Tuesday, June 26, 2018

What Are You (NOT) Doing This Summer?

Something Michael said the other day stuck with me and got me thinking as I cleaned toilets this morning. "I'm glad I have time to do this now," he said. He was referring to building with his LEGO and playing by himself with the various toys in his room that he generally doesn't have much time for during the school year.  I'm glad I have time to do this now.

Moving to wiping down the counters I thought about how I've been asked too many times to count, "What are your kids doing this summer?" After this question, the right answer is to list the different camps that the children will be dropped off to enjoy various enrichment experiences. But the truth is, other than vacation bible school (where I volunteer), I didn't sign them up. For anything. We don't even belong to "the pool." So what the heck are we going to do all summer?

Admittedly, I'm coming from a place of privilege. Our family work situation allows me to be home with the kids all summer. I'm fully aware of the fact that not everyone can or wants to do this and count myself lucky. We own a pop up camper so we hit the road for long weekends pretty often. The kids and I go to amazing (and inexpensive) children's theater about once a week. We will go to a few free events at the park. However, there are days with nothing at all on the calendar. I like it that way.

In addition to not doing "camps," another thing I am NOT doing? Charts. Any kind of chart, workbook, time keeper, etc. And I will not feel bad about this! Those things are more work for ME than anyone else. There will be no recording of minutes read, no tracking of tablet time, no required number of workbook pages, none of that. After a few years of doing some small combination of those things (that I'd completely abandon after a week or two) I started thinking- WHY? And what messages does it send the kids when I decide that some activities are more desirable than others, some activities are considered WORK, and some are considered time wasters and should be limited. Is reading work? Should there be a time minimum imposed? Are all games on the tablet time wasters? This is just too damn much thinking for me. The kids seem to respond just fine to me saying, "Hey, haven't you melted your brain enough for today?" Honestly, I think the kids have come to enjoy reading and writing for their own enjoyment because it's valued and not something to do to earn a reward.

But some work needs to get done, right? Take today for example. The car is being inspected so we are home for the day. The kids get up and are watching Magic's Biggest Secrets Revealed (amazing show) for the third time. After breakfast I say, "Hey kids, in a bit I think it might be time to give the TV a rest and do a bit of clean up in your rooms." The TV was turned off and the kids went up while I worked on the bathrooms. About 15 minutes into the clean up Mike says, "Mom, I just found this drone that Uncle Chris gave me for my birthday. Should I try it outside?" So I say, "Yeah, sure- Erin, why don't you take a break too and go see the drone outside." Because enough clean up got done and we can get back to it later, no big hurry. I'm glad we have time to do this now.

This summer feels short. I missed my kids so much while they were both in school full time this year. While they are both young and still seem to like me, I want to be with them. Another thing I keep telling myself (thanks to Mike's reminder) is that they worked hard at school this year and they need a break. These 10 and 6 year olds worked full time jobs. They want some time in their own home just playing with toys, or reading their books, or (yes) playing on the tablet. They need a break.

As a person who gladly over-volunteers for just about anything and everything, I'm tired too. I'm tired of schedules, papers from school, packing lunches, remembering things, and all that stuff we just did from Sept- June. Why would I want to do that all summer?! SO I'm not going to feel guilty about lazing around a bit, letting the chores slide, or reading a book instead of making dinner. I'm going to take a cue from my kids and be glad I have time to do this now.

Monday, August 17, 2015

For the Ladies- Camping with Aunt Flo

Oh yes. I'm going there. If you're camping with kids then chances are you're also camping with a lady. And if you're camping with a lady then chances are at some point that lady will have...her period. Yep. I said it. I'm getting a bit less bashful in my late 30's. I mean, I'm certainly not as brave as the marathoner who recently ran all 26 miles during her period sans tampon. She was trying to make a statement. I'm more about not ruining a good pair of pants. But good for her.

Some time last year I skimmed through an article someone posted on Facebook about the reusable Diva Cup. Eureka! How could I have gone all these years without knowing of an option other than pads or tampons? I quickly ran to Amazon and poured over the thousands (yes, thousands) of positive reviews of this thing. A menstrual cup! Really? I was interested but it wasn't until a trusted book club buddy admitted (after a few glasses of wine) that she bought one and loved it. That was all I needed to click submit on my order. My Diva was to arrive in 3-5 days.

I'm going to break it down for you here- the pros and the cons. Get ready. If you can't handle it, turn back now.

1. No trash. No waste. No garbage can filled with gross smelly objects.
2. No odor. You know what happens when blood is exposed to air? Yeah, so do I and it ain't pretty.
3. One purchase for all of your feminine protection needs for less than $30.00 a year. If you go with the Diva brand they suggest replacing it every 12 months. That beats buying a box a month of whatever you used to buy. Oh and did I mention, NO WASTE?
4. Nothing mysterious around your lady parts. No bleached cotton, no scented pads. 
5. It only needs to be emptied 2-3 times a day (in my experience). The box says it can be worn up to 12 hours without changing it. I can say that I have had no trouble going overnight. Love that.
6. No icky string.
7. No need to carry extra supplies in your purse, bag, pocket, etc. Just dump, rinse, reuse!
8. It's comfortable! Once it's in correctly you are ready to roll. 
9. I'm saving the environment. I'm not exactly a granola mom- we eat at McDonald's- but this is something I can feel good about.
10. Perfect for camping. 

1. It takes practice. A lot of practice. Don't give up. Commit to this thing and you will feel happy, free, and proud of yourself. Take a moment to gently break if off with your current feminine products. You'll start singing, "Damn, I Feel Like a Woman," almost immediately.

Ladies, do yourself a solid and buy one. They sell two models- one for women who have not had children and another for those of us who have. And do me a favor. Once you've learned the ways of the Diva, share the knowledge. You could change someones life just like my book club buddy changed mine. Camp on in comfort!

A request-
If you order a Diva Cup from Amazon please consider choosing Team CMMD Foundation as your Amazon Smile Charity. I run (not marathons) with Divas of many sorts. Team CMMD is a running group that raises money to help local families fighting cancer. When you choose Team CMMD Foundation as the charity you support, Amazon will send a percentage of your purchase to the Foundation. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Camper's Mansion: Napier Sportz Midsize SUV Tent Review

The Camper's Mansion
Napier Sportz Midsize SUV Tent Review
Guest blogger, Rhea Perry

When we started this blog a few months ago I begged my friend Rhea Perry to write something for me about "that cool car camping thing." She very kindly and professionally penned this detailed review about a new way to have your camping adventures. Enjoy, and thank you to Rhea!

The Sportz Midsize SUV Tent is a perfect shelter for family camping adventures. The innovative design uses an adjustable durable tarp-like sleeve to transform your CUV, SUV or minivan into ample camping space.  This sleeve is also detachable to transform your shelter into a standard ground tent.

Last spring we were surfing the web for new family camping ideas and my husband stumbled on this SUV tent. I immediately fell in love with the idea of using the back of our Chrysler Town & Country as additional camping space. I was picturing a twin-sized air mattress in the back and space to change diapers while standing up. It was full of potential and convenience. As luck would have it, I found one barely used on a regional swap and sell site.
A few days before our camping trip, I backed my van into the yard and unfolded the tent to gain some experience setting up. I highly recommend this for any new tent purchase. There is little worse than showing up to your campsite in the dark and arguing over what goes where. I know I'm not the only one.

The assembly is a breeze and can be done by one person if needed. The tent assembles into a plentiful height of 6' in the corners and a spacious 7' in the center. The connecting SUV sleeve goes up over the open hatch and under the bumper encasing the backend of your vehicle to extend your living space into a mini mansion. The tent is equipped with a 6' x 6' awning and a 6' x 7' bottomless screen room if you've purchased that model.

I highly recommend this mini mansion shelter to any SUV owner looking for a little extra space and functionality in their car camping excursions.


·         Adjustable SUV sleeve custom fits your CUV, SUV or minivan hatch creating additional     camping space.

·         Detachable SUV sleeve transforms tent into a standard ground tent.

·         9' x 9' footprint comfortably sleeps 4 - 5 persons.

·         7' of overhead room at the center and 6' in the corners.

·         Steel and fiberglass pole structure for strength and durability.

·         Waterproof polyester taffeta tent featuring full length taped and seamed rain fly and storm flaps in the windows.

·         Durable waterproof shower liner style floor prevents rain runoff from flooding in.

·         Cyclone Ventilation system provides adequate airflow without compromising storm coverage.

·         Two inside gear pockets and a gear loft.

·         Approximate weight: 30 lbs.

Go for the screen room. We definitely wish we had that extra space.
Shop around. Most sporting goods stores offer the screen room model new from $260 - $370.
If you purchase the screen room model, spend the extra $30 on the Sportz Footprint to line the bottom of the screen room.
A standard twin sized air mattress is a bit too wide to fit the bed of an SUV or minivan. Coleman makes, at a reasonable price, a Portable SUV Quickbed that measures 41" x 63."

I have to say the spacious overhead layout is my favorite feature of this tent.
The shower liner style floor is new to me in the world of camping equipment features and I was quite impressed with the ease of sweeping it out at the end of our trip as well as the ability to keep light rain from leaking in at the bottom seams.

The adjustable SUV sleeve doesn't quite fit around the bottom of my 2013 Chrysler Town & Country. The bumper is a little wider than my previous 2010 Dodge Caravan model and consequently the sleeve comes up about an inch or two short in material to encase the bumper. To solve that issue, I tuck the bumper portion of the sleeve under the back row of my stow-n-go seating and the folded down seats seem to hold it in place just fine.
I saved a ton of money buying slightly used. The problem is that not everyone sweeps their tent out at the end of a camping stay and over time that dirt grinds at the tent like sandpaper when the tent is stored away. Our tent is in excellent condition with a few little holes in the mesh of the ceiling vent and top of the fly.
While the tent is perfect for car camping, it's much too bulky to kick the car sleeve and pack into camp to use as a ground tent even if the load was split between two persons.
Campground camping often requires lot scouting and reservation to secure the perfect space to fit the vehicle and tent side-by-side. 

­ Guest Blogger Spotlight:
Rhea Perry is a SAHM of 4 and blogger at Rhë Rambles rherambles.wordpress.com . She is a Washington state native, raised Montanan, currently living in the picturesque Utah valley. She's gained a lifelong love of backcountry adventures and enjoys sharing this love with family and friends.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A semi-sad review of Spring Gulch

Updates from our visit in October 2015: 
We were so sad to hear of the passing of our favorite magician at Spring Gulch,"Harry Who."  Thank you to the Spring Gulch staff for organizing a small memorial for Harry during the time he would usually perform. According to my son, "He was a great magician and he never failed." We will miss him. 

I'll quickly break down a few changes I noted from last year:
PROS: This year we brought our camper to the Gulch instead of staying in a rental. The site itself was roomy and grassy.  We heard from others that the disgusting flooring of the cabin we stayed in last year (as mentioned in this blog post) has been replaced. We also noticed that the bathrooms near the playground have had a make-over and are looking a lot better. Hopefully Encore will continue to make improvements. There is a lot of potential- the property is huge.

CONS: The game room was still closed. A few activities were available and we did attend several but found them to be hastily thrown together. The exception to this would be the Haunted House- that was great. The scavenger hunt was painfully disorganized- not enough copies of the list of items, and it took 40 minutes for the woman to check the lists when we returned. The woman running the events could have been friendlier. The cost for what you are getting here is too high compared to other campgrounds in the vicinity. Spring Gulch costs more AND charged a fee of $4 for children and a $12 resort fee. I have no idea what those charges bought me. For a lower price you can get much more for your money elsewhere. 

Review of Spring Gulch Campground
New Holland, PA
October 2014

Honestly, I'm torn here.
This is the first time I'm going to write some pretty ugly things- about a campground where I have so many fond memories. If you only care about the bad things, scroll to the bottom for some gruesome photos. If you want to hear a more balanced story of the Gulch, read on...

Every October for over 10 years our extended family has rented a large home at Spring Gulch. We have a blast EVERY year. This year was no exception. We are the type of family that will have fun anywhere. Yeah- we bring the party. The Gulch is special, we think of it fondly. We have embroidered hats that say I (Heart) Spring Gulch. We own all the Gulch sweatshirts they make. We have painted pictures of our favorite rental unit. We hate to see it fall into disrepair. We are rooting for the Gulch to make a comeback.

                                           October 2014- kids having a ball trick-or-treating

Over the years we have participated and won MANY fun contests run by the campground- site decorating, pie eating, pie baking, costume contest, scavenger hunts, bingo, pumpkin carving, you name it- we won it and had a ball. But as years have passed and activities managers have come and gone, the activities just don't have the pizazz they used to. It gives the appearance that they are just phoning it in. This year the Saturday night DJ was a no show. We couldn't believe that there was no way the Gulch couldn't hook up a cd for the kids to dance to? Instead the lights were flipped off on us. It was sad.

                           October, 2014- Harry Who- family friendly magician, a Gulch staple we love.

Spring Gulch was purchased by Encore several years ago. This may be where things started to go wrong. Talking with several other campers, the thought is that Encore is no longer putting money into this property. What a shame. The grounds have the potential to be amazing. It's huge- and there are lots of lovely wooded sites, a swimming pond and a fishing pond. The location is perfect, down past many rolling farms, nestled in the Amish countryside. The potential is endless.

                                         October 2014- Costume contest in the Dance Barn. 

Here were the main highlights and issues for our stay in October 2014. I will note specific issues with our rental unit towards the bottom:

Great/good things: 
1. Trick or treating for the kids.
2. Bingo.
3. Generous prizes for contests
4. Good band Sunday night.
5. The craft show (which was mainly home demonstration type vendors but still very nice and raising money for Relay for Life).
6. Great ice cream- and my son won an ice cream for doing a scavenger hunt.
7. Rental units updated with new TVs- they do NOT play any TV stations, just DVD's (which you need to bring). 
8. Proximity to Shady Maple.
9. Quiet and peaceful weekend with nice walks through the woods. 
10. The Haunted House and Harry Who the Magician. 
11. Check in staff is very nice. 
12. All the stuff we did on our own that made it awesome- campfires, games, good food, family time, crafts, decorating, naps. Enjoying spending time together, unplugged.

Here are a few cruddy things:
1. Saturday DJ cancelled- no back up plan.
2. No music during kids Halloween parade/contest. Sounds nit-picky I know, but how hard is it to turn on the Monster Mash while the kids parade around?
3. Game Room closed all weekend?
4. Bathrooms- very, very poor shape and very dirty. Luckily we were able to use the shower in my in-laws rental unit. 
5. Activities manager seemed to hate her job. It was uncomfortable. 
6. Trash/litter around the park.
7. THE COST!!! I'm so upset that we spent over $350 for the rental unit this weekend.

Here are some issues with the rental cottage. We have never stayed in one of these cottages before but it was getting a bit crowded in the big rental house with our family so we decided we would rent the small unit next door. We had to book a year in advance and would lose money if we cancelled and brought our pop up. In hindsight we should have cancelled, paid the fee and returned with our pop up once we saw the interior of the rental. Here comes the scary stuff...

1. The heater was covered in dust and when plugged in smelled like burning hair. We discovered frayed wires. 
2. The unit was very old and very dirty. I don't think the floors have been mopped in ages. Crud everywhere. The ceiling fan was layered in dust.
3. Hole forming in the bathroom floor. Covered by a dirty rug which I tossed outside and replaced with a rug of my own. 
4. Brown footprints on the ceiling above the bunks, things spilled and splashed onto the mini blinds and the back of the front door.
5. Very, very dirty cushions on the small couch and chair. We removed the cushions and sat on the wood.
6. The cost. I feel horribly ripped off.

Ok- the photos.



                                                                  Bathroom Floor (my rug)

Something splashed on the door?

Footprints on the ceiling above the bunk

Cobwebs (not a Halloween decoration)

Summing it up...
So, will we be back? Yes. We will. We keep hoping things will change for the better. We cherish our Gulch memories. We have hope. Will we rent another cottage- NOOOOOO!!!! If you have never stayed at the Gulch I'd say keep your eye on it. We will update next year. But at this time I cannot recommend Spring Gulch campground. Within a ten mile radius you will find the following campgrounds which are much nicer: Oak Creek, Lake-in-Wood, Sun Valley.

Monday, September 15, 2014

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Review of Oak Creek Campground
Narvon, PA 
May 23-26, August 1-3, Sept. 5-7 and Sept. 19-21, 2014
Pop Pop and Brother in what they thought was Devil's Den

Well, if you haven't guessed from the number of times we have visited (and will visit) Oak Creek this year- we love it there. The activities here are top notch. The location is great (near Shady Maple) and there is an awesome hike that your older kids will love. I can't wait to go back...
Oak Creek is ORGANIZED and things happen on time. This is something I really appreciate. You will receive an emailed copy of the events schedule before your stay (love this). Kudos to the husband and wife team who run the campground. All of the staff is great. When you arrive on Fridays for check-in, you are greeted by several people. One will give you your hang tag, and review a neat packet of information including a map, schedule of events, TV channel guide, wifi codes and information about the hike to Devil's Den. Then a staff member on a golf cart will escort you to your site. That's right. No looking for parking for your rig and running inside to check in. It's wildly quick and efficient. 
The campground has what I will call three "levels." The lower level has camping sites, the store, reception, rec hall, big bathrooms, lake, playground and access to the creek and hiking area. Up a hill to the second level you will find more sites, small bathrooms, another playground and the pool area. Up a steep hill you will find many more sites, large bathrooms and another play ground. In our visits we have preferred to be in the lower two levels so that we are in close walking distance to the rec hall and lake.
Dad being silly at the lake. Playground in the background.
We have camped in our pop-up twice (one more coming up this weekend) and once in one of Oak Creek's rental RV's. My in-laws have also rented and enjoyed the rental RV. Everything in the rental RV was so cool! We would love to buy one of these one day... The unit seemed very new, was clean as a whistle and had all the amenities a glamper would need. A full (mini) kitchen with stovetop, oven, microwave and sink, one queen sized bed, and a bunk area that slept four. A small bathroom with a toilet, sink and small shower makes this a great choice for anyone who says they "don't camp." The RV unit had a picnic table and fire ring. In my opinion, if you have a fire ring you are camping!
 Outside the rental RV- we brought the pop-up canopy and strung up lights.

We are looking forward to staying in one of the coveted creekside sites this weekend. These sites are small and would probably be best suited to tent campers and pop-ups and they have the beautiful backdrop of the creek at your doorstep. The past two times we have stayed in sites in the middle level, near the playground. The sites aren't huge but they are wooded, which we prefer. Sites have always been very neat and clean. We prefer to use the larger bathrooms for showers, and on one stay the shower in the small bathroom as out of order. There are several shower stalls with plenty of space in the lower level bathrooms. There is a nice sized counter with electric so you can bring your hair dryer. The rest rooms are ALWAYS clean.  

Oak Creek will provide you with the full back story of Devil's Den when you arrive- read it! Generally it explains that the large boulders at the top of the hike formed caves and nooks where criminals could hide from the law. It was virtually impossible to extract a bad guy from the caves. The hike up the hill takes about 20 minutes. From there you will find the boulders. The first time Dad, Pop Pop and the kids hiked up they found "the wrong Devil's Den." Apparently they found small caves but this was not the actual lair. Go a bit further until you see the marked rocks (see photo). Dad crawled in a bit and took a few turns but admitted to feeling claustrophobic before too long. He snapped a few pictures inside. If you travel up to Devil's Den bring a buddy and a flashlight!
                                      Entrance to the real "Devil's Den is under the rock behind Brother.
                                             Inside "Devil's Den." Follow the arrows...if you dare.

After your hike to the Den take a dip in the pool. Three slides for kids and adults are lots of fun. The pool was clean and busy on the weekends. Some people were smart and brought their own chairs. The low end of the pool is 3 feet and it appeared to go to about 9 feet or so by the slides. If you have a non-swimmer bring a floatie since there is no baby pool. They do have a cool bounce house with small water slide for children under 12. Both our 7 and 3 year old LOVED this. The pool area was very clean and the water was comfortable. They offer water aerobics most Saturday mornings in the summer. I wish I had attended this as I heard great things. I was too busy stuffing my face at Shady Maple. However, I did attend a Zumba class one Sunday morning and it was GREAT! The instructor was a lot of fun and encouraged people of all fitness levels to participate. I highly recommend checking that out if it's offered when you stay. Wear sneakers and bring water.
                                       It's hard to tell from this photo but the pool is nice and big.

I'm a nut for planned activities at a campground if you haven't picked that up yet. As you may have read in my last post about The Rig, my husband's family is highly competitive when it comes to these activities, so if there is something to win, we are winning it. If there are crafts to be made, we will be there. My kids and I have made some great crafts at Oak Creek. Often they offer both a craft and ceramics.The crafts have been free, the ceramics a small charge. Sometimes they have adult craft time as well. They play Bingo Friday nights for cash (two hours, so bring your coffee). They played candy bar bingo one weekend- we thought this was just for kids but it seems the adult seasonals are the only ones who win- they play 6 cards each and make off with all the candy. I think my only suggestion to Oak Creek would be to make this a kids only bingo game. A little sad when no kids won the candy! The activities at Oak Creek are a big draw to us. We've enjoyed bands, dance parties, organized children's games, cooking demonstrations, wagon rides, donuts in the morning, parades, and much much more. They do a great job giving you lots of options for things to do. Or if you want to just kick back and relax at your site- go ahead!
                                         The new Gaga Ball Pit. A nice girl taught us how to play!
                                                    Labor Day Bike and Golf Cart Parade.

Well- have I convinced you to visit Oak Creek? We are looking forward to another themed weekend there coming up. The Big Fish. Oak Creek will put several tagged fish into the lake. If you catch one you could win $100 or $1000 in camping credits. Looks like Dad will be at the lake all day. Oak Creek is nestled in Amish Country. Driving in you will likely pass many beautiful farms and farmstands. Don't be afraid to check out the stands. We have picked up all kinds of great produce at good prices. Black Creek greenhouse is also nearby and nice for a visit. And did I mention Shady Maple? Oh, right. Enough said.

We look forward to many more trips to Oak Creek Campground. We highly recommend this great place to all campers.

                                                                   The Game Room.
                                                                Playground on the middle level.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Our Rig
 Our little red pop-up hitched up for the first time.

Growing up our camping experiences were limited to boy scout and girl scout trips. I spent a week each summer in middle school at a religious sleep away camp (which was more about looking for cute boys than it was about religion or camping). For a long time I was a little fancy about vacationing and never left home without my hair straightener. We went "down the shore" for most vacations but as an adult I began to lose interest in the shore- the crowds and traffic are not for me.

About ten years back my husbands family started renting a fully equipped home on a local campground one weekend in October each year. This "camping" weekend is always highly anticipated. It became a fun to time make memories with the family. Who can resist pumpkin carving contests, pie eating contests, site decorating contests, and costume contests. Oh. I forgot to mention- the family has a competitive streak. We love to win- anything. My husband and I wanted more. Once we had the kids and saw what campgrounds had to offer we knew this would be a great option for vacationing.
                                          Our first annual pie iron creation contest at the rental.

My husband and I started to ease into things. We rented cabins at several local campgrounds. We spent time walking the grounds and admiring all of the great set ups and camping options. We trolled the internet for other campgrounds with cabins and fun activities for the kids. We started thinking about really doing this "for real." 

A pop-up seemed like a good entry level camper for us. We rented a pop up in the spring to test it out and had a great time.We have a small SUV- a 2007 Honda CRV. We visited the camping show in Oaks, PA. We looked online. We trekked to a few showrooms. We had a big let down. Our CRV really couldn't tow the campers we were looking for. Once you added the weight of the humans and all of our gear it just wasn't going to happen.We were crushed!

Not wanting to give up the dream we considered purchasing a new car- but that idea was a bummer and didn't make much sense for us financially. The CRV is a fine car with no payments. We continued exploring for other options. We found it! A very light weight pop-up. The Livin Lite Quicksilver 10.0 www.livinlite.com. The Livin Lite was an incredible 1020 pounds. You could pull it with a Honda Civic. All aluminum, no wood that would rot or get stinky. This was it. The problem was FINDING one.

We located 3 QS 10's at a Camping World store in Hershey and took a trip out there to check them out. We figured if it was no good we could at least have some fun visiting Chocolate World. We climbed inside and it was a great little camper. We could see ourselves using it often. It was simple and well built. We hoped to drive away with it that day but Camping World (although they claimed they needed to sell it fast) was not willing to budge much on the price. My husband really does his homework and knew that they were selling for less elsewhere (when you factor in the fees, taxes, etc.).

Over the next few days we did more research and made some calls. While visiting Kutztown University (class of '99 and '01) we got the call we were waiting for. We sealed the deal while standing in front of the Golden Bear statue. It was meant to be. Our Rig was waiting for us to pick it up at Camping World in Berkeley, Massachusetts. A seven hour drive from home, but the price was right. We'd save enough money to make it worth the trip- a real adventure.

We took our son with us to Massachusetts the next weekend. From our part of PA we traveled up through New York and stopped in Mystic, Connecticut for some pizza. Yes, Mystic Pizza! What a great little town. We can't wait to get back there when we have more time to explore. We got to Camping World, hitched up our new baby and were off! We arranged to stay at a campground on the state line about an hour from Camping World to be sure there were no issues with our new camper. That hour drive was nerve-wracking since my husband had never towed anything much less with a CRV. We made it! We easily set up and enjoyed the new Rig that night. Driving home was looooong and painful.
                                               Set up for the first time in Rhode Island.

Rear of the camper.

I had some concerns about where we would park the QS 10 once we had it home. But my husband and his father were able to back it up our STEEP driveway and into a paved nook on the side. For the winter we will store it in the garage. It's not terribly noticeable in the driveway with the bushes and trees. Hopefully our neighbors don't mind so much.
 The camper in the driveway nook.

So far the QS 10 has been everything we hoped for. It is very easy to set up and breakdown. The space works for our family. Eventually the kids won't want to share a bed, but the dinette area turns into a bed when needed. It tows easily, the CRV does not appear to be straining in any way. We don't see a difference in miles per gallon of gas. There was a learning curve, especially for backing up with the Rig attached. My husband seems to have it all down now. Each time we take it out we come home with ideas for how to improve the experience. The Livin Lite campers are supposed to last a very long time and be very low maintenance. We would highly recommend this camper to anyone with a smaller/ fuel efficient vehicle. We can't wait to keep on exploring!

Christmas in July at Sun Valley Campground.

Set up at Lake In Wood Campground.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Review of Warwick Woods Campground, Elverson PA

Review of Warwick Woods Campground
Elverson, PA
Labor Day Weekend 2014

I was scheduled to work the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. We decided not to let this spoil our fun and looked for a campground that wasn't too far away from my job. I was a little nervous about getting ready for work in the pop-up but I really want to make the most of the weekend. We chose to camp at Warwick Woods off of Route 23 in Elverson. It ended up working out perfectly.

We called only about a week in advance and the woman on the phone was great. She asked Dad what kind of site he might like, how old our kids were, what we were camping in, etc. She gave several personal recommendations for sites that might work based on our needs. This was a really nice touch.She told us she'd put us on the site with the best fire pit in the campground. Sold! When we arrived we were promptly greeted by very nice staff. A man (the owner I'm guessing) offered to drive Dad up to check out the site and another site that might also work. Again, a really nice touch that we appreciated. We went with the "best fire pit site." I'm reluctant to give out the goods, but ok- site 12. Take good care of that fire pit if you stay there. Site 12 was also the perfect distance to the bathrooms and playground. We loved that our 7 year old could cut though a short path in the woods to play with the kids and we could keep an eye on him.

The weekend was busy- I don't recall seeing any open sites except for a few in the tenting area. That said, there seemed to be more tents and pop ups than we ordinarily see. I liked that! The sites were wooded and fairly spacious. Even with the park being pretty full there wasn't too much noise in the evenings. No golf carts are permitted. That was sort of nice not to have them zipping by the site all day. The people we met were great and there were plenty of young kids around.
The only downside to the campground being full was that the bathrooms were busy. Often I feel like we are the only ones using the public restrooms and showers when we camp. I suppose that's because we often camp with the big rigs who have their own facilities. The bathrooms were billed as clean and modern- I'd say not so modern. The showers could use a makeover. However, they did work fine and I often ran into a woman wiping them down. It was a tough weekend to keep things clean since there was a huge rain storm. They seemed to run out of soap and filled the dispensers with hand sanitizer. That said- it's camping and I'm not fancy. The bathrooms weren't a deal breaker and I was glad they were close to my site.

We took the suggested hike out to St. Peter's Village on Sunday morning after breakfast. It took about 45- 50 minutes with our kids. Dad pushed Sister in the jogging stroller however I would not recommend that. It got very rocky for long stretches of the walk. Once we hit the Village we had a great time exploring the boulders. My photos won't do this area justice. I'd recommend it for older kids and adults but our young ones still thought it was AWESOME. Kids were climbing all over, splashing in the water and using a rope swing to drop in the water. Some kids even slid down a big rock shaped like a slide. I did see one kid look hurt after trying that so we had our little guy just scoot down and drop in.

Before you get soaking wet I'd recommend stopping in the St. Peter's Bakery. Holy yum. Right after the hike we went in to get drinks but of course ended up sitting and having AMAZING goodies on the deck that overlooks the rocks and creek. What a great spot. We had pizza on the Bakery deck the night before and it was very good. For pizza nights check the website and make a reservation a day in advance- you'll need it. They are a small operation. Order more than one pizza- they really only feed two people. The view from any table outside can't be beat. Oh and it's BYOB!!! Yea! http://www.saintpetersbakery.com/

In St. Peter's you will also find a few shops- most were closed when we went through town but an arcade looked fun. Dad peeked into the winery and it looked like a nice place to stop in and sample but with the kids we felt like we needed to skip it---next time! The town is small and quaint. There's a large Inn with a restaurant that appeared to be a bit more upscale. They also had a deck overlooking the rocks. The town has great potential. More info on St. Peter's

While I worked on Saturday Dad took the kids to the Ludwig's Horse Show, about a 15 minute drive from the camp ground. They had a ball. This event is held every Labor Day weekend and Saturday happened to be free admission day. http://ludwigshorseshow.com/

Over the weekend we attended several camp run activities. They were all great. The kids did ceramics which was well organized and reasonably priced. We played Bingo twice- again well organized and lots of fun! In between rounds they had drawings for little gift bags which Brother loved. They had a magic show Saturday night which was very, very good. The pool looked great but due to the rain we never got to take a dip. We played a bunch of games in the arcade for tickets (Brother cashed them in for the usual exciting prizes- spider ring, bubbles, etc.). The fishing pond looked nice but we never did have time to fish.

Warwick Woods has a small camp store with the basics. They serve up GREAT ice cream. We just had servings in bowls but I saw someone walk out with the most amazing looking sundae. They also do milkshakes and floats! Serving sizes were generous.

I can't say enough how kind and helpful all of the staff were at the campground. They were very friendly to us and our children. This goes a long way with me. We would not hesitate to stay at Warwick Woods again. It was a really nice campground.

And- dog friendly! (we don't have a pooch but if you do, you're good to go!)