Adventures in RVing

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Dave Helgeson

Dave Helgeson

Follow Dave's RV adventures as he travels the West in search of forgotten and unique places. For Dave, home is where you park it, the more remote the better!

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Adventures in RVing: The Birds!

If you have been following my blog for long, you know I like my campsites to be as wild and spacious as possible. After all, that is what camping is all about - getting away from it all. Boondocking is my first choice of campsite, second choice government (county, state or federal) campgrounds, third choice private RV parks. I have nothing against private RV park owners, I just like spacious sites and most private RV park owners cannot afford to provide large RV sites and pay their property taxes, too.  So when my wife and I wanted to spend a day in San Francisco, the search was on for a campsite within a reasonable driving distance of the City by the Bay. Due to population density and the lack of wide open public land, boondocking was not an option. White checking publically owned campgrounds, I stumbled across Lake Solano County Park near Winters, California, a little over an hour’s drive from San Francisco.  Using Google Earth, I was able to see the campground was on a body of water and offered spacious campsites under large shade trees.

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Adventures in RVing:  Bad Boondocking Manners

Some friends recently joined my wife and I for what we thought would be a quiet weekend of boondocking along a reservoir in the Washington Cascades. Work schedules allowed us to arrive on a Thursday evening virtually assuring us "first dibs" on the best camp spots. Upon arriving we pretty much had the place to ourselves and we selected a place overlooking the lake with the closest RV (unoccupied) about 100 yards away. Friday found us on a long bike ride away from camp. Upon returning we discovered we had neighbors less than a desirable distance away from us. However, it soon became apparent that the situation would continue to deteriorate when we discovered our neighbors were part of a club as more of their members began to arrive Friday night and fill in between us and the already too close neighbors.

While there are few official boondocking (aka dispersed camping) rules issued by federal land managers, there is understood boondocking etiquette by those who boondock on a regular basis.  A recent blog entry by Wheelingit pretty well sums the 7 do's and don'ts of boondocking etiquette which are as follows: 

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Adventures in RVing: When There Are No Trees!

It has been a long hot summer here in the Pacific Northwest. Sitting in an air conditioned RV is not my idea of camping, so when I received an offer to climb Mt. Rainier, I jumped at the chance to go "camping" where it wouldn't be so hot! Our guide thought we should camp on Ingraham Glacier, also known as High Camp. High Camp is further up the mountain than Camp Muir where the majority of climbers camp then wake early to attempt the 14,410 ft. summit. Being at the higher location meant we had less elevation to gain, less distance to travel to the summit, could "sleep in" until midnight and it would be quieter as there would be fewer fellow campers than at Muir. It all made sense to me, so I was in full agreement. 

 

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Adventures in RVing: Camp and Ride!

Are you an OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) Enthusiast? Do you love to camp? Well, I recently visited two campgrounds where you can combine your love of OHV use and camping. Located about 25 miles west of Ellensburg, Washington in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, you will find Rider's Camp and Manastash Camp. Both camps offer access to miles of OHV trails. There are designated trails for motorcycles, 4x4 and ATV use. Equestrian riders, mountain bikers and hikers are allowed on the trails as well. This is one of the few areas in Washington in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest that offers ATV designated trails. There is even a beginners’ loop for those learning to ride an ATV. Both camps offer individual spaces along with improved dispersed areas for groups. Improvements are limited to vault toilets, picnic tables and campfire rings.

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Adventures in RVing: Backing Up!

As my wife and I RV about the country, there is one thing we constantly see other RVers struggle with. That one item is backing up the RV. Therefore, I thought I would share the following truckers tip regarding backing up.

Safety experts in the trucking industry teach the acronym of GOAL to keep things simple and safe. Many RVers have adopted this acronym as well. Following is one of many GOAL descriptions you will find online:

b2ap3_thumbnail_Goal-1.jpg"What's your goal? To get the rig SAFELY backed into the campsite with as little fuss as possible. Notice we put safety first. There's much to be said about that. Fuss is at the other end of the spectrum. Yes, if you're in a crowded campground, we know there'll be plenty of rubber-neckers who will have nothing better to do than watch you struggle to get into the site. For most, though, it gets better with practice. 

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Adventures in RVing: Boondocking With Gators

While our RV travels currently take place primarily across the western United States, I am constantly adding places to my database that allow boondocking (aka dispersed camping) for that day when my wife and I can expand our horizons.  I recently came across the following on the "RV the South" blog.
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Respect the Baby Alligators When Using One of Louisiana's New, Free, Primitive Campsites

Question: What's the name of the largest wetland in the U.S.? Answer: The Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana. If 'you'all is not from around heah," then a few intriguing terms might be new to you. Bayous, bald cypress swamps, and of course, one everyone knows, "alligator." 

Now the good folks of Louisiana's Department of Natural Resources would like folks to become more familiar with the basin. To prove it, they've opened up a project that provides free primitive camping sites on state-owned property along the Atchafalaya Basin. 

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Adventures in RVing: The Running of the Bulls

There is a national restaurant chain whose most recent marketing campaign features the slogan: "No rules, just right". That slogan pretty much sums up the appeal of boondocking for my wife and I. While there are regulations regarding boondocking on public land, they are not presented to you each time you "check in" nor are you required to sign a document acknowledging them like you would in a private RV park. Boondocking allows you to check in when you want, check out when you want, run your generator when you want, let your kids be kids, hang towels from your awning to dry and even perform maintenance on your vehicle if you like.  Plus, there is no cancellation fee if you show up and don't care for your surroundings.  So when we recently checked into a well kept private RV park in Eastern Washington and were handed the "list", I was quickly reminded on why we hadn't stayed in a private park for many months. However, wanting to be a good tenant and neighbor, I read the list of park rules.  Most of the standard items were present (quiet hours, bag your garbage, pet waste, etc.), but when I got to number 10 I took notice. It stated, "Use only access gates provided for park guests. DO NOT enter the bull pasture. They do not play well with others." Well, I have to admit that in all my years of RVing I have never read or seen that stated in any other campgrounds’ rules.  Being gored by a bull is one adventure in RVing I can do without!

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Adventures in RVing: Red Bluff Recreation Area

Heading from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California this summer?  Looking for somewhere to camp along the way, close to the freeway, that won't cost an arm and a leg? Then you may want to check out the attractive Red Bluff Recreation Area and the very unusual Sycamore Grove Campground. What makes this campground unusual is that it is a USFS (United States Forest Service Campground) operated by the Mendocino National Forest, but located in an urban setting just minutes from I-5. Even more atypical than the standard forest service campsite is the campground features water and electric paved sites! Stranger yet is some of the sites are long pull throughs with some featuring 50 amp electrical service. Want another bonus? The surrounding recreation area features miles of paved hiking and biking trails, access to the Sacramento River and an interpretive center. I saved the best for last. The rate is only $25 / night for a spacious, grassy, shady, water and electric site! But wait, it gets even better! Since it is a federally operated campground, Golden Age/Access Passports and Interagency Senior/Access Recreation Pass holders receive 50% off the posted camping fees!  Discovering the extraordinary when expecting the ordinary, just another adventure in RVing!

Visit Recreation Area
Visit Campground

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Adventures in RVing: River Tubing Adventure

A number of entries ago I wrote about the beautiful Yakima Canyon and the many camping opportunities offered by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). Now that summer has officially arrived, there is one more family fun activity I would like to share.

Each summer, the Yakima River becomes a virtual byway with young and old taking to inner tubes and enjoying a lazy float down river. On a warm sunny summer weekend, you will find dozens, sometimes hundreds or maybe even thousands of people basking on tubes and rafts soaking in the sun at the pace of the river’s gentle flow.

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Adventures in RVing: How Many RVs?

Students voluntarily stuffing themselves into a phone booth along with a few of their closest friends was a popular fad in the 1950's. I'm not sure what the record was, but it was obviously an uncomfortable amount as the accompanying photo can attest. For those readers younger than 25 that were born with a cell phone attached to your hip and have no idea what a phone booth is, you will find the answer here. Being the curious person I am, it started me wondering about how many vehicles you could stuff into a single developed campsite.

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