Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Attrack-tive campgrounds

After four months, you’d think we know what to look for when shopping for a place to spend the night.
Notice we didn’t say campground, because by now, we’ve learned the difference between a campground and a RV park. Mostly, it’s asphalt, lots of it.
We have found that in U.S. state parks, they are fond of paving both the roadways and the campsites, but leaving the rest with plenty of grass and trees. Exceptions, of course, occur in the desert states where gravel and/or sand rule. Vegetation is little if any so a cactus gets to be pretty important feature.
When it comes to choosing a park, whether it’s a campground or an RV parkade, we try to keep in mind where we are. In Arizona, we didn’t expect much on the desert and just outside Phoenix, in an RV park in Buckeye, that’s exactly what we got. You pay to be able to park safely, use the washrooms, pool and laundry, and hook up water, electricity and maybe sewer. The park operators have put their money into contouring the existing sand/gravel and not much else.
In contrast, a similar setting in Bakersfield, Calif. at the Bakersfield Palms RV Resort offered up a paved parking area, patio stones just outside our door, a palmetto planted next to our site and a groomed gravel setting, plus pool, laundry and hot tub. Of course, we didn’t spend a moment longer than necessary outdoors in Bakersfield, or in Bakersfield at all for that matter.
Los Angeles air travels a long, long way. Bakersfield folk couldn’t understand why we thought there was an issue with the air. “It’s always like this,” they said, as our eyes watered and throats ached.
We had driven around Bakersfield because the place we had chosen from the Woodalls camping guide turned out to be about three metres from a four-lane highway. We, after four months on the road, were sure we could do better and found the Palms Resort way down the road. Surely it would be much quieter.
Didn’t even notice all those railway tracks. Luckily, we weren’t near a crossing so didn’t have to listen to whistles as we rocked and bucked with every train that passed.
Live and learn.
After that experience, we thought we’d go on the fibreglass RV web site to gather information about San Francisco-area campgrounds from those who know about travelling in tiny trailers. We received a handful of suggestions and ended up in the San Francisco RV Resort. As is typical of RV places, the pool, laundry and washrooms are very nice and there are miles of asphalt.
BUT the view out our bedroom window makes up for a lot of things. For one, we don’t hear the four-lane highway because it is drowned out by the roar of the surf. And the nice ladies at the front counter, pronouncing our little rig as very cute, decided we’d get their favourite spot backing onto the beach, even though we hadn’t paid the premium rate.
It doesn’t hurt to be cute.
So here we sit, surf roaring as we plan a day in San Francisco. From here, we’re able to take mass transit in to the big city, not worry about traffic or parking.
We’re happy with this spot, but we wouldn’t call it camping.
That’s for another night, somewhere else on our trip.

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