"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 1, 2022

Best Campgrounds of 2021 and 2022 Plans

Placerville, California

Best Campgrounds of 2021 and 2022 Plans

Here are our favorite camping spots of 2021 (in no particular order):

1. Roper Lake State Park,- Safford, AZ
$20, utilities at some campsites.  In the southern part of the state very near the border of NM.  This quiet small campground sits on a tiny lake that was fun to paddle around.  Lots of wildlife.  
Desert below, lake to paddle and snow up on the mountain.

2. Indian Breadrocks BLM - Wilcox, AZ 
FREE boondocking.  It was very easy to get here off I10 on the far eastern side.  Once you arrive it's a good idea to park and scout out.  I recommend one of the first few sites as turning around further back could be a problem.  Come with empty tanks and full water.  Fun climbing around the rocks, visiting Fort Bowie and some local hikes.  Not far from Chiricahua either.
Boondocking out in the rocks near Ft. Bowie.

3. Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ    
$30, W/E, $20 with utilities at some sites.  Beautiful, sparkling clean campsites, nicely spaced with a spectacular view of the Superstition Mountains and great hiking!  This is an all-time favorite and is always on our list! An annual stop for us.  If you get lucky being here at the perfect time in March/April, you may hit the peak bloom.  Spectacular!
                                         So much hiking, kayaking and exploring!

4. King Rd, AZ
FREE boondocking on BLM land between Quartzsite and Yuma.  All the beauty of the KoFa Mountains but none of the crazy crowds.  Fantastic Verizon!  
Plenty of hiking, fun over in Q and lots to do in Yuma.

5. Gila National Forest - Alma, NM
FREE boondocking on BLM land about 8 miles north of Alma. On the way to Cosmic Campground.  A little noise from SR180 but it's not used much and quiet at night.  33.48894N  108.92606W.  Great spot to hike the unique Catwalk Hike, Cooney's Tomb and Mineral Creek hike to Cooney's Ghost Town.
Wide open spaces.                   Catwalk Hike.                   Cooney's Tomb.

6. Rockhound State Park - Deming, NM
$18 W/30.  Some huge sites here.  Rockhounding and hiking right in the park.  Nice loop drive to the town of Hatch for a great Hatch Green Chili Cheeseburger and local things to see/do.
   Huge sites                      Hatch Green Chili Burgers!                    Great Views

7. Palmetto Island State Park - Abbeville, LA 
$25 W/50.  This out of way park is gorgeous, well-kept and offers plenty of hiking and kayaking.  The sites are huge, private and lush.  It's a favorite when we come through.  Abbeville is home to some of the best Cajun food you'll find!  Stock your freezer at Hebert's Meat Market! 
     Lush, private sites.                     Amazing Food!                Paddling with the gators.

8. McLeod County Park - Kiln, MS
$26 FHU.  What a gorgeous park on the river.  Busy on the weekends with locals.  Great kayaking and relaxing on your own private beach.  Not much to do in the area though.
    Beach front site                   Crazy, Colorful sunsets                  Nearby beaches

9. Service Campground COE, Coffeeville, AL 
$26, W/50. Small campground on the river.  Big, private sites.  Not too much to do but watch the barges drift by.
Chillin' by the river                       Huge, clean sites                       Tombigbee River

10. Hardridge Creek COE, Coffeeville, AL 
$26, W/50.  Beautiful spots available lakeside.  Peaceful and private sites.  Cute towns nearby.

11. Katheryn Abbey Hana City Park, Jacksonville, FL 
$30, FHU.  This is a very large, popular campground in a very lush setting.  Lots of beach access.  The roads in the park can be a bit narrow, but it's a beautiful place.
Very tropical sites                         Flagler Beach

12. Bo Woods COE, Shelbyville, IL 
$18 W/50.  On a large lake with beautiful, large sites.  Close by to the town with the Largest Things, breweries and some quirky stuff too.  COE (Army Corp of Engineer) Parks are fantastic!
Big woodsy sites, Big Things, Big corn fields!

13. Prairie Wind City Park, Montezuma, KS 
$20 FHU.  While this cute little city park is located on a somewhat busy podunk intersection on SR56, it is quiet at night.  There are 5 very long sites with grass and trees and good separation.  They even have tornado shelters on-site!  Close for exploring Dodge City.
Close to Dodge City and The Dalton Gang Hangout/Hidden Tunnel

14. San Isabel National Forest - Nathrop, CO 
FREE!  Our favorite boondocking area in Colorado between Salida and Buena Vista.  In the pines surrounded by 14K foot mountains.  Endless hiking, biking, fishing, off-roading and exploring! Water and Dump in Buena Vista at a private park or in Salida at the new Visitor's Center.
You could spend weeks out here having fun!

Honorable Mention:
--Del Norte City Park, Del Norte, CO - Free. Quiet and clean.  Right on the river, big lawn and shade trees.  Easy access. Great stop-over.
--Lake Scott State Park, Scott City, KS - $23.  On a lake tucked in some hills.  Close to must-see Old Jerusalem Badlands and Monument Rocks!
--Hutchinson County Fairgrounds, Hutchinson, KS - $30, Home of the Underground Salt Mines.
--A Super Honorable Mention:
The Center for Mental Wellness is a one-of-a-kind place with fabulous staff, food, entertainment and FHU in a lovely oak studded compound somewhere in SE Texas.  There is much to do and see in the area.  Members only.

For those that might be interested, here's a breakdown of the places we stayed, and the costs:
StaysNightsTotalAVG (per night cost)
Private Park47  $281.96$40.28
Fairgrounds517  $516.00$30.35
County Park821  $567.00$27.00
State Park1562$1548.00$24.96
Elks Lodge2793$2200.00$23.65
Army Corp of Eng521  $443.00$21.09
Moose Lodge11    $20.00$20.00
Thousand Trails*1077  $150.00 $1.94
National Forest18$0$0
* We renewed our Thousand Trails membership for $600/yr in October of 2020.  We now pay monthly, so for 2021 we only had to pay for 3 months.
** Boondocking for us is anywhere we stay for free which is not an organized campground.  It can include time at family and friends and other areas. Usually of our boondocking is at BLM, National Forest, etc, but I give them a separate category because we generally spend a lot of time at them and I like to keep track of that.  Sometimes there can be a small fee to camp at them but most of the time it is free.
We stayed 2 nights at a hotel which I didn't include above for a total of $200.

We traveled 5,845 miles and had 54 stops averaging 6.7 days a stop.
We have 176,000 miles on the truck. That's 21K miles this year.

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
2019 - Yearly Campsite Total: $5530.00
            Daily Average: $15.15 
2020 - Yearly Campsite Total: $5075.50
            Daily Average: $13.90
2021 - Yearly Campsite Total: $5765.96
            Daily Average: $15.88

What was different?
- I was surprised to see how much we spent again.  Time on the east coast and California are much more expensive.  It's a good thing we have Thousand Trails when we're back with family. Since we had to come back early for family issues.
- We boondocked MUCH less and stayed at more Thousand Trails and Elks Lodges due to our nieces wedding and a family reunion. 
- Covid did not affect any of our travel plans.
- Gas had gone up at the of the year, but that doesn't affect our travel.  It's part of the lifestyle for us.

Plans for 2022:
With an aging parent, our plans will be to stay much closer to help out when needed.  Other than our usual January - March Arizona time, we'll be doing 2 weeks in Placerville, CA, then taking 2-3 week trips to the neighboring states and back again.  I've got several ideas for new places to explore.

Here's to many happy adventures in 2022!

Friday, December 31, 2021

Finishing 2021 with Family, Friends & Food!

Placerville, California

A little re-cap of December.  We're just enjoying the last of the year with friends and family.  It was a pretty quiet month.  We loved our extended stay here in California but looking forward to hitting the road again and warmer temps!

Hurley says, Merry Christmas!
We enjoyed several hikes.  Steve is up to 4 miles now and feeling very well after last month.  Thank you to everyone for the get well wishes and all the help you gave us!

Good times with Doug and Deanna.  Lots of Mexican food was consumed this visit!
And libations!
The Sierra got pounded with 20 feet of snow with the recent storms that rolled through.  Placerville got quite a bit too.  We even had a dusting down at our elevation.
More fun with friends!
More hiking with Tina and Hurley.

Steve enjoyed the 49er game with Brennan and Shane (Ryan couldn't make it)
Our Christmas Eve was super fun and special as we went all Italian with John and Tina.  We combined several dishes we both made and some great Italian Red wines.
Shrimp Linguini
A treat was opening our 50-year-old Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale from Modena, Italy that we have saved from when I had my store.  We decided tonight was the night to open it.  It is usually saved for special occasions like a wedding or a birth.  It's served in just a few drops on a tiny spoon.  I had to use regular spoons though.  $250 for this little bottle.  It was glorious!
For dessert I browned some Panettone in butter and topped it with Whipped Mascarpone mixed with some Amaretto we have from Italy from my Uncle/Godfather.
And a little Aperitivo to finish it off.  Salute!
John brought over It's a Wonderful Life, his Christmas Eve tradition, and we watched it colorized.  Good times!

Hurley had a ball opening his Christmas present.  As usual, it was toast in 5 minutes.
The aftermath!
We had Christmas at Brennan and Alex's new house.  Lindsay, Alex & Mom.
Brennan, Alex, Ryan, Shane & Lindsay. 
Diana and Jaxon were sick and couldn't make it. Ryan stopped over for a bit. Kaylee always works Christmas.  We sure missed them.
Steve, Shane, Ryan, Dad and Brennan
Happy Birthday Ryan!
Brennan made his famous Saran Wrap Ball and we all had fun playing.
Even my parents had a good time with it.
Ryan, Jaxon and Diana

I hope everyone had a wonderful December and a Merry Christmas.
Happy New Year!!