Ever see those ads on TV encouraging families to go RVing that show lovely RVs parked in pristine well-attended and -maintained parks? WELL, let me tell you, those parks are fantasies created by marketing companies for the RV manufacturing industry. At least here in California along Highway 101 (the next largest artery in the state next to I5) they don’t exist. And from what I am hearing from others, there are few RV parks available in other areas as well. Adding insult to injury are the state highway signs indicating places to park an RV that in actuality don’t exist –you know what I’m talking about — those little symbols at the bottom of the exit signs that show the available facilities for travelers such as dining, gas, lodging, etc. The one for RV’s shows a little symbol of a camp trailor. Don’t be fooled folks. If there ever was a place to park your RV as suggested by a posted symbol, it’s highly likely to be gone now.
What’s with the state highway department anyway? If they only knew the drama and actual danger such misinformation invites, you’d think they would take those signs down (or at least cover them up) the moment such parks ceased to be available. My guess is that the hwy. dpt. suffering the same budgetary constraints that have likely caused the demise of the private RV parks has limmited their ablility to maintain the signage or even keep track of RV parks remaining in existence. And in fact,, if the CA State Governor has his way, the state-owned parks (if there are any that accomodate RV’s) will soon cease to be available as well. It is apparent that the many private parks that used to exist along our highways (such as KOA, Good Sam, and others) have simply dissappeared due to the sagging economy or have become residential parks.
So why should I care (you might ask) since this is supposed to be a blog about kitchen design mostly? Well – I warned you that I might stray off topic (a lot) but, mostly just wanted to share the horrific experience I had recently traveling with my father who is 86 in his motorhome to a memorial service for a great aunt that was hundreds of miles away across the State of California (the long way). Granted, the trip was doomed from the getgo due to our naivete’, poor planning and lack of forethought. I know I will look back on this trip someday and chuckle, but for now…. not so much.
On the way up we drove all day starting from Morro Bay on the Central Coast up Highway 101 past the Bay Area and arrived at the small town of Wilets that is just above the Napa Valley and just prior to entering the Redwoods. We drove straight to an RV park that my dad remembered staying with my mom many years ago that was well maintained (then), close to town, and had all the necessary hookups and services. The fact that the entrance sign was broken and nearly impossible to read should have been a clue, but we were tired. Stopping at the ‘office’ there was nobody in attendance, so asked a tatoo-bedecked, bald biker guy who was nearby if there was a manager on duty. The guy, nice enough, directed us to the ‘green painted school bus’ around the courner which was the home of the manager. We drove around the corner on the pothole filled dirt road to the ‘manager’s’ home, past dirty, dilapidated, beat-up trailers with laundry lines, zillions of ferral cats everywhere and junk skattered about –clearly these folks were not just staying for the weekend. The manager indicated there was space available just the same and it was not likely that we would find anyplace else to park before nightfall anyway, so we parked the rig for the night. We walked to a pizza place for dinner that evening that was about a half-mile away… probably the best pizza I’ve had in years BTW. Then back to the motorhome where I slept with one eye open all night terrified of the noises and creepy people meandering about all night long. Couldn’t wait to leave the next morning.
The next night was fine when we arrived in Eureka (where my aunts memorial service was being held), there were a couple of very nice parks. We stayed at the KOA park just south of Arcata. This was a very family-oriented park with great amenities including a pool,. Even provided a hey-ride for the kids in the evening. Ahhh we thought, we’ll surely find a nice KOA park like this one on the way home.
So when we left the next day, we were oblivious to the fact that there was simply not going to be anyplace to park past the creepy park in Wilets. We stopped at the lovely little Victorian town of Ferndale to have lunch and do a little sightseeing.. after all, we weren’t in an hurry. We just knew we’d find a nice little park somewhere near the freeway (in the Napa Valley perhaps) to stay for the night. Driving down out of the Redwoods and into the valley, the shadows were starting to get long indicating we’d better start looking for a park as we’d planned knowing that once it was dark, we would have difficulty spotting the signs along the road for RV parks. So, the first exit sign with the RV symbol we turned off onto… and drove down a litlle country road that got narrower, and narrower… and nothing. Turned around and headed back to the 101 and looked for another. We did this about three times. Finally it WAS dark so we just kept going. By the way, there isn’t even a rest stop on the south-bound side of Hwy 101 between the Redwoods and Gaviota Beach (near Santa Barabara). We couldn’t even find a wide spot in the road to stop for the night…. so Dad kept driving…and 13 hours later we arrived where he lives in Morro Bay at 2 a.m. in the morning.
Mind you, Dad is 86 years old… and he did a great job… in spite of becoming extremely tired (more so that he would admit). I don’t have experience driving the RV so he drove the whole way … in fact insisted on it. I’m not a bad driver, though I didn’t feel that ‘learning’ to drive his rig on this trip was such a good idea. Needless to say, I won’t be going on an RV trip with him (or anybody else) anytime soon. We had planned to take a trip to Oregon for my niece’s wedding in August. I’ve told him he ought to fly and leave the motorhome in storage. I’m not going. It’s taken me two days to recover from that experience.
So NO…. don’t ‘Go RVing’… if you know what’s good for you. If you do, PLAN AHEAD OF TIME. Find out what parks are in existance and, make reservations if possible.