Friday, May 24, 2019

VILLAGE SCENE RV PARK, Hatfield, Pennsylvania

When we went to have the macerator replaced at the Roadtrek dealer/service center that we bought the Roadtrek at 8 years ago in April, we had to find a place to stay in the Roadtrek the night before. The appointment was for first thing in the morning when they opened and we could not do what we have almost always done in the past when we went there for service - leave our home in the morning of the appointment and drive the two and a half hours to get there at around 11 am for them to do and complete the work the rest of the day.  We could have stayed outside the service shop as they do have a 30 amp outlet to plug into and we would have had electricity overnight - but because the macerator was broken what we would not have was a toilet. The dealer's showroom closes at 8:00 pm and after that we would have a problem.  I started to look for campgrounds and there are a few in the area. One that I found was off in a wooded area and when I checked Google maps to see the route from there to the service shop, there was always a closed road - along the route. That was not going to work out at all - and I started wondering if I would ever find a campground for this excursion - even for just one night. Then I came across a most unlikely type of RV park - that is actually an age "55+ Manufactured Home Community and RV Park". I know that to some this brings up in their mind the image of a trailer park - but by the photos on their website and with Google Maps satellite view I was able to see the entire place - and it looked nice. The name is Village Scene (RV Park).

This is back now in February - and the appointment is not until almost the end of April.  I sent them an email and asked about availability for the night before our appointment. I got a very nice and prompt reply letting me know that they had one site available for us to stay in. If I wanted it to be held we would have to send a check for the one night stay and the site would be reserved for us.  While they have mostly permanently installed mobile homes and what I would say are called "Park Model" homes that are pre-fab homes, they also have some regular RV sites with 20, 30, and 50 amp electric service, water hook up, and sewer hook up. They do not have cable TV hook up - that is on site for permanent residents that arrange on their own for the service to be hooked up to their homes. They do have wifi across the park. The most important thing I had to confirm - though I know that I saw it on their website - was there a 24 hour access restroom - and I had hoped to have a site that was close to it. There is a 24 hour/7 days a week rest room building (that also has a laundry in it) and it is available to anyone who does not have those facilities on board their RV. Well, for this trip, that was us - and it was confirmed to me that it was indeed there and open - but the only site they had was not right next to it but four aisles away. That was no problem for us at all - as we have no issue with doing a little walking.

The RV park was very nice. The resident's trailers, mobile homes, RVs, whatever one would call them are all nice, well cared for, landscaping around them - flower beds, etc. While we were there we saw big Class A RVs and also large travel trailers. When we arrived (later than we expected as I explained in our recent Day 1 article about this trip we were greeted by a very nice woman in the office who was expecting us. She had put an orange cone in our space just in case we got there after the office closed at 4:00 pm. Our site was right across from the office. We were paid in full and she came outside to show us where our site was. We explained that we would be leaving for the rest of the afternoon and coming back that night after dinner - there was no problem at all with that. 

We only saw a few residents and no one took any notice of us. The site was a pull in, back out site - in other words the connections were on the drivers side and the opening of the site was such that puling in would put the connections where they needed to be. There was a mobile home next to the site so it was not a pull through - to get out of the space you just back out into the aisle. All sites are paved and the the aisles (or lanes) are asphalt.  As we always do when we get to a campground, we pull in and find where the Roadtrek will be level. This site was half paved with a concrete slab on one side and the other side the pavement was asphalt. This made the two slightly off in height from each other - but with the Roadtrek as it is smaller than most RVs that these sites are designed for, it was possible to drive around back and forth - adjusting this way or that - and on a slight diagonal I got the Roadtrek level. We marked where the tires were with our reflectors for this purpose and also checked voltage and polarity at the outlet box - all good! We backed out and were off for the day.

The restrooms were just where they were shown on the map. They were clean - though a bit old fashioned - toilet stalls, a shower stall, and a sink. You must bring your own paper towel and soap. It did take us a little bit - in each of our respective restrooms to figure out how the lights went on. I brought a flashlight with me and found that while the lights were not on any motion detector they had a switch box with buttons that were timers. Once you got the lights on with any of the buttons you could set it to how long the lights would stay on - a little different from what we have come across but just fine.  The walk to the building was no problem - even in the dark.

What I was very impressed with - and maybe it was because we were right across from the office was that the WIFI was exceptionally good! We were given a brochure when we arrived with the rules of the park and the wifi codes. There were two for two wifi units that cover the grounds. One was based in the office - and we had strong and good wifi in the site we were in.

We were only there one night. The location is straight off the exit ramp from the PA Turnpike north/south extension, a turn down a street with many businesses along it including stores, fast food, and supermarkets and knowing the street to turn down - and the help of the GPS we got right there in the day and had no problem finding our way back in the dark at night. The brochure we were given suggests where to park RVs in the city of Philadelphia and they are not that far and not at all like being in the city - to stay at to visit Philadelphia. This is located in the middle of a nice residential suburban neighborhood. There are no fences around the Park and no gate. The people living full time here have mailboxes in front of their mobile homes and the mailman comes directly to each to deliver mail.

While this park is for 55+ that is only for residents.  Children and families are welcome coming in to temporarily stay nightly, weekly, or monthly. There are no facilities in the way of a playground, swimming pool, or anything else like that. This is strictly stay in your RV or sit outside in your site - or leave the park and go exploring. This area is about an hour and a half from the PA Dutch Country in Lancaster County by way of the PA Turnpike.

We were both very pleased with this RV park. The electric service was good. The television using the over the air antenna was also very good and all of the major networks came in clearly as well as a number of other channels. We did not even put up the antenna but had good reception with the antenna flat on the roof. We both felt very welcome! Staff was nice from our first email contact through our stay. We would stay here again if we had to be in this area again. It was also very reasonably priced. I tend not to like to give prices because they always change from year to year but we only paid $40 for the night. That may be because we reserved the site early in the year - as the rate is now listed at $44 a night. Still a great price! This is the lowest we have paid for a campground in about five years.  And this is no "trailer park" - this is a nice place for a night or two.  Please note that they do not take any credit or debit cards. One must pay by cash or by check.

Village Scene RV Park is located at 2151 Koffel Road, Hatfield, PA  19440 and their phone number is 215-362-6030.  Click here for their RV Park webpage.

Friday, May 10, 2019


Our last article on April 26, 2019 has the first part of this two part article - DAY 1.  Here is the conclusion - DAY 2.

We had figured from the day before's test drive to the Roadtrek dealer/service center where the work would be done that while the GPS said 11 minutes and the actual trip took fifteen minutes, that we should plan for the trip to take 20 minutes from the RV Park considering the time - appointment at 9:00 am (or earlier if we could get there), that this was when people were driving to work, and this was a school day with one school we had to pass and school buses also on the roads. To that we had to add the time it takes for us to get up and get dressed, unhook the Roadtrek from the campsite electric box, and get the power cord put away. Then Meryl decided that she wanted to unmake the bed and move the bed mattress cushions to one side of the rear of the van just in case the service technician had to get to the plumbing cabinet that is under the front of one side of the bed. I was sure they did not need to - but she was set on doing this - and it "would not take any time to do". We set the time to get up and get started based on all of these estimates.  As it turned out the estimate was a bit off and we did not get to the dealership until about 9:10 am.

We went in the the service office and there was our long time friend, Rachel, behind her desk who has helped us get the service our Roadtrek has needed since we bought it - and returned for service about monthly for the first two and half to three years that we owned it. We got to be on a first name basis, got to know each other, and when we needed help with the Roadtrek we would call and ask for her by name - and she would help us get things done. "We have not seen you in awhile!", she said as I came in. We had not been back in about three years. The only work we had needed in that time was to have the oil changed in the Onan generator and was having it done at a local Cummins-Onan authorized service center - that was costing almost what it costs to travel to Pennsylvania to this service shop to have it done including gas and tolls. We went over the list of what needed to be done.  I was asked if the macerator under the Roadtrek is out in the open or under a cover. I had no idea. The reason for the question was that if it is out in the open the job estimate time is two hours, but if it is covered over, the job estimate time is four hours. Labor is charged at $133.00 an hour.  Once the service tech got under the van he would know immediately.  I had one more job for them to do - if they could do it.

The hose that Roadtrek installs on the macerator to dump the tanks is a very stiff plastic material that is very hard to get out of its small storage cubby that is a divided section of the outside cabinet on the side of the Roadtrek. If it is cool outside it gets even harder to pull out and then stuff back in. Over the years, Meryl has figured out a few tricks to get it to go in easier but it has still been a struggle.  I had the idea a couple of weeks before the appointment that we might replace this hose - since the macerator was being disconnected and the new one reconnected anyway - with a hose that is highly recommended to change to - a Thetford Sanicon macerator hose - made for Thetford's own macerator systems which are different from what Roadtrek uses which is a ShurFlo macerator.  I asked at the desk, if it was possible could they put in the Sanicon hose when they did this job. The answer was that if they had the hose in stock in their parts and accessories store they could and then would. I also asked that the nozzle from the original hose be moved to the new hose. The nozzle has a good downspout and also a turn off valve at the top.  And - that too would be done  - if it was possible.  To find out if the hose was available we would walk over together to the shop and look for it. I had the model number for us to look for.

The service tech then was called to let him know our Roadtrek was ready to start working on and we went across the road to the accessories shop. We went right over to where the dump system hoses are and found it - there were two.  Rachel picked up the carton of one of them and left to bring it to the service department for the installation.  We were left in the shop to wait in the small waiting area that is nothing more than a small table and four chairs around it or browse around the shop - or go out the the shopping near by to spend the time.

We know this accessories and parts shop well as we spent a lot of time waiting here at this dealer when we had brought the Roadtrek in so many times in the past for service. It is like a small RV accessories supermarket - with things you don't see most anywhere else other than RV accessories stores - of which we have only been to two others from this one - ever. We went up and down the aisles looking. One thing I was looking for were a few items that they have had in the past that are Roadtrek specific, Since Roadtrek is still out of business - and while a buyer for the company is being confirmed - parts specifically for the Roadtrek and not just RVs in general are not available and there is no guarantee what a new buyer - if that is finalized will put back out in the way of parts. Specifically I was looking for a cap for the low point fresh water tank drain - which is a screw cap which for some reason the caps sold in the plumbing sections of Home Depot and Lowes, just don't fit - even in what should be the same size. I do have a spare - but under the circumstances a small part like this is easy to loose - more than once.I was also looking for the plugs that go into the fresh water fill holes in the two door frames - again, of which I have two spares but wanted another pair. There was not much any longer left on the racks and shelves that were marked "ROADTREK" as they had been in the past. I did not find the drain cap but I did find the orange plugs for the door fill holes.  I decided that after the Roadtrek was out of the service shop, we would come back over there before we left to buy what I found - so as not to carry them all day. The shop really is fun to look around in, but there is just so much looking one can do in a small shop. We did go into the showroom and there was not a Roadtrek in sight - no surprise as it is hard to sell something new that has no company to back the warranty - at the prices these sell for. There were other Class Bs which all seemed smaller that the inside of our 190.

We left the shop, crossed back to the other side of the busy road and walked to the small shopping center that is nearby.  Souderton, PA is not a rural town - it is pretty much like most suburban towns but in this area there is one distinct difference from where we live - which is also a suburban area but one where rarely does anyone walk anywhere - we have side walks - and here there are few to none. To walk what is less than a 1/10 of a mile one must walk on grass, dirt, or in the road - which is a busy road. That is OK but once you get to a large route you must cross to get to the shopping center, you find that there are crosswalks at the two traffic lights that are about 1/10 mile apart BUT the post with the button to set the traffic signal to walk - with four lanes of traffic all around - is on a cement island beyond a turn lane you must cross to get to it.  We got to the post - I pushed the button - we waited through two cycles of the light - and nothing. The second crosswalk has its post with button in the middle of a flower garden on a small hill of dirt. I looked down to that one and watched the lights were we were at at just the right moment shouted "RUN NOW!" and we got across the road to no sidewalk but a grass lawn around the edge of the shopping center. OK. We were across the big road. We could make it somewhat of the way on the grass before we had to walk in the entrance lane into the parking lot to get to the stores. This has always amazed us here.  Meryl says people just must not walk there - and we certainly got stares as we walked along to get into the small shopping center.

The shopping center has an AutoZone store which we walked around inside for three minutes as it was that small. There is a Home Depot which we did spend a good amount of time in - just because we were not standing out walking around inside - and there were things we could waste time looking at including house refrigerators which we don't intend to buy. There is a supermarket which we did not get to.  There is another section of the shopping center with a few other stores. Again, there is no sidewalk so one must walk on uneven grass - uphill or in the road - with cars surprised anyone is walking on the side of the road.

In this other section is one of the best dollar stores we have been in over the years - and we found this on our first service visit back in 2011. I don't know why but they seem to have things that are not in other dollar stores. We always find things to buy and we spent time in the dollar store.  There is also a Staples and we had not heard anything from the service shop so we went in - hoping we would get a call to come back. I looked at my watch and saw it was about 1 pm - and I started calculating in my head $133 an hour labor up to that point and I said out loud to myself "OH BOY!". Meryl said what?  I smiled and said just calculating hours.  I had figured that we would be out of the service shop by 11:00 am. Maybe Noon at the latest. We had heard nothing and it was 1 pm.

It was time for lunch and there is a Wendy's on the edge of the other part of the parking lot and we walked over there - again, in the road and on the grass. We got lunch and just took our time eating. Through the window from our table Meryl was facing in the direction of the service shop and she saw a silver van pull around the lot across the back. We got no call but decided to head back. This time we crossed at the light that goes into the flower garden. Going for service down here  is always an adventure!

We got to the shop and our Roadtrek was parked out front. We went in and asked if it was ready. Yes - but we are still figuring the bill from the service tech's report. OK... Then a phone call was made to the service tech to clarify something in his notes. A discussion lead to more keystrokes. OK...

We finally get to what was done and what we must pay. The invoice is gone over line by line. The macerator is inside a metal box. The metal box at some time in the last 8 years was smashed by road debris, hitting something on the road, or some other undetermined cause of a metal box attached to the bottom of a van that only has 6 to 7" of clearance under it becoming smashed. The smashed box prevented the service tech from being able to remove the broken macerator until he was able to deal with the smashed box - which involved removing the box, then getting the macerator out, straightening and bending back the metal that comprises the box "as best he could" (understandable) and then installing the new macerator - labor four hours.  The new Sani-con hose was installed. A valve down spigot was assembled from parts and installed on the end of the hose - the original Roadtrek spigot downspout had been glued to the old hose - and that could not be used. What they put together is a close approximation and will work just fine. To test the new macerator and hose the two waste tanks were dumped - which is not allowed to be done on site so the Roadtrek was taken to a local dump. Labor one hour.  The Onan generator oil was changed with Onan oil 15w-40 (recommended by Onan - and this is what I have always had put in). Labor 3/4 hour. The total for the job was $1100.00.  This includes sales tax and also a discount on all parts which I am entitled to for buying my RV at this dealer. The labor was $780. of the total. I could not have done any of this myself. I got a discount on the parts - and I am pleased with the job.

We left the service shop and once again headed north at what was then almost 4:00 to get to a Farmer's Market that is only open on Wednesdays in Leesport, PA with hopes to just buy a certain pie that we both have fallen in love with from an Amish pastry shop that attends two farmer's markets and also sells out of their own shop. It was too late to get to the shop but we could get to the market. The pie we were after - Chocolate Shoo Fly Pie! An Amish variation on the Amish Shoo Fly Pie that is a molasses base but this one is a chocolate base - with a layer on the bottom of the pie shell of thick chocolate, topped with chocolate cake with a hint if molasses added, topped with a light chocolate frosting. Oh my! We have had this pie for years from other bakers and we then found this baker and it is the best we have ever had.  If they had them when we got there I would bring home more than one. Unfortunately, there were none left when we got there. Just to make the trip there worthwhile we bought the last Lemon Sponge Pie that they had - which is a good second choice.  These are all pies one only finds in the Pennsylvania Dutch region. I have never seen one of these anywhere else. This is an area of rare taste delights - one region and only one region bakes a pie called a Funny Cake - a yellow cake in a pie shell with a heavy chocolate layer on the bottom with more of that chocolate swirled through the cake.  We attend a festival in that region once a year and always bring home one or two of those pies.

We headed to Lancaster for dinner and more PA Dutch food delights - at least to me. After dinner we headed home - and for some reason which we are not certain what - it took us to 2:30 am to get home.  Traffic had not been bad. What was bad the entire trip - from NY to NJ to PA and back was the conditions of the roads. We hit potholes, we went over van rattling bumps and lumps in the roads. We were shaken most of the way on this trip - both ways. More so than usual - so the weather had really taken its tolls on the roads this past winter, Twice we hit a hole in the road the caused the Tire Pressure Monitor light to come on on the dashboard. We have had trouble with this coming on before but usually when it does, checking the tire pressure with the button on the dash for the tires shows one tire not reading - usually the front pass tire - which we had our mechanic look at and he reset it and and it has been fine for a year. This time all tire pressures were showing - not too low, not too high - and as soon as I shut off the engine and restarted the light did not come back on - until the second bump a day later.

This was not a pleasure trip but it was our first overnight trip in the Roadtrek since August 2018 - and while exhausting - from walking while waiting for the repair to be done - and an early morning appointment, and driving for two days we were both knocked out, but we did get to a little bit of what we travel to PA for - and I am not referring to service on the Roadtrek.

As always thanks for taking this journey with us. I am known for long and detailed adventure reports and this is what come out when I have something more than how to do this or how to do that articles. And if it can be said in one sentence I will use twenty and make things real.