Buying our first RV

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New member
Nov 22, 2005
We are buying our first RV and we know nothing.  My wife and I have three little girls, 9, 7 and 3.  We think we'd rather have a class A with slides, but I would also like to use it regularly in a local beach "day use" area, therefore I really want to stay away from larger RV's like 34+ feet.  I am not opposed to buying a large vehicle and towing a travel trailer, and I was also thinking of class c, because we have rented them and my girls like to crawl in the overhead bunk, pull the curtains and have their little hideout, but I would rather have an A class because I like the way you can turn the driver seats around (more conducive to family times as we are not much of a TV family) and have more seating capacities in the main area.  I was looking at the 2006 Hurricane 31d which is only 31ft and has two small slides (both probably only slide 12-15 inches), but they are positioned directly across from each other really opening up the living area.  These slides are both located between the axles so the extra weight from the slides are not at the back of the coach (is that important?).  Anyway, I am just not certain what is a good coach in my price range (50 to 70) that is not too big but has slides and leveling jacks.  I would also need to tow a vehicle behind and was wondering if my Mercury Mariner would be towable.  Lastly, I was wondering how I find out about nice campgrounds in my area (southern California), does anyone know of a good resource for locating great campgrounds.


Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
wherever we are parked
Two points were drummed into me by this forum when I was looking to purchase my first motorhome, and I am glad I listened.

First was to go diesel if you can afford it.  It will make life much easier.  It is even worth passing by some of the extra amenities in the comparably priced gas coaches.

The other is to test drive as many motorhomes as you can before buying.  You will learn a LOT and change your mind many times after taking a ride.  It helps if you are not in a rush.  Test driving is a LOT of fun so the time is not wasted.  In the end it will help you make the smartest possible decision.

Jim Godward

Well-known member
Mar 6, 2005
Hillsboro, Oregon
>>Lastly, I was wondering how I find out about nice campgrounds in my area (southern California), does anyone know of a good resource for locating great campgrounds.<<

This is one time I would say to consider a membership campground.  Don't just go and buy into one but really check them out.  When we lived in southernCA we belonged to one, Silent Valley out of Banning, and found it to be handy for us.  We could almost always get in and the facility is nice. of stuff for the kids but still stuff for the adults too.  There others in the area too, I believe there is at least one in the Yucaipa area and there many others within an hour or 2 of Anaheim.  There are some good campgrounds that are not membership too.  The one near Puddingstone resovoir comes to mind.  get the Trailer lLife Campground book at Camping world in La Mirada or Valencia.  I think the RV stores in Huntington Beach and santa Ana also have them.

We haven't stayed in Huntinton Beach or Seal Beach since they have redone the parking there so can't comment on them anymore.  :-((

The kids will love it!


I sent you a  private message. Please read.  It will definitely help you.


Moderator Emeritus
Jan 29, 2005
Home is where we park it
I on the other hand do not recommend even considering a membership campground membership for at least two years after you get your RV.  Basically I don't recommend a membership campground at all.  Many of them have the contract written with no escape clause and your on the hook for life.  Of course the organization can raise your annual dues when ever they want or sell the whole thing right out from under you.  IMHO some of the best advise offered is STAY AWAY FROM MEMBERSHIP CAMPGROUND memberships.

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Mar 14, 2005
west Los Angeles
Lastly, I was wondering how I find out about nice campgrounds in my area (southern California), does anyone know of a good resource for locating great campgrounds.

Sure, there are two good standard campground directories Trailer Life and Woodall's.? Little to choose between them: both are invaluable, both rate the CGs in terms of facilities, environment and sanitation.? ?Both come out yearly.? ?Buy one.

Insofar as CGs in SoCal, I can recommend several:

In San Diego, Chula Vista RV Resort has a nice pool and is situated in the middle of an attractive public park on the southern SB Bay.? ?Convenient to SD and TJ.? ? A bit pricey but not outrageously so.

In Borrego Springs and Anza Borrego Desert State Park there is Palm Canyon RV Resort an excellent commercial park and ABDS Park Borrego Palm Canyon campground.? ?The commercial park has a pool and spa, the state CG has stunning desert and mountain views.

Near Ojai is Lake Casitas Water District Park.? ? The park is sited on an excellent fishing and boating lake.? No swimming as it is a reservoir.? ? It has full hook up sites and no hook up sites.? ?There is a marina with boat rentals.? Fishing is excellent and in the case of large mouth bass it is world class.

Near Solvang just north of Santa Barbara on CA-54 is Lake Cachuma.? Another water district park, this is a gem for families.? ?The park has 90 full hookup sites, 20 odd W&E sites and gazillion boondocking sites.? There is a pool in the park and a marina with rentals including pontoon boats.? Fishing is excellent.? ? The park puts on excellent ranger tours of the lake in pontoon boats.? The sites are woodsy, and a flock or two of wild turkeys wander around the CGs mooching food.? ? The sites are relatively cheap, ($25 for full hookup) but no reservations, except for group sites are taken.? First come first served.? Show up on a Monday thru Thursday and you will get a full or partial hookup site.? Friday you probably will get one.? Saturday and Sunday, too late.

Over near Buellton on the other side of Solvang is Flying Flags RV Resort, a huge RV park with hundreds of full hook up sites.? ?It is an excellent pied a terre for touring Sideways country, Solvang,? Mission La Purisma? and the flower fields of Lompoc.? ?You can even take in Lake Cachuma on a day use basis from here.? Pool.? Spa.? Huge meadow used by tenters and boondockers.

The state park system handles most of the SoCal beaches.  Unfortunately they seem to regard asphalt parking lots as ideal RV sites.    The best state beach parks seem to be Carpenteria (35' max length) and Leo Carrillo and Pt Mugu (both 31' max).  The state park system has rather complete website covering the facilities.
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