Tag Archives: state parks

Long Road Trip Observations

30 May

We saw 12 states and 6,000 miles in 28 days. For us that is a new record. We’ve gone that far before but have never been on the road for more than 3 weeks. This trip had more 4 day stops to visit friends and family so the time went very quickly. I was able to keep things organized and fairly clean for the whole trip which also helped. A 19 foot van with 2 adults, a medium large dog and one cat with litter box is a little cramped although I prefer to say “cozy”. We actually drove for a total of 15 days. It seemed to be a great balance of travel and rest for all four of us.

I kept a travel log of mileage, gas, camping and overall expenses. About half way through the trip, I realized I should have made note of the state rest areas. Each state was a little bit different in the quality of the rest area and the distance between them. In the past I had enjoyed the welcome center that was usually the first rest area inside a state on the major interstates. Both Arizona and California had closed those welcome centers. The next rest area for both states had billboard kiosks for general state information. Other states offered the same thing but only Kansas offered free state maps at the kiosks. Closing the welcome centers has probably been a cost saving options as is not giving away state maps. Some states had the state map in a glass case but those were often degraded or seriously lacking in information. Our atlas pages often showed more detail especially rest area. States like Idaho were converting old rest areas to parking areas often with a pit toilet and a new rest area farther down the road. Removing rest area marks from the state highway map would make that easier but still confusing. Wyoming often has 100 – 120 miles between rest areas. They do have wide spot in the road parking areas in between but a real rest area with full services at 40 – 50 miles would have been nice.  The quality of toilet paper as well as hot water and soap also varied a great deal from state to state. Wyoming had some of the oldest facilities but also some of the nicest although they may have seemed nice because I needed them after a 100 miles on the road!

We also had a variety of state parks and RV parks. All appeared in our Good SAM club RV park directory but the descriptions didn’t always tell a full story. One tree does not mean “some shaded spaces” and “gravel pull throughs” doesn’t describe a large gravel parking lot with power and water posts. The nicest RV park and great bargain was Butterfield RV Resort in Bensen, AZ. We qualified for summer rates because 95% of the snow birds had already gone home. The pool and pool table were both wonderful. Deer Park RV in Buffalo, WY offered the least for the highest price. It was a place to park for the night but I’d never select it again. Even the shower was cramped and tight with only warm not hot water.

The worst state park was Pieffer State Park in Big Sur, CA. It was in a redwood forest but was on the expensive side with no hook ups and paying extra for a shower. We passed three other state parks on our way north. The first looked great with camping on one side of Highway 1 and beach access on the other side. We passed it too early in the day to stop. The next ones had no beach access and were full.  I was just happy to have a spot in Pieffer.

Game Farm Wilderness Park in Auburn, WA is a small city park on the edge of town and was exactly as I remembered it. It offered hook ups but no showers or warm water in the rest room. Fred, the dog loved the grass and Murphy, the cat enjoyed the quiet setting. Confluence State Park in Wenatchee, WA cost less for both camping and showers than did CA and offered full services, large treed spaces and extensive walking and bike paths with views and access to the Columbia River. It makes a great place to RV camp. It is not a natural habitat park but grass can be a nice addition.

We were not able to camp at Cherry Creek State Park outside of Denver because it was full as were most of the RV parks in the area. We were able to spend the night with friends but the pets would prefer that we camp. They demand a lot of attention when they can’t sleep with us. If we return to Denver, I know where the overnight stay WalMart is located on the east edge of the city. We’ve talked about but never actually stayed in a WalMart parking lot. We might just need to add it to our itinerary for our next big adventure.