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Author Topic: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip  (Read 10382 times)

The Mehlmanns

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Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« on: February 10, 2010, 01:42:36 PM »
Hi all,
I just wanted to up date an ealrlier thread I started about UK residents purchasing an RV in the USA. You may recall that our intention was for three couples to jointly purchase an RV, use it individualy as couples for 4 months each then sell at the end of the year.
Sadly the group purchase fell through but we as one single couple decided to go ahead, which was our original plan, and do the business ourselves.

Well we did just that and are currently in Tombstone Arizona having cruised down the Californian coast on highway 1 as far as Los Angeles before heading east and south basically visiting anywhere that took our fancy.

Going back a bit to the purchase which might be of interest to others.

Our plan was to buy where we flew too, in this case San Francisco, do the registration and after our 4 month trip resell.
 
We did a lot of internet research before we came and armed with this information about local dealers and RV's for sale plus our international drivers license and a US address looked at about a dozen units. All of these were in the sub 10K$ region and mostly pretty tired with lots of miles. Several dealers tried hard to sell us stuff that was pretty foul, mind you our aspirations were realistic considering the budget we had but eventually we were directed to a dealer in Morgan Hill, called See Grins who had something clearly out of our range but was cosmetically in excellent condition and with only 26k miles on the clock. Not bad for a 1988 model!
 
The price on the screen was just under 14K but a check of NADA values suggested a much lower figure was more realistic so we asked the dealer to justify the increase. A test drive and good inspection confirmed to us that the unit had been lovingly looked after, mechanically all was in fair order with a couple of things needing attention.
Internally it has the twin aft beds we wanted plus all the usual items such as air con, heater, most essential for the winter , settee, three rotating chairs, excellent galley with microwave, huge fridge freeezer, 4 burner cooker and oven, hood etc etc. All in all the best we had seen so far.
 
Yes the house batteries were suspect, the dash air did not work and the charge monitor light was not coming on but it drove well, the engine sounded smooth with clean oil, they had just serviced it though, the genset ran and worked well and all round we were convinced.
 
We made an offer which was well below the asking price and finally ended up doing a deal at 9900$ 'out the door'.
 
This was for all the paperwork, registration, sales tax, 9% in California, and their time for dealing with it. They also arranged the insurance for us and by the end of that day we were in a position to drive our new 'home' away.
 
We cannot speak too highly of SEE GRINS and they even offered to take it back on consignment if we have not sold the RV by the time we finish.
 
So summing up our experiences, do your homework, look around at what is going but be picky as there is a lot of stuff and some frankly is pretty suspect.
 
Before you arrive arrange for a US address, we have friends out here, get an international driving license and if you can, bring cash. It talks wonders.
 
A private sale is fine if you are happy with the seller but don't believe everything they say and you may need help with the paperwork. You may pay more through a dealer but he knows the ropes so they can for a fee do the registration for you.
 
For information our costs to date have been as follows:
 
Purchase of van 8,800$
Sales tax, registration, dealers fee for helping and other government charges, 1100$
12 month insurance, includes road side assistance and any driver, through Progressive: 250$
Fitting out from Walmart which included everything from sheets, duvets, cutlery, crocks etc:: 600$
 
Out total commitment therefore is around 10,750$
 
and for this we have got a fully equipped 1988 Fleetwood Southwind 28 foot. 26000 miles, nearly 29000 now, in cosmetically excellent condition and returning around 7.2 mpg.
 
The faults: Dash air problem is a worn out belt, we shall change if the weather gets hotter,
Charge monitor is not working but the unit charges when supplied with 110volts via the genset or 'shore power'.
House batteries, renwed.
Roof leaks. Always an issue but there were two which have now been cured using aluminium sealing tape along the roof joints. Some slight residual damage internally but none of it really visible or structural.
Engine battery obviously a bit tired but works most of the time and is backed up by the house batteries if needed to start the engine.
 
As mentioned above we are now well into our trip by some three weeks and have clocked up nearly 1500 miles visiting many of the interesting sights along the way and meeting some fabulous people all of whom have been very kind and extremely generous.
 
An example: in the Joshua Tree National park, Belle Campsite, 5$ a night if you work the senior card, we were ushered into a pitch by an other camper. He had a fire going and invited us to join him around it, well it was pretty cold. His wife come out of their fifth wheel shortrly after and insisted we join them for dinner.
They told us of their plans to go on tro the Imperial Dunes BLM site further south and join them and their friends who were going to play with their quad bikes for a week.
This we duly did and apart from using their 'toys', were fed and watered for several days beofre we finally moved on ourselves. Totally spontaneous and incredibly generous.
 
We now have three more months before we return to Europe when we shall try and sell our super RV no doubt experiencing more of the same.
 
If anyone would like more infop on any of this please do email me or post here on the forum.
 
A veery happy Stevce and Anne

Tom

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2010, 04:09:28 PM »
Steve and Anne, congratulations on the purchase and your adventure to date. Also, thanks for the report; I'm sure others will benefit from it in the future.

That vintage of Fleetwood products had a poorly designed roof, essentially creating a moat up there, and the seams were notorious for leaks. If the aluminum tape doesn't hold out, a far better solution would be Eternabond tape. It adheres extremely well, creates an effective seal an, as it's name suggests, will last almost forever.
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macmac

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2010, 06:32:08 PM »
great posting - good job guys - what could you have bought our side of the pond for that price? - that's economical motoring! - but keep an eye of the the tyres, the sun 'does a number' if it's been outdoors - dash air is often pretty hopeless anyway from what I've read, especially so as at that mileage the a/c will be ancient even if though the mileage is low....

safe travels - shame you aren't spending longer - we're in our sixth year  :)

Tom

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2010, 08:37:18 PM »
Good point re the tyres Keith. I'm surprised nobody else picked on on that. It's not just "the sun"; Unless they've been driven daily, RV tyres do not receive the benefit of natural oils that would be exuded with normal/daily driving.

Apart from the expense of tyre failure, a blowout (expect it with tyres over 7 years old) could cause major damage to the RV.

A search of prior discussions here will reveal a lot more. One does not need to experience a front tyre blowout for the first time  ;)
« Last Edit: February 10, 2010, 08:40:08 PM by Tom »
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macmac

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2010, 08:43:33 PM »
Good point re the tyres Keith. I'm surprised nobody else picked on on that.

Apart from the expense of tyre failure, a blowout (expect it with tyres over 7 years old) could cause major damage to the RV.

Hi Tom

It's an easy one to miss and sometimes tyres can look fine with plenty of tread but weathered sidewalls which can easily be disguised using proprietary tyre dressings. 

Just being stationary for a protracted time can be damaging to sidewalls, without any consideration of weathering - I'm sure you're well aware of that but other members may not be

Here in AZ sun damage is a constant concern for all manner of RV components so I guess it's easier to be aware of them... 

Tom

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2010, 08:58:02 PM »
Keith,

It's not limited to sun damage. Lack of daily use is the largest contributor to tyre failure.

We get our share of sun here in California, but car tyres do OK. RV tyres OTOH do not.
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macmac

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2010, 10:38:45 PM »
Keith,

It's not limited to sun damage. Lack of daily use is the largest contributor to tyre failure.

We get our share of sun here in California, but car tyres do OK. RV tyres OTOH do not.

Absolutely..... I read that during manufacture gases are incorporated into the tyre rubber which are constantly released when the tyre rolls and this helps prevent early deterioration of the rubber.  No movement equals no release of the gas (I've forgotten which!) and hence no protection of the rubber.

Our fifth wheel's tyres are scarcely worn yet must be 'old' as the trailer has been parked, and will continue to be parked, for quite some time.  The pick-up is in the same situation.

Seems there's little that can be done and many RVers must be in similar positions to me....  Lots of 'old', unworn tyres which look near-perfect but may not be in an acceptably safe condition.

Short of replacing them after a long lay-up there seems to be no way around this aging problem.  Back home in the UK there's less of a problem as high temperatures and ultraviolet are not everyday problems - as well you know!!!

My car is in the garage while we're here so I'm hoping its tyres will last for some time - they're expensive items - 72 quid, about $130 each for our tiny Mazda 2 with low profile 'sports' wheels and tyres, 1.4 litre, four cylinder engine (like a Toyota Yaris for those who don't know our model) 

Crazy money!

The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2010, 08:24:38 PM »
Thanks guys for reading and responding in such a positive way.

All the points you have made are totally valid and re the tyres I have to say we have been pretty lucky so far. There is loads of tread and so far as I can make out they were new only a few years ago, possibly 2006 but of course stood whilst waitng to be sold for some months.

At present we have done about 1500 miles on them and they are holding up very well but they are being watched most carefully.

Re the air con, in fact it works well but the belt is out of adjustment and so it squeaks/slips when in use. It needs changing and I can see why the previous owner put this off - it looks as though you have to take out the radiator to get acess the the other belts in front of the a/c one. In my Disco it is similar but access can be got be removing the fan. BTW the engine is the usual chevvy 454. So it looks like a garage job unless someone out there knows differently.
I don't know what HP the unit takes but I suspect it must be at the limit for a single belt and although the a/c compressor has a twin groove pullet fitting a second belt would interfere with the next one forward? possibly the brake pump.

Iwill certainly investigate the eterna tape route although probably for our immediate use the ally backed stuff is holfing on well. As a boatbulder I cannot fathom why Fleetwood didn't anticipate the roof being a potential problem. Having said that the owners manual does mention re caulking the roof seams regularly so maybe they did.

Well we are now nearly into New Mexico having done our bit at Tombstone and Bisbee so all ging really well and still enjoying.


Cheers for now and more updates later.

Steve




















Ernie n Tara

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2010, 10:14:37 AM »
Rather than replace the belt, you might pick up some Belt Dressing at any parts store. This will be a "sticky" spray and should restore adequate friction (assuming the compressor is not dying) if the belt is tight and does not have any missing pieces.
Ernie
Ernie 'n Tara

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The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2010, 06:52:44 PM »
Thanks, I have tried the belt dressing and either I amnot applying enough, being very cautious, or the belt is too far gone.

Next step might be a link belt but at the moment we seem to cruising about at around 5000 feet plus so not really hot enough to need the air con.

Just to continue with the up date of progress if anyone is interested, we have now been to Tombstone, Bisbee, Gila forest and the caves, Valley of fires lava filed, the white sands national monument and now Macdonalds to update our email.

BTW macmac, where are you at present? We met another couple way back just outside the Joshua Tree who had been doing this for years as well. Not you was it?

Heres to the next Mac D's

Cheersd


macmac

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2010, 08:29:22 PM »
Thanks, I have tried the belt dressing and either I amnot applying enough, being very cautious, or the belt is too far gone.

Next step might be a link belt but at the moment we seem to cruising about at around 5000 feet plus so not really hot enough to need the air con.

Just to continue with the up date of progress if anyone is interested, we have now been to Tombstone, Bisbee, Gila forest and the caves, Valley of fires lava filed, the white sands national monument and now Macdonalds to update our email.

BTW macmac, where are you at present? We met another couple way back just outside the Joshua Tree who had been doing this for years as well. Not you was it?

Heres to the next Mac D's

Cheersd

We're in AZ - haven't visited Joshua Tree for some years.... :)

The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2010, 01:32:27 PM »
Not the same people we met but enjoy your trip.

We have just entered Texas on our way to buy? a cow at the Amarillo auctions next Tuesday, the the great big Texas steak house in the evening to see how it tastes and no I shall not be trying the 72 oz steak as I susoect it might defeat even me!

Tried a little more belt stuff and it seems to make a difference so I will keep applying until i run out or it works. Fotunately not hot enough to need the dash air just yet.

By the way Tom when we come to sell in April how do you rate the classifieds?

Tom

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2010, 07:18:01 PM »
Quote from: The Mehlmanns
By the way Tom when we come to sell in April how do you rate the classifieds?

I've never bought or sold an RV via any classifieds, so I'm not in a position to "rate" any of them. I see you already found our private for-sale area.
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The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2010, 08:23:47 PM »
Sure did. I hadn't realised it was free!

When you are on a budget you begin to take note of these things :)

We shall see if anyone is interested

Still enjoying ourselves and have a couple of months left with a load more places to go and see. Shame that the weather here in Amarillo is a little cold, snow forecast for Monday and it will probably be a little chilly around all the canyons and Mesa Verde areas but then it is still winter and so we are not complaining.

How's the boat? We never got meet and take you up on the crewing offer but hey, next time maybe if we can afford to come back.

Cheers

Steve

Wendy

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2010, 08:42:21 PM »

it will probably be a little chilly around all the canyons and Mesa Verde areas but then it is still winter and so we are not complaining.

It's more than a "little chilly" in Mesa Verde right now !! They're expecting 2-3 FEET of snow out of this latest storn. And March and April are our snowiest months !! There's a reason we're staying away from Cortez right now !
 
Wendy
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mariekie4

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2010, 12:18:26 PM »
Since you are in Amarillo, make sure to go a little south and visit Palo Duro Canyon. Just beautiful! In my book, this is a must. Lots of history there as well.

Mariekie
If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.       George S. Patton.


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The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2010, 05:04:25 PM »
Funny you should say that as we have just come from there.

We were going to stay in the canyon but snow is forecast for Monday and as we were going down everyone was leaving, I guess they didn't want to be stuck at the bottom for a day or two. Maybe longer as the park doesn't have a snow plough.
So all we were able to do was spend some tim crusing around and then watching the dvd in the infromation centre which told a lot of the history.

The conquering yanks were not too nice to the local indians but then I guess no conquerers are.

Another reason we did not stay and could not quite fathom is that in addition to the camp ground fee there is also a park fee whcih made the whole exercise a trifle expensive. We are happy to pay for the camping as in most parks we have been to, but not the park visiting fee as well.
A bit of a shame as we like being in the country and not in a town as we are at the moment, but I quite agree Palo Duro looks stunning.



Steve


Wendy

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2010, 05:14:51 PM »
Colorado State Parks also charge an entrance fee as well as a camp fee. Some state do this, others include the entrance fee in the camp fee.
 
Wendy
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2010, 08:28:06 PM »
Well we are learning everyday.

Now been all round the enchanted circle round from Las Vegas to Taos. Snow flurries and plenty in the ski resorts but fortunately the road was completely clear so a lovely treip all round.

We have ended the day in Santa Fe. Any 'must see' places to go before we move on?

Regards

Steve

The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2010, 03:10:46 PM »
Well we are nearing the end of our 4 months road trip. We have visited all the major sights, experienced the very best and worst that the US weather can sum up but overall have had a ball and the best things is that we still have another 4 weeks to go.

We are now getting into the business of selling our very special RV. It has done all we asked and provided us with the perfect travelling home. We can thoroughly recommend doing it this way and if there is anyone out there thinking of doing the same ie coming to the States for a relatively short term trip and wants to know what has to be doen as a foreigner we welcome any questions and will trey to rpovide such answers as we can.

To all our friends both on line and the road we say a great big thank you.

Steve and Anne

ArdraF

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2010, 04:28:25 PM »
I'm glad to hear your trip has gone so well.  Come back again some time!

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Tom

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2010, 06:14:52 PM »
How do you plan to sell the motorhome Steve? Will you leave it with a dealer/broker if it's not sold by the time you leave?

BTW we'll be in not-so sunny South Wales starting late April. Oldest grandson is getting married. Should I bring my welly boots?
« Last Edit: March 20, 2010, 06:17:13 PM by Tom »
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The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2010, 05:05:34 PM »
We have advertised on Craigslist and another site, also have some 'For Sale' signs in the window.
Some responses which are encouraging, but if all else fails we will need to sell her via a dealer on consignment and not get quite so much.

I will let you know.

Re Wales, I havn't been there for a long time but suspect wellies at least if not the full sou wester and oilies. ps wellies are only used by shepherd for their pleasure!!!

Steve

The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2010, 01:00:15 PM »
So that's it!

We are a few days away from completing our 3 1/2 month safari.

During that time we did the SW of the US proud visiting most of the major sites in California, Arizona, New Mexico, skirmishing the edges of Texas, Utah and Colorado ending up on the North Coast of Oregon and finally now at Point Reyes just north of San Francisco.

We have now sold our much loved Soutwind. Despite being 22 years old the mileage was low and we had few problems. A major tyre blow out in Phoenix, a windscreen wiper, three new belts and a brake master cylinder.

We have driven some 8500 miles, consumed 1150 gallons of pertrol, sorry gas, at an average cost of 3.2$ a gallon the engine returning approx 7.5mpg.

The Chevy 454 engine only misfired when we bought some dirty fuel near Lake Havasu. It was also dirt cheap which may say something. Otherwise the engine has perfomed fautlessly.

We fly home on Wednesday 28th, volcanoes and BA permitting.

The major overriding memory we shall take back with us is the total friendlines and generosity of our fellow travellers and campers. Everyone we met and spoke to could not have been more welcoming often inviting us  to join them in a meal either on board or around the campfire.


So a big thank you to the US for an enjoyable and informative stay.

Steve and Anne

Tom

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #24 on: April 22, 2010, 02:48:34 PM »
Congratulations on the sale Steve. I would have bet against that happening before you left. Glad you have good memories of the trip, the places you visited, and the great people who make up the RV community across the U.S.

We're also hoping to leave SFO for the UK on the 28th. But, because we chose to fly into Cardiff (saves the 3 hours drive down the M4), we're flying KLM via Amsterdam.
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The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #25 on: April 22, 2010, 11:01:53 PM »
Congratulations on the sale Steve. I would have bet against that happening before you left. Glad you have good memories of the trip, the places you visited, and the great people who make up the RV community across the U.S.

We're also hoping to leave SFO for the UK on the 28th. But, because we chose to fly into Cardiff (saves the 3 hours drive down the M4), we're flying KLM via Amsterdam.

Thanks Tom for all your insight and inspiration. It has been great communicating with you.

Going for a boat ride tomorrow, the Larkspur ferry to S.F. not on yours though!!

We are staying in the Marin RV Park a bit of a parking lot and somewhat expensive but very convenient to do the things we want in the City.

By the way do you think the State Parks have blown it by upping their camping rates to 35$ per night for nothing except scenery?

We do and have been boycotting them in favour of private parks which sometimes work out cheaper and with more to offer!

My thoght for the day!

Have a safe journey to Wales and if you get to Spain anytime get in touch it would be good to meet up.

Tom

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #26 on: April 23, 2010, 05:08:06 AM »
Steve, the ferry is a great way to visit the city, and has become our preferred way of taking out-of-town visitors. The Vallejo/SF ferry really gets up and goes, and I've had to get out of their way more than once when travelling to or from the Bay by boat.

Don't have a good answer re CA state parks prices. California is about bankrupt, and they're slashing services and increasing prices right and left. Many moons ago we used to pay $5/night to camp in our motorhome at our favourite CA state park. If we paid $5/night for a berth at their marina, they used to throw the campsite in for free.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2010, 05:10:16 AM by Tom »
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The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #27 on: April 23, 2010, 10:51:39 AM »
Steve, the ferry is a great way to visit the city, and has become our preferred way of taking out-of-town visitors. The Vallejo/SF ferry really gets up and goes, and I've had to get out of their way more than once when travelling to or from the Bay by boat.

Don't have a good answer re CA state parks prices. California is about bankrupt, and they're slashing services and increasing prices right and left. Many moons ago we used to pay $5/night to camp in our motorhome at our favourite CA state park. If we paid $5/night for a berth at their marina, they used to throw the campsite in for free.

Yes everyone keeps telling us that CA has no cash and the roads are a good example of that. It is sad that they have blown it re the state parks prices as this wil speed up their closure. I feel that they should either reduce the cost per night or alternatively lease them off to private operators with strict conditions of course, at least that way they will retian control of the areas make a guaranteed income without the recurring and probably huge cost of maintaining them.

Ah well not my problem but I seem to recall the law of diminishing returns comes in somewhere.

Cheers ande njoy the UK

Steve

Wendy

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #28 on: April 23, 2010, 11:09:41 AM »
I think the CA campground price increases are ridiculous BUT they seem to be selling sites, at least at the beach parks, at those high rates. We just made reservations online for Bolsa Chica in November and even at $60/night for the beach side sites, they're pretty much all booked up. Unfortunately, it looks like many families are being priced out of vacations at CA state parks.
 
And for what it's worth, Arizona is following CA and closing most of their state parks and CO seems to be following right behind in the "broke state" line, although we seem to prefer increased taxes rather than closing down anything.
 
In any event, I'm glad you enjoyed your visit here. Perhaps on the next trip the state parks will be back to resonable prices....or not.
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

The Mehlmanns

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Re: Visiting and buying an RV for short term trip
« Reply #29 on: April 25, 2010, 12:18:49 PM »
Thanks Wendy,

Sadly I don't think we will be able to afford to return for a second trip otherwise I would stick ther RV in storage and keep it for later.

Re prices, well I am no economist so who am I to judge. All I can say is that the state park sites we passed over were almost empty except for the hosts and as you say it is pricing the less well off out of their vacations.

Still it's politics and one thing I havve learned on our trip is to be very wary when getting into political discussions.

Cheers


 

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