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Author Topic: Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England  (Read 4937 times)

oarsman

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Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England
« on: April 19, 2005, 01:09:38 PM »
My wife myself and our 4 children aged 16, 13, 11, and 8 are going to holiday in California for just over 2 weeks in August and thought that a good way to travel round and see as much as possible would be to rent an rv.  Because there are 6 of us we will need one about 31 - 34 feet.  Now maybe to you that doesn't seem large but to us that is huge - it's longer than our living room! - and we don't have rvs that size over here as we haven't got the room.

This will be our only form of transport.  Our idea would be to travel round staying maybe two nights and then moving on. 

Do people tend to arrive at a site park up for the whole time and get around using some other form of transport or is it possible to drive out of the park during the day returning at night.  And if so is it easy to get around to the sights and the shops in a 31 ft rv?  Or are we being totally impractical?

We will fly into LA and definately want to visit a couple of theme parks (knotts berry farm, universal, disney or similar), coast highway, big sur, san francisco alcatraz, wine district, Yosemite, and anywhere else that people might recommend.

Can you give any tips on what to look for when chosing sites?

Tom

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Re: Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2005, 01:58:38 PM »
Welcome to our friendly forum. Have you already checked out the available RV rentals? Most, but not all, rental units I see from companies such as Cruise America are of the Class C variety and I don't recall seeing any that are 34 feet long. For an illustrated explanation of the various classes/types of RV click on the Library button in the toolbar above, then click Newcomers need to know and select RV types.

Some people do indeed leave their campsite for a day trip and return in the evening. Since you will have reserved/paid for the site, it's essentially yours until you move on. Many of the theme parks are likely to have plenty of room in their parking lot where you can park the RV. However, be aware that places like San Francisco will have very limited parking in addition to narrow streets, although I've seen RVs there. In places like that, you might be better off finding a large parking lot at a mall or supermarket on the outskirts of town and taking public transport from there. SFO has a decent public transit system that will allow you to see most, but not all the sights.

I've driven a 30 foot RV into Yosemite, but wouldn't want to take anything larger in. They have shuttle buses that operate from the park entrance, and they might even be compulsory during busy times.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2005, 03:24:31 PM by Tom »
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Lorna

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Re: Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2005, 02:30:25 PM »
Oarsman
Welcome to our friendly forum.  We had a 28' Itasca a number of yrs ago and that one could sleep eight.  It had double bed in the back, a double bed over the cab, the dinette could sleep to children and the couch also could sleep one adult or two children.  However, we never tried sleeping that many.  There are also many reasonable public laundry facilities over here so a lot of clothes is not manditory.  For two weeks there was a fair amount of storage inside and some underneath.  The newer class C's have even more storage underneath.  If you have any other questions feel free to come back and ask.

Some friends of ours had family that came over from England and actually had to families of 4 adults and 4 children in a C for several weeks.  I don't remember the length of the C but that is something I would not want to try.  They did survive but don't know if they were still friends when they arrived home????
Lorna
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Ron

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Re: Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2005, 02:40:03 PM »
Oarsman,

Welcome to the RV Forum Framily. Gald you found us. Sounds like you have quite an adventure planned for you and your family. I think you would do very nicely with the proper 28 to 32 ft classs C. Many folks take their class C MH out from where they are parked during the day to explore the area. Some will pull a car along behind. You should have no trouble traveling and sightseeing in a class C.

What part of England are you from? Have you ever been to California before? SOme of the framily live or have lived in California and may be able to provide some good information on campgrounds in the areas you mentioned.

Thanks for joining us.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2005, 03:39:57 PM by Ron »
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Carl L

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Re: Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2005, 03:10:48 PM »
My wife myself and our 4 children aged 16, 13, 11, and 8 are going to holiday in California for just over 2 weeks in August and thought that a good way to travel round and see as much as possible would be to rent an rv. Because there are 6 of us we will need one about 31 - 34 feet. Now maybe to you that doesn't seem large but to us that is huge - it's longer than our living room! - and we don't have rvs that size over here as we haven't got the room.

This will be our only form of transport. Our idea would be to travel round staying maybe two nights and then moving on.

Do people tend to arrive at a site park up for the whole time and get around using some other form of transport or is it possible to drive out of the park during the day returning at night. And if so is it easy to get around to the sights and the shops in a 31 ft rv? Or are we being totally impractical?

We will fly into LA and definitely want to visit a couple of theme parks (knotts berry farm, universal, Disney or similar), coast highway, big sur, san francisco alcatraz, wine district, Yosemite, and anywhere else that people might recommend.

Can you give any tips on what to look for when chosing sites?

First of all let me welcome you to California, I have lived here for some 45 years and still find things new to me. Secondly, let me give you a warning. California is big, over 300 miles wide and 850 miles north to south -- that is about the distance from Stockholm to Milan as I remember. Areally it is 3 times the size of the UK. So for a little over 2 weeks, one must do a bit of paring of one's ambitions -- lest one finds oneself grimly driving highways for 2/3s of one's so-called vacation.

Since you are going to use the RV for a sole source of transportation, you are a bit limited. Most decent RV parks are out of town, most US towns have truly rotten public transportation -- tho SF is an exception. However, there are two hopes. One is bus tours out of the RV park -- for Yosemite that is the recommended mode since the campgrounds in Yosemite filled up this March for the entire summer. The other is to rent a car at your destination and travel in that. Fortunately for you, California is full of rental agencies. Enterprise Rent-A-Car has a widespread system in all sorts of small cities and towns and are reasonable and reliable in my experience. See them by clicking on the following URL: http://www.enterprise.com/car_rental/home.do . I rent from dear old Hertz a lot too. I suggest these options because you will find that breaking camp to use your motorhome to tour is a bit of a pain and the size of the motorhome is more than a bit of a pain in urban traffic and parking.

OK, now specific recommendations. I recommend three principal stops: Orange County in the LA area; Petaluma in the San Francisco area, and a park just outside of Yosemite.

An Orange County park will give you access to the big theme parks around Anaheim: Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm (Old West theme). Knotts is best for the thrill rides imho. Ask your RV rental firm if they can help you with a booking there. Universal Studio and Hollywood are about 25 heavily trafficked miles north of the area, but there are no RV parks convenient to them. Tours to those may be the best best. Or if you can take urban traffic, rent a car. LA is the metropolis built by the car and easy to drive in -- outside of rush hours and if you don't try to park on sidewalks (pavement).

Petaluma is a small town just north of San Francisco on US-101. There is an excellent RV park there called San Francisco North. See their website by clicking on: http://www.sanfranciscokoa.com/. They are a excellent park, especially if you ask for a site a bit away from their playground, and are an excellent pied a terre for the Sonoma and Napa Valley wine country and the city of San Francisco. There is an Enterprise car rental agency in Petaluma. Allow a least a full day each for SF and the Wine Country. You are also near redwood groves at Muir Woods, and wild seashore at Pt. Reyes. One of the most strategically placed campgrounds in the state.

Yosemite is ringed by a bunch of commercial RV parks in Mariposa, Oak Flat, and Groverville. I have stayed at none of them and have no recommendations. (I have always stayed in the Lodge or in a tent.) Hopefully your RV rental
agency can be of help. Also maybe one of our members can help you there. Remember you want to arrange a bus tour of Yosemite -- that is your only guarantee of even getting into the Park.

Route? Try LA first. Then drive north on I-5 to US-101, US-101 up thru Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo or Atascadero. That will get you a nice sampler of CA coastline. There is a nice little RV park for overnighting in Atascadero, the All Nite RV Park. Phone ahead to (805)461-0543 before you leave LA to have them hold a site.

Then on US 101 to SF. If you need detailed routing thru SF ask. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge (a bonus) and arrive at Petaluma. After Petaluma, then Yosemite. From Yosemite back to LA, if you must return your RV, on CA-99 and I-5.

Tips. Plan on spending a lot of time outside your RV eating and loafing around. The weather will be gorgeous and the natives are mostly all friendly. When spoken to they readily respond in a generally understandable tho nasal dialect. Take a small Union Jack along and post it somewhere on your RV -- I guarantee that you will meet people thereby. If you have trouble backing in to a site, there will be a dozen volunteer helpers arriving shortly. If you must use help, pick one of these. The others will quiet down. ;)

Regards,

Carl L/LA
« Last Edit: April 19, 2005, 11:46:19 PM by Carl Lundquist »
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Ian H

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Re: Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2005, 08:15:03 PM »
Hi Oarsman
the wife and i are touring the states for 5 months with a 38` a class and you will find that campsites over here are not the same as in UK
If you went to Newquay in Cornwall it would be no problem getting around to the beach or the town,Over here the campsites can be miles from anywhere and transport is a must.We hire cars from Hertz through the UK site by internet its cheaper than the usa price,also a nice touch over here is they come to your campsite to pick you up and bring you back when you return the car.Some sites have cabins that you can rent out ,normaly log cabins with enough room to sleep the kids leaving the rv for yourselves.
Carl has given some good advice and i wouldnt like to drive a c class to some of the places we have been
best of luck and have fun
Ian and Doreen
Dodge 3500 Dually   Cedar Creek 5th Wheel

Cornwall UK   when not touring USA

Carl L

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Re: Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2005, 11:44:21 PM »
.Some sites have cabins that you can rent out ,normaly log cabins with enough room to sleep the kids leaving the rv for yourselves.

That is a feature of the KOA (Kampgrounds Of America) campgrounds.   The San Francisco North CG is a KOA and has those cabins. 

Regards,

Carl L/LA
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oarsman

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Re: Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2005, 06:15:46 AM »
Thanks for your comments and advice - it's given us a lot to think about.  We have decided to go ahead and have booked a 31ft C class through El Monte.

I think finding a place to stop and use as a base for a few days and hiring a car, and then moving on to the next place sounds like a good idea.

Am i right in thinking that the State Parks have nicer rv parks but with less facilities than the commercial ones, and they don't allow permanent residents?  Would perople recommend the State Park sites?

Thanks

Tom

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Re: Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2005, 06:38:33 AM »
It's been a while since we stayed at state parks, but my recollection is that they vary by state. e.g. we found the SPs in Oregon to be much nicer than the ones in California. But I don't recall staying at any that we wouldn't go back to. Typically, the SPs don't have all the facilities you'd find at a private park e.g. they're more likely to have a dump station for emptying your tanks than a sewer hookup at each site. SPs are also likely to be less expensive and have more natural surroundings than a concrete & lawn private park.

One thing you might find is a length restriction. e.g. California SPs used to have a limit of something like 30 feet, less in some parks, although we usually found that SPs would make provision for us if we were a little too long.

Please keep us posted on your trip and try to stay in touch along the way. We'd love to hear about your adventure.
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Carl L

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Re: Help and tips for a complete rv novice from England
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2005, 12:28:29 PM »
Thanks for your comments and advice - it's given us a lot to think about. We have decided to go ahead and have booked a 31ft C class through El Monte.

I think finding a place to stop and use as a base for a few days and hiring a car, and then moving on to the next place sounds like a good idea.

Am i right in thinking that the State Parks have nicer rv parks but with less facilities than the commercial ones, and they don't allow permanent residents? Would perople recommend the State Park sites?

Thanks


State parks in California I fear do not offer all that much for the RV tourist. Only handful have decent RV sites, most seem to think that a slot between two yellow lines in a blacktopped parking lot is an RV site. As I remember there is one on your general route at Morro Bay that has nice woodsy sites tho they lack services. The one at Anza Borrego Desert State Park is excellent with full hookups and showers. However, August is definitely not their season (110F or there abouts.)

However, that is no great loss. Our commercial parks have some gems and are all over the place. One thing that the US has is lots and lots of rural space.  To compete, the better parks have emphasized facilities, landscaping, and services.   Some have even sited themselves to be proximate to federal and state parks or other attractions, acting as a RV facility for that park.   The KOA at Petaluma, for example,  has done all of that.

Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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