Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Camping" in RV parks

Harris Beach campsite
Expensive does not necessarily mean good when it comes to RV parks. In fact, we have enjoyed our stays more in older, less expensive RV parks.

Probably, the nicest site we had was at Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, Oregon. It cost $22 per night, with a roomy site surrounded by shrubbery for privacy. You could even see the ocean when you stood on the top step into the trailer.

The most expensive site was a Thousand Trails park just south of Newport. It cost just over $40 for a night, but it was late and we didn’t care what the cost was. We were given their longest pull-through site but the trailer and pickup still hung out at both ends. Plus, the trailer separated the picnic table from the fire pit. Not that we used either one.

We also liked a small, older park in Needles, California, that bordered the Colorado River, which was smooth as glass when I walked Chester down there the next morning.

We even tried boondocking (dry camping in a self-contained rig) a couple of times. Both times were free. Once in the Spirit Mountain Casino RV lot and another time at a Flying J truck stop in California that allowed Good Sam members to overnight free. We quite enjoyed Spirit Mountain, but the truck stop was pretty miserable. We gave up trying to sleep about 4 a.m., walked across the grounds to a restaurant for breakfast, then pulled out.

Walmart is the most popular place for boondocking, but I've met people who've overnighted in a McDonald's parking lot after it was closed. We considered boondocking on BLM land here in Quartzsite, but decided we didn't want to give up the electric blanket since desert nights are still cold.

I’m also finding that all sites within a specific RV park are not created equal. Some have picnic tables, others don’t. Some are on level ground, others slant down a hill.

We’re also finding that the staff at all the parks are really super, and go out of their way to make sure we have a pleasant stay. Because of this, we would return to most of the ones we’ve stayed at so far.

I have been amazed at how easy it is to tell regular snowbirds from newbies, like us. Regular snowbirds wear shorts and t-shirts while we're still bundled up in jeans and heavy sweatshirts. Regular snowbirds put indoor-outdoor carpeting around their RV to cover the gravel and also tote along regular patio furniture. And regular snowbirds have special cafeteria trays, about double the size of the food trays we used in grade school, to eat off of at potlucks; we showed up with paper plates.

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