By Russ and Tiña De Maris
For those of you who’ve experienced the “loneliness of writing,” you know the feeling. You’ve pounded away at a keyboard for seemingly endless hours then put your work up for the public to view. And then you wonder, “Is anybody really reading this stuff?”
Well, as the man says, “I hope to shout!” Last week we posted our story of, shall we say, an “interesting” weekend at a Southern California RV park. And, of course, we wondered after the “publish” button was pushed, “Will anybody read this?” If the loud ringing in our heads from the comments readers left didn’t convince us, nothing will. Among the critiques a few questions surfaced, which we thought we’d address.
Are we “bad-mouthing” Passport America? Nope. Many Passport America members evidently felt we were, and stoutly defended the operation. Hey, we have no problem with Passport America. As we stated out the outset of the story, “it’s just we so seldom stay in an RV park, it didn’t seem to make financial sense.” We’ve been RVing since the 1980s, and in all those years (and many thousands of miles traveled) the number of times we’ve stayed in commercial RV parks could really be counted on all our fingers, with room to spare.
For the most part, we boondock. On occasion, we put in at a public campground, but even those sorties are pretty rare. We happen to like being at a distance from our neighbors, and quite often we just don’t have any. If we were more inclined to private RV park camping, then, yes, we’d probably consider a Passport America membership.
Others suggested that if we’d done a little better job on our homework, none of this would have happened. Well, no, we didn’t “fly over” the campground using Google Maps to check for site length. Not sure how much good that would have done us – the RV park we stayed at doesn’t give you an option of what site you want to reserve. You tell them the length of your rig, they tell you where to park. Our friends with their 40-foot motorhome had plenty of space to put the rig in and stash the tow-dolly in back, and enough side-to-side space to park the car. And, hey, they were just on the other side of the same “island” as we were parked. Guess you call that “the luck of the draw.”
And, yes, we read the comments that other users had posted about this RV park. Many were complimentary and some, taken at face value (and if there were nothing to balance them against), would have caused us to turn tail and run the other direction. If you’ve ever gone “shopping on the Internet for a doctor,” you’ve probably encountered the same situation. Some patients get along famously with a given medical provider, others find they can’t stand the guy. They all post comments, pro and con, and it’s up to you to try and figure out just which ones are right, or perhaps just “sour grapes grapers.” Like I tell other RVers, picking a good RV park is often a crapshoot.
Speaking of crapshoots, some of you wondered how on earth you could ever have a sewer hose that’s too long. Well, ours is a 15-footer. But by the time we crammed the trailer back into the corner of the site where the campground attendant wanted us, and took into account the very tight space between the trailer and the utility post, and did our best to “fend off” the next-door neighbor’s sewer hose, it’s possible that we might have been able to stuff our excess hose somewhere under our trailer. But since my old “bend-over” doesn’t quite work as smoothly as it used to, I figured it was just safer (and would probably hurt a lot less) just to dump the tanks on the way out. And who really wants to “milk” the sewer hose, picking it up and down to run the fluids from one end to the other. Since it all goes down the same sewer system, whether or not you dump at your site, or dump at the dump station, who’d have figured that the management would have demanded a special tribute to use the latter?
My friend David and his better-half spent a couple more nights in the same campground as we did – as we said, right across the “island” from our site. No, they weren’t pulled out of bed by the sound of somebody banging on the door, demanding they move their car. In fact, they were a bit shocked that our side of the island was as stuffed up as it was, while there were plenty of available sites on theirs. I guess we just know how to live right.
No, we didn’t post the name of the campground in the story, although I’m sure those who are truly interested could easily figure it out. With more of our seminars likely to be slated in the future up in Norco, the likelihood of us gritting our teeth and staying there again is very real. Put the name of the campground down, in a story, with our names in the byline? Yeah, somehow we wouldn’t be surprised if there was a little bit of “payback” in the future, or maybe just a downright refusal to put us up.
I can hear some of you now: “Stay there again? Are you gluttons for punishment?” Some pointed out there are other parks available in the area. Staying on “in the buff” or even fully clothed at a naturalist park just doesn’t have appeal. If you’ve ever accidentally stumbled into the nudist section of the La Posa South Long Term Visitor Area in Quartzsite, you’ve probably seen enough bodies that needed a once-over with a flat iron.
Lessons learned? Yeah, carry a really short sewer hose – just have to figure out where to store it. Our rig doesn’t have any “basement storage,” so space is at a premium. When we land, we’ll be sure to ask the attendant just where to park the truck so it won’t possibly be in anyone’s way.
Money talks, indeed. Spending $35 a night to stay “in hell” for a couple of days probably beats spending twice or better that amount to not have so much inconvenience. If the point of staying in an RV park were to enjoy the amenities then, yeah, we’d spend more and go elsewhere. But since California’s “Inland Empire” isn’t our first choice of desirable places to go for recreation, we’ll probably be back.
No, it’s not that we think Passport America is a bad deal. But given a choice, we’ll opt for the wide open spaces anytime.