Saturday, June 29, 2019

Trip Planning (part 2)

Location: New Rockdale RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

I've been planning, on and off, my next trip since I posted the preliminary route in the last post. One important thing I determined is the date of hitting the road. That date will be Thursday, July 11th, 2019. Thursday is a strange day to start a trip because that is when a lot of the campgrounds begin to fill up with early weekend campers. There are basically four types of people who are campers; weekenders, temporary workers, long term campers and travelers/short term campers. Each group comes with their own pluses and minuses. I have met many wonderful people from each category and the following paragraphs are generalizations only and not meant to put anyone down.  

Weekenders usually arrive in the afternoon or evening on Fridays and leave on Sunday. You can spot their campsites because they will usually have kids and dogs running around having fun while the adults sit in their lawn chairs with the BBQ grill putting off enough smoke to set off smoke alarms in the adjacent RV's. There will be a few ice chests scattered around with a large outdoor rug. You can count on some outdoor lighting attached to their awning or RV. During football season, they will have a TV set up with the volume loud enough for everyone to know the score of the game. During half time and after the game, they will turn their boombox up louder because surely everyone in the park wants to hear the music. As the evening wears on, the adults that have been drinking adult beverages all day will get louder and louder. You just have to put up with it for Friday and Saturday until they leave. The weekenders prefer the state and federal parks which is a shame since those are my preferences too. They create a problem when they make reservations online for every weekend for months in advance. If something comes up and they can't make it that weekend, they cancel their reservation in enough time so they aren't access a fee or charge. This process works good for them but it sure is bad for other campers who are planning trips several weeks in advance. We look at the available sites online and see every campsite is reserved for every weekend. Some campgrounds have started charging a non-refundable reservation fee that will prevent a lot of this from happening. 

Long term campers are those people who have chosen to live in their RV, at a private campground, instead of a house or apartment. Some of them have been sitting in the same campsite for so long their tires have dry rotted and they must place blocks under their frame to keep it upright. If their A/C unit breaks, they will sometimes mount a residential window unit in their RV. Some long termers keep their RV's and campsites neat and tidy but most of them don't. Campgrounds will usually place the long termers in a separate part of campground from other campers. If a campground gets too many long term campers it will begin to have trouble attracting other types of campers.  

Temporary workers travel and live in their RV as they move from job to job. Most work six days a week so you don't see them except in the evenings and Sundays. They are usually very quiet during the week because they get back from work late in the evening and turn in early because they have to get up early to go back to work. They are also the ones that will politely tell the weekenders to quiet down around 9:00 pm on Friday's. Saturday nights are their usual night to howl, but even then you can count on them wearing out before 10:00 pm. You can usually spot their campsites because they will have work related items such as tool boxes, large propane tanks, BBG grills, etc around their campsite. They usually only stay in privately owned campgrounds. 

Travelers are those campers who only stay in the campground for a few days or maybe a week or two. Some of them you never see because they will pull in late in the evening and leave early the next morning while they go about their explorations of the area. You can usually recognize their campsites by the lack of any accessories in the campsite. Most of the time they won't put out many things because it become troublesome to pack it back up when they are traveling so often. You won't see them around the campground during the day since they are usually off exploring some place. Part of that exploring is trying local eating places so you may not see them cooking or bbq'ing. These campers are also the ones you will see walking around the campground in the evening and will stop and visit with anyone. Travelers also become short term campers when they are in between trips. They will find a campground to stop for a month or more while they visit family, check in with doctors and plan their next trip. 

I fall into the traveler category and am just finishing up my stay as a short term camper. I've been here about three months and it's time to move on before the temperatures get much hotter. So far, the hottest day has been in the mid 90's with the average being in the mid to upper 80's. My two A/C units can keep Liberty about 15 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. If the sun is on the door side of Liberty and her awning is out, the A/C's can keep the temperature about 20 degrees cooler than outside. But around here, July and August will usually have several days in the upper 90's with a few 100+ days thrown in just to keep people thankful for the upper 90's. So, with that in mind, I will change over to "traveler" mode on July 11th. The preliminary route I chose in the last post was the following:    
Preliminary route
 I have reservations at the campgrounds listed on the following map. This gets me up to Gunnison, Colorado.

The last campground shown on the map is Elk Creek which is a National Forest Service campground. I was very lucky in being able to get four days in this place. I was hoping for a week but very happy with the four. I will use it to explore the area and maybe visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park although it will be a longer exploration drive than I like. There is a campground in the National Park, but all of the electric campsites were reserved for a couple of months in advance. I thought about making reservations for late August and visiting the park on my return trip, but once I was able to secure the four days at Elk Creek, I decided to pass through this area on my way north. I'll probably make a reservation for a couple days at a campground in the Montrose, Colorado area so I can make sure to have enough time to visit the National Park.

I used a new "trip planner" program this time. It is called "RV Parky" and is free, but it isn't working today. Like most trip planners, it lists most campgrounds along your proposed route, but not all of them. The trip planner I usually use is Good Sam Trip Planner, but they are in the process of updating it, and until it is finished and de-bugged, it is just about useless. I also use Passport America (PA) to find campgrounds that are part of the PA program. The PA campgrounds offer 1/2 off their usually campground rate. But you have to be careful because PA does not guarantee the condition of the campground like Good Sam does with their campground rating system. I use Google Earth to zoom in on the campground from above and also the street view. Usually I can tell from the way it is laid out, the campsite spacing, cleanliness of the site, etc if it is a decent place to stay. PA campgrounds also place restrictions on the 1/2 off PA price. They are able to restrict the days of week, months, holidays, etc. You have to read their restrictions on the PA home page to see if you will get the discount. Only one of my reserved campgrounds on this trip is a PA campground. It is Comanche Campground in Stinnett, Texas. The other very useful program is "Allstays". It has shown itself to be the most accurate and complete program, but they don't have a "trip planner" on their site. So while using another trip planner I will go back and forth to Allstays, Passport America, Good Sam, Google Earth, Google Maps, other people's blogs and whatever other source may indicate good campsites. 

Of the six campgrounds I have reserved, one is Corps of Engineers, one is National Forest Service, one is a Texas State Park, one is Passport America and two are private campgrounds. I'm satisfied with that breakdown. 

My federal annual pass has expired but I'll get a new one at my first campground which is Holiday Park (Corps of Engineers) campground near Fort Worth, Texas. That pass ($20.00) allows me free access to National Parks, Monuments, etc. It also saves me 1/2 price for Federal Campgrounds. It is money well spent and I'll recoup the issue price of the pass from the saving at the first campground.

The Texas State Park I'll stay at is Copper Breaks State Park. It is off the beaten path a little but I've stayed there before and it is a comfortable campground and I will probably use it to rest up. I won't be buying a Texas Park pass since I don't plan to stay in any other Texas parks until maybe my return trip. 

I'm still in the process of finding things to explore at each of the stops. Some of the stops will just be rest-up campgrounds without much exploration. But I have found that even without a planned exploration, there are many things that just happen. Those are the unexpected "wow" moments. 

I'll try to make another post before I hit the road which will list some of the exploration things I'll be shooting to do along the way. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


  1. I find your definitions of the different camping styles exactly correct. Point Mallard Campground in Decatur Alabama has turned into a slummy style long term camper stop. I am not a happy camper here. Several things are happening in my RV life and your travel planning is very valuable to me. Thank you for all the details. In the meanwhile be safe and have fun.

    1. Sorry to hear you're not a happy camper where your at. Maybe it won't be long before you're back in Rockport. Your posts always seem happier when you're there. Be safe out there.

  2. I just started using RVParky & I like it.
    When my wife plans our travels it's as detailed as yours are, we couldn't have spent last winter in south Florida without the plans & reservations.
    I hope the next couple of weeks before you leave are smooth!

    1. I like it so far too. Planning trips is a fine line. You don't want to overdo it or else there are no surprises (good ones, not bad ones). It's been a month since you've made a post,,,, I hope all is OK with you and yours.

  3. What a perfect synopsis of the different kind of campers. Spot on. We use many of the travel tools you do and then sometimes we just go by a whim. But with so many campers out there not as easy to not have a plan. Your proposed route has some beautiful and interesting areas. I look forward to your thoughts about them. Travel safely.

    1. Hello Barb. I hope ya'll are enjoying your "re-visit" to Arizona. Pretty state. Watch out for those vortexes.

  4. Looks like an awesome trip. Have a blast.