Posted in: Campground Review, Exploring Massachusetts, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Gateway To Cape Cod (Thousand Trails) Campground Review

We stayed in Rochester, Massachusetts at a Thousand Trails campground called Gateway to Cape Cod.

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The laundry room was open. Laundry machines ran off of credit cards or an app. Washers costs $2.75/load, and dryers cost $2.50/load. The camp store was open but was limited in their selection. The store sold ice for $2/bag and firewood for $7/bag. The pool was closed (supposed to open Memorial Day). The campground was located behind a neighborhood, near a cranberry farm, and had a walking trail that led to a lake.

The campground was within a 15 minute drive to grocery stores (Walmart and Target) and some restaurants. There were several homes nearby that sold firewood (we found one for $5 for soft wood and $10 for hardwood). Cape Cod was about an hour way, Salem was about 1.5-1.75 hour drive, Plymouth Rock about a 30 minute drive, and Boston about an hour.

Sites were decent sized with lots of trees. Sites were a first come/first serve policy, as with most Thousand Trails. Some of the turns were tight with larger rigs. The interior roads were also a little rough with potholes. The rest of the campground seemed pretty well maintained and the campground staff was nice. There was visitor parking by the office that many people took advantage of. However, with the visitor parking and the island, it made leaving tricky for larger rigs. We had to drive down the campground, turn on one of the other lanes to work our way out.

VIDEO: Campground Walk-Through

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 2.5 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes (credit card or app only)

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull Through and Back-in, grass

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: Yes

Amenities: picnic table/fire pit/grill at site, playground, pool, walking trail

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 20/30/50

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No

Camp Store: Yes, very small

WiFi: No free WiFi, paid only

Accepts Mail: Yes

Fishing: Yes

Posted in: Exploring Massachusetts, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

Exploring New Bedford, Massachusetts

We ended our stay in Massachusetts by going to New Bedford to see the Whaling Museum. (Questions we got: What about Nantucket and Boston? My sister lived in Boston for awhile and we had visited her and explored the city. The main goal of the trip was to see new things. Ben really wanted Nantucket, but the ferry itself was $300, plus whatever we would spend in town.)

New Bedford is a fishing town. They were big in the whaling industry and now do a lot of commerce in scallops.

We managed to find parking on the street (it looks like it is all resident pass or pay parking) near the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park. The Visitor Center was closed and only had a table open to get a map and Junior Ranger material. (The boys did not get their badges yet because the Visitor Center closed by the time we were done walking around. The ranger told us we could mail the booklets in to get the badges.) The National Park Service museum had a lot of outdoor signs around the town. The map had a nice outline of where the park’s boundaries were.

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We stopped at the other New Bedford Whaling Museum. This one was not part of the National Park Service and had paid admission. However, when we went to check it out, they told us the lobby was free to look around. The lobby had skeletons of different whales and some really neat information. The one skeleton has a piece of tubing attached to the skull and it leads to a beaker. It has been collection oil for 10 years!

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Next, we headed down to the Fishing Heritage Center. It was also free the day we were there. It ended up being surprisingly good! It was very interactive with a movie, multiple buttons to push to hear different sounds and fishing stories. There was even a fishing bucket the kids could pull up. It gave a nice detailed history of fishing, especially in the New Bedford region. It was really well done and everyone enjoyed it.

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The town was pretty cute. However, I would stay near the museums. The farther out of the touristy area we got, it got to be a rougher part of town.

Posted in: Exploring Massachusetts, Food, Sightseeing

Cranberry Bogs

We were surrounded by cranberry bogs at our campground in Massachusetts. We had never seen a cranberry field in person, just pictures of them flooded. On our drive in, we kept seeing sunken fields with irrigation rows cut into the already sunken fields. We had no idea what they were for until we saw the campground map and realized they were cranberry fields.

There is dry harvesting, where the cranberries are sold as fresh fruit. These berries can be transported by helicopter to avoid damage that could be done by traveling by truck.

There is the wet harvesting, where they flood the fields. These cranberries are used for dried cranberries, in other food products, and juice. The cranberries float because they have a pocket of air inside.

Cranberries are judged by color, size, and their bounciness. The firm berries will bounce, whereas the bruised or too soft fruit will not.

I wish we could see them being harvested, but cranberry harvest isn’t until mid-September to early November.

We love cranberries in salads, cookies, and oatmeal. At Christmas, we made a cranberry pie and it was delicious (click here for recipe).

LINKS:

OceanSpray

Cranberries.org

Posted in: Exploring Massachusetts, School, Sightseeing

Plymouth Rock and The Mayflower II

Plymouth Rock is located in Pilgrim Memorial State Park (Plymouth, Massachusetts). The park was about a half hour drive from our campground. The park is free and you can see both Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II just from walking around. There is a charge for the Museum and to go on the Mayflower II.

Will was very excited to see “THE ROCK”. His grandparents did try to warn him that it wasn’t as exciting as he thought it would be.

It was indeed, just a rock. There was a pavilion placed over the top of it to help protect it from the elements. The rock was identified as “the rock” 121 years after the pilgrims landed. Plymouth Rock was later split during the Revolutionary War and the one piece was moved to the town square for “liberty” inspiration. The two pieces were later reunited in 1880. The claim on the informational board that the original rock the pilgrims may have seen was 3 times larger; I guess due to weathering and splitting of the rock?

The Mayflower II is located in the park as well. It is a reproduction of the original ship, with some modern technology thrown in. The ship was smaller than I thought it would be. There were not informational signs, much to Will’s dismay, but there were employees throughout the ship to answer questions and to tell you information. There were 102 passengers on board with their animals, plus crew (20-30).

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We learned that the ship did not have a wheel to steer, instead it used a whip-staff to move the tiller, which moved the rudder. The crew worked in 4 hour shifts and kept track on peg board called a Traverse Board. The navigator also marked the knots on this board. It’s pretty amazing that they made it across the ocean without a wheel and only using a compass! Will was also shocked that they were not attacked by pirates, as King James ordered all his ships to be painted in brighter colors (yellow, red, blue, green).

The town is really cute with lots of shops and food options. We had a beautiful day for walking around.

DETAILS For The Mayflower II:*

  • TICKETS: $15/adults, $12/child. COVID Restrictions: masks required
  • HOURS: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • PARKING: Pay parking on street
  • BATHROOM: Yes, at the Pilgrim Memorial Park
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 30 min to 1 hour for the ship
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.

LINKS:

Information on the Mayflower

Pilgrim Memorial State Park

Posted in: Exploring Massachusetts, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Salem, Massachusetts

We’ve made it to Massachusetts! We have a few things we wanted to see while we were here. We had already been to Boston, since my sister lived there for awhile. However, Salem was on our list of places we wanted to see and it was about 1.75 hours from our campground. It has been on our bucket list for awhile, so we took the trip with my parents who were visiting us.

Salem wasn’t quite what we thought it would be. It was very new, very modern, with only a few historic houses. The The houses under the National Park Service were not open, but the House Of Seven Gables was (had to purchase tickets ahead of time online). The National Park Service had two Visitor Centers for the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. The boys got a Junior Ranger badge, although the booklets/pamphlets were not available since they were still building some of the exhibits needed to work on the books.

We did get to see the Friendship of Salem ship and walk onto the deck. We were not allowed underneath though (COVID). We walked down and saw the lighthouse as well.

Sights around Salem

We grabbed lunch at Brodie’s Seaport. I had the chicken pecan salad, which was delicious.

Physical menu on a board outside had pricing, whereas the scan by phone QR code menu did not

I’m glad we went, since it was on our list of cities we wanted to see, but I would not go back again.