Our Schedule

Friday, September 30, 2016

A simple summer cottage

Casowasco Camp and Retreat Center
Moravia, NY

In my previous post, I talked about the building here on campus that the Methodist Conference of NY acquired in the mid 1940's.

It's just a simple little cottage with (I counted) 8 or 9 bedrooms each with an attached bath.

Most bedrooms now have two twins beds, a few have three and one has four.    Quilters, religious groups, family reunions..... all sort of groups find their way here.

The library overlooking with the lake in the background.

Large living area

The grand staircase

I love this tiny tea-room

The dining room.    Certainly not the style of furniture that was used back then,

Gazebo on the back

Yes, a simple little summer home.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Almost heaven

Moravia,  NY

Yesterday we left Tioga, PA and drove a pleasant 100 miles to

where we will lead a three week NOMADS project starting on Monday, September 26.

The winding road into the campground was long and steep.   We could see it had been recently paved. We were but a short way in when we came upon the paving company spreading paving compound along the edges.   Not able to get around, we followed this process for about 1/2 hour.   It is a two man operation.  One was the driver, the other this man operating a remote that controlled the direction and amount of compound on to the road.

Note the car in the background.  It was coming from the camp and in attempting to turn around got somewhat stuck.   The passenger got out and pushed while the driver maneuvered the car got back on to the asphalt.

Once we got to the where we will be parked for the next 3 weeks it was another challenge.  We are parked in their rather small parking lot.  There will be 4 rigs, of which we are the largest.  As there is a quilting retreat going on now, the parking lot is full.  The camp manager found several quilters and had them move their cars so we could pull in and back up.

Two more rigs arrive tomorrow. We notified them to come after 2 as by that time the parking lot will be almost empty.  The other RV in the parking lot is a NOMAD couple (Mike and Susan).  They came early as Susan is attending the Quilting retreat.

Once we got set up, the camp director Kevin took Len and me on a short tour of the grounds and a review of what needs to be done.  More of that later.

I want to show you this incredible property.    It sits on  Owasco Lake, one of NY's Finger Lakes.   This was of property of Theodore Case who was into real estate, railroads and an inventor.  He invented the technology to bring sound and motion pictures together.  Movietone became 20th Century Fox-Case Corporation.

In 1896 he had this summer "cottage" built.

At one time a RR ran through the property.  The station

Sail boat docking

Swimming area

I love the lake grasses in the clear waters

In 1946 the 73 acres and one mile of shore line was sold to the New York Methodist Conference for well before market value with two stipulations.   It was to be named for the Case Family.  Hence Case/Owasco = Casowasco.   And that it serve youth and children.

As we work on the various buildings in the next two weeks I will be posting more pictures.  In the meantime, I leave you with a picture of the Chapel.

Gonna like it here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Almost time for work again.

Ives Run Corps of Engineers Park
Tioga, PA

Last week was a joy at attend the annual meeting of

We arrived at the Branson KOA on Thursday, September 8.  We were the Chairs of the Hospitality Committee.  The job of the committee was to meet and greet incoming members at the campgrounds registration area.   Most members were due to arrive on Friday.  Another couple and Len and I took the morning shift, 4 other couples took the afternoon shifts.    Then on Saturday we again stationed ourselves at the entrance in the morning and others in the afternoon.

I am sorry to say I took few pictures of the time we were there.   On Wednesday afternoon we gave country line dancing lessons.  What fun.  I planned on takings pics.   Forgot.

On Wednesday night we went to a dinner show....A Tribute to George Strait.   The couple were really good and the meal was too.   If in Branson, we suggest this as an evening out.

Thursday night all had dinner in the conference center and then karaoke.  FINALLY.... I took a picture or two.

We pulled out of Branson on Friday at 8:45 am.

The entire day we drove through showers and sometimes heavy rain.  We were so concentrating on watching traffic amid the rain we didn't notice the fuel situation until after we passed this

By that time we were crossing over the bridge from MO where fuel was $2.09 to Illinois where we paid $2.59 a gallon.   We had 40 miles til empty.   I figure why pay $2.08 when we can pay $.50 a gallon more!

That day we put 413 miles behind us, stopping at a rest area in W. Terre Haute, Indiana to overnight.

On Saturday we drove 420 miles to Freedom, Ohio.  We noticed last year when headed to Michigan that overnight parking is absolutely not permitted on Ohio Interstates but is allowed on I80 a toll road.   So, we parked on I80 and paid the $20.00 fee to overnight with 50 amp electric.  It continued to rain most of the night.

Our original plan was to spend 3 nights on the road.  The first in a rest area of MO.  Sam and Donna Weibel of   www.samdonna-5thwheelvagabonds.blogspot.com  had planned to meet us.  We like this couple and get together when we can.  However, Donna has health issues and wasn't feeling up to going out that day.  Bummer.

So decided to go on up to Ives Run COE one day early and hope we could get into the site I had reserved.  Nope.  It was taken.  But they did have a site open right across of it.  Good enough.  We like this campground but know if we would ever want to stay on a summer weekend to book a year in advance.  As it is, it's mid week in mid September and there are few empty sites in this 163 site park.

Yesterday we drove 85 miles each way to our family cabin in Driftwood, PA where my sister, her son and family were.   After spending a few hours visiting and going to lunch in nearby Benezette we drove on back here.   And after 2 days of trying, Len finally got a signal for our DirecTv satellite.  WHEW! He's now happier.

On Friday we head out to the Moravia, NY area where we start a NOMADS project on Monday.  More of that later.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

And it's tuition free

Branson, MO

We are currently at the KOA in Branson, MO where our NOMADS annual meeting starts tomorrow.  Last week we were but 5 miles down the road.  While there, Carol and Howard Stoner stopped by to invite us to join them for lunch.  Carol is the Chairperson for this years meeting.

Sure enough...., just give us time for me to change into a better looking top and Len to grab his hat.

They took us to

The College is known as Hard Work U

This is a completely tuition free 4 year college.  Each student works 15 hours a week when in session and two 40-hour weeks during breaks.  On the 1,000 acre campus is a dairy farm, agriculture center, carpentry shop, restaurant, gift store, airport, bakery and so much more.   Students are assigned one of 80 workstations that include a computer center, diary, fire department, warehouse, hospital, farm, print shop, campus security, offices and many more. Along with their degree they learn the value of hard work.    It is mostly self supporting.  

On site is the Ralph Forest Museum.  Admission is Adults $6.00/Age 62+ $5,00.  High school age and under is free.  Here visitors learn Ozark history and more.   There is a CD available for a driving tour of the campus.

In this building is the restaurant, a gift shop and currently a military display of the Vietnam war era.

The gift shop sells those items made on campus.......summer sausage, pottery, weavings, fruit cake, cookies, gift items, furniture.   In the lobby is an kiosk selling ice cream made on-site from their own herd of cows.  There is also a bakery. The vegetables, meats and dairy in the restaurant are provided from on-site.

Senior students bid for the server jobs in the restaurant as they get to keep their tips.  The servers are very professional, dressed formally in white jackets.  Looking into the restaurant.

We had a marvelous lunch.   I had smoked tomato soup, chicken salad on a mini croissant and sweet potato fries.  Leonard had BBQ brisket over jalapeno grits and fresh green beans.  Average cost of lunch is $10.00, dinner $16.00.    Quite impressive.

Furniture made by students:

Look at this fireplace and sitting area.

The front porch.

We hear calls for the government to provide free tuition to all students.   I believe people maintain a degree of dignity when they WORK for what they receive.  We see that when we provide labor at peoples home through the NOMADS program.  Most of the homeowners, aside from being thankful for what we do, want to work along with us.  It gives them pride.

We visited a similar college in Berea, KY a few years back.  The students worked.  They were proud of the results of their efforts.  The campus was beautiful.  Again, tuition free.

In both cases, private industry sees the benefit of endowments to these institutions.  In the case of College of the Ozarks, Bass Pro Shops, along others, is a major benefactor.

This is the way it should be!   Business, the community and the college working together to provide a cost-free education to deserving students.

Until next time.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Camping costs

Turkey Creek Escapees Park
Hollister, MO

Last Thursday we moved from the COE park near Poplar Bluff, MO to this small Escapees park near Branson.

One of the larger expenses in the full time RV life is the cost of campgrounds.   To manage the costs I look for parks within certain systems.  I say "I" because my RV partner and hubby, Leonard, wants nothing to do with any planning, including parks, routes, etc.  He tells me to just point him it the right direction.

Our memberships:

Escapees  (  www.escapees.com )  Headquarters in Livingston, TX

The first membership we joined back in 2007 (3 years before we got on the road) was Escapees.  At that time the annual dues were $80.00.  The last few years we've paid $40.00.   For that cost, we pay a discounted rate at their Rainbow parks and Co-ops.

Rainbow Parks are Escapees owned and operated.  SKP Co-ops are owned and operated by member group of Escapees and only members can park there.   This week  our cost at Turkey Creek near Branson is $135.00.  We have also stayed at their parks in Summerdale, AL; Pecos, TX; Livingston, TX; Deming, NM; Congress, AZ; and Heiskell, TN.    These are non-frill parks.  Do not expect swimming pools.  There are some planned activities such as Potlucks and Jam Sessions.    We've stayed at 3 of their coops:  Hondo, TX; Benson, AZ and Casa Grande, AZ.  A month in Benson cost us $287.00 plus electric for full hooks up plus cable. That was back in 2011.

Passport America

Then we joined  Passport America.   ( www.passportamerica.com  )This is quite a bargain at $44.00 a year.    PA has close to 1,900 campgrounds that are part of the system.  These campgrounds give a 50% discount rate to members.  BUT each campground has their own criteria.  Some not during summer months, some for only weekdays,  some at a one or two day limit.  When using PA, we (I) do our homework.  But worth it.  We like the Gettysburg area.  Our favorite there is a PA member.  The nightly cost is a beyond us paying that much......$60.00.   However, Monday through Thursday night we pay $30.00.  And on weekends they give to 10% discount for Good Sam Members.  More than pays for a few years membership.   We have used PA all over the country.

Good Sam

This membership comes along with our Camping World membership.   Many parks give the Good Sam discount of 10%.  Not a great savings, but all savings help.

Corps of Engineers   (COE)

This is our absolute favorite way to save big bucks.   Before we became "seniors" we would purchase a Federal Parks Pass that cost us $50.00 a year.  It is now $80.00.  That pass gave us free access to all Federal Parks.  When we reached 62 we were eligible for the Senior America the Beautiful pass.  What a bargain.  $10.00 and it is good for the rest of our lives.  It gives us not only free access to Federal Parks but a 50% discount at COE campgrounds and certain sites such as Mammoth Cave.

It the last three weeks we stayed at 3 COE parks between Gettysburg and Branson.  We have loved every COE park where we've stayed over the years.  Some have just electric, some electric and water.  But we have found more and more have full hook up.  Typical cost is $10.00 a night. The sites are huge, the area kept pristine.   Best bargain ever!

Thousand Trails  (  www.ThousandTrails.com )

We fell into this program when we were given a free one year membership in 2014 when we purchased our previous fifthwheel.

Thousand Trails has several plans.  It is best to consider where you travel to determine the best one for your situation.   We were offered a 4 year contract at $425.00 a year that includes two zones.  There are 5 zones throughout the country.   We choose the Northeast zone and the Southeast zone.  So we have choices from Maine to Florida and out to Texas.   Our plan allows us to stay at one of their parks for 14 nights then we must be out of their entire system for at least 7 nights.  It works for us.

So we pay the $425. a year.  The first 30 nights of parking we pay nothing.  Then we pay $3.00 a night with some exceptions where we pay $6.00 a night.    Why does it work?   There are 3 parks near the Jersey shore.  My sister also belongs we so get to camp next to each other often during the summer.  One park near Hershey, PA is 7 miles from where one of my daughter lives.  The park in Alabama is about 25-30 miles from where our son lives.    There is a park 40 miles from where the daughter near Houston lives.   These are all convenient to our plans.  Plus we have stayed at other of their properties.

One downside.   Our plan allows us to make reservations no more than 60 days out.  And all members who make reservations are guaranteed a place but not a certain site.  When arriving you drive around the park and find a site.  So, we come in on either early on a Sunday or a Tuesday or Wednesday.  We don't even consider a Thursday afternoon, Friday or Saturday.


I have a book of Casinos that allow RV parking.  Some have hookups, some don't.  Some charge, some don't.   We stayed at two and both had full hookups.   One was free, the other $5.00 a night.

 Mooch Camping

Well this is tacky.  We also Mooch Camp.   Our two favorites:   Mooneyham Nursery in New Jersey and at our friends the Halberts in Houston.   But the one in Houston has come to an end.  Our new rig is just too long to make the turn into their driveway.  It  was nice while it lasted.  Free parking and breakfast and dinner.  Ah, well.

So that's how we live.

Until next time.