Usually we travel down 97 to Interstate 5 and take it south, however because of forest fires as well as the closure of I-5 we decide to take a more easterly route to Alturas on US 395 to Interstate 80. We had not traveled with Lola along US 395 in Northeastern California, so it was a new area to see.
Likely Place Golf and RV Resort is a great place to stay. Besides being a half way point in our travels south, it has an 18 hole golf course. It is in a pretty remote area in Northeastern California yet close to US 395 to make it a convenient stop.
There are 5 or 6 cement pads and a few more grassy areas all with power for telescope setups. With the dark skies and high elevation Likely Place Golf and RV Resort is perfect to do some stargazing. Since we are only here for one night, Jeff set up the tripod and camera to get some practice getting some Milky Way pictures. He focuses on Cassiopeia and Andromeda Galaxy and uses Deep Sky Stacker (DSS) to process the images.
Besides stargazing, the resort offers a host of other activities such as fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking and nearby places to ATV. California’s Lava Beds National Monument is close by and many other attractions to explore. Several scenic drives are listed on the Lively Place Golf and RV resort sure to keep any family busy while staying here. See more here.
Likely Place Golf and RV Resort is on our list of places to come back to – as a matter of fact we plan to revisit the resort next spring on our way north to Alaska.
We are on the road, turning family history into a story we can share with our kids and grandchildren. Jeff’s ancestors on his father’s side came to America in the early 1700’s. Travelling from northern New York to Florida is the perfect opportunity to explore a few of the places they lived.
Our first stop is Lancaster Pennsylvania. Several ancestors arrived in America through Philadelphia. Lancaster County was a popular place for the new settlers to travel to or through. We counted at least 12 5th and 6th great grandparents that lived in this area before 1776, and more would have traveled through heading towards Virginia.
Jeff’s 5th Great Grandfather Melchor Engle arrived in America in 1740 with his mother. They traveled to Lancaster County soon after arriving. His mother married John Beyerle who was a widower from Germany. John was a yeoman (farmer who owned his own land) who arrived in America in 1730 and Melchor was a saddler, working in leather. Melchor married John’s daughter Mary making it a very tight family! In 1746 Melchor purchased 225 acres of land in Lampeter Township along the Conestoga River from John.
Jeff also had ancestors who settled in New Holland, Bern, Berks County, York County, and Montgomery county Pennsylvania. With only 2 full days to explore Lancaster we left exploring those areas for another trip.
Lancaster County Central Park
One of the jewels of Lancaster is their County Central Park. Covering 554 acres near downtown Lancaster, it has a golf course, swimming facility, tennis courts, equestrian and hiking trails just to name a few.
Of interest to us is an area that has native vegetation and tilled fields that would have been very similar to John and Melchor’s property being just across the Conestoga River. Christine, Jeff and the dogs walked along Mill Creek through the woods and fields enjoying the late fall colors of Pennsylvania. Mill Creek flows into the Conestoga.
Lancaster Central Market
We also visited downtown Lancaster, stopping at the Central Market. It is the oldest municipal market in the United States on property deeded for that purpose in 1730. The indoor market is full of stalls from local farms including vegetables, fruits, meats and crafts from local Amish and Mennonite farms.
Also in downtown Lancaster is Trinity Lutheran Church where all of Melchor Engle’s 6 sons were baptized. George is the youngest born in 1750. George is Jeff’s 4th Great Grandfather. The congregation was formed in 1730 and the current church finished in 1766. We stopped by and took pictures then spoke with the administrator about getting copies of old records.
We stayed at Mill Bridge Camp resort, just a few miles outside of Lancaster surrounded by Amish and Mennonite farms. Often the clip-clap of horse-drawn carriages filtered through the trees at the campground. It was an excellent campground – good facilities, friendly staff and great location.
On site, is an old grist mill dating from 1738. The area was originally settled by Mennonites in 1710. Lancaster County has one of the largest Amish – Mennonite (Plain People) populations in the United States.
After attending the FMCA Rally in West Springfield Massachusetts, we traveled less than an hour to our next camping spot in Sturbridge Massachusetts. For the first time we are staying in the one place for 3 weeks! This is what traveling by RV is all about for us – taking the time to explore an area.
Sturbridge Encore Resort
The Sturbridge RV “Resort” is in a great location close to historic Sturbridge and Southbridge Massachusetts. Old Sturbridge Village looks like a fun place to visit and re-live what life was like in central Massachusetts back in the early 1800’s.
Our arrival was a bit of a disappointment because there were no RV sites that would accommodate our 40′ Lola. Christine took a tour of the campground where she checked out some sites. The campsites were too small for us so we stayed in an “overflow” spot the first night. It was so small we couldn’t even put both of our slides out. Since we had made reservations almost 3 months in advance that specified the size of our rig it’s surprising that nothing was available.
Getting a permanent spot
The next day an assistant came by and told us that we should move over to an open spot as soon as possible so no one else would get it. It was a nice pull-through site. We were lucky to get a site that was close to the dog park and away from the lodge and pool where it was quite noisy, especially on the weekends. We took the camp site, and sure enough once we got parked another rig pulled up and the driver said that the campsite was theirs! Our new neighbor also mentioned he was originally assigned that camping site and considered moving there. Obviously there is a need for more staff and organization at Sturbridge.
The pool – laundry – bath house is all together and covered. It was very warm and musty and the bathrooms were very dirty. Jeff went back late the next day and the toilets were still disgusting, although the following day they were clean. We remember the original orientation we attended when we got our Thousand Trails membership back in 1984. At that time one of the things emphasized was the schedule of bathroom cleanings with the clip board by the door. That sure wasn’t happening at Sturbridge. After talking with the staff it is clear the campground is understaffed.
We tried out the Wi-Fi and got a connection, so paid for 2 weeks. In all, we were able to connect for 3 or 4 hours total during our entire stay. The office just handed out instructions on how to connect then said that they had nothing to do with the internet connection. When I contacted TengoInternet the support person verified that the router at Sturbridge was constantly resetting. We were able to connect later, but the next day it was out again and TengoInternet support said that the site there had a slow internet connection that caused the router to constantly reset. That’s also why campers are limited to 200 Mb per day! Nothing more they could do.
We used our AT&T MiFi burning our data plan.
Things to do around Sturbridge Massachusetts
On the plus side of our stay at Sturbridge there are a number of things to do. It’s close to Connecticut, Rhode Island and Boston, however we stuck close and explored the local area.
We also visited Lead Mine Hill (Tantiusques) where we saw an old graphite mine where the Indians extracted graphite to use for face paint. Later the colonists used the graphite for pencils – and the link above explains this. Ticonderoga No 2 pencils used this material from these mines by Joseph Dixon and son. Dixon made the pencils in Ticonderoga, NY, hence the Ticonderoga name on them.
Jeff visited American Optical – the first optical company in the US. The effort to make US glasses started in 1826 because William Beecher was not satisfied with the high cost and poor quality of European eye-wear. By 1905 there were over 2,000 people employed in Southbridge Massachusetts. The site has some great examples of late 1800 manufacturing buildings.