Thursday, June 26, 2014


I don't, but apparently a number of RVers (women, anyway) do.  This is based on the number of RV blog posts I read about people stopping by quilting shops for fabrics, supplies and ideas.  You know how it is when you really having no awareness of something until it keeps coming up, and then you start noticing it everywhere?  Well, that is the whole quilting business for me.

I see quilting shops everywhere now.  I pin stuff about quilting on my Pinterest page.  I've never made a quilt, but I've started collecting pattern ideas.  I guess my biggest question is where the heck do you keep all the supplies, not to mention a sewing machine, in your rig?  Must you kick everyone out to have space to work?  Or is that what all those big rooms are for in the clubhouses at larger RV parks? How many quilts can you carry around with you?  Do you really need a quilt if you are heading south for the winter?

Oh Good Lord!  I've been working on writing a novel for quite some time now.  Do I really need another hobby to add to my procrastination list?  I think not.  But if you have a super easy, beginner's quilt idea/pattern, do let me know.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

More Thousand Trails Previews

We took a day trip to check out some of the Thousand Trails RV Parks within 2 hours of our house on Tuesday of this week.  (I was having some minor surgery on Wednesday, and it was a great way to keep my mind off of it.)

First up was Grandy Creek Thousand Trails/KOA in Concrete, WA.  I have read mixed reviews on this park.  There are sites specifically for TT members, and then the public sites.  I personally thought the TT sites were better.  Be sure to follow the directions on the website.  We had one GPS that wanted to take us totally the wrong way - apparently there is a Grandy Creek National or State Campground a few miles away.  Look for the Thousand Trails/KOA signage on Highway 20.

This was not the park for me.  The sites did not appear to be kept up.  It could just be that it is early in the season, and they have not spruced things up.  There did not appear to be much space between the sites, and no privacy.  But that said, I think this would be a great campground for families with kids.  Although the park is fairly good sized, it is open enough that you could let your kids run around, and you could probably find them pretty quickly.  There was a great playground.  A bouncy jumpy castle type thing.  The pool looked small but it was open.  There was a hot tub.  They had just opened their new solar power restrooms and laundry building.  Kim checked it out and said it was pretty cool, and clean.  They had fairly new looking cabins for rent.  There were some annually leased spots that were a little junky looking, but not bad.  (I'm doing this comparison on what I saw in Leavenworth, which were annually leased sites that were very clean and well maintained.)  I had decent cell service in the park, and we saw people with satellite dishes out, but you are in a forest, so reception could be iffy.  The staff was very friendly.  I think it would be a great family campground, but so much for us old fogeys.

Next up was an Encore Park which was included in our Thousand Trails Zone Membership.  It was called Friday Creek in Burlington, WA.  Pictures I've seen were not what I experienced.  Again, it is early in the season so maybe they have yet to do their annual clean up.  I think big rigs would have some problems with low hanging branches, and tight campsites.  It is a small park.  There was no one around to ask questions.  Not one RV or tent camper in sight.  Just one RV by the welcome center, which I assume was the camp host.  There was a check in box - the type where you register your name and camp site and put your payment in the lock box.  I would not go back in our rig, but some of the camp sites on the creek were very peaceful looking.

We down the road a bit we came to the Thousand Trails Bow (Mt Vernon) Campground.  We have reservations here in a few weeks, so I wanted to check them out.  There are only a few FHU spots, in the A section, mostly near the restrooms and the rental cabins/yurts. They do have a dump station, and also personal pumping service for a fee. This is a large campground.  It borders on one side onto I-5, with a tree buffer zone.  We had out windows down as we drove through the park so see which spots we might try to get when we come back with the rig.  Most of the spots have some degree of privacy.  The spots in the B area were my favorite, but we also found a few in the G section.  They have a huge pool, which must be heated as we saw people swimming - of course they were much younger than we, and the sun was out, but I doubt it was warmer than 72 degrees outside at that time (early afternoon).

Heading south down I-5 to LaConner Thousand Trails.  We had visited this park before on a day pass when Kim's aunt and uncle were renting a cabin here.  It is huge, well kept with friendly staff and decent amenities.  No pool, but there is Puget Sound waterfront.  There is one section in this park that has FHUs, but most had water and electric only.  I love that on their map, the sites for good satellite reception are clearly marked.  Most of the sites offer some privacy.  I'm looking forward to our stay here at the end of July.  (Of note, if you are visiting this park during the summer, you may want to avoid the route that takes you through Conway.  The drive is pretty, but they are constructing a round-about at one intersection and we sat there for 30 minutes waiting for the flaggers to let us by.  Continue north, instead, and take the Anacortes exit.  It is a straight shot from there on decent roads.)

By the way, there is a nice little campground attached to the Swinomish Casino.  No privacy, but a great view, cement pads if I recall, and nice grass between the sites.

What Do RVers Do When Camping?

Check out other campgrounds in the area, of course!

While we were at the Thousand Trails in Leavenworth, we checked out the Washington State Nason Creek Campground.  It was a nice campground, but not conducive to big rigs.  We saw a few and were kind of excited, but those 2 or 3 spots were for camp hosts only.  I don't think there were any hook ups at the sites, no water, no electricity and definitely no sewer.  Kim checked out the Men's Room while we were there, and said it was clean.

Next stop was the Icicle River RV Park.  A very nice place.  It is a Good Sam Park.  Some very nice back in spots for a river view.  And there were a number of park setting sites with cement pads and well cared for grass.  We talked with the owners/caretakers and they seemed quite friendly.

We took a drive over to Quincy, WA, to check out the Crescent Bar Thousand Trails park.  On the way, we spotted a gem of a county park in Monitor, WA.  I would love to check it out in person next time we are over that way.  I did read on RV Park Reviews that the river view spots reserve quite a bit in advance, and that the over night spots are close to Hwy 2, so you are dealing with a lot of highway noise, if that bothers you.

The Crescent Bar TT Preserve was just okay, in my opinion.  It is a nice little setting, but most of the prime spots with view of the Columbia River were taken by annual leaseholders.  That was a disappointment to me.  There are other decent spots, however, but not much privacy.  I don't think we would make the drive over there to camp.  I much preferred the TT Preserve in Leavenworth.

I post these comments based on first glance of the parks.  We did not stay at any of the parks, so I have no first hand experience.  And I'm old enough to know that often times the experience is better than a causal view....and of course, visa versa is also true.  It all depends on what you are looking for in an RV park.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Status Symbols

(Another cross post - sorry to those of you that follow my other blog as well -

A short thought for today:

Rather than having the coolest car, the biggest house in a gated community, the current fashion trend clothes, the newest luxury RV, or the biggest bank account, I choose peace, joy and integrity as my status symbols.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Not Exactly An RV or Travel Related Post

I don't usually cross post entries from my RV blog and my Blahblah Blog, but I think this one is special.  If you've dreamed of retiring and traveling, but aren't sure how to achieve that goal, I hope this post will inspire you to give this method a try.  It is free.  It works.  And you don't have to forward it to your ten closest friends, unless of course you want to.



I'm back to thinking about how the heck I got to be 60 years old!  My first reflection (and you'll have to pardon the pun) came from looking in the mirror and seeing my mom!  I no longer just resemble her; I am her....with a different hair style.  When did that happen?

My next thought was who da thunk I'd be where I am now.  Firstly, I'm not sure I ever gave much thought to being 60 - at least not until about a month ago.  Here I am, retired from any traditional form of employment (and I thought I would work well into my 70s).  I'm traveling much of the year with my husband in our 33' fifth wheel trailer (and if you have known me for any length of time, you'd know my idea of camping was a 2 star hotel).  Our home is paid for.  We have no debt, other than the things you can't escape like utilities, phone, food, gas, health insurance (and don't get me started on that!).

How did I get here?  Why has life been so good for me?  LOL - That's me channelling my father, the king of worst case scenarios.  As I reflect back, I can tell you that it was my mother's influence on me that did it.  She told me that she only owed me three things in life:

1.  An understanding of God (or whatever term you may use for that Universal Power that is bigger than ourselves).
2.  An education.
3.  The tools to be able to distinguish right from wrong and how to use those tools to make intelligent decisions.

While my mom was pretty traditional in her beliefs, and I am more New Thought/New Age, she did introduce me to the power of the mind and the power of prayer.  And basically, I believe that it is due to those two "powers" that I am where I am today.

I recently found a box of books that had come from my mom's house.  In the box was The Power Of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.  In a chapter entitled "I Don't Believe In Defeat," Dr Peale talks about our subconscious minds picking up and processing all our thoughts, random or intentional.  It doesn't matter if these thoughts are good or bad, positive or negative, love based or fear based.  The subconscious mind soaks these thoughts up like a sponge.  The more negative, fear based thoughts you have, the more not so pleasant (dare I say, WTF) experiences you will attract.   And conversely, the more positive, love based thoughts you think, the more pleasant experiences you will have.

In 2014, this is NOT new information.  The first printing of Dr Peale's book was in 1952.  One of my first spiritual teachers, Catherine Ponder, wrote about these things in the 1960s.  And Florence Scovel Shinn and Emmet Fox were writing about these techniques in the 1920s and 1930s.

Dr Peale says, "I have found the best way to eliminate them (and he is talking about negative thoughts here) was to say a positive word about everything.

I must concur.  And this is what I have been doing for greater than 10 years now.  And that is how I got from bankrupt, unemployed and miserable to having reached critical mass (living off investments), retired and very happy.  It worked for me, and I know it can work for you too.

To that end, I have put together a simple brochure/pamphlet called "Heavens to Betsy: Affirmations For A Better Life."  I would love to offer it to anyone who would like to try this method.  No cost.  No charge.  Just my gift to you.  I will send it via e-mail, as an attachment.  You will need a printer that can do two sided copies.  Or you can put it on a jump stick and take it to a  UPS or Staples store or any other printshop.

Just spend 5-10 minutes every morning, reading or saying aloud these affirmations.  It will make a difference in your life.

If you'd like a copy, just drop me an email addressed to "betsy at betsy m brown dot com" replacing the at and dot with the appropriate symbols, removing any spaces and the quotes.  (If you are on Facebook, you can drop your email address in my inbox, if you prefer).

If sharing this information helps but one person, I will be a happy camper.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

More From Thousand Trails in Leavenworth

We got home on Friday and were overwhelmed with love from the grandsons, so I am just now getting around to downloading pictures from my camera from our trip to Leavenworth and surrounding areas.

Here are a few shots from around the campground.  The first two are from the Lake View section of the park.  I was happy that the heron cooperated by standing still and giving me a profile shot.  The lodge here is available to rent. It has space to seat about 150, plus there are bedrooms and a kitchen available as well.  This campground also has cabins and houses for rent.  Great for family reunions, especially if part of the family does not embrace the camping/RV lifestyle.  (A side note:  I did not take any pictures of the Timber View area.  Those campsites were just okay in my opinion, close to the road and nothing really worthwhile to photograph.)

And a few additional shots from around our campsite in the Meadow View area.

And some shots from our drive into the town of Leavenworth.  Originally a logging town, Leavenworth adopted its current Bavarian theme in the 1960s, and it's been attracting visitors from all over the world ever since. Seasonal events include the Art in the Park and Christmas Lighting.   There are delightful little shops and restaurants as well as lots of opportunities for wine tasting.  We had driven into town for breakfast, and it was a little too early for wine tasting, even for me.

Upstream of the Wenatchee River along Highway 2

Downstream of the Wenatchee River along Highway 2

The Tumwater Dam

One of the side streets in Leavenworth.  There are gorgeous hanging flower baskets all over.  I was so jealous!  Mine don't look anything like that.

A new friend I met at the two story Kris Kringle Shoppe!

This is a campground I would visit again.  It would be too hot for me in the summer and too cold in the winter, but early fall and late spring will be perfect!

I think our next Thousand Trails experience will be at Thunderbird in Monroe.  This is only 20 minutes from our house.  They have a few sites that back up onto the river.  I have gallbladder surgery scheduled week after next, but I think the following week would be perfect as I recuperate!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thousand Trails Leavenworth, Washington

As I said in my previous post, we are spending the summer checking out the various Thousand Trails preserves in Washington and Oregon.  Our first stop is the Leavenworth Preserve.  It is only 90 minutes to 2 hours from home, depending on traffic in Monroe, WA and/or how many times one or the either of us has to stop to pee.

We made reservations for Monday - Thursday.  We choose to do short trips during the week so that camping spots are open for families on the weekends.  Most school districts are still in session, so the campground is pretty empty.

It's quiet here.  It's green.  It's very clean and the staff is very friendly.  I caught my husband Kim enjoying a few minutes of peace and quiet after we finished setting up.

One of the complaints I have been reading on the Thousand Trails Facebook page is about how the annually leased sites look junky.  I'm happy to say that this is not the case, at least at this preserve.  I counted less than 10 annually leased sites, out of 266.  Now they were some of the nicer sites, in my opinion, but that is the way it goes.  Here is a picture of one of the long term leased sites.

In this particular park, there are three sections.  We are staying in the Meadow View section.  Very quiet and peaceful.  I had good Verizon cell service.  We have our Millenicom service on hold for the summer so I'm not sure how good the wi-fi connection would be.  We could get no DirecTV signal, and the park staff told us this was the best part of the park to pick up satellite.  For that reason alone, I could not stay here long term, but that's just me.  Four days is pushing it for my TV habit, but I did have things recorded on the DVR that we could watch, plus I had DVDs available, so I am surviving.   In this area, most of the sites are separated by trees which gives you a sense of privacy.

I found the other sections of the park less desirable.  Not that there was anything bad about them.  The spaces were smaller and closer together, and not all sites had FHUs.  The Lake View section was pretty, but there are geese (and the poop that goes along with them).  No fishing or swimming in the lakes.

Timber View is the Encore (public) Section of park.  I find it nice that this preserve has limited the areas open to the public for camping.

The Lodge and Clubhouse are nice.  They do have wi-fi here.   The upper floor has tables for cards, or laptops.  There are a few TVs. Downstairs is a big room with the ping pong and air hockey tables and games as well as the laundry.  There is putt-putt golf next to the lodge.  And a beautiful looking Olympic sized pool!

So questions for this afternoon:  Beer or gin & tonic?  Putt-putt or pool?  Sometimes retirement requires you to make those tough decisions.

The Summer Of A Thousand Trails

We purchased a Thousand Trails Zone Pass (offering a buy one zone, and get another zone for free) at the beginning of the year, knowing we would be traveling mostly in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Nevada this year.  We stayed in the Wilderness Lakes Resort (Menifee, CA) and at Verde Valley (Cottonwood, AZ) this spring.  Those resorts/preserves lived up to my expectations for a Thousand Trails Resort.

This spring and summer we will be based out of our home in Snohomish, WA.  Our goal is to visit as many of the preserves in Washington and Oregon that we can.  If we enjoy those resorts, we will renew our membership, and possibly even upgrade.

My criteria includes clean sites (including those that are annually leased) with FHU, friendly staff, a pool is nice (although I have yet to go swimming when I had the opportunity, but I want the option), and I want to be away from the city, but not more than 20 miles from decent services.  I like green around me, and I prefer a decent view of trees and/or water.  Internet access (Millennium Wi-Fi) and DirecTV signals are important to me, but not necessarily a deal breaker on stays of less than a week.  I'm not a clubhouse type of person, so resort activities and programs don't interest me.

My husband and I are retired.  We do most of our "camping" (technically RVing - there's a difference in my mind) during the week.  It's more quiet for us old fogies so we have our  pick of sites, and it frees up spaces for families who can only make use of their memberships on the weekends.

I read lots of complaints about Thousand Trails resorts, especially after it's merge with Encore.  I am beginning to wonder if I am not as picky as others, or if it is just that I have a more realistic expectation of what to expect at a Thousand Trails resort.  I hope to provide some helpful reviews for those that might be interested.

First stop, Leavenworth, Washington.