"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Out of CA and into AZ - 2019

Lancaster, CA
Quartzsite, AZ
Boondocking BLM


Our last weekend in Placerville we were busy with a beautiful wedding of some close friends.  We watched Grace grow up all through 4-H as a young child and now get to watch her walk down the idle.  It was a beautiful wedding.  Congratulations!
  Then we had one final lunch out with the kids and went to an escape room.

 Said our See Ya Laters to my parents and took one more pic of a very old family photo.
And the whole reason we had to hang out for a couple of more weeks in California before heading to Arizona was Induction Day at the Elks Lodge.  We are now members and have a place to stay when we come back for the holidays.  It's a great organization too!
 John, Tina and Us!
The very next morning we headed south even though the storm was coming.  We overnighted at our usual boondocking spot across from the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster.
Up early and off to Quartzsite.  The weather was light rain at first but then we got the worst of the storm for a while. Heavy rains and wind.  Strangely though, the traffic was light through San Bernardino.
At one point we had to slow to 40 as we could hardly see in front of us.
 As we got closer to Blythe the skies turned blue and things were looking up.
 Saw Darth hitching a ride.
 Back to the Palm Trees. 
 And here we are.  Back in Arizona for a few months!
Before you knew it we were back out at La Posa South BLM LTVA area with some of our Class of 2014 RV friends as well as my brother and sister-in-law.
 Our first sunset was gorgeous of course!  I love this one with the reflection in the back window.

A nice fire with Steve (my brother) and Diane, Steve and Dianne (from Canada), Red & Pam, Curt & Glenda, Guy & Sue and Harry (Vicky was working).  A couple more will join us later in the week.
 We had a great meal and some of Glenda's special cookies.  Good times coming up in the desert!
So true!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Best Campgrounds of 2018 and 2019 Plans

Placerville, CA
Elks Lodge

When looking for campsites, we look for privacy, easy access, gorgeous views, on or very near water for fishing or kayaking, nearby hiking and biking trails, not too far from towns for amenities, entertainment, good food and water/dump.  We also love areas with history, breweries and other fun things.

Here are our favorite camping spots of 2018 (in no particular order):

1. King Rd, Kofa Mountains NWR, AZ   
The nice thing about this boondocking site is that it is in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge bordering the BLM.  You can go back about 1 1/2 miles and still get super fast, 5 bars of Verizon LTE.  It's free to camp here but there are no facilities.  It is fairly close to the border inspection. station.  I like it better than the LaPosa South area of Quartzsite because it is so quiet and much prettier as it sits at the base of the Kofa's.  Plenty to do.  You're fairly close to Quartzsite, Yuma, Palm Canyon, the Yuma Proving Grounds, old mining towns, etc.  We always spend time in Q with friends, but this is a nice spot to be in for a week for the peace and quiet.

2. Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ   
Beautiful, sparkling clean campsites, nicely spaced with a spectacular view of the Superstition Mountains and great hiking!  $30 to camp, some spots have electric and water.  This is an all-time favorite and is once again on our list! An annual stop for us.
                                                           So much hiking!

3. Big Bend of the Colorado SRA, NV
This State Rec Area is right next to the Colorado River and very close to Laughlin with Bullhead City across the river and the fun mining town of Oatman where the donkeys run free.  Plenty to do in town.  Since we stayed here in early March we decided to buy the Nevada Parks Pass which gets you free camping for a year (although if you want electric it's $10).  Great Verizon.  There is some fantastic hiking here where you'll see slot canyons and hieroglyphics in Grapevine Canyon.  The sites are nicely spaced and have water and electric with shaded patio covers and firepits.
                                              Great views of Laughlin at Night.

4. Buckhorn SRA, Black Butte Lake, CA 
A nice campground, some with water and electric but mostly small sites with tight roads.  It's very hot in summer but spring is great!  If you're coming here it's most likely for the fishing and boating.  Our site was right on the water and we caught tons of Bass!  Otherwise, not much out here.
                            We had so much fun with friends and the fishing was fantastic!

5. Salmon Harbor Marina, Winchester Bay OR   
What a fun surprise, camping on a wharf!  $14, no hookups, but there is a fresh fill and a dump station.  Great Verizon. You can pick a spot at the end of the wharf surrounded by Winchester Bay.  Again, another winner if you like to fish, crab, etc.  Or you can walk the area and buy fresh seafood, check out the local restaurants and breweries.  There is a lighthouse and plenty of beaches.  Coos Bay is nearby.
     Such beautiful views of the boats outside our windows and wonderful walks and fishing.

6. Bull Bend National Forest, LaPine, OR
Our Favorite of the year!  $10.  Only 10 miles outside of LaPine and you are in a very small, well kept campground.  Less than 15 sites but most are very large and very private, directly on the Deschutes River.  Perfect for fishing and floating.  The campground is a small horseshoe shape, most with riverside sites.  No facilities but an outhouse.  Water and dump in nearby LaPine.  Almost the only place you can get internet except in town and it was 5 bars of fast Verizon LTE.   Much to do.  It sits south of Bend and there are numerous lakes, rivers, museums, breweries, volcanic areas and hiking here.  We stayed 2 weeks and loved it!
                                                   Love the pines, river access and fishing!

7. Webb County Park, Pacific City, OR   
The county parks in Oregon have really surprised us.  While most campgrounds are very expensive and booked way in advance (especially on the coast), most of the county campgrounds had plenty of openings.  This one is very close to the large beach, cute town.  $31 for W/E, dump and showers and lots of friendly bunnies.  So-so Verizon.  We used the library mostly.

8. Fort Stephens, Hammond, OR   
This is a HUGE campground, but sites are very private, lush and green.  $32, W/E.  Poor Verizon.  We used nearby library.  There is SO much to do here.  Tour the fort, the beach with a shipwreck, lighthouse nearby, many fun things! Plenty of trails to walk or ride bikes for miles within the state park.

9. Scotts Lake NF, Hope Valley, CA   
This is a free boondocking area along Highways 88/89 in Hope Valley outside of South Lake Tahoe.  This is one of the most gorgeous areas.  So much hiking in the Sierra Nevada, many lakes to fish and kayak, near South Lake Tahoe and you now get 5 bars of very fast Verizon LTE thanks to a new, nearby cell tower.  There is only a central outhouse but you can get water at nearby campgrounds.  There is light, distant highway noise during the day.  It's one of our favorites and we always camp here when we can.  There are limited areas and it gets busy on holidays.

10. Wallowa State Park, Joseph, OR    
A state park in one of the most beautiful surroundings!  $30 W/E. Poor cell coverage.  We drove to the library in town when we needed internet. Quaint town for shopping. Lake and streams for fishing and paddling, plenty of hiking and nearby road trips.  Very quiet surroundings.

11. Stewarts Point BLM Overton, NV
Best part of this free boondocking area is how close it is to the spectacular colors of Valley of Fire State Park.  You can park as close to Lake Mead as is possible for your rig size or sit up high overlooking the water.  It can be a little dusty when it gets real windy.  Good Verizon signal.

12. Sockeye National Forest, Stanley, ID
$20 for this beautiful newer campground on Redfish Lake.  Some sites have water and electric for a bit more money but they go quickly.  Hiking, kayaking, Redfish Lake Lodge with gorgeous mountain scenery.  Crystal clear water.

Honorable Mention:
-Scappoose County Park & Airport, OR: Tiny park on a tiny airport.  Really neat. And quiet.
-Lake Creek NF Ketchum, ID: All along Hwy 75, endless jaw dropping scenery and boondocking!
-Redmond Fairgrounds, Redmond, OR: One of the best fairground camping we've seen. Great layout!

 For those that might be interested, here's a breakdown of the places we stayed, and the costs:

Stays Nights Total AVG (per night cost)
Private Parks 5 25   $800.00 $32.00
Elks* 2 45  $1125.00  $25.00
County Parks 24    $546.00 $22.75
Fairgrounds 13    $275.00 $21.15
State Rec Area   $140.00 $20.00
COE     $60.00 $20.00
State Parks 41    $642.00 $15.65
Marina     $70.00 $14.00
National Forests 28    $230.00   $8.21
BLM 37    $150.00   $4.05
Casino 3 5 $0 $0
WalMart 2 $0 $0
Boondocking** 14 130  $0 $0
*Normally we'd be at my brothers, but now we'll be at the Elks.  This usually would've been free but now it will always be a $1000+ cost we wouldn't have.  Bummer, but that's how it goes.
** Boondocking also includes time at family, friends and a repair shop.

Yearly Comparison
2014 - (need to add)
2015 - (need to add)
2016 - Yearly Campsite Total: $3494.50
             Daily Average: $9.57
2017 - Yearly Campsite Total: $5090.50
             Daily Average: $13.94
2018 - Yearly Campsite Total: $4038.00
             Daily Average: $11.06

What was different?
We boondocked less and had to pay more for the time that we usually stayed at my brothers for free.

Plans for 2019:
We will spend our usual January through March in Arizona.  Some favorites and some new spots.  April we'll be in Utah with some RV friends.  May through August we'll wind our way through Wyoming and Montana for some fishing, South Dakota and we'll travel a bit in the last state we've yet to be in, North Dakota.  Of course this will be weather permitting as we know there will likely be snow to deal with.  We also have to be back in California for our son's wedding, so our plans can change at any point.  Who knows, we may not get any further north than Utah!