I've decided on a preliminary route with campground from here to Bayfield, Wisconsin.
|Preliminary route and campgrounds|
The main program I use to develop a route is Good Sam's Route Planner. I'm sure there are others just as good or better, but I'm familiar with this one and familiarity trumps a lot of things. I don't use it exclusively because it doesn't include everything I need. Some of the other programs are Allstays, RVParkReviews, Passport America, Recreation.gov and of course Google Earth. Once I see a possible campground, I'll use Google Earth to zoom in and look at it from above. If it is totally wooded, I'll pass of that campground. I've been in some campgrounds with overhanging limbs which make it hard to maneuver and I don't like camping with tree limbs overhanging Liberty. I know a lot of people are looking for shady sites but I'll take an open sky site anytime since my AC works just fine (after I had the front one fixed about a month ago). Google Earth will also give me a good idea about the roads leading into the campground. Most of the time I can go down to a road view to actually see the road. You have to look at the date of the video to see how current it is. Sometimes it is several years old but mostly it is up to date. Remember that if you can see a painted edge line on the roadway, that generally means the lanes are at least 11 feet wide.
My first choice of campgrounds are always federal, state, local or casino campgrounds. These are usually reasonably priced and generally are laid out logically with easy access. Some of the older state parks are too small for Freedom and Liberty. After that group, I'll look at privately owned parks using Passport America first since they offer 50% off on their campgrounds. Some have a lot of date restrictions so you have to look at each campground. Also, Passport America doesn't verify the condition of the campgrounds they have in their program. Some are pure trashy while others are resorts. You have to be careful since the last thing you need is a surprise at the end of a travel day. Checking the condition of the campground is another job for Google Earth and RVParkReview. Next is Good Sam's campgrounds. They offer 10% off of their campgrounds and are most always in pretty decent condition. As a last resort, I'll use KOA. They are more expensive but almost always well maintained.
My first stop will be a Corps of Engineer's (COE) campground on Lake Hugo, near Hugo, OK. I'll buy my Senior Pass there. I have two options (life is all about having options). One is a $80.00 lifetime pass or a $20.00 annual pass. These passes gives me free entry into National Parks, National Monuments, etc. It also gives me 50% off of campground fees at federal campgrounds like COE Campgrounds. I have opted to go with the $20.00 pass since I have a hard time predicting the future and am unsure I'll need a pass four years from now. I hope I will, and if I do, I'll buy another annual one. I'll save at least $20.00 on my first stay at a COE campground.
The route and campgrounds I've chosen may change but generally they should be OK. I'll start making reservations in a few more days and that may make me do some changes. I know the campground in Iowa doesn't have any vacancies on Friday's or Saturday's for the entire summer. I'll have to make adjustments in my travel times accordingly. Also the final campground is a first come, first serve campground so it is a big unknown if I'll even have a campsite when I get there. I'll try to time that one for a weekday as well.
I'll also adjust my travel as to the weather. I'll be going through tornado country and will have to keep a sharp eye out on the forecasts. I really like the National Weather Service's, Weather Prediction Center program. It is very accurate in predicting the movement of weather fronts but is only for a 2 1/2 day window. There is also a link on that page to goes to a 7 day outlook that is a little less reliable but mostly OK. For short range prediction and current weather, I like Accuweather. There have been several times when I have driven down the road while keeping an eye on Accuweather radar to see where the storms were located. I've sped up or slowed down to avoid them.
My take off date is still set for the 12th of June, plus or minus a day or two. How is that for commitment. But like some fulltime RV'ers say, their "travel plans are made in jello."
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.