Saturday, October 1, 2016

Airstream Terraport, Airstream Factory, Jackson Center, Ohio - Third Visit

We always have mixed emotions when we camp at the Terraport next to Airstream's factory in Jackson Center, Ohio. We love seeing other Airstream owners and taking the factory tour. We also depend on the high level of competence and professionalism of the technicians in the service area. I don't think you can find a better place for service on your Airstream trailer.

The Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio

The scary part is getting the bill for your repairs. This isn't to imply that Airstream charges more for their services than other places, just that we tend to save up our needed repairs and end up bringing a longer list of things to Jackson Center.

This is where them build them!

This trip was different. We didn't need any repairs on Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer. Instead, I was asked to help the Wally Byam Caravan Club International, the Airstream Owners Association, with the creation of the digital version of their monthly magazine. Translation: We would not end up with a repair bill at the end of our visit. Yes, this was going to be a great visit.

I serve on the WBCCI's Electronic Communication Committee and my role on the ECC is to help answer questions about the software used to create their Blue Beret Magazine. Their questions centered around moving the print production files into a digital product for computers, smartphones and tablets. Having taught an undergraduate class in digital publications at a university, I was able to be helpful and felt they had a handle on that process when I left.

Rosie parked in Airstream's Terraport

Sunset over the Airstream factory

Sunset is always great at Jackson Center

One of our neighbors in Airstream's Terraport suggested that we try a little restaurant next to the factory for breakfast. We did and enjoyed it. We noticed that our server also bussed the tables, cooked the orders then ran the cash register as we were leaving. We decided that she earned a bigger tip for smoothly running the entire restaurant by herself.

Something was different this time from our previous visits. We noticed that Wally Byam's golden Airstream along with several other early models were no longer parked in front of the service center building. (Wally Byam was Airstream 's founder and designer.) The staff said they needed more room for parking and Wally's trailer was demoted to the back lot.

Wally's Airstream trailer demoted to the back lot

We always learn about our trailers from the other campers staying in the Terraport. One was having the same problem with his tire pressure monitoring system that we were experiencing. His solution was something I think will be helpful to us.

We were able to share a couple of tips we learned from other Airstreamers during an earlier visit to Jackson Center. It felt good to contribute to that conversation.

Here are some specifics about this campground:
  • There are four camping loops in the Terraport. Each is named after an Airstream model.
  • There are eight back-in sites in each loop.
  • Each site is paved.
  • The sites have 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical connections.
  • Each site has water and sewer connections. Our sewer connection was slightly uphill behind Rosie. It took every extension we had to reach the sewer. It was a challenge to confuse gravity by lifting segments of the sewer hose when we dumped Rosie's tanks.
  • There is a dump station at this park. The trailer parked next to us had to use it since they didn't have a sewer hose long enough to use the connection at their campsite.
  • AT&T placed a weak voice and data signal over our site. Campers with other cell providers said their service was also weak to nonexistent.
  • I think we have learned where to park in order to use the Wi-Fi provided for the service customers. While it isn't the fastest connection to the Internet, it was adequate for our needs.
  • We were able to receive TV signals from ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC and PBS. We saw digital signals from Antenna, Bounce, Comet, GET-TV, GRIT, ME-TV, MY-TV and one station that aired Ohio high school football games all day and night.
We always enjoy our visits to Jackson Center. We had to adjust to the temperatures. Highs were in the mid-90s and lows were in the mid-70s when we left Alabama. Less than 48 hours later, the high temperature was 76 and the low was 53. It was time to get the warmer clothes out!

Becky and Suzy, our Yorkie puppy, in the waiting room at Airstream's factory

Steve and Suzy out for a walk


Snow shovel? That is something you don't see in Alabama!

Friday, September 30, 2016

General Butler State Resort Park Campground - Carrollton, Kentucky

Our travel goal was to make it past Cincinnati then park for the evening. It was close to sunset as we turned east at Louisville and I had my doubts about making it that far.

We needed a backup plan, so a quick check of the AllStays app found the General Butler State Resort Park Campground. It was a few miles ahead of us and close to the Interstate highway.

We called to see if there was room for Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer. The person who answered was physically located at the park, but didn't seem to know much about the campground. Maybe their employees spend more time learning about the cabins and the miniature golf course than the campground. Her best guess was that we could squeeze in for the night, but we could not park in any site that had a reserved sign.

It was sunset when we arrived and it appeared that every site was reserved. This was frustrating because why would they let us in the campground if all of the sites were reserved? That was when we got out of the truck and actually read one of the "Reserved" signs. Yes, it was reserved but not for that night. It was reserved for the weekend and we were there in the middle of the week. We found a decent site and decided this would be our home for the evening.

We did a minimal setup of Rosie. It was dark and started to rain. We connected power and water but didn't unhitch from the truck. That would help us quickly get back on the road the next morning.

We didn't see much of the park. We had had a long day of traveling and were very tired as we backed into our site. We woke up before sunrise the next morning and left to see if we could beat morning rush traffic through Cincinnati. Well, that didn't work out as it took more than 90 minutes to crawl through their rush hour.

Here are some specifics about General Butler State Resort Campground:
  • Our site had 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical service.
  • Our site had a water connection. The connection point wasn't near our site and I ended up using 75 feet of hose to reach it.
  • Our site did not have have a sewer connection.
  • We found one dump station in the park.
  • Our site was paved and level.
  • The restroom near our site was old but clean.
  • AT&T placed a weak 4G data and voice signal over our site.
  • Rosie's TV antenna could not pick up any signals. I thought we would easily see either Louisville or Cincinnati stations. Our site may have been in the one spot in the campground that TV signals could not reach.
  • We could not find the dumpster. I'm sure they had one, but it wasn't in sight. We ended up throwing our modest amount of trash in the trash can next to the dump station.
  • This is a pet friendly park.
We saw a fawn resting by the side of the road as we were leaving the next morning. That was a sight we wished we had captured in a photo. Speaking of photos, this is one of the few parks we didn't snap a single picture while we were there. I'm sure there are many things in the park that are very picturesque, but it was dark the entire time we were there.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Townsend / Great Smokies KOA - Townsend, Tennessee

Townsend is advertised as the quiet side of the Smokies. We know from our family vacations when our children were young that fewer people visited the Townsend side and this made it easier to spend more time enjoying the mountains instead of dealing with the Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge traffic.

We scouted last year while visiting the Smokies for a campground where we could stay in Townsend and decided to reserve a site in the KOA. When we called for reservations, the site next to the restroom was our only choice. We felt that wasn't the best site, but we booked it.

After we arrived and setup Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, Becky noticed a bad smell coming from the restroom. It was bad enough that we went to the office to see if we could move or check out.

There were a few cancellations and the office staff drove us around on one of their golf carts to see them. We quickly said we would pay the additional fees to get the shaded site along the river.
Rosie along the river

Rosie's site at the Townsend KOA

So, we found ourselves hitching up Rosie moments after setting up in the site next to the restroom and moving to our newly reserved site. The new site proved to be one of the most difficult sites to back Rosie in. It appeared that our site was added after the park was initially laid out and there wasn't enough room left to get into the site without pulling forward and backing in many times.

The effort required to occupy the site was well worth it. We had a beautiful site with a great view of the people floating down the Little River, which was immediately behind Rosie.

Of course, the real reason you camp in Townsend is to visit Cade's Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We drove the 11mile loop around the Cove three different evenings. Suzy, our seven month old Yorkie enjoyed barking at the deer along the road. We stopped when we saw a herd of horses and let Suzy see them up close. She didn't make a sound until she was safely back in the truck. That was when she bravely started to growl at the horses.

Cades Cove

The loop road in Cades Cove

Horses in Cades Cove

Speaking of Suzy, we were amazed at how quickly everyone seemed to learn her name. People passing us on walks would call Suzy by name and someone in a passing truck yelled out, "Hey Suzy!"

The mountains around Cades Cove

A deer in the Cove

A cabin in Cades Cove

We ventured into Gatlinburg one afternoon for lunch. The constant crowds and traffic problems reaffirmed that our decision to stay "on the quiet side of th Smokies" was best for us.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • Our site had 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical service.
  • Our site had water and sewer connections.
  • Our site had a cable TV connection that delivered 40+ analog signals.
  • The park had Wi-Fi service. It was very slow and easily overwhelmed during the evenings.
  • We were amazed at the size of the KOA staff working in the park. Any problems were quickly resolved by their staff. For example, we mentioned that we smelled a bad odor coming from the bathhouse. Plumbers were there the next day fixing the problem.
  • There are multiple pricing tiers at this park. We paid a premium price for our site on the water. Having made that point, we plan to reserve our site again the next time we visit the Smokies.
  • While it would be difficult to chisel in an additional site for campers in this park, we welcomed that there was some room between campsites and most sites had shrubs or some other feature separating them.
I have expressed my disappointment in several KOA campgrounds in the past. The Townsend / Great Smokies KOA is well worth visiting because it delivers on the idea of being an above average family-oriented campground. We enjoyed camping in this KOA park.

Suzy learning she can swim, but prefers not to.

Becky and Suzy outside Rosie

Suzy in the truck

Suzy in the Townsend KOA Campground

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Levi Jackson Wilderness State Park - Kentucky (2016)

We were heading south and needed a park for a night or two. There were some Army Corp of Engineer parks that looked good on the AllStays app, but it was a weekend and those parks were small. The probability of us getting a campsite in those parks was slim.

We found a Kentucky State Park while using our AllStays app that had more than 130 sites and called for a reservation. We were glad we called because we booked one of the last few remaining sites. Whew! We were glad we had somewhere to park Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer.

Welcome to Kentucky

The park's name sounded familiar and a quick check of our Cozy Rosie blog confirmed that we camped in the Levi Jackson State Park in 2015. I guess this park is conveniently located for our trips through Kentucky.

What we wrote about in 2015 seemed valid when we arrived for this visit. We noticed that this is a very family-oriented park. The streets were full of children riding their bikes and skateboards. Another group of kids were on the basketball court shooting hoops. It appeared to us that the park was full of regional campers who frequently spent their weekends there.

There were an amazing number of activities scheduled at this park for all age groups. Park workers had multiple craft times and sporting events planned for the children.

The park was full over the weekend. We enjoyed watching people having fun at the Tree-Top Adventure in the park. In fact, we ended up watching park workers rescue an overweight person who ended up stuck on a zip line between two trees.

Tree-Top Adventure

Someone enjoying the Tree-Top Adventure

There is a "wilderness life" museum in the park. There is an additional charge to tour it. We skipped the museum because of the "no photographs anywhere on the museum's grounds" rule and not because of the cost to get in.

Another popular spot in the park was the gristmill. While it wasn't open, the exterior was fun to photograph.

The Grist Mill

Selfie by the Grist Mill

We asked while checking in if anything special was going on that weekend. The office staff said a car show and fish fry was scheduled near the swimming pool on Saturday. It was fun seeing the classic cars and we enjoyed the fish fry.

The car show

The car show

The fish fry was very good

A couple things we noticed about the campground were the lights and smoke. I don't think we have ever been in a park with more streetlights on at night. The park was very lit up at night, to the point that you wanted to add additional window shades to block some of the light.

Smoke was another issue. It seemed as if a rookie campfire builders' convention was going on because everyone had a fire that produced more smoke than flame. Anyone suffering from a respiratory ailment would have suffered while camping over the weekend.

You can see the smoke while looking out Rosie's window

Things changed Sunday afternoon when a large number of families pulled out, probably to get ready for the coming work week. The park wasn't as crowded and the number of children playing in the park was much less than over the weekend. Strangely, the level of smoky fires around us continued at an annoying level.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • Our site had 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical service.
  • Our site had water and sewer connections.
  • We could pick up a PBS and an Independent station that mostly aired infomercials using Rosie's TV antenna.
  • AT&T placed only one-to-two bars of service over the park. It was very difficult to maintain data service while camping here.
  • There was Wi-Fi service in the park available for a premium fee.
  • This was a pet-friendly park.
  • There were several restrooms and showers in this park. The one we tried to check on was locked.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Smith's Pleasant Valley Family Campground - Loudonville, Ohio

We knew the general direction we were heading when we left Pennsylvania--south. We didn't know our route nor did we know our destination for the evening. We were simply turning south and driving until we had the urge to stop. That urge to stop came sooner rather than later.

Becky's sister mentioned that there was a large Amish community in Ohio. That planted the seed and we decided to stop at a family-owned campground on the edge of Ohio's Amish community that was highly rated by the users of the AllStays app.

A road sign we don't normally see in our travels

Both our GPS and Google Maps agreed on the best route to the campground. What neither knew was that part of the preferred route was blocked due to a road being out. That meant we were having to second guess our navigational aids to find the park.

We both remarked about how narrow the road was becoming when we saw an RV campground. While it wasn't the one we wanted, that sighting let us know that other campers had safely traveled down that road before us. We saw our campground a few moments later.

Not the normal type road we travel to campgrounds!

Our campsite backed up to the Mohican River. This is a popular river for people to float on using tubes, rafts, kayaks or anything else that had a good chance of not sinking. Calling this "popular" is an understatement as we watched hundreds of people float down the river going past Rosie's, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, rear window.

Rosie in the campground

Raft on the river

Looking through Rosie's rear window at the rafts on the river

While that was certainly entertaining, we wanted to explore Ohio's Amish communities. The campground staff gave us directions and we were off.

The road quickly went from being paved to gravel. Next it was dirt. What bothered us was that we were on the roads we originally would have been on if we had followed both our GPS and Google Maps. We were glad we were forced to travel the longer, but paved, way with Rosie when we saw the "Road Closed" sign.

We started running into Amish communities a few miles down the road. Wednesday evening meetings were taking place and we noticed several buggies parked around a house and the families were sitting on the porches. We also saw a young Amish girl with a 22-rifle standing next to some buggies. We doubt she was on a buggy security detail, but was probably looking for rabbits for an upcoming meal.

Buggy in front of a barn

We drove into town the next morning. The local Walmart was the first one we ever saw with parking stalls for horses and buggies. We soon noticed that several stores had parking areas for horses and buggies.

The WalMart parking lot

Buggies at Walmart

We stopped by an Amish grocery store before heading back to the campground. Nearly everyone shopping and working in that store was Amish and the store's parking lot was full of horses and buggies.

Grocery store parking lot

Driving through town

Another thing we discovered was that you need to be careful where you step while in Amish country. We found horse dung in parking lots and in the road.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • Nearly all of the sites are on grass.
  • Our site had 50, 30 and 20 amp electrical service.
  • Our site had both water and sewer connections.
  • AT&T placed one bar of marginal service over the park. The data connections failed more often than they worked.
  • The park did not offer any Wi-Fi service.
  • We were unable to receive any over-the-air TV signals while in this park.
  • This park featured many recreational activities for families. It had a swimming pool, basketball court, volleyball court and a big playground for children.
  • Restrooms were pit toilets.
  • There was a shower facility. We didn't check it out.
  • The park has one dump station located next to a pit toilet.
  • The park sold pizza, chicken wings and ice cream. Delivery service was available to campers in the park.
  • Many of the sites in this park backup to the Mohican River.
We enjoyed visiting Ohio's Amish community and watching the rafters floating down the river while at this park.

Suzy wants her toy!

More rafts behind Rosie

The river

Selfie at Smith's Pleasant Valley Family Campground

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Titusville, PA - Visiting Family

This is a posting that will make no sense to anyone beyond our immediate family. It is here to provide an accurate record of where we have camped in Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer.

We planned to visit Becky's sister in Pennsylvania after the WBCCI International Rally in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Our early exit from the Rally gave us an opportunity to head north and spend a few more days at their family cabin in the woods.

Road heading to the family cabin

Rosie in the woods

We enjoyed our time visiting Becky's sister and her husband back in the woods of Pennsylvania. We did see a doe and her two fawns behind Rosie one morning and we saw a groundhog.

Deer behind Rosie

Groundhog behind Rosie

We drove through Amish country and enjoyed seeing them use their horse and buggies.

Buggies parked for the night

The children out for a spin

We shared a family nostalgic moment when we bought a desert for the evening meal. Becky's Mom was partial to a specific type of cake. That's what we shared at dinner one evening and Becky's sister understood the connection the moment she saw what we bought.

It was time to move on after several days. We hooked up Rosie, hugged everyone and left heading for our next adventure.

Rosie parked at Becky's sister's cabin

The cabin