Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

RV Park Review – KOA (Cooperstown, New York)


Website: Cooperstown KOA

Location: 565 Ostrander Road, Richfield Springs, New York 13439 (Google Maps link)

Date: October 9-12, 2015

Price: $49/night with a KOA Value Kard

Site:  #41

This park is located approximately 12.5 miles from downtown Cooperstown and is set in the quiet rural countryside of New York.  The mature trees make for beautiful scenery in the Fall.  For more information on the area here is a link to our blog post on Cooperstown. 

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Site description: There is a mix of sites varying from tent, RV, rental trailers, and camping cabins/cottages/lodges bringing the total number of sites to 120.  Back-in and pull-thru sites are available.  Site types include full hookup, water and electric, and no hookup with prices varying depending upon site.  You can choose between 30/20 or 50 amp electric service.  Interior roads are gravel and some site pads are gravel while others are grass.  The park is terraced but leveling did not seem to be a problem and wasn’t at our site.  Patios were a grassy/dirt area with a picnic table and fire pit. 

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Our site (#41) was a pull-thru but there was no way we could drive our 45’ motorhome forward out of the site because of a large tree and narrow roads.  So we ended up having to back out.  Our site was long enough to fit our RV and tow car but it appeared to be one of the longer sites.

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The free wifi worked well as did our Verizon 4G phone and hotspot.  We picked up a dozen or so television channels with our antenna.  The park does have a fair amount of trees that would interfere with roof-mounted satellite dishes so you would have to pick your site carefully.  But, there are some 30 amp and no hook-up sites that are clear. 

Amenities:  There is a swimming pool (which was closed for the season when we were there), a playground, volleyball court, basketball court, jump house, pavilion, recreation room, bicycle rental, and horseshoes.  Showers, restrooms and laundry are also present and clean.  There is a propane filling station.  While there is no fenced-in dog park there is a pet walking area.

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Surrounding area:  The KOA is located in a very rural area.  The closest town (Richfield Springs – which is very small) is five miles away and where you will find restaurants, gas station, grocery store, and more.  A few miles from the park is a creamery that has a cafĂ©.  Approximately five miles away is Glimmerglass State Park which was great for hiking and kayaking Otsego Lake.  There is a also a historic house at the park that you can tour and the country’s oldest covered bridge. 

Cooperstown is a little over twelve miles away from the park but well worth a trip.  Not only is Cooperstown home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame but it is a charming downtown well worth exploring.  Other nearby attractions include The Farmers Museum, Fenimore Art Museum, Hero’s of Baseball Wax Museum, Glimmerglass Opera, and Cooperstown Brewing Company. 

What we liked:  The rural setting was very nice and we liked that the state park was close by for hiking.

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The not so good:  Unfortunately, our pull thru could not be used as such and the roads are narrow.  The high price is typical KOA where you pay a lot for just an average site.  The downside is that this park is a good 20-25 minute drive from downtown Cooperstown.  We only went there once in our stay and probably would have gone more often if it weren’t so far away.   

Spirits two cents:  While there was not a fenced in dog park there was some room to walk dogs and we found a grassy area where she could fetch her ball.  We loved the fact that the state park was so close and provided lots of space for hiking.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Cooperstown, New York

We went to Cooperstown for one reason – the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  But quickly we found that this area holds more than the one attraction celebrating our national pastime.  There was a fruit farm, winery, a state park, and no shortage of gorgeous scenery in the Fall.   

We happened to be in the area when the leaves of Fall were in their glory.  Just a short drive from the campground was Glimmerglass State Park which served as a beautiful hiking spot with eye pleasing views.  A spectrum of colors warmed the hillsides that fell into the nine-mile Otsego lake.  The park has a campground, hiking trails, picnic area, boat launch and is home to historic structures including Hyde Hall (built between 1817-1834) and the oldest existing covered bridge in the U.S.

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A drive into Cooperstown quickly lets you know you have entered baseball’s past and present.  The picturesque downtown has restored buildings that pay homage to baseball and it’s hero's with creative names and baseball-themed storefronts.  Induction Days has the latest inductees show up for their crowning moment and brings energy to the town, but don’t worry, baseball is celebrated year round.

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Cooperstown’s crowning jewel - The National Baseball Hall of Fame was founded in 1936 to honor those that represents baseball’s elite – only about one percent of those who have ever played major league baseball.  To get your name and face on a brass plate in Cooperstown is no easy task. To date, the elite group consists of a total of only 310 players, Negro Leaguers, executives, managers, and umpires.  Some of the rules for election include having played at least 10 major league seasons, been retired for five years (and not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list like famed players Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose) and be voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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The Hall of Fame was built in 1939 by Stephen Carlton Clark, the owner of a local hotel who hoped to bring people to the dying town and boost the economy.  Once dependent on growing and selling hops, Cooperstown fell on hard times during prohibition.  Today the museum draws nearly 300,000 fans from all over to world who come to Cooperstown and enjoy not only the museum but Doubleday Field, collectors shops, and gift shops.  The acceptable attire is a baseball jersey or cap, and in case you forgot to bring yours, there are plenty for sale including those with names of inductees from years past. 

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The museum visit starts with a short film in a creatively designed theater to resemble a baseball stadium.  Next you move through a hundred years of fascinating history.  Here you will marvel at the stats leaders, the evolution of baseball gear, learn about the Negro and women's professional leagues, glare at World Series Rings, and dive deep into the past stadiums that built the sport.  For baseball enthusiasts, Cooperstown is the place to come.
 
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After the Hall of Fame, we were off to see an apple farm (Fly Creek Cider Mill) and indulge in the Fall glory of upper state New York.  There was an apple peeling demonstration using hand peelers from the early 1900’s, cider tastings, farm animals, and a store for all things Fall.  We had no idea how popular this place was until we pulled up to a full parking lot. 

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A quick stop away was the Pail Shop Winery which had us saying hello to New York grapes.  The tasting room was pleasant and talking to the women serving us was wonderful.  She had moved down from Syracuse and seemed happy and obliging to share her knowledge and answer our questions. 

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Cooperstown was a great quick stop for us at a perfect time of year.  For a baseball fan, this is the place for you to come and indulge. 




Sunday, October 18, 2015

RV Park Review–Walmart (Seabrook, New Hampshire)

So this may seem like a really weird RV Park Review post since technically Walmart is not anywhere close to being an RV park.  But, lets face it, sometimes they double as that and the price is right - as in, who doesn't like free?

We have, and will, continue to stay at Walmart’s but are cautious about where they are.  Not just how close it is to the interstate or how big is the lot for our behemoth to turn around in but what is the surrounding area like.  After living in New Orleans and shopping at the Walmart on Tchoupitoulas Avenue and having a friend who witnessed shop lifting every time she shopped there, I can say with confidence it is not a place I would stay overnight in my RV.  Although maybe now it is better since the New Orleans Police Department put in a sub-station there!  We regularly ask other RV’ers about Walmart’s they recommend and appreciate the information.  For that reason, we decided to include our experiences in the RV Park Review section.

As we were driving south on I-95 leaving Maine the rain would not let up, the afternoon was turning to evening, and we decided it was a good time to get off the road.  While our “Walmart OverNight Parking” app (don’t laugh you non-RV’ers there really is such a thing) told us the Seabrook, New Hampshire Walmart allowed overnight parking, we gave them a courtesy call just to make sure and asked where they preferred that we park. The Walmart was only a half mile from I-95 with an easy on and off.

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When spending the night at Walmart we don't put our jacks down and only put out a slide if
we need to get into a drawer or closet. 
Walmart is located in the back of a busy shopping plaza and arriving on a Friday meant that it was super busy.  In addition to Walmart there are numerous other big box stores including Petsmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Goods, Michaels, etc. 

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We found a place along the back to pull over and later when cars started clearing out we moved to a back lot next to the Wal-mart garden center where we were asked to park.  The area was very well lit and quiet which gave us a restful night.  Directly in front of the RV was a large grassy area that was good for walking Spirit. 

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There are a few restaurants within a short walking distance including McDonalds, Outback Steakhouse, and a noodle restaurant.  We were able to get a handful of channels using our antenna.  Our Verizon phone worked great and so did out hotspot.

We would definitely stop here again because of its short distance (less than 1/2 mile) from the interstate and how safe we felt.  There were five other RV’s besides us but still room enough for a couple more.