Maximize Your RV Adventures with a Thousand Trails Pass

From geocaching to “roughing it” in the British Columbia interior, the Thousand Trails membership has opened-up a world of possibility and adventure for retirees Glenn and Eva Hamakawa. The couple have been living in Langley, British Columbia for 18 years, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find them at home.

Thanks to the Thousand Trails pass these two happy campers spend at least seven months of the year in their RV —4 months down south during the winter, and “dry camping” in the B.C. interior during the summer months from June to September. “But just because we’re in our RV doesn’t mean you’ll find us at home,” Glenn says. “When we’re not RV’ing, we’re cruising,” he laughs.

“The last two years we’ve had the membership we’ve been able to explore and go on new adventures affordably,” Eva says. “Being retired we couldn’t go to all these places without it.”

Glenn and Eva’s neighbors had the pass and invited the couple to a road show in Langley so they could check it out too. “We weren’t sure about going,” Glenn says. “We weren’t RV’ers at the time, we preferred camping. But it turns out we liked it, it eased us into RV’ing and gave us more time to spend in our trailer during the winter season.” What’s the difference between camping (also called dry camping) and RV’ing? According to Glenn, it’s the hook-ups!  

“During the summer we do more back country camping,” Eva says. “Our RV has solar panels and a large fresh water tank, so we’re self-sufficient. We love to go fishing and enjoy the lake in the interior. But when the winter hits and our water start to freeze, then it’s time to go south.”

In the past, Glenn and Eva travelled to the U.S. before getting a pass, but couldn’t stay for as long. “We’ve done trips that were 5 weeks in Washington and Oregon, but we were paying $30 – $50/night. It was too expensive,” Glenn says.

Explore More with Thousand Trails

Now, with the Thousand Trails pass Glenn and Eva have been living the RV lifestyle to its fullest – going to different places at their leisure, visiting new parks and going back to their favorites. “We really enjoy traveling and going to new places,” Glenn says, “but our favorite park is Cultus Lake. It’s close to home and a spot where we can get the trailer set up and ready for summer or winter, depending on which direction we’re headed.”

Last winter, with the Thousand Trails membership Glenn and Eva went to California for the first time. Using the pass in the Southwest Zone allowed them to ease themselves into the snow bird lifestyle. “California was great, but a lot wetter than we expected,” Eva said. “When we left there was a foot of snow here in B.C. We went through Washington, Oregon and then California. Our plans took us to Seattle in March,” she says. “We went to Idyllwild [in the San Jacinto Mountains] where we were at a 7,000 ft elevation and there was lots of snow, but overall we enjoyed the park.”

Roughing it during summer in the back country of Canada and the Northwestern states, then RV’ing at different Thousand Trails parks during the winter months allows Glenn and Eva to extend the time they can spend in their RV. “When we’re in the parks we’re usually in the hot tub in the evening after dinner, it’s very relaxing,” Glenn says.

Venture Off the Beaten Path

Hot tubbing is great, but when it comes down to it one of this couple’s favorite activities is geo-caching. “We really enjoy geo-caching, and the pass allows us to visit new areas, geo-caching in towns and cities you don’t normally go to, and we always find new and interesting sites,” Glenn says.

“Going to all the different parks lets you explore, too,” Eva adds. “You go off the beaten trail to get to some of these parks and you can explore and see cities you wouldn’t otherwise see. That’s one of the nice things about Thousand Trails, is it takes you off the beaten path,” she says.

Even though they’re far from home, the “staff are very friendly and make you feel welcome at all the parks,” Glenn says. “That’s really important to us.”

So, if you’re looking for an affordable way to get the most out of your RV, or just want to test out the RV lifestyle, then consider a Thousand Trails membership. Like Glenn and Eva, you’ll be able to maximize your RV adventure while gaining affordable access to hundreds of parks throughout Canada and the United States. Visit ThousandTrails.com for more information.

Pasco RV Resort in Florida is “one big loving family”

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For the past two years, my Dad and I have been wintering at the Encore Winter Quarters Pasco RV Resort in Lutz (just north of Tampa), Florida. I had been looking for a warm climate for my Dad where he could spend the cold Canadian winter months. One evening at a dinner with some friends, the discussion of wintering in Florida soon led to a trailer rental from a mutual friend who was familiar with Encore’s  Pasco Winter Quarters location. So there we were, transformed from frigid northern temperatures to the sunny south and part of the Snowbird migration to Florida.

When Dad flew down the first year by himself, my brother, sister and I had many apprehensions. We were concerned about how he would cope – he was eighty five. Dad is very mobile and can look after himself, but you always wonder how things will turn out. During his first telephone call he informed us that he was having fun and had met some wonderful neighbours who were taking care of him. This sounded too good to be true and we figured he was just trying to alleviate our concerns. Each phone call he insisted that all was well and he was enjoying the RV park way of life.

6y866b_still_vw_vr-1This was my first year of retirement and I had just returned from three months in S.E. Asia, so I flew to Florida to join my father two months into his stay. Well, from my first moments at the park, I could see that Dad had been sincere in his earlier phone conversations. The lifestyle was more that you could ask for. The location was central to all the amenities (airport, shopping etc.), the park size gave a very family oriented feeling and there were more than enough activities to fill your day. Of course you may expect that, but what was so overwhelming were the people, both residents and staff. I could not believe the love and warmth of the neighbours. They could not do enough to make Dad feel at home and he was never short for anything. I was quickly accepted in the same manner, a home away from home with a loving family thrown in. There were also many Snowbirds present if you felt you required some northern conversations.

I have to say the weather is a treat as are the local bird (cranes) wildlife, more like pets than wild. They sort of epitomize the lifestyle. One has to remember that a trailer park stay is not a vacation, but day to day living in Florida instead of at home in Canada. With all the activities your days / weeks just fly by, I will take this lifestyle any day.

One of our neighbours has a pontoon boat, so we have boated around and through Tampa and on other occasions gone fishing. It is such a relaxing way to spend a day. Golf is available at so many locations and the prices are very reasonable, especially since they always include a cart.

Going out to eat has turned into an adventure. We (Dad and his gang) all cram into a couple of SUV’s or vans and head to one of the local dining establishments. It could be Asian (so many to choose from), Greek, Italian, Mexican or some local cuisine and of course there are always burgers or pizza. Now and again they venture to all you can eat buffets, thank goodness there is always plenty of fruit and salad bars.

I must add that my brother, sister and a friend have come down to stay for a week on separate occasions and all have been treated with the same warmth as Dad. This really is one big loving family who sincerely care for one another.

Written by Alan Brown, Seasonal Guest at Winter Quarters Pasco RV Resort in Lutz, FL

 

“I can’t imagine being any place else. It’s just wonderful here!”

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Back in the early 2000s, Elizabeth Funke and her husband decided they’d like to try something a little different when it came to a winter getaway.

“We tried a few places and one day we drove through a park in Mercedes, TX.” said Elizabeth. “We were driving slowly around and people waved to us. We stopped to get a brochure and the people that had waved to us came up to us before we could even get in the building. They were welcoming us to park and wanted to know when we planned on coming to stay.”

Elizabeth was pleasantly surprised to find out the hospitable folk weren’t employees of the park, they were residents! “We were overwhelmed at being accepted so quickly,” she said. “They were very warm and welcoming. We decided to stay for a few weeks and see if that was really the way it was at Paradise South RV Resort.”

A week or two has since turned into over 13 years. The couple moved from a fifth wheel, to a park model home to a mobile home. Elizabeth’s husband passed away; however, she decided to stay because Paradise South was where her friends lived.jpage-encorerv-rgv-paradisesouthinterior-23

“I can hardly wait to get back every fall,” she said. “It’s a super area and the folks in the valley… well they are hard to describe. South Texas is different. The people are so thrilled that we are there. I can’t imagine being any place else. It’s just wonderful here.”

It’s not just the Paradise South residents, or the town folk that make the RV resort number one in Elizabeth’s eyes. The personnel play a big part in her staying in her winter home.

“I just love the outstanding staff at Paradise South. It’s typical of a lot of RV resorts to have transient workers that come and go. Many of the folks that work here have been here a long time and that’s important to seniors,” she said. “First of all, senior citizens are like children, but with life experiences. We know way too much and we still get into trouble. It takes special kinds of people to be able to deal with seniors.”

paradisesouth_swimmingpoolElizabeth speaks fondly of some of the office staff. “There are two ladies that we have in the office and they know what makes us tick. They are visible and accessible. They don’t just sit in the office. That’s one of the best things. They belong with us and that’s important. We never get the feeling that we are too much to deal with. They are friendly and not condescending at all.”

The residents of Paradise South don’t just stick to the resort. They are a very active bunch and are always up to something.

“We go to South Padre Island and we go to Rio Grande City,” explainedpicture-014 Elizabeth. “We go wherever there’s a good place to eat. There’s a lot of great activities in the valley too. The Rio Grande Valley has rodeos and horse shows and fiestas. There’s a live music and exhibits, bazaar days and so much more. We try to get out of the park enjoy the area just like the local folks.”

For those who wish to stay closer to home, Elizabeth has some words for you. “It’s your fault if you’re bored here! We have a board up in our hall that has 40 – 50 activities a week planned by our activity department.”

Paradise South RV Resort… it sounds a bit like one of those places where you come for a short time and stay for the long haul.

For a limited time, Paradise South is offering a 3 month seasonal stay for $1,314 USD. Book by 9/30/16 and valid until 5/1/17. Call 1-904-257-8434 to book today and mention promo code EBPS16

“We are called ‘Winter Texans’ as opposed to the “Snowbirds” in Florida & Arizona


For the past ten years, my husband Jack and I have been wintering in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of south Texas. We are called “Winter Texans” as opposed to the “Snowbirds” in Florida & Arizona.

As new retirees, we first visited many southern states, wandering the roads with our motor home, from Florida to California. When we found Texas, it immediately felt like home. We are now two of the thousands of retired Canadians who make the trip to the RGV each winter – some RV parks / Mobile home resorts here are 60 or more percent Canadian residents.

The prices of food, accommodation and entertainment are generally much lower in Texas than other southern states, it is less crowded, the weather is usually wonderful (mid-seventies warm and windy but with little to no humidity in the winter) – and the people are very friendly and relaxed. They LOVE Winter Texans and advertise it everywhere with “welcome back” on billboards and store signs. There is even a “Welcome Back Winter Texans” regular newsmagazine.

Another real positive for us is the proximity to Mexico, where we thoroughly enjoy the Latino culture. The Mexican people – contrary to what we read in the mass media about the drug cartels – are warm, fun loving, and God-fearing. They offer tasty food in their many restaurants, lively entertainment and colourful hand-made crafts – all at very low prices. Many Winter Texans volunteer across the border, building homes and staffing the free medical clinic in the small town just south of us – a town that we feel quite safe visiting on a regular basis.

We also are happy to have access to the Gulf beaches of South Padre Island and enjoy the fresh-caught seafood from that area. Of course, Texas is world-renowned for chilli cook-offs and BBQ contests (smoked, not grilled) – so there is always a lot to eat.

Our Resort has many citrus trees so you can pick fresh grapefruit, limes, lemons and oranges right out of your own backyard. And the Valley grows many other vegetables and fruits (onions, cabbages, cauliflower, lettuce, melons, watermelon, strawberries) – often three crops a year – which are fresh and inexpensive to buy.

If you like rodeos and stock shows, and bloodless bull fighting, south Texas can entertain you. But, by far, Texas is a place for music – from country-western to Mariachi – you’ll find live music almost everywhere in the numerous cafes and bars where you can dance, and enjoy inexpensive beer, margaritas, tequila and wine. If you play a guitar, bring it along, as there are jam sessions all over the Valley every week. Karaoke is also a popular musical activity.

Gated-communities like ours (Victoria Palms Resort) offer an almost unlimited number of activities (pickle ball, bocce ball, aqua-fit, bike clubs, car racing, stained glass, wood carving, ceramics, Spanish classes, book club, golf leagues, art classes, line dancing, country-western dancing, ballroom dancing, sewing, quilting, computer classes, tennis, poker, too many card games to mention, jam sessions, live entertainment in our ballroom, darts, bingo, wood working, karaoke, billiards, shuffle board, horse shoes – and so on). Add the ever-present happy hours, ice-cream socials, pool parties and potluck suppers, and you can fill up your calendar very quickly.

Those are some of the many reasons why we have invested in a mobile home, western boots and hats – and why we keep coming back to Texas.

Wilma Jacobs