We bailed out. Skedaddled. Vamoosed.
Through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The heat and humidity were bad, but even worse were the ticks.
A relatively mild winter combined with a wet spring brought out the ticks in groves.
Now don't get me wrong. The midwest does have some positives, one being that they are at the forefront in the technology race.
At one campground I discovered they offered a nifty way to make a phone call from inside your own vehicle. Crazy, huh? Check it out.
You simply park next to the phone, stretch out your arm, grab the handset and make a call. Hopefully you don't drop any quarters...
Anyway, we decided to take a break in New Mexico and let the dry air heal our tick bites.
New Mexico offers an annual state park camping pass for $225 for non residents, about the cost of a week at a California state park.
Just over the Oklahoma border is Clayton Lake.
The park offers both standard and electric sites. We liked site 6 in Cove Loop for the former and site 7 in North Point for the latter.
We only stayed one night, but that was plenty of time to whip up a batch of tasty burritos using locally produced salsa and tortillas. The beef might have been local as well for all I know.
Having them ready to just heat up greatly reduces cleanup time after each meal.
From there we bounded northwest to Sugarite Canyon near Raton and the Colorado border.
There are two campgrounds here, Lake Alice and Soda Pocket.
Lake Alice offers electrical hookups but is near the road. Site 3 is a typical example.
Soda Pocket is up a two mile well graded dirt road.
We stayed in site 1, my favorite.
Plenty of room to toss a tennis ball for Freddy.
Currently there is no water here but it is available at Lake Alice. Several hiking trails leave the campground towards Lake Maloya which stradles the NM/CO border.
100 miles southwest near the town of Las Vegas is Storrie Lake.
That is Las Vegas New Mexico for the geographically challenged.
There are plenty of sites like number 12 that offer a shade shelter, some with electricity.
But if you get lucky, like we did, you can nab one of four spots in the Gallinas River loop.
They offer three sided stone shelters and a full bathroom with showers along with electricity. We are still here, charging up batteries before heading out tomorrow.
New Mexico charges very reasonable daily rates for it's campgrounds.
$10 for a standard site, $14 for power, $18 for power and sewer. Subtract $10 if you have an annual pass.
Then there are primitive sites for $8. Usually an open area and a short walk to the poopers.
Freddy pointed out how popular these were over Father's Day weekend.
You can literally put your wheels in the water.
The folks on the far left did just that.
We left Storrie Lake and headed north to Cimarron Canyon State Park, my favorite in New Mexico during the summer.
It is about 40 miles east of Taos along US 64. The elevation and location keep the temperatures down, a welcome respite from the 90's we had been experiencing.
There are four campgrounds in the park located alongside a nifty trout filled river, but only Maverick has a lake as well.
Some of the reservable sites are right on the shore, like numbers 36, 37, and 39.
We ended up staying for two weeks, leaving the 5th of July.
Regards and happy camping, Park Ranger
On Wednesday night (July 27th), while camping at Tuttle Creek Campground in the Eastern Sierra, Greg was able to get some really great photos of the huge fireball that lite up the night sky. Officials are pretty sure it was a Chinese rocket that was breaking up and re-entering the atmosphere. Way to go Greg!
Regards, Park Ranger
Congratulations Greg M. – you've won a $100 Cabela's Gift Card!
The campfire shown in this photo is an example of a Dakota Fire Hole. It dates back to ancient times and was used as a way to provide warmth without attracting others to the fire's location because it produced very little smoke.
Thank you to all who participated in our campfire challenge!
Regards, Park Ranger
Do you know what type of campfire (pictured below) this is called?
If so, go to http://www.campsitephotos.com/contact and send us your answer. If you answer correctly, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 Cabela's gift card! One winner will be chosen and notified on July 13! We'll also let you know the answer on that date. Oh – and please don't post your answer below in the comments or on Facebook. Good luck!
Regards, Park Ranger
We headed across the border into Virginia. Into one of the best campgrounds I have ever visited.
Goose Point is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The parkway is a dozen miles away. Within an hour or so are the cities of Roanoke and Richmond in Virginia and the cigarette cities in North Carolina.
The lake offers 4 campgrounds consisting of 3 COE spots and one state park, Fairystone.
Goose Point is the best of the bunch and site number 6 is the best one.
Guess where I stayed?
I don't normally make reservations in the off-season because I am cheap, but this was the week after Easter, and some schools were on spring break.
About a dozen of the sites here are right on the lake and I managed to snag one for Monday through Wednesday. The price is $25 which includes water and power. Sites 35 – 44 are dry sites for $20. The kicker is that there is NO RESERVATION FEE!
So just go ahead and make a reservation, otherwise you are only guaranteed one night in an empty site.
Freddy and I took a walk early Tuesday morning.
We found a path that led to a fishing pier and an amphitheater. It might be easier to understand by referencing a map.
If you look straight down from the "G" in Goose you can see the path.
Fishing, hiking, and friendly wi-fi.
Walking back to our site we passed the boat ramp and dock.
Freddy checked out a boat.
I need to get another canoe. Places like this are meant to be paddled.
Next to our campsite was the pavilion. You can barely see my trailer on the left. Below the pavilion is the beach.
Turning 180 degrees gives you this view.
Oh Yeah! Freddy approved of our spot.
OK, back to the campground itself. There are 63 sites broken up into 3 seperate loops.
Sites 1 – 34 are in the lower loop closest to the lake. Of those, 5 – 9 are on the south shore.
On the east side of the point, sites 13, 15, 16, and 17 have lake views but are on a bank above the water.
In the non-hookup loop we liked sites 37 and 39.
In the upper loop, we prefered sites 45 and 47.
We didn't want to leave this wonderful campground. But we had to as our site was reserved for the next week by some other lucky campers.
Go here if you have a chance. Bring a boat or canoe and some fishing poles. There is a grocery store and gas station just 6 miles away for supplies.
Regards and happy camping, Park Ranger
Before heading west on our 2016 campground tour, we stopped at a regional campground near the western border of Virginia called Natural Chimneys.
Yes, those are jousting poles. The park is close to several annual renaissance fairs and you can practice your jousting skills on the track next to the campground.
The campsites themselves were a big letdown.
Just a pair of big fields with no privacy.
The river offered up small trout to a couple of boys fishing.
And then there were the namesake chimneys.
If you look closely at the sketch below, drawn in 1871, you can see two ladies, one in the hole.
Figuring that meant it was ok, Freddy and I went inside to check it out. Then a ranger stopped by.
"You can't be in there."
"There isn't any sign", I said
"See that fence? That is as close as you can go."
"I thought that fence was to keep the jousting horses out. And those other people went inside," I replied.
"What other people?"
"The ones in that sketch over there," I said.
He mumbled something about that being 145 years ago and made us get out.
So we walked around a bit more.
And then Freddy dragged me back in.
And then we left.
West Virginia comprises a big chunk of the Appalachian Mountains. We crossed over several of those on the way to our next campground. Nestled in the valleys between the hills (I say hills because the highest pass we crested was 3500 feet) are several locations that were scenes of fighting during the civil war.
Like German Valley.
Last Union Raid Sign
We stayed at a wonderful campground in the north-central part of the state.
The 67 sites include a handful with electric hookups and about a dozen right on the Middle Fork River, such as numbers 4, 6, 19, 22, and 29. Costs range from $20 to $26.
Freddy liked site 29 because it had a high water beach.
We were there in the first week of May with the river flow still high from all the rains. Come summer, the river calms down and is extremely popular for swimming and tubing.
We stayed in site 21, an electric spot next to the bathroom and store.Audra Bathroom and Laundry
They offer laundry facilities in the bathhouse so I put a load in. Apparently I was the first to do so since the campground opened in mid-april because my clothes came out, umm, muddy.
Near the day use area, below the bridge, is a swimming spot.
Sandy in the summer. Freddy showed off his ballerina pose.
There are several trails to explore.
A wonderful campground, but it does have some animal issues. Turns out the local deer were having parties and then heading into the nearby town of Buckhannon to whoop it up with cows of questionable morals. Residents even called the police.
Park Rangers addressed the issue by banning the deer parties.
I was told that things have quieted down, but they are bringing in additional rangers for the summer to make sure campers are not bothered by the wildlife's wild life.
Regards and happy camping, Park Ranger
Renting an RV might sound daunting for your first camping trip but it can honestly make your life so much easier.
For starters, think about how much time goes into packing for a camping trip. If you plan to visit several locations, you would have to go through that whole laborious process several times over whether you intended to stay in tents, cabins or even hotels. Take note: one of the most beautiful things about camping with an RV is that you only have to pack once.
Besides the time you save by packing only once, renting an RV means you also benefit from having all the comforts of home right there with you: food, toys, bikes, etc. You also won't have to be concerned about what you will be sleeping on or the quality of your pillows and bed linens. You won't have to worry about bed bugs or even bed mates! You will know exactly what your sleeping arrangements are from the outset!
So, where do you start? First of all, you should make a plan and include the following: How many people are traveling? Where do you plan to visit and how long will you be away for? These questions are important for selecting the right vehicle.
Just like when choosing a tent or a hotel room, the number of travelers is an important factor in deciding what size vehicle will be right for you. The general rule of thumb with camping is to choose a vehicle that sleeps more than your number of travelers because you will find matching like for like is a bit of a squeeze. So, for a family of four, you would be more comfortable in an RV that sleeps six or seven.
Besides sleeping, your family will want to explore. Knowing your travel itinerary at the outset is vital in determining your expected mileage. RV rental companies usually specify a daily mileage allowance that is included in the rental fee and charge per mile for any additional mileage. To budget accordingly, it is also helpful to assess your fuel costs at the outset. You will get the best mpg from trailers and small motor homes (up to 15 mpg). Class A and Class C motorhomes are not as fuel efficient, so presume 7-10 mpg when estimating fuel costs.
If you are on a tight budget, you may have to make some sacrifices. Comfort is important but the duration of your trip can help determine the size of vehicle you really need. In order to save a few dollars, it may be prudent to make do with a smaller vehicle for short trips. For longer trips, a bigger RV may be more appropriate so you would need to look for other ways to economize. For example, you could spend some nights in the parking lot of a big box store, or you could cook more and eat out less.
The food supplies you take with you can help you budget. Obviously, unless you're planning on driving through the desert, you will never be too far from a store. However, if you stock up on non-perishables at the outset, you won't be stung by sticker shock in some far-flung destination.
Wherever you are in the country, renting an RV is easy Once you have made your plan, check out the different RVs available nationwide. Websites like RVshare.com make this process easy. Browse at your leisure and choose a vehicle from either a private owner or a dealership.
Class A motorhomes are available in a range of sizes and may be fueled by diesel or gas. They generally include large living spaces and quality fixtures and fittings.
Class C motorhomes are medium-sized and are easily recognized by the sleeping area over the driver's cab. This design creates a more spacious living area. Although not as big as the Class A, the living quarters, kitchens and bathrooms are adequate. Depending on the make and model of your car, it is possible to tow a vehicle behind these motorhomes. This is a great idea for sightseeing once you reach your desired location. However, check with your car manufacturer before attempting this.
Class B motorhomes are much smaller and the vehicle is more like a converted van. Passengers are able to stand up in a Class B motorhome but the facilities are much more compact. The kitchens are small and the bathrooms are designed as three-in-one facilities that include a toilet, a washbasin, and a shower. On the plus side, Class B motorhomes are easy to drive and park (removing the need to tow a car), and are much more fuel efficient than Class A or C.
If you already have a fuel-efficient vehicle and prefer to retain the flexibility of having your own car without towing it, you may be more interested in a travel trailer, a truck camper or a fifth wheel. Travel trailers are non-motorized RVs that you tow behind your car. This kind of RV is available in a variety of sizes and designs and can include all the luxuries of a small condominium. To rent a truck camper, you need to have a truck because these RVs, that have all the required amenities, are quite literally loaded onto the back of a truck. A fifth wheel is a larger variation of a truck camper so you would also need a truck to rent one of these.
Overall, renting an RV couldn't be simpler. Booking through a reputable company like RVshare.com gives you the added benefit of roadside assistance and 24-hr travel concierge. You also have peace of mind that you only pay for the time you use the RV and your booking is backed by a $10,000 guarantee. With thousands of RVs to choose from for as little as $100 per day, what are you waiting for it's time for you to go and find the perfect RV rental for your first camping trip.
Regards, Park Ranger
This years RiSE Lantern Festival is scheduled for October 7th and October 8th on the Moapa River Reservation 32 miles northeast of Las Vegas. If you've never been to one, it's something you should experience. Thousands attend the festival to light paper lanterns and send them (along with their wishes and dreams) into the Nevada sky at nightfall.
The festival will also have live music from various local artists and over a dozen food vendors. Parking is available on site with the purchase of a $25 parking pass. Shuttles are also available from Paris Las Vegas for $39 per person.
October is one of the best months to camp out in the Nevada desert and Valley of Fire State Park offers two spectacular campgrounds just 18 miles from the festival.
Valley of Fire is the oldest and largest state park in Nevada and includes 45,000 acres, two campgrounds, a visitor center, historic sites, petrified trees and a variety of geological wonders. Outdoor activities include biking, hiking, star gazing, exploring the historic sites and wildlife viewing.
Valley of Fire's two campgrounds (Atlatl Rock and Arch Rock) have 72 campsites equipped with shaded tables and grills. RV sites are available at Atlatl Rock campground with electric and water hookups. The campgrounds have restrooms (with flush toilets and showers) and an RV dump station. There are three group camping areas that can accommodate 45 campers, though parking is limited.
Since camping is first-come, first-serve at Valley of Fire, you should try and secure a campsite a few days before the festival to improve your chances of getting a campsite throughout the festival. Click HERE to view photos of all Valley of Fire campsites and to learn more about the park. Visit the RiSE Festival website for more information about the festival and to purchase tickets.
Regards, Park Ranger