Rant #1, RV park prices:
OK, granted, we could probably spend the night for free in a Walmart parking lot but so far we’ve chosen not to do that. It’s kind of nice to be able to plug into a little electricity if nothing else. But, along with electricity you usually get water and sewer and that’s pretty nice too. I really don’t mind paying for these things either.
That is, I don’t mind paying a reasonable price for these things. But it seems like most of the RV or camping places we’ve hit in the lower half of California are a wee bit proud of themselves. Case in point: The Monterey County Fairgrounds RV Park.
I happen to think it’s pretty cool that so many fairgrounds are finding ways to make their facilities pay during the non-fair season. But, come on. The “RV Park” at the Monterey Fairgrounds is a parking lot. Literally. It’s a bunch of wide parking spots. No vegetation between them, no nothing to differentiate one site from the next except for a painted white line. Just like a parking lot. Granted, they do have utility hook-ups but they didn’t even do those right. The hook-ups are situated between adjacent sites. This works great for the guy who backs in with the port side of his RV on the same side as the hook-ups. But the next guy is going to have to stretch hoses and power cords because pretty much all RVs have their utility hook-ups on the port side. So RV #2 backs in to his spot and the faucet, plug-in and sewer hookup are on the wrong side of his rig. OK. I guess, what should I expect for $50/night? That’s right, $50/night. I must admit that the camp hosts at the Fairgrounds were very gracious and found us a site that we could use that put the utilities on the right side of our rig. Granted, it was a spot that nothing larger than ourselves could have fit into anyway, but still.
Besides the utility snafu and the general parking lot ambiance, what else did we get for our $50? Well, there were the bathrooms and shower. Let’s see, according to our RV guide there are 47 full hook-up sites and another 80 non-hook-up sites. To service this mass of RVs they have one bathroom consisting of one toilet, one urinal, and one shower. The women have the same except they get to substitute a second toilet in place of the urinal. That’s it. That’s supposed to service up to 200+ people? Good grief!
And then there’s the place we’re staying tonight: El Churro Regional Park (San Luis Obispo County) just outside of San Luis Obispo. This is a basic campground although there are some full hook-up site as well as a bathroom and shower. That’s shower, singular, as in one shower for all the women and one shower for all the men. The price is pretty standard: $27/night with no hook-ups or $38/night with full hook-ups. Seeing as how a lot of places charge $10-$25 to dump a holding tank if you’re not a guest, we figured the $11 difference between no services and full services was sort of warranted. But, and here’s the corker, they charge an additional $1.00 to take a freakin’ shower! No telling how many minutes you get for that dollar. Wouldn’t be too surprised to see half of your paid-for time slip away while waiting for the water to warm up. Oy Vey!
Note (written on Tuesday evening just north of Ventura): I guess I just need to get over it. The further south we get, the worse the prices are. Tonight’s campground, Faria County Beach Park, which is right on the beach, costs $48 a night for full hook-ups. We could have had no hook-ups for $31 and then paid another $15 to dump our holding tank but that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. So, we’re just grinning and bearing it. Oh, and the showers are 25¢ for a minute and a half with a 50¢ minimum. Nice to know that once we hit Mexico the prices plummet to the $5 to $10 range. Granted, the services will probably be poorer but at least when we get nothing we won’t have to pay big bucks for it.
You can bet that on our trip back up to Oregon for Christmas that we’ll be in traveling (as opposed to ‘vacation’) mode. That’ll mean traveling on Hwy. 101 and staying overnight in Walmart parking lots.
Rant #2: Bicylces on Highway 1:
I am not anti-bike. I’m not even anti-bikes on the highway. I have nothing but admiration for the people who choose to make a cross-country trip on a bicycle. I feel for them when I see them churning their way up a nasty slope, loaded down with all the things they need for camping along the way.
No, the subject of this rant is the organized “Ride for the Cure” type events. The ones where they unleash a couple of hundred bike riders on a highway with essentially no shoulder and send them on a 40 or 50 mile journey along said highway. These people are a menace! The road is so narrow that even cars have to swing into the oncoming lane to get around the bikes without scraping the riders. And on a windy, twisty road like Highway 1 that means that sometimes you have to reduce your speed to uphill bike-crawl speed because you can’t see far enough ahead to know if it’s safe to pass or not.
I realize some out there might be saying, “But what about you holding up traffic in your under-powered Dolphin?” Apples and oranges, my friends, apples and oranges. The Dolphin can generally keep up with traffic on these windy roads. And, when it can’t, I take the first opportunity to pull over and let all the faster cars go by.
Please, if you must organize one of these rides, take it to a road with shoulders. And riders: if a shoulder presents itself, USE IT!