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RVing message boards => Trip reports, journals, logs => Topic started by: SargeW on April 19, 2015, 12:46:34 AM

Title: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 19, 2015, 12:46:34 AM
Well we pulled out of So. Cal for a 6 - 8 month western states trip on April 9.  After making two trips to the east coast last year, we are ready to be firmly planted west of the Rockies.  We will visit many of the western National Parks and attractions, and this may be useful for visitors planning a western US trip in the future.  As usual I will be centering on some of the nuts and bolts of the trip, and let the DW do many of the feature write ups in her blog noted at the bottom of my signature. 

The coach is running well, most of the mods (that I can think of) are currently done, and we are looking to get some miles on the rig.  Unlike last years quick pace to get to Red Bay, AL for some service work, this trip will have longer stays of 5 -7 days in a location to get more time to explore the local flavor. 

I will post about some of these sites, the costs, and the ups and downs (if any) of getting to the camp sites.  You are welcome to come along for the ride, and your input and suggestions are welcome! 

We have made a few local stops already that I will post up here soon.  And as my mom used to tell me regularly......  (note the pic below)
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Jim Godward on April 19, 2015, 11:46:54 AM

Let us know if we can help on locals to visit in MT.  I have several books related to ghost towns, museums, etc. plus my local knowledge.

Our house is up for sale and we will be moving to OR once it sells but still will have the books even if I forget other things!    :)
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Rosebud3 on April 19, 2015, 12:59:18 PM

I look forward to hearing all about your western trip and will definitely keep up with your wife's blog. I plan on a similar western US tour in a couple of years before I move back east.

Be safe and have fun. I love the saying and pic  :)
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Arch Hoagland on April 19, 2015, 01:43:05 PM
Let us know how your cellphone coverage is as you travel to various places and, of course, what carrier you use.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Tom and Margi on April 19, 2015, 01:53:05 PM
I really enjoyed reading your wife's trip journal last year and am looking forward to this year's journal.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: cadee2c on April 19, 2015, 02:02:36 PM
Looking forward to reading about it.

“There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.” – Charles Dudley Warner
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 19, 2015, 04:30:20 PM
Thanks Jim, I will hit you up if we need info on MT.  You can never have too much good info. 

Good idea Arch, cell coverage is so important these days to lots of folks.  Either working, or just keeping in touch.

Thanks Tom and Margi, she loves knowing that someone is actually reading her blog!

Rosebud and Caryl, thanks for coming along on the trip, I will try not to disappoint!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: MN Blue Skies on April 19, 2015, 09:53:30 PM
I am so, sooo, jealous!  Have a fun and safe adventure.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 20, 2015, 12:05:46 AM
Well, here we go. We started the first leg of our adventure on April 9 from our place in north San Diego county.  If we head north in any of our travels from home, we usually wind up stopping in Vegas as this is about 280+ miles. That is about the limit we like to drive in a day, and there isn't a whole lot else around there to choose from. 

This time we had another reason to to stop in Vegas though. We met up with our kids and got to see the grand kids one more time.  Instead of our one or two night stay, we were in Vegas for a week visiting the kids and a good friend of ours that just relocated there from So. Cal.   

We stayed at the Las Vegas Motor Coach resort, just off of Blue Diamond road.  Usually we stay at the Oasis RV resort on the east side of I-15 at Blue Diamond road.  But since we were staying a week, the weekly rate at LVMC was competitive. LVMC resort is a Class A only resort, and most of the sites are individually owned, and then rented out when the owner is not there.  We chose a "non built out" site as it was much cheaper.  The weekly rate was $60 a day, and the resort does have some very nice grounds and amenities.  The ironic thing is though, Nevada has no state income tax, but believe me, they make it up in other ways.  On top of the daily rate, we paid about $8 per day in taxes and fees to the state! 

The weather was nice in early April, and the nights required an extra blanket on the bed as the temps dropped in the 40's at night.  A few mornings we had to run the heater just to take the chill off while waiting for the sun to warm us up.   One notable thing about this resort, and includes the Oasis as well, McCarran Airport is not far so there is jet noise from time to time during the days.  We even heard a few take offs as late as 10 at night. 

My buddy that moved to Vegas is a "gun nut" guy, and we went to a shooting range one afternoon.  It was an indoor range and had a 25 yard line that allowed firing of semi auto rifles.  Nevada's gun laws are pretty liberal and assault type rifles are available in many descriptions.  My buddy has 3 of his own. 

The reason for the family get together was due to my daughter-in-laws birthday, so the week was filled with various celebrations.  And one of the nights, our son had purchased Elton John concert tickets for the DW and I for Christmas last year.  So my son and DIL went with us to the concert at Caesars Palace in the Colosseum.  It was a great show and the venue is outstanding. No bad seats anywhere in the house.  We also ate that night at the "Gordon Ramsey Pub and Grill" in Caesars just before the show.  For the 4 of us for dinner and cocktails was over $400.  OUCH.  And the bad part was the food was just average, and the server was squirrely. 

Like many places around the country, Vegas real estate prices are recovering after the 08' recession.  Not at the same pace as say California prices, so moving from Ca to Nevada is still a price savings.  If you like the dessert atmosphere, there are deals to be had.  My buddy purchased a single family home in Henderson, which is just south of Vegas. It sits up higher than Vegas so the night time view is quite spectacular.  The summers are quite toasty, so there is a trade off with weather. 

Fuel prices are still low around the country, and Nevada is no different.  We fueled at a Travel America truck stop on Blue Diamond before heading out at the end of the week.  Diesel was $2.85 a gallon, and some of the smaller stations were even less than that.  But squeezing a 37' motor home plus tow into a smaller station to save a few bucks is usually a bad idea.  So the extra few cents for the big spaces is well worth it. We took 36.5 gallons, and paid just over $100.  I was pretty happy with that.

We averaged a little under 8 MPG for the first leg, and that included pulling Cajon Sumit on the I-15 which is a 16 mile long 5 to 6% grade that climbs to over 3700 feet.  Lots of slow trucks to get in our way, and we had a bit of a wind blowing to boot.  I am a cruise control driver when possible, so I set the cruise at 60 and let the Cummins do it's magic.  We are running heavy right now, in a "full timer" capacity.  Lots of clothes, tools, and all the extra food and beverage we had at the house went in the rig.  That will decrease a bit with time, bet we will be taking it all with us for a while. 

The rig ran well and the temps stayed in the low 200's.  The moderate weather helped a lot there, as in the summer when the mercury hits the low 100's the pass can be a motor killer if you aren't careful.  There is a truck lane on both sides of the I-15, but that doesn't stop big slow trucks going 10 mph from pulling out to pass other big slow trucks going 5 mph.  So if you are going to be pulling the I-15 N/B be alert. 

Next stop, Furnace Creek at Death Valley.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: ArdraF on April 20, 2015, 04:08:12 PM
If you like the dessert atmosphere,

Chocolate or vanilla???  Sorry, Marty, I just couldn't resist!  The desert atmosphere can be both good and bad, but dessert is always good.  ;D :D

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 20, 2015, 09:09:14 PM
I agree Ardra!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 21, 2015, 10:18:06 PM
We pulled into Furnace Creek National Park campground, and things have changed since the last time we were there.  We haven't been to Death Valley NP in quite a while, so I was really looking forward to it.  In the 6 years since our last visit, some big changes have occurred.

On the last trip, there were no hook ups, no cell signal, and all dirt camping sites.  On this visit the cell signal was strong (with our Verizon cell phones, and Verizon USB modem).  The park service has installed about 18 full hook up sites (50 amp, water and sewer) and the roads and parking pads are  new asphalt.  Not all of the sites are full hook up though and I recommend pulling up the campground map on line and checking out which sites are which.  The full hook up sites go fast, so plan accordingly. 

An important note here is that during what is considered the off season, starting April 16th until the fall, there is a "no reservation" system.  That is all sites are first come first serve basis.  The FHU sites are $30 per night, and the non hook up sites are $12 per night.  All fees are paid at an automated kiosk at the front check in booth upon arrival. You can only pay for one night at a time, so every day you will need to go to the kiosk and pay for the day. 

There are two different areas that have FHU sites. One section are pull throughs in a rear loop, and the other is back ins by the check in booth.  If you pull into the campground and find a site you like, CLAIM IT IMMEDIATELY,  by putting a person, vehicle, or other item in the site to exhibit that the site is no longer available.  Then go to the kiosk and pay the fee and put the tag on the numbered post on the site.  When you pay at the kiosk you are paying for a day of camping, NOT a specific site. You write your site# and license plate# on the receipt that the machine prints out.  Only Credit Cards are accepted at the kiosk, no cash. 

I saw a few folks upset because they didn't take possession of the site immediately and when they returned someone else was already setting up camp in the site.  This is only in the "off season" time of year. During the "on season" time of year there is a reservation system, and you will make a reservation ahead of time and get your tag when you show up at the visitor center to check in. 

When we arrived the first day all of the FHU were filled so we picked a nice dry camp site with a big tree in the back to block the afternoon sun.  Walking around the loop we could see that several of the FHU sites were leaving the next morning.  So I was up early, and when the FHU sites started to leave, we claimed a nice FHU site for the next 3 days.  The FHU sites were always in demand, so they usually filled quickly when they were empty. 

There are handicapped sites available in the campground, both FHU and dry camp. I checked the restrooms and they are handicapped accessible as well.  There were only restroom facilities available however, no shower facilities. 

There is another campground right next door called "Furnace Creek Ranch".  It wasn't rated very well on a few different web sites we checked.  We drove through it and observed that the sites are pretty close together with no real views of the surrounding landscape. And the other complaint was that there were many full time residents taking up many of the spaces, which we found to be true.  Some are old park models, and some old dilapidated trailers.  There were some amenities though like a pool, restaurant, and playground.  So it's kind of a trade off, depending what your needs are. I did not check prices for campsites at this location.

Maybe because of the off season time of year, but most of the rigs in the campground seemed to be rentals with visitors from around the globe.  We talked to some of them, and they were all happy to be visiting the US with their families.  One family was visiting from Estonia, a country on the Baltic Sea that backs up right next to Russia.  Yep, folks from around the world travel great distances to see the wonders of the USA. 

When ever there are rentals units, there is the chance of inexperienced RVers driving around. And this time was no different.  While sitting outside the rig cooking up some chicken on the BBQ,  I saw a fairly new Class C go by in kind of a rush.  Normally that wouldn't garner much attention, except that this one still had their patio awning fully extended! And before I could stand up and react, his awing knocked down a "Do not enter" sign on a 8' tall 4X4 post.   It made quite a noise, not to mention doing some serious remodel work on the awning arms.  Oh well, hopefully he had rental insurance on the rig.  He said that he was taking it back to Las Vegas in the morning to turn it in. 

We took advantage of our location and the Jeep toad and visited several off road trails to natural attractions. Some are fairly smooth dirt roads and can be trans-versed by most passenger cars. Others are rougher and require high clearance vehicles and 4 wheel drive, but all are plainly marked as to their requirements.  One of the more challenging trips was to the "Racetrack".  It is a vast dried salt bed that is so perfectly flat, that large rocks on the surface of salt bed will, with the right combination of moisture and wind, be pushed along leaving mile long "trails" as them seem to magically move across the desert floor. 

Getting there is the trick though. After driving about an hour from the campground, you get to the turn off and take a 29 mile dirt road that has some pretty rough washboard surfaces most of the way.  Our Jeep handled it pretty well, but is was still rough. Surprisingly we did pass a few hearty (or crazy) souls that decided that they could make the trip in the family car or mini van.  One guy in a Chevy van we passed en-route to the Racetrack, and again on the way back and he was still crawling along. 

And since no adventure is complete without a breakdown, we had ours early.  After getting back from the Racetrack, about 180 miles total for the day, 60 miles of it on a jack hammer, we got home and settled in for the night.  The next morning we decided to just do a few easy drives and see some of the closer attractions.  I went out to start the Jeep and it was completely DEAD.  A long story short, the battery had failed and some of the cells had broken down causing a short.  It had boiled out most of the electrolyte and was pretty heated up. Adding fluid and recharging did nothing to bring it back to life. 

Could the 60 miles of jack hammer trails killed it?  Yep, but it was 4 years old already, so it's death was not a big surprise.  We were just so fortunate that it didn't die out at the Racetrack, 30 miles from no where, on weekend in Death Valley!  If your vehicle is going to die, in your driveway is always the best place. In the morning we pushed it out into the road and backed the RV up to it. I hooked it up and pulled it to a WalMart in Hesperia off of the I-15 and picked up a new battery.  Problem solved.

Death Valley is a totally unique place with some fascinating landscapes.  It is totally worth the visit, but plan your trip wisely when considering the the time of year.  Summers can easily hit 110 to 120 degrees in the day time.  During our visit in mid April, the temps were in the 80's and 90's, and were really quite pleasant. After all, it is a "dry heat".  Nights are really nice, as are the mornings. 

Just a few pics of Furnace Creek campground.   Those Jeep tires were jet black before hitting the Death Valley trails!

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 28, 2015, 12:14:05 AM
Our trip through the California desert southwest was brief but fun.  We looped back around to the Ca coast to a little more mild weather.  Our first stop was at one of our favorite campgrounds, Crystal Cove state beach.  Crystal Cove is in Laguna Beach, off of Pacific Coast Highway (Ca 1).  ;D

The whole park is built on the side of a hill, so all of the sites are terraced, and each has a picturesque view of the Pacific Ocean.  Half of the sites, the two upper loops have electric and water, and the lower two are dry camping. The upper loops are for larger RV's and the lower loops are usually tents or pop up type campers. A three station dump facility is on site.

The weekend reservations go fast, so plan ahead. We stayed for four days, a Monday through Friday.  The sites are not cheap, $60 for a hook up site, but they are large. There is plenty of room for a 38' rig, tow veh and space in the back of the site (which is where the ocean view is) to set up tables, chairs, and spread out.  A heavy duty picnic table is at each site. The non-hook up sites are cheaper.  To reserve this location, you will need to use the Reserve America web site. 

One important note about this park, there is a strict 3 PM entry time, no exceptions. Plenty of shopping in the area, and the WiFi with our our Verizon USB modem was strong.

We left our favorite beach campground, and went 6 miles down the road to go to one of my least favorites.  Newport Dunes RV resort in Newport Beach is one of the most expensive campgrounds in the country, and in my opinion, without reason. 

The only reason we went was to meet up with some good friends of ours that met us there in their RV. Fortunately it was for only 2 days, as the off season rate for a "bay front" spot was $112 a night!  Maybe I could see it if the park was great and the spots were big and well appointed.  But, not so much.  The sites are small, and are fenced in on 3 sides by 5' chain link fence. The parking pads are dirt gravel, but there are concrete patios. After parking in the site and opening our slides, we had about 5' between the rig and the fence.  The bay front sites, their "premium" sites have a grass area in front that is sloped down towards a short picket fence and then a public sidewalk that goes along the bay.  There are some amenities on site like a pool, spa and work out room, and there are activities for kids.  But you pay handsomely for them. 

The park is older and many of the facilities need modernizing, including the hook ups. A day of sprinkles left large mud puddles at the rear of the sites.  Not what you would expect for this kind of money. >:(

I have stayed here several times in the last 10 years, but I have seen the prices sky rocket.  A "on season" premium site will run in the $200 to $300 range.  Ridiculous in my opinion, not that I will ever stay at those rates.  But they seem to have no problem getting folks to pay it. WiFi is no problem, and stores, shops and beaches are all close.

After leaving Newport we headed north. If felt good to finally be putting some miles on, and getting out of the congestion of the LA area.  The next stop is Morro Bay.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Oscar Mike on April 28, 2015, 07:22:58 AM
You're giving me inspiration for my future travels. I am hoping that in the next few years (very few) we'll be on the road for months at a time. Keep the updates coming, I am enjoying your travels.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: garyb1st on April 28, 2015, 08:48:08 AM

The only reason we went was to meet up with some good friends of ours that met us there in their RV. Fortunately it was for only 2 days, as the off season rate for a "bay front" spot was $112 a night!  Maybe I could see it if the park was great and the spots were big and well

Location location location, Sarge. 

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 28, 2015, 10:24:23 AM
Thanks Mike! It's is a great comfort to know that someone actually reads the entries!  And I do like writing them. It makes me realize what a great country this is to travel in.

Location location location, Sarge. 

Yeah, you are right Gary.  It just bugs me to see a park in that kind of location be allowed to slip like it has. I checked a few camping review sites as I was writing the entry, and I was surprised how many other visitors had remarked that the park is run down and over priced.

I know I could have paid less if we didn't choose one of the bay front premium sites, but any site that is not on the front row has a view of the rig in front of you and nothing else. And they are still $85 a night!

One of the reasons that our friends wanted to stay there though, is the bike path that runs next to the park and leads to several of the nearby beach cities.  So you are right Gary, location.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Kevin Means on April 28, 2015, 11:41:39 AM
We're definitely reading your updates Marty. I particularly like your detailed info on the campgrounds - which sites are level, best for big rigs etc. Keep 'em coming!

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 28, 2015, 12:42:39 PM
Thanks Kev, and I will be sure to include site info in the write ups. And you also made me remember a fact I needed to edit in my last post concerning Crystal Cove in Laguna Beach.  They have a max RV size allowed of 38' feet.  There are even lines painted on the ground at the check in booth where they can check on your length.  Out of the few dozen times I have been there, only once did the ranger (camp host I think) ask about the size of our rig, which is 37'.  And it's not because the sites are not long enough, but rather the roads and turning radius' can be tight.  I personally think a 40' would make it, but that's just my opinion.

Some of the sites have a bit of sideways slope to them, so if you are coming in a towable, make sure you bring leveling boards, particularly if you are on a site that is at the end of a row where the grade slopes more.  The awesome views are still worth the effort.

Some of the Newport Dunes sites can be tricky as well if you are in one of the 2nd row or further back sites. This is do to the chain link fences on 3 sides, so longer rigs may need to almost be touching the fence to fit.  The back sites do not have patios as well. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Steve & Linda on April 28, 2015, 05:23:51 PM
Thoroughly enjoy reading your account of your travels, Sarge! They certainly help with planning our own travels, and really appreciate detail about handicap accessibility and WIFI. Hoping things continue to go well and reading more about this adventure.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: ArdraF on April 28, 2015, 06:39:56 PM
I've commented previously in other discussions about the length of sites at Newport Dunes.  A few years back we had a reservation there for a 40-foot motorhome.  It's CALLED a 40-foot in the brochure but the reality is that it is 41 feet and a few inches.  When we arrived at the assigned site we backed in as close as possible to the chain link fence and the front end was out in the street by a foot.  After trying to fit into several other too-short sites, we ended up in one of their premium sites.  So the moral of the story is always know your REAL length, especially if it's a pricey place like Newport Dunes.  We were not impressed and have not returned.

By the way, they also added quite a few park models which we think detracted from the overall ambiance of the place.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 28, 2015, 06:54:41 PM
Thanks Steve, that is more good info that I need to include if possible. 

Ardra, that is absolutely true about the length issues, no fudging room possible.  And the park models as well. and they put them in the front row premium sites, so it reduced the number of sites that were available to RV's in the front.  But they are getting $215+ in the winter, and $325+ a day for summer rates.  The + sign means that if it is a holiday weekend, the rates double, with a 3 day minimum rental.  Yep, they are in it for the money!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 30, 2015, 01:04:06 AM
We arrived in Morro Bay with no problems, which was great since we drove out of Orange County, through Los Angeles county, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and into San Luis Obispo county.  That is a lot of counties with lots of possibilities of crazy traffic.  Other than a few slow downs at major interstate interchanges, we breezed through. 

One important note here is that we knew that there would be few places (if any) to get fuel when we left Orange County until we got into Ventura county. There is a fuel station in Ventura off of Highway 101 named “Silvas Oil Company”.  It is a fuel station that has about 6 large pull through lanes that will fit large RV's and trucks, and two smaller fuel islands for cars.   It is on a frontage road on the east side of the 101, and can be accessed from either direction via an off ramp within a half mile.  The address is 6417 Ventura Blvd, Ventura.  The rig was thirsty, as we hadn't fueled since leaving Las Vegas.  We took about 70 gallons of fuel. 

After fueling we rolled into Morro Bay without issue. We arrived at the Morro Strand RV Park, off highway 101 at Highway 41.  It's not a big park, or has a lot of amenities, but none of the parks in this area do.  It's more about seeing the coast, and visiting the quaint little beach towns along the highway. The park itself is about 150 yards from the ocean and the waves. 

Morro Strand is a horseshoe shaped park and all the sites are gravel.  They are plenty deep, and a few of the premium sites are 42' wide.  We took one of these as we love our outdoor space, spreading out and not being right on top of our neighbor.  The sites are heavily graveled and level so getting in and out is easy, and the staff was always around maintaining the sites and sweeping up. The park is two separate sections, one across the street from the other. One side is for larger rigs, the other for smaller ones.  We paid $59 a night (included was the $10 per night bump for the larger site.)  We were also charged $2 a day for our pet.  That kinda bugged me as there were no facilities for the pets, like walking areas or pick up bags for waste. A negative about this park is that there is a Waste Treatment Facility across the street.  If the wind blows the right way you will get a “chemical” smell from the plant.  There is also a level of truck noise from the many industrial businesses in the area, plus some road construction not too far away.   

The office, rest rooms, and laundry are in two rows of modular buildings. They are raised about 3' off of the ground, but there is a handicap accessible ramp to get up into the buildings and rest rooms.  The restroom had 2 toilet facilities and a large shower, also handicap accessible.  Our Verizon air card worked satisfactory here. Not great, but not bad.  This may be an AT&T home area.

One day we drove N/B on CA 1 towards Monterey.  It is a stunningly beautiful drive, with the aqua blue Pacific waves crashing on the rocky beaches and out cropping.  We drove it in the Jeep, and I am glad we did.  As you drive north from Morro Bay, once you get past San Simeon and Hearst Castle, the 1 gets really twisty.  A road sign warns that vehicles over 30' from pin to rear axle are not advised for the next 88 miles, and with good reason. 

A few years back we had made a reservation at Kirk Creek County campground about 30 miles north of  Hearst Castle on the 1.  We never made it though as a land slide on the 1 about a mile north of the Castle had closed the road for about 2 months.  As we drove the Jeep north this day, we really got into some sharp switch back turns with elevation changes.  Driving north the road hugs some sheer vertical rock faces that make getting too close impossible.  Crossing over the double yellow line, even a little bit may be disastrous.  I would not want to try it with our 37' MH pulling the Jeep.  Together we are about 51' long.  Surprisingly on the way back south we did pass a few large MH's pulling toads.  Looking at the drivers as they passed, they were white knuckled and not having too much fun. 

On the way back south we hit one of the many turn outs and took a few pics.  One look around and you know why this part of California draws so many tourists, both National and International. 

Tomorrow we leave here and head N/E to Pinnacles National Park.  In 2013 it was elevated to the level of a National Park from a National Monument.  It will be our first visit, and we are looking forward to it. 

The first pic is just of our site at Morro Strand RV park. Pretty basic, but that electrical pedestal you see in the left corner of the site is the front edge of our site.

The next two are taken at a pull out on Highway 1 called Cottonwood Creek.  Pretty amazing vista.

And of course, no trip to Morro Bay is complete with a pic of Morro Rock, the towns namesake. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Kim (skyking4ar2) Bertram on April 30, 2015, 08:46:07 AM

Just a quick note to the Las Vegas portion of your trip.

We spent last November at Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort and while it is not inexpensive, it was worth every penny, and two exits from the Strip convenient. Owners and renters were very social and the amenities were impressive.

I, too, however, have to comment on the air traffic which can be annoying, especially on and around the weekends, depending on whether the takeoff traffic is to the south. It was pretty loud and even having been a pilot for 40 years, even I got tired of it.

We had exactly the opposite experience at Gordon Ramsay's Pub, and we are big fans of Hell's Kitchen. The previous season winning chef was on duty and even came out to take pictures with us. And our food and service was top drawer. All of this said to point out that not every place on every night is going to be a winner, just like at the tables.

One of the things we were most impressed with, however, about Vegas, was that if you did your homework, good food, great venues, and lots of fun were not total budget killers. I think the competition for the dollar kept things somewhat reasonable, but not bare bones cheap.

We were so impressed we have four couples going back again this November to do it again!

We are watching with interest as you travel on. Thanks for providing the play by play!

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on April 30, 2015, 09:42:07 AM
Thanks for the input Kim. Part of the fun of doing this blog is having others that have had their experiences chime in and share as well.  It's good to hear that you had a positive experience at Ramsey's. I knew it had to be possible, but sometimes you just get the "B" team working that night. 

I too think Vegas can be a wonderful experience, as long as we don't over do it.  The key for us is a little bit at a time.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!   


PS, the DW just updated her blog last night for a really unique point of view!  Check my signature for the link.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Kim (skyking4ar2) Bertram on April 30, 2015, 10:11:47 AM

My first trip to Vegas (not in an RV) left my senses stunned. We, too, have learned, that venues like Vegas, Yellowstone, etc. are best sampled not consumed.

I also agree that no RV park, eating establishment, vacation choice, etc. experience will be identical to the next consumer. It is important to get the reviews, and more than one, before you commit. Blogs like the ones you guys produce are a great source to get some balance. And that is hard work, which I for one, don't always have the patience to produce. So thanks for your efforts!

Continue leading the way! You look great in a coonskin cap!

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 03, 2015, 08:22:08 PM
We visited Pinnacles National park on this entry.  Pinnacles is the newest National Park in the National Park system, being upgraded from a National Monument in 2013.  We had never been here before so I was curious to check it out.  The park has a combination of sites, electric only, dry camping, and tent sites.  There is water available throughout the campground from faucets with auto off handles. There are no threads on those faucets so you need a “water thief” to fill your tank.  One faucet in the park has a threaded spigot, by site #86.  There is also a dump station available.

The best way I can describe this park is “rustic”.  Other than a fairly good size swimming pool, there is not a whole lot else for amenities.  The roads are paved, but the sites are dirt and gravel, and weeds grow freely in the sites.  The individual sites are chalked out, kind of like a little league baseball field, just not near as straight.  Some of the sites are big and roomy, and others are chalked on top of each other.  When I hooked up to the electrical box I noted that there were 50, 30, and 20 amp receptacles in the box.  I plugged into the 50 amp plug and closed the box door.  However on the outside of the door a  sticker read “30 amp electrical only”.   I checked my surge guard and it was displaying power on both legs, but soon enough we found that 30 amp was all we were getting.  It was hot during our stay, in the upper 80's in the afternoon, but we made it by running one AC unit and keeping the blinds pulled down.

The major (and only) real draw to the park is hiking.  There are trails of various lengths and difficulty from easy to strenuous. We did one 5 mile hike that took us on an elevation change of 600'.  At the top you enter and navigate a “fallen rock” cave.  A flashlight is needed as some parts are pitch black.  There are boulders to climb over, under, and squeeze by, but it was not too difficult.  The best part is that the cave was about 60 degrees and the outside was 85.  The other less popular activities are bird watching, and star gazing.  The sky here is total darkness at night.

If you decide to come here, be advised that the last 6 miles or so of Highway 25 before you turn on 146 into the park is a two lane road with no shoulder and it's twisty.  The speed limit on Highway 25 is 55 MPH, which is near impossible on this stretch. With the tight turns and blind corners, the last thing you want to do is cross over double yellow line. 

The cell service here in near zero, and I only say near because we managed to get brief weak signal either late at night or very early in the morning.  And that was with our Verizon air card in the router, with a power booster and an exterior antenna.  The cell phones themselves had zero signal. 

The on site restrooms and showers are old, and not handicapped accessible. A sign on the door warned of little or no hot water in the shower.  Two portable toilets were nearby that had handicapped access, but still no handicapped shower facility.   There is a store on site, but it was closed up while we were here, so I am not sure if it was operating or not. 

We did  take a 30 mile drive into Hollister one afternoon to look around and have some lunch. There was a wine tasting event going on with 20+ shops and stores participating. We decided not to partake, as the thought of the drive back on the twisty roads mixed with wine was not a good idea. The town itself was interesting and had character, so I would go back there and visit again.

The camping fees at the park were $37 a night for an electrical hook up site, and that doesn't include a $10 National Park entry fee, if you don't have a National Parks Pass. 

It was an interesting park to visit once, but there is not much here that would inspire me to return. Visit Diane's Trip Journal at the link in my signature for more details and pics of the area and cave.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Oscar Mike on May 06, 2015, 06:07:36 AM
Nice write up, it looks like Pinnacles National Park will remain on the bottom of my visit list. Keep em coming, your travels have become fodder for our supper table conversations...  :D

I am really looking forward to the day when we can take a months long journey.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 06, 2015, 10:31:07 PM
Thanks John, I never minded be a topic of conversation!  And I agree, taking that first long trip is like a dream come true....
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 10, 2015, 08:52:59 PM
After leaving Pinnacles we needed to get back to civilization for some restocking, clean up, and various small projects.  We selected a park in San Juan Bautista that is right next to Gilroy, the garlic capitol of the state (country?).  The park we stayed in is named “Betabel RV park”.  It is right off of Highway 101 at Betabel Road.  The park was surprisingly full when we arrived for our week stay.  Staying for a week often gets you a reduction from the daily rate.  We paid $290 for 7 days and that included tax. I believe it was a 15% reduction over the daily rate. The park has concrete sites and paved roads.  There are mature trees and landscaping between the sites.  While there is not a huge amount of room between the sites, the landscaping makes it feel a little more spacious.  There was plenty of room to sit outside in chairs, watch the outside TV, and even do our morning workouts. 

The park has free WiFi that worked pretty well, but you are limited to emails and basic web searches. Our Verizon air card worked pretty well, but we did have periods of slow downs. The bathrooms are in good condition and had handicapped showers and toilet stalls.  There were 8 washing machines and 10 dryers in the laundry room. Washes cost $1.50 and dryers were $1.00.  Extra capacity dryers were $1.50.   

A few of the surprising perks in this park were a huge lush grass area across from the office that well mannered pets are allowed to run on while off leash.  There is also a more rustic area in the back of the park that has a path around it where pets can also be off leash. Plenty of doggie waste bags and containers are around the park.  There is a heated pool, rec room and showers.  You are also allowed to wash your own rig at your site if you desire, or have a service do it for you.  A car wash area is provided by a separate dump station for free use as well.  Although close to the highway, road noise was never a problem. We were towards the back of the park though in site #99.  An access road runs in front of the park with light traffic, so walking a pet or exercising on it is not a problem.

I caved in and hired a RV wash service to wash and wax the rig one day. I was impressed with them, I think it was the best wash and wax I have ever had. 3 guys showed up at 0830, power washed the roof, then hand washed and hand waxed the rig.  Deionized water was used to final rinse the rig after the wash to minimize water spots.  They finally left at nearly 2:30 in the afternoon.  I really got my money's worth on that one.  If you are in the area, I highly recommend Abel's Mobile RV Wash & Auto Detail service.  I paid $270, and I tipped them as well.

We hit a couple winery's for wine tasting one day. We were looking primarily for reds on this trip, and were not disappointed.  We wound up purchasing 2 bottles, but one didn't survive the night!

Gilroy just 3 miles up the highway had anything we needed, including several restaurants, stores, and my favorite, Home Depot.  Diane looked at Trip Advisor to find a local recommended place for lunch one day. We settled on a place named “Garlic City Cafe”.  It was highly rated, so we gave it a shot. I wanted to have something kinda healthy, so I ordered a “Turkey, Lettuce and Tomato Wrap”.  I asked our ESL waitress if I could get garlic added to the wrap.  Confused, she walked away and sent over presumably a head person, also ESL.  I repeated my request, which I thought should be pretty simple, being we were in Gilroy at the Garlic City Cafe.  She too was baffled at my request, and finally said that if I wanted garlic, I could order some garlic french fries.  I had the wrap just the way the kitchen made it, which was fair.  Goes to show you that you can't always depend on Trip Advisor and past reviews.  Maybe the place changed hands recently....

I even started another project here.  I am making a wood dash panel to replace my existing panel. This one will reposition my Freightliner LBCU electronic readout higher on the dash to make it easier to see while driving.  More details about this later.
Diane researched fuel stations in the area as there are few options for a big rig to get fuel off of the 101.  We found that there is a Shell gas station about 5 miles north on the 101 at Monterey road.  It has a truck gas island, as well as a RV fuel island.  As you approach the gas station you will see the auto gas pumps.  Then there is a building that resembles a motel, which is actually part of the gas station. The first driveway past the building on the right is the entrance to the RV pumps.  We scouted this out prior to our planned filling date so we would get easy in and out fuel.  The only thing we didn't account for was  other RV's. When we pulled up Sunday morning expecting to fuel up, there was already a travel trailer in the pump area dumping his tanks.  Another RV was in line in front of the travel trailer waiting his turn. We opted to drive past and use the mostly empty truck lanes.  The RV waiting in line was in line for propane.  So there are other facilities available at the station.  We got fueled and pulled out. We paid $3.25 a gallon for diesel.

Next stop is “Half Moon Bay” on the coast. It's going to be a bit chilly I think. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 14, 2015, 06:57:50 PM
We moved back to the coast for this part of the trip. We stayed at the Half Moon Bay state park. We have stayed here before, but it has been 6 years.  This state park is right on the ocean and has recently added 50 amp electric at most sites. The sites and roads are paved, but the rest of the site was weedy grass. It was in need of cutting during our visit. There was a picnic table and a fire ring at each site, but there is ample room between the sites. There is water available at the dump station and at various places throughout the campground. However, you will need a “water thief” as the campground faucets are not threaded.  We paid about $50 a night for an electric hook up site.  There are still some non electric sites on the back row,  but I am not sure what he cost is. If I were to ding this park, it would be for the lack of maintenance cutting the grass.  The spaces between the sites have grassy weeds, and the fox tails are in full bloom.  Heidi picked up many in her fur whenever she ventured off of the carpet.

The bathrooms are handicapped accessible as well as the shower stalls.  The showers are coin operated and cost 25 cents for the first 3 minutes.  Our Verizon cell card worked well here with no drop outs or slow downs. 

The positive attributes here are you can hear the waves from your RV, and there are walking paths all along the water front.  The town of Half Moon Bay is nearby, has all of the usual conveniences.  Out of curiosity we checked 4 other RV parks in the area.  All were considerably more expensive, $60-$80 a night, and had nowhere near the space that the State park has.  A few had spaces so close that if two rigs both had slide outs, there was no walking space between them.

We ate at a restaurant in town, again relying on Trip Advisor. It was Sam's Chowder House, and had a great ocean view. However, the food was just average. In fact after about 10 minutes at our table with no one acknowledging our presence, I was ready to walk out. Diane grabbed a nearby server and we finally got our waitress to come over.  It got better after that though. But we still paid $56 for two soup and salad lunches. We gave another restaurant in town a chance to redeem our opinion of the eating establishments.  This time we went to “The Moss Beach Distillery”. We went with a couple we met in the campground that were from Chicago. This time the food was great, as was the views. We ate on an outside patio that looked out on the ocean.  Several gas fire pits kept us toasty, and from our perch we had cocktails and watch whales glide by about a 100 yards off.

There are several little charming towns in Highway 1, and the scenery is stunning.  However to keep going north from here would take us into San Francisco. Nope, that isn't going to happen!  I have been to San Francisco several times, but it's not the place to take an RV of any size.  The last time we were there with  an RV we stayed north of the city and drove in on day trips.  San Francisco is not on the schedule this trip.

From here we head back in land to the town of Folsom to warm up and dry out for a bit. Diane has also updated our travel blog as well.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: ArdraF on May 14, 2015, 10:38:24 PM
One of our favorite seafood places is just north of Half Moon Bay.  The Miramar Inn was a speakeasy years ago.  Today it's right on the water and "just" a restaurant and bar.  We haven't been there in a while but the thought of their scallops makes my mouth water.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 14, 2015, 10:59:48 PM
Thanks Ardra, we will put that on the list for the next trip through!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 22, 2015, 11:41:06 PM
This week we stayed in a state park in Folsom Ca.  We have been past here on the I-5 or 99 many times but have never stopped.  I admit to always having a preconceived notion of the Folsom area as being a little ink dot in the middle of nowhere, with just a prison in the city limits to sustain the town. 

Boy was I ever wrong! We stayed at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, and it is a great state park. There are two loops, one full hook up and one dry camp for tents and small rigs. The roads and pads are asphalt, The sites are grassy dirt and gravel, but most are really good size.  There is good open space between rigs at most sites, and some have the parking pads for your rig, and a separate connected pad for your tow or toad.  The biggest negative to this park is road noise from a fairly busy 4 lane road that runs in front of the park.  Our site, #60 was probably the most exposed to the road as our curb side faced the road.  However, most of the traffic on the road is automobile, so you are not overwhelmed by big rig trucks going by.  And the road is lightly traveled at night, so there is no problem sleeping.  Our site was about 150 yards from the road with lots of grass and trees in between. 

Although Folsom lake and Dam are connected to the park, there are no lake view sites, except for a few peek a boo sites in the tent area, which is not the same loop as the FHU sites.  There are handicapped sites, and all restrooms are handicapped accessible as well. Showers are coin operated at 50 cents for 4 minutes.  The cell signal is off the charts strong, as there is a cell tower in the park on top of a electric line tower (the dam on the lake makes power).  My 3G air card was making 2.6 Mbps on  I have never had speeds like that with 3G! 

The town of Folsom and Granite Bay are amazingly upscale new.  Much of the shopping and restaurants are very nice and look brand new.  Many housing developments are in the area, but there is still an old town area with many original shops eateries.  The developers have left large green space areas with many mature trees to soften the residential and commercial areas.

One of the servers at a restaurant we tried, the Asian Palace, which was excellent by the way, explained how the community had grown. He said that the town had grown due to many of the employees of the major tech companies (and some of the businesses) in and around San Francisco started migrating east and built near Lake Folsom instead paying the mega prices in the Bay Area.  The result has been a very nice upscale community with all the amenities.  In fact, we drove past an “Intel” plant not far from the state park. 

There has been some surprises here though.  Due to the lake and all the green space still around, there are lots of critters.  One morning we were awakened by a banging on the RV.  Not like a person, but something unexplainable.  So at 6 AM I threw on a robe and went out the door in time to see a 3' tall turkey beating feet away from the back of the rig.  It appears he saw his reflection in the shiny paint on the rig, and was attacking the other turkey!  Welcome to central California. We seen them a few more times during the week walking through the brush in front of our site.  There were 4 of them, 2 males and 2 females, and all pretty good size. 

The full hookup sites here are $57 per night, but not all spaces are the same size so do some research on  line when selecting a site. A few of the sites are heavily treed, so if you want to get satellite reception that may be a consideration too.  We checked out a few other RV parks in the area, but none had the space of the state park, and all were more expensive.

While we were here, no visit would be complete without a visit to the infamous Folsom State prison (not as a resident fortunately).  The prison while not prominently mentioned anywhere around town, is but a few miles from the downtown area.  A few miles down some tree lined country roads and the the prison fences appear.  We went to the prison to visit the small on site museum and gift shop, just outside the front gates.  There is a security building for visitors going into the prison to visit inmates, but the museum is across the street, and is easy open access to the public.  You are permitted to take pictures of anything you can see from the front, as long as prison staff are not in the picture.  The museum was small but interesting, and prominently featured was the 1968 concert that Johnny Cash held inside the prison for the inmates.   Along with a collection of prison curio's and even some artistic stuff that was created by inmates.  All in all it was worth the 45 minutes or so we spent there, and admission is $2, which goes to the all volunteer staff which man the shop.  Some are retired prison guards with stories to tell.

All in all we found the Folsom area comfortable and enjoyable.  We didn't even get into Sacramento on this trip, an it seems that we had so much other stuff to do.  We were here for a week and never got bored. Hiking and biking trails are all around the area, and are frequented by the residents.  I will come back to this area again. 

Next we head to Bodega Bay for the holiday weekend. We are on the beach for 4 days in a no hook up spot. This should be interesting.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: cadee2c on May 23, 2015, 12:31:16 AM
Next we head to Bodega Bay for the holiday weekend.

Just keep an eye out for unusually large flocks of birds. :D
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 23, 2015, 12:41:30 PM
I'm good as long as they aren't 3' tall!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: ArdraF on May 23, 2015, 04:04:15 PM
Peacocks also will attack the "other bird" in a shiny bumper.  We had quite a time leaving a Texas campground because the peacocks were in mating season.  I felt like an idiot chasing the bird away while Jerry was trying to drive the opposite direction.  Probably the most exciting exit we've ever experienced!

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 23, 2015, 05:42:53 PM
We also had an experience at a campground with peacocks. It was at a campground in Ojai, and they had about 15 of them wandering the campground.  At first it was fascinating, but that soon changed.  As it turns out, when in mating season, the male peacocks will fan their remarkable tail feathers, and "scream".  It sounds like someone yelling for help, and they like to do it starting at around 5 AM. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 24, 2015, 09:53:32 AM
Diane just updated her Trip Journal with lots more pictures of Folsom and the surrounding area. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Kim (skyking4ar2) Bertram on May 24, 2015, 06:29:47 PM
I have no been able to get Johnny Cash out of my head since I read the first post about Folsom...curse you, Marty!


Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 24, 2015, 06:33:44 PM
Don't feel bad Kim, me too! Folsom prison blues plays through my head every day since I did the museum! 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 29, 2015, 12:08:52 AM
For the Memorial Day weekend holiday we wanted to be on the coast, and considering our location in northern Ca, (and the availability) we spent the long weekend dry camping at Bodega Bay. We stayed at Westside Regional Park. We had a site on the front row which looks right out on the Bay.  The Bay opens to the ocean, so when the tide goes out much of the bay drains out with just a narrow channel in the middle for small boat traffic.  We paid about $35 a night. Oh, and the ranger came around as we were arriving and collected another $2 a night for our dog.  There are no amenities for the dog, just the fee.  The park has a threaded water faucets scattered around the park, and the dump station is double sided.  The other real bummer is that they charge $7 to use the dump station. It is credit card operated, and supposedly you only have 16 minutes to dump your tanks, although I am not sure how they track that.  And if the next guy waiting to dump is standing nearby, he may get a “discount”......

The sites are paved as well as the road. There are handicapped sites available, and the restrooms, although not attractive are in decent condition. Both the restrooms and the showers are handicapped accessible.  The showers are pay showers and are $1.50 for the first 5 minutes. The cell signal in the park is OK, but not great.  There is no Wifi offered.  It was pretty cold while we were there, with average high temps in the 50's and low 60's, so much of the time we were in cold weather gear. 

The town itself is pretty small, so if you plan on staying in the area it would be wise to bring what you need with you. There are several restaurants in the area, many are sea food related. 

We went on an outing one day to Fort Ross State Historic Park.  It is the location of a 1800's Russian settlement. It eventually sold several times and now is mostly restored with a few original buildings left. Diane is making a more in depth description in her blog with lots of pics.  Getting there was a drive up Highway 1.  While beautiful, it was about 25 miles of switch backs and twistys. I don't recommend doing it in your RV unless you are shorter than 25'. 

If we are back in the area again we would probably try to stay on the opposite side of the bay at Porto Bodega Marina and RV park.  The rate there was $50 but at least you would have FHU spots and a view of the bay as well.   

On the up side our dry camping went well. I had installed a Battery Minder Kit (BMK) from Magnum Energy, the maker of our inverter/charger back in April. The BMK monitors the status of the battery bank and gives several different read outs from Amps used, Amps in/out, DC voltage and State of Charge (SOC), which tells me precisely how much useable energy is remaining in the battery bank.  Before I kind of guessed at that, based solely on the what the battery voltage readout was. It would fluctuate widely depending on what appliance would kick on.  This time I kept the SOC between 50% and 85% by running the generator.  50% SOC is approximately a 12.0 over all voltage remaining in the battery bank.

In four days of dry camping I ran the generator for 13 hours, which comes out to about 3 ½ hours a day.  That was usually 2 hours in the morning during breakfast, and 1 ½ hours at night during dinner.  We still had all of our usual appliances plugged in, both computers, our Wifi, and watched 2-4 hours of satellite TV a night.  I figure at $3.50 a gallon for diesel, I spent $45.50 in the 4 days of dry camping, or about $11.50 a day.  That brings the real camping cost to about $48.50 a night. 

We almost never use campground showers, so we both showered daily in the rig (camping showers). Diane even washed her hair a few times. I did BBQ all the dinners outside on the grill though to save on clean up dishes.  At the end of the stay we had about 15% left in the fresh tank (probably about 8-10 gallons of water).

From here we head north/east to Oroville to a KOA at Feather Falls Casino.  Yea, warm weather!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Oscar Mike on May 29, 2015, 05:59:19 AM
$2.00 for the dog and they probably didn't even have Doo-Bags hanging on a pole. I am amazed at how folks (especially California) are coming up with bizarre fees to free us of our hard earn cash.

Where are you guys off to now? Oops, I missed the last sentence...
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Tom on May 29, 2015, 06:52:21 AM
Thanks for the report Marty. We might make a trip up there. Were you able to reserve online?
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 29, 2015, 08:53:38 AM
Yeah Tom, but since it was a county park we had to reserve on their site. Here is the link to reservation page:

Yeah, you are right John. And this particular park didn't have a camp host due to a paper work mess up.  The host site was there, but no hosts. Rangers were trying to fill in the duties, but were not around much.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Tom on May 29, 2015, 09:11:44 AM
Thanks Marty.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 30, 2015, 02:21:49 PM
Just a heads up, Diane has just updated our travel blog.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Tom and Margi on May 30, 2015, 08:30:31 PM
Please thank Diane for her efforts.  I've really enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy, reading her blog.  We lived in Sebastopol for about 10 years circa 1980-1990.  Pictures brought back lots of memories of Bodega Bay.  We loved The Tides restaurant when in was "the old Tides".  I wonder if it is still the same or the victim of progress and tourism.  Tom took our boat out through the harbor entrance many times to go fishing and crabbing.  It can be very dicey at times.  :)
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 31, 2015, 01:21:34 AM
Thank you so much! Diane puts a lot of heart into her blogs, and loves knowing that someone is enjoying them too. Gives her great incentive to continue!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Betty Brewer on May 31, 2015, 07:45:11 AM
Like Margi, I am following Diane's blog.  I lived  in California most of my life  and it is fun to see your reports on adventure in  places I have been and  places now  on my  list to visit.  It is indeed interesting  to watch  you stay longer, drive shorter  distances and soak up the local trivia! 

Keep those facts coming! Maam!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on May 31, 2015, 10:17:26 AM
Thanks Betty, we are having a lot of  fun on the slower pace and shorter distances. Not to mention it is way more cost effective. And the pattern we have been taking zigzag back and forth from the coast to inland locations has been a great way not to get burned out on any one climate. After Bodega Bay where it was really cool, windy and damp, Oroville has been a nice change for it's 80+ degree days. But the next location is a cooler climate and I will be ready for the change.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 04, 2015, 07:38:32 PM
This stop we went to Oroville, Ca to the Feather Falls Casino and RV Park.  Oroville is next to Chico in northern Ca.  While not a bad area, Chico is nowhere near as nice and upscale as the Folsom area was.  We didn't find the Chico area to be near as interesting as the Folsom area either.  We didn't do a lot of exploring in the area though, and to be honest a lot of the reason was my fault that I will get to in bit. 

Feather Falls Casino, while nice enough is not to be confused with 7 Feathers casino and RV park in Canyonville Or.  This Casino and RV park is way smaller, doesn't have the amenities that 7 Feathers does, and is in a lower class area.  The  RV park itself has about 45 spaces or so arranged in 5 rows. The outside rows are back in's and the 3 center rows are pull through.  We selected a back in site, #41 as we thought that it would give is a bit more outside room. Well that didn't wind up being the case, and we didn't realize what the downside would be of the outside edge perimeter spot.  First there was a lot of noise from a roadway about 20 yards away that runs in back of the park. Heavily traveled and high speeds made for constant traffic noise.  Even though the traffic did become lighter at night, it was still audible. 

The real problem came from the residences that abut the road on the opposite side of the road.  The houses are close to the road, and many have dogs that obviously live outdoors all night.  From the first night we were there the chorus of barking dogs would start around 2-3 AM and continue for hours. One set of dogs would get the next set going, and it would just continue.  Since we were backed in with our bedroom in the back, the noise was constant and sleep was difficult at best.  We had paid for a week stay at the park, but after the 3rd night we went to the office to request a site change.  We got the last site available in the park, a pull through which also flipped the rig 180 degrees putting our bedroom away from the dog noise.  Finally a decent nights sleep.

The roads in the park are wide as well, which is a good thing. The sites themselves are not too long, and most all of the RV's had to park in front of their sites with their tow vehicle or toad. The bathrooms and showers were all new and handicapped accessible, and the cell signal in the park was good. They did offer their own free wifi.  The days were warm, and the evenings pleasant. There is a free shuttle that will take you back and forth to the casino, but it was so close, we just usually walked.

We paid $282 for the 7 night stay, which was just over $40 a night.  That included our KOA discount.
One pleasant part of the stay we went to the Casino on a Saturday night. They have an actually Brewery on premise that makes it's own beer.  There is also a stage inside the brewery where various acts appear.  This night was a Stevie Nicks, tribute band. She was one of the female lead singers of Fleetwood Mac.  She was close in vocal style to Nicks, but didn't have the range. The band however was good, and since we went in early for dinner we just sat and enjoyed the band.  The prices in the brewery were remarkably reasonable as well. We had cocktails, dinner, and desert and with tip it was about $60.  With no cover for the show it was pretty reasonable.  We took a drive up the south fork of the Feather river one day. Nice but not overly remarkable.

The project that kept me busy for a few days was I pulled the trigger on a new TV in the living area. I replaced the 40” Panasonic for a 48” Vizio Smart TV.  Now mind you there was nothing wrong with the Panasonic, but being slightly nerdy, we wanted to be able to watch the various programs available as a subscriber to Amazon Prime.  The new TV was actually decently priced at Target, and with some good advice from our forum members, I placed the Panasonic on Craigslist in Chico, and had a buyer that night.   I was surprised how simple it was to hook the new TV up to the net.  During the simple set up procedure it asked about my wifi, found the router and after entering the password we were on line. 

We were watching Star Trek during dinner that night! Next stop, a KOA near Mt Lassen national park.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Wendy on June 04, 2015, 08:19:20 PM
When you were at Morro Bay, did you check out the state parks ? We're thinking of Morro Strand this winter which has added hookups, I believe ? Pismo Beach was also a choice but apparently it's going to be closed for remodeling ?

BTW, we have reservations at Crystal Cove for December. Love that park, awesome sunsets.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 04, 2015, 08:50:08 PM
We drove past the state parks, but we didn't go in. We did stay at the Strand, and it does have FHU spaces.  As for Pismo, we have stayed at Pismo Coast Village a few times. Decent park, but spaces are really close together.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Tom on June 05, 2015, 02:10:11 AM
Marty, you probably missed the great videos they run on request at the state park in Oroville. Lots of stuff related to gold mining and other local history. Also, you're a few months early for the annual salmon run and seeing the salmon in the viewing windows into the fish ladder up to the hatchery. Here's a few bites (no pun) in a prior report (,36150).

Oroville also has the "Greenline Tour", allowing you to take a self-drive tour of local attractions and landmarks by following the green line painted on the road.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 05, 2015, 09:43:31 AM
I did Tom, we will have to make another pass when I am not so distracted! We have discovered that even in June, some attractions and places are not quite fully operational yet. Timing is different in Nor Cal than it is in So Cal...
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Handyman on June 06, 2015, 12:48:33 PM
Hello Marty,

Liked, reading your travelstory!

We also visited LV and Furnace Creek this year.
It was both different but both wunderfull.
We had in Mai a temp of 100 F, in Furnace Creek.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 08, 2015, 11:14:35 PM
We arrived at the Mt Lassen/Shingletown KOA just down the road from Lassen National Park.  This is a nice KOA but very similar to the standard KOA formula.  This one does have "premium" sites though. We opted for a premium site because of the large concrete patio. It also came with a 6 seat table and chairs, fire pit, and a free standing gas BBQ.  The site we selected also afforded us a bit of privacy from the rest of the campground, which is nice.  Nearly all the sites are heavily treed, so I got practice setting up our remote satellite dish.  Boy, it's been a long time and it took me a while to remember how to adjust the DVR setting on the box to get a picture.  But I did write down the instructions so hopefully I will remember to read them the next time. 

This park offers a lot for kids, as do most KOA's.  A pool, playground, bikes and carts you can rent if you don't bring your own, and there is even a dirt/gravel “motocross style” track in the back for the kids to race around on their bikes.  The restrooms and showers are all handicapped accessible and in good condition.  The camp store is well stocked and carries not only camping needs but also a selection of food stuffs. There is a nice big fenced in dog park as well that is also shaded. Cell signal is difficult here. Our Verizon air card and booster was able to get a weak signal, but it wasn't reliable.  The park offers free wifi but it is dependent on how many folks are on it as to how fast it is. On the weekend it was mud slow.  The sites are pricey, especially since we stayed in a premium site. We paid $62,10 per night, but that included a $50 off discount due to accumulated KOA points. This place has no problem filling up though. It's location just outside park boundaries makes it the only park for a good distance that has FHU sites.  When we arrived on 6/2 most of the campgrounds in the park were not open yet. 6/5 was their opening weekend along with some of the trails.

The reasons for coming to the park are many. Lots of great views and things to see and do in and around the park. We took scenic drives, visited water falls, and hiked some of the trails. There was a giant outdoor sculpture display nearby that we stopped to see, and the views of Mount Lassen are amazing.  We even hiked through ancient volcanic lava tubes that were formed after Lassen's big eruptions a hundred years ago. This is definitely a park to put on the “visit” list, you won't be disappointed. 

There are a few grocery stores in Shingletown four miles down the road, but the prices are high and the selection is limited. I would recommend doing a big shopping before you get here, and just use the local stores to replace needed items. I did drive back to Shingletown on occasion when I needed a reliable signal on the cell phone.  It seemed like parking in the Cheveron station parking lot was a good place to get reliable signal. 

Diane has already updated her blog with many more details and tons of pics. I will include just a few to whet the appetite. 

I did tackle a small RV project here. One of the annoying issues that bugged me with the rig was the layout of the gauges on the dash panel. The vehicle information center (LBCU) supplied by Freightliner was placed all the way at the bottom of the gauge cluster making it impossible to see while driving. Even though I run a VMSpc display on the dash that displays many engine readouts, some of the info on the LBCU are warnings about thresholds that are getting close to limits.  It also has many other readouts that are useful to the driver while rolling down the road.  Enough folks complained to Tiffin about the issue, so Tiffin offered a redesigned dash panel free of charge.  I had it sent to me a few weeks ago and have been waiting for a down day to do the install.  It took about 3 hours to do, since all the gauges are plug and play, the most effort was getting the old panel out. I look forward to taking the drive with the new arrangement to see how it looks.  Next stop, Emigrant Lake, Ashland OR.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Kevin Means on June 13, 2015, 05:05:22 PM
That's one of the nicer KOAs we've ever been to. What did you think about that 9% grade you had to climb to get there? When we drove it last July, towing Cyndi's MDX, it was 105 degrees and I saw the warmest engine temp I've ever had. It was the only time I've ever manually down-shifted to bring the RPMs up and the temps down (worked great too). Thankfully, the 9% part isn't that long. The drive through the National Park itself is well worth it - a beautiful drive. We love the updates Marty - here and on Diane's blog.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 13, 2015, 05:31:07 PM
yes, it was a good grade. But fortunately the temperature was only in the eighties when we hit the hill so we didn't have those kinds of extreme temps to deal with.The owner that has the park now is a Southern California guy. He's only owned it for about 3 years. He bought it after retirement is kind of a retirement job but now he is questioning his decision.

Thanks for the kind words about the blog. Diane loves to know that somebody is actually reading it!

So Kev, when and where is your next long trip?
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Kevin Means on June 14, 2015, 02:22:56 PM
So Kev, when and where is your next long trip?
Well actually, I just got home yesterday from a work trip in the Dominican Republic, and I leave for another one in Houston in about three weeks (but I'm sure you were talking about our next RV trip). Believe it or not, we're taking the motorhome on a two week trip to Northern Idaho and Utah in late July. We'll be boondocking with a bunch of family members. As you might imagine, we are REALLY looking forward to it. By the way, Cyndi is retiring. Her last day at work is next Friday.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 14, 2015, 11:15:59 PM
Congrats to Cyndi! Take advantage of her new found freedom and go RVing!  I know it's hard to walk away from the money, but do what works for you.  Let us know how the trip goes. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 15, 2015, 07:57:27 PM
In route to Ashland, Oregon on 6/9/15 we needed to stop for fuel. We located a Pilot truck fueling station off of Interstate 5 in Weed, Ca.  The reason this station was significant is that it has RV fueling pumps set aside from the truck islands and the usual automotive islands.  The RV pumps are off to the left of the automotive pumps, and they have 3 lanes for fueling.  The only thing about these pumps is that they are marked for RV's or cars so there may be somebody filling their Toyota at the pumps when you pull up.  With the Frequent Fueler card we paid $3.00 per gallon for diesel fuel, and took about 61 gallons.  The last time we fueled on 5/22/15 was in Sacramento at a Pilot and paid $3.50 a gallon. And about 7 gallons of the fuel on this fill were used in the generator in Bodega Bay.  The shorter trips between stops and longer stays at the locations have made a huge difference in the monthly budget.   

Emigrant Lake County Park and “The Point RV Park”  is only about 14 miles from the California/Oregon border off of Interstate 5. This is not a big RV park with only 32 RV sites, bit it is right on the water of Emigrant Lake.  There is another loop for tents and small trailers as well with no hookups.  We found some pluses and minuses with the park, all depending on your point of view.  Emigrant Lake is active for water sports of all kinds, plenty of picnic areas, fishing, 2 boat launch ramps, and lots of trees and green space. The campground is set up in two tiers, and the first 22 spots are on the lower tier.  We preferred a lower tier spot #11 because the way the spots are angled your patio side faces the lake.  On the upper tier the sites are the opposite direction which gives you the view of a dry grass hill, unless you sit at the back of your rig.  If you have a rig with the utilities in the very back, bring enough electrical cord and water hose as those two utilities are at the very front edge of the sites. Each site has a concrete picnic table and a fire ring.  There was also nice shade trees planted by each rig that supplied some needed shade in the warm afternoons.  We paid about $30 per night for FHU paved site.

On the negative points of the park was the long grass at all of the sites.  On our 4th day there the camp host came around with a push mower and started to mow some of the sites, but quit before he got to ours and never came back.  Walking around the park can also be challenging. The RV pads and roads are paved, but there are no sidewalks, or even road shoulders to walk on.  Any walking around the park will make you walk on the streets, with some pretty steep hills to navigate.  There is one dirt path you can get to at the end of the RV park across from site #25. It is about 1/3 mile long and runs next to the lake. 

There is no wifi or cable offered at the park, but the Verizon cell signal was strong, and our air card worked well. The restrooms and showers are in good shape and handicapped accessible. There are coin boxes in the showers, but there was a sticker on each one that said “free”.  There is a handicapped designated camp spot, #18. A sign on it indicates that if the spot is not reserved and still empty at 7 PM, it is available for rent for the night. 

The first night in town Diane had not had a chance to shop for groceries yet, so we went out to dinner. Diane researched a highly rated place on Trip Advisor, Omar's Restaurant and Bar in Ashland.  The interior of the place is a little dated as far as style, but is in excellent condition.  The food however was amazing. I had a steak that was hands down the best steak I have had in years.  It was prepared and seasoned perfectly, and was served hot and timely.  For a really good meal, Omar's is highly recommended.
The town of Ashland is a little historic town with many older buildings and original houses. It's also the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that has been going on for 80 years.  Three designated theaters in town put on a series of plays starting in early February.  Diane and I went to a Shakespeare play, “Much Ado About Nothing” at one of the theaters. The actors were top notch, and the theater itself was perfect.  The ticket prices are not cheap however. The cheap seats were $60 each, and ranged up to $120 each. Our cheap seats were great though, just higher up in the theater, which we prefer anyway.  I joked later on in a Facebook post that Diane had taken me to my first Shakespeare play, but had to get a stick and beat the redneck out of me first! The play was still Shakespeare's work, but it was acted with a modern twist which made the story much easier to follow.  After the play we walked down the street to a restaurant named “Harveys Place” for a cocktail and a snack. It's a newer place but very good food and highly recommended.

Just like most things in life, some are good, and some are not. We went back to see a second play on Sunday afternoon named “Long Days Journey Into Night”. While the acting was still great, the story line made me want to run out of the theater screaming.  Well, you win some, you lose some.  Diane just updated her blog with a much more detailed explanation of the events.

For any major shopping, the town of Medford is just down the freeway about 15 minutes, and you can find any kind of major store you need.

As an ending for the blog, I thought I would list the cool things, and not cool things we found at this RV stop.
Cool Stuff:
1) The family of deer we ran past a few times during our stay while out exercising.
2) The HUGE bald Eagle we saw perched in a tree while out on our run.
3) The RV park sites are elevated above the lake, making for some great afternoons viewing.
4) Omar's Restaurant, great food.
5) The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF).
6) Harvey's Place Bar and Grill.  Happy Hour starts at 3:30 and has good food and beer.

The not too cool stuff:
1) The uncut grass/weeds around the RV sites.
2) The lack of sidewalks to get around the park itself.
3) The parking at the OSF was horrible. Come early to  find any parking at all.

From here we head back to the coast to Brookings, OR.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: cadee2c on June 15, 2015, 10:27:57 PM
Love the campsite view of the lake.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: ArdraF on June 15, 2015, 10:51:57 PM
Me too!  And the sites look to be a decent size.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 15, 2015, 11:29:48 PM
Most of them are Ardra. There are a few pull throughs in a crescent shape that are a little narrower but longer. That's one of the cool parts about the bottom tier sites, with your awning on the lake side you have a great size patio area.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Peteyboy on June 17, 2015, 06:34:06 PM
Really enjoy the reports,,, you both do a great job.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 17, 2015, 08:32:15 PM
Thanks Pete!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 24, 2015, 12:20:05 AM
We jumped back to the Oregon coast for this leg of the trip. As the matter of fact, we will be on the coast for the next two stops as well.  We looked forward to heading back to the beach, and love the ocean views. We picked the Beach Front RV park and Marina in Brookings. There are many RV parks in the area, but this was the only one that had direct beach access on the ocean. There are 98 sites here, but that includes several tenting sites.  The pull through sites in the front row are 30 amp, but the back in sites on the second row are 50 amp.  The water pressure can be pretty low, especially if the park fills up.  We were having problems with our tank-less water heater suddenly going cold, then warming up again.  It took me a while to figure out that the water pressure in the park would sporadically drop to under 20# pressure (as evidenced by monitoring my pressure gauge in the water bay).  That signals the water heater to stop heating the water.  I remedied the situation by supplementing the park water supply with the on board water pump. 

There is Wifi offered here at the park, but it's not too strong and gets crowded easily. However, the signal on our Verizon air card was strong.  The sites are dirt/gravel but there is a decent size cement patio at each site.  The sites are not much to look at, but kind of typical for beachfront RV sites. There is a small fence between the sites that lend an aura of a little privacy.  Each site also has a picnic table, but they are a bit weather worn. The staff will also bring you a ground fire ring to your site if requested. There is a cable hook up at the pedestal, but I am not sure how well it works as we used our satellite.

One of the down sides of the park is that it is built on a public boat marina. There is a row of parking spaces in front of the front row of RV spaces.  It is public access to the beach, and the public comes and goes all day. Sometimes the traffic in front of the rigs is constant as tourists and locals drive by to look at the ocean.  We were never bothered by anyone, but you do get a lot of looky-loo's at the RV's. 

There is handicapped access to the restrooms, but they too are open to the public and not just for use of the RV park. There is also a free standing laundry mat at the end of the park, also public.  The prices they charge here are also common for beachfront camping.  The front row of pull through sites rent for $51 a night, in season.  The second row of back in's are $7 less.  We stayed at the 7 day rate, which gave us one free night. That lowered the cost of the front row site to just under $44 a night. 

The weather here was typical for beachfront camping as well.  The average temps here were in the 60's and only twice did it hit low 70's.  The mornings were usually foggy, and some days it never did burn off.  The one constant though is one of the reasons we love the coast, is the constant back ground noise of the waves rolling in.  Puts me to sleep every night!

There is not a whole lot to do in the way of sight seeing here.  We did drive a little south on Highway 101 to visit Jedediah Smith Redwoods National Park one day.  What an awesome display of nature. If you haven't seen them yet, it is must stop on the bucket list. We used a lot of the time to exercise, run and enjoy the beach atmosphere.  Of course there is always something to do around the RV, and this time was no different.  I got to fix the toaster oven door that wouldn't open, the BBQ grill that wouldn't get hot, the shower drain that was running slow, and wash and vacuum the Jeep just to name a few. 

We are making good use of the Smart TV that I put in a few stops ago, Amazon Prime video is keeping us entertained at night! I think I will need to add a sound bar to the TV though. Since the frames on the newer TV's is so thin, they almost always mount the speakers for the TV in the back.  Since I replaced the 40” TV with a 48” it's bottom edge is only about an inch off of the counter. Not enough volume for these ears. Oh well, another project for another day. 

The Cool Stuff at this park:
1) FHU sites on a beachfront RV site.
2) Strong cell signal that makes for great Wifi reception.
3) The crashing waves right out your front door, easily visible from your RV.
4) The beach is also dog friendly for leashed pets.

The not cool stuff:
1) The public access road in front of the RV sites.
2) The public restrooms shared with the RV park.
3) Low water pressure.
4) Pricey sites with not a lot of amenities to offer.

Next we head north to Waldport, OR. The adventure continues.....
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Kevin Means on June 24, 2015, 12:55:40 AM
Nice write up Marty. very detailed. Overall, I think Oregon has some of the most beautiful campgrounds in the country.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 24, 2015, 10:11:15 AM
Thanks Kev, Oregon's parks are also some of the highest rated in the country as well. Many of Oregon's state owned campgrounds are FHU, witch makes them pretty popular as well.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: garyb1st on June 25, 2015, 09:14:36 AM
Stay on the coast Sarge.  Weather channel reports a major heat wave for the west including the northwest.  Temperature predictions for Medford 109º, Portland 98º and close to 90º in the Seattle area. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 25, 2015, 10:31:49 AM
Thanks Gary, we finally guessed right for once! You are right, in Brookings we had a lot of damp foggy weather. We are in Waldport which is further north, also on the coast and the weather has been beautiful!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Tom and Margi on June 25, 2015, 10:16:00 PM
Sutherlin (roughly 60 miles east of the coast) will hit 101 degrees tomorrow (Friday 6/26) and the heat will continue for several days after that.  Very unusual for us.  Chance of thunder storms Saturday and Sunday, very bad for our fire conditions as they are usually dry storms.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 25, 2015, 10:45:49 PM
Sounds like it will be a toasty weekend in some places.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Ned on June 26, 2015, 07:55:06 AM
Come to Milwaukee.  Forecast high of 66° today (heat pump is running right now) and 70s for the next 9 days.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: John Stephens on June 26, 2015, 01:37:46 PM
Marty, I just got finished reading every post on this thread from the beginning and want to thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

My wife and I have planned out a trip to see as many of the well known national parks as we can and will make the trip in about three years. You are making me rethink our plans because we planned on a 90 day trip that would get us from SW Florida to Mt. Rushmore and then head west to see everything we could, making a big circle through Oregon, Calif., and then head back on the southern route. I was planning on staying in one place more than three nights, just to get a feel for the locale and possibly find a spot where we might want to make a summer residence to get away from the heat at home.

You are now making me wonder if we should stop and smell the roses a bit more. You are also giving me more ideas of stops to make that I had never heard of before. Your input is invaluable.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 26, 2015, 02:28:05 PM
Glad to assist John! I must say that lingering longer at our stops has made a huge difference in our activities. We explore more, and can return to things that we liked for a second look. Not to mention the reduction in fuel budget. Really, that just gives me a few more $$ to spend exploring and taking in the local attractions.  We are enjoying the slower pace.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: blw2 on June 26, 2015, 03:01:14 PM
It seems about a week in each spot.  is that right?

I too enjoyed the thread, and linked over to the blog too.  I wish I had more vacation time to get a taste of that full time living!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 26, 2015, 06:12:20 PM
Yep, right on Brad. About a week is about good for my attention span.  Then I get itchy feet and want to see what is around the next corner.  We just got back from  "Old town Newport" down the road from our current location.  Enjoyed walking around, window shopping and lunch at the "Rouge Brewery".  Good beer, good food.  The weekend is upon us,  and I will be ready to pull up stakes on Tuesday and head for the "holiday spot" for 4th of July.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: garyb1st on June 27, 2015, 06:52:46 AM
Yep, right on Brad. About a week is about good for my attention span.  Then I get itchy feet and want to see what is around the next corner. 

Glad I'm not the only one.  Sometimes a week seems too long.   
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 27, 2015, 12:59:07 PM
Sometimes you are right Gary. While staying for a week will sometimes get you a discounted rate, I am still committed for a week. Normally that is not an issue but if the weather turns on you or the area has an unexpected down side, it can make it feel much longer. 

Our one rule of thumb is though, if the place we are in turns out to be very unappealing for any reason, we pull up stakes and go regardless of cost.  I won't suffer through miserable conditions just to save a buck.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: John Stephens on June 27, 2015, 01:22:14 PM
Marty, what would say is the average price of the RV campgrounds now in the areas you are visiting on this trip? From your pictures, it appears you are staying in some pretty nice spots. How much of a discount do you get for staying a week - one night's worth? In my research so far, it seems that back in sites cost about $10 per night less than pull through. Does that sound about right from what you have experienced? The last question is important to me because I'm trying to decide whether to buy a scooter and carrier for the back of the coach, or a trailer to tow my 4 wheel drive SUV. I can still back in with a scooter carrier on the back.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 27, 2015, 01:44:28 PM
The average is kind of speculative John. We are not the "look for the absolute cheapest place to stay" types, so we sometimes will pay a little over the average to stay in a park that fits our needs.  In some places a pull through site is a slight bump in price, maybe $5 a night, but often is depends on the desirability of the site.

For instance the Marina RV park we just left in Brookings fit that description. There were 2 rows of sites. The front row were pull through's with great ocean views, but the power was 30 amp.  The second row behind us were back ins so their view was looking past whoever was in front of them. But their sites were 50 amp, and $7 a night cheaper. 

So if saving a few bucks is more important, take the cheaper site. If having the unobstructed view is more important, pay the $7 bump.  Many places will offer a discount for a weeks stay. Often it is pay for 6 and get one night free. In Brookings that extra night brought the price of the site down to the same as the 2nd row back in site.

We also don't stay in WalMart's or truck stops either (unless it's an emergency) but some folks don't mind it at all. Given the choice of towed or scooter, I would personally opt for the towed. More versatile, more comfortable in too hot or too cold conditions ect.  The trailer does add a different dimension to the experience though. But that's the great part about RVing. You get to pick what fits your needs and lifestyle the best. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on June 30, 2015, 12:30:41 AM
We left Brookings and headed for Waldport, OR to McKinley's Marina and RV Park.  This was more northbound driving on Highway 101. Even though it was only 190 miles, the trip still took nearly 5 hours.  The 101 is the coast road, but it runs smack through many small towns on the route.  Even though most stretches are marked for 55 MPH, doing that speed in a large RV is not possible.  And then each small town you drive through will slow you down to 25 MPH as you pass through their downtown area.  Throw in the occasional stretches of twisty's and your average speed is much lower.  It is still a very scenic drive though. 

McKinley's is a dual purpose park, as are many in this part of Oregon. They cater a lot to the boating/fishing crowd as well as the RV customers.  In fact, this particular park is almost 2 parks in one.  One side is the strictly RV side and has concrete streets, pads and patios. In fact there is very little green area between the sites, maybe 1 -2 feet max.  The sites are plenty big though for most any rig.  The cool part about this park is that the builders were smart enough to include full utilities on both sides of the parking pads.  That way a MH can pull in to the sites to face the water with the hook ups on the left, but a TT or 5ver can back in and still have the hookups on the correct site. 

The only down side of that is that if you are in a MH and pull in, but your neighbor is a towable, you patio's will face each other.  Not usually a big deal unless your neighbors are obnoxious.  The other part of the park has a string of 30 or so dry camping sites that back up onto the bay as well. They will accept a full size RV, all the way to a tent. The sites are grass with no hookups at all. Those sites were favored by the fishing crowd that liked the extra space of the grass area and were in close proximity to the bay. There is a port-a-potty for use in the tent no hook up area, or you can hoof it to the regular facilities on the side of the office building.  There is also a laundry mat on site, and it too has a handicapped bathroom inside, but no shower.

It seems as though a very popular past time among the locals as well as the RV'ers is catching crabs in the bay.  Many of the locals came out to one of the long docks on the bay to check and reset their crab cages nightly.

The rates were reasonable as well. We paid $207 for 6 nights and got one free night, making the final rate $29.57 per night.  The park is not on the ocean, but on Alsea Bay. You can launch a boat from the in campground launch for a fee. We paid for a pull in site that faced the water which was nice. The odd ball thing about these sites though is that while you are in the rig you have a great view of the bay and all types of boats coming and going.  While sitting outside on your patio, the park has decided to grow a thick hedge in front of the sites, that is now about 4' tall.  Sitting in your site and looking toward the water you see nothing but bushes. I took the somewhat thrilling step of placing two of our patio chairs on top of the picnic table and sitting on top of the table to see the view. 

They offer free WiFi here, but our Verizon Air card
 had very strong signal from a near by tower. They have handicapped accessible bathrooms and showers, but they are in the RV side of the park. There is a  “play area” in the middle of the park that has such games as “bean bag toss” and “rope ladders” free for use.  The center area of the dry camp sites has a sand volleyball court, basket ball, and horseshoes.

We visited the downtown area of Waldport and the bigger town next door, Newport.   Both had older preserved walking areas to window shop and plenty of restaurants to pick  from. We also visited a few local attractions, state parks and light houses. Diane covers them more in  detail in her blog. 

Our next stop we go backwards 15 miles to Yachats OR. We made that reservation far in advance for the 4th of July week, as we knew things would be packed for the holiday.

The Cool Stuff at this park:
1) Big cement pads and patio's
2) The view of  Alsea Bay that is close to the ocean.
3) Very quiet night time atmosphere.
4) Various family games set up in the grassy areas.
5) The summer time temps in the 60's and low 70's.
6) The reasonable price for the sites.
The not cool stuff at this park:
1) The lack any type of pool or spa available.
2) The excessively tall hedge that blocks your view of the bay.
3) The wind off of the bay can be frigid, even in the summer.
4) Camp fires are not allowed in the RV area, only in the dry camp area.

Diane has just updated our blog with more detail about the places we visited. Stop on by!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: John Stephens on June 30, 2015, 11:56:30 AM
Marty, good to know about this campground. On our long trip out West, we are planning on visiting friends in Lincoln City, just north of you, and were wondering where would be a good place to stay. Thanks for the info.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 06, 2015, 07:23:55 PM
Well this was the 4th of July weekend, and Diane made the reservations for Sea Perch RV Resort back in March. She asked me where I  wanted to be on the 4th of July, and the Oregon coast seemed like a good answer.  Sea Perch is a private campground with only 25 sites, but they are concrete, wide, and  6 of them are on the ocean front. There are also 3 “Villas” for rent on the ocean front also. The ocean front sites from May to Oct rent for $85 a night, and the rest are “ocean view” for $75 a night. For the extra $10 we went for the oceanfront site.  The Villas rent from $175 to $250 in season.  By staying for a week we got a small discount to make it $81 a night.  The amenities here are a nice workout room with various aerobic machines, free weights and a universal machine. There is a TV and DVD player in the room as well.  The clubhouse has dining space, and a game room with a pool table and other table games.

The sites are FHU with cable TV, and the park has good WiFi which we had to take advantage of as our Verizon air card even with the booster was pathetically slow most of the time.  The oceanfront sites are about 100' from the waves at high tide and waves are heard 24/7.  There is not a lot of other amenities close to the park without driving into Yachats north about 7 miles, or Florence about 16 miles south. Yachats is pretty small with limited stores and shops, but Florence is much bigger if you need any significant supplies.

All sites are handicapped accessible as they are flat and smooth, and the restrooms are likewise accessible, but they are limited to one each in the club house.

On the 4th of July Saturday the park put on a potluck, and supplied the main courses with the campers bringing side dishes. The park supplied ribs, baked potato's,  burgers, hot dogs and  hot links as well as soft drinks and some beers. With the side dishes supplied by the campers, the potluck turned out great with tons of food.  And it was all included with the price of your site.

Coast weather being unpredictable at best, while the rest of the country was sweltering in heat, we were wearing jackets and long pants for the first few days. And throw in 20 – 30 MPH sustained winds and we didn't see much outside time for the first few days.  Then on Friday we got a break and the winds slowed  to 5 – 10 MPH and we were able to take many walks on the semi private beach, and dogs were allowed off leash to run and play.

We even did some hiking while we were here, and they were challenging and beautiful. We hiked the Cape Perpetua Lookout, at 1.5 mile trail each way with a 800 ft rise in elevation, but the view was spectacular. The other hike was the Heceta Head Lighthouse trail that goes from Highway 101 up to the back side of the lighthouse and the magnificent coast line. That trail had a 300' elevation gain and was about 1.3 miles each way.  We also ate in Yachats at the Luna Sea Fish House, and the food was fabulous. There were also some attractions we didn't see, like the “Sea Lion Caves”. Being from So. Cal. We have seal lions in abundance along the coast so the it was not unique for us.   

Cool stuff about this park:
1) Cement pads and patios.
2) Oceanfront sites 100' from the waves
3) Well equipped work out room.
4) Weekend potlucks put on by the resort.
5) Good strong Wifi.

Not cool stuff about this park.
1) No pool or hot tub available.
2) Other than the beach, very limited walking area in the park.
3) Small park, kind of pricey.
4) All shopping or stores are a drive N or S on Highway 101.
I included a few pics of the resort and views, but visit Diane's blog for many more pics and details.  From here we head north to Fort Stevens State Park on the Columbia River. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: John Stephens on July 07, 2015, 02:02:41 PM
I'm following each of your stops on Google Earth, and it looks like you're picking some really good ones.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 08, 2015, 01:02:47 AM
Thanks John. We are trying to mix it up to keep things interesting. The next stop is completely different than the last one. This should be interesting to say the least. Fort Stevens has about 500 RV spaces..........
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 15, 2015, 01:23:55 AM
Well this stop was quite a departure from the last few stops in Oregon. The last few parks have been small, intimate, and somewhat pricey.  But for some of the prime spots on the ocean, that isn't unusual. However, this time we checked into Fort Stevens State Park, located at the meeting point of the Columbia River and the Pacific.  And this is no “intimate” little RV park.  Fort Stevens has over 500 sites of all types. FHU, Electric and Water, and tenting.  They are arranged in a series of loops, and most of the loops are among stands of giant trees, easily 100' tall.  While this makes for a lot of shade in the warm parts of the year, if the weather is cool you may never see the sun all day.  All the campground roads are paved as well are the parking pads.  The rest of the site is dirt and gravel, so bring a rug if you have one.  There is also large bushes growing around many of the sites, so  your neighbors are partially obstructed.  Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table, but the tables are a little worn.  The site itself was decent size, but we goofed up and picked a site that had the walkway to the restrooms right next to us. It wasn't as bad as  it could have been, but the kids on bikes riding on the “no bikes allowed” sidewalk to the bathroom got a little annoying.  The other problem with the huge tree canopy was that satellite signal was impossible. The roof mounted dish didn't have a chance, and after about 90 minutes with the remote dish, I gave up and went for the OTA antenna.  It worked OK, but most the channels were PBS and a few locals.  So not much TV was used during the stay. 

The bathrooms and showers are handicapped accessible and are in good condition. Our Verizon air card worked decently well here, but there were periods of unexplained dropouts so the service was not 100% reliable.  There is no Wifi offered by the park itself.

This is a great park to bring bicycles to not only due to all of the paved loops to ride through, but there is a whole system of paved bike trails that run throughout the park that take you to the various historic Gun Battery's in the park.  We would have loved to bike the trails, but soon  after arrival I inspected our bikes that we have had with us since we left on the trip in April.  They had not had much use up to this point, and because of the small parks on the coast we have stayed in for the last few weeks, and considering the damp ocean winds we had, both bikes were about rusted solid and wouldn't move! Our bikes have been around for about 5 years, and have been back and forth across the country, sometimes twice every year, riding on the back of the Jeep .  I have been repairing stuff as I went along, but they just may be done for this time.

Without bikes, Diane and I walked and even ran many of the trails in the park. One day we took off walking with Heidi (our faithful mutt) to visit Battery Russell, which is about 1.25 miles from the campground. The trails are mostly shaded  and are gently rolling hills for the mots part.  After Battery Russell, I had the great idea to walk to the next set of Battery's down the road, it couldn't be too far, right?  Well we did the walk and by the time we got back to the campground, we had covered over 7 miles!  Heidi thought we must have lost our minds.  Another fun thing to do is to drive the beach. There is a access road in the park that takes you to the remains of the shipwreck Peter Iredale. Right next to it is the access road to the beach. We drove access road #1 and popped out on the beach and headed south.  You can drive the beach for about 10 miles, and there are a total of 6 access roads in the 10 mile  stretch. A 4 wheel drive is recommended because of the loose sand on the access roads. Once on the firm damp sand, any car could easily drive the whole 10 mile distance.  We drove it twice while we were there, and on the second day we noted that access #6 had been graded and smoothed. Any passenger care could make it easily to the beach.

The other big change with this park, and the reason that it was usually sold out, is that for a FHU site we paid just over $33 a night, quite a switch from the last few stops.  Interestingly, directly across the street from the entrance to Fort Stevens is a KOA campground.  It looked to be a pretty big park, and they usually had a sign out saying that they had sites available. KOA tends to be much more expensive though, and they also charge a pet fee and a resort fee per day.  Another reason why the state park usually sells out first.

Also on the way to Fort Stevens we stopped off in Tillamook at the Tillamook Cheese factory for lunch and some goodies from the factory store. It's about 40 miles south of Fort Stevens, and really worth the stop.  It has a huge parking lot and special lots just for RV's.  We also visited Astoria while we were in Fort Stevens.  It's an interesting town with lots of shops and restaurants, and we patronized a few. Diane's blog will have more detail pics about these locations. 

Cool stuff about this park:
1) Great price for a FHU site.
2) Paved roads and parking pads.
3) Lots of shade trees for sunny days.
4) Tons biking trails, and separate hiking trails as well.
5) Driving on the beach.
6) Lots of stuff to see and do in the park.
7) Separate play ground for the kids.

Not cool stuff about this park:
1) No patio's for chairs.
2) Super heavy canopy makes satellite impossible.
3) Trash dumpsters are not in the camping loops. Set aside in a special parking lot that is quite a hike to get to.
4) No park Wifi, and sketchy cell signal.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2015, 09:53:13 AM
The last few parks have been small, intimate, and somewhat pricey

Were those private parks Marty? Check out this prior message of mine (,32361.msg304594.html#msg304594).
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 15, 2015, 10:14:57 AM
Oops, I see I need to clarify that statement Tom.  By "intimate" I meant the amount of spaces that the park had, not the length of sites themselves.  All the Oregon parks we have been in so far easily accommodated a 40+ foot rig with no problems.  And Fort Stevens was no exception. We saw 45' MH's as well as a few triple axle toy boxes in the loops.  Some of the camp roads may be a little tight though for that length of rig do to the old massive trees throughout the park loops.   
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2015, 05:39:16 PM
Thanks for the clarification Marty.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 15, 2015, 06:26:27 PM
Diane just updated her blog for a bunch more photo's and information.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 17, 2015, 01:05:26 AM
We left Fort Stevens and headed east following the Columbia River.  Fort Stevens was our last coastal location for quite awhile. This time we broke with our usual week long stays and stopped in Boardman, OR for a two night stay at the Boardman Marina and RV park. 

Boardman is a little town off of Interstate 84 that also follows the Columbia River.  Even though there is not much to the town, the RV park was pretty nice.  It is set on the banks of the Columbia and the river is just a few steps from the campground.  The park has 63 sites and the river can be seen from many of them.  We stayed in a FHU river view site, but one row back.  Barges and various other ships could be seen navigating the river from our site.  The morning we were packing up to leave we saw an old paddle wheel boat headed up river.

The roads are paved, and some of the parking pads are paved and some are gravel, but much of the area surrounding the rigs is grass and gravel.  As a matter of fact, the whole campground is lush green well manicured lawn.  It is apparent that this part of Oregon is having no water issues!  There was not a lot in the way of amenities, but the views were spectacular.  There is a paved walking path that circles most of the campground, and leads off to other historic attractions in the area.  There is also good space between the sites so you don't feel like your neighbor is right on top of you.

Our site was on the north side of the park which is closest to the river.  There are train tracks on the south side of the park, so sites on the north side tend to be further from the train  noise. If you are outside the trains are audible, but at night we were not awakened by train noise.

The park is reasonable priced at $31 per night, and that was for a river view site. The park offered Wifi, but our Verizon air card worked well and cell signal was strong. There are huge shade trees in the park which are great for keeping the afternoon sun off of the RV, but it was yet another park that the trees blocked the satellite signal from the roof mounted dish.  However I was able to place the remote dish in a location to get signal without too much trouble.

A hot tip for fuel if you visit this park. On the south side of the freeway there is a Shell gas station that has a pair of diesel pumps set on the side of the station. It is easy in and out, and they have high delivery nozzle pumps, but they will maintain a reasonable flow for smaller tank  filling.  We paid $2.99 a gallon for diesel.

Now we head into Washington State for a week stay just outside of Spokane.

Cool stuff about this park:
1) Tons of well manicured lawns.
2) Reasonably priced.
3) Watching boats on the river.
4) Big shade trees.

Not cool stuff about this park:
1) No patio's for chairs, just grass and dirt outside your door.
2) Being close to the river is nice, but at night the flying “river gnats”  are everywhere.
3) All that grass takes a lot of water, and the park waters it often.
4) Big trees can block satellite reception.
5) Train noise.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Peteyboy on July 17, 2015, 08:13:34 PM
Marty,  With all the flooding that is going on around the country, does that affect where you plan to stay, or do you even pay any attention to that sort of thing ?  RV parks seem very vulnerable to flooding, as a lot are close to rivers and creeks.  2 years ago we camped from Kansas City down to Houston in May,,, we were 70 miles from Moore OK, when the tornado hit.  I slept very little that leg of the trip, as there were tornado warnings every night.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 17, 2015, 08:32:57 PM
Oh yeah Pete, we pay very close attention to local weather and what is going on. We plan our itinerary in advance where summer crowds are a possibility of locking us out.  But if the weather gets crazy we will adjust on the fly. We have changed plans in the past due to snow, tornadoes, dust storms, and even fire.  For us, RVing enjoyment is not taking unnecessary risks. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: John Stephens on July 17, 2015, 09:28:02 PM
Similar to when I was OTR, I plot my route with my phone GPS and a RM Motor Carriers Atlas to determine roads that can be used, and then check the weather along the entire route, including wind advisories, making any changes to the route that are necessary.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 17, 2015, 11:05:53 PM
That's pretty much our style too John. Anything we can do to make it easier helps smooth out the bumps when traveling.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 24, 2015, 02:57:58 PM
We continued our trek north/eastward and made our next stop in Deer Park, WA at the Spokane RV Resort.  Deer Park is a little town off of Highway 395 and is about 15 miles north of Spokane.  After our more rustic stop in Boardman, Diane picked a little more upscale place for this stop.  The park is part of a larger development of single family homes that are built next to a rather nice golf course.  The RV park and the homes are separate though, but to get to the RV park you drive about .7 of a mile down a residential street lined with new homes.  Through another gate and you enter the manicured well maintained RV park.  Half of the sites nose up to the golf course fairways, and the others are across the street with a view of the course. Some of the sites are owned and nicely outfitted, and  others like the one we had are just large cement pads with lots of green grass and about 30' between RV's.  Most sites have a large mature shade tree towards the front of the sites that provided really nice shade in the afternoons.  I caught a few naps stretched out in the recliner enjoying the afternoon breeze. 

The park has a pool and hot tub, laundry, and the handicapped accessible showers and bathrooms are available in the new office building. The park accepts all types of rigs, and age doesn't seem to be a  problem. Many of the RV's were from BC Canada, as the border is pretty close. Our neighbors were from BC and were staying for 2 months.  But home was still close enough for them to go home for a doctors appointment. The park offers Wifi, but our Verizon air card had strong cell signal and satellite reception was easy.  They also had a “Family Pavilion” that  had a library, kitchen, and a small workout room.

They also have a wash service that will come to the park. It too was reasonable. 2 guys showed up and hand washed and dried the rig, roof included for $2.50 a foot. The whole wash cost me $97.50.  The roof was super dirty after spending 4 weeks on the California and Oregon coasts, so they really earned their money.

Even though it is a very upscale park, the rates were reasonable. We stayed for 7 days and with the Good Sam 10% discount paid $34.12 a night.  The little town of Deer Park is surprisingly well featured for a small town. There are grocery stores, auto parts, and various restaurants.  For major retailers though you need to drive to Spokane which is about a 15 or 20 minute drive.  There isn't much in the way of tourist attractions in Deer Park, so we drove into Spokane one day and checked out the city. They have a nice downtown Riverwalk area with some shops interesting places to eat. It  too is not a big area though, and we walked the whole area and had lunch in about 2 hours. 

A hot tip for service if you are in the area though and need service work.  I was due for an oil change and fuel filter service while I was there, so about a week before my arrival I called 3 different shops in the area for prices and availability to due the service. 2 of the 3 quoted a week to 10 days waiting time, and the prices ranged from $300 to $400 just for the oil change.  One place was first come first serve, and was possible, but the prices were about the same.  And I was going to have to drive back into Spokane for the service. I know that auto repair can be pricey, but since I usually do a lot of my own service, it bugs me to pay those prices for simple maintenance. 

When I got into town I kept calling and talking to people and finally found a local shop 10 minutes  from the RV park named Deer Park Diesel RV and Auto Repair.  I called and spoke to the shop and they said they could get me in no problem. Also supplying my own filters was not a problem and they would just charge me labor and how much oil the rig took.  I was elated!  I made a 10 AM appointment for Wednesday.  I showed up and dropped the rig off and went to breakfast with Diane.  We stopped on the way back at a Les Schwab tire shop and had the Jeep tires rotated (free) and headed back to Deer  Park Diesel. When we arrived they were just finishing up the oil change, and had the fuel  filter on. He then grabbed a grease gun and slid under the rig and lubed all the grease zerts. 
They charged  me for 1 hour labor and 24 quarts of oil.  All total including tax and shop fees came to about $200.  So I saved myself about $100+ and had some friendly personal service to boot.  If you need service in the area, Deer Park  Diesel and auto repair is highly recommended.

For many more pics of the downtown Spokane River front area, stop by Diane's blog at the link at the bottom of my signature.

Cool stuff about this park:
1) Big concrete sites with lush well manicured lawns all around.
2) Quiet surroundings with no road noise or trains in the middle of the night.
3) 2 dog parks, and lots of undeveloped adjoining land to walk pets.
4) Reasonable stores  and businesses in town for basic shopping needs.
5) Nice pool and hot tub.
6) Reasonable prices.

Not cool stuff about this park:
1) Not a lot to do in town in the way of entertainment.
2) Spokane is about 20 minutes away for major shopping.
3) Can be pretty hot during the mid day, then strong wind gusts are normal.
4) Lawn sprinklers can water your rig as well as the grass.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: John Stephens on July 24, 2015, 03:14:11 PM
Marty - good review of the park and one that I'll put in the back of my mind since we'll be staying in Spokane on our western trip and I'll be looking for a park. Sounds like this is a really nice one for the price and the pictures prove that out.

Did you make reservations for the parks you are staying at in advance before your trip began, or are you hunting as you travel? When I take the long one, I don't want to be tied down to reservations for specific days in the event I am having fun at a stop on the way. I'd like to plan it on the fly, if that's possible.

I'm glad to hear to finally found an oil change for a decent price. I was wondering the prices out west were simply a lot higher than down here because I can get an oil change and lube for $100-150, but I've got a gas engine.

Enjoy your future travels and keep us posted.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: cadee2c on July 24, 2015, 05:12:27 PM
Im not surprised you didnt find much to do in Spokane or Deer Park. I grew up there and everyone goes somewhere else for their recreation. A lot of what used to be there has been developed into housing or industries. If you like hiking though, the Bowl and Pitcher at Riverside state park is really nice. its in the northwest of Spokane. I think they have a campground there, but not sure what its like anymore.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 24, 2015, 07:12:43 PM
Did you make reservations for the parks you are staying at in advance before your trip began, or are you hunting as you travel?

Diane made reservations for most of the places we have stayed so far. When traveling in the west in the summer, places fill up fast, and we didn't want to get locked out of the places we wanted to stay.  And if we did get in by chance, you may have to take a back row site, or even move 2 or 3 times during your stay.  I know that it kind of kills the "spontaneous" part of traveling, but getting in where we want was more important.  That is really important on the weekends.  On weekends many places sell out, so getting in is not even possible. During the week is not so bad.  After September the need for reservations decreases quite a bit. The kids are back in school, and attendance at many parks drops.

I'm glad to hear to finally found an oil change for a decent price. I was wondering the prices out west were simply a lot higher than down here because I can get an oil change and lube for $100-150, but I've got a gas engine.

The biggest difference in my coach and a gasser for this kind of a service, is the amount of oil. Mine takes 24 quarts of oil, at $3.99 a quart. So just for the oil was $96.  Other than that it was the same.  However, my diesel will go 15,000 miles between oil changes. I don't know how long the gassers go, but I don't think it is that far. 

Thanks Caryl, that is exactly what Diane discovered in her blog!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: John Stephens on July 24, 2015, 09:06:11 PM
My gas engine owner's manual tells me to change the oil the same as I would in my car: 7500 miles unless extreme driving conditions, and then every 3,000. Of course, my definition of extreme conditions is quite different than that of the people who change the oil and want your money as fast as possible. I had a service advisor at the local Hyundai dealer tell me that if you drive in the Florida heat, it must be considered extreme conditions. I called Hyundai and they had a good laugh and then told me to ignore that dealer's advice. My Winnie owner's manual says that if you drive in city traffic all the time, consider that extreme, but if you travel the highways, use the normal intervals. Getting 15K out of yours is one of the benefits of having a diesel.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on July 29, 2015, 09:02:47 PM
We pulled out of the park in Washington and headed for Montana.  Our first stop was in the little town of St. Regis, MT.  We stayed 4 nights at this location, instead of our usual 7 days.  I will elaborate more on that in a bit.  We chose the Nugget RV Park, and stayed in site #49.  The park itself is very nice, and although the roads and sites are gravel, the owners who are on site and run the park take a lot of pride in it's upkeep.  Many sites are terraced so there are nice views of the surrounding hills and trees.  There are several large grass areas around the park and all are well manicured and lush green.

Some of the sites like the one we had are set up with rail road ties that frame the site, and then a have a large grass area connected to the patio area. There are also many plants and flowers and large trees as well.  The park offered free Wifi, and there are some new bathrooms and showers available.  Upon inspection however I did not note any that were designated as being handicapped accessible.  The cell signal was good in the area and our Verizon air card worked well.

Our site had 50 amp electrical service but it looked like the 50 amp receptacle had been added later because the plug for the 50 amp plug was in a separate box on the pole.  I hooked up to it, but a few hours later the power went out in the rig.  The Inverter kicked in and ran the small stuff, but both AC units and the washer/dryer went off.  Upon checking the power pole I found that the 50 amp breaker on the pole didn't trip.  I checked our Progressive Industries EMS surge protector, and sure enough it took the power off line.  The digital display was showing that line 2 was sitting bouncing around 104 volts, and that was without load.  Line 1 was  still showing about 119 volts. 

The way our coach is wired, the front AC is on leg one, and the back AC is on leg 2.  It also appears that the washer is on leg 2 as well. It was hot outside, about 90 and the park was nearly full, so that means lots of folks were most likely cranking the AC.  In the summer time, low voltage conditions like that are way more likely than a high surge, so having low voltage protection is critical. When the surge guard reconnected us, we just used the front AC and the washer/dryer for the rest of the stay. If you don't have  some type of protection to manage the power in your rig, they are worth their weight in gold. Low voltage damage is cumulative, so the really expensive damage to your appliances wont show up for a while.   

This blip aside, we enjoyed our stay at the park. We paid $40 a night, but was one of the nicer parks in the area. There is also a pool, laundry, and playground for the kids. There is also large adjoining areas that your dog can run off leash.

The reason I was glad that we shortened our stay to 4 days is because there is not a lot to do in the area. One day we drove into an old historic mining town of Wallace, MT.  We walked  the old downtown areas, visited some of the historic sites, and had lunch at a sidewalk cafe.  Wallace was about a 45 minute drive from St. Regis.  It is all 70 MPH the whole way with no traffic, but it's still a good distance. Other than that there is not a lot to keep you busy unless you hike a lot,  so 4 days was plenty for us.  This is still a nice park, and I recommend it if you are passing through.

Cool stuff about this park:
1) Well manicured sites and landscaping.
2) Good Wifi supplied by park.
3) New restrooms in great condition.
4) Nice helpful owners.

Not cool stuff about this park:
1) Electrical power can be sketchy if it's hot out.
2) No paved patio's, so  bring a rug for your outside area.
3) It's a long way to the nearest town of any size. Bring what supplies you need  with you.
4) It doesn't appear that the restrooms are handicapped accessible.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on August 05, 2015, 02:54:44 PM
Our next stop on the trail was in Kalispell Mo.  We had a choice to make of staying closer to Glacier and being nearer to the park, or being closer to civilization.  We chose civilization.  We picked a park on the Flathead river, that was supposed to be a well rated park with river view sites.  The park was the “Spruce on the River” RV park. 

Most parks I will applaud for their efforts, but I had a hard time finding high points with this park.  Mainly because the park was very basic, and had little effort put towards improving the sites, roads, or amenities.  What was described as a “river view” site was a group of sites very close together, near a depression with a minor flow at the bottom.  While I realize the park is not responsible for the height of the river, all the sites faced away from it.  Unless you had the one end site, you had to walk over to the bank to see any of it.  It just wasn't designed well. 

We did run into some folks  from our home town that had been coming to the park  for the last 5 years. They stayed for a few months at a time and enjoyed the atmosphere. However, in the last 3 years things had changed quite a bit. 3 years ago they paid $600 a month. 2 years ago it jumped to $800 a month, and this year was $1100 a month.  They said they wouldn't be back next year.

Our site was $42.40 a night, and we stayed 7 days. Pets were $1 a day extra (not sure why). We did have a FHU site, but the water pressure was really low causing me to fill the water tank and supplement the water flow for showers, laundry, and general cleaning. The restrooms in the park were clean, but very dated  in need of renovation, and no handicapped facilities  were observed. Wifi was offered,  but it was by Tengonet, and pay as you go internet provider.  Our Verizon air card worked acceptably here.

One of the main factors for staying here instead of the KOA just outside Glacier was that the KOA was about twice the price per night for a similar site.  KOA's premium sites were in the $90 to $100 a night. And then you were 30 to 45 minutes from the nearest store. 

Kalispell also didn't have a lot going on in the way of  attractions. One day we did drive about 45 minutes into Whitefish to check  out the town. It was a neat old historic town with a developed downtown  area with lots of shops and restaurants to explore.

When we did drive into Glacier the crowds as expected were pretty thick. The “Going to the Sun Road” was only partially open  due to the fire burning on the east side of the park. The road was closed past the Logan's pass visitor center.  When we went we were able to travel as far a the “Weeping Wall” which is about 3 miles west of  Logan's pass.  There park officials were stopping cars and putting them in line,  waiting for others to leave the visitor center and come back down. There were about 40 cars in front of us, so we opted to come back another day as we have been up over the road to the other side of the park on a previous visit.

On a side note, our patio awning stopped retracting on it's own while here, so it looks like there is another repair of some sort in my future.  In  a few of the pics below you can see just how tight the RV spaces were.

Well not every RV park can be a winner, and if in the area again we will check some of the others.
Diane is just about to post her blog on the area, which has much more info and pics.

Cool stuff about this park:
1) Closer to town and services instead of staying near Glacier.
2) Cheaper than the KOA.

Not cool stuff about this park:
1) Still pricey for not a  lot in the way of amenities.
2) Cramped dirt sites.
3) No real view of the river from the sites.
4) The hot water was off in the park showers for at least 4 of the 7 days we were there.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on August 09, 2015, 10:39:47 PM
This stop was in Butte, MT at the Butte KOA.  Unfortunately this was another park we would have to chalk up to probably would not return to.  We paid  about $44 a night and thought it was over priced for what we received.  In fairness, the park has new owners as of about 3 years ago and are in the process of modernizing, but it is going painfully slow.  The sites are dirt and gravel, and mostly dirt.  All the grass is pretty much dead, so there isn't much appeal to the place.  When Diane made the reservation on line, she specifically asked for a site that was able to get satellite reception.  When we arrived and got to our site,  we were next to the biggest tree in the park.   She went back to the office and asked to be changed, and the young girl working the desk just seemed kind of puzzled. 

We got a different site and got set up. As I was hooking up water I always check the flow before I hook up, so I  turned the water on while holding the hose.  A literal trickle came out of the hose.  I think it qualifies as the worst pressure I have ever seen at a RV park.  I was forced to  fill the holding tank just to have pressure to shower and wash dishes.  It took about 30 minutes to get about half a tank of water. 

The other thing we discovered about this park was that there is a train track nearby that sometimes runs by at 11 PM. It went by one night blowing it's whistle the whole way.  Talk about launching you out of bed!

Wifi was acceptable at the park, and the Verizon air card worked well.  The park did offer Wifi, but I didn't try to get on to it.  The bathrooms were acceptable, but again no handicapped facilities were found. 

For an outing one day, we signed up for and took a guided golf cart tour of Butte.  The tour was $35 a person, was supposed to last about 90 minutes.  Three hours  later we finally got back to our car.  It was just Diane and I on the tour, and the guide was chatty to say the least. Unfortunately he spent most of the time trying to convince us that the town of Butte was not dying.  Butte is an old mining town that had it's heyday around the turn of the century.  Since then mining has nearly dried up, and all that is mostly left of the mines are the old “head frames” that tower into the sky. They are rusted up, and mostly surrounded with chain link fence.  There are 13 visible, dotting the skyline of Butte, and are referred to as “historical”.  All the mining of heavy metals from it's past has unfortunately left Butte a “Superfund” site. So heavy metal  contamination cleanup is still going on for the air, water,  and soil. 

Not your typical vacation destination spot. 

There is a chicken restaurant on site at the park that we ate at the first night as it was highly recommend by various posters in review sites.  The chicken was, OK but nothing that you couldn't have got at KFC for less money. 

From here it's on to Yellowstone, and the Grizzly RV park.  We have high hopes that our fortunes will change!   
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Peteyboy on August 13, 2015, 06:27:52 PM
Marty,  your low voltage comment was spot on as I just had to replace the transfer switch in the rig for exactly that reason.  >:(Along with the new switch went a Progressive SP. ;D
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on August 13, 2015, 06:58:05 PM
Good call Pete. Voltage problems at RV parks can hit the wallet hard.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Peteyboy on August 14, 2015, 08:06:39 AM
Good call Pete. Voltage problems at RV parks can hit the wallet hard.

Wish I could blame it on a CG,,,, it happened in my driveway.
Anyway,,, keep up the great reports !
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on August 18, 2015, 09:21:16 PM
After our last two clunkers for campgrounds, we rolled in Grizzly RV park in West Yellowstone, MT.  The overall condition of the park was much better than we had the last few stops, and was very well taken care of.  The pads of the sites were gravel, and ours could have used some more as we had a few rains while we were there and it got pretty muddy.  There was an attached cement patio that was nice to set up chairs and the like on, but being in a motor home with the door at the front of the rig we still stepped out on dirt/mud.  Luckily I carry a rubber mat I could put down by the door to keep the mess down. 

There are over 300 sites in Grizzly and it looks like some are newer than others. We were in site #298 which looked to be in the newer side. The lower number sites looked to be on the older side. The sites appeared to be a bit smaller, and the patios were asphalt instead of cement. Therefore some of the asphalt patios were broken up and in need of repair. We had a back in site as this usually gives us a green space area in back of the rig and no neighbor right behind us.  We did note however that the pull through  sites were longer, and did have more concrete towards the front of the site to step out onto. We were in a “Premium” back in, and there were also  “Premium” pull through's. Of course anytime the word premium is put before a RV site description, that means it will cost you more.
We paid $63.31 a day for our site for the 7 day stay. The bathrooms on the newer side of the park were newer as well, but all were in good condition.  There are handicapped bathrooms and showers available.  The park offers Wifi, but when  you check in you get a code for a limited visit on the system. Anything more than that and it costs you by the hour. 

One interesting issue came up while we were there.  Our rig has a tankless water heater that is made by Precision Temp.  It has worked well since we have had the rig, and Diane loves taking unlimited hot showers.  The first day she noted that the water wasn't getting as hot as is should, so that sent me off on a few day trouble shooting hunt. I called Precision Temp's customer service line, which was very responsive BTW.  After much testing and checking temps the answer turned out to be pretty simple.  The ground water in Yellowstone was coming into the rig at 45 to 49 degrees. The tankless while doing it's best to make hot water could only raise it to 105 degrees.  The water pressure in Grizzly was respectable, as my on board gauge showed 60#, which  I had the regulator set at.  With that pressure  and water that cold, the water was not staying in the heating tubes long enough to raise the temp of the water to 120+ degrees.  The fix was to back off the pressure regulator to 45 to 50# instead of 60.  The water was hot again, and the DW was happy.   

One sad note to be very aware of is that Grizzly and Yellowstone park are in the mountain wilderness.  On our second  day there we leaned that a veteran hiker, and seasonal employee of the park was killed and partially consumed  by a Grizzly bear while hiking alone on a well used trail near Yellowstone lake. The bear was a female with 2 cubs, but the hiker was unfortunate and probably startled the mother bear. The bear was caught and identified, and  had to be euthanized, and the cubs were sent to a zoo. Because the hiker was partially eaten, the bear went past just self defense and could not be trusted to co-exist with humans.  Yellowstone has a bear population between 600 to 800 bears, so contact with  one can happen while in the woods.  Use great caution if you are a hiker,  and carry bear spray.

It was a very busy time of year in Yellowstone, so we limited our visits to those attractions we could get into without waiting in extreme lines.  We are returning in May of 2016 with a RV Forum rally, so crowds will be much smaller then.

We chose Grizzly to stay in on this trip because of it's in town location and easy access to amenities. There are several campgrounds in the park itself, but for a weeks stay we wanted to be close to shopping and restaurants.  The May rally is also here, and I think that is a good idea.  The in park campgrounds are a little less money for FHU sites, but also are much farther from town and do not have patios or grass.  There are also non hookup campgrounds available if you want to rough  it. 

This is still a great area to visit and there is tons of stuff to see and  do. Reservations are highly recommended in the summer months, as all  the campgrounds can sell out.  For an over nighter you may get lucky and score a spot, but you will need more time to do any real sightseeing.   
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on August 26, 2015, 10:56:11 PM
We rolled into Jackson Hole, WY looking forward to visiting Tetons National Park. We decided to stay in Jackson to be close to the many amenities that the town offers.  While that was a good decision for us, the in town RV park leave a lot to be desired. We stayed at the Virginian Lodge and RV park, which is right near downtown Jackson.  The lodge is in front and the RV park is to the rear.  We had stayed in this park several years ago, but unfortunately it has not improved with time. 

The park itself is fairly small, and the sites are pretty close together.  The roads as well as the sites are dirt and gravel, with patches of weedy grass in between.  Other than being full hookup, there is very little that this park has to offer other than location.  Other than a tiny building with a walk up window, the park has no other features to talk about.  Our site, #87 was a rear end site which is usually a better place to be.  In this case our site was across the road from the location that all the tour buses pull into to unload, all the while idling the motors for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.

And curiously the parks choice for speed bumps are plastic yellow berms that free float on the gravel. Therefore when anyone drives over them they tend to skid along on top of the rocks making a loud grinding noise day and night.

All of this may not be too big a deal except that for a weeks stay we paid almost $78 a night. Fortunately the town itself and the park is well worth the visit. But because that Jackson is one of the most expensive places in the country to live, much of what there is to do is fairly pricey too.  During our stay we attended a “Chuck Wagon style” cook out and variety show, and went down the Snake river  on a 13 mile scenic float trip.  We also hit a few of the local restaurants and checked out a Pub or two. The Chuck Wagon dinner is a mainstay in the area, and the show is included with the price of the dinner. I paid $34 for a steak dinner which included baked potato, beans, bread, and potato salad. The food was OK, but not great,  and the show was entertaining. The float trip was $65 a person.

We went into the park as well for a few days. The traffic wasn't too bad, but because of the many fires burning in the northwest, the sky was pretty gray most days. The park was still spectacular though.

There were restrooms available in the Lodge for use, but I didn't get a chance to inspect them. The pool is also available to patrons from the RV park, but it is a bit of a hike from the park to the lodge. The park has WiFi available as well.  Our Verizon air card worked well here.

If I come back to Jackson again, I would opt to stay a little further out of town to have a nicer, quieter RV park.   

Stop by Diane's blog, she has posted more in depth story and pics of Jackson and the float trip.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on September 02, 2015, 12:49:16 AM
After leaving the totally overpriced Virginian in Jackson Hole, we needed something a little more budget friendly to even things out for the month.  Diane found a RV park in Heyburn, Idaho.  The park is named the Heyburn Riverside RV park, and it is on the banks of the Snake river.  The nightly rate for the park is $21 a night, but if you stay for a week the 7th day is free.  That made the effective rate for the week $18 a night, quite a bargain. 

The park itself is owned by the city of Heyburn, but it is not a “city park” as you might think.  It is a dedicated RV park with FHU sites and a tent area.  The amazing part about this park was how lush and green the landscaping and grass is, and the city workers do a good job maintaining area.  The roads and sites are gravel, but there are a few asphalt sites that are designated as handicapped sites.  The park is next to an Elementary school, but the RV sites abut the far edge of the massive grass playground so the kids are never an issue with noise.  On the opposite side of the RV park is the Snake  river. There is a nice Arboretum area as well with walking/bike paths through it that also runs along the river.  Many of the plants and trees have identification plaques that identify the name and type of plant it is.

Now the town itself is not much  more than a map dot, which really makes the RV park and river walk area unique. However right next door to the park is the town of Burley.  Burley has many more stores and eating places than Heyburn, so most of your shopping will be next door.  There is also a ¼ mile bridge over the Snake river with a protected walking path that leads to the Burley side of the Snake. A nice  18 hole golf course is on the Burley side, and the walking/bike path runs between the river and the golf course. 

The weekend we were there the city of Burley and Heyburn sponsored a “Half Triathlon”.  It drew over 200 competitors that swam the Snake River, biked and ran a half marathon.  The whole event was run smoothly and they handled the crowds easily. Several competitors were staying in the RV park so we had a chance to talk with some of them.   

The RV park doesn't have “dedicated” bathrooms, but rather has city facilities that were reported to be clean and in good shape. There is also free Wifi available at the park, but our Verizon air card worked well.  There was good water pressure at the park, and the electricity and sewer all worked well.

There is not a lot of “attractions” in the area other than the Snake river, but it was still a good place to hang out for a while and recharge in a low stress atmosphere. The area is primarily an agriculture center, so many of the big businesses are supporting that industry.  We just missed the county fair at the fairgrounds down the street.

We did find one attraction to visit in Idaho, the "City of Rocks National Reserve". Other than being just what it sounds like, there are some massive rock formations that were first discovered by wagon trains headed west in search of a new life.  It was a tough journey, but the giant rock formations were kind of a "signal" that they were almost to their destination as told by previous travelers that had made the trip. Some of the unique features were autographs left on the giant boulders from the early travelers, often signed with grease taken from the axles of the covered wagons. 

When we left Heyburn we stopped for a few days in Sparks, Nevada to see a friend that Diane went to High school with.  We stayed at the Sparks Marina RV Park.  And your probably thinking “a Marina in middle of Nevada?”  Yeah, I was too. But it turns out that it is a man made Marina in the middle of Sparks, that they have done a nice job converting the area into a shopping, recreation, residential area.

The RV park was unique in that it is completely paved with cement sites, but the green space between the sites is AstroTurf. It sounds hokey, but it actually really well done, and constantly maintained. Most sites have a big tree planted in the green area, which are also well maintained.  We paid $42 a night for a pull through site and had decent room to sit outside and move around. The bathrooms were handicapped accessible and the park offered Wifi.  We had good  signal on the Verizon air card. 

The Marina is a short walk from the RV park, and there is a paved trail around the lake that is 1 ¾ mile long. Lots of walkers and joggers use the trail and there is nice grass area and a playground for the kids.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Peteyboy on September 02, 2015, 06:44:32 AM
Neat Marty.  We found a city owned park in Gadsden Alabama that we love.  Very reasonable with lots of trees, a beautiful waterfall, and all the amenities you could ask for.  Stay there each year when we travel to the southwest.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Oscar Mike on September 02, 2015, 08:02:11 AM
Marty, Is Coulter Bay RV Park too far away from Jackson that it is inconvenient? We are thinking that prior to the Forum Yellowstone gathering in May 2016 that we would stay in Coulter Bay for a few days, and visit Jackson from there.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Ken & Sheila on September 02, 2015, 10:19:26 AM
We always visit Jackson at least once when staying at Colter Bay. Nice drive.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on September 02, 2015, 10:21:39 AM
We originally had reservations at Coulter Bay John so we drove there to check it out.  It is a heavily treed park with lots of sites, and we did see some larger rigs that fit there.  It was about 30 miles from Jackson though, but included with that is that there is not much around in the way of shopping or supplies.  For a few days it may be doable, but we were in Jackson for a week and lack of food shopping areas would have been difficult.   

For visiting just Yellowstone park itself, it's perfect.  There isn't much of a difference in price though, as Coulter Bay was only about $10 less a night than the Virginian. And as a side note, because we stayed a week, satellite signal would have been near impossible in Coulter Bay due to the trees. Surprisingly we did have cell signal in Coulter Bay though, although it may have been spotty as well.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Ken & Sheila on September 02, 2015, 11:02:53 AM
I tried to stay at the Virginian once but was denied a reservation because were over 40 ft. I asked them why their website featured a picture of a 45 ft Prevost, but got no answer.
We usually stay about 4 or 5 days. From the RV park you can walk to the lakefront or to the Visitor center and restaurant.Amazingly we have always been able to get satellite reception at the RV Park.


We originally had reservations at Coulter Bay John so we drove there to check it out.  It is a heavily treed park with lots of sites, and we did see some larger rigs that fit there.  It was about 30 miles from Jackson though, but included with that is that there is not much around in the way of shopping or supplies.  For a few days it may be doable, but we were in Jackson for a week and lack of food shopping areas would have been difficult.   

For visiting just Yellowstone park itself, it's perfect.  There isn't much of a difference in price though, as Coulter Bay was only about $10 less a night than the Virginian. And as a side note, because we stayed a week, satellite signal would have been near impossible in Coulter Bay due to the trees. Surprisingly we did have cell signal in Coulter Bay though, although it may have been spotty as well.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on September 02, 2015, 12:59:27 PM
That's good to know Ken. Anyplace that we are going to stay for more than a few days I always try to survey for satellite and cell reception.  Yep, we do love our modern technology.

But then we are not vacationers, this is our lifestyle. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: ArdraF on September 02, 2015, 01:50:24 PM
We always stay at the Sparks Marina RV Park when in Reno.  Jerry loves it for his morning walks and enjoys walking around the marina.  It's a really popular area.  And, you're right about the fake grass, Marty.  When we stayed there the first time the place was brand new and we also thought it was hokey, but they really keep it up, even raking up leaves.  With the current drought it's turned out to be a wise decision on their part because it looks nice but doesn't use up precious water.

By the way, if anyone is in Wyoming between Jackson and Yellowstone you might see brown signs for Menor's Ferry.  My grandmother was a Meanor and we HAD to stop to learn more about it.  It seems one brother had the ferry on the west side of the Snake River and his brother had a grist mill on the other side.  They had a falling out and didn't speak for years but eventually reconciled and, on the basis of my reporting back to the family, we "re-found" the brothers who moved to San Diego where both died.  It was a little bit of family history that was lost and then found.  I love serendipity!

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on September 02, 2015, 03:32:33 PM
Yep, we will definitely stay there again if we are in the area.  The marina makes a cool little oasis in the middle of a busy city.  The pics with the above blog were of the Heyburn RV site, so I wanted to post up a few of the Sparks Marina RV park.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on October 09, 2015, 04:48:36 PM
Well to finish off this chapter of "Just the Facts", we headed back to the house to take care of some paperwork for the state.  Then we decided to head back to Red Bay, Alabama to have some service work done on the rig in the waning days of our warranty period.  That is where we sit right now, waiting for some paint work to be done. 

All in all we loved the Western US trip, and really enjoyed the slower, longer stays at each stop along the way.  Next spring we are going to head to the New England states to do a similar tour on the East coast.  I am planning to blog it, and hopefully you will come along for the journey!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Tom and Margi on October 09, 2015, 05:35:48 PM
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your trip with us.  I have enjoyed your posts and also faithfully read your wife's blog.  Looking forward to your trip to New England next year.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on October 09, 2015, 05:50:09 PM
Thank you Margi! Diane also really appreciates knowing that you read her journal as well!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: Tom on October 09, 2015, 06:47:15 PM
Marty, be sure to let us know if you plan to come through Wyoming again. Looks like we'll be spending several months there each Summer.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on October 09, 2015, 08:35:04 PM
Will do Tom, I would love to  see your new digs.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: John Stephens on October 11, 2015, 12:47:51 PM
Marty, thanks for all the pertinent information you provided for each of your campground stays. You provided the facts and pictures that are needed to make good decisions for future trips. I'll keep your thread earmarked for my future trip out West.
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on October 11, 2015, 03:18:09 PM
Glad I could provide some useful information John.  My goal is to provide good usable info that might not otherwise be as easy to find on line. Thanks for your input!
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: JohnRyan on November 18, 2015, 09:34:25 AM

Thank so much for all the words and pics and your attention to detail, especially concerning handicapped facilities.

Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: pgray52246 on December 01, 2015, 07:35:34 AM
Marty, we are very green newbies.   Is it to late to join your 2016 YNP group.  It would be our first trip. 
Title: Re: The Western US trip, Just the Facts Maam!
Post by: SargeW on December 01, 2015, 07:45:47 AM
Marty, we are very green newbies.   Is it to late to join your 2016 YNP group.  It would be our first trip. 

I don't think so, send Kim (Skyking) a message here on this thread and he can give you specifics:,84928.msg772683.html#new