Camping in a Parking Lot

My last Alaska camping trip with my sister Kerry, brother-in-law Buzz and nephew Connor was years ago.  We were in tents, the last time I ever was in a tent — thankfully. We packed-up and traveled 50+ miles to the Kenai Peninsula.  Kerry and Buzz lived in a beautiful house on the outskirts of Anchorage.  They have wilderness area out their backdoor.  So on our 2nd night in the campground Buzz commented on how we were camping in a parking lot with boom-boxes and the ability to hear every neighbor’s conversation.  Buzz said something to the effect, “Gee isn’t it great to be out in the wilderness”.   We should have camped in their backyard.  It would have been quieter and as much of a wilderness experience.

There are campgrounds, RV Resorts, and parking lots.  The Coastal Dunes RV Park in Oceano, CA is a parking lot, with concrete facilities.  Might as well be outhouses.  Again, reservations are very difficult.  If you don’t make a reservation you may in up in a Wal-Mart parking lot.  Something, I have pledged never to do.  

Coastal Dunes, is not on “the coast”.  It is lodged between a busy street and the Amtrak train tracks.  I stayed one night.  The family “camping” next to me had a large 5th wheeler, 3 or 4 tents for the children/teenagers, and several small barking dogs.

So when I hitched-up to escape I heard a strange noise when driving away.  OMG it was one of the tents!  I wish I could have taken a picture, but suffice it to say, I was dragging one of the tents behind the Airstream.  Scout’s bumper had caught a tent cable.  Thankfully, I had my window down and no radio playing, or I would have made it to the road.  Yikes!  

I stopped, un-hooded the tent in front of the small pool where the kids/teenagers where frolicking.  Yo!  Is this your tent?  Yes.  Okay, sorry about that, glad no one was inside.  Have a great day!  I drove away.  Not my best moment, or great escape.

The world-wide web can make anything or anywhere look appealing.  So I am re-thinking my reservations.  Making a reservation for one-night and hoping to extend.  Pismo Beach is the RV Capital of the world, I have never seen so many RVs both on the road, in campgrounds and storage lots.  For those looking to buy a used RV, I would suggest visiting Oceano, CA.

I am now camping in a KOA with nicer facilities and the gift store has a nice selection of local wines.  I am re-evaluating my “camping” requirements, and thinking very fondly of my dear brother-in-law Buzz.

Reservation Required

Was it ever possible to pack-up the car and head to the great outdoors without prior planning?  Certainly, that was my memory, but I was not in charge.  Mom would say we are going camping this weekend, and we all piled into the car.

As a full-time RVer planning is essential.  Unless you want to end up in a Walmart parking lot, which I refuse to do.

AllStays is a wonderful smart phone app, which lists all campgrounds, dumping stations, and Walmarts, in additional useful RV resources.  There are numerous apps and websites that have replaced paper maps.  But an old-fashion paper map is essential.  Without a map it is difficult to see where campgrounds are in relation to your route or where you are trying to go.  My old Garmin GPS tells nothing about elevation, which is important when you are dragging 4,500 lbs behind you.

I have made too many reservations only to cancel them, costing cancellation fees.

Things I have learned:

  1. Staying a week in a campground saves you money, because there might be a weekly rate.
  2. Have a map in front of you when making reservations.
  3. Try to restrict your daily driving to less than 300 miles, planning to arrive at least an hour before dark – preferably more.
  4. Not all RV parks or campgrounds are created equal (kids and parking lots can make your experience more of a nightmare than a dream).

    Two Springs in North Palm Springs is an exceptional place, with huge lots, a beautiful pool and clean shower, toilets and laundry.

  5. Do grocery shopping before arriving, by the time you check-in and get hooked-up — you won’t want to go anywhere.

Cocktail time!

Camping, with toilet and shower.

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Mole Enchiladas

Austin, TX is fantastic, I just can’t say enough about this Capitol city.  Austin is an island surrounded by Texas.  The Tex Mex food is amazing, lots of wonderful sites to see, and the winter weather is marvelous in the high 60s low 70s.  My big news, I will be working a part-time holiday job at a locally owned Ace hardware store.  Full-filling another retirement dream and bucket list goal — working in a hardware store!

Breed & Company is more than just hardware.  There is an amazing housewares section, which is where I will be.  Every kitchen gadget, a full bridal and fine china section, linens, Christmas stuff, baby stuff, and a garden section; just lots of wonderful stuff.  I’ll be posting pictures as soon as I start.

It isn’t Fragers, my favorite D.C. place to shop.  Breed & Company is much, much more!  Good thing I am living in Scout.  Otherwise I would be tempted to buy kitchen stuff, because my friends know how much I love gadgets!

Stocking Scout and organizing clothes into my very small area is coming along nicely, so I will be posting pictures soon!

After a lovely stay and Thanksgiving meal with friend Ruth. img_3412 Maggie and I are camped out at Emma Long Metropolitan Park, a hill-top campground with a beautiful lake.  Unfortunately, for Maggie there are terrible stickers in the grass.  Tonight I backed-in to our #11 camp site, with the help of a fellow camper.  I will be staying in Austin until after the new year, and then decide on my route.  East or West?