Lancaster New Holland KOA Review

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We were a bit late in finding a site near the Hershey RV show and we did not want to boondock at the show itself. We found a place to hangout for a few nights at the Lancaster/New Holland KOA.

Although the weather forecast was originally sunny and warm, we found a mostly cloudy and overcast weather pattern for our stay. No rain, but most of the scenery was tempered by a greyish mood to the light.

The New Holland area is home to Lancaster County’s Amish community. It is really quite a beautiful area and we will go back so that we can spend a lot more time here. The Discover Lancaster website is a good resource if you are thinking about travelling in this area.

We loved the area. We had a quiet campground with awesome views of the countryside. It felt private and it was also very quiet. The customer service at this KOA? About what I expected when reading the reviews for this campground. Mixed. If all you need is a place to park for a few nights and nothing else, then this place is fine. If you need anything outside of the basics, be warned. Bonnie, who has a bit of a reputation online, is not what I would consider to be a customer focused individual.

That said, we were gone for most of our time here. It took us about an hour to drive to the Hershey RV from this campsite. And we left early and returned late each day that we were here.

On our first night, we enjoyed a meal at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord.

Oh my goodness. What a place.

Good thing that we had not eaten very much that first day. So much great food!

Shady Maple is very popular so best to avoid it on the weekends.

So, without further fanfare, here is our review of the Lancaster/New Holland KOA.

First Impressions

Overall I would rate this park 7.5 out of 10.

We don’t mind paying more for a nice experience however this campground is overpriced. We paid $87 per night presumably for the view and the location. There is really not much else to this KOA. A basic gravel pull-through site with full hook-ups. Water pressure was low at our site and we elected to fill our freshwater tank and run off the internal water pump.

The park was well maintained. And it was very quiet. Not much in the way of kids probably because there is nothing for them to do here. Which suits us fine. We enjoy quiet and peaceful surroundings and this KOA delivers exactly that.

Getting into the Park

Be prepared for an adventurous drive getting to this campground. I have never seen such a convoluted route on a GPS. We were coming southbound on I-81 and spent almost 2 hours after leaving the Interstate to get to this KOA. We must have crossed every possible turnpike and roadway in this part of Pennsylvania. Tight roads, lots of hills, numerous small towns. If you are driving a big rig, well, let’s just say the drive to the campground will be a bit challenging.

This KOA is located in the country. It is near the small community of New Holland and it is actually a fair distance from Lancaster. We thought that we would have a relatively moderate drive of 6 hours or so. It took us more than 10 hours to get here. The toughest part of the drive was the last 2 hours. The Interstate was smooth for the most part although there was an extensive amount of construction work on the bridges of I-81 that proved interesting for a big rig. Someone needs to tell those highway folks to put the cones on the other side of the lane marker. We hit several areas where the cones were set inside our lane by a good foot or so making it very tough to stay between the lines.

Although complicated to get to this site from the Interstate, this part of Pennsylvania is truly beautiful. Wonderful vistas for the passenger. For the pilot, well I had to stay pretty focused on the driving.

Pulling into the KOA you will find a barrier just before the office. We were let in as we had arrived during office hours. The office check-in was quick. We received a basic map and a keycard with a stern warning to bring it back or pay a $20 penalty.

Sites

We were assigned X10 although any of the sites from X1-X14 are nice. Great views in front and not tightly packed. Sites 32-41 are also very nice. Similar views as the X sites. Access to the gravel sites is via paved road. Our site was level and we had no issues pulling in and getting set up. One well used picnic table and one fire pit. No trees in the X sites.

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Pros

Very quiet park catering more to older couples
Clean and well maintained
Good lot size and expansive views of the Amish countryside

Cons

Limited services and facilities so make sure that this park will work for you and your family
Lots of mixed reviews on the web in terms of customer service

Our customer service experience?

Well, we had rented a car from Enterprise. We needed to leave early Sunday morning and getting the car back to the rental agency would take us about 40 minutes out of our way. We had to make the drive home in one day and we knew from our experience coming down that the drive was more in the range of 8 – 10 hours.

Enterprise kindly offered to pick up the car at the campground. Leave the keys at the office, park the car outside the gate and they would come by and pick it up.

Only Bonnie would not support that kind act. Her view was that they were not in the car rental business and that they would not hold the keys nor would they allow the car to be left outside the gate.

Fair enough. But I really did not understand why this would be such an imposition.

We travelled all the way into New Holland to return the car and travelled all the way back before we could begin the drive home.

Not a big deal but just be warned. The reviews on this KOA are mixed and I can understand why. This won’t be the type of place that will look to go much beyond the basics.

Fort Wilderness

 

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We have a premium campsite at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Booking roughly 8 months in advance may seem a bit early to some however we have learned from experience to book ahead at Walt Disney World. It is a very popular spot.

The map below shows where all of the various sites are situated. The premium sites are from 400 – 1400. I’ve put a request in for a quiet spot which looks like the 800 loop. We’ll see when we get there next year. Lots of time to plan the trip there and back. We will be at Fort Wilderness for 10 days and I expect to take at least 3 or 4 days to go down and come back.

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What’s Next?

PlanningAhead

We are still 12-18 months before I retire and we can begin our travel adventures. That does not mean that we won’t be traveling before then. We have already planned a number of trips.

We will be heading down to the Hershey RV Show for a few days later in September. Looking forward to taking in North America’s largest RV show. We have booked an executive site at the Lancaster/New Holland KOA which is located about an hour’s drive from the RV show. I guess we should have booked the site a bit earlier.

Not sure what to expect at this KOA. Lots of very mixed reviews and some very highly charged comments about the owners. You can read the reviews here. I guess we will find out whether we love it, hate it or tolerate it.

A few weeks later, we will be heading out a bit closer to home. We will be spending some time at Shamadon Resort in Ayton, Ontario. Unlike the Lancaster/New Holland KOA, Shamadon gets stellar reviews. We’ll see how it compares to some of the other sites we have visited in Ontario. Should not be too hard to exceed the KOAs we have stayed at in our province.

Towards the middle of October, we will have to take our coach to our dealer to work on a few items and to prepare the coach for winter.

For 2017, we have a few trips already on the books. In April, we will be taking the coach to the Newmar factory in Nappanee, Indiana. We’ll spend a week. In May, after our son has finished his first year at university, we are planning to head down to Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World. Our original plan was to start our travel adventures in our coach at Walt Disney World. Better late than never.

We are members of Newmar’s Kountry Klub and the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri will be the site for the 2017 International Rally. The rally begins on Monday, October 2nd, and ends on Saturday, October 7th. They will have 600 sites that are 50 amp full hookup. We will register early for that trip and, possibly, begin our full-time travel adventures then. Either that, or the coach will go back into storage for another winter until the retirement date is a reality.

Lessons Learned

LessonsLearned

After we returned from our first major trip with our motorcoach, we thought about some of the lessons that we learned.

Lesson 1: Be Prepared

Our coach was only a few months old. We were taking her on her first long trip. And we had some problems. Not so much in the planning of the trip, although that part is very important. This is a vehicle that usually likes to travel in one direction: forward. Making sure we had our waypoints well established, particularly for refuelling, was essential.

I had programmed the trip using Garmin’s BaseCamp. I made sure that we had easy access to food and fuel for a trip which spanned almost 3,000 kilometres. Big rigs like ours need big spaces. In addition to our RV specific GPS, the Garmin RV 760 LMT, we carried the Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas. We also carry the Big Rigs Best Bets Campground Directory. The latter includes a list of easy access fueling stations across North America.

Roadside assistance is an essential service. With the engine and tire trouble that we experienced on our first trip, we were thankful that we had spent the money on Coach-Net. The service paid for itself on our first major trip.

Lesson 2: Carry Extensions

Our final stopover before heading home was at the Port Huron KOA. Our sewage hose barely reached and our black tank rinse hose did not reach. We did not bring any extensions. We do have 50-foot power reels for electricity and potable water and a 50-foot reach is more than enough for those services. I thought 25-feet would be enough for sewage and black tank rinse. Not so. We need to bring extensions for our other services.

Lesson 3: Perform Circle Checks

Always, always perform circle checks. If I had not performed a circle check, I would not have caught the sidewall bulge in our front tire. A front tire blowout, particularly at high speed, is going to ruin a good day.

A circle check is a comprehensive inspection of the motorcoach both before and after any trip. I had written a very detailed post about our inspection checklist here. It does seem like a lot of work but it really does not take that much time. When operating a rig that is about 40,000 pounds, the 20 minutes or so that it takes to check the coach before a trip is well worth the effort. Safety first.

Lesson 4: Birds of a Feather

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Petoskey and it was due, in part, to two things: a quiet, peaceful setting and couples at a similar place in life. Don’t get me wrong. We love kids and families with children. That said, we really stand out when we pull our motorcoach into a crowded, chaotic RV park filled with trailers and 5th wheels. The sites are tight with very little privacy. We often wind up shading many of the windows on our coach.

Not at Petoskey. Even though the sites were not overly generous, the overall look and feel was expansive. There were numerous Class A motorcoaches and wonderful couples similar in age and experience. Very easy to meet people and to make new friends.

It is worth our time to seek out these types of experiences whenever we can. We are confident that this will be easy to do once we are snowbirds and going south to places in Florida and Arizona. We have yet to find anything here in Canada. Lots of Provincial Parks and private campgrounds. And most of them fall into the crowded, chaotic category.

Lesson 5: Lifestyle

This was a tough one. Lorraine and I are both very anxious to start our retirement and to get out there with our coach. Getting a small taste of what lies ahead was wonderful. We also found it really, really hard to leave and to go back to what currently passes as our “normal lives”.

There is a time and a place for raising families and careers. We are finding ourselves more than ready to move on to retirement and to travelling in our coach while we are still healthy and still relatively young.

Lesson 6: Take It Easy

Letting go of all the stresses and worries of modern life takes a bit of effort. Having a few mechanical issues actually forced us to be flexible. We extended our stay by two days. And you know what? That was just fine. Everything worked out.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney

Petoskey Motorcoach Resort Review

PetoskeyMotorCoachResort

First Impressions

We have not travelled far and wide so our first impressions are based on a handful of campgrounds. However, I know what I like and what I do not like. And Petoskey Motorcoach Resort? Lorraine and I loved this place. Not perfect but overall I would rate this park 9.5 out of 10.

A little bit about our expectations. We don’t mind paying more for a nice experience. This resort is on the expensive side of the ledger. If you are looking for a low cost site, this park is not for you. We paid $85 per night to stay here. We also enjoy a clean and calm environment with lots of space. This park is really not designed for kids. Yes, it has a swimming pool and a tennis court but it was clearly designed for, ahem, older folk. There is not much here for children. If you enjoy a quiet experience with some Class A coaches to keep you company, this place is for you.

No picnic tables. No fire pits. Petoskey is generally a more upscale park than most.

Getting into the Park

The Petoskey Motorcoach Resort is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We had a long drive to Petoskey from our home in Canada and we took exit 290 from I-75. There were several hours of very rough roads on the Interstate but otherwise a very straightforward drive to the exit. The path to Petoskey will take you through some narrow winding roads in town and there can be a lot of traffic. This part of the drive kept me alert. US-131 to US-31 are the roads that you have to use to get to Petoskey. Heights were fine all along the way to the resort.

Pulling into the resort you will find a wide boulevard and an entrance that was clearly designed for big rigs. The office check-in was quick. They knew we were coming and they had our package ready for us. The package contained our passcode for the security gates, rules and regulations of the park and tourism brochures.

Sites

You will have two choices depending on the type of site you select: pull-in or back-in. The pull-ins, like the one we had, are the most expensive in the park. The pull-in sites are 1-24 and 66-73. That said, I would have been happy with most any of the sites on this resort. We wanted to be away from the clubhouse and away from the sites that backed on to US-31. We had site 4. The yellow sites, 1-16 are all nice. I also liked the purple sites, 45, 48-50, 55-57.

PetoskeyMap

Pros

Very quiet park catering more to Class A coaches and older couples
Beautifully landscaped with a high-end, private golf club feel
Generous lot size and expansive views

Cons

Not very many coaches on site and this may be why they recently opened the park up to RVs of all types
Odd mix of primarily Class As with a few fifth wheels and travel trailers — odd because the demographics of the park do not mix well. Most of the people we spoke with wanted a quiet, upscale experience and not a busy KOA experience.

We loved our time at Petoskey and we would definitely go back.