decently maintained annually leased sites - obviously a train buff.

There were quite a few tent sites with great beach views!  I was a little jealous but I don't do tent camping anymore.

One of the salmon spawning streams on the property.

Our son's family came to visit one day.  This was taken as we walked back to the campsite, after a rousing game of mini-golf (more of a cross between bowling and golf), time at the playground, and some beach exploration.

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