Monday, April 30, 2012

How to buy a Used Thousand Trails Membership

If you would like to file a complaint against Thousand Trails or ELS for defrauding you please contact Elizabeth Wilson
Senior Consumer Analyst
Division of Consumer Services
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

850-410-3791 Office
850-410-3801 Fax                                                                                                          
  I was looking over some of the new thousand trails Contracts and noticed an interesting change.
The upgrade fee to an elite membership is near 5000.00 dollars and one must pay 3 dollars a day after 60 days.  Ouch this is a big difference from the original contracts.   For full-timers this 3 dollars a day adds up to about the cost of a years’ worth of insurance on our rig. Which over 10 years would be well over 10,000 dollars.  At this price one is better off just purchasing a used contract form a good dealer.

Now it takes about 3 to 8 weeks currently for TTNLT to facilitate the change of owner on a used membership.  So this is defiantly a draw back.  However depending on the use of the membership this could save a great deal of money for the owner over the length of ownership    and about 50% off of the price of a new contract. 
Since DA Juice Mon ( 40 foot sailing Yacht) was declared a total loss after suffering severe cracking due to a grounding in a bad storm off the coast of Islamorada FL in the Keys.  Amanda and Mav insisted on a non-sinking yacht. Therefore we purchased a luxury 40 foot  KZ Escalade 5th wheel.  (Thank you Mark Scott at Giant Recreation World Orlando for saving us about 10 grand his direct line is  407 448 1949 tell him Norwood sent you.  )
While I don’t like the direction of Thousand Trails, Naco, Leisure time, Mid Atlantic, Outdoor World I regrettably must admit there is real financial benefit to being a member.  So Amanda and I familiarized ourselves with the new contracts and fees. And while I normally recommend our guy in LOTS CA I feel one can do a lot better buying a used membership now since the new membership have so many draw backs.

It is scary buying a quality used thousand trails membership at a distance because you pay 2000 to 3000 dollars upfront and you don’t see anything for nearly a month.  I believe this process makes buying a used membership difficult and time consuming for an individual. This will stop most people from even considering a used contract.

Buying a used membership is a bit confusing and if you are not comfortable with the person you are buying from I would suggest finding a good Broker.  A good broker has many years of experience dealing with the contracts departments and is able to resolve issue quickly that might have taken a long time without their assistance.  There is no doubt you will pay a bit more for a membership using a  broker.  But this broker may very well save you a great deal of money in upgrades by helping you find the right membership the first time.   

This may not sound like a lot but I have purchased 5 different thousand trails contracts over the years and know firsthand that every contract is different. There are 1000s of variations.  So having someone familiar with all the thousand trails contracts is very necessary to buying a contract that best fits your needs.

 If you need help finding a Broker to buy or sale please email me or Amanda at  (be sure to title your email TTNLT or something similar)

Good luck on your research  will see you on the TTNLT Trail!!!

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gasprilla Island and Boca Grande Florida

After our six month stay in Sarasota Florida we decided to finally set sail. We left from Bradenton (Norwood sailed the boat there while I was in Orlando doing the Walt Disney World Marathon) and headed straight for Sarasota. After two days rest in our old stomping ground we finally made our way out into the gulf and headed south. Our big destination was Key West but we were pretty sure that we would not make it all in one trip we would have to stop somewhere along the way. When we left Sarasota we did not have a rest area in mind because we had to see what the waves would be like in the Gulf. As it turned out we had a fantastic day in the Gulf. It was flat and sunny and we were making good time (almost 6-7 knots!). So we sailed and sailed until night began to fall and decided to cut back in for shelter near Gasprilla Island and Boca Grande. Neither of us had been here before but our guide book made the two places sound like fantastic places to hang out and walk for a few days.

When we arrived it was late at night so we dropped anchor where it looked like we were not longer in the channel and went to sleep excited about what the morning would bring. When we awoke we say houses, houses covering every inch of the land on the tiny island. It was disappointing. We thought that there would be more open land left. Later that morning we piled into the dingy and went out to see where we could go ashore to walk around Boca Grande which sounded like a great little town to explore and eat in. Once again we were disappointed. There was not an inch of shore that was not private. Every inch of beach there was a sign posted that you could not come ashore. Even at the restaurant the Pink Elephant there was a 10 minute only parking spot and locals said it was a guarantee that you would be ticketed there. Well that was enough for us to say the heck with it and prepare to move on to a more boat friendly place. It is a shame that they are not more friendly to cruisers, I am sure they lose a lot of tourist dollars that way.

So we went back to our charts and discovered that across the very large channel was Cayo Costa a Florida State Park. We decided that it sounds promising so we pulled up anchor and made the short trip over, which I will tell you about next sailing post.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set in the fictional nation of Panem The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the story of nation of people who after a failed rebellion are barely surviving in their districts. The Capitol oversees the 12 districts and makes it clear to the people of Panem that any future rebellion will be terminated not only quickly but also with extreme violence. To reinforce their point they force each district to pick two tributes every year to a deadly game… the Hunger Games. One boy and and girl (ages 12-18) will be taken from their homes and thrown into a fight to the death against their fellow tributes. The child who survives wins the favor of the Capitol with a new home, food and money not only for themselves but also their district will receive gifts.

Katniss Everdeen has lived in the Seam of District 12 for 16 years and considered being a tribute in the Hunger Games as a death sentence. When her younger sister Prim, the only person she has ever loved is picked for the 74th annual Hunger Games she immediately volunteers herself for the position to save her sister from death. Katniss along with her fellow district 12 tribute Peeta must figure out how to be the last tribute standing.

First let me say that I cannot believe children are reading this book. Honestly there is not too much out right gory details of violence in this book but the idea of kids reading about children fighting to death with other children is somewhat disturbing. That being said this book is riveting. Katniss, although somewhat lacking in the personality department, grabs me from the first chapter and invites me along on her journey to stay alive without having to shed too much blood along the way. While I read this book in only a two day period and I found it hard to put down I do have to say that I found some of Katniss’s cluelessness to be annoying. I was really hoping that we would not have another clueless when it comes to feelings female protagonist in a children/young adult novel. She is after all a hunter and a survivor so why does she also have to be a silly 16 year old girl when it comes to love?

Peeta the other tribute for district 12 is a much stronger character than Katniss in that he at least knows what he wants, but his lack of self-confidence is insufferable at times. While I am somewhat annoyed by both our main characters in this novel I cannot say that the book as a whole is disagreeable. The plot drives this book and it is well written with detailed, yet somewhat elusive descriptions of place and action. The climax and many of the major events in the book are not always surprising but they lead you on quickly enough to want more. Also I have to say the ending is one of the best open endings I have read in a popular fiction book to date. Without telling you what happens let me just say that it made me buy the second book immediately upon finishing.

You should read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins if you are looking for a book that has a good plot and somewhat tolerable characters. If nothing else, read this book so you will know what everyone is currently talking about.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Boston Massachusetts - Seeing the World of The Technologists

One of my favorite living authors Matthew Pearl recently had his newest novel The Technologists come out (publication date was February 2012). Almost immediately after reading the book Boston was on my list of my next Reader Vacation. The novel is set in Boston in 1868 and the story centers around the newly formed MIT, their rivals Harvard and the city of Boston itself. Never having been to Boston before I knew that there would be a lot to see and one Reader’s Vacation would not be enough. So I went through the book again highlighting some of the areas that sounded the most intriguing and below is the Reader Vacation I planned:

What to Read:
The Technologists: A Novel
The Technologists is set in Boston 1868 and starts with, of all things, seven shipwrecks. […]As the book progressed more unusual, seemingly hard to explain catastrophes were happening to Boston. The police force was at a loss for answers so they had to make the choice of turning to one of the two colleges in the area, Harvard or the new formed Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They choose to place their faith in the college that was not shocking the city with their “technologies” and sought the help of the professor of science from Harvard. Harvard’s science department unfamiliar and unwilling to accept the new way of looking at the world that was present in MIT was unable to adequately explain what had happened or what would happen next. It looked as though all was loss for Boston until a secret group formed within the walls of MIT began to investigate from the shadows. Quickly the MIT students begin to see how the experimenter was tormenting the city, their only question left was, how they would stop him. [Read the rest of my review here]

Where to Go:
Boston of course! Some books are not hard to decide where to vacation and when to read them when on a vacation and The Technologists practically begs you to take a trip to Boston. With that decision out of the way the only real thing to decide then was what to see while in Boston, or in other words pinpoint where in Boston we would be spending our time. There were three destinations that I finally narrowed it down to in my Technologists Reader Vacation:

1) MIT- for the simple reason that this is where the protagonists spent most of their time and it was so prominent in the book (MIT could arguably be one of the characters in the novel so much revolved around it)

2) Charles River- simply because my current lifestyle always seem to draw me to the water

3) Port of Boston- because of the opening scene. I wanted to see the area where all the trouble for Boston began. The opening scene was so riveting and held such an emotional charge for me that it seemed only fitting to visit the location of the scene.

What to See and Do:
“Throughout his boyhood in a port town, he’d heard so many people spoken of as “lost at sea.” Now it seemed to him the strangest turn of phrase. As long as he was in the water he could not be lost.”-Matthew Pearl, The Technologists
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 
MIT in itself is a destination to see and just attending some of their events visiting their libraries and museums could very well be your entire vacation. With that in mind I had to narrow down what I wanted to see based on my reading of the Technologist and what I decided was I wanted to see Technology as the characters saw it in The Technologists. Which meant that Maihaugen Gallery would be a natural stop on my Reader’s Vacation.

Maihaugen Gallery is located in building 14N-130 on the MIT campus and its hours are Monday-Thursday 10am-4pm. It houses several traveling and permanent exhibits and most of the exhibits deal with technology in some way or the other. It is the main exhibit space in the MIT Libraries as the home to historical documents, photographs, rare books, maps, artwork and other artifacts from the Institute Archives and library collections.

MIT Rowing Team Practicing on the Charles
MIT Rowing Team on the Charles River
Charles River:
The Charles River is a river with a history (as most rivers in large cities are). It was once considered so polluted that should you fall into it you immediately were encouraged to take a trip to the hospital and receive a tetanus shot. Today it is rated somewhere around a B+ and there are even spots where people swim. It is also a popular spot for sailing and rowing. In fact the MIT Crew Team practices in the Charles River. On its 80 miles of banks you will encounter 4 universities (Brandeis University, Harvard University, Boston University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Whether you walk the banks or sail in it the Charles River is definitely a place you will want to take a day trip. If you really want to live out The Technologists Reader Vacation you may want to take a kayak or canoe down the Charles River where Marcus and his fellows practiced their rowing. Charles Bank Park is a good place to enjoy the Charles River from and launch that kayak from if you are so inclined.

Port of Boston and Boston Skyline
Port of Boston

Port of Boston:
Technically the Port of Boston is not a place you can just walk up to and hang out, it is after a working Port. But if you are on a boat you will be able to get close enough to see the shipping containers and what it takes to move them. This in itself if quite impressive, but beware and stay out of the way of the large ships and cruise ships. If you want to just be a tourist in the general area though (read here landlubber instead of sailor) then you may want to visit the Faneuil Hall Marketplace which is located across highway 93 when you are position at Long Wharf (it is on the Freedom Trail route as well). Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a place to shop, eat and you can also see street performers and other events.

How Much Will it Cost:
This all depends on how you get around Boston. Most of the locations you can walk to once you get to the Freedom Trail but more than likely you will want to ride the T (Boston’s subway transportation). If you are driving yourself then count on paying for parking (there is really no way around this). However experiencing the Charles River, walking in Faneuil Hall Marketplace and going to the Maihaugen Gallery are all free of charge. But plan to spend at least of couple hundred dollars on eating, transportation and parking for the day. (Note this does not include accommodations and travel to Boston that is a whole other story.)

When to Go:
The best bet is most likely sometime in the early summer months. The weather will be pleasant but things will still be open (I am thinking of MIT in this case which may have reduced hours for summer).

More Information:
Maihaugen Gallery:
Freedom Trail Map:
Faneuil Hall Marketplace:
MIT Rowing Club:

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