Rocky Mountain High, Colorado!!

Folk Singer John Denver and Mike Taylor described in their lyrics the beautiful and majestic towering rocks of aspens and pines “Rocky Mountain High” which is one of the two official state songs of Colorado recorded in 1972; we can see why!

“But the Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky.
The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullaby.
Rocky Mountain high (Colorado)!  Rocky Mountain high (high in Colorado)!

This past August (2015), our travels we followed the sun to where it rests on the other side; west from Nebraska to “Colorful Colorado’ to see the Rockies.  We’ve been there before a few years ago, but just to pass through so we didn’t really get to feel the real sense of the beauty of these monstrous mounds.  Our re-visit was outstanding; taking the whole day driving through Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park.  We started early, leaving our campground in Golden in the morning.  We grabbed our jackets as we knew it was going to be a tad chilly up on the summits. Being East Coasters, we thought our beloved Appalacians were big however, the Rockies are ginormous!!  So big, there was still snow on some of them in August.  Before we went through the park, we made sure we got our National Park Passport stamped.  

 “He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below,
He saw everything as far as you can see.
And they say that he got crazy once and he tried to touch the sun,
And he lost a friend but kept the memory….”

Once we finished there, we slowly drove our way through the park.  The further up we went, the views became more spectacular.  We have to note that the day we went, the park wasn’t so busy.  We like it that way so we can get spectacular photos.  Periodically, we ran into a couple of folks whom we traded opportunities to get themselves in their photos; likewise for us.

This blog entry is going to be more photos because, well, a picture truly IS worth a thousand words.   So enjoy our day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park!!

Now he walks in quiet solitude,  the forests and the streams,
Seeking grace in every step he takes.
His sight has turned himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake…”

And the Colorado Moutain high,
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky.
Talk to God and listen to the casual reply,
Rocky Moutain High…high in Colorado!
Rocky Moutain High…high in Colorado!”

We stopped at a scenic overlook and made a new friend!  He practically jumped in our laps looking for peanuts.  Evidentally, he’s been fed before (not good!).

Our tummies were grumbling just in time to stop for lunch at the summit restaurant and visitor center.  We had to laugh because all of the bags of chips looked like they were ready to explode because of the altitude.  Luckily, ours didn’t.  

It was also time to put our jackets on when we got back to the truck.  The thermometer read 32 degrees and it was a tad bit windy.  Oh yes, we also were beginning to lose our breaths, feeling lightheaded and getting slight headaches.  But all of that was forgotten because of the once-in-a-lifetime views of the majestic rock towers.

And the Colorado Moutain high,

I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky.
I know he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly!
Rocky Mountain high!”

These were Lava Cliffs from a volcanic explosion that took place 12 miles away 28 million years ago.
Just some photos that don’t need captions.

Last but not least, at the other end of the Rocky Mountain National Park stood another information building.  There was a beautiful memory garden that honored the memory of National Park Rangers who lost their lives while on duty.  We close with this.  While we enjoy traveling our great Country and having privilege of visiting our National Parks, we give deep-hearted thanks to all of those who maintain our National Parks, fight fires, forestry preserve, wildlife management and education.  Without them, our Nation’s scenic gems would be no more.  THANK YOU NPS!! 

And the Colorado Moutain high,
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky.
Talk to God and listen to the casual reply,
Rocky Moutain High…high in Colorado!
Rocky Moutain High…high in Colorado!”

Ives Run COE Campground – PENNSYLVANIA (Tioga)


Campground/RV Park: Ives Run COE Campground (Corps of Engineers) – PENNSYLVANIA

Location: 710 Railroad Grade Trail (Ives Run), Tioga, PA 16946     (570) 835-0110
Date(s) Stayed: 6/13/15 – 6/20/15
Length of Stay: 1 week
Site #: 111 (Walk-in Site)
Cost per night (with taxes): $17 ($34 for others)
Discount Used:  50% National Park Access Pass (Disabled)
Connections: 30 amp Electric/Water and Dump Station
Stars:  4.5

Ives Run COE Campground sits on the eastern shore of Hammond Lake in north-central Pennsylvania. Surrounded by lush forested ridges, the lake offers recreation.  The campground is approximately 30 minutes to Mansfield and 30 minutes to Wellsboro and the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.  This campground is what all campgrounds should replicate!  Nicely manicured, staffed and managed by the Corps of Engineers proved its worthiness with cleanliness, ample spacing between sites, beautiful views of Hammond Lake and nice roads to walk or bicycle.  To reserve a site, you must be registered through Reserve America online.  Because of the popularity of this campground in the summer season, expecting to find a campsite during weekends or extended stays (14 day maximum) is difficult because PA and NY state residents have made their reservations a year ahead of time.  However, the campground has three ‘walk-in’ sites that are left vacant for RV’s and Campers that are passing through.  The three walk-in sites open at 10:00am when the office opens.  You can reserve for three days at a time before having to go and reserve again in person if you need another three days, but be sure to be at the office to do so at 10:00am (be first in line so no one bumps you).  The campground season begins May 1st and ends October 30th each year.  

The campground is absolutely gorgeous!!  Lots of gentle wildlife!!  We oftentimes took three walks a day/night. There is a separate swimming area from the boat ramp. Fishing is allowed with proper license.  We appreciated their rules of not allowing boats/trailers on the campsites.  They have overflow parking down at the boat ramp and elsewhere throughout the park.  The campground rules state that each outside guest that visits your site must pay $3 each.  There is a small campstore for basics (ie. hamburger/hotdog buns, hotdogs, chips, soda, water, etc.)  Quiet time is kindly adhered to.  A roving Park Ranger makes his rounds regularly noting safety issues and adherance to the campground rules. 

Make certain you bring extra leveling blocks; note that this site sits in the mountainous region of Pennsylvania. As with all campgrounds, we highly recommend filtering your water. The only drawback to Ives Run COE Campground is internet capability is seriously lacking because of its location in the mountains (AT&T and Verizon); spotty at best.

We WILL return!  We would have given it 5 stars if internet capability existed.  

Tompkins COE Campground – PENNSYLVANIA (Tioga)


Campground/RV Park:  Tompkins Corps of Engineer Campground –
Location:  Lawrenceville, PA
Date(s) Stayed: 5/31/15 – 6/13/15
Length of Stay:
 2 days (had a reservation of 2 weeks)
Site #: #65…then #19 both Back-in
Cost per night (with
taxes): $17/night
Discount Used: 50% off with National Park Access Pass
Connections:  Electric
& Water; separate Dump Station
Stars: 1.5

We arrived at Tompkins COE
Campground entrance building at 5:30pm; after a tiring drive through the
mountains of Pennsylvania.  The woman
Camp Host handling our check-in was sweet and gave us our paperwork from our
reservation, vehicle passes and pertinent campground info.  Our reservation was for site #65 in which we
made months prior on Reserve America. 
When we found our site, we were stunned and disappointed.  On the Reserve America site, it listed #65 to
be 55’ long.  It was 37’ (we measured) so
we had to go back to the entry building office to get reassigned a site.  Things quickly went downhill from there.  Because we were looking for a two-week stay,
the Camp Host(s) said because every weekend, every site was taken, that we were
out of luck.  We sternly told them that
we made this reservation two-months prior and that we should be made an
exception based on the inaccuracy of the Reserve America site listing (which
the info is given by COE) and to find us a site.  They clearly didn’t know what to do to find
an answer for us; all they offered was a full refund.  They didn’t even think of offering us a spot
in the dry-camping section for an overnight so we didn’t have to go back on the
road fatigued.  This was not an option
for us because of the area, not many campgrounds as well as finding something
that will accommodate our size.  We asked
that they find us ‘something’.  They
called another COE (or so they said) campground but they were already to
capacity.  We then said, since they can’t
find us ‘one’ campsite for a two-week stay, let’s look into breaking the time
period up.  The woman wasn’t too
enthusiastic nor knew the RA site and how to manipulate it to accommodate our
reservation promise.  Finally, she found
three sites for us to go check out.  Out
of the three, only one would work, so we unhooked and as soon as we were
getting into the truck to go tell them, their maintenance person drove up to
tell us ‘all of a sudden, a reservation was made on RA for that site’.  By this time, we were frustrated and
angry.  I then, went up to pretty much
tell them how horribly we were treated. 
Finally, they found a site #19 for M-F and then we move to the SITE NEXT
TO US for S & S and then back again to #19 for the following M-F and we
were on our own to find somewhere else to stay the following weekend.   Now,
here’s the kicker.  It took ALL of our
blocks we brought to level our rig; it was so bad that on one side, all three
tires of our rig were off the ground. 
Our rig felt incredible unstable.   The site was not long enough for us; nor our
ability to use our back deck when extended. 
We had to unload our motorcycle(s) on the narrow road prior.   In
addition to that headache, we had absolutely NO connectivity to the internet OR
phone service.  The campground is located
in the middle of a ‘bowl’ between mountains. 
This also was not an option for us as we needed connectivity because we
had a son who was deployed overseas as well as family in the area with health
issues.  We had to find somewhere else to

As a whole, this campground needs
SERIOUS updating from the get-go.  The
COE needs to re-measure every site and post more accurate site lengths on the
Reserve America website.  Do not trust RA
site measurements and good luck finding someone to get that accurate
information.  They need to prune and thin
some of the trees.  The campground roads
were very narrow; only one-lane wide at best. 
If you were trying to park your RV and needed time, no one could pass or
get around you.  Most sites had seriously
low overhanging branches that would damage even the smallest of RV’s or
campers.  Most sites were not level;
understandably because it’s in the mountainous region but still, could have a
little ‘engineering’ done to make the sites more level.  Some sites that were blacktop surface had
divots and holes from campers who’s jacks may have sunk in; needs to be filled
in.  Each site was provided a picnic
table and firepit; both were in fair condition. 
The picnic table required us to put a blanket on the seat as to not get
splinters or paint chips.  The bath
houses were clean however, needed serious updating with new lighting and
moisture control.  The laundry facilities
were there, however, we weren’t there long enough to evaluate them.  Quiet time is 10am-6pm.  No more than two vehicles and six people per
site.  Pets are welcome but must be on a

Part of the campground (newer
sites – not where we were located) overlooked the COE Lake.  Those sites were nice with a view and a
little more in the open; not so overgrown with trees like the rest of the
campground.  Those site were either
packed sandy gravel or black top. 
Leveling blocks still necessary but not as bad as the other

If you’re looking for a ‘campy’,
heavy foliage and trees, tight maneuver sites with very little expectation,
this campground is for you.  If you care
about your rig, its stability, its outside fiberglass and decals, then this is
not the place for you. 

We do not plan on staying at Tompkins COE Campground again until they make
updates and improvements.

Artillery Ridge Campground – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Location: 610 Taneytown Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325
Phone: 717-334-1288
Date(s) Stayed: 5/26/15 – 5/31/15
Length of Stay: 5 days
Site #: #404 pull-through
Cost per night (with taxes): $38/night Mon-Thurs and $50/night Fri-Sun
Discount Used: Passport America
Connections:  FHU
Stars: 3.5
Artillery Ridge Campground is great for those wanting to visit Gettysburg.
It is a family campground as well as for equine campers.  We chose Artillery Ridge based on other campground reviews found on the internet.
We made our reservations two months prior; the person on the phone was
very helpful in finding us a site that would accommodate our site and our wishes.  We found the check-in process was easy and quick; they were waiting for our arrival and had our paperwork ready.
The campground is located on the edge of the battlefield so you get the full feel of being there.  The center of Gettysburg is about 10 minute drive from the campground and only about 3-5 minute drive to the Gettysburg National Historic Site Visitor Center.
The roads into the campground are packed gravel; some have ruts from wear and weather.  Our campsite was in the back behind the horse stalls in the equine section; during the week it was rather quiet and on the weekend, it picked up with horse trailers.
We chose that are of the campground because of length of sites.  We enjoyed the outdoors; lots of birds, squirrels, bunnies, chipmunks and close proximity to the horse corral.  It was very warm during the day and sometimes, depending on the direction of the breeze, we can get a whif of horse
manure but it wasn’t too bad.  We are not horse experts but in our opinion, the horse corral could have used a little care, leveling and grass.  It looked like
a big muddy (when wet) dirt mess.   Most nights we were able to sit outside to
enjoy.  The campground had many mature trees throughout; none of which impeded our site or parking.
Our site itself was a packed gravel as well; not too difficult to level.
There were grassy patches throughout.  Each site was provided a picnic table and firepit.  Spacing between sites was average; about 20’ between sites.
Two sites over from ours was a permanent resident that a collector of junk outside (2 grills, 2 lawn mowers, etc.) in which he did not keep up.  In the area of our site stood two ‘tiny house’ residences.
The bath house was average.  They were clean; showers a little outdated
and small.  We did not see or use the laundry facilities so we can’t give an review on those.  The campground was family friendly; has a playground and pool near the entrance.
We did not use either so we can’t give an assessment of those.  There is a good sized camp store at the entrance in the same building as check-in.
It everything from basic staples, fishing supplies, pool towels and swim
noodles, and a great array of Gettysburg souveniers.
Special note: the entrance/exit is on a busy road.  When leaving the
campground, be vigilant as there is a blind curve in which motorists don’t
realize the campground entrance.   When leaving with your camper/coach, we recommend driving to the left of the campground sign before entering the road; you get a better view of the blind curve of those approaching and can enter the road more safely.

More about Gettysburg that we’ve blogged…

Fort Belvoir Travel Camp – VIRGINIA (military) (Alexandria/Washington DC)


Campground/RV Park:  Fort Belvoir Travel Camp – Virginia (military)

Location:  Outdoor Recreation (ODR), Bldg 778, 10155 Swift Road, Fort Belvoir, VA  22060  
Date(s) Stayed: 5/21/15 – 5/26/15
Length of Stay:  5 days
Site #: 45 back-in
Cost per night (with taxes): $50/night
Discount Used: none
Connections:  FHU
Stars: 3.5

Fort Belvoir
Travel Camp was beautiful to look at however, it had its issues which earned it
3.5 stars.  To get to the Travel Camp/RV Park, we entered through the
Tulley Gate off of Route 1 (attention big rigs, its tight getting out of the
gate because of posts).  The travel camp is located ‘on post’ therefore,
we had to go through standard  military security and ID checks to enter.
 Once on post, directions given by the Travel Camp office were spot on.

The good:
The area was
absolutely beautiful.  The park overlooked the Potomac River; the view and
feel is spectacular!  Lots of wildlife, two Osprey nests, long pier for
fishing and nice walking trails on the park and in the woods.  The park
seemingly has been updated with new buildings, laundry, bathrooms and walkways.
 The laundry has three washers/dryers each ($1.00 each) with nice folding
table and chairs to sit and wait.  The bathrooms were immaculate; tile
floors and showers, stone or faux stone counters, etc.   The convenience
and distance to DC is great; although outside the post on Route 1 is rundown
but a jaunt down to Olde Town Alexandria is nice.  The post, being the
supposed ‘primo’ of military posts/bases because of its proximity to Washington
D.C. boasts it’s amenities.  Everything under the sun is on this post;
commissary, PX, fueling stations, movie theater, gyms, etc.

The whole
campground is built on a river bank and very hilly which means the sites are
not level.  Be prepared to work with your leveling systems.  Bring
lots of leveling blocks.  This was ‘big talk’ amongst fellow RV’ers.
 Second, the cost.  C’mon, its a military post which is supposed to
serve ALL paygrades of the military, not just Senior ranks.  Even Retirees
will go elsewhere because most are on fixed incomes.  This is ridiculously
expensive for a) being a military post and b) the fact of the instability of
sites (lack of being level).   Third, get some WiFi towers on post.
 Ridiculous to be on such a large post and near major metro area, that
you’d expect better WiFi signals.  Finally, none of the gas stations on
post have diesel.  99% of 5th wheel RV’ers are pulling with diesel
engines.  We had to waste $8 in diesel just to go get it filled prior to

So all of that
said, while it is in a beautiful area with great views and updated facilities,
its lacking in very important issues.  This Travel Camp we would have
expected to be at least a 4-5 stars but because of the not-so-goods dropped it
to being a mediocre RV park/Campground/Travel Camp.