RV Travels Up West Coast With COVID-19
This is a rather lengthy wrap up of our travels up the Pacific Coast through Nevada, California, and Oregon both before and during the #COVID-19 virus. I review campgrounds along the route and discuss some of the tourist attractions and restaurants. Hopefully, when we all get a clean bill of health, you can visit these areas as well.
Feb. 26, 2020—Parumph
Lovell Canyon, Pahrump NV Las Vegas, Nevada
GPS: 36 01 27.0; 115 33 33.4
Excellent place to camp. Easy to find. Off of Hwy. 160 out of #Pahrump. Turned right on Lovell Canyon Road, a paved road. We went down three miles and found a large, flat campsite that could have held two or three large RVs. We were all alone. There was a couple camping in a car down a wash not too far from us; we could barely see them. Saw only a few cars during our overnight stay.
Went hiking the next day across the street. Many more campsites over there; more as we entered the canyon and I’m sure more further down the road—all deserted. Our location was marked with a post numbered 45540.
Beautiful mountain scenery and very peaceful. More importantly, we felt safe. Would definitely return here. We had wifi reception on both Verizon and ATT&T.
Feb. 27, 2020—Death Valley
Sunset Campground (Furnace Creek, CA)
Closer to the center of the National Park
DEATH VALLEY, California
GPS: 36. 27 33.6; -116 51 49.7
The road in is paved. There are over 100 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. Some sites are bigger than others. They are pull thrus. We had no hookups at Sunset Campground, but very nearby were bathrooms, potable water (so you could fill your RV tank) at the dump station. Dump station, trash dumpsters, and a sink station near the bathrooms with potable water were all available—basically everything you needed except for electricity. Electrical hookups could be found in the park at Furnace Creek campground (which was marked full when we got there in February).
Our campground was not nearly full and cost only $7. Granted, it’s basically a big level parking lot, but it’s peaceful, surrounded by mountains, and felt extremely safe. Rangers patrolled and you were required to use the pay station and post your receipt. Each slot was divided by concrete raised blocks (envision those blocks that keep you from rolling forward at a grocery store parking lot) but allowed comfortable space to put out your slides. We had room to park our toad behind our 40’ RV.
Great telephone reception. Would camp here again. Did not make reservations for late February. Not needed.
Feb. 28, 2020—Mojave area
BLM Jawbone Canyon Rd.
We had several GPS’s for this site. This one worked: 35.309093; -118.014285
Jawbone Canyon OHV is open all year.
This free parking is located on Jawbone Canyon Rd, off of Hwy 14, just south of Red Rock Canyon State Park. Turn right on Jawbone Rd. We went down about a mile and found a very spacious area on the left hand side of the road. Level. These areas were hard packed sand and rock; an RV could turn around easily in these spaces. Beware, some spots we found earlier were soft and should be avoided. We walked in to check it out first.
Camping in the Mojave Desert was a blast. Just saying we were camping in the desert was wonderful. However, we arrived on a Friday afternoon (late February) and were quickly surrounded by toy haulers and ATVs that wanted to kick up some sand. It wasn’t peaceful. Everyone was respectful, on the other hand, and the noise stopped around 10 and didn’t pick up again until 7 a.m.
Nice folks, friendly. Just not a spot where you can enjoy the scenery without noise and dust.
Free, and we had cell phone reception. Might come again, but never on a weekend.
March 1-3—Jalama Beach
9999 Jalama Rd.
#Jalama Beach has one of the best campgrounds ever. For three nights we camped on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, just a bit above the beach. $50 a night for these premier beach-front sites. No hookups. When we arrived the sand had drifted (high winds each day we were there—40 mph is the average), and we couldn’t get the rig in. The park rangers came and plowed away most of the sand where we needed to park, as well as an area for our car.
Site had a picnic table and fire ring. Great neighbor to the right of us let us encroach on his campsite a bit because John had difficulty getting the rig in, even with the plowing. Other sites were more hard packed. Plenty of room for the rig and car. Sites are quite wide. Tent campers next to us on the left with two tents, four adults and three dogs. Not the best, but well behaved. Dogs a bit noisy. Surprised that they let two tents go up next to the RV area, but they were the only ones on that stretch.
Beautiful scenery. A bit cold in early March, but we still dragged out chairs and read on the beach. Quite a few fishermen casting into the ocean. We intended to buy a license and give it a try but instead took long walks on the beach with Angel. The beach was also popular with kite boarders.
Campground has 105 sites; 15 are walk-in only. The campground is located in a canyon between mountains and the beach; therefore, many of the campsites are carved into the side of the hills, and rows are done as tiers. The top tier has good views, but if you’re not camping in sites 80-97, 105-117, or 53-64, your view is obstructed. We were in site 61—on the beach—worth the extra money.
Most of the sites are total #boondocking. The sites on the upper tiers have electrical hookups—80-97 and 105-117.
There are also seven reservable cabin sites.
No cell phone reception whatsoever. You drive down a winding road until you are at the base of the mountains/hills. Thus—no phone reception. But it was nice to disconnect.
Aside from the beautiful scenery, the beach was also kept clean. The rangers were helpful, and the campground has a store and grill (Jalama Beach Grill) that boasts great hamburgers and clam chowder. Both are excellent AND it saved me from cooking for two nights.
In the general store/restaurant, you can sit upstairs to eat or take your food outside to tables scattered around nearby. The view upstairs would be nicer if the windows were glass. One window is obviously glass but it doesn’t look out over the water. The others appear to be plexiglass because the view is hazy and there are rust stains obscuring parts of the windows. If it’s warm, take your food outside. During the winter the store is only open until 5 p.m., but it provides the basic necessities such as milk and donuts.
The park also offers bathrooms, pay showers, a dump station, and potable water. I’m not sure if it’s the type you can attach a hose to, since we came with our water tanks full and didn’t check it out.
We took great walks along the beach with Angel, our dog. Although we were supposed to keep her on the leash, those of us with dogs agreed to let them run free unless they were coming in contact with us. Quite often you might have the beach to yourself—a little slice of heaven.
On campground review sites, some campers complain about the 14 mile trek down the mountain to get to the park. It’s not for the timid, but very doable for our 40 foot rig. We detached our Honda CRV before we began the slow decline, just to be on the safe side, but if you take your time and stay in your lane, it’s not a bad trip. And the scenery is stunning.
Make reservations early (as we did) at www.sbparks.org.
March 4-6—Marina Dunes RV Resort
3330 Dunes Rd
$102/night; full hookups
Near Monterey, CA
We stayed here because John wanted to visit Big Sur. OK town, but not worth $102/night for a cement slab. New Orleans—yes. Monterey—no.
We went to a very upscale restaurant, The Sur House (in Big Sur), where we were treated like bums. Smaller servings than the hotel guests (of the same menu item) and half pours of wine (once again, compared to others.) Pretty scenery along the coast, but unless you want to buy touristy trinkets, it’s a bust. So much for the tourist attractions.
On to the campground. Our site was a back-in, with lovely trees behind us, and a place to park the car on the side. No view of the water, however, despite the fact that they advertise just a short walk to the beach. It is—uphill. And you can’t see the water until you’re almost there, certainly not at your campsite. Dump station was too tightly placed for us to try to access. I don’t think our site had sewer despite being labeled full hookups. Their “glamping tent area” turned out to be right behind other campers, and with no division between our site and the next, when we walked out the door, the tent guests were very close by. No privacy for either of us.
There were smaller campsites down the hill in another loop.
OH, I just have to complain about this! I stepped in dog poop when we arrived. There were several piles, so obviously, no one checks out the sites after a guest vacates. Once again—$102.
Good phone reception. Restrooms, showers, and laundry on the premises.
Would not camp here again.
March 7-10—Sequoia RV Ranch
43490 North Fork Dr.
Three Rivers, CA
We stayed in this lovely campground for four nights while we explored the area around the giant sequoia trees in northern California. When we arrived, the campground host gave us a sheet of 20 things to do in the area. We tried to do as many as possible, including a visit to the Kaweah Post Office, built in the late 1800’s and known as one of the smallest post offices in operation in the nation.
The people are very friendly in this area, as well as quirky. You’ll pass a giant Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, on the side of the road. Why is it there? I dunno. There’s also quite a few mentions of Big Foot. Small shops abound with quirky names, like The Buckaroo Diner.
We went to #Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks to see the giant trees. Amazing. Took a few hikes and learned more about these majestic trees and the history of the parks. I will write a blog about Sequoia National Park, so look for it on my blog page.
The campground itself fit the territory. It had permanent residents in one area, next to the laundry facility. I did not check it out. Sorry. Showers and restrooms were also available for those without any hookups. The dump station was easy to navigate and dumpsters were centrally located. Staff were present without being intrusive and if you needed anything, they were there to help.
We were in site #5, which was a water and electric pull-thru. Because it was at the end of a row, it felt like we had a double site. The only problem—power lines. Our rig is 12’9”. If it had been our 5th wheeler at over 13 feet, we would have hit the power lines. It was very close. They offered to move us to another site with full hookups, but we preferred where we were. Very peaceful, good, well-mannered neighbors, and plenty of room for Angel to run around in.
Because it was such a wooded area, there was a stockpile of tree stumps and branches available for a nightly fire. The campground even stockpiled it off in a field so guests didn’t have to work hard to gather it up.
A very short walk over a little bridge leads to a running creek where you can fish or swim. Very scenic.
Good phone reception and wifi, although their wifi was very weak.
Would gladly return here—hopefully for a longer stay.
March 11-14 (3 nights)—Westside Regional Park
2400 Westshore Rd.
Bodega Bay, CA
Located in Bodega Bay, CA which had great scenery and wonderful restaurants. Check out Lucas Wharf (restaurant) where seals frolic outside in the ocean and you can sit next to large, clear windows. The food is wonderful there, and servings generous.
The campground, however, was less than desirable, largely due to the people who frequented the place. No respect for other campers. Loud generators, people sleeping in their cars with plastic bags over the windows, others walking around outside in their pjs. Now, I don’t mind seeing a child in the pajamas, but an adult half dressed can ruin my breakfast.
There was also no sense of security at night. We only saw the rangers during the day when it was time to collect money, and they didn’t run off those who parked for free. Camp hosts had a sign that stated they were off duty for several days. Never saw them.
Had wifi and satellite. No hookups, but picnic table and fire pit. Baths and dump station were available. Did not go inside the bathrooms so I don’t know if they were clean.
Word of warning: Watch how you come in. Our GPS had us going down dangerously curvy roads with low-hanging trees. We had to unhitch the tow, back up the RV and turn around to get out of an impossible situation.
We were in site #38— long enough for our 40 foot RV but our car barely fit sideways at the end.
March 14-17 (3 nights)
Giant Redwoods RV & Camp
400 Myers Ave.
Myers Flat, CA
Beautiful, well-maintained campground with a stream behind our site where we could walk the dog and skip rocks. It also had a small dog park that was covered in bark. Angel wasn’t a fan of the bark.
Some negatives: Had wifi, but cable and satellite didn’t work at our site. Shady (and not in a good way) neighborhood around us, with neighbor playing loud music most of the day. Two different homeless people showed up. One bugged me for the bathroom access code and wouldn’t give up when I told her I didn’t know it. I honestly didn’t.
Many positives: We had a pull-thru site with plenty of room for our car. The staff also couldn’t have been nicer. As we were leaving, we had trouble getting our airbags to inflate, so we couldn’t leave. They helped us find a mechanic who got us going.
Amenities: Showers, laundry, and bathrooms. Full hookups with 50 amps.
They are building small cabins on truck beds at the far end of the campground. Think “tiny homes.” Very adorable.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay. Close to Redwood National Park and Avenue of the Giants. We went on a day trip to Eureka, CA and had lunch at Oaxaca, where I had the best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten. You can’t go without trying their mole. We were looking for a local brew pub, but because of the COVID-19 virus, they were all shut down. We also tried to find a cheese factory outlet that was located in a small town called Loleta. Found lots of cows, but the factory outlet was closed.
Campground Cost: $50.49 per night with Good Sams discount.
March 17-21 (4 nights)
Harris Beach State Park
1655 Hwy. 101N
This is one of the most sought after campgrounds in Oregon. I was thrilled to get a reservation. I was even more thrilled to have a spot once we got there, because we were at one of the last few campgrounds in Oregon still left open due to the COVID-19 virus. State campgrounds were due to close on April 2 (they actually closed much sooner). Because of the virus we did not do any sightseeing; we hunkered down and enjoyed the serenity of this beautiful campground.
We had full hookups with wonderful spacing between the sites. Shrubs provide a natural barrier between each—effectively giving everyone a front yard. Each “front yard” had wonderful grass for our pets, and there were many dog lovers there—almost all of them under control (the dogs, that is).
Sites also come with fire pits and picnic tables. We had a level site with an asphalt pad.
It was a very short walk to the beach, which is clean and uncrowded this time of year. The walk was good exercise; there’s a somewhat steep hill that you must tackle. I’m glad we weren’t lugging anything like chairs or ice chests. There is a parking lot at the bottom of the hill near the beach, so campers could use their cars if needed
65 full hookups; 29 electric and water; 54 tent sites; 6 yurts.
Toilets and showers, dump station.
We got satellite and great phone reception with both AT&T and Verizon.
March 21-22 (2 nights)
Sunset Bay State Park—
89814 Cape Arago Hwy.
Coos Bay, OR 97420
We were only here for two nights, despite a 5-night reservation. Oregon shut down all its state parks days earlier than originally planned due to the virus. We came back from grocery shopping to be greeted by a ranger, not providing us with a better spot (as we had requested), but with the information that we had to be out the following morning.
Nice campground, although not on the same par as Harris Beach. Many of the camping spots were short or tight, and the walk to the beach was a bit further. The beach was clean, and we saw signs that you could dig for clams (we almost bought a license the day before—for the next day). Glad we didn’t. That would have been money wasted as we had to leave.
There is a day-use area near the beach, with picnic tables.
Sunset Bay has 25 full hookup sites, 32 with electric and water. The dump station is actually 15 miles south at Bullards Beach State Park. There are also 65 tent sites and 8 yurts. The parking is asphalt and many sites were level. Trees everywhere, which provides shade but blocks reception. We were in site A17, an electric and water site. Our 40 foot motorhome fit, with the Honda parked across the front. All on asphalt.
No satellite reception. No phone reception. This problem appeared to be universal throughout the campground. We had to go into Coos Bay to get any reception. Coos Bay is a quaint little town with all the basic amenities, and is within 5 or 6 miles of the park.
Fees: $29 for water and electric; $31 for full hookups.
The life of a full-time RVer is not always sand and beaches, glorious sunsets, and chats around the fire pit. When we were forced to leave Sunset Bay, we were also aware that our future reservations were being cancelled—more each day. Currently, we are cancelled through April 30.
As many full-timers know, you can’t just go home. Your RV is your home. And it seems right now that no one wants to shelter us. John and I are some of the lucky ones. We belong to SOWERS (Servants on Wheels Ever Ready), a Christian volunteer group of RVers (blog post on SOWERS coming soon). We found a project in Oregon, Aldersgate Camps and Retreats, that welcomed us. We will stay during the month of April doing whatever they need. I’ve already made about 50 beds and today we paint the outside of a house. They are closed down due to the virus—which is a bad, very bad thing for their business. I know I am very blessed to have this temporary home….however….
We have been planning to go to Alaska for almost a year. Reservations have been made for months, and we were scheduled out through September. All of that changed, however, with the virus.
State and national campgrounds are closing, as well as county ones. Private campgrounds are also often closing. We must travel through Canada to get to Alaska. Their border is now closed.
If we don’t start our journey by mid May, we can’t visit #Alaska. With John being 69, this may have been our only chance. We had so many adventures planned: taking an airplane to fly around Denali National Park then land on a glacier, dog sledding, drive to the furthest point north that one can drive—the Arctic Ocean—in Prudhoe Bay, and take a boat out into the ocean to fish for Hallibut or Salmon. And so much more.
We checked on taking the ferry from Washington to Alaska (thus avoiding Canada). The cost just to take our RV—not our car, ourselves, or our pet—was $8,000. Not doable for us.
So, we wait. Like so many others. We try not to look at our 401K balance, take care of ourselves physically, and we pray for our family and friends who have a tough time ahead. My son, Michael, and his wife, Allison, are in New Orleans—the latest epicenter of the outbreak.
Life will hopefully get back to normal soon. In the meantime, let’s all remember to love each other, have a little patience (myself especially), and rely on God for strength. I’m hoping we’ll all come out of this with a clearer understanding of what’s important in life—God, family, and friends.
Stay safe everyone. God bless you all.