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Review of Willow Lake RV Resort in League City, TX – Full-Time RV Life

We spent 30 days at the Willow Lake RV Resort in League City, Texas.  It was our first month-long stay.  Using our five points of reference for reviews, I hope the following is a fair and honest review of this park from our perspective.

1.  Price Point, Cleanliness, and Appearance.

The park was extremely clean and well kept.  There was a beautiful lake with waterfowl, turtles, and fish.  The landscaping was neat and colorful.  The price point was around $650 per month for back-in sites and $700-750 for pull-through/lakefront with an allotment of kilowatts of electricity.  We booked the lower-cost, back-in site since the lakefront was full.  To give an example of how close together the sites were, putting our awning out provided shade for our neighbor’s sewer and electric hookup.  The higher-priced sites may have had an additional two to three feet more room between rigs, but the draw was pull-through/lakefront. There was no room for any outside personal space to sit and relax or outdoor grilling.  All of the sites are simply too close together.  The website photos show only pretty areas of the resort and no images of a fully booked park.

2.  Ease of Entering and Exiting the Site and Access to Hookups.

We arrived in the dark after hours and the resort layout was difficult to navigate.  We had to circle around two times to locate the site and get the right angle to park the motorhome.  Mike is an expert at getting the rig into tight places, but this was exceptionally challenging due to the tight space and avoiding obstacles.  The hookups were in new condition and easily accessible.

3.  Amenities/Wi-Fi.

This park had excellent Wi-Fi.  We used Willow Lake’s Wi-Fi the entire time for personal device use and watching YouTube videos.  The other amenity we used was the gym.  The exercise equipment was in excellent/new condition, but the room was very small and the video surveillance was disconcerting (the video cameras were on a computer display at the front desk in full view of arriving guests, etc.).  There was a beautiful patio area behind the front office building with a lakefront view and boardwalk for fishing, and it provided comfortable seating and large gas fire pits for small gatherings.  There were two modest pet areas with provided clean-up bags. We enjoyed the 0.6-mile stroll around the lake and walked several laps during the day.  The resort had a unique dog washing area with warm water and dog shampoo provided.  There was also a community room and a theater room with a big screen and six movie-style chairs.  The laundry facility was clean with new machines.  They did have a very small pool, but it was off season.

4.  Friendliness of Staff.

We did not arrive during office hours, so our contact with the office staff was the next day. They were somewhat curt, but that was the only interaction we had with them other than equally curt mass e-mails about speeding in the park and intermittent water outages.

5.  Will We Stay Again?

This park was new and had beautiful amenities, but the sites were too close together for our personal style of RV living.  The price point was too high for the value.  We will not stay here again if we are in the Houston area.

In summary, the resort was close to just about everything and we accomplished our must-sees while staying there.  Most other RVers in the park seemed to be seasonal workers so it was extremely quiet throughout the day.  We did have a memorable encounter with a neighbor while we stayed there–read about it here, but that is no reflection on the park or its staff. While Willow Lake RV Resort was not a fit for our individual needs, it was clean, quiet (for the most part), and convenient.

Please offer feedback on this review.

Thank you,

Dawn

 

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Our Top Five Considerations In RV Park Reviews – Full-Time RV Life

“… You never know what you’re going to get.”   —Forrest Gump

Choosing a campground can sometimes be challenging.  The valuable reviews done by fellow RVers are a big part of our research before booking in an unfamiliar area. We utilize several different avenues for finding parks or resorts–Google, All-Stays, state parks, RVillage or Facebook group recommendations, Good Sam, Passport America, etc.  There are several other sources to choose from, but experienced RVer reviews carry tremendous weight.

The following are our top 5 desires in researching a campground to park our 40-foot Class A.   We use these criteria when reading reviews on campgrounds and they are our top five when writing a review.  Please note that we do not currently boondock because of work, so these are for RV parks only.

1.  PRICE POINT, CLEANLINESS, AND APPEARANCE

You get what you pay for.  Sometimes it can be a steal, and others a total bust.  Is the campground clean and well-kept?   Are the facilities updated and maintained?   It’s our home for the next few days, so it’s okay to be picky.  Sometimes pictures on line are deceiving and reviews can make or break the decision.

2.  EASE OF ENTERING AND EXITING THE SITE AND ACCESS TO HOOKUPS

Although we try not to arrive at a campground in the dark, it does sometimes happen. Easy maneuverability through the park and access to our campsite is significant, especially if backing into the site.  Hookups should be in good repair and easily accessible.

3.  AMENITIES/WI-FI

We are currently bare-bones and no-frills because we are targeting campgrounds close to family. The fancy amenities may be more important to us in the future.  Does it have a pool? A dog park?  Do they provide a gym? Are the laundry facilities in good repair and clean?  Can the rig be washed while parked?  Is there a community room for activities?  Are there picnic tables and ample room at the site for outdoor cooking and visiting?   Is the wi-fi strong?  Beware, the answer to the last question is, for the most part, a big resounding, “NO.”  They may advertise free wi-fi, but it is usually extremely slow and unreliable.

4.  FRIENDLINESS OF STAFF

Friendliness goes a long way in engaging customers.  RV campgrounds are no different.  If someone at the front desk is sour and put-upon, it sets the tone for the entire stay.  If the escort to the site is gruff and grumpy, it makes us want to keep on driving through and go to the next campground on the list.  How do they address a problem?  Do they enforce the park rules?   Basically, are they welcoming?

5.  WOULD WE STAY AGAIN?

That’s the most important question.  Did we enjoy our stay?  Was the location central to everything we wanted to accomplish?   Were the utilities constant and reliable?  Did we make friends?  There is always a chance we’ll be back since family is nearby, so the decision to keep a campground on our favorites list means we really loved it.

There are other things to take into consideration.  Are there partial or full hookups?  Is the park family friendly?  Do they allow our breed of dog?  Is it in the city or more of a nature park?  Do they allow golf carts or other ‘toys?’  Those are considerations paramount before considering booking  a reservation.  RVers should have their  list of requirements when researching places to stay and share their review of RV parks so others can be informed.

What’s on your list?  Are there additional requirements important to you when reading reviews?  Please share them so I can provide more thorough opinions on the RV parks we visit.

Until the next time,

Dawn

 

“Mooch-Docking,” Leaving Houston, and Saying Goodbye to Dear Friends – Full-Time RV Life

MOOCHDOCKING:

Mooch: To get or take without paying or at another’s expense; sponge:

Boondocking:  Staying in parking lots/natural areas for free.

…Urban Dictionary/Dictionary.com

When we decided to go full-time RVing, we had an extensive list of all the places we wanted go–Oregon, Washington, Alaska, the New England States, the Great Plains, and so many others.  It was difficult to choose an initial destination.  We decided to get our feet wet by taking a year and visiting areas close to family and friends while gaining experience and knowledge about living on the road, manhandling our budget to a comfortable range, and finding our daily groove with work/life balance.

Our adventure began in the parking lot of the Cummins dealer for repairs.  We then moved on to Alabama to stay at a quiet little RV park where we met up with Patrick from The Paddy Wagon.   It was sad to say goodbye to the new friends we’d made at each location.  Our next stop was Houston, Texas, where we got to visit with long-time friends Bobby and Tammy.   We were there to await a surprise cruise for Mike’s parents’ 50th anniversary and meeting people at the airport coming into Galveston/Houston for that special occasion.  We stayed in a campground that was in close proximity to our friends and activities we wanted to do in the area.

Good friends are hard to find

ones that open their home and hearts

without asking for anything in return is close to impossible.

We did have a couple conundrums to work through.  What would we do with our motorhome while on the cruise?  Do we keep it in the RV park?  Do we find a storage spot for seven-day duration?  Here’s where good friends came to the rescue.  Bobby and Tammy offered their ranch for storage that week and let us continue to stay until we departed for Austin.  Not only did they extend hospitality for our RV, but they also opened their home to guests coming as a surprise for the anniversary celebration. Good friends are hard to find–ones that open their home and hearts without asking for anything in return is close to impossible.  We are blessed, because our friends love us (and vice versa).

Below is a video of Mike pulling into Camp Bobby and Tammy:

 

Mooch-docking is distasteful to me–not to mention, mooching is just, well, not a very nice term.  However, this experience was amazing because we got to spend time with friends and family.  Tammy has decorated her backyard patio unto a sweet oasis with a fire pit and comfortable seating.  It was peaceful to sit there with a morning cup of coffee and visit with Tammy and guests.  We could watch the horses frolic in the pasture and the dogs scramble for a prime “mark spot” in the backyard.  We also enjoyed the time of laughter and fun while playing board games and vying for first place in friendly competition.  There were also short trips to Buc ee’s, shopping, and visiting local restaurants.

Bobby and Tammy were wonderful hosts and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.  It was a challenge to sneak around and find their favorite wine and liquor and small little things they would enjoy as thank you gifts, but that still feels inadequate.  They made our time in Houston memorable and we can’t wait to visit again.  (I promise it won’t be in your front yard, Tammy.)

This lifestyle is amazing–we can pick up and go to the next destination any time we want, but Houston was hard to leave.  I’ll dearly miss my conversations with Tammy, relaxing on her patio, and deepening a lasting friendship.

Austin was in the front window as we left Houston behind.  Although I’m not going to think about it now, it’ll be just as hard to leave Austin when it’s time.   I guess we’ll leave pieces of our hearts wherever we go while we build these marvelous memories.  The positive is the excitement of returning and picking up where we left off–without skipping a beat.

The best things in life

are the people we love, the places we’ve been,

and the memories we’ve made.  

…Unknown

With thanks and gratitude,

Love, Dawn

 

 

Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry – Galveston, TX – Full-Time RV Life

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There is something exciting about riding a ferry.  I spent 30 years in Jacksonville, Florida. Every time we had family or friends visit, taking the ferry out of Mayport was a must.  The salt air, the gentle swaying of the boat, the sharp squawks of the seagulls, watching the pelicans snatch fish into their beaks, and the thrill of an occasional dolphin flipping the surface of the water.  It has a charm that is hard to explain.

It was no different in Galveston.  The Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry ride was better because it was free and had a much longer duration than the one in Mayport.  We were there shortly before sunset and the experience enlisted all five senses.

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Ferry on the way out of Galveston

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Not sure if we’ll ever take the motorhome on board.

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Similar ferry in the distance.

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Leaving the dock behind.

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Are they contemplating who’s next to “baptize” in poop?

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The shipping channel.

There was so much to see.  The shipping channel ran parallel to the ferry and large cargo ships could be seen.  Children giggled and squealed as seagulls dove for their offerings of crackers.  The gulls and pelicans took flight and soared by, sometimes so close to us we could almost touch them.  Ship horns sounded in the distance and carried on the wind.  We could feel the heaviness of salt in the air and taste the tang left on our lips.

When the ride came to an end and we docked on the other side, we had arrived at the Bolivar Peninsula.

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The Bolivar Peninsula was totally devastated by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and there has not been much rebuilding since that time.  We drove a few miles into it and saw miles of beaches and only scattered home communities.  I wish we had more time to explore, but darkness was almost upon us and we needed to get back to the ferry.

Once we drove onto the ferry for the return trip, we again got out of our vehicles and enjoyed the cold evening air on the trip back to Galveston as the sun was fully setting.

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It was one of our most memorable evenings in Galveston and we later joined friends for dinner.  It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, and I highly recommend it for everyone.

Until the next adventure,

Love, Dawn

 

T-Bone Tom’s – Kemah, TX – Full-Time RV Life

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There are good restaurants with local flavor and character everywhere in the United States.  We have been to a few (The Derailed Diner, for example).  Our visit to T-Bone Tom’s in Kemah, Texas, was no different.  The variety of food served with a smile was a pleasant experience.

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The decor at T-Bone Tom’s was country flare/Americana with checked tablecloths on wooden tables.  A unique touch was on the well-worn chairs–they had sponsored ads or personal messages.  Each one was different–from family memorials to plumbing and air conditioning ads.  We visited the restaurant twice and found something new each time.

There was a variety of food on the menu so everyone in a party can find something to fit their individual palates.  For us, it was boudin balls for an appetizer (yummy shrimp cocktail on our second visit), chicken fried chicken, and chicken fried steak (with brown gravy).  The green beans were the BOMB.  There were plenty of sides to choose and no shortage of food.  In fact,  we had enough for lunch the next day.

The ambiance was fun, casual, and laid-back.  While the food was wonderful and the service friendly and fun, the best part was the company.  Wonderful friends, family, Shiner Bock, and food–it was a melding of the stomach, heart, and soul.

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Until our next adventure,

Love, Dawn

 

 

Helen’s Garden – A Quiet Oasis in League City, Texas – Full-Time RV Life

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Helen’s Garden is one of my favorite city parks.  Located in the historic section of League City, Texas, it is situated along busy Main Street with a steady stream of bustling traffic.  However, the moment I walked into the beautifully landscaped entrance, the sense of passing time and the swishing sound of fast-moving cars disappeared.  I was transported into a space of beauty, peace, and tranquil silence.

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Entrance to Helen’s Garden

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One of Two Archways

There was a brick walkway surrounding the lush landscape with benches for sitting and reflecting scattered throughout.  A small koi pond with a soothing waterfall was in the center of the park and I could feel the relaxation deep in my soul as I continued to walk.

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Waterfall and Pond in Center of Park

Beautiful pink winter roses were in bloom and dispersed around the markers explaining the name of the park and in whose honor it was dedicated.

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Helen Contributed to Her Community

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Roses Surrounding Historic Markers

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Park Dedicated in Helen’s Honor

Normally, I would not have spent so much time in a city park such as this.  My initial purpose was to shoot some photos and practice with a new camera.  Instead, I found an oasis that introduced me to myself again.  Sometimes our paths take us to unexpected places–the location may not be what we had preconceived or even go according to plan.  Sometimes, those paths affect us in our hearts and minds and become a memory that stays with us, maybe even haunting us.  Helen’s Garden was a time for me to stop and reflect on a new direction, a change within my psyche that will hopefully propel me in directions I might not have considered before.   We all need such a place from time to time.  I hope you enjoy these images from Helen’s Garden.

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Until the next adventure.

Love, Dawn

Challenger Seven Memorial Park -Webster, Texas – RV Life

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It has been a while since my last post.  A family cruise followed by a serious bout of influenza A put a delay on cohesive thought processes for a short bit.

Our last campground was located in League City, Texas, a suburb of Houston.  It was a nice area with absolutely everything under the sun within a short driving distance.   Since Mike was working during the weekdays and I was occupied by twiddling my thumbs, I decided to explore some of the local parks on my own.  With a new-to-us camera in hand (thank you, Jim), my adventure of the day was to visit the Challenger Seven Memorial Park in hopes of learning something new and seeing an amazing memorial to the Challenger Seven crew.

The landscape in that area of Texas was pretty flat and brown from the winter.  Driving into the park, it was easy to see for a good distance.  I was expecting a visitor’s center with some background information, maybe some pictures of the crew or a museum of sorts.  That wasn’t the case.  Signage throughout the different areas of the park was not well marked.  I drove to the end of the road where there was a large parking lot with a children’s playground and picnic pavilions.  I spied a trailhead marking for the nature boardwalk, so I parked the car, grabbed the camera, tucked away my phone and keys and headed for the trail.

The walk leading to the boardwalk on Clear Creek was easy to traverse and there were beautiful oak trees and winter flowers along the path.  The boardwalk was a meandering trail along the waterway.  I encountered bird nests, the quiet rustlings of the breeze through tree branches, and some waterfowl.  It was a pleasant and quiet walk, although somewhat eerie being the only human being on the path.  My lazy bullmastiff should have come with me–she would have enjoyed the walk.

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One of the beautiful oaks along the trail.

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The boardwalk through swampy land.

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One of the many bird nests seen along the trail.

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Nice, clean boardwalk easy to traverse

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Beautiful day.

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One of the colorful bushes along the way.

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Low lying area with a lone bird.

The waterway itself seemed still and lifeless. I was later informed that Clear Creek was a sad victim of a chemical dumping site (Brio Refining, Inc.), which rendered wildlife in and around the water poisonous and unusable.  The EPA’s current report is here and an article from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is here.

What was missing from the Challenger Seven Memorial Park?  The answer is absolutely any information on the Challenger Seven crew.  When I returned to my car, I asked a passerby about the namesake of the park.  “Oh,” she said, “There is a small memorial just inside the park.  It’s in disrepair and I don’t think you can get close to it.”  She gave me directions, and I drove the short distance to the unmarked memorial site.

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Walkway to Memorial

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Actual Memorial

The park, based on the name alone, was a disappointment for me personally.  I vividly remembered the Challenger accident, and I had hoped for a fitting memorial.  The nature aspect was beautiful and I enjoyed the peaceful walk, but the negative environmental changes by a chemical spill by Brio Refining, Inc., and the lack of honor to the Challenger Seven crew left me sad and confused.  I hope the park will find future funds to reinvent itself to find its full potential.

Until the next adventure,

Love, Dawn

How Do We Get Our Mail – Full-Time RV Life

Ever wonder how to handle legal address and mail delivery while on the road?

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Dude Be Buggin’ – A Day in the RV Life

It involved the SWAT team and frogmen searches in the lake. Here's how it all began.

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Rheumatoid Awareness Day and Full-Time RV Life

 

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February 2 is Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day.  Rheumatoid disease affects nearly 1.3 million adults and 294,000 children in America.  There is no cure.  Most people think it is the “creaky joint” type of arthritis, but that is not true.  Please read more information from a previous blog regarding my experience with this disease by clicking here.

How does having this unpredictable disease mesh with full-time RVing?   We are only in our first month, so it’s better to answer that question next year on the same date.  There is no debate that since early retirement and living and traveling in the RV full time, symptoms have improved and flares have decreased in frequency and severity.   Eliminating the stress on my hands, wrists, and psyche has done wonders, as it would for any rheumatoid patient. Adequate sleep, increased exercise, and fresh air make a world of difference in pain levels and attitude.   This modified remission is something I do not take for granted.  My body can attack at any given time, and sometimes it shows no mercy.  My goal is to make the most of the good days, self-care in the bad days, and live life to the absolute fullest at every opportunity.

For information on this disease from the Mayo Clinic, please click here.

If you feel led to donate, volunteer, or get more information from the American College of Rheumatology, please click here.

Are there any other RVers or rheumatoid patients with similar experiences?  Please comment so we can all support one another.

Happy Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day.

With much love, Dawn.

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